What is smurfing in gaming - League of Legends and more
If you ever played an online game that has a ranked system, there is a considerable chance that in search for a suitable opponent, the matchmaking algorithm has paired you with someone much better, despite low rank. You keep asking yourself: "How is it possible that a player so good is so low?" Well, you have probably met a smurf.
What is smurfing in online gaming
The word "smurfing" means a practice where the player leaves his main account in the search for less experienced enemies. It is a common thing in the online gaming community. Even competitive players go lower from time to time.
The origins of the "smurf" term
The word "smurf" itself is a French translation of "le schtroumpf" - a word invented by Belgian creator Pierre Culliford, knows as Peyo. "The Smurfs" was first included in a comic book, to become a worldwide phenomenon TV series later on. It tells stories about a colony of small, blue, human-like creatures, and the evil wizard Gargamel trying to seize them. The most notable among the Smurfs are Papa Smurf, the leader, as well as Brainy, Clumsy, Jokey, and a hundred more. They were joined by a Smurfette - a female Smurf created by the Gargamel to lure the Smurfs into a trap.
Thirty or so years later, in 1996, two Warcraft 2 players by the names of PapaSmurf and Smurfette went on to play the game online via legendary Kila. Initially, they act like newbies leading their enemies info belief, that it's just two regular players. In fact, these were two popular Warcraft 2 players - Shlonglor and Warp!
More than twenty years ago nobody ever thought about playing on a different account than their main one. Why would anyone go on to play under fake ID? What for? What would be the purpose of it? Shlonglor and Warp! found the purpose of smurfing, and they had pretty much redefined the gaming.
Fun fact is that sometime later, Shlonglor and Warp! got smurfed themselves. They have faced other top Warcraft 2 players, who pretended to be n00bs, and used it to their advantage.
Why Smurf? Why such bizarre nicknames? Shouldn't it be something more… sneaky? Clever? Enigmatic? Something like a Silent Assassin? Or a TurboNinja? Or Spies in Disguise?
Most likely, we'll never know, but here we have a second theory that a user named Hugo came up with on the English Stackexchange forum. He claimed that the smurfiness means the indistinguishability. Basically, all of the 105 Smurfs look exactly the same. If you shaved the Smurfette bald, you couldn't tell the difference between her and, for instance, the Brainy, if you didn't pay attention to the eyelashes. The same goes for Papa Smurf if you shaved his beard and took away his red-colored clothes. Allegedly, it was the concept behind nicknaming after the blue, little creatures - not to stand out.
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Which games contain smurfs?
Nowadays, whichever game has a rank system based on win rate, it'll have smurfs. They hide behind the low-stat account to "smurf" on newbies and weaker players in general. You will find smurfs in FPS shooters like CS:GO, battle royales like Fortnite, PUBG, and MOBAs like League of Legends, StarCraft, and DotA 2.
Smurfing is about using personal skills and experience discrepancy to gain an advantage, where every player is given the same resources or possibilities. With that being said, in Fortnite, where 100 players are dropped onto the island, each one of them has a pickaxe and few consumables at the very beginning. They need to gather materials, search for weapons, not to mention combat proficiency. It will not be the case for the most popular MMOs.
In WoW, there have been twinks, and the term transitioned into other MMO titles, where the mechanic can be applied. Twink means a character with high-level gear but a low overall level. In WoW, it is used mostly for the Battlegrounds or boosting, oftentimes utilizing the level locking. It is also common for games like Guild Wars, Diablo, or Dark Souls. You can't really call it smurfing since the gameplay in an MMORPG does not revolve around the PvP segment only, where the player's skill really matters.
Also, there are no ranks per se. For comparison, a level 30 character in WoW doesn't stand a chance against someone with a level 110. On the contrary, in LoL, a level 30 account is as powerful as the pro gamer's account, skill excluded. The only discrepancy between pro and a fresh level 30 is the number of champions unlocked. It is not the case for DotA 2, where you have all characters unlocked for free.
