Smurfing is the annoying act of highly ranked players joining on a significantly lower skill bracket than they belong to. The reasons for smurfing often range from playing on a completely different account and bringing it up to the main account’s current MMR, to being a platform to gain easy victories by beating opponents that are clearly weaker.

Smurfs are another problem for the Dota 2 community, who are already suffering from griefers and flamers, and players who bought their account, or had it boosted. Are they ruining Dota 2?

Smurfs in Online Games

Because of the freedom that the internet provides, smurfs are inherently present in most online video games. From MMORPGs to FPS games, the idea of a smurf would always exist because an alternate account for each player is always an available option—for the most part.

Smurfing in a highly competitive online game is serious business, however. Because competitive games tend to bring out the worst in players, things can get salty when the other team starts to flame their teammates in the chat. Both teams in an online MOBA game like Dota 2 want to win, but there can only be one winner.

Playing against smurfs in a game like Dota 2 is hard to deal with. For starters, if they are someone at least 6k MMR in their real account, and you are at 2k, it may feel terrible that someone from the enemy team is clearly outplaying you at every corner and every moment. It is a frustrating feeling because the matchmaking system that is supposed to match you with equally skilled players has matched you with someone completely out of your league.

Why People Smurf

As mentioned, there is a spectrum of reasons on why people smurf. Some may be trying to establish ranks in their new account, while some see it as a challenge to get to their original rank at the fastest pace possible. Others have terrible reasons for smurfing, such as to simply bully lower-skilled players and try to feed off the anger of other players.

As such, smurfs exist in the gray area of Dota 2 where they can be simply innocent and are actually players that are too good for their current bracket, or MMR boosters that are trying to raise an account to an MMR level their client paid them for. The former follows the rules of Valve’s Anti-Cheat system and Dota 2, while the latter can be sanctioned for MMR abuse.

Another possible reason could be the lack of players. Dota 2’s queue times are quite long, and due to the fact that the average Dota 2 player count revolves around the 400,000 the game doesn’t exactly have the best number of people to consistently queue for ranked with.

How smurfs disrupt game experience

Say that you are a newbie in Dota 2, playing Clinkz at 1k MMR and trying to learn the game’s fundamentals. You get matched against a Tinker mid who was suspiciously strong and basically shoved you out of the lane and creep experience range. Not being able to do anything in the lane thanks to Tinker’s aggressive lane harass, you get frustrated and abandon the game due to not being able to play. Upon checking the account, the Tinker player apparently had an astonishing 100% winrate with Tinker, not losing a single game on the same MMR as you do.

Several interpretations of that situation can happen. One can say that the Tinker was definitely smurfing on the Clinkz by harassing him so bad he can’t do anything about it. Another would say that it is the Clinkz’s actual problem for walking right into Tinker’s range and not safely denying the creeps. A third person would say that the Clinkz player just needs to get better at the game, and he could’ve called for a gank from his Pos 4 support.

While it is a fictional scenario, it is a scenario that plays out often. It is a video game, after all, and there is no better sensation in a video game than winning. But to win against absolute newbies that are not yet up to skill, that doesn’t really do anything for the long-term growth of the game. It may be fun for the winner, but it’s just tilting for the player trying to learn and improve.

Concluding Thoughts

Are smurfs ruining Dota 2? Probably. Will smurfs be eliminated? Unlikely.

At the end of the day, smurfs are players too. In the unlikely event that a random player actually beat a smurf, it is a sign for the winner that they are improving themselves and are capable of beating strong foes. Outside of that, it’s still a natural occurrence that players will often end up running into someone stronger, but with the proper level gap.

Smurfs that are MMR boosting, however, are definitely violators of Valve’s Anti-Cheat system, and are definitely deserving of a ban to prevent any more damage to the competitive integrity of Dota 2. If you see any smurfs that are clearly MMR boosting, don’t forget to report the player responsible to make the environment one step cleaner. Just report wisely, and don’t report someone just for having an extremely great performance in one game.

How about you? Do you think smurfs are bad for the game and should be removed?