With no regard for country and men, I still didn't manage to whitelist one of my countless accounts.

21:00, 04 Apr 2020

On Friday, Riot Games put on a master class of a marketing move by tying a chance for access to their tactical multiplayer FPS, VALORANT’s beta to watching live streams on twitch.tv. By connecting your Twitch to your Riot Games account and watching VALORANT streams, some viewers were able to have their accounts whitelisted for access on April 7th. Those lucky enough to receive an invite were notified by the bell on their user interface flashing a bright red dot in the top right corner.

This is the story of how I didn’t receive an invite and became the hunchback of VALORANT beta.

For whom the bell tolls

I had been entirely too cocky. For no apparent reason, the universe had granted me Overwatch beta access in the first wave in 2015. Effortlessly, I had walked into the experience past my begging peers and friends. Worse yet, I cracked jokes at their non-beta-having expense on occasion. Destiny had tallied up my violations against these beta orbiters and decided it was time for payback.

Under the illusion that I had been eternally smooched by lady luck, I connected my Twitch account and started watching as soon as the streams went live, feeling untouchable and likely to get in again. Subconsciously, I saw myself as chosen royalty. I was excited when I saw the first tweets going up, saying that they had received the beta, proving that the system was working and, of course, close to delivering the digital ambrosia to my notification bell. 

Soon my discord DMs burst aflame, the white number in the red circle quickly counting up as my first friend splurged their excitement into the chatbox. They had gotten access by merely watching an hour. Expecting an elaborate ruse due to them only showing a screenshot of the game’s download and spamming various profanities, I asked for irrefutable proof. Jumping on a screen share call, I was met by a giddy panting voice whose owner had obviously just performed a celebratory dance. They interacted with the download window and reopened the client at my request. There was no doubting their story anymore. I was emotionally thrown out of a plane.

Riot Games’ global communications lead for VALORANT, Chris “Pwyff” Tom shared that the whitelisting wells had not yet run dry, soothing me temporarily. In a reply to the tweet, a friend prayed to RNGesus (a portmanteau of RNG, for Random Number Generator and Jesus). Exactly 3 minutes later, he replied again with a screenshot of having received it.

Yet another friend reported their success and disclosed that they had used 7 different Riot and Twitch accounts to maximise their chances. I had been woefully underprepared. My mind sharpening, it became crystal clear that my happiness in this god-forsaken global lockdown phase would depend on the bell tolling for me. It was time to get serious.

The Hunchback of Valorant beta

Sitting in voice chat with one other friend who had not received access yet but was equally craving it, we quickly took up the strategy of creating multiple accounts. Sharing in this experience of dread, my friend and I supported and leaned on each other. Disregarding any reasonable code of morals and ethics, we were going to suck the last juices out of our internet connections to have as many streams up as possible. “You’re in a global lockdown and the networks are already over-strained. You’re taking bandwidth from your fellow humans who require entertainment during these trying times!” a voice said in my head. I drop-kicked the pesky piece of trash into a cabin fire.

Adding browser instance upon browser instance, creating Riot and Twitch accounts with names like “WretchedYiska” & “DettyYiska” to feign a modicum of repentance, my empire of bells soon towered tall above the clouds. As my RAM was brought to its knees by my nefarious deeds, I decided it was enough for now and only kept checking for notifications. 

And then my one last connection to sanity - the woman who I had hung out in voice and shared this experience with -  received beta access… Bouts of fear, deep sadness and inadequacy flushed my system.

Swinging from tab to tab, I rang the bells again and again like the internet hunchback of Notre Dame that I had become. Open tab, click, disappointment. Open next tab, click, despair. Stuck in the loop, only my dropping eyelids brought me back to a conscious state. I realised that my checking wouldn’t change the least bit about receiving access. I left the PC with all tabs running and went to bed. “Sleeping is like teleporting in time, with the other end having VALORANT beta access” I calmed myself and fell asleep.

Barely ashamed to admit, my sleep broke at 5 am and I immediately ran to the computer. Browsing through the tabs of which most had rehosted other streamers, I knew that the distribution period had ended for now. Ringing each bell again, none of them would toll for me. It was over, I had lost. Tumbling to the bathroom to wash my face, I looked into the mirror and an empty VALORANT-less husk looked back at me...

Images courtesy of Riot Games and Disney

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