LoL champion Heimerdinger working on an invention.
Image via Riot Games

What is Riot Vanguard? Explaining LoL’s new anti-cheat, release date, and more

Cheaters beware.

At the beginning of the year, Riot Games revealed its plans to bring its custom security software Vanguard to League of Legends as part of the next step to combat hackers in the popular MOBA title.

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Vanguard is Riot Games’ custom in-house anti-cheat that is currently in use with the company’s popular tactical first-person shooter, VALORANT. It’s a powerful tool that detects cheaters, no matter what type of programs they’re using, and has kept the game mostly free of wrongdoing since its release back in 2020.

There’s plenty of nuance behind the scenes at Riot, however, when it comes to implementing this system for League, especially with so many people complaining about what Vanguard will do to their computers.

What is Riot Vanguard?

Riot Graves skin in League
No cheat is safe. Image via Riot Games

Riot Vanguard is a kernel-level anti-cheat program that runs at a higher level of privilege than other programs on your PC, usually boots up before other software, and is always running in the background whether you’re playing VALORANT, League, or any other Riot-based titles.

This way, Vanguard can detect if a third-party program is running on the PC while VALORANT or League is running, and can shut down the game and ban the user in record time. Of course, there are holes in the system, but this system is one of the best ways to ensure competitive integrity. As a result, VALORANT is known for its hefty ban waves and robust security.

You can also see when Vanguard is running on your computers by checking your system tray for the red Vanguard logo. You can right-click that icon to close Vanguard, but if you wish to play VALORANT or League again, you’ll have to restart your PC to boot up the anti-cheat once more.

When is Vanguard being added to League?

In-game screenshot of the Vanguard message in League of Legends.
You might see this message in League after updating to Patch 14.8. Screenshot by Dot Esports

According to Riot, Vanguard should be hitting every global League of Legends server on Wednesday, May 1 when Patch 14.9 drops. The only region that will be getting Vanguard early will be the Philippines, which will be receiving the anti-cheat on Wednesday, April 17 with Patch 14.8.

When this patch rolls around, players will be required to update the game and download Vanguard onto their respective systems. Over the next couple of weeks, you might be prompted in the League client to test your system to see if you’re compatible with the anti-cheat as well.

Is Riot’s Vanguard anti-cheat safe?

With any program that is given such widespread access to one’s PC, there are certain risks that you must be wary of. But it’s up to you whether you trust the company behind the anti-cheat to do right by you since you must run Vanguard to play any of Riot’s titles now.

Even still, there are plenty of other video games that run kernel-level anti-cheat, from Call of Duty: Warzone, Helldivers 2, and Genshin Impact to Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Overwatch 2. The developers will always claim their software is safe to use—especially because their reputation as a company is on the line—but it’s your choice and your computer at the end of the day.


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Author
Tyler Esguerra
Lead League of Legends writer for Dot Esports. Forever an LCS supporter, AD carry main, with more than five years in the industry. Sometimes I like clicking heads in Call of Duty or VALORANT. Creator of the Critical Strike Podcast.