Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Professionals respond to COVID-19 at VALORANT Champions

Before the start of VALORANT Champions, Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom tested positive for COIVD-19. After the first day of the event, Victor “Victor” Wong also tested positive. The pandemic has its fingers on the whole major event, even though other sports have managed to hold events with crowds and others still do fighting to find a way to facilitate the live audience in 2022.

But out of the bubble at Champions, players aren’t concerned about their safety and feel that Riot Games and the VALORANT operations team have done their due diligence. Even so, concerns remain that the tournament could lose some of its prestige and excitement due to further positive testing and isolation

“I’m actually worried at the moment because of all the teams that are doing well,” said KRÜ Esports player Roberto Francisco “Mazino” Rivas Bugueño. “What worries me most is the whole experience and that in the end we will move everything back to the hotel. That is my greatest fear. “

Germany, where the tournament is held, has seen a surge in COIVD-19 cases recently, with the country’s weekly cases increasing since mid-October. The last number of cases on November 28 is 403,452 with 1,314,558 cases reported in the last 28 days according to the COVID-19 dashboard from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Alexandre “xand” Zizi of FURIA Esports said he was not concerned about the safety of his or her team at the event, but rather trusted the quarantine procedures used by Riot and the bubble people built at the event.

“We don’t worry about ourselves because we’re apart,” said xand. “We have taken the measures that we need, but unfortunately they cannot have this care for other people.”

Xand took part in the first major VALORANT tournament in the First Strike: Brazil regional tournament series, where there was a team disqualified due to positive COVID-19 tests. The process and technology for detecting and treating a positive test at Champions is different than what Riot set up Contingency plans for positive test results with players competing from their hotels off-stage.

While this allows the show to continue, it changes the energy of the games as players can no longer yell at their opponents or experience the champions phase. And teams didn’t travel the world to play from a hotel, even if it’s on a LAN server.

“You’d probably think it’s more comfortable for us, but it’s actually not,” said Mazino, who played his first match against Team Liquid from the hotel. “It’s like a completely different atmosphere, a completely different environment than when you see the other team right in front of you while the energy and ambience have increased.”

KRÜ fell 0-2 against Liquid but Mazino didn’t blame the change of location for the loss, saying that as a player he will have to deal with what is given to him during that period. KRÜ has so far qualified for every international event in VALORANT and still has to play in front of an audience or deal with COVID complications like with champions.

While Counter-Strike: Global Offensive hosted two major tournaments with a large crowd in countries with fewer cases of the virus, VALORANT only had tournaments with no viewers, albeit with great stage design and on-site broadcast coverage.

“That whole experience with the crowd, it’s just a completely different mood. And with all of the events I’ve been to this year, I haven’t had the opportunity to play with an audience so I would have loved that. And as far as the country is concerned, I would of course have liked to go to another country where there were fewer COVID cases and the possibilities were less, “said Mazino.

Champions was originally scheduled to hold a VALORANT competition in Los Angeles, but the location has been changed due to “COVID-19-related complications.” The United States currently has the highest cases of the virus over 28 days at 14,972,279. The North American Last Chance Qualifier, held in Los Angeles, was originally a LAN tournament that was held on a stage but went online quickly after COVID-19 complications.

While COVID-19 has set VALORANT champions back a bit in terms of ambience and mood, and could potentially throw them off track in-game, pros are still aware of the virus’ impact on a personal level.

“In my opinion, it is very difficult for me if I test positive here because of the COVID, because I have a relative who already got positive and almost died because of it,” said Team Secret player Riley “joke” Go. “I have trauma, you know. So for me, I am very aware of it.”

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