Rainbow Six Siege operators: Who to pick in 2019

There isn't a single best Rainbow Six Siege operator for every situation. Picking an attacker or defender in Siege is a matter of weighing objective location, your opponent, and the overall lineup of your team. Thermite works better on some maps than Hibana. An enemy that keeps picking Caveira is best countered by Dokkaebi. The value of an operator is a balance of their gadget utility and weapon power. 

Here's a breakdown of the Rainbow Six Siege operators we recommend right now for most maps and skill levels.

The best Siege operators, February 2019 log

Burnt Horizon is upon us, and with it comes a defender with an attacker gadget and an attacker with a defender gadget. What a tangled web we weave.

Gridlock can lock down a hallway with her Trax Stingers while Mozzie can turn your own drone against you and make it his personal camera. The Year 4 roadmap was also revealed at the Six Invitational, hinting at operators to come from the U.S. Secret Service, Denmark, Peru, Mexico, Kenya, and India. It should be a fun year.

ATTACKERS

Thermite & Hibana

Thermite and Hibana are widely considered the bedrock of a good team composition. They’re the two main hard breachers in Siege, and their ability to breach reinforced walls is one of Siege's fundamental mechanics. A round of Siege is often won or lost based on how much of the defense the attackers were able to tear down, and these two cut the deepest. If you’re looking to give your team the best chance in most situations, take one or both.

Very useful

Sledge & Buck

Sledge and Buck are two sides of the same coin, both accomplishing the same goal in different ways. They both excel at soft breaching: Sledge with his titular hammer, and Buck with his rifle-mounted shotgun. They’re both two-speed ops and both carry frag grenades, so the choice between them really comes down to the preference between Buck’s unmatched breaching speed and Sledge’s versatility. Bring one when you expect an enemy to pick an objective room with a soft ceiling, like Drug Lab on Theme Park.

Maverick

Maverick is Siege’s newest hard breacher alongside Thermite and Hibana, but his playstyle couldn’t be more different. He cuts through walls with the subtle hum of his blowtorch instead of the piercing boom of a breaching charge. He mostly excels as a stealthy flanker, opening smaller murder holes to catch enemies off guard while his teammates draw attention from elsewhere. Play him as a lone wolf; his versatile kit makes him a solid pick in almost any situation, but his blowtorch does take practice to use efficiently.

Ash

Ash is often pointed to as one of the best operators in the game, but little of that has to do with her gadget. It has much more to do with her R4-C assault rifle, her high speed, and her smaller model that makes her a slimmer (and more difficult) target to hit. Of these advantages the greatest is the R4-C, which boasts all-around great stats. Paired with her breaching grenade launcher that allows her to quickly open soft walls, she excels as a rusher who can overpower weaker defender weapons.

Thatcher

The perfect wingman for a good attack, Thatcher sets ‘em up so Hibana and Thermite can knock ‘em down. His EMP grenades can be thrown on the outside of a wall to destroy or disable electronic devices in its large radius. Most often, this is used to counter the electric reinforcement of Bandit and Kaid so that a hard breacher can penetrate the defense. Operators like Twitch can accomplish this task in riskier ways, but Thatcher’s EMP’s make the job trivial. Against a savvy team, your hard breachers will be useless without Thatcher's support.

Twitch

Twitch has what I consider to be one of the most thrilling roles in the game, because driving her shock drones is like its own metagame within Siege. It's hard to sneak the boxier, less maneuverable drone under the nose of a defense, and once it's there she needs to act fast: dismantling as many of the defenders gadgets as possible before the jig is up. The shock drone is a uniquely powerful way to gather intel while also hindering the enemy, and at the moment it’s the only gadget that can open Mira’s windows. But even when off the drone, Twitch sports a solid two-armor kit and the F2, one of the best weapons in the game. She’s popular for a reason, but after a recent nerf to her drones increased their noise output and lowered their ammo, she’s harder than ever to master.

Zofia

Zofia is a particularly powerful support operator. Her double barreled grenade launcher has both impact grenades and concussion rounds that daze opponents when launched nearby. That said, 2018 was a year of nerfs for Zofia, ultimately going from four to two concussion grenades. She’s still highly versatile and can shoot her grenades anywhere they need to go. Compounded with the very solid M762 and LMG-E weapon options, she’s a well-balanced pick.

