Smurfing has always been a hot issue in Dota 2, but it may be more important now than ever before.
Dota 2’s new animated series, DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, is set to arrive later this month on Netflix, and that should make for a large number of new players trying out the game. If past is prologue, very few of those new players will stick around due to the lacking new player experience and the sheer volume of smurfs who are seemingly committed to making the game less enjoyable for those playing at lower ranks.
The latest notable personality to talk about the smurfing issue in Dota 2 is Shannon “SUNSfan” Scotten. The DotaCinema owner and North America Dota Pro Circuit League caster popped off in a thread on Twitter and didn’t pull punches in regards to the state of the game.
Smurfs in every couple games & no way to report it. I feel very sorry for all the new players we’re about to get.
— SUNSfan (@SUNSfanTV) March 7, 2021
The big question when it comes to smurfing is how to address the problem. There is no method for directly reporting a smurf, and the matchmaking system in Dota 2 is rigid in a way that makes it difficult for a skilled player that is underrated in terms of MMR to have the sort of large MMR correction that would more accurately reflect their skill level. It can also be potentially difficult to accurately peg whether a player is a smurf or if they’re just on a hot streak, though some other developers have made progress in addressing this concern.
SUNSfan proposes two solutions for dealing with Dota 2’s smurfing problem. He says that Valve needs to implement some way to report “obvious smurfs,” and that the company needs to take a more active role in shutting down the account sellers and boosting services that lead to the creation of many smurf accounts.
Whether this would make much of a difference is unknown, but there’s no question that Valve needs to do something. It would be an enormous waste to not fully capitalize on a possible spike in popularity following the release of DOTA: Dragon’s Blood.
In Dota 2, “smurfing” typically refers to a skilled player intentionally playing in a lower MMR bracket in order to more easily defeat weaker opponents. This is treated harshly in the Dota 2 community as many view smurfs as a major reason for the game’s struggles to retain new players, and believe that smurfs simply enjoy ensuring that their opponents don’t enjoy playing.
Smurfing can also refer to using an alternate account in order to conceal one’s identity. This is a common practice among professional players as it allows them to practice a specific hero or try out new builds without making their experiments discoverable for opponents ahead of official games.
Smurfing is legal in Dota 2. There are no stipulations in the Steam EULA regarding ownership of multiple accounts and there are no specific rules in Dota 2 regarding smurfing. Though smurfs are typically vilified by Dota 2 players, many use smurfs to test new strategies.