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Smurfing is a problem for most esports titles. League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Overwatch, etc. all have their fair share of smurfs. The smurfing problem seems to hit a little different in Riot’s first-person shooter, Valorant, however.
Here’s what smurfing is, why it’s so bad in Valorant, and how Riot could potentially deal with it.
What is smurfing?
Smurfing is when a player makes a second account, or intentionally deranks their original account, to play at a rank far lower than they belong. An example of this would be a diamond level player getting a new account to play with their friends in silver. This player will generally outperform everyone in silver and carry the game.
When this happens, it’s extremely difficult for the opposing team to win. This ruins games for opponents going against the player, and gives players on the smurf’s team a potentially undeserved win. Unfortunately, this seems to be all too common in Valorant.
Why this is an issue in Valorant
Valorant is a free-to-play game, which means that anyone can sign up and make new accounts for free. Players who want to smurf can do so without paying a cent. There is also no mobile authentication or anything to prevent players from playing competitively on multiple accounts, meaning players can smurf freely.
It’s also extremely easy to get an account ready to play rated. In League of Legends and Overwatch, players have to grind games to reach a specific level before they can play rated games. In Valorant, you simply need to win 20 unrated games, which isn’t difficult or grindy for a skilled player.
Possible solutions for the problem
Riot has stated that their measure against smurfing is a “behind-the-scenes” system that detects when players overperform and then boosts their rating faster. Unfortunately, this measure is extremely easy to avoid for smurfs, who simply throw games or leave them to keep a low rating.
The best way to limit smurfing would be to require mobile authentication to play rated games. Riot already does this to compete in Clash tournaments in League of Legends. While this certainly wouldn’t eliminate smurfs entirely, it should help get rid of a decent chunk of them.
Of course, there will always be smurfing in esports titles. Valorant is no different. That doesn’t mean, however, that Riot shouldn’t take every measure to ensure fair and fun competition in their game. Hopefully, this is a problem they will address further soon.