Viable, but not essential

Gridlock

Gridlock is in a unique spot as the first 3-armor attacker added to the game post-release. As you can read about in Fuze’s section, being a 3-armor operator makes you significantly louder and slower. These are typically a bad combo for attacking a fortified objective, but Gridlock brings a gadget that helps her alleviate some stress of getting flanked. The Trax Stigners are spiked mats that slowly multiply where they’re placed and eventually fill up a hallway.

The Trax are pretty easy to destroy—one bullet or melee hit will destroy each mat. But it’s not about trying to damage the enemy, it’s about slowing down their approach. She’s all about area denial, just like Nomad’s airjabs or Capitão’s fire bolts. If a flanking Caveria wants to hammer through the Trax, she’ll have to make a lot of noise to do it. Gridlock brings the F90 assault rifle and M249 LMG as primary options. The F90 has been my mainstay so far thanks to its forgiving recoil, but its stats are below average for ARs. The M249 is the same weapon brought by Capitão, except hers is magazine-fed. This means less ammo per clip, but a much faster reload. The new scope sight for the M249 has the same magnification as an ACOG but with a much clearer sight picture. Gridlock also brings along her trusty Super Shorty secondary shotgun, a powerful breaching tool that is limited in combat by its 3-round capacity.

Blackbeard

Blackbeard has always been a divisive operator in the community. Players can’t seem to agree on whether he’s overpowered nonsense or mostly useless, and it’s because his gadget is so situational. His two mounted rifle shields essentially give him two extra lives at the cost of speed and ADS time, and in the right hands he is absolutely terrifying. If he’s holding a long angle or attacking a window from outside, he always has the advantage. A nerf this year slightly lowered the health pool of his rifle shields while also giving some of his speed back, but he remains a great pick when playing towards his advantages.

Jackal

This tier can also be thought of as “good support operators,” and Jackal fits that mold perfectly. His Eyenox visor allows him to see enemy footprints and track down their exact location at timed intervals. Even when not scanning footprints, his visor is a great tool for quickly rooting out roamers and giving information to the team. On top of this, his unique secondary shotgun provides breaching opportunities while still pocketing smoke grenades to help with the final push. His C7E assault rifle and PDW SMG aren’t damage powerhouses, but offer some of the most forgiving recoil in the game.

Ying

Ying is all about overwhelming defenders with more flash grenades than they know how to deal with. Her three candelas each expunge five flash grenades that can be rolled under a doorway, thrown into a room, or penetrate the other side of a soft surface. It’s a disorienting primer when pushing a site, but her primary weapon options diverge from the norm. She has the choice of the LSW LMG or the SIX12 shotgun, but no traditional assault rifle.

Montagne

Montagne, lovingly known as Monty, is the attacker’s resident shield wall. His extending shield creates a barrier that few things can interrupt, so Monty is best used as a scout for spotting enemy locations while safely standing behind the shield. When backed into a corner he doesn’t have many options, but his powerful pistol still lets him contribute to the fight when he can. The way shields interact with melee and operators at close range is still pretty buggy, so expect wonky behavior and occasional unfair deaths.

Nomad

Nomad is Siege’s newest attacker, and her airjab ability is one of a kind. These proximity mines are fired from a rifle-mounted launcher and, when triggered by an enemy, propel them onto the ground. Despite her unorthodox gadget, Nomad is flexible as either a strong anti-roamer or reliable support op. Place airjabs at common flanking routes to catch a roamer off guard or riddle the planted defuser with mines for defenders trying move in. She shares the same tradeoff as Buck: being unable to equip recoil-relaxing grips on her guns thanks to the airjab launcher.

Lion

Lion is in a weird place at the end of 2018. When he launched in March, he was an overpowered mess with a motion scan ability that had virtually no counterplay and too many uses. He was eventually nerfed into the less dominating force he is now, but his motion scan is still highly powerful when coordinated when timed correctly. At typical skill levels he’s relatively inoffensive, but at higher levels he’s still a balancing headache. Ubi seems to agree, as he’s banned from the Pro League entirely until it decides what to do with him. A rework is on the horizon, but until we know what that entails, his current form can be a useful pick for your team and combos well with other detection ops like Jackal or Dokkaebi.

