Building the perfect defense in Rainbow Six Siege is about a lot more than picking your favorite operators. A balanced team needs plenty of tools to keep attackers at bay and weapons that can compete with assault rifles on and off the bomb site. This tier list covers the viability of all 27 defenders in the context of a serious Ranked match with a team using a minimum level of communication and coordination. I’m also assuming a Gold to Platinum level of skill in the game (high enough that you’re seeking out detailed tier rankings). This isn’t for pros, but it’s also not for new players, we do assume a good level of familiarity with every defender.
This list was last updated on April 21, 2020.
Rainbow Six Siege Defender Tier List
S – Tier Defenders
The highest tier of Rainbow Six Siege defenders have a winning combination of competitive weapons and crucial gadgets. At a high level of play, it’s never a bad idea to have these operators around.
Valkyrie’s Black Eye cameras are the best tools in Siege for surveilling enemies from any angle you can imagine. With a deep understanding of map layouts, experienced Valkyrie players can hide her three sticky cameras in spaces that attackers will never find without an IQ. Her MPX is statistically weak, but its low recoil gives it high headshot potential. She’s amazing no matter the map or bomb site.
Maestro is the perfect anchor. With the survivability of a 3-armor and his dominant ALDA 5.56 LMG, he has the perfect kit to take on multiple attackers in quick succession. Backing up his raw firepower are his two Evil Eyes, bulletproof cameras that see through smoke and fire lasers. His cameras are powerful for intel and efficient at denying a defuser plant. Destroying them drains attackers of precious breach utility, so it’s kind of a win-win.
By simply placing his ADS devices on walls in the prep phase, Jäger can deny up to six grenades without breaking a sweat. If Thatcher or IQ can’t destroy them early in the round, any hope of an ideal defuser plant covered by smoke or flashes is lost. That’s an incredible power on its own, but Jäger also has one of the best guns on defense to back him up—the 4-16C Carbine. Even with a recent nerf to his speed, Jäger remains an essential member of a well-rounded defense.
There’s no getting around it: if you want the best chance at protecting walls from breaching, you need Bandit. His titular Bandit Trick is the only way to circumvent Thatcher’s EMP grenade and zap away Thermite and Hibana charges before they detonate. But wall defense isn’t the only value he brings. Bandit can roam like the best of them, sporting the deadly MP7 and nitro cell while maintaining a 3-speed rating. Against highly skilled teams, he’s a must-pick on most bomb sites.
A – Tier Defenders
Defenders whose gadgets aren’t as commanding as those above, but still bring important utility and firepower to a team.
Mozzie’s popularity is bolstered by his high flexibility. He can aim his Pest robots toward hacking enemy drones or plant them on doorways to deny drone access to attackers. His compact Commando 9 assault rifle lets Mozzie comfortably roam the map or anchor on the objective and interrupt defuser plants with his nitro cell. Plus, in a pinch, a hacked drone could fill the intel gap of Valkyrie or Echo. He’ll satisfy whatever role you need him for, he’s just not the best at any one thing.
On the rare occasion that he isn’t banned, Echo is a master of disrupting site pushes and covertly keeping tabs on enemy positions. A sonic burst from his Yokai drones is still the best way to instantly stop a defuser plant. The cloaked drones are sneaky, but they’re not as durable as Maestro’s Evil Eyes. A capable IQ can quickly destroy the Yokais before they’re too much of a problem. His ACOG sight helps against long sightlines, but his MP5SD won’t win most gunfights without a headshot.
Mira earns her reputation as the most-banned operator in Siege. On certain sites, her one-way Black Mirror windows can comfortably shift the power dynamic in the defenders’ favor. Pushing straight into a Mira hiding behind her window is an easy way to get killed. Her 3-armor rating and nitro cell compliments the anchor-friendly gadget, though her signature Vector SMG chews through ammo fast and requires frequent reloading to keep up. Her windows can fall with the help of a crafty Twitch drone or thorough flanking, but most players would rather ban her and leave it at that.
Wamai’s grenade-snatching MAG-NET traps can’t compare to the power and simplicity of Jäger’s ADS devices, but he’s a great pick for other reasons. A clever Wamai can hide MAG-NET so that attackers accidentally flash or frag themselves instead of defenders. He’s also the only hard counter to Capitão’s crossbow bolts that can deny large areas and deploy instantaneous smoke. In a gunfight he’s no slouch either, carrying the hard-hitting AUG assault rifle or reliable MP5K SMG. Jäger’s better, but Wamai is a worthy companion.
Kaid’s Electroclaws can’t trick Hibana and Thermite as well as Bandit can, but he’s the perfect pick on sites with a lot of hatches. Electrifying key hatches forces attackers to waste extra utility to open crucial sightlines or, in the best scenario, safeguards them from breaching altogether. That alone makes him indispensable in some cases. A recent nerf to his TCSG slug shotgun hurts his long range viability, but his unique defensive edge remains important.
Gu mines aren’t crucial to a defense, but they are a very easy way to make an anchor’s job easier. Lesion’s cloaked poison mines deal damage, set off an audible alarm, and prevent attackers from sprinting or planting the defuser until the needle is removed. It’s a deadly cocktail that Lesion can stir without lifting a finger. The looming annoyance of Gu mines forces attackers to divert their attention from shooting to minesweeping. Alongside his accurate T-5 SMG, he’s a popular pick for any defensive lineup.
