Sunday, March 27, 2016

UPDATED: Rainbow Six Siege Tier List – Operation Velvet Shell

                Rainbow Six Siege has progressed nicely in its first year of life turning into a much more balanced and less frustrating game. It’s still technically challenged in some areas but retains innovation as the driving engine for its gameplay and content updates. Siege has become a more competitive game with a more solid playerbase that has surprisingly increased in the last year and an esports scene that becomes bigger with each event.
                I’ve spent an insane amount of hours in this game learning its insides out, but as Siege is becoming more balanced it’s harder to rate the quality level for each operator in an objective fashion. For that matter, there shouldn’t be a surprise when seeing that the Tier 1-3 are more clumped, while the last tier is emptier than ever before. This is a sign that Rainbow Six Siege is on the right balancing path without being turned upside down by seasonal operators. So let’s have a look at the current state of Rainbow Six Siege’s operators.

Tier 1

                Thatcher has gotten some competition now that Twitch’s drone has become more useful, but his EMP Grenades are still the most efficient way to eradicate cameras, nitro cells and any other electric devices of the defenders that’s in the blast area. Thatcher is a true team player as the ones that choose to play him helping to break the maze of traps on the way to the objective. But an ability alone doesn’t make a Tier 1 operator. Thatcher is a competent fighter with his medium armor and AR33, an assault rifle with an above the average fire rate.
Much has changed in a year of Siege, but if you want to make an entrance through the enemy’s team highly defended positions, you’ll most likely need this operator.


                Even if his ability is not something unique anymore and there is another operator who can break reinforced walls, Thermite remains a road opener. Despite losing his Frag Grenades, Thermite can still successfully handle any combat situations using medium armor, stun grenades and the powerful 556xi assault rifle. While he has some competition at breaching reinforced walls, Thermite is one of the two options available for this job. Therefore his position hasn’t changed through the seasons and he still stands at the top.


                Thermite had an uncontested position as a reinforced walls breacher which was in desperate need for a change and this is where Hibana jumps in. This Japanese operator is equipped with X-KAIROS, a high tech ability capable of breaching portions of reinforced walls creating small windows or even holes to pass through. Hibana carries 3 charges for this ability, enough to bust a large hole and have 1 spare for mishaps or other uses, which in standard situations leads to less breaching power than Thermite. But she makes up for it through the safe breaching granted by X-Kairos ability. Hibana can breach from the distance and while she faces the same counters as Thermite, she doesn’t face the same risks.
                The strength of this operator doesn’t only stand within her ability. Hibana has a good combination of guns with TYPE 89F assault rifle and the deadly Bearing 9 machine pistol. Either if you prefer Hibana or Thermite, both are necessary operators that probably won’t be dethroned until Ubisoft provides new ingenious ways to break through reinforced walls.


                In a game where intelligence paves the path to victory, an operator like Mute who can block the attacker’s drones from scouting used to be crucial. Things have changed over the course of the last seasons and attackers do have some workarounds, but not strong enough to falter Mute’s top position.
Aside of Thatcher’s EMP grenades, a Mute player now has to deal with the possibility of facing Twitch which could shut down some of his jammers even before a round starts. But this slight raise in skill cap didn’t affect this operator’s utility. Mute is a team player with a loadout that make him a competent engager or a good roamer using MP5K for accurate headshots or the nitro cell for some real stopping power. But if you want to unlock his true potential, pair him with Bandit, the two can form an absolute defense.


                Where there isn’t a Mute, there is probably a Bandit. While the two operators have different abilities, both are designed to stop the attackers from breaching through reinforced walls. Bandit’s speed and nitro cell make him a strong roamer even after the nerf to shotguns, while his MP7 which can be equipped with an ACOG scope allows him to snipe attackers like few of his potential teammates can do.
His eyes have changed, but his versatility continues to make him one of the strongest operators. Bandit and Mute are a duo to be feared, capable of locking down an area from the Thermite/Hibana and Thatcher combo, forcing the attackers to different routes.


                Rook is as essential to a team as the chess piece he’s named after. The shifting tides of balancing have only made him stronger and he’s not only capable of extending his teammates’ lives with an extra layer of armor but also fights like the very best. Both P90 and MP5 submachine guns have an above the average fire rate and can be equipped with the game changing ACOG scope. The SG-CQB shotgun has risen when all the other shotguns have fallen and with the addition of impact grenades he’s just a beast.
                You might want to stay away from Rook’s line of sight, not only he’s as resilient as an operator can get, but with that much firepower he can compete with any attacking operator.


