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How far does Riot have to go to stop Valorant cheaters?

It goes without saying that, from trolls to cheaters, the potential audience of fun-ruiners in Valorant is immense, and growing alongside the game’s popularity. While cheating is nothing new, Riot has faced some controversy over just how far they are willing to go to stop potential Valorant cheaters. Even before its official launch, players were justifiably worried about the potential invasion of privacy that the Valorant Vanguard anti-cheat program would bring.  Vanguard already has unprecedented access to the sensitive data of your computer in order to detect potential cheats.  Yet even this level of probing has failed to prevent cheaters from cracking the program  numerous times. The latest incident of cheating was even found at the tournament level.

Valorant cheaters caught at tournament

This recent incident is putting a particular minor tournament in the spotlight for the wrong reason. At the TGS Signature Series Valorant tournament that took place the weekend of Aug. 22, a player was caught cheating with an aimbot. The player, who had the alias of Ryut, was caught red-handed in the middle of a match, when the aimbot picked the wrong target. This error in the aimbot’s judgment  not only cost Ryut the round, but exposed his aimbot usage.

What’s notable about this particular instance of cheating are two things. First, it shows that cheating is still very much a thing in Valorant despite Riot’s best efforts to date. Secondly it shows how pervasive cheating, or at least the idea of it, has become in Valorant. The prize pool for the TGS Signature Series Valorant tournament was a mere $2000. Only two grand. Yet Ryut thought the grand prize was worth enough money to risk cheating over.

Valorant viper

Ryut has since been banned from Valorant entirely. However, he had to be manually added to the list of banned players. Bans in Valorant work on the HWID system. This means Ryut could theoretically buy a new computer and play Valorant on it to circumvent the ban. However, there are implications of this incidence of cheating at this high level of competition that may reach far beyond this tournament.

Possible consequences

I am sure Riot is pretty proud of their Valorant Vanguard anti-cheat software. For the most part, it does its job fairly well. Considering the amount of banned cheaters this system has cracked down upon, Vanguard is at least effective in combating the cheater problem in everyday games of Valorant. Other competitive games  have struggled to keep up with their cheater problems, so we shouldn’t judge Valorant too harshly here.

Still, this incident of cheating at a high level of play may have unforeseen consequences. With a cheater exposed at a tournament, the pressure is on Riot to beef up their defenses. As mentioned, Vanguard is invasive enough as it is. What lengths will Riot have to go to in order to prevent cheating at the tournament level?

When it comes to in-person tournaments, there are common sense steps Riot and tournament organizers can take to prevent cheating. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing an increasing number of tournaments to be held in online-only formats, not every tournament organizer has this luxury. Riot now has to decide what they are willing to do to preserve competitive integrity in online-only tournaments, considering their current method is far from perfect.

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Phillip Miner

Phillip has over a decade of experience writing about video games. Yes, over a decade! He's been on publications ranging from the Escapist to local papers and beyond.
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