What is CS:GO Smurfing?
Due to this title’s age and the developers not intending it’s gameplay to be online. The game predictably had no matchmaking system. Which therefore meant players would have to select their lobbies manually. So due to this, smurfing is given an invitation to invade this community.
The phrase came to be due to Warcraft 2 players Geoff Fraiser and Gregg Boyko creating secondary accounts. They did this due to the community recognizing their main accounts and avoiding them due to their much superior skill at the game. We all know how frustrating it can be to play against players outside our skill level.
Understandably frustrated by this lack of game time, Geoff and Gregg would create new accounts called Papasmurf and Smurfette. Hence the term smurfing. This practice has grown since 1996 with the rise of automated matchmaking systems and has become a controversial topic within the competitive gaming community.
This issue is quite nuanced in its nature. The reason being that some examples can be innocent and harmless, whilst others can be an example of why the gaming community has highlighted this phenomenon as a pressing issue needing to be addressed.
While some players will do this in order to play in the same lobbies as lower-ranked friends. Or alternatively, play in unorthodox ways to test their effectiveness without consequences on their main account. The rage within the community, by and large, comes through the professional and high-end players that create smurf accounts to effortlessly beat new players.
Some of these smurfs take great pleasure in beating players with lower ranks. Showcasing their skills in search of a humorous response or to feed their own egos. However, the impact on the games community can be catastrophic. With smurfs allowed to dominate the lower-ranked matchmaking, it makes it very unlikely that new players will stick with the game. Meaning lower retention levels and a poorer reputation for the franchise.
How to avoid Smurfing
Due to the divisive nature of smurfing and the difficulty that developers can have with enforcing rules to combat it. It often means that the best way to avoid these players is through your own actions.
One way to give yourself the best chance of avoiding smurfs is to play less popular maps. The obvious choice of a map for many players when playing CS:GO is Dust2, a map synonymous with the franchise. However, if you are able to find maps that you enjoy aside from the more conventional picks. Then you are far less likely to find yourself in ranked games with smurfs looking to get their kicks.
Another way to proactively lower your encounter chance is to play outside of sale periods. Smurfs will often increase around this time as new players buy CS:GO at lower prices. Meaning there are more inexperienced players for smurfs to engage with. Though when the game is full price, this trend seems to ease off, and therefore, so do the smurf accounts.
Prime matchmaking also plays a vital role in curbing this issue. Due to these players within the prime system being at least rank 21. There is less scope for smurfs to play in this format. They don’t get the enjoyment of being significantly better than all players and for that reason, this system provides a great deal of security from smurfs. Plus those few smurfs that do aim to infest this area of ranked matches are usually identified and banned before they reach rank 21.
Admittedly this will require the player to stick with the game until they reach rank 21 and become eligible for the prime matchmaking system. However, it is a small price to pay for almost guaranteed smurf free gameplay.
Your Trust factor can also play into your encounter chance. With a low trust factor, you run a higher risk of encountering smurfs. The reason being that this system is directly linked to in-game behavior. So if your behavior mirrors that of often toxic smurfs who often get kicked from games and are reported constantly. Then this treatment may be unavoidable due to your own behavior. So the goal is to keep that trust factor high to play with likeminded individuals.
Can you get banned for Smurfing?
The simple answer is no. At least not for the direct act of playing in lower-ranked games.
The reason is that the player has purchased a copy of the game for a new account. They have entered a game and they are simply using their skill and ability to win matches. They aren’t hacking or behaving poorly and for that reason, they are as welcome a player as any other.
The main reasons that a player can be banned is through the following:
- Kicking players excessively or being kicked from games
- Toxic or unsavory behavior.
- Hacking or other forms of cheating.
Though smurfing isn’t included in this list, it has to be said that the practice is not viewed as acceptable. The practice removes fun for new players, decreases retention of these players, breeds an inherent sense of unfairness into the gameplay. Plus reflects poorly on the community for CS:GO and indeed any other title that shares this issue.
It’s time to nerf the Smurfs
Although in some cases smurfing can be done for innocent pursuits. Those such as playing with friends or practicing new techniques. It is clear that more often than not, it is a method in which toxic professional gamers use to belittle, degrade, and demoralize new players.
It is an issue that is a difficult one for Valve to combat. One reason is that it is often hard to tell apart a professional smurf from a player on a hot streak. Plus secondly, due to these smurfs buying multiple copies of the game, to stop this practice could also have adverse effects on the companies overall revenue.
Though from a moral standpoint it is clear that smurfing has no place in competitive gaming. It is a negative aspect that often drives away potential new professionals from the franchises in which it occurs. So we advise you to follow the guidelines to ensure less chance of an encounter with these nefarious characters and if you do encounter one, be sure to give it your all to give them a taste of their own medicine.