Riot reveal how they plan to combat “frustrating” Valorant smurfs

Alan Bernal
valorant smurfsRiot Games

Riot Games laid out how they plan to combat smurfs in Valorant’s matchmaking, and someday it could lead to malicious players getting “booted” from the game.

An important distinction the studio makes when it comes to smurfs separates high-ranked players simply looking to play with their friends from the people who get into lower ranks with “bad intent.”

In their findings, the company found that “a big chunk of smurfs do so with no malicious intent,” Competitive Designer Jon Walker and Producer Sara Dadafshar said in an Ask Valorant blog. So to tackle smurfing, the Valorant devs are going to first try to address that group of people.

For the time being, Riot says there is “no actionable plan” to take against them in general, but are going to take a deeper look into the problem.

valorantRiot Games
Riot wants to solve Valorant’s problem with smurfs.

They shared the framework of their investigation moving forward that boils down to four essential questions:

  • How do we identify smurfs in our systems, and how often are players running into them?
  • Why do players smurf?
  • Is there a need, that isn’t being met, that is forcing players to smurf?
  • What changes do we need to make in order to combat smurfing?

Instead of immediate action or punishment against smurfs, the Valorant devs want to “better serve” their community to stop them from having to go in lower elos in the first place.

Whether this means a tweak to Valorant’s matchmaking system or new features and modes added to the game later remains to be seen.

Riot Games
Riot’s data suggest not all smurfs are disruptors, but those that are could get banned in the future.

However, whenever Riot does implement solutions they feel will answer those questions, the studio could resort to punitive measures for the remaining smurfs.

“Once we are at a point where we feel comfortable with the solution we have in place and feel like we have mitigated these reasons, that’s when we will be able to put a foot down on the remaining folks—potentially booting them from our game,” they said.

A lot of online games have problems with smurfs, but Riot is making this a primary focus for their competitive team to solve.