VALORANT in Pakistan in question with new Challengers rules, but what is Riot doing?
Nodwin and Riot Games have teamed up to launch the VALORANT Challenger for the South Asia region. The rules for the tournament, though, put VALORANT players from the second most populous country in the region, Pakistan, at risk of disqualification and people are not happy.
VCT Challengers South Asia visa rules put Pakistan’s esports scene in question
So what’s the problem? The open qualifiers for the VALORANT Challengers have been announced. They are being held online and welcome registrations from the entire region, including Pakistan.
However, a quick look at the rulebook shows that it may not be worth it for Pakistani players to participate as they might just be disqualified later in the competition. Per Rule 5 of the rulebook, all players in the VALORANT Challengers are required to ensure that they are eligible for an Indian visa. This is because the later stage of the tournament will be held as a LAN in the country.
However, getting an Indian visa is a big problem for Pakistanis. This is because of a history of tense diplomatic relations between the two countries. While getting a visa is theoretically possible, it’s a very complicated and time-consuming process. Even then, you may still be rejected.
Thus, it’s no surprise that VALORANT players from Pakistan are pissed about this rule. One of them is BeasT who put out a tweet calling it out. “Why even bothered adding Pakistan to this so called SA qualifier when you clearly know that Pakistani players won’t get visa? [sic],” the player said.
Why even bothered adding Pakistan to this so called "SA" qualifier when you clearly know that Pakistani players wont get visa ?
Well done 👏@trashhead00 @playVALORANTsa 👏 pic.twitter.com/VdcWQf8zga
— BeasT (@_BeasTVal) February 22, 2023
Riot says that it will “work” on the problem, but there’s no solution in sight.
The tweet by BeasT really took off and has been viewed more than 34,000 times. In fact, it even received responses from Sukamal Pegu, the head of esports for South Asia at Riot Games, and Jake Sin, the head of VALORANT esports for APAC.
Pegu said that they hear the players’ concerns and are working on a permanent solution. “More updates soon,” he said while refusing to elaborate on what a solution could be. Jake Sin, on the other hand, was a little more realistic. He said that they will work on the issue, but added that “these things take time.”
Neither commented on how it was public information that putting a LAN in India would almost eliminate Pakistani pro players from participating, but they went ahead with it anyways. The public comments now just seem like a way to reassure Pakistani players that Riot is doing “something” but there are no obvious solutions to this.
BeasT suggested two ways to work around this. The first was to shift Pakistan to MENA or give them an exception to the rule.
This isn’t the first time that such an issue has cropped up in the South Asian VALORANT esports scene. During the Skyesports Champions Series (SCS) in late 2022, which was an official VCT event, the LAN happened in Chennai, India. In this event, though, the Pakistani players were allowed to compete remotely as they were unable to travel to India.
Such a solution might work this time around as well. However, the way Jake Sin has worded his tweet makes it obvious that Riot doesn’t want to do this.
Only time will tell what the future holds for VALORANT esports in Pakistan now. For now, though, players can sign up to compete in the Challengers.