The age old issue of smurfing is the bane of many lower level players’ existences across any competitive title. Loading into a game only to be mercilessly rolled by a player several divisions higher than you is one of competitive gaming’s greatest frustrations. Meanwhile, a victory gained due to a smurfing teammate always feels hollow.
Some developers have attempted to tackle the issue by introducing dedicated systems for rooting out players on side accounts which, for example, may reward them with bonus points so they reach their actual rank quicker, or may even place them into dedicated queues with others who have been flagged as smurfs. Despite all of these efforts, the issue has persisted.
Now, Dota 2 developer Valve has had enough of playing cat and mouse with smurfs, and has announced that smurfing is now a bannable offence inside the popular MOBA game. The new measure, it says, “will primarily focus on new accounts created after today [March 25] for which we have high confidence in their smurfing and game-ruining behaviour.” Players will also be able to report suspected smurfs through the post-game report system.
Of course, not everyone smurfs to stomp lower level games for a kick – many simply wish to climb the Dota 2 ranks with lower level friends, or may wish to practice other characters in a competitive environment without it affecting their main account. For those without nefarious intentions, unranked game modes will most likely become a more tantalising option than risking a ban.
Today we're launching a comprehensive update to the new player experience, featuring an extensive suite of tools designed to help anyone interested in learning more about Dota 2. https://t.co/ZumqwNDIaC pic.twitter.com/IX9uwni96D
— DOTA 2 (@DOTA2) March 25, 2021
The other way that many currently circumvent measures is by buying fresh accounts for a low cost, and running them until they’re eventually banned or reach too-high-a-level. To combat this, Valve has also stated that those “found to be selling accounts, boosting, or engaged in similar game ruining behaviours” will potentially have their main account banned.
With more stringent measures in place, many will be hoping that they improve Dota 2’s competitive integrity and result in fairer games.