What is Smurfing in gaming?

Smurfing in gaming has become a prevalent phenomenon across various online games, intriguing players and generating both admiration and controversy. This article aims to shed light on the concept of smurfing, its implications, and the ongoing discussions surrounding it.

What is Smurfing?

Smurfing refers to the practice of highly skilled players creating new accounts or using lower-ranked accounts to compete against less experienced opponents. The motivation behind smurfing varies among players. Some seek a challenge outside of their usual skill bracket, while others aim to dominate lower-ranked players for personal satisfaction and fun.

Methods of Smurfing

Smurfing in gaming involves various methods that skilled players employ to create new accounts or use lower-ranked accounts to compete against less experienced opponents. Here are some common methods used by smurfs.

1. Account Sharing: Account sharing is a method where highly skilled players allow others to use their existing accounts to compete at a lower skill level. By granting access to their account, smurfs can play against opponents who are less experienced or have lower ranks. This method provides an instant avenue for smurfing without the need to create new accounts.

2. Account Boosting: Account boosting involves the assistance of a highly skilled player to boost a lower-ranked player’s account. In this method, the lower-ranked player hands over their account credentials to the smurf or the booster. The smurf then plays on behalf of the lower-ranked player, winning matches and rapidly increasing the account’s rank or skill level. This method artificially inflates the lower-ranked player’s progress, allowing them to compete at a higher level than their actual skill warrants.

3. Creating New Accounts: Creating new accounts is a straightforward and commonly used method for smurfing. Skilled players simply create fresh accounts separate from their main or higher-ranked accounts. By starting anew, they can intentionally place themselves at lower skill levels or ranks. This method enables smurfs to dominate matches against less experienced opponents and satisfy their desire for challenging gameplay.

4. Sandbagging: Sandbagging is a method where experienced players intentionally underperform in matches to maintain a lower rank or skill level. By intentionally losing or performing poorly, they can manipulate the matchmaking system to place them against less skilled opponents. This deceptive tactic allows smurfs to have an advantage over their unsuspecting opponents and achieve a sense of superiority.

5. Deranking: Deranking involves deliberately losing matches or intentionally performing poorly to lower one’s rank or skill level. Smurfs employ this method to ensure they are matched against opponents who are significantly less skilled. By manipulating their rank downwards, they can maintain a consistent stream of matches against lower-ranked players, making it easier for them to dominate and achieve a high win rate.

It is important to note that while these methods provide avenues for smurfing, they often violate the fair play principles upheld by gaming communities. Smurfing disrupts the competitive integrity of the game and negatively impacts the overall gaming experience for both smurfs and legitimate lower-ranked players.

Impacts of Smurfing

Smurfing has significant impacts on the gaming experience for both players who are smurfing and their opponents. One of the main consequences is the negative impact on matchmaking systems. Smurfing disrupts the balance of fair matchups, leading to frustration among new players who face opponents far above their skill level. This frustration can deter new players and harm the overall player retention of the game.

Furthermore, smurfing degrades the competitive environment of the game. Players who genuinely belong to a lower skill bracket are denied the opportunity to improve and face opponents of similar abilities. The presence of such players also undermines the sense of achievement that comes with climbing the ranks.

Controversies Surrounding Smurfing

Smurfing raises ethical concerns within the gaming community. While it may not violate any specific rules, smurfing is often seen as unfair and unsportsmanlike. The act of deliberately seeking out lower-skilled opponents can be viewed as exploiting the system for personal gain, which goes against the spirit of fair competition. Moreover, there is ongoing debate about the legality of smurfing and whether it should be considered cheating.

Measures Against Smurfing

Game developers and publishers have recognized the negative impact of smurfing and have taken steps to address the issue. Many games now have reporting systems in place where players can report suspected smurfing incidents. Additionally, some developers have implemented anti-smurfing algorithms and systems that detect unusual patterns of skill progression or account behavior, aiming to discourage or penalize smurfing activities.

Tips for Dealing with Smurfs

While game developers work on implementing measures to tackle smurfing, individual players can take certain steps to cope with smurfs in their matches. Reporting suspected smurfing incidents to the game’s support or moderation team can help raise awareness and potentially lead to actions against smurf accounts. However, it’s important to remember that the focus should primarily be on personal improvement and growth. Instead of getting discouraged by encountering smurfs, players can use these matches as opportunities to learn from more skilled opponents and refine their own strategies.

Smurfing in Popular Games

Smurfing is prevalent across a wide range of popular games, particularly in highly competitive genres. In MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games such as League of Legends and Dota 2, smurfing is a significant issue. Skilled players create new accounts to dominate matches at lower skill tiers, causing frustration among less experienced players.

First-person shooter games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch also face smurfing problems. Skilled players create secondary accounts to play at lower ranks, providing them with an unfair advantage over legitimate lower-ranked players.

Battle royale games such as Fortnite and Apex Legends have also witnessed smurfing. Highly skilled players create new accounts to gain an easier path to victory, as they face less skilled opponents.

The Psychology Behind Smurfing

The allure of smurfing lies in the psychological satisfaction derived from dominating lower-ranked players. For some highly skilled players, the challenge of competing against similarly skilled opponents diminishes over time. Smurfing allows them to experience the thrill of dominating matches and exerting their expertise against less experienced players.

Community Reactions

The gaming community’s response to smurfing is diverse and subjective. Opinions vary widely, with some players condemning smurfing as unfair and detrimental to the overall gaming experience. They argue that smurfing disrupts the balance of matchmaking and discourages new players from continuing their gaming journey.

On the other hand, some players defend smurfing, stating that it can be a means of testing new strategies or playing with friends who are at a lower skill level. They argue that smurfing only becomes problematic when it involves intentional exploitation and unfair competition.


Smurfing in gaming is a complex and controversial phenomenon that continues to be a topic of discussion within the gaming community. While some players find it thrilling and challenging, it has detrimental effects on matchmaking, player experience, and the overall fairness of the game. Game developers are actively working to address smurfing through measures like reporting systems and anti-smurfing algorithms. However, it remains essential for players to prioritize personal growth and improvement, regardless of the presence of smurfs in their matches.

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