                Like her Navy SEAL pal, Blackbeard, Valkyrie has suffered multiple nerfs, some targeting her and others that were general. Valkyrie has one of the best support abilities in the game, despite now only having 3 charges instead of 4. The Black Eye grants vision where none should be and if used correctly the defenders can gain intel without attackers being aware about it. The effective range and damage nerfs done to shotguns has diminished Valkyrie’s capabilities as a roamer, but she makes up for it with MPX which is a decent gun for accurate headshots or spraying and praying. Ultimately, she can use the nitro cell to get out of a bad situation causing destruction and chaos.
After so many nerfs Valkyrie still retains her top Tier position proving how strong she has been from the get-go. Either as the extra eyes of her team or a capable fighter, Valkyrie is an operator to be reckoned with.


                This Spanish operator has rocketed to Tier 1 since she was released in Operation Velvet Shell. Her ability, Black Mirror, is a bulletproof breaching window which can be placed on normal or reinforced walls to safely observe the incoming attackers. This ability can turn into a murder hole by destroying the canister placed at the base of its frame. Black Mirror can be quite a bit of a wild card as losing control over the position can give attackers a spot to shoot from, but the information gained through these windows and the fear factor make up for every negative effect.
                Mira works really well with Mute and Bandit as these two can stop Thermite and especially Hibana from turning the window against her own team, but she has much more to herself than this versatile ability. The Vector .45 ACP is one of the most powerful submachine guns in the game with an insane fire rate and a controllable recoil working well even when using it for hip fire. Despite having nitro cell, Mira’s heavy armor does stop her from being a good roamer, but her loadout is perfect for defending the objective from within.

Tier 2


                Sledge’s hammer is a faster method of breaching windows, doors and walls that haven’t been reinforced that has a smaller risk factor and isn’t prone to counters from Mute. Equipped with the decent L85A2 assault rifle, SMG-11, frag grenades and medium armor, Sledge can withstand moderate damage without losing mobility and has some of the highest firepower in his team that isn’t depending on the ability.
Sledge isn’t a necessity for the attackers even if he can speed up the process of storming certain locations, but the competitive arsenal has made him a popular choice.


Fuze has a monstrous combat potential fuelled by his Cluster Charge ability which has been buffed with one additional charge and an increased radius of explosion. He is fundamentally a Tier 1 operator which has been placed in Tier 2 because the power of his ability is greatly diminished, if not dangerous, in the Hostage game mode.
This operator is the bringer of chaos requiring little skill to deal with a crowded room with his ability that calls for rapid reactions to avoid an almost certain death. In the wake of the disarray left by the Cluster Charges, Fuze can storm behind the cover of his shield or using a combination of stun grenades and AK-12.
                Fuze’s whole package is as destructive as it can get but has to be used wisely or he can turn into a menace even for his own team.


                Breaching into objectives can be easy with the right composition, but advancing to an objective through the narrow corridors which can hide dangers at every corner is way harder. This is where Montagne comes into play. With his extendable ballistic shield and a heavy armor, Montagne can lead the way protecting his teammates from any danger. If needed he can stand as a door or a wall to stop anyone who attempts to enter and since nitro cell can’t one shot shield operators when with a frontal explosion anymore, Montagne’s lockdowns are more dangerous than ever before.
                In combat Montagne can take care of himself, but he’s hardly a killer. He extends his support role with his choice of stun or smoke grenades which provide the much needed help when passing through open space or engaging into the defender’s position.


What a huge leap! Once a Tier 4 operator, Twitch is now a solid pick for most attacking setups. The buff to her drones is what prompted her advancement through the ranks. Twitch is now equipped with two of her special drones which can use Tasers but can’t jump. The meta-changing buff though comes from the way she can use one of her drones now. During preparation round Twitch starts with a Shock Drone which can help her scout, destroy gadgets or cameras and even deal damage to unaware defenders. Her drones can be used for the same reasons during the round and can be effective at clearing the path for breaching operators, but this is the point where her old self starts to shine. Twitch is equipped with the absolutely brutal (if controlled properly) F2 assault rifle capable of obliterating with ease any popping heads.
                The balance updates have been kind with Twitch and she’s finally a competitive operator who can hold her own while being able to assist the team at the same time.


