Smurfing in Valorant Explained

Smurfing is a concept well known in all games that have a ranked system. In this article, we will try to explain What is it, what causes it, and what games do in order to counter it.

Neon Snapshot1
Neon detecting Smurfs after this article | © Riot Games

Smurfs are your worst nightmare at any given point in your gaming timeline. Regardless of ranks, Smurfs are something we hope to avoid in order to keep our gaming satisfaction at a high level.

What Are Smurfs?

In simple terms, smurfs are highly skilled and more experienced players that create an alt account ( or secondary account ) and play versus people significantly weaker than them. Remember that classy Pepsi commercial when Kyrie Irving dressed up as a grandma and played street basketball versus amateurs? This is probably the best Real-life example you can get.

Killjoy hiding
Killjoy hiding from smurfs | © Riot Games

History of Smurfing

Smurfing is an old term and dates from the Warcraft II times, which are not memorable for most gamers right now. In the old days, there was no matchmaking system like the one we have in Valorant, but instead, there were multiplayer lobbies. In order to get a multiplayer game, someone had to host a game, and players joined his hosted lobby.

History says that there were two extremely good players that played Warcraft II, "Shlongor" and "Warp". They were so good that people would often times leave, once they see that they are in the same lobby with them. In order to avoid this very tragic event, the two decided to create alt accounts with different nicknames in order to get to play in the lobbies. The two decided to call themselves PapaSmurf and Smurfette, hence the origin of the name smurf.

Warcraft II Tides
Warcraft II Tides of Darkness | ©Blizzard Entertainment

Reasons For Smurfing

We all hate it, and it's usually hard to understand why someone would log on their alt to just beat up someone weaker than them. But things are not always one-sided, and this is a problem that is universal and it's up to the game developers to solve.

The reasons why people log on alt accounts are as follows:

  • Queue time on their main account is high
  • They want to practice a new Agent
  • Play party with their lower rank buddies
  • Because they have a losing streak on their main account
  • They don't feel like playing high rank

Ways To Fix Smurfing

New players hate playing versus smurfs, as their game experience drops to null and the chance of keeping them in the game is very small. Game developers realized this, and in the last three years, we have seen a lot of efforts by game producers like Riot Games and Valve to fix this issue.

One of the ways is Smurf Detection. This system has an algorithm that differs per game and has the duty to either give an MMR bonus to the alt account or ban him. The point of the system is to get the smurfs out of the matchmaking pool that brings them together with the new players, and eventually get them back into the same MMR pool as their main account.

Valve has decided to make a hybrid system, that in the same time Bans and Rewards smurfs. Riot had initially only rewarded the smurfs, but since November last year has issued a couple of ban waves for smurfs.