Why do people smurf?
There are a couple of reasons for players to go to secure websites like Smurfmania.com and buy League of Legends account (which you can also find here on MMOAuctions), and play a few classes under their real rank.
Probably it was one of the reasons that smurfing was ever invented in the first place. We think that Shlonglor and Warp! went down to pretend newbies to enjoy themselves. For sure, playing a couple of divisions, brackets, or ranks lower than your natural skill level is less demanding, and more relaxing.
It is the second important reason why Shlonglor and his friend sought discretion. They were so good at the game back then that no one was willing to face them.
Today pro players are using smurf accounts to hide from others to avoid them: "OMG! I'm against the pro!" whining.
Smurf account is a polygon for players. It is less likely to get punished by the opponents for making a mistake. Smurfs are the ones looking for the new meta. It is also often used by content creators to make fun stuff for the audience without the risk of dropping their main rank.
Many top players say that you always need to have fun to be good at the game. Once you drop the mental pressure, you gain full access to your muscle memory, a clear mind, and you're less likely to have tunnel vision and tilt. The stake is what makes you fumble, miss click, fail. Take a look at the G2 Esports LoL lineup.
They laugh while being on the stage. They even laughed in the 2019 Worlds Finals against FunPlus Phoenix (although it had nothing to do with playing well). The thing is to release the pressure from time to time, and a smurf account does well in this department.
Some players are salty. Actually, many players are salty. They are so-called "mental pros." These are the examples of players in the gaming community, who keep complaining about teammates, luck, lags, and thousands of other factors that do not allow them to reach the top. They usually have some skill, cause they play more than they should (for the sake of the community). That's why they create a new account and go into newbies to feel better.
We know it's pointless, but for someone winning anything means the world.
The moral aspect of smurfing
There are some games where the highest level of play is pretty much set in stone. Either you play a certain way pushing yourself to the limit or you lose. However, some games have meta-shifting and theory-crafting, requiring practice.
Most of the time, the top-ladder players will not risk losing their rank, trying to test something new. It is where the smurf accounts are useful. Playing against weaker, less skilled, and experienced opponents, you have a larger error margin. You check the new build, tactic, champion, weapon, etc., and once you have a sufficient sample size, you go back to your natural level to imply the new strategy.
Rarely will you see the high-rank player testing something on his main account? Usually, he will have a smurf for that purpose.
Although, most of the pro players and competitive veterans do not care about the rank. There should be a separate ladder for them. For example, there was a moment during the League of Legends World Championship 2019 held in Europe, where three players from the Korean team - Griffin - namely Nuguri (top laner), Canyon (jungler), and ShowMaker (mid laner) held a +70% win rate in Challenger. To put it into perspective, TheUnshackledone, which is an alternate account of G2 Esports mid laner Caps, had around a 55% win rate at the time. So it's safe to say, that these Koreans were smurfing in the best LoL League in the whole EU region.
However (and it is another aspect of smurfing), they were playing together. It is another level of smurfing because we all know that in team games, the coordination plays a huge part.
Was it fair for other casual players? Well, yes and no.
It's not really fair, because pro players will always have the edge over casual ones. A typical SoloQ player will not have access to the best coaching staff, and most of the time, he will not have the freedom to play and practice for 10 or more hours a day. It kind of resembles the top World of Warcraft guilds fighting for the High Warlord or Grand Marshal title. Plus, the coordination. A standard SoloQ team will have a hard time communicating and shotcalling, while well-organized pros will bash them with ease. Do you remember the funny commercial, where two youngsters were selecting their team to play a soccer game? With Zidane, Beckham, and even Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini?
Playing with a smurf, whether it's an FPS shooter, MOBA game, or any other one, must feel like competing against pro athletes. We bet that none of us would stand a chance. A famous LoL streamer was asked once, who's better - a one-trick pony or a pro player. He answered that professional competitive players would beat any OTP, hands down. Pros maybe a little worse mechanically while on specific champions, but overall they have better game knowledge and online gaming experience.
