If you have any aspirations of playing VALORANT professionally or becoming a Radiant ranked demon then you need to understand these 3 fundamental concepts and use them while you play. The earlier you learn what and how to utilize crossfires, contacts, and baits the better you're going to get in a short amount of time. If you're playing with friends or on a team these are all critical for success in any round. Even if you are solo queueing ranked and you can help guide your teammates into these setups it will make life a lot easier.
All 3 of these concepts can be used on attack or defense. Crossfires on defense are generally at the start of the round whereas crossfires on the attack are set up after you've planted the spike. Contacts can be used at any point in the round for both sides. Bait setups can also be used at any point in the round for both sides.
Let's get into the meat of these concepts.
Crossfires are a great way to set up on defense, or post-plant situations when the defenders are trying to retake the site. The purpose of the crossfire is to make sure that anyone entering a choke point will be shot from 2 angles simultaneously. If your crossfire is set up properly and we take utility out of the equation, it's impossible for someone to break a crossfire and kill both people.
Here are examples of defensive crossfires on Ascent.
If we take utility out of the equation, anyone coming out of A main will die. If multiple people decide to come out at the same time the people set up in the crossfire will come out on top (in most cases).
Here's another example of a crossfire on Ascent. This time the location is middle/market.
When you set up in a crossfire make sure the enemy enters your line of sight at the same time as your teammate. If the enemy can isolate 1v1 gunfights against you while you're set up in a crossfire then it's not the greatest.
Here's an example of a setup where the players are technically positioned in a crossfire but this could break down quickly because the enemy doesn't enter into the line of sight of both players at the same time. This setup could potentially end up being a bait setup which I explain later in this guide.
Contact plays are safer than straight-up crossfires. The reason behind this is depending on what utility the opposing team has, a crossfire might not be an ideal setup to run. 1 flash can ruin your crossfire because you're gonna get blind at the same time. If you're in this type of situation then you want to run a contact play. A contact play is basically when someone takes contact, aka shoots their gun or gets shot at and then your teammate peeks from a spot that's not within the enemy's line of sight.
Contacts are something you need to learn because they are used in so many situations, you just have to be aware of where your teammates are on the map. Generally, players will say "I got first", "I got the first contact", or "peek off me" to initiate a contact play.
Here's an example of a contact play. Let's say I'm on the attack. The spike is planted and it's a 2v1 situation. The last defensive player (Reyna) is retaking from the door. Player 1 (Jett) would say "she's coming door peek off me". Player 2 (Raze) who is in A-main will wait for Player 1 (Jett) to take contact (shoot his weapon or get shot at) and then swing from A main.
Unless something goes terribly wrong in this round the chances of Reyna killing Jett and then turning their line of sight 90+ degrees to kill Raze before Raze kills Reyna is extremely low.
1 more example of a contact play. This one is pretty common in professional play because it's an effective post-plant setup on Icebox. Player 1 (Jett in my overview image) will be long B on top of the boxes watching the cross to yellow for player 2 (Raze). Once Jett takes contact (shoots, or gets shot at) the Raze will peek.
Not all baiting is bad. Most of the time when people talk about baiting it's mainly negative, but pre-determined bait setups are great ways to get kills and trick your enemies into thinking spots are clear when they aren't.
Just so everyone understands I'll explain the baiting that people get angry about. If you're off on your own and don't start to make moves until your whole team is dead, that's the bad kind of baiting. If your teammates run into a site and you're spaced too far behind them and don't even try to trade kills. That's also the bad kind of baiting.
Now let's talk about the good kind.
You can get really creative with bait setups. I can't remember which professional team did this but they had a 2-player setup in wine on defense. One was actively peeking A-main towards the orb and the other player was tucked in the corner like the picture below.
The whole idea behind this bait setup is if the attackers took control of A-main and killed the Raze they would think wine is clear and it would go unchecked. If the attackers went into the A-site then Jett would be in a position to shoot a lot of people in the back.
Another example of a bait setup is when you have someone close to a chokepoint and you want to "bait" for that player by making a bunch of noise and shooting to grab the enemy's attention.
In this setup, the Jett from A heaven would shoot towards A-main in hopes that the Raze goes unchecked as the enemy runs in.
Here's another example of a bait setup on Icebox. Jett draws all the attention of anyone coming B long while Raze stays tucked in the cubby. If Raze goes unchecked as the enemy team runs towards yellow then it's free multi-kills.
As I was watching the Champions Tour North America Stage 3: Challengers 1 Main Event: Grand Final yesterday between Sentinels and XSET I saw a bait setup in action. It didn't go exactly as XSET had planned but it still worked.
You can see in the clip that Zekken was going to try and pull the Sentinels player's attention towards himself on the market side while PureR stayed tucked away in pizza. Zekken overstayed his welcome and didn't actually make it back into the market but the bait setup still worked because Sentinels didn't anticipate another person being in that area.
There you have it. Now you understand how to set up crossfires, contacts, and baits. Go out and implement these in your game and let me know how it works out for you in the comments!