Is FACEIT being overrun with smurfs after CSGO Prime changes?

Steven Rondina • September 2, 16:40

FACEIT has been having a variety of issues in recent months, and it now seems that at least one more has been added to the pile.

There has been a slew of complaints among users of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive matchmaking service regarding an uptick of smurfs in lower-level play. Newer and less-skilled players are being pitted against high-level players on new accounts that have unusually strong stats. The end result is a poor in-game experience for these lower-ranked players, as well as an undeserved hit to their hard-earned ELO.

Multiple discussions around this trend have popped up across social media, with fans showing off the profiles of brand new accounts posting strong numbers against opponents that should be much stronger if judged by rank, as well as lopsided scoreboards from similar situations.

FACEIT has been put in an unfortunate position this summer. In June, Valve introduced massive changes to CSGO by putting ranked matchmaking and item drops behind a paywall in the form of a $15 ticket for Prime status. Alongside this were multiple ban waves in CSGO that were meant to attack smurfing and boosters. Both of these tactics were meant to clean up the experience of playing standard CSGO matchmaking.

While there are varying takes on whether things have improved in CSGO’s base matchmaking, there’s little question that third-party matchmaking services including ESEA and FACEIT have been left worse off. The inability to obtain free-to-play accounts with access to everything required has left these services with the most vulnerable player bases, as bad actors don’t have the same concerns over bans as they do when risking their primary paid CSGO accounts.

Hackers in particular have swarmed to FACEIT in order to light up opponents without challenge, and FACEIT hasn’t been able to keep up with either the hack creators or the influx of new players. Smurfing is a similar problem, but even more difficult to approach as a high-level player can freely make a new account and immediately take on overmatched opponents.

What is smurfing in FPS games?

Smurfing is a slang term in FPS and other games describing the act of a skilled player actively seeking to play against weaker opponents. Most online multiplayer games have a matchmaking system that tries to pit similarly skilled players against each other. Smurfing typically requires a player to either intentionally lose games in order to trick the system into thinking they’re unskilled, or to create new accounts in order to ignore any ranking that may occur with regular play.

Smurfing is widely seen in a negative light by players and is a punishable offense in most online games. The trouble is that policing it is very difficult since players are free to create multiple accounts at will.

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