However, playing against someone who gives you a whopping of a century is a priceless experience. One said: "If you wanna be the best, you gotta take out the best." Sooner or later, your learning curve begins to flatten. Your game lacks improvement. You're stagnant. You basically reached your skill ceiling, and you cannot go higher. It is where the pro player comes in and shows you that you can be so much more. It's like discovering a new land when you thought that you've already been everywhere. It is a refreshing and inspiring feeling.
Sure, the pro player will most likely beat you. Your job is to reforge this loss into a lesson. Only a fool thinks he knows everything.
What's more, facing a pro player gives you once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to beat the pro player. Who knows? Each game is about not making mistakes and capitalizing on others flaws. Maybe the pro feels overconfident? Perhaps he underestimates you? Esport knows countless instances where rookie got the best of a veteran. A wise man said: "If you can make God bleed, the people will cease to believe in him." And who is an esports rookie if not a casual player-facing pro on the stage for the first time?
But there is more - the ego. The community holds ego-smurfing in online gaming in contempt. There is nothing glorious in going many levels down to humiliate other players. What's glorious in beating a child as an adult? It's the same. Going down from Global Elite, Challenger, or Grandmaster down to silver to crush unaware enemies does not earn you bragging rights. It's disgraceful and disgusting. And most of the time, it's not the case for the top players, but rather for hard-stuck Platinum pro-wannabes or pathetic content creators. They record themselves smurfing on silvers, upload it onto YouTube, and say: "Look, I'm so good."
If you're so good, why aren't you a pro?
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How to make money as a Smurf in League of Legends?
LoL is probably the best place for any kind of smurfs, as the learning curve of the game favors players who play for a long time. Vast database, wide game knowledge, trading patterns,
There are two ways for a skilled player in League of Legends to earn some coin.
It is a process similar to power-leveling in other games, where you allow someone else to play on your account to climb a desired number of divisions. It’s a rather risky way of boosting due to violating ToS, but it happens a lot.
The other way is to play a Duo Queue with the one who wants to be boosted. It can be easier if the boosted player is cooperating. You gain confidence, that at least one of your teammates is going to do well. However, this way is far more interactive, which may not be optimal for some players. It’s also less risky in terms of restrictions and ToS violations.
LoL Account trading
Many smurfs do not bother with boosting a weak player, because most of the time it’s pointless. The booster player will fall down immediately to the division he belongs to. A much more effective and reliable way of earning money in League of Legends is leveling accounts to level 30 (eligibility for ranked) and selling them. There will always be a crowd of players who want a fresh start after a ban, or who don’t want to waste time grinding up to level 30. They visit secure websites like Smurfmania to buy a cheap, new, unaffected account.
The account itself is a property of Riot Games, and it can’t be sold or bought. A player is getting paid for the time he invested in leveling the account. One way or another, it is better not to brag about it in all chat.
In the cruel, ruthless world of gaming, there will always be good and bad players. Good players will best the weak ones and climb, leaving the newbies a tough choice - learn and improve, or ignore it and become a sour hard-stuck. And between the genuinely good and the bad players, there will always be smurfs - above-average skilled players, who don't always want to play to their fullest. Players who will go down in the ranked system to have some fun, relax or boost their ego. There is nothing much to do for us other than pray to be on the right side of the Smurf. Or avoid him.
What does it mean to Smurf?
It means going down in rank to play with less skilled players.
Can you get banned for smurfing?
Not really. Being better does not violate any Terms of Service. However, there has been a petition in CS: GO to make smurfing illegal.
Can I report a smurf in ranked?
Probably you can, but it's pointless.
What is smurfing in League of Legends?
It happens when a player goes down a significant number of divisions to face weaker opponents.
What is smurfing in Fortnite?
It is creating or buying a low MMR (matchmaking rate) account, and fighting against less proficient enemies.