Riot has clarified their rules, adding a clause that specifically outlaws stream sniping in the Valorant Champions Tour.

Update 2/3/2022, 12:47 AM Pacific: Riot has since responded to Esports.gg’s request for comment. A Riot Games spokesperson said:

“For us it was important to clarify and lay out the logic of what behavior we think is against the spirit of competitive integrity. We also recognize the difficulty of enforcing this rule with large, online competitions, but felt it was important to have a clear position from which we can issue rulings. In the future, suspicions of “stream sniping” can and will be reviewed, and the parties at fault will be penalized in accordance with established rules and policies.

The exact method of detection for these instances of stream sniping was not disclosed, and we’ll update further if this is clarified.

Original Article follows.

After outcry from the competitive Valorant community, the Valorant Champions Tour rules were updated to explicitly outlaw stream sniping. While something like this should be very obvious, a coach or players watching the stream can give a huge competitive advantage. It seems that some teams were taking advantage of vagueness in the rulebook to do just that,. So much so that coaches needed to ask for clarification on the practice.

Why was the rule clarified by Riot?

As made public by Soniqs Esports coach Reid Johnson, some coaches were in fact watching the stream. In the interest of competitive integrity and a level playing field, Johnson made the conversation between a Nerd Street admin and another coach public.

Stream sniping outlawed by Riot

“After discussion with Riot Competitive Operations, during official matches coaches may only watch the match from the perspective of the in-game coach’s slot,” Nerd Street Gamers admin Josie said in a Discord announcement. “They are prohibited from watching live broadcasts as that provides additional information on the behavior of the opposing team beyond what is visible from the PoV of the coach’s team.”

Indeed, Riot felt the need to go even further than the original question, ruling out any gray area or loopholes. They prohibited players from trying the same thing and then claiming ignorance later because the rules didn’t explicitly state the issue.

“Coaches are prohibited from watching the live broadcast as they are the only party who is allowed to communicate with players during timeouts in a live match. Players within the match are prohibited from watching the live broadcast as their match is still in progress.”

A win for competitive integrity in Valorant

Had this ruling not been clarified, this could have been a big blow for Valorant esports. After all, stream sniping in any regard is looked down upon as a form of cheating. It allows teams and players to have the information they aren’t supposed to.

Specifically, in Valorant, this could have given teams key information about setups, strategies that were being run, and what part of the map teams were playing towards.

While that information may not have won matches, it remains a competitive edge that should not exist.

Questions around stream sniping enforcement remain

While it’s great that Riot acted extremely quickly in this regard, questions remain. Namely, how will Riot enforce this issue given that players are playing remotely? This is especially problematic in events run by third parties like Nerd Street, who aren’t directly Riot employees. Riot may eventually establish protocols to ensure competitive integrity. But it will be a hard sell for third parties to follow these same strict protocols.

Short of setting up cameras in the streaming room or area of each player that ensures the screen is visible, it will be difficult to come up with a solution.

Esports.gg has reached out to Riot Games for comment around enforcement of this new ruling.


For all the latest on the Valorant Champions Tour, keep it locked here to Esports.gg.

Dustin Steiner - Americas Editor

Dustin Steiner

Americas Editor | Twitter: @GetSteinered

Americas Editor for Esports.gg, Dustin Steiner brings a decade of esports newsroom experience to bring fans what they need to know, helping them keep their finger on the pulse of esports as it happens. When he's not helping run the newsroom, you can find him grinding it out on Smash Ultimate, Final Fantasy 14, or probably binge watching Gundam.