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How to VALORANT: Sentinels characters and roles explained

·Senior Games & Tech Producer
·12 min read
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Previously, we covered the other roles that Riot Games' first-person shooter VALORANT has to offer, the Duelist, the Initiator and the Controller.

In this article, we will be talking about the final class that’s present in the game, the Sentinels.

At the time of this writing, there are only three Sentinel agents available for your choosing in game, so your choices are pretty limited.

Sentinels are defensive experts who can lock down areas and watch flanks, both on attacker and defender roundsRiot Games

Each of the agents in the Sentinel class performs very differently from one another, and they excel in very different situations when it comes down to “locking down areas and watching flanks".

A common thread that ties all the three different Sentinels together is the player’s ability to improvise. A player with a lot of creativity with their Sentinel skills can play these characters to their full potential and frustrate opponents on a regular basis.

Sage in-game (Screenshot: Riot Games)
Sage in-game (Screenshot: Riot Games)


  • Abilities: Barrier Orb, Slow Orb, Healing Orb

  • Ultimate: Resurrection

At first glance, anyone new to VALORANT would immediately think that Sage is the top support character in the game.

She has healing abilities and she can even resurrect dead players.

While it is not wrong to think that she is the “master healer” of the game, Sage’s strong points actually lie in her other abilities like Barrier Orb and Slow Orb. Let’s take a look at what she has.

Her signature ability is the Healing Orb. When cast onto allies, it heals them for 60 health points over the span of 5 seconds. She is also able to cast it on herself, but it will take 10 seconds for the full 60 hp heal.

Unlike Skye’s healing abilities, Sage is able to target the player that she wants to heal, as long as they are in her sights. This means that she is also able to heal someone that is pretty far away.

Her Barrier Orb allows Sage to raise a 4-column ice wall from the ground in front of her. She is able to rotate the wall to place it in different kinds of orientation. The wall is pretty thick in width, so when it is placed diagonally, it can also block a narrow path from being accessed unless all 4 columns of the wall are broken. Beware, though, there are surfaces in different parts of the currently available maps that clash with the wall’s mechanics. When this happens, the column that conflicts with the surface that it is placed on will instantly break.

Slow Orb is an ability that Sage can throw on the ground to slow players down. When she throws the Slow Orb to the targeted area, it will deploy on the ground to cover a large area. Any player that steps into this will be hit with a large movement penalty. This affects allied players as well, so do keep that in mind.

Resurrection is Sage’s ultimate. It allows Sage to resurrect a dead player during a round. The resurrection animation has a lot of startup and recovery time for the resurrected player, so make sure the area is safe before using her ultimate.

When we take a look at Riot’s definition of a Sentinel, Sage excels at locking down areas. Her Barrier is able to block paths from sneaky enemies who like to flank, and is also able to halt a full push from the opposing team. If the enemies want to push through the area with the Barrier, they would have to break it, which would alert the Sage and her teammates as the wall’s condition is visible on the Sage’s minimap. The Barrier Orb can also be smartly used to block vision like a Viper wall. Couple this with her Slow Orb, Sage can effectively slow down a major push by herself while she waits for her allies to reinforce the site. Her Slow Orb can also deter the enemy from peeking into a corner because of their slow movement.

Out of the three Sentinels, Sage is the only one who is probably unable to watch flanks effectively, compared to Killjoy and Cypher.

She may block a path from a flanker with her Barrier, but that can be broken down. Even then, good Sage players have found multiple creative ways when using their Barriers to get the upper hand, like using the Barrier to boost players up to places that Sage cannot normally reach, using that to catch unsuspecting flankers.

A Sage player usually flourishes when they are able to think on the fly, and after mastering the many ways to play her, her healing and Resurrection ability seem like a throwaway and a “nice-to-have” rather than being a pivotal part of her game plan. Sometimes, though, resurrecting the right person will most likely win you the round.

Cypher in game (Screenshot: Riot Games)
Cypher in game (Screenshot: Riot Games)


  • Abilities: Trapwire, Cyber Cage, Spycam

  • Ultimate: Neural Thief

Cypher is the master of surveillance in VALORANT. All of Cypher’s abilities are meant to provide as much information to himself and his teammates as possible. A Cypher on defence with a well set-up site is a nightmare to push in for attacking players.

His signature ability is his Spycam. Cypher is able to place a static camera on almost any surface on the map.

This camera will give Cypher a full unrestricted view of the area that he deployed his cam at when it is activated. He is also able to move the camera to look around. When deactivated, the camera turns invisible, so enemy players will not be able to see it if Cypher is not utilising his camera.

Cypher is able to fire a marking dart to enemies that are spotted with this camera every 6 seconds, revealing their position until they pull the marking dart off them.

When Cypher activates his Spycam, there will be a loud audible cue coming from the camera itself, so enemies may spot it if a Cypher activates it amongst their midst.

One fascinating (and sometimes annoying) thing about Cypher’s Spycam — there are some surfaces that should absolutely allow the camera to be placed on it, but Cypher is not able to. There are also places that you may think Cypher shouldn't be able to place his camera, but he can. So, if you do plan on using Cypher as your main agent, do experiment in various positions that you can place your Spycam on.

Trapwire is an ability that allows Cypher to place a trap that functions like, well, a tripwire.

And true to its name, it is also a trap that will reveal the enemy’s outline when one crosses and triggers it, and keeping them in position till Trapwire is destroyed.

Once Trapwire is triggered, the enemy has about three seconds to destroy it before it explodes. An exploded Trapwire will stun whoever triggered it. Jett used to be able to dash away from it, but not anymore after the Episode 3 patch. The only agent who can effectively run away from a triggered Trapwire is Yoru with his teleport ability and ultimate.

