Yesterday morning saw the esports world pause to behold Valorant’s tantalizing emergence in Twitch’s twinkling heavens.
Valorant is the latest game to come out of Riot Games, the company most famous for the enormously popular League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics. It’s their first time parting from the League of Legends cannon in 10 years, creating all new characters and maps in a style that most resembles Counter Strike: Global Offensive, with a few nods to Overwatch in the array of characters players can choose from.
Riot is releasing the closed beta to a random selection of people who watch any of the multitude of Twitch streamers playing Valorant. If the stream has the “Drops Enabled” tag underneath, the viewer is in the running for a ticket.
Streamers got a lot of traction from the beta’s launch. Since January, popular CS:GO and variety streamer Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar had on average 30,000 viewers, but yesterday the count leaped to over 300,000. Valorant’s beta harkened back to when Fortnite thrust many streamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevens into the limelight. Timothy “TimTheTatman” Betar and Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo got much of their following from Epic’s colossal success, and faced a similar phenomenon through Riot’s Twitch campaign.
Riot’s strategy lured 1.7 million people into their Twitch corner yesterday. Viewers in the chat were all but down on their knees shouting into the virtual abyss, begging Riot’s algorithm for a ticket. The format is reminiscent of the story of Tantalus, the Greek mythological figure who stood in a pool under a fruit tree which was always just out of reach, and where the water slinked away every time he went for a drink.
Tantalus’s spirit now lives inside the quarantined gamer salivating over what could be the next big esport.
Some tried their luck using chat commands; actions prompted by placing an exclamation mark before a message. Commands are used to activate bots to get information, or participate in giveaways and other stream events, but during the Valorant streams, viewers tried commanding the bots to “!givemekey.” When that didn’t work, they tried “!pleasedontgivemeabetakey.” The algorithm paid no heed to reverse psychology.
Several copypastas were born too. Copypasta is the word for a Twitch chat meme where messages are copied and pasted by several accounts repeatedly throughout the stream.
Viewers fought spam with spam, discouraging the begging by summoning the seemingly endless uncles and other family members who worked at Riot.
So many people wanted the tickets that accounts were going for as much as $1000 on sites like Ebay and Player Auctions, and moderators in the stream chats struggled to keep out the deluge of scammers posting fake links to tickets.
Looking past the chat window, the gameplay itself lent to some strategic and creative uses for the assorted jump pads and smoke grenades players had at their disposal.
Streamers with a CS:GO background tended to see more success during the first day of the beta, and those from Overwatch struggled a little more.
According to comments by popular streamer summit1g, Overwatch players seemed to do fine with aim, but the smoke grenades proved to be challenging for a collection of players not used to the mechanic. CS:GO players like shroud, nOthing and WarOwl were more comfortable with the format and boasted many wins.
Shroud flexed a 5 man ace on Twitter from earlier in the beta.
For now, Riot’s algorithm continues to grace us with our presence. They have yet to announce when they’ll taketh away.