                Every squad needs a medic and they finally got one. Doc’s Stim Pistol has been reworked and now not only can revive downed operators from a safe distance but can also heal for 40 HP and even overheal. The ability’s new functionalities has boosted Doc almost in Tier 1 as he was always a good combatant with his MP5 or P90 equipped with an ACOG scope.
                In Siege, avoiding damage during a round is pretty hard, making the Stim Pistol extremely handy. But as anyone can die in an instant, either from headshots or multiple bullets, Doc isn’t as useful as he could be and works the best only in combination with his CTU teammate, Rook.


                Frost used to be a personal favorite even after she lost the nitro cell but the nerf to shotguns, in particularly her Super 90, has lowered this operator’s roaming potential considerably. The balance updates have forced players to refocus on the 9mm C1 submachine gun which combines power with controllable recoil but at a lower fire rate. What really kept Frost on a higher Tier is the Welcome Mat ability which has become really dangerous now that the time of Ranked rounds has been reduced from 4 to 3 minutes which is rushing the attackers into making mistakes.


                Fuze has become more threatening and frag grenades aren’t as rare as they were when the game was launched, so who do you pick for such situations? Jäger is a well-rounded operator with a movement speed which allows him to quickly traverse the map and harass attackers from the windows using his 416-c Carbine equipped with an ACOG scope. His Active Defense System comes with 3 charges and can stop a total of 6 projectiles countering much of Fuze’s Cluster Charges or tricky grenades which were kept long enough to explode shortly after being thrown.
                Jäger is a strong operator, but not useful in all circumstances and like with Fuze, he is held back by the Hostage mode.


                Kapkan used to be one of the most played operators in the game due to his 9x19VSN submachine gun, medium armor and nitro cell. But truth be told, until recently there were operators with a similar or better equipment which had way better abilities. The Entry Denial Device one shots everyone stepping through it, which is good on paper, but this ability could be easily spotted and countered. The changes made to the positioning and visibility of the ability coupled with 3 minutes ranked matches have made it a whole lot better. Like in Frost’s case, the pressure of time has been beneficial for Kapkan making him more useful for his team.


                Pulse has been juggling from overpowered to underpowered for quite some time. He was a pretty solid operator at launch but his ability was nerfed just to be over-buffed a few months later and then nerfed again. In all fairness, it’s pretty hard to balance an operator whose ability is a wallhack which can give defenders a pretty unfair advantage on multiple maps.
The reduced detection range to the Cardiac Sensor isn’t what’s keeping Pulse grounded, but rather the general rebalancing to guns and gadgets. With shotguns and nitro cells not being as good as before, Pulse isn’t the same ferocious predator. But despite these changes, attackers still have to be extremely cautious when getting closer to penetrable walls because someone might be watching.

Tier 3


                Ash is the operator you bring when engaging in open areas and you need to breach as safe as possible. Her grenade launcher is loaded with Breaching Rounds which can break any non-reinforced walls without having to worry about Mute’s jammers. This ability is also great for opening doors and windows countering Castle’s Armor Panel with ease.
                Ash is equipped for fast engagements with light armor and two great primary weapons, a play style complemented by smoke grenades. She’s a deadly threat from medium distance, but her lack of resilience can make her a liability in close quarter combat.


                Shield operators are at the most threatening point since the beta testing when they could hip fire with extreme accuracy. What’s making the difference between the current shield operators are the abilities and Blitz has the least effective one. In theory, the Flash Shield is quite good, triggering on demand a lower radius flash grenade. Sadly, this ability isn’t always reliable not only because of its small effective range, but also due to bugs that stop it from having the wanted effect on the enemies.
                Blitz can be useful during engagements in tight areas, but Montagne and Fuze have the same if not greater defensive potential and make much better use of their abilities.


