What does Smurfing mean when applied to online games?

  • 14
    those youngsters... back when I was young, smurfing was delivering some Gbyte to someone's 33.6 Kbit modem with a flood of ICMP Echo Reply, by spoofing the source address of an ICMP Echo Request and sending it to an unprotected broadcast address.... I don't know where we are going with this youth. Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 23:27
  • @Stefano I was wondering this also and was thinking exactly the same, I edited the question to match the answers. Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 2:31
  • 1
    Adding the "in Online Games" part to the question is rather redundant considering the site this question was posted to. Taking out the smurfette reference was a low blow as well. Having a sense of humor is impossible on these troll driven sites.
    – mugafuga
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 11:44
  • 3
    We do play games besides online games, so it's not redundant because of the site.
    – Grace Note
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 12:06
  • english.stackexchange.com/questions/17209/…
    – GWLlosa
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 18:00

5 Answers 5


In the context of Starcraft (and it is different in other games), smurfing referred to utilizing an account with a lower ranking (usually ICCUP) than is accurate for you as a player, to beat up on lesser players.

Since Starcraft 2 has a built in ELO style system, this would mean buying a new account (or destroying your own ranking) and losing all your matches to be placed in a league below your skill level (or using one that is already in such a position).

Since ELO style ranking systems require a sample size of multiple games to make accurate prediction of the skill level, players can trick the system into believing they possess a lower skill level.

Smurfing is not unique to ELO style rankings either. Many tournaments are held for lower skilled players and by misrepresening themselves, highly skilled players can enter these tournaments. This often times constitutes fraud or cheating, but may be by design. For example, the Team Liquid Attack pits a professional player against a series of lesser players. Often times they will intentionally mix in another professional player and present him as a lesser player for comedic value. This is by design (and fun to watch).

Usually, however, smurfing is tantamount to taking candy from a baby.

  • 1
    Just as a side note, I think Blizzard does have some measures in place to thwart most smurfing attempts. My friend intentionally lost all his placement matches, putting him in Bronze league, but then game placed him in Platinum after only a few wins. I'd be curious to know how they were able to detect this so quickly. Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 21:23
  • @Carl the match maker is actually fairly aggressive in its estimations so it doesn't take many wins before it starts to match you well beyond your current rank. However, there is no fool proof method for detecting someone who wins 1 in 5 games intentionally.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 21:28
  • @Kyralessa unlikely, they probably do an exponential increase off of some constant which is based on the number of games you've played.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 0:03
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    You started "smurfing"?
    – Strawberry
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 5:37
  • @Doug I started this guy's question because I mentioned smurfing in a different question he asked.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 15:19

The term smurfing certainly predates Starcraft 1. I think it was invented by a guy named Shlonglor during the Kali days of Warcraft 2, sometime in 1996.

Shlonglor was well-known as a world-class player, but he'd occasionally go incognito with other high level players and beat up on average players.

On at least one occasion (maybe the first) they'd use smurf names (PapaSmurf, etc) and I think that's where the term came from.

Here's a link to web page (circa 1996) dicussing it:



From my understanding (from various games such as Warcraft III and Diablo 2), Smurfing refers to a player creating a new account or character and using that for various reasons, instead of just using their mainstream account.

Reason could be to take a break from high-level game play (pub-stomp), or if a gamer is popular, use a separate account (smurf) to avoid private messages from fans. Another common reason is if you just feel like avoiding your e-friends (if you are in a bad mood/unfriendly mood for instance).

A specific example is in Wc3, If someone wants to try a new strategy, they will create a smurf account, test it in games until they get it down, then use it on their main account without the losses being on their record (from the testing). This isn't always an accepted method and is most times frowned upon.

  • i used to go on a smurf acct with a buddy in WC3 and just do crazy strategies in arranged team matches. they rarely worked, but it was really fun and often got a good "WTF" or laugh out of the opposing team. and when they did work, well, that was fun too
    – Jason
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 18:09
  • I've done the same thing, Ridiculous cheese strategies or other all-in type jokester moves..pretty awesome :D
    – Josh K
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 18:41

Here is a short Wikipedia entry about it. And the even more fun (but NSFW) Urban Dictionary definition. It appears it's generally a term for griefing or masking ones "appearance" to remain anonymous. Perhaps synonymous with "hustling".


Smurfing is when a high level player makes a new account so they can fight less skilled players and get an advantage. This works because they have a better understanding of tactics and game mechanics.

  • 1
    While this is a nice short summary of the other answers, it really doesn't add anything that hasn't been said.
    – scenia
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 6:49
  • No one has said that it involves making a new account.
    – Oreo
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 21:31
  • Look at Josh k's answer ;)
    – scenia
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 4:18

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