Love them or hate them, pistol rounds in Valorant set the tone for each half of the map.
Win the first one and you're well on your way towards starting the game 2-0. Lose the second one after halftime and you've either given your opponent a second wind or a Jett dash to an easy finish.
As mundane as they might seem, pistol rounds have a lot riding on them, and take as much of a concerted effort to get right as any other round. Of course, that chess match starts in the buy phase, where each player must decide if they want to upgrade their weaponry or invest in utility.
DBLTAP spoke with several of the game's best players from Team Liquid, The Guard and OpTic Gaming during Valorant Champions Tour Stage 1: Masters Reykjavík to get their thoughts on a common question — What are the best buys for pistol rounds? Here's what we found.
Starting things off, one of the steadiest Classic users in the server, Guard Michael "neT" Bernet, made a strong case for why the only free gun in the game just might be the best way to go.
"Personally," neT told DBLTAP, "it would be Classic [and] armor, just because having armor on pistol rounds is huge. Not being able to get one-shot unless it's like a deagle or a Chamber deagle, it's really impactful. I think the Classic is a very underrated and great pistol and as long as you just shoot it correctly, then you should be able to win some pistol rounds."
For those less keen on the Classic and its high risk, high reward right-click, the Ghost has long been the go-to move for plenty of players in the early rounds. Liquid Travis "L1NK" Mendoza counts himself among them.
"I feel like the Ghost is the safest option on a pistol round," L1NK said. "It's just 'the classic.' Not as in the Classic the pistol, but just 'the classic,' you know? It’s a really easy choice. But obviously, it depends. If you’re someone playing like Jett or something, then having a Frenzy and stuff is pretty good. The Frenzy is still unbelievable. I’d always choose the Ghost though if I had to choose one."
For all the ranked demons and Operator enjoyers out there, L1NK also showed the Shorty some love, mentioning as well that the overall pistol weapon class is in a good place.
"People are even picking up Shortys, like, as their secondary," L1NK said. "Like all the OPers are picking up Shortys and stuff, so it seems pretty good. Maybe the Classic right-click is still a little bit broken in some people’s hands like Nivera, but if they’re good with it, then they’re good."
Speaking of unconventional weapons, OpTic Pujan "FNS" Mehta shared his appreciation for the run-and-gun capabilities of the full-auto Frenzy.
"I like the Frenzy a lot," FNS said. "I just think especially on LAN, when it comes down to when you have one ping, it’s a really easy run-and-gun weapon."
Ultimately, FNS agreed that the Ghost is a no-brainer for most sharp aimers.
"The Ghost is pretty overpowered for the most part," FNS said. "I think the Ghost is the go-to pistol for most people, especially if you have above-average aim, but if you’re playing close-range angles, I would say Frenzy and Shorty for sure."
Of the bunch, the boldest answer came from Liquid Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom, whose reputation of headhunting certainly backs up his preference.
"Sheriff on Jett," ScreaM said. "Sheriff is always doing a lot of damage on pistol. Two bullets, you know, to kill a guy in the body. Chamber as well, his Sheriff is unbelievable. There was a time where the Frenzy was kind of popular before the update. Right now, less people use it, but I still think it’s very viable."
Despite going to it when he has to, for instance, while playing as Sage on Split, ScreaM admitted that he's not a huge fan of the Classic.
"Definitely not the Classic. At least for me, I’m not a Classic player. My brother is, but I think most people are not that good with the Classic I would say. The gun is not unbelievable, but it depends on the situations."
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