The Biggest Controversies That Shook Valorant in 2021
2021 was a great year for Valorant. We received regular content updates, balance changes, and the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) was an entertaining experience. Riot Games laid the foundation for Valorant esports in 2021 and the VCT is about to get even bigger in 2022. But there were some moments that were unpleasant, to say the least. From a match-fixing scandal to money laundering, there were some crazy controversies that surprised and shocked everyone.
Riot Games’ competitive ruling against Vivo Keyd at Champions
Riot Games issued a competitive after the team used a Cypher exploit that allowed the agent’s camera to become immune to damage. The fact that the exploit was even used at an event like Valorant Champions was appalling. In fact, the exploit was deemed punishable in the past as well as it occurred in a VCT match between X10 and Giants. But Vivo Keyd used the exploit anyway and Riot Games was quick to dish out some punishment.
Riot Games decided to hand out round victories for any instance where Vivo Keyd used the Cypher exploit. It ended up modifying the final score to 13-9 in favor of Acend but a part of the community was not happy about it. Riot then went back on its ruling and let both teams have a rematch with Acend getting a score advantage. Keyd almost won the matchup but Acend managed to narrowly edge past to victory. The community was split over Riot Games’ decision and Keyd winning the round could have made things even worse.
Moving forward, needs to have clearly defined official rules for such instances and needs to be more decisive with its decisions.
Turkey’s money laundering scandal
An almost unbelievable unfolded towards the end of 2021 with multiple Turkish Valorant pros being involved in the situation. A number of Twitch streamers were being sent large amounts of bits, which is a digital currency that can be encashed for real currency.
Even world championship-winning team Acend was not free from the controversy. Its star player Mehmet Yağız “cNed” İpek was also and unwittingly became a part of it. He came clean about his involvement and so did a number of other Valorant pros. The scandal was so big that it even and the government is taking measures to strengthen its grip on money laundering in the country.
Match-fixing scandal in Southeast Asian Valorant esports
Former players from Team Resurgence, a Singapore-based esports organization, were caught manipulating the outcomes of Valorant matches and Riot Games issued a competitive ruling in April 2021. Some of the players involved have been banned till April 2024 and the incident once again highlighted the presence of gambling and match-fixing in esports.
Soon after the ruling, AFK Gaming spoke to WePlay Esports’ head of esports, Eugene Luchianenco, who . While match-fixing is not prevalent in the tier-one scene, it is something that deeply affects smaller competitive scenes. Publishers, tournament organizers, and the community need to come together to eradicate the issue in not just Valorant, but in all of esports. Riot needs to build an ecosystem where players aren’t incentivized to turn to match-fixing. Valorant in particular needs to build a tier-two and tier-three ecosystem where organizers can help players showcase their skills.
Toxic fandom during Champions
Regional rivalries exist throughout most esports titles and there were too many controversial mishaps that happened during Valorant Champions. Brazilian team FURIA Esports looked like it had the advantage against Sentinels in one of the first matches of Valorant Champions and a technical pause was called which infuriated FURIA fans.
Fans sent scathing messages to Sentinels IGL (In-Game Leader) Shahzeb “ShahZam” Khan because of the technical break. Khan played it down and didn’t feed the fire but his teammate Jared "zombs" Gitlin fanned the flames by retaliating on Twitter. It led to FURIA fans sending personal hate and death threats to anyone who came in the way of the angry fans and Sentinels came at the receiving end of internet abuse.
Brazilian CS:GO legend Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo helped calm the situation by out “We need to change, especially the Brazilian gamer community, from threatening and trying to make the person on the other side feel 'afraid' to punish something that was done and we don't like it. This in no way reflects our essence as people.”
Despite the controversies, 2021 was a great year for Valorant and with the VCT set to kick off in early 2022, the community will be looking forward to a season that upholds competitive integrity within the esport alongside granting a spectacular competitive viewing experience for the fans.
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