Valve bans 90.000 Dota 2 smurf accounts

In an attempt to build a better Dota 2 community, Valve has announced the banning of 90.000 smurf accounts.... Radu M. | 31. August 2023

In an attempt to build a better Dota 2 community, Valve has announced the banning of 90.000 smurf accounts. Their anti-smurfing policies were announced a long time ago, and now it seems that they’re starting to take more concrete actions against this practice.

In theory, this wave of bans shouldn’t be problematic at all. But the reality is that it’s neither perfect nor entirely effective.

Why smurfing is a fundamentally bad thing

In competitive games like Dota 2, fairness is very important in determining who should rank up and who should rank down. If a 9000 MMR player joins a 2000 MMR pub using a smurf account, his understanding of the game will be enough in 90% of cases to guarantee a victory for his team regardless of what the opponent side does.

This can be very frustrating for an inexperienced player. Encountering smurfs is always demoralizing and can even make you quit the game if it happens too often. So to ban smurfs is definitely a good thing. For a smaller game, it would probably be bad, but Dota 2 has 450.000 average concurrent players, which is more than enough.

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Why Valve’s measure wasn’t without flaws

Some people have already reported that their internet café was no longer a safe place for Dota 2 players because of this measure, since all computers share the same IP.

Another thing to note is that Valve mostly targeted high-level players whose accounts are easy to track. A more realistic ban should have involved hundreds of thousands of accounts, not just 90.000.

And here’s the problem: the highest MMR players often create smurf accounts because they need to wait too long to find a game. If it takes 20 minutes to start preparing to play Dota and then another 10 minutes until you actually start the game, it can be really frustrating. So a 10K MMR player might like to use an 8K account for an evening.

But here’s the problem: that 8K account isn’t 8K MMR immediately after creation. It needs to be boosted. During the hundreds of matches that it takes to bring a 3K account to 8K MMR, a lot of players suffer.

The problem would be easier to eliminate if Valve’s system wouldn’t be as strict at the highest MMR level and if players themselves would be less willing to ruin other people’s games.

Header: Valve