Good aim is important for finding success in any first-person shooter (FPS), but you may have heard more about “pre-aim” or “pre-aiming” in Valorant than in other games like Call of Duty or Overwatch. What is pre-aim and why is it talked about so much in Valorant? Read on to find out what pre-aiming is, why it is valuable, and how you can improve yours.
(SPOILER: The Forge has a whole feature dedicated to helping you improve your pre-aim!)
Don’t Move, Just Shoot
Valorant falls into the category of a “tactical shooter,” similar to the longstanding classic Counter-Strike. This means the game focuses on slower, precise positioning rather than fast-paced, run-and-gun fighting. Valorant heavily punishes weapon accuracy while moving for most guns; in order to shoot accurately, you have to be standing still. That is why you’ll see pro players stop moving before they start shooting, since once they stop moving there is no accuracy penalty.
This also means that a player who isn’t moving has an accuracy advantage over a player who is moving. That is why so many players will “hold an angle” or watch a certain spot to see if any opponents try to move into that area. Since they are not moving and their opponent is moving, they have the advantage of shooting at their opponent accurately while their opponent has to stop moving to shoot back (making them an even easier target).
Prepare to Fire
Of course, you can’t just stand still for the entire game, and you’ll have to push into areas that opponents are watching. So, when you are pushing into an area where you expect opponents to be, you should “pre-aim” at possible locations where opponents could be hiding. This means aiming your crosshair at the spot you want to check before moving into the area.
For instance, say you are pushing onto A Site on Ascent. Opponents often like to hold the bottom of the site, typically called “hell,” as seen here.
As an attacker, if you just walk onto the site, your crosshair will be somewhere in the center, and you’ll have to move it to shoot at the defender.
You have to stop moving, move your crosshair, and then fire, but your opponent just has to move their crosshair and fire, meaning they are more likely to hit their shots and secure an elimination.
But let’s say before you walk onto the site, your Sova has darted and revealed that there is an enemy in hell. You want to pre-aim or prepare your crosshair at the same level that the opponent in hell would be before walking onto the site in a manner like this. This is why you’ll sometimes see pro players stare at a wall before moving or swinging out to engage an opponent.
(It just so happens that the top of the bricks on the wall gives a pretty good idea of the headshot level of enemies in hell. There are other spots on maps, like some of the boxes on sites, that provide a good visual indication of what head level is and where you should keep your crosshair aimed.)
Now, when you move into the entrance to A site, your crosshair is already where you expect the enemy to be. This means you just have to stop and shoot while your opponent (if they didn’t pre-aim) has to move their crosshair and then shoot. Even though you were moving, since your crosshair was pre-aimed, you have the advantage since you just stop and shoot.
This is why pre-aiming is so valuable, as it allows you to win against stationary opponents. Of course, there is even more to discuss, such as checking multiple angles (what if you didn’t know if the opponent was in hell or behind the boxes or on the platform above, called “heaven”) and properly moving when pushing into an area to throw off your opponent’s pre-aim (“swinging”). But this covers the basic idea of why pre-aiming is valuable and why the best players in the world are so good at getting eliminations even when moving.
How Do You Get Better?
The simple answer, like most things, is practice. Keeping your crosshair at a level position takes a lot of practice and time in the game. Of course, sometimes it can be hard to tell if you are improving and what you can do to get better. That’s where Aim Analysis from the Forge comes in.
Aim Analysis provides you with the statistics to track how your aim is improving, monitoring the number of times you have properly pre-aimed opponents that enter your screen. It also gives you a visual representation of where opponents appear when they first show up on the screen and which ones you are hitting or not hitting. For example, there was a large number of times opponents appeared on the lower right of my screen that I didn’t shoot at, suggesting I should try aiming a little lower and to the right more often. It is a great tool to help improve your pre-aim, making you a better player who can hit as many shots as Tenz!
So that’s pre-aim. Thanks for reading, and make sure to leave a comment on any tips you use to hit your shots. Have a great day!