Smurfing now a bannable offense in new player experience update

By Steven Rondina


Mar 25, 2021

Reading time: 4 min

Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner and Shannon “SUNSfan” Scotten spearheaded a massive effort to raise money and make the new player experience that Valve has long promised and never delivered. Then Valve shipped its own.

Valve has finally shipped an update that offers “a new approach to helping players learn Dota.” The update includes a host of changes to the UI as well as an extra reward system and challenges to help players get a hold of some of Dota 2’s key mechanics. Many of these additions to the game are things experienced players won’t be interested in, but there are some noteworthy additions to the game for its more experienced players as well.

New players will have a helping hand that established players never got, both in and out of actual games.

This includes a streamlined shop that will allow players to more easily find their way to items they ought to purchase, in-game tips that pop up in a way similar to those of Clippy in Microsoft Word, and a new player mode that gives new players a throughline to easily select a hero and purchase core items. 

Alongside all this this is a reward system that gives players shards that can be used to purchase skins for their first main hero.

The biggest change that will intrigue experienced players is a new coaching system that will let up-and-coming players to be coached by someone with higher MMR. Dota 2 has long had coaching, but this was done by adding players to a party manually. 

In The International 2018 Battle Pass, a new coaching system was added that let players jump into a match with a team of lower-ranked players with BP up for grabs. This new system is similar to that, but it instead lets players get one-on-one coaching to help them learn the ropes. Coaches can also add filters on who they will be coaching based on what hero they’re looking to play.

Valve is also shipping improved bots, which should be a big improvement for new players. Bot games are the best way for new players to try out Dota 2 and this will likely stop every one of those games devolve into a deathball vs. deathball affair after the 15-minute mark.

Smurfing banned in Dota 2

While this is interesting, the biggest change that should be welcome news for most players is that smurfing is now a bannable offense in Dota 2. This should help remedy what has arguably been the biggest problem in Dota 2 since the end of the game’s early closed beta period.

“In the past, we leaned heavily on attempting to detect smurf accounts and move them to their correct MMR more quickly, which has helped somewhat but still causes damage along the way in cases of extreme smurfing. Starting today, smurfing will be a bannable offense. We will primarily focus on new accounts created after today for which we have high confidence in their smurfing and game-ruining behavior,” Valve said.

Players with fresh Steam accounts that have been instalocking Arc Warden over recent months should also be fearful, though. Valve stated that it intends to manually ban players who have been smurfing in the last few months. For those who have been caught boosting or account selling, this could see their main accounts banned.

Valve acknowledged that it will be creating a separate “hidden pool” for suspected smurfs. Players can also now explicitly report others for smurfing, rather than just using the vague “matchmaking abuse” option.

The update closed with news that a massive new update will ship after the ONE Esports Singapore Major, which will include a new hero and the 7.29 balance patch. 

What is smurfing in Dota 2?

Smurfing typically refers to players intentionally playing against lower-ranked players in order to more easily win, but the definition does vary. It can also refer to players using multiple accounts for any reason in order to conceal their identity or to get around the ranked matchmaking system in order to play with people they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. 


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