IQ

IQ hasn’t been immune from 2018’s round of nerfs. After a big spike in her pick rate in Pro League and high level ranked, Ubi took away her frag grenades and lowered the range on her electronics scanner. As of Wind Bastion her scanner range was restored, but her kit still lacks the frag grenades that allowed her fully utilize her scanner. Now she’s back to being able to spot gadgets for teammates, but without a secondary way to take them down. Her strong weapons and speed still make her a great operator in general, but she feels ill-equipped for her main job.

Finka

Finka was introduced alongside Lion at the beginning of the year, and despite worries from the community when she was unveiled, she hasn’t made a big splash. Her adrenal surge ability is great for giving the team a boost to health and recoil before a fight, but more often the timing is hard to nail and Finka just uses her boosts when she needs it. Her adoption of Fuze’s 6P41 LMG is a beast when combined with this recoil-reducing boost, but her Spear assault rifle remains one of the weakest in Siege. She received the frag grenades that were taken from IQ, which makes her a more attractive as a support pick that can still contribute damage.

Dokkaebi

Similar to Ying, Dokkaebi has a strong support ability that is overshadowed by her lack of competitive weapons. Her Logic Bomb is a powerful tool that makes every defender (minus Echo) emit a loud vibration sound from their phone. To anchors, it’s mostly a harmless annoyance, but the real value is how it reveals sneaky roamers. She can also hack the phone of a fallen defender to gain access to defender cameras for the rest of the round. Her information warfare potential is unmatched, but her tradeoff is an awkward set of weapons. She can take either the Mk 14 DMR or BOSG slug shotgun. The Mk 14 is a middling DMR and the BOSG is more of a weird novelty. At first, her powerful SMG-12 was considered her unofficial primary gun, but after this year’s recoil rework, the SMG-12 and other machine pistols have become unwieldy and unreliable.

Capitão

Capitão’s crossbow is a treasure trove of utility, bringing smoke bolts and asphyxiation bolts that aren’t countered by Jager’s ADS, have pinpoint accuracy, and infinite range. With practice and coordination, he’s great for rooting out anchors and assisting in a defuser plant. Where he falters is with his mediocre weapon choices. The M249 is a good LMG but the PARA assault rifle’s extremely low rate of fire gives it a choppy feel that isn't conducive to flick shots. Paired with a breacher that can open new angles for his crossbow to reach, he can disrupt a good defense.

Hard to make work

Blitz

Blitz has seen a lot of changes in his lifetime, from his ability to sprint with his shield up to his ever-shifting eyeballs. Nowadays, his playstyle feels appropriately aggressive. If all were well with the technical side of things, he’d be easy to recommend. But there are too many issues with shield collision and melee that come up often playing Blitz. Whether he’s getting meleed through his shield or the flash effect isn’t working consistently, there’s too much working against his success at any given time. Make no mistake, you can kick ass with Blitz, but it's in spite of his broken state.

Glaz

Glaz is another op that has seen many changes throughout the game’s life. Ubi has consistently struggled to reconcile the high power of his rifle with his advantageous scope that highlights enemies through smoke. Early this year, a nerf to Glaz’s OTs rifle fire rate severely lowered its overall DPS. Its output is now weaker than most other DMRs. As a result, Glaz is incredibly powerful when utilizing his smoke grenades, but hindered by tunnel vision when he’s not. He can still succeed as a site pusher, but any defender that hears Glaz’s rifle will avoid peeking him until the smoke dissipates and he loses his one edge.

Fuze

The premise of Fuze's cluster charges make them seem powerful and exciting. In reality, experienced players have little issue avoiding these bouncing bombs, so instead, they’re best used as a way to destroy gadgets. But Fuze’s problem isn’t with his launcher, it’s with him. Even with his powerful assault rifle, he’s the only non-shield attacker with a one-speed rating. His slow running speed is definitely a factor to his low pick rate, but I’d argue the biggest hindrance is the extra noise that he makes. It’s important when attacking to make subtle movements to draw less attention to yourself, but the loud thud of Fuze’s boots can be heard a mile away.

