Every Rainbow Six Siege defender ranked from optional to essential

A regularly updating 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 I intend on updating it as those changes happen. Click through for my April 2018 defender ranking.

18. 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.

17. Kapkan (launch operator)

At launch, Kapkan was incredibly frustrating to indirectly encounter his trip wires. After his buff, he returned to popularity. But after a recent debuff, he’s not a great operator choice. Poor Spetsnaz. They really copped the stinky end of the stick in Siege. At least his gadget options – Impact Gren or Nitro Cell – are useful.

16. Castle (launch operator)

Castle’s Armour Panels are great in theory but suffer in execution. They used to be a great way to funnel attackers, but they’re deadly Cluster Charge points now that Lion has made Fuze a viable choice (particularly on armoured windows). Granted, you’ll still see Castle picked at the top level, but that’s for very specific strats.

15. 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. Fast forward to today, and she’s a less viable choice, but mostly because attackers are wise to her ways. Attackers doing their due diligence in checking for roamers can easily nullify Caveira.

14. Frost (Operation Black Ice)

Welcome Mat’s 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. With Frost’s three traps destroyed, she’s not left with a whole lot else in the way of pros.

13. 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. But headshots kill instantly, which makes Doc less essential and more of a gamble.

12. 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. Pro tip: drop the Armour Pack in front of a drone hole.

11. 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. Vigil’s primaries  are also particularly potent.

10. 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, congratulations. You’ve made the attackers sweat, bought valuable time for your team and, ideally, forced the attackers into a less-than-stellar alternative attack plan.

9. 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.

8. 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.

7. Mute (launch operator)

Mute’s gone through various stages of popularity, but now that Lion is in the game—Mute being Lion’s only current counter—he’s popular again. His Signal Disruptors are multipurpose. They can be used at the start of a round to block drone scouting. Plus, they can be used to stop hard breachers and Fuze’s Cluster Charges.

6. 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 (multi-kills FTW).

5. Echo (Operation Red Crow)

Three of my top five picks for defenders are all about intel gathering. Echo does this via Yokai drone. He’s the only defender with a drone, so it’s worth preserving. He’s also built for denial, because that Yokai drone can fire off disorienting sonic bursts. Keep Echo alive until the end for best results.

4. 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. Plus, put them next to a soft wall for easy wall-banging opportunities.

3. Smoke (launch operator)

Granted, 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. The fact he kills a Finka-buffed push even faster is the cherry on top of this deadly defender.

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)

It’s true of any FPS but more so in Siege: the best firefight you can have is the one the enemy player doesn’t know they’re in. Valkyrie facilitates this with her Black Eye cameras. They have greater rotation range than the regular cameras, and they can be stuck in unexpected spots to provide crucial intel.