                IQ is one of those operators who has been avoided for the longest time prompting a series of adjustments to increase her popularity. She was always a good fighter having two pretty good guns but she has gotten a lot better with the addition of frag grenade. The real problem with this operator stems from her ability. The Electronics Detector forces IQ to play with the pistol while she scans for devices countering Pulse and Valkyrie to a great extent. But as her utility depends on these two operators she is an unreliable pick taking the spot of much more useful operators.  
                Despite the many welcomed changes and her combat capabilities, IQ remains a preference choice as she’s really beneficial to the team only on certain situations.


                A dedicated marksman isn’t such a good choice in a game that’s focused on close quarters combat. Even if the maps have been designed to also facilitate some shooting from the distance, this doesn’t always work well and Glaz’ effectiveness isn’t constant.
Glaz remains the terror of the Presidential Airplane map as he’s the only one able to shoot through the windows. And he has become a much more viable option after the fire rate buff to OTs-03 semi-automatic sniper rifle, but this improvement only consolidates his Tier 3 position as Glaz remains a situational or preference pick.


                The Navy Seal operator that few people knew how to properly counter has been nerfed to the ground. His Armored Rifle Shield has been the subject of multiple changes now being a 2 charges ability with a significantly lower stopping power than it had in the glory days. While still able to stop 1-2 potential headshots, the shield is not as efficient and can be destroyed so fast that there might not be any time to react and adjust to the situation. Yet the ability is not the only change that Blackbeard had to suffer through. The MK17 CQB assault rifle had its damage decreased which is a pretty huge deal for a gun that has a 20 bullets clip and a small ammo count.
                Blackbeard has become a whole lot weaker and the list of counters that had nitro cell, shotguns and netcode on it now also contains guns with high fire rate which pretty much includes all the defending operators. Due to these major changes, Blackbeard is not the king of the windows anymore, dropping to Tier 3 as he doesn’t bring anything that the attackers actually need.


Capitão was a Tier 2 operator until the Operation Velvet Shell update when he lost his grenades in favor of IQ. He remains a valid option for lightning fast engagements using PARA-308 assault rifle, claymore to cover his back and the tactical crossbow which can create walls of smoke or hit strategic positions with the deadly asphyxiating bolts.
                Capitão is a preference or strategy choice as his loadout is quite competitive and his ability can be used to gain an advantage on certain objective locations.


                On paper Jackal is a really strong operator but on the field things aren’t working in his favor. Jackal was designed as a roamers countermeasure and with the Eyenox ability he can spot the footsteps of any defenders that has passed through an area and scan them for a brief update on their location. This wallhack-like ability can prove extremely useful providing information and harassing roamers stopping them from taking action, but it can also lure attackers into deadly traps.
                Jackal does pretty well for himself in combat with a diverse loadout which includes the C7E assault rifle and the rather powerful PDW submachine gun. The future of this operator is something to be watched as balancing Jackal will be a difficult task due to the nature of his ability which could easily become overpowered.


                As with many operators from this Tier, Castle is a good pick only when defending certain objectives. His Armor Panel ability has a great synergy with Mute’s jammers even if Thatcher, Ash or Sledge have no problems in countering this combo. The real problem comes from the advantages Castle’s ability can give to the attackers. A hole in his panel can be a good way to peek inside the objective’s room and with Mute’s jammer gone Fuze cannot be stopped from safely deploying his Cluster Charges.
                Castle might not always be useful, but his ability and versatile loadout turn him into a solid operator when defending those certain objectives because they are almost impossible to hold without his contribution.


                Smoke’s presence is as haunting as ever for the attackers traversing corridors or passing through choke points. He has enough destructive power to kill the enemy team by himself, but he retains the role of shields killer with his Remote Gas Grenades and the nitro cell if the situations requires it. Aside of his ability and gadgets, Smoke is a pretty competent fighter with the infamous SMG-11 secondary gun, but despite being good at killing, he is not really a necessity for a team. There are plenty operators with nitro cell that have far more useful abilities and even stronger guns. Smoke remains a Tier 3 operator, being a pick that could turn out lethal but without the synergy needed in a good defending composition.


                More popular on the web medium than in game, “Lord” Tachanka has only recently received some true love from the developers. Tachanka’s ability, the Mounted LMG, now has a frontal ballistic shield which protects the operator at the cost of a slight increase in spread and recoil.
                Tachanka’s similar loadout with Kapkan make him a pretty good fighter, but the sacrifice of mobility in favor of resilience coupled with the Mounted LMG make him more suitable for defending the objective from within the room. While all the buffs have made him a more powerful operator, Tachanka isn’t a requirement in any defensive setup but he does synergize extremely well with Mira’s Black Mirror, the two being capable to create no pass corridors.


