Valorant has quite a mysterious lore when the topic of Radiants comes up. All this lore gets slowly revealed officially via animated short videos. Radiant was a thing in Valorant until it got added as a rank with Valorant’s 1.02 patch. This was done in order to support the lore, created by the game's creative team.
In the game, Radiant rank is far different than other ranks in the game as they mark the top 500 Valorant players in their region. So, in simple words, the road to Radiant is not easy, as it has room for only 500 players and everyone has to fight for it.
Meaning of being a Radiant in Valorant universe
Other than seeing Radiant as a rank, it is a huge part of Valorant lore. The recent short film released by Valorant, titled “Duality,” has gotten a lot of attention from players, as it continues Valorant's lore that deals with the mysterious radianite.
Radianite being a mystery might be linked to Dark Matter and something that was used as a safe and clean source of energy. However, the Venice incident of 2049, showed the destructive potential radianite holds. This event led to concerns regarding radianite being safe as said by the Kingdom Corporation.
According to the lore, after a global event called “First Light,” the Earth’s way of nature has completely changed. This is the very event that gave the powers to agents present in the game. The gifted individuals having these special abilities are called Radiants.
Radiants are quite small in terms of the global population with most of them having limited power and the ones with excessive potential are taken into Valorant Protocol.
An organization called Valorant Protocol was created to deal with threats related to radianite, with Viper and Brimstone as first agents. Valorant Protocol is independent and anonymous when it comes to operations. To keep agents' identities hidden, Valorant Protocol gives agents call signs.
Having Radiant as a rank in-game means the player has great potential, just like the Radiant agents who have great capabilities in their world and are well respected.