DEFENDERS

Bandit or Kaid

If hard breachers are the backbone of a good offense, Bandit and Kaid are the hammer that breaks that back in two. Their job is to thwart the attackers’ attempts to destroy reinforced walls and hatches. The pair both utilize electricity to shock away Thermite and Hibana’s explosives, but they go about it very differently. Bandit’s shock wire batteries are less versatile, but they’re quick enough to pull off the “Bandit Trick” and zap away a thermite charge before it can go off. Kaid’s Rtila Electroclaws can be stuck anywhere (including under hatches) and are harder to spot, but their arming time means he can’t play any tricks.

The strength of both ops are mostly defined by their gadgets, but Bandit’s speed and nitro cell make him a smart pick in almost any situation. Kaid is a little more situational as a heavy anchor with a weak SMG, but his scoped .44 magnum (already the subject of several nerfs) is an effective secondary. On objectives with multiple hatches, Kaid and Bandit pair well together to provide maximum security.

Mute

Mute isn’t the most exciting operator to play, but his impact can be immense. His signal jammers are extremely flexible, since they can be placed anywhere with enough room and cover an impressive distance. On walls, a jammer can fill the role of Bandit with slightly less effectiveness. On doors and windows, they’re great for jamming drones trying to sneak into the objective. If the enemy team is favoring Lion or Dokkaebi, placing jammers at common anchoring points will nip their gadgets in the bud. His flexibility and respectable kit makes him someone who’s never a bad idea to take along. In Wind Bastion, he was given the SMG-11 as a secondary option. This means he can now be played with the same loadout that makes Smoke so popular: shotgun and machine pistol.

Very useful

Mozzie

Mozzie is the new kid on the block in the game of information warfare. His launchable Pest robots can be set as proximity traps to capture attacker drones or fired directly at them to nab them quickly. If you’re proactive, you can capture up to three and add fleet of new cameras to your defense. It’s an incredibly powerful gadget, but he needs to spend a lot of time hunting down drones to use it. Playing Valkyrie, who can quickly place her cameras and focus on defense, is easier by comparison. Moz can also capture a Twitch drone to turn its zapper on his foes. Attackers now have to question the allegiance of every drone they see. The only way to spot a turncoat drone is the blue light it emits when in use.

What’s unique about his role is the ability to deny intelligence and simultaneously add more to the team. Worst case scenario, he sets the pests as traps and denys drone entrance like a Mute jammer. Best case, he adds three new cameras to the arsenal. He’s immediately useful on any any map, and that’s backed up the rest of his kit. Joining the ranks of Vigil and Jäger, Mozzie can bring along a compact assault rifle with his Commando 9. The Commando packs a big punch and strikes a balance of fire rate and controllability. His P10 Roni is a fine alternative, but it’s a bit unwieldy as a machine pistol. Mozzie can also bring the Super Shorty shotgun. Like Alibi, the pocket shotgun is a great tool for preparing murder holes, opening hatches, or creating sightlines.

Pulse

Pulse is Siege’s OG information gatherer, and 26 operators later, he remains one of the best. As long as every new op has a beating heart, Pulse will be able to see it with his scanner. He’s best utilized alongside a nitro cell, waiting for an attacker above and blowing it at their feet from below. He has no automatic way to callout the heartbeats he sees, so he can fall a little flat if the teammate isn’t on mic.

Mira

There are two eras of Siege: before Mira, and after Mira. When she released, her Black Mirror gadget opened up defenders to new strategies that powerfully lock down an objective. Merely placing her one-way bulletproof rectangle on a soft wall is a powerful deterrent because Mira is likely on the other side, watching for an opportunity to step over and strike.

Placing her mirrors in smart locations can take valuable time away from the attackers, but she also sports a powerful kit. Her Vector unloads its full mag in 1.5 seconds, but the fire rate and controllable recoil ranks it high among defender weapons. Her secondary shotgun (matching Jackal’s) lets her remodel walls without help from teammates and she even gets a nitro cell to further capitalize on her one-way information stream.

Rook

Rook is often only described as a great operator for beginners. While that’s true, he’s also just a great pick for most situations. His armor plates buff everyone’s health a bit and ensure that you’ll enter DBNO if you’re not shot in the head. For the already beefy three-armor anchors like Rook, the buff is appreciated but overall minimal. For one-armor roamers like Alibi or Caveira, the benefits can often save their life, since many weapons will now require a few more shots to kill with armor. Rook also sports the accurate MP5 (ACOG-compatible) and impact grenades that let him reliably set up a defense with rotation holes. He’s not a must-pick by any means, but can hold down the fort and help his friends survive.

