11th February 2021 – 5:10pm
During the Brazilian Valorant Challengers, one of the matches was interrupted rather abruptly. While Slick and Vorax were in over-time in the loser bracket, the game stopped and the players were sent to the home screen. This is not the first time-out in an official Valorant competition, but it's the first during a live broadcast.
This problem occurs when a match lasts more than 90 minutes. In fact, the meeting between Slick and Vorax was very long. Both teams had gone into over time with a score of 15-15 when the game ended. Although it wasn't the highest score that we've seen so far, the game was long and the teams took a few tactical breaks.
Riot had deployed tools before the First Strike that allowed a game to be started with the score of an earlier interrupted game. This incident brought to light a problem with this tool : it's not capable of starting a game directly in overtime. So the game resumed on a score of 12-12. This is not dramatic, but the score is biased.
Where it's more damaging is that the interruption of the game had a real impact on the result of the match. Vorax had a lead of one map in this BO3, and had the round going really well for them with 4 players alive to 2. All they had to do was win one more round to win the match and qualify for the next Challengers.
Unfortunately, Vorax wasn't able to win the two rounds it was missing after this interruption. So they lost to Slick on this second map, before losing the match on the third map. However, there's no proof that they would have really won the match without this technical problem. Moreover, true champions are capable of dealing with unexpected situations and end when necessary. But we can't help but think that Vorax was unfairly disadvantaged.
As we said it earlier, this is not the first official match to be interrupted by time. About ten other matches have had the same problem, including two during the First Strike. On the other hand, this is the first time that the problem is publicly visible, which doesn't give a very good image of the competition.
Even if we have no official explanation for this problem, we do have our little theory about the interruption.
This is probably a security issue at the level of the game servers. Places are limited on a server, and each game takes up a fraction of the available space. Technically, it would be possible to overlead servers and cause dysfunctions by creating games that never stop. Malicious individuals could create numerous games (in private matches) to gradually occupy each available space. If this happened, the servers would be blocked, and players wouldn't be able to start games.
By coding a maximum time limit for a match, the server naturally rolls. It makes sure that there will always be room available for new players.
It's a safeguard that most online games have, but we rarely see it in action, let alone in competition. League of Legends, for example, turns all the minions into Super Minions after a while. These Super Minions are too powerful to be stopped by players and one of the Nexus inevitably ends up exploding under their attacks.
Since the problem occurred obviously in Valorant, and more than once, Riot Games will have to change its limit. As the Valorant Champions Tour games are played on a private server with limited access, perhaps this rule could just be removed on it.
Just as the problems with Patch 1.11, this kind of problems allow a game and its developers to learn and evolve. This time-out also highlighted the technical limits of Valorant, but also those of the various Riot Games' tools. Let's bet that now that there has been a public disappointment, all this will be correct soon.
Too bad for Vorax. We'll never know if they would have won their qualification without it.