With Valorant rising up the ranks as an elite esports title, smurfing is bound to be a major issue. Luckily, Riot Games have implemented some systems to keep matches smurf-free and have more in development.
Smurfing is nothing new in competitive games. Skilled players will sometimes either buy accounts ranked way lower than their main or purposefully throw games to get into lower ranks where they can dominate games. Or, more simply, just create an alternative account with a new level to play on.
This can be extremely infuriating for players in those lower ranks, because smurfs can absolutely stomp those games single-handedly.
In a recent Ask Valorant blog post, the Riot devs explained how they’re going about dealing with “filthy smurfs” and ensuring that games remain fair for everyone involved.
“Smurfing always sucks, especially when you have rank on the line. While it’s hard to stop smurfing entirely in a free-to-play game, we are taking action to combat it,” Senior Producer Ian Fielding said.
“Right now we have a behind-the-scenes system for Unrated as well as one that applies to Iron through Diamond ranked players,” he added. “The latter tracks an individual’s performance and notices when a player makes a highly disproportionate impact in a game. We then quickly boost them to harder matches and higher ranks in Competitive.”
Basically, this means that if a player is having games where they absolutely dominate at a certain rank, they’ll find themselves in higher ranks faster. In other words, the matchmaker can tell when someone is smurfing.
“We stop leveraging this system for Immortal+ players because there isn’t a ton of room to smurf or play down when you are already near the top ranks,” Fielding further stated.
As for the future, there are some big plans in place, but nothing imminent. “We’re also looking at ways to further accelerate placing smurfs into appropriately skilled matches. But right now we are prioritizing some improvements to our core rank system and leaderboards ahead of that.”
This is good news going forward and will hopefully improve Valorant’s competitive integrity in the years to come.