Jäger

Jäger is the rare example of a defender without any obvious downsides. His gadget, the ADS, can be placed on walls and floors to zap away many different kinds of grenades and gadgets as they fly into a room. In the same way that Thatcher is a good companion for hard breachers, Jäger helps take away the advantage attackers try to achieve in altering an objective room. Nothing takes the wind out of an Ash’s sails like throwing in a few flash grenades before a rush just to have them zapped away. But just as important to his role is his 416-C Carbine, a powerful assault rifle that can challenge attackers at short to long distances. Good Jägers can lay down their ADS turrets and already be on the prowl as a roamer before the round even starts.

Valkyrie

In the game of information warfare, Valkyrie is a top dog. Her three Black Eye cameras can be placed anywhere on the map and provide clear color picture and near-360 degree views of the map. Players are accustomed to hunting down Valk cams, but the best Valkyries mix up their hiding places and even toss them outside after the round starts. Giving the entire team three new vantage points is an incredibly valuable ability. As a counterbalance, her SMG is one of the weakest in the game and her D50 (desert eagle), while powerful, is an unwieldy sidearm. In the hands of a master and a team with good communication, Valkyrie is indispensable.

Viable, but not essential

Maestro

In the six months since Maestro entered the scene, he has shaken up the idea of an anchor and given the game one of its most interesting gadgets, the Evil Eye. His two Evil Eyes are bulletproof cameras that can also shoot laser beams that can destroy gadgets and sting enemies. The durable cameras are a great help even without the lasers, but only Maestro can operate them. He’s also equipped with the Alda LMG, the only of its kind on defense. A recent nerf to the Alda took away its increased accuracy when hipfiring, but even still it boasts some of the strongest stats on defense. He excels at locking down the fort and knowing where the enemy is coming from, but it can be overwhelming to balance all of the plates he has to spin.

Kapkan

Kapkan, like other trap operators, still feels inessential, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make a big difference. His trip mines mounted on doors and windows are easier than ever to step into. The punishment for doing so is a harsh 60 health drop, which either kills you if you’re already damaged or puts you in a vulnerable spot for the rest of the round. His VSN SMG has some of the best balance between recoil and damage, plus his option of impact grenades or nitro cell adds some flexibility to how you want to play him. Any careful player can spot his traps easily, but he’s a fun pick against a team that favors rushing.

Alibi

Alibi is one of the more unique defenders of Siege. She places three “Prisma” decoys that project a full-sized fake Alibi that can fool enemies from afar. When the decoy is shot or walked through by an attacker (or their drone), their location is pinged for the next few seconds. It’s sometimes hard to tell if the decoys make a difference, but even months after her release I’m still shooting fake Alibi’s fairly often. It all depends on the situation: spread across an objective the decoys can be useful as alarms, and while roaming a crafty Alibi can use them to cover her tracks. Her usefulness is less about the decoys and more about her effective SMG, high speed, and impact grenades. She’s not exactly the “ultimate roamer” that Ubi originally billed her as, but a fun wildcard pick.

Caveira

Caveira is, by far, my least favorite operator to fight against. Her silent step ability dampens the sounds of her movements drastically, and her Luison pistol deals super high damage the closer she gets. The worst part getting bested by her is what happens after. If she’s able to pull off an interrogation, spotting every enemy on the map for a few seconds, it can easily win a round right then and there. Thorough droning and teamwork is the only way to reliably take her down. Experienced Cavs can interrogate enemies, stay undetected, and waste time for the attackers. In a prolonged fight against multiple foes, she’s useless. But if you let her get the better of you, good luck.

Doc

Playing Doc is like taking a more active role as Rook. His stim pistol can deliver three doses of 40 health from a distance, or self-apply. He can overheal for a total of 140 health, but the boost will deplete over time. He carries the same MP5 and P90 options as Rook, so he’s also a great anchor to take along. Since Doc usually stays near the objective, he’s best utilized after a fight or when roaming teammates come back to get healed. His stim pistol can also go to waste if he dies early in the round, so go with Rook if you’re looking to spawn peek.

