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Do peekers have an advantage? Ranked and Vanguard

by maksst 2020-05-14

In yesterday’s Riot Dev blog post by Executive Producer Anna “SuperCakes” Donlon and Game Director Joe “Ziggs” Ziegler we can read why peekers have an advantage, what are the plans for the ranked in the future and more information about the anti-cheat software - Vanguard. We have a lot to cover, so fasten your gaming chair seatbelts and let’s get started.

First of all, let us quickly explain why peeker’s have a slight advantage over defenders. Imagine that you are waiting for an enemy to peek, you have your crosshair perfectly at head’s height and all you have to do is make a small adjustment (flick) to land a shot, but all of sudden, the peeker just runs at you and kills you faster than you could even react. Why is that? First of all, don’t worry, it’s a common thing in all online FPS games and that’s something we have no technology yet to overcome. You see, when you stand still, there is almost no new information sent to the server, but when you are peeking, this information needs to be sent to the server and then to the player that is defending. This is very simplified, but you get the idea. For all of you geeks, Riot gives us a formula on how to measure it:

ENEMY'S CLIENT FRAMERATE + ENEMY'S 1-WAY NETWORK LAG + SERVER FRAMERATE + YOUR 1-WAY NETWORK LAG + NETWORK INTERP DELAY

Some values are always the same as network interp delay is 7.8125ms or server framerate is 128-ticks per second. Others like network lag or client framerate are not. For now, Riot confirms that peeker have about 40-70ms advantage, it’s not that big, but it’s still a problem. Lots of discussions have been reported on this where people see an enemy just running at you and never stop while landing a perfect headshot. Well, truth be told, the enemy made something called counter-strafing, which pretty much means that he moved, stopped, shot, and then started moving again. Unfortunately, because of the formula shown above, it looks like he never stopped moving.

Riot has some plans for solving this. First of all, they are still looking into the data to find a balance between movement and shooting, so strafing won’t look so unfair while peeking. They also want to improve the animation transition between moving and standing. Later on, they will focus on the camera. Often when you die, your dead body is getting into camera angle, so you can’t even see what exactly happened at the moment of your death (that is promised to be fixed in the next update or one after it). They are also considering getting rid of an interp delay (buffering), but they don’t like this idea since it’s not a perfect solution.

Now, let’s answer the most important question: do high-ping players have an advantage? Simply put - no. Low-ping players will always have smoother gameplay since they receive and send information to the server faster. The only time that high-ping players will have an advantage is when sending information takes way longer than receiving it. The main problem here is that Riot didn’t really have time to set up server infrastructure because of COVID-19 and they are not to blame for it - no one is. You can’t even blame high-ping players, they just want to have as much fun as you have while playing the game. It’s just something we all need to wait out until Riot finds a solution and I’m sure they are working their best to overcome this as soon as possible.

Next, Product Manager Ian Fielding is talking about ranked and why Riot doesn’t want to add a solo queue. He says that “Having a solo queue can easily lead to that becoming the definitive test of someone's skills and the primary way to play competitively. (...) If you are playing solo or with smaller group sizes, we’ve worked to make it so our matchmaking will favor placing players against similar premade team sizes.”. A lot of streamers and professional players would like to see different types of queues since for now matchmaking doesn't favor solo queue players.

Ian Fielding also says that winning and losing a game has the biggest impact on your rank, while KDA doesn’t matter that much. “If you aim for something other than winning (like KDA), and you lose matches because of it, your rank will trend downward.”. For now, they promise to change rank icons to make them more clear to see, make matchmaking more fair and that they are still experimenting with competitive in general. Maybe in the summer, the competitive queue recipe will be totally different than it is now.

Lastly, VALORANT’s anti-cheat lead Paul “arkem” Chamberlain talks about Vanguard. He promises that they keep track of all Vanguard feedback and with the newest update most of the drivers that were not working with it, now are. They want to make Vanguard more non-invasive, so they changed their approach. Now, instead of closing your software, Vanguard will just close your game and as he says “Only in the most egregious cases will we block any software from running on your computer”. Their main goal is to make players happy.

And there we have it! Did you have some similar issues with the peeker who just ran you down? Let us know in the comments below!

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