Every Rainbow Six Siege defender ranked from optional to essential

UPDATED: An evolving list of Rainbow Six Siege defensive operators listed from meh to mighty.

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Rainbow Six Siege defenders: optional to essential

Rainbow Six Siege is a fantastic shooter that gets better every year. While certain patches or the introduction of new operators may improve or weaken existing operators, the beauty of this particular list is it’s updating at major junctures. Click through for the current defender ranking.

21. Tachanka (launch operator)

Despite his meme popularity, Lord Chanka is about as optional as they come. True story: Ubisoft Montreal was worried he was too OP at launch. Some savvy buffs later and, well, Tachanka is still as optional as you get for a defender, even in Casual. While his Mounted LMG is lacking, at least his shotty and SMG rock.

20. Alibi (Operation Para Bellum)

Alibi isn’t a terrible operator, she’s just terribly optional. The first few times you come up against her decoys, you’ll be fooled into firing. After that, they become incredibly obvious. You can, however hide behind, beside or near her decoys for the best chance of scoring frags.

19. Kapkan (launch operator)

Kapkan is a more enticing choice these days, particularly with the trap-heavy defence meta. Combo him with Frost, Lesion, Ela, and even Smoke on a trap-minded defence play, and you’ll likely cause easy damage or score some cheeky frags.

18. Frost (Operation Black Ice)

Welcome Mats are a massive pain in the arse for inattentive attackers. The thing is, just like with Caveira, attackers who gather intel on a room before entering it will easily spot Frost’s Welcome Mat. A recent buff to her SMG makes her a more viable gunfighter, though.

17. Bandit (launch operator)

If you use Bandit’s Shock Wire in a passive, drop-and-run way, he’s not great. If, however, you use Bandit’s Shock Wire actively, destroying breaching charges and denying entry through reinforced walls, Bandit’s deadly. Now that Maverick is in the mix, though, this is trickier to do.

16. Caveira (Operation Skull Rain)

Intel-gathering and intel-denial is everything in Siege. That’s likely why Caveira’s Silent Step and interrogation combo made her so popular when she first landed. Today, she’s a less viable choice, but mostly because attackers are wise to her ways. Attackers who drone ahead for roamers can easily nullify Cav.

15. Doc (launch operator)

Doc is a tough defender to place because he’s incredibly situational. The defender who’s been revived by Doc’s Stim Pistol will sing his praises. Similarly, if it’s you and Doc versus more attackers, the Stim Pistol comes in handy for the health buff. His ACOG is a strong selling point for confident head-poppers, though.

14. Rook (launch operator)

Rook is the ultimate ‘my first defender’ operator and with good reason. As soon as a round starts, Rook should drop his single-use Armour Pack. That frees the defender up to do pretty much whatever else they like in terms of their utility. Like Doc, his ACOG is a big pro in the hands of a pro shooter.

13. Vigil (Operation White Noise)

Vigil is a great defender choice for the roamer who likes to play mind games. His ERC-7 cloak turns him into the Predator for drones. Attackers will know you’re there. But keep your cool when a drone is nearby and reap the benefits of the ensuing paranoia about where you might be.

12. Lesion (Operation Blood Orchid)

This defender is why the trap meta is so strong. Lesion is a fantastic defender to leave on site. The longer he’s alive, the more he gets to deploy his replenishing Gu toxic mines. These mines hurt, slow, and disorient attackers, which makes them the perfect addition to a clock-dependent defensive plan.

11. Ela (Operation Blood Orchid)

When first released, Ela quickly proved herself to be an essential choice. With multiple debuffs, though, she’s less essential, but still strong. Ela’s Grzmot Mines concuss attackers, much like Echo’s drone, and she has one in reserve if she enters DBNO. Ela can buy valuable time for a defending team.

10. Mute (launch operator)

Mute’s gone through various stages of popularity. His Signal Disruptors are multipurpose. They can be used at the start of a round to block drone scouting. Be wary of passive placement, though, now that Maverick is in the mix. With Maverick not in play, Mute is as powerful as ever.

9. Castle (launch operator)

Castle’s Armour Panels are trickier to place now that Maverick is in the meta, but they’ve been buffed. Glaz can no longer shoot his way through them, which makes them a lot more viable for barricading windows and site entries.

8. Pulse (launch operator)

Pulse is the ultimate roaming wildcard. He can provide valuable intel to his team by tracking attackers through solid objects with his Heartbeat Sensor. Pulse can also turn an attack plan on its head when pushing at the right time, and his Nitro Cell can catch decimate unaware attackers.

7. Echo (Operation Red Crow)

Echo is a part intel-gatherer, part denial. He’s the only defender with a drone, so it’s worth preserving. In terms of denial, that Yokai drone can fire off disorienting sonic bursts. Play Echo as an anchor (on or near the site) for best results.

6. Clash (Operation Grim Sky)

If you can’t have a Mira, Clash is your next best bet. She requires more skill to wield than Mira because her intel-gathering is active. That said, in the right hands, Clash’s shield can cause even the most aggressive attacker to pause.

5. Mira (Operation Red Crow)

Mira is mind games and intel gathering rolled into one. When an attacker sees the darkened side of her Black Mirror, they can’t be sure whether they’re being watched. This makes her Black Mirrors the perfect panopticon-like intel tools. Put them next to a soft wall for easy wall-banging opportunities.

4. Maestro (Operation Para Bellum)

Defender fixed cams tend to get destroyed almost immediately. Maestro is the answer to that. Not only can his Evil Eye cams provide awesome intel, they’re bulletproof. That said, they’re vulnerable when lasing, but they’re a fantastic tool for flinching attackers or denying a plant.

3. Smoke (launch operator)

Smoke is more risk than reward in Hostage mode, but he’s perfect for Bomb and Secure Area. Timed correctly, his Remote Gas Grenades can buy around 45 seconds if attackers are pushing a single route. Use Smoke to buy time, kill DBNO players or slow a push.

2. Jäger (launch operator)

As the only defender with an assault rifle, Jäger is already an attractive selection. But the addition of his Active Defence System “Magpies” make him a near essential part of any defender line-up. Jäger’s ADS blocks a tonne of indirect stuff: grenades, Thatcher’s EMPs, Ash’s Breaching Rounds, Fuze’s Cluster Charges, and more.

1. Valkyrie (Operation Dust Line)

The best firefight you can have in Siege is the one the enemy player doesn’t know they’re in. Valkyrie facilitates these opportunities with her Black Eye cameras. Take advantage of their extended rotation, free-form placement. And use intel to push, flank or pull off a cheeky run-out.