Dota 2's Underbelly: The World of Smurfs, Boosters, and Account Traders

Are the acts of smurfing, boosting, and account trading killing Dota 2?

Sarah Zulkiflee
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Are the acts of smurfing, boosting, and account trading killing Dota 2?</p></div>

If you’ve been queuing in matchmaking for a while, you have probably encountered some form of rank manipulation. For massive video games that hold a large player base, it’s almost certain that some players will abuse its matchmaking system and Dota 2 is no different. Its free-to-play structure and the importance it attaches to Matchmaking Ratings (MMR) has caused many forms of rank manipulation to plague their way through the servers.

Smurfing, boosting, account buying, and a bizarre phenomenon of hiring “paid actors” are all some forms of rank manipulation in Dota 2. As the game grows, the players abusing these methods have seemingly racked up in number. While it might paint a harmless picture at first glance, the growth of the smurfing community has led to a jumbled ecosystem in Dota 2’s ranked matchmaking and has acutely affected the game right from the lowest of tiers all the way up to Immortal games featuring esports professionals.

Types of rank manipulation in Dota 2

While the focus of Dota 2’s matchmaking problem centers around smurfing, there are also other types of rank manipulations that are equally damaging to the game.

Smurfing is when an experienced player creates and plays on a new account, usually at a lower MMR compared to their original account. This act usually causes the person to be matched among a pool of players that are lower skilled which leads to an uneven game. The term “smurf” was first spotted way back in 1996 when a bunch of friends decided to pretend to play badly in Warcraft II and proceeded to stomp the other players. They used the aliases “Papa Smurf” and “Smurfette” hence the term “smurfing”. It was originally roughly defined as “someone who makes a new account then pretends they are a newbie”.

Boosting is technically just another form of smurfing where the players make money out of it. People pay real money to have their accounts boosted in order to achieve a higher rank. In some cases, the “customers” might have different requests such as obtaining a winning streak on a specific hero, getting a high average for their KDA, and many more.

Account trading is exactly what it sounds like. It is when players buy or sell an account from another player. The account that is bought can be either high or low-ranked, depending on what the purpose of the buyer is. Some buyers want to get a high-ranked ID, either for bragging rights or for them to experience a higher level of gameplay. Some buyers, on the other hand, want to get a lower-ranked ID to play with their low-ranked friends or just for the fun of smurfing.

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