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Riot bans nearly 9,000 Valorant cheaters, warns that this is 'only the beginning'

(Image credit: Riot Games)
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Valorant (opens in new tab) is still in closed beta, but that hasn't stopped cheaters from doing what they do—that is, cheating and spoiling the game for everyone else. Riot's efforts to put a halt to it (opens in new tab), primarily through its Vanguard system, have been controversial, primarily because it's a kernel mode driver that loads at boot and is always running, even when you're not playing the game. You can disable it (opens in new tab) if you like, or uninstall it completely, but you'll need to re-enable or reinstall it if you want to play Valorant.

Controversial or not, the system appears to be working. Riot anti-cheat data engineer Phillip Koskinas said on Twitter today that the studio recently dropped the banhammer on nearly 8,900 Valorant cheaters. It's not known how many people are actually playing in the closed beta, so we have no way to judge the number as a percentage, but even if it's just a tiny fraction of the overall player count, 8,900 fewer cheaters is a step in the right direction.

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Koskinas didn't elaborate on how the ban system works, but said in separate tweets that it's not a hardware ID ban—a ban on the specific hardware running the game, which as Apex Legends players can tell you is very difficult to evade (opens in new tab). He also acknowledged that determined cheaters will "eventually figure it out," although he added that bans won't be "easy" to get around. 

And there will be more to come: Riot senior anti-cheat analyst Matt Paoletti, aka RiotK3o, said on Reddit (opens in new tab) that "this is only the beginning," and retweeted a similarly ominous warning. 

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Riot also dropped a new Valorant patch today that makes changes to numerous characters, "in part to better align them with their intended roles and to balance abilities that we found to be either too weak or too powerful in common situations." Viper's Snake Bite radius is being increased to bring it in line with other area-denial abilities, while Sage's Slow Orb is being nerfed considerably.

"We all know Sage is OP. We’ve decided to try to reduce some of her stopping power while still allowing her to fulfill her role as the premier staller in Valorant," Riot explained. "These changes aim to reduce the overall efficacy of her Slow Orb, especially if they are chained back-to-back."

Numerous bug fixes and gameplay tweaks have been made, and a "quality of life" change to Valorant means that "cheaters are no longer referred to as 'hackers'," which seems appropriate under the circumstances. The full patch notes are up at playvalorant.com (opens in new tab).

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.