Echo

Before Maestro, Echo was the only defender who spends the round mostly on cameras. His Yokai drones can jump up and stick to the ceiling to enter a cloaked mode. From there, it can fire sonic bursts that disorient opponents and interrupt gadget use. His utility used to rely solely on his one drone, but a nerf earlier this year gave him a second one to greatly expand his horizons. He takes a lot of practice to balance his time between droning and anchoring, but a proficient Echo can hold back a few attackers while fighting them off.

Ela

After Ela’s troublesome first months as an overpowered monster, she now sits somewhere in the middle of the pack. Her Grzmot mines are traps that concuss and hinder attacker aim, but they’re only useful if you’re nearby to capitalize on their detonation.. Her Scorpion SMG is powerful at close range, but a high-recoil mess from a distance. There are better options for pure roamers, but her mines are a great tool against rushers.

Smoke

Before the recoil changes earlier this year, Smoke’s shotgun and SMG-11 combo was considered one of the most powerful in the game. But now that machine pistols are less reliable as primary weapons, he’s fallen in popularity. Despite this, his remote-activated poison smoke canisters are an excellent way to cut off doorways and gas out an attacker planting the defuser.. 

Lesion

Lesion is another trap operator that doesn’t make too big of an impact with his gadget, but can still be a great asset. His Gu mines are hard to notice when cloaked and force attackers to take a moment to remove the needle. Lesion becomes more useful the longer he lives, since he earns more mines over time for a total of seven. The real highlight of his kit is the T-5 SMG, which has great control, a high fire rate, and average damage.

Vigil

Vigil is a stealthy roamer with somewhat opposite abilities to Caveira. Cav is strong when sneaking up on enemies but is foiled when spotted by drones. Vigil can’t silent step, but can activate his backpack jammer that makes him disappear on cameras. Drones can still detect when he’s nearby, so enemies can still surmise where he’s hiding, but it gives Vigil a solid chance at fending them off. His K1A SMG hits hard and is controllable at longer ranges, so it feels kind of like Jäger’s 416-C.

Hard to make work

Clash

Clash is the only operator on defense with a shield, and it’s a really weird one at that. Her full-body shield can shoot taser bursts at enemies that slow them down temporarily. Unlike Monty, Clash’s shield can be meleed to knock it away and open her up for attack. She can’t shoot unless she puts away her shield, a process that takes longer than ever after a series of nerfs. After balancing, Clash is left as a useful support operator in the right circumstances, but a terrible anchor the rest of the time.

When a teammate is grouped up with you to help take out the attackers you’ve slowed, Clash can work as intended. But the rest of the time, you’re fumbling around slowing people without a good way to take them out yourself. She’s the very definition of “hard to make work,” but if you can pull it off, it’s a fun role to play.

Frost

Frost sets bear traps that snare enemies and take them immediately into a DBNO state. They can be saved by a teammate, but more often an enemy will finish the job. But even that only occasionally happens, because her Welcome Mats are the most obvious trap in the game and can easily be disabled. This is by design: it’s a high risk versus high reward, but because of this her utility often goes to waste. In a fight her strange WW1-era SMG is alright, but you’ll have more consistent success elsewhere.

Castle

The reality of Castle’s bulletproof barricades is that they often hinder the defenders as much as the attackers. As even Ubisoft has said, he can be good with a coordinated team but is simply a nuisance otherwise. That doesn’t mean you can’t play him right: the barricades can be an effective blockade as time winds down in a round. Ubi is in the process of reworking Castle into someone that hopefully plays nicer with teammates, so I’m hopeful he can make it out of this category in 2019.

Avoid completely

Tachanka

No matter how good the memes or how extravagant the cosmetics, Lord Tachanka just kinda sucks. His stationary turret is poison to surviving a round, the turret shield has hitbox issues, and the damage output of the thing isn’t even that impressive. Off the turret, Tachanka is just a slower Kapkan. For a long time it seemed like Ubi was content to leave him be as a living meme, but earlier this year it announced a plan to rework him into what will likely be a completely different operator. The goal seems to be to maintain the character while changing everything he does. Good luck with that! {-}7