It seems Overwatch is rife with smurf accounts. I ask around, and most of the time people answer they have 2 accounts or more. There was a sale on OW about one month ago. I once talked with somebody, on voice chat, who had 7 accounts.

I only have one account, and I play in solo queue, in silver tank, silver healer, and bronze DPS. I want to insist that when I started playing OW, I was about 2600.

It feels like smurfs are in all my matches, both in my team and in the opposite team. Often, it seems that smurfs are the player who can influence the outcome of a match, not me. Either my team can't win against a team with smurfs, or my team has strong smurfs and win too easily, so no matter how much effort I put, I don't contribute to the outcome of the match. It doesn't feel very good.

It's weird because I often hear players saying smurfs are not a problem, and they also say "there is no elo hell", yet I've heard pro players agreeing that smurfs make it harder to climb.

I have played online FPS for years, I was told my aim is not bad by a OW coach, yet I'm not even gold, where most players are.

If there is a lot of smurf accounts, wouldn't it create a "downward" pressure, meaning average players get pushed down by smurf accounts?

I wish Blizzard would enable their authenticator for OW, to allow players to not play with and against smurfs, a bit like what cs go did with cs go prime.

I regularly spot groups of players who "derank" as a team. I'm also curious why players decide to derank, and if it's really ethical, since it means those accounts will, in the future, play with people lower than them. I've heard arguments like:

  • "It's to play with friend"

    • answer: they should play in QP instead, because in competitive, you should only play with players of your level. That's a good limitation.
  • "It's to practice with another hero"

    • answer: they should play in QP instead, that's what practice is for. Those people can practice against people of their own level.
  • "I want to have fun while not losing MMR"

    • answer: they should play in QP instead, it's unethical to practice against players who are lower level.

I can understand why Blizzard can easily make money with smurfs, though.

  • 2
    These questions might be a bit too opinion-based and philosophical for Arqade. You may be better off posting these on the Overwatch or Counter Strike subreddits, though those places are gigantic echo chambers with plenty of bad opinions and rude replies. There's simply no easy answer to your question. Commented May 2, 2022 at 18:24
  • I'm still open for an answer on smurfing in general in general, to see if it really does "skew" the ladder.
    – jokoon
    Commented May 14, 2022 at 13:43
  • 1
    The simplest answer is: Smurfs are a pain in the butt for everyone. Well, except for the publisher making money out of them. I too have two accounts (CS GO), but the 2nd one is not for smurfing. It's rather for having fun with friends without de-ranking the main. Simple quick play games are full of id*** and cheaters, so there is no fun in going there. I understand this is not fun for some others, but since we're only doing it together we're ranked accordingly with those accs.
    – dly
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 9:00
  • The ELO system can't pick a smurf. But when the game starts, having a skilled smurf completely destroys and ruins the balance, thus ruing the game completely. They are the toxic scum of multiplayer gaming.
    – Pure.Krome
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 16:45
  • @Pure.Krome yes, but game companies earn money from smurfs. so it's rather a money problem.
    – jokoon
    Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


Objectively yes.

You're not really playing a ladder though as a ladder would be seeded in some way based on stats, you're playing ranked games presumably.

The ELO system is designed for a 1v1 game, originally chess. It is not designed for competitive team games and has never been used to assess individual team players to any degree of success in team sports. The only thing they use it for is for team rankings.

Ranked competitive video games in recent years have adapted an ELO system that in my mind is designed to get players to grind the game instead of accurately assess their skill via stats.

With ELO, the system is highly dependent on two things,

  1. People must play regularly to the same degree as other players (same volume of games)
  2. People must play with people of relatively equal skill level

Both of these are very easily broken in ranked comp games.

For example, in Dota2 if I queue with a player of 50 elo rating as a player with 1800 rating, the game will match me with players somewhere in between. However, typically speaking the higher skill player will usually have far more game impact than the low skill player. This is your typical smurf.

Another way to break comp is if you calibrate highly but then never play.

Another way is as a high skill player to simply recalibrate since there are usually limitations on skill calibration.

I've player against players in the region of 3000 mmr in some cases despite being 1800 mmr. It doesn't happen in every game but it happens often enough that we notice it consistently.

  • Indeed, the ELO/MMR system doesn't work in team games, because the MMR score gain depends on other players, while that same score is given to all players of a losing or winning team, without any appreciation of how they played. Like I said in other suggestions on reddit, the best player of the losing team should not lose any ELO, and the worst player of the winning team should not earn any ELO. Currently, this is not the case, which means that average players have random outcome for their resulting MMR and have no real ability to change the outcome of a match.
    – jokoon
    Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 13:45

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