The Trapwire is also invisible to enemies until they get close, and when they do, it will let out a loud humming sound to indicate that it is deployed. Even if the Trapwire is destroyed, Cypher will be notified, making it a great tool for information even if it doesn’t manage to trap anyone.

Like the Spycam, there are weird surfaces that Cypher can place these traps on, and there are some places that he can’t. Do experiment to see what are the best setups as a Cypher player.

Cypher’s Cyber Cage is his version of a vision blocking “smoke” in VALORANT. Cypher throws a disk on the ground that creates a hollow smoke that can block vision when activated. What separates this from the other kinds of smokes is that Cypher’s cage will play a sound cue when someone enters or exits the cage. This is especially important because it can tell a Cypher player the whereabouts of the enemy, especially if they do decide to push through the cage.

His ultimate, Neural Theft, reveals all enemies’ positions on the map. To activate this, Cypher will need to activate his ultimate near a recently killed enemy. Cypher will throw his hat on the dead body, which will reveal the position of the enemies at that moment. Information in VALORANT is extremely important, so this is easily one of the most valuable ultimates in the game. Neural Theft can be used to plan an attack on a site, or know where the enemies are coming from when you are defending a site or the spike.

Cypher is perhaps one of the agents that can clearly source for information anywhere in the map, especially with his Spycam. When it is placed in a very obscure location with a good view, Cypher players can technically be at two places at once, scouting for information. He is able to watch flanks with his Spycam and Trapwire, able to block off vision from attacking enemies with his Cyber Cage, and is also able to acquire a lot of information with his ultimate.

Attacking a site with oddly placed Trapwires can also frustrate enemies, and if you constantly change up the positions of the traps, enemies will never be able to guess and suspect where the next Trapwire is going to be. What’s more, if you can successfully combo your Trapwire with any form of smoke, you may be able to trap some enemies and kill them in the process, since it reveals their outlines. Cypher definitely excels at “locking down areas and watching flanks, both on attacker or defender rounds”.

Killjoy in game (Screenshot: Riot Games)
Killjoy in game (Screenshot: Riot Games)


  • Abilities: Nanoswarm, Alarmbot, Turret

  • Ultimate: Lockdown

While they are both Sentinels, Killjoy's playstyle is pretty much a stark difference from Cypher's. While Cypher relies on information and traps to get hold of the enemy, Killjoy uses sheer firepower and damage to lock down sites and deal with flankers.

Killjoy’s signature ability is her Turret. She can place a sentry turret that automatically fires at an enemy if it sees them. The turret deals very low damage to the enemies it shoots, but any enemy hit by the turret is instantly slowed. While not being as good prior to patch 3.05, any enemy hit by Killjoy’s turret will still get a 29.5% reduction to movement speed (down from 72.5%).

This is good to stop an enemy from having the full freedom of movement when there is a fire-fight, and the turret can also serve as a distraction from Killjoy and her allies. The turret is also a good tool help you get information, as it will fire at the sight of any enemy.

The turret can also be used to watch your flanks in the same instance, as it will automatically activate and fire if it sees someone sneaking up. The turret needs to be in Killjoy’s activation range for it to work, though, so if the player goes too far away from the turret, it will deactivate and not be usable.

Alarmbot is Killjoy’s version of the tripwire. Killjoy places a bot on the ground that is invisible to the enemies till they get close. Once an enemy gets into the radius of the bot, it activates and detonates at the nearest enemy, leaving them in a “vulnerable” state. All enemies that are vulnerable take twice as much damage.

Enemies are able to shoot the bot down if they are fast enough. though. Similar to the turret, the Alarmbot needs to be in Killjoy’s activation range for it to stay up and running.

The Nanoswarm is Killjoy’s version of a Molotov. She can place it on the ground and activate it at will. However, once placed on the ground, enemies will be able to see the Nanoswarm grenade and shoot it if they get too close. The Nanoswarm does a lot of damage as well for those that are trapped in its radius.

Her ultimate, Lockdown, allows Killjoy to place a beacon that has a 8-second windup time before it detonates. Once the Lockdown detonates, any enemy that is trapped in its detonation radius will be detained for 8 seconds. Detained enemies are unable to utilise any abilities and guns, and their movement speed halts to a crawl. Like her other abilities, Lockdown can be destroyed before it detonates, so do keep that in mind.

When looking at Killjoy’s abilities, she is definitely able to “lock down areas and watch flanks”, be it as an attacker or a defender.

When attacking, she is able to place her Turret or Alarmbot at positions to scout for that pesky flanker. She is also able to use her Nanoswarm on the spike once it is planted to get enemies off it. Even if the enemies shoot at the Nanoswarm grenades, it will reveal that someone is attempting to defuse the spike. Killjoy is also able to use her ultimate to safely secure the site and chase out whoever is defending it, unless if they have a death wish.

When defending a site, she has absolute all the tools to keep the site secure by herself. A well-placed Nanoswarm can usually halt a major push just because of how much damage it can deal. A sneaky Alarmbot may be able to give Killjoy enough information if someone is sneaking past an undefended area, while her Turret can be her companion to distract enemies and slow them down for the kill. Her Lockdown is also enough to deter and halt enemies from pushing a site, as it is usually pretty tough to destroy the ultimate if Killjoy places it in a secure location.

Just like the other Sentinels, switching up the positions of your utilities will always benefit you in the long run, as enemies may not be able to predict the locations of your utilities.

Use that to your advantage when defending a site to halt enemy pushes and gain information. Killjoy definitely falls into Riot’s description of a Sentinel.

Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy being headshotted in VALORANT or watercooling anything he sees, he does some pro wrestling.

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