Update 10/14/2021: Riot pulled the ripcord on the in-person part of this event due to the multiple positive COVID-19 tests from the various players. They announced that the event is now postponed until further notice, with their intention being to move the LCQ online.
Update10/13/2021: Riot has now confirmed that they will be postponing Thursday's matches as well as they work toward implementing solutions to the many issues listed in this article.
Original Article: VALORANT pros and teams alike are expressing their frustration with the VALORANT VCT North American Last Chance Qualifier tournament taking place this week, which has been beset with technical issues, teams missing the tournament, and now quarantined players everywhere during the event. Now Riot has officially cancelled the second day of matches as they assess the fairest and safest path forward for the teams and their staff.
The tournament lead up, foreshadowing of issues to come
The issues with the NA LCQ actually started before the tournament began.
Two Oceania-based teams, Order and Chiefs Esports Club, were unable to attend the event in Los Angeles due to travel complications. The teams blamed "preventable" issues from Riot Games for their inability to attend the overseas event, though COVID-19 was ultimately the driving force behind those complications.
On top of that, in the lead up to the tournament NA VCT announced the first two rounds of the in-person event would be single elimination, a decision that drew backlash from the players and teams who believed that tournaments that require high effort to play at, like this one, should be double elimination. NA VCT did eventually change the LCQ to double elimination following the Oceania teams dropping out of the competition.
As it turns out, the drama leading up to the LCQ was only the start of much bigger issues for Riot Games and the team attending the event.
A rough first day for the NA Last Chance Qualifier participants
The first matches of the LCQ were riddled with technical errors, in both the games and the broadcast itself. Following the first couple of matches, Riot announced they were moving the LAN tournament to online to accommodate players who would need to quarantine due to positive COVID tests.
The decision to move the in-person event to an online server sparked backlash from numerous players competing at the event. Most notably, multiple members of 100 Thieves were vocal about their displeasure of the event being moved to LA servers instead of LAN.
XSET Zekken made a joke on Twitter about the situation, saying "by the end of this tournament I'll still have no LAN experience lol" to which 100 Thieves Asuna responded, "that's what i'm saying, my team still thinking I have 0 LAN exp after this :("
The last-minute move online negatively impacted teams on Tuesday, with multiple orgs reporting technical issues during their matches.
Most notably, Luminosity Gaming player aproto fell victim to network issues, as he experienced network interruptions during a clutch opportunity against XSET on Tuesday. In the clip, the commentary suddenly cuts out while aproto is frozen, only to reconnect and find himself already dead to the two players from XSET. This clip sparked further backlash from players and fans alike.
At the conclusion of the first day, things were not looking great, but players were hoping everything would get smoothed out for day 2.
Competition comes to a screeching halt on Day 2 after multiple players test positive to COVID-19
Competition was not smoothed out for Day 2, after multiple players showed conflicting results on their COVID-19 tests.
As a result of the tests, initially FaZe Clan was set to play from home for the day due to Babybay and Corey both experiencing mixed virus test results, and RISE was forced to play with 4 players in-person due to one of their players having conflicts test results. RISE player Derreck took to Twitter to express his concerns that they would play a man down on "LCS PCs" against FaZe clans "NASA" level home PCs with 5 players.
Out of concerns for the player's health and the fairness of the matches, the matches for Day 2 were called off by Riot Games, while they assessed COVID-19 protocols, the conflicting test results, and the other issues plaguing the tournament.
After the plethora of issues at the LCQ, teams and players are justifiably upset with the situation. Jake Lucky reported that according to a source, multiple VALORANT teams have reached out to Riot Games about the unacceptable conditions and some are even considering leaving the tournament entirely due to their concerns.
As of writing this article, it is unclear what will happen next, but one thing is for sure, this tournament has been a disaster and was far from the magnificent return to in-person NA competition that the teams, players, and Riot themselves were hoping for.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.