League of Legends

Riot Games testing Matchmaking update to limit League of Legends smurfs

by Alan Bernal

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Riot Games are making changes to League of Legends’ Matchmaking system that, among other things, will address ‘smurfs’ by taking into account players’ MatchMaking Rating (MMR) and their current rank when queuing, and it’s already being tested in some regions.

Put simply, in gaming, ‘smurfs’ are high-Elo players who create new accounts to play in lower MMR lobbies. Different reasons for why someone would smurf in League of Legends ranges to learning new roles & champions, playing with friends, collecting juicy clips, and more

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But smurfing can lead to really bad games for the other team, especially if a squad full of low Ranked players get matched with someone clearly out of their league.

This can result in one-sided affairs and deeply unsatisfying games for Summoners matched with the smurf.

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Riot Games
Riot is making changes to League's matchmaking so players can stop being bots to a wild smurf.

Although the changes aren’t directly targeted at smurfs, LoL lead gameplay designer Mark Yetter announced the overhauls that are already affecting some live servers.

“We’re testing in some select regions a Matchmaking upgrade that takes into account players current rank along with the MMR,” Yetter said. “This has many benefits including grouping smurfs as some of you have already caught on to.”

This has been met with reactions from both sides of the aisle. On one side, low Elo players are excited at the possibility of not having to contend with as many smurfs.

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Meanwhile, others say this won’t even begin to touch on the problem with smurfs, and suggest other fixes such as tying phone numbers to Riot accounts.

In July, Riot announced they were working on a new matchmaking algorithm to “more accurately and quickly identify new and veteran player’s skills.” They fully implemented the new system into normal queue in patch 10.10.

At the time, the studio said the same matchmaking algorithm would be coming to ranked queues in preseason. Like most major changes in LoL, Riot will monitor how the new system reacts as players get situated in their respective MMR.

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The devs are still looking for ways to bring a balance to League ranked queues so everyone can have an enjoyable experience on the ladder.