Mute’s denial of attacker information isn’t flashy, but a signal jammer on a doorway, drone hole, or staircase, remains the best way to keep prying eyes out of the bomb site when it counts most. If placed correctly, nothing short of Thatcher’s EMP or a bullet will let drones through. He’s the perfect pick against skilled teams that drone every corner of the map.
As long as a Pulse player communicates with their team, the cardiac sensor can provide moment-to-moment updates on enemy locations with no real counter. That positional info lets Pulse call out kills for his teammates and, paired with his nitro cell, easily stop a defuser plant. Unfortunately, his underpowered UMP45 SMG keeps him at a disadvantage in most gunfights and makes him less consistent than other intel operators.
If you bring Rook, everyone has more health and an almost guaranteed down but not out (DBNO). He’s not necessary, but his armor plates may just be the reason you win gunfights and, ultimately, the round. Armed with the MP5, ACOG sight, and a few more bullets worth of health, he’s a formidable anchor that nicely completes a team that already has other defensive bases covered.
When it comes to site denial, Smoke is a double-edged sword. If his toxic gas canisters hit their mark, there’s nothing attackers can do but back away or die. The upshot is that tossing them accurately often requires him to get in harm’s way. Maestro and Echo offer safer methods for the same task, but Smoke’s higher speed makes him a more flexible fighter on and off the bomb site.
B – Tier Defenders
Defenders with specialized or selfish gadgets that are good, but not essential for a balanced team.
Doc doesn’t contribute to wall defense or utility denial, but there’s nobody that can pick fights with attackers and walk away without a scratch the way he can. His ACOG-equipped MP5 lets him compete with superior assault rifles at long range. When he’s low on health after a hard fight, he can easily heal himself (or a teammate) back to full with his stim pistol. He brings value by winning fights and minimizing the health cost to his team.
Vigil has the speed of a great roamer with the added bonus of a cloaking jammer that makes him disappear on cameras. His cloak gives him an edge against attackers serious about hunting down roamers with good droning, but he mainly throws his weight around with the competitive K1A SMG.
The dazing effect of Ela’s Grzmot mines can help defenders win a firefight, but they don’t cover as much ground as Lesion’s Gu mines. Still, someone comfortable with Ela’s Scorpion SMG can quickly roam the map and take multiple fights without reloading.
Goyo’s Volcan shields can be the most effective way to cut off a hallway when placed well, but the fact that Zofia or Ash can easily detonate them means they can’t be relied on. In fact, their best use is as a way to make attackers waste their frags and breaching grenades. Thankfully, Goyo can still hold his own with the Vector SMG or TCSG slug shotgun.
Alibi’s basic roamer kit of a punchy SMG, impact grenades, and 3-speed rating means that she can be compelling in a good player’s hands; but her Prisma decoys don’t add much to that equation. They’re useful for creating a bit of chaos for attackers that accidentally shoot them. High level players are generally good at seeing through Alibi’s ruse and will avoid the decoys altogether.
Caveira is the classic case of high risk for high reward. Her weapons are on the weaker end of the defender pool, but her interrogation power heavily punishes teams that aren’t watching each others’ backs. She’s a great pick against attackers that run off alone. More often, though, coordinated teams will drone her out early and take her down as a group.
As more breaching power has been added to Siege over time, Castle’s bulletproof barricades have only grown more fragile. It’s assumed that mega popular attackers like Zofia, Ash, and Sledge will destroy Castle’s reinforced doors and windows at some point. The best he can do is force enemies to use up their utility and initiate fights on his terms. He’s useful on specific sites for that reason, but his mediocre UMP45 SMG can make him a liability in a fight.
Nobody is better at punishing carelessness than Kapkan. Players that read the enemy team and figure out their style can often benefit from placing his traps around or away from the bomb site. Even if only one or two are detonated, nobody is confident going into a fight with only 40 health left. His traps force attackers to slow down, which can often throw off their established rhythm for site pushes. They become even better late in the round when attackers are forced to push a site and can’t be bothered to check for traps.
C – Tier Defenders
Operators whose weapons and gadgets aren’t viable enough to earn a spot on most teams.
Using Oryx’s Remah Dash or hatch climbing abilities will probably get you killed. On top of that, his MP5 is statistically one of the worst SMGs without access to the ACOG sight. Right now, he doesn’t make much sense on any team composition. Ubisoft seems to know how bad he is at doing his job, so we’ll probably see some significant buffs to him in 2020. It’s possible that he’ll climb up through the tiers soon enough.
Frost can be a worthy pick targeted against hasty enemies, but any team exercising a basic level of caution will shoot her Welcome Mats as they’re climbing through a window. They’re less effective as a deterrent than Kapkan’s traps, but you can get a free kill if one is triggered. It’s just not likely enough to justify her awkward, slow-firing SMG.
Another target pick, Warden can be just what a team needs under extremely specific circumstances. Teams might use his glasses to counter a Ying main or smoke plant here or there, but his weak MPX SMG makes him mediocre in a fight. He’s not worth the risk.
D – Tier Defenders
Operators that are a burden on any team composition other than a few specific use cases.
Even the best Clash players are, at best, setting up teammates for a slightly easier kill. She becomes more powerful when the round is already moving in her team’s favor, but it always makes more sense to fill her slot with an operator that can hold their own. Her taser shield isn’t worth the trouble and her SPSMG9 machine pistol is an awkward fit as a 3-armor anchor.
Until his rework sometime in 2020, Tachanka is still a bad pick for any team. It’s possible to score a few kills on his turret against unsuspecting enemies, but an organized team will easily destroy the turret’s shield or shoot Tachanka from above or below its position. Off the turret, he’s just a slower Kapkan.