You’re about to make the engage for a match-defining teamfight, setting up to land that oh-so-tricky skillshot or game-changing ultimate. You walk up, making yourself entirely vulnerable and exposed to make the split-second call but 100% confident in your ability to set up the fight in your favor. Then as if on cue, you notice your audio feedback just glitched, your character either doesn’t respond to your movement commands or is reacting at the pace of a snail, particle effects are exploding in slow-motion and then speeding up double-time, and your teammates are repeating phrases over and over in an endless loop in your ear. The PC equivalent of the Red Ring of Death pops up on your screen — “attempting to reconnect” — you scream profanities in your mic, and what seems like hours later, you’re back. Dead and having lost the fight, but back.
As a League of Legends player, there are few things that skyrocket my blood pressure in an instant and make me really lean on my meditative breathing techniques more than this. Especially at a competitive or ranked level, the feeling of getting outplayed by your own internet is incredibly disheartening when you’ve given so much of your time to a match for it all to disintegrate before your eyes in a moment of ping spiking, jitter, or packet loss.
It’s easy to shake your fist at your ISP, the server of the game, whatever it may be, and then just do nothing about it. To be honest, I didn’t really think there was much I even could do about it other than pay a higher cost for faster internet, and even that doesn’t seem to work some days. I’m pretty skeptical of most services that report to boost anything as they seem hoax-y or even too good to be true. I had to take a hiatus from League of Legends for a while because of a hideously-unresolved-but-I’m-pretty-sure-it-was-the-graphics-card problem that made playing some games for me virtually impossible. By the time I started using a different computer, my internet just wasn’t up to par anymore. A colleague of mine in the yoga world and CEO of Haste, Lynn Perry, enlightened me when she reached out and told me about Haste launching a free service.
I knew she was involved with gaming, but never really looked into Haste in depth. Intrigued now, I downloaded Haste Free and was thoroughly reassured by their lack of asking my for my credit card information. In a moment, Haste was up and running, scanning for alternate ISP routes for my internet to flow unimpeded. I thought, “might as well boot up League and see if this works,” and to my miraculous surprise, I had no jitter or ping spikes. I was able to play League for the first time in a while, and especially during this very isolating period as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been an incredible relief to be able to hop into a game and play with other people, locking my mind into the game and unlocking from all my worries, all while not having the additional stress of “well I hope my internet holds up for this one” running in the back of my mind.
Haste supports a plethora of games across North American, European, and Latin America North servers. They offer a pro service for a pretty nominal fee of $5 USD/month or $40 USD/year that elevates the number of constructed paths across their network that unite at the game server from one (Haste Free) to up to four to keep internet traffic even smoother and faster. Both offer unlimited play time. I did run into some hiccups after upgrading to Haste Pro, but I spoke with Lynn and did some troubleshooting to see if it was Haste or just my internet being lousy. Turns out that whether Haste Pro was running in the background or not, I was still getting ping spikes. Lynn consulted with her engineers, who saw my ping spikes in their data, and let me know that if I’m using Wi-Fi, Haste may not work as well on a 2.4 GHz bandwidth network, but it should improve on 5.0 GHz; they can’t do much with the over-the-air connection that is inherent in Wi-Fi. Seems like Ethernet is the optimal route, but using Haste on a 5.0 GHz Wi-Fi band is definitely not bad at all. As I am by no means a network engineering guru, all I know is that since installing Haste, I am able to play League with a more stable and faster connection over Wi-Fi than I’ve previously experienced.
For those with privacy and security concerns, Haste does not scan or monitor any other data other than what’s exchanged between the game server so you can rest assured your personal data is safe. They monitor the traffic and keep tabs on the data so you can see a graph of your connection before — called a Haste pre-check — during, and after. And perhaps most importantly for those who are competitive ranked players, you cannot be banned for using Haste.
If you’re still skeptical as to how this all works, Haste’s website and FAQ offer a pretty transparent window into what’s going on and a support line that will answer any questions you may have. From my experience, it’s well worth the minimal time and effort to at least give the free service a try. Let your win streak be the deciding factor as to whether you stick around.