League of Legends adds unpopular TPM 2.0 requirement — Vanguard anti-cheat update irks fanbase after Windows 11 debacle

Riot Games announced that it would implement Vanguard anti-cheat software in League of Legends (LoL) in late February or early March 2024. It eventually did so in LoL’s Patch 14.9, which Riot released on May 1. However, this change has caused some players to get the VAN9001 error and prevented them from playing the game.

The development team knew the new software implementation would be a big issue with its player base, so they wrote an in-depth explanation of anti-cheat, Vanguard, and LoL about three weeks ago on the League of Legends blog. Nevertheless, many were still caught by surprise, especially those who bypassed the TPM 2.0 requirements when upgrading to Windows 11.

Microsoft initially mandated the TPM 2.0 requirement to upgrade to Windows 11; however, you can easily bypass the TPM and other requirements, allowing you to upgrade from Windows 10 (or an even older version of Windows) without the necessary hardware. Vanguard requires an active TPM 2.0 if you’re running Microsoft’s latest operating system.

According to mirageofpenguins, an anti-cheat artisan with Vanguard, “while Microsoft originally intended to require one for all new Windows 11 installations, their actual implementation of this enforcement was relatively weak and easily bypassable. We took them up on their original offer and instead elected to enforce it ourselves. So, a select few Windows 11 users may find their ability to play League is impacted, especially if you modified registry keys to bypass this requirement.”

Riot also released a statement on Reddit, saying that about 0.7% of its LoL player base bypassed the Windows 11 TPM requirement, and a smaller 0.03% had issues with Vanguard. However, given that League of Legends is such a popular game, with over 133 million active players in the last 30 days, according to data from ActivePlayer.io, this amounts to over 930 thousand and 40 thousand players, respectively.

Players who do not have a TPM 2.0 module have two options to continue playing LoL: revert their computer to Windows 10 or buy new hardware. The former can be a huge hassle, while the latter involves spending hard-earned cash. So, it is usually more convenient to downgrade the operating system — further exacerbating Microsoft’s issue with Windows 11 losing market share to Windows 10.

There have also been reports of Vanguard bricking some computers. Fortunately, it wasn’t an issue with the anti-cheat software; it was more about where Windows 11 was installed. Most TPM 2.0 activations require your computer to use UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), which requires that your operating system be installed on a GUID partition table (GPT) instead of the standard BIOS that uses Master Boot Record (MBR). If you switch to UEFI without moving your OS from MBR to GPT, it will simply refuse to boot. Thankfully, Microsoft has an easy solution for that.

Furthermore, Vanguard for LoL does not use SecureBoot, as it causes issues for many older hardware configurations. Since League of Legends has been around since 2009, some of its players might be using computers that do not support it, especially those with older video cards. If you activate SecureBoot and your GPU does not support it, it will not render anything, leaving your monitor blank after turning on your PC. You need to disable SecureBoot in your BIOS by attaching the display to your integrated GPU or reset the BIOS by pulling out its CMOS battery.

Although Vanguard would cause issues for some players and is an annoyance for many, Riot says that it’s an inevitable need to keep League of Legends a fair and healthy competitive platform. This is especially true after Riot Games was hacked in early 2023, and the source code for League of Legends and a legacy anti-cheat platform were stolen.

Vanguard anti-cheat and the TPM requirement are necessary frustrations for LoL players to keep everyone on an even playing field. But until cheaters stop ruining games for everyone, we will only keep seeing more stringent and invasive anti-cheat measures in the future.