                Caveira brings an unfair advantage to the defender’s side with her combo abilities: Silent Step and Interrogation. She can move quieter than any operator in the game and user her pistol to knockdown enemies and interrogate them for information on current position of the attackers, information that keeps updating for 10 seconds. Interrogation is basically a wallhack, but with a twist. In a game of teamwork and coordination successfully landing Caveira’s ability without being stopped by the remaining enemies is a gamble, one that can bring your team closer to victory or end up extremely bad. Due to how her abilities work, there could be many rounds when Caveira can’t successfully interrogate. Truth be told, the Silent Step makes Caveira one if not the best roamers and with her SPAS-15 shotgun or M12 smg and impact grenades she could really surprise the enemies. But roaming is becoming an increasingly tricky business and Caveira’s hide and seek game rules have changed even more now that Jackal has come to play.

Tier 4


                Buck was introduced as part of the first wave of operators in the Black Ice update and since then he can’t properly fit in any role. His ability, an under-barrel shotgun, is a good way of breaching non-reinforced walls, but operators like Sledge or Ash can do the same job while having a better loadout. Buck’s guns can pack a heavy punch but having a recoil that’s hard to control they hardly fit into the game’s meta. His frag grenades are a rarer gadget, but the few operators that use them are obviously better picks.
                Unlike Frost who’s been nerfed but still does quite well for herself, Buck doesn’t really excel and isn’t required unless you want to complete daily or weekly challenges.


                There isn’t much to say about Echo, he has a decent loadout and a not so good ability. Echo can be quite scary when properly using the Bearing 9 machine pistol as it’s a threat to anyone. Even the futuristic YOKAI drone has some good uses, being a pain for advancing shields or the attackers picking through breaching holes. But having to stand still while using his drone and being unable to mark enemies, Echo isn’t as useful as this type of operator should be. So, for the time being, Echo has to wait for a few buffs if not an entire rework to his futuristic drone.

                As with past updates, this list was made after extensive casual and ranked playing with each of the operators. I also took into consideration the esports competitions I’ve watched and other informational content about these operators.
                Because Rainbow Six Siege is a continuously evolving game through added content and balance patches, the information provided by this list might get outdated. New operators will be added every three months and older ones might get tweaked for the better or for the worse. I will try my best to keep this article updated in the future and add the new operators as they come. So keep an eye on it if you are interested in the possible changes, but as for now, this tier list was written for Year 2 Season 1 – Operation Velvet Shell.



  1. The particular beefier model regarding Kapkan having an the same guns load out and also wearing weighty shield. Yet up to Kapkan’s capacity is lacking in inside performance, Tachanka’s is significantly a whole lot worse.

  2. Your post was very informative. Thank you.

  3. On Sledge's description, you said "can't be countered by Thatcher or Mute." Thatcher is an attacker

    1. I fixed that while updating this article for Operation Velvet Shell.

  4. I think your tier list is the most updated one. I've started playing recently, but I'm already at lvl 30, and I think your tier list is the most in-line with what I've seen in-game. That being said, I'm no pro, but I don't think I will be, making your tier list all the more relevant. Nice job.

  5. Ash should be Tier 2, Buck should be Tier 3, and Blitz should be Tier 4, as he's the worst operator in the game by far.

    1. I kind of agree with your statement about Blitz. My opinion about his capabilities has dropped considerably.
      I've seen many people considering Ash as a Tier 2 or even Tier 1 Operator and I understand, to a degree, why they say that. She can breach from distance which is an advantage in many situation, but she isn't all that strong. Ash's guns have some powerful kickback and that light armor isn't all that great for attackers. Sledge might be risking his life most of the times when he's breaching but he is a much more competent operator overall.
      The same goes for Buck, there are a lot of people who like him and I've seen players using him in esports competitions, but I feel Buck is more of a preference choice. We can all agree that C8-SFW has one of the worst recoils and the grenades just don't make up for that.

      Keep in mind, this list is made using my personal experienced coupled with extensive research. Things might change and they will be reflected in the next update to this article, but this will always be a global Tier List, not specifically made for esports or casual.

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