Gaming is full of unique words that are often unfamiliar to those who are not immersed in the gaming culture. One such term is “smurfing.”
Though it may sound like something out of a children’s animated movie, smurfing is actually a term used in online gaming to describe a player who uses a secondary account (usually much weaker than their primary account) to participate in ranked games in order to avoid being placed against opponents of significantly higher skill levels.
When I first heard about smurfing, I thought to myself “how unfair!” It wasn’t until I heard about some of the reasons that people smurf that I understood why some create smurf accounts.
In fact, some of my good friends who are really high ranks in games, have smurf accounts.
Though it arguably provides an unfair advantage, smurfing is not explicitly prohibited by most game publishers and therefore remains a common practice.
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What is Smurfing in Gaming?
Smurfing is the act of using a secondary account in online gaming, usually, one that is much weaker than the player’s primary account, in order to be placed against opponents of a lower skill level. This gives the smurf an unfair advantage over other players in the game.
The secondary account the players creates is often referred to as their “smurf account.“
For example, let’s say that you are a Diamond 1 player in League of Legends (one of the highest-ranking tiers). You would normally be placed against other players who are also around the same skill level as you.
However, if you were to create a new account and play on it, a “League of Legends smurf account“, you would be placed in lower-ranked games with players who are not as skilled as you. This would give you a significant advantage over other players and make it easier for you to win games.
Another example is if you are a top 500 player in Overwatch. You would normally be placed against other players who are around the same skill level as you.
However, if you were to create a new account and play on it, you would be placed in lower-ranked games with players who are not as skilled as you.
Why Do People Smurf?
There are a few reasons why people might choose to smurf.
1. Avoid Playing Against Higher-Leveled Competition
One reason is to simply avoid being matched up against opponents who are much better than them. This can be frustrating for players who play against the smurf who are trying to improve their skills, as they will be matched up against a player who they have no chance of beating.
For example, imagine you are a new player trying to learn the game. You queue up for a ranked match and end up getting matched against a world-class player who has been playing the game for years.
You get absolutely demolished in the match and it’s not even close. This can be discouraging for new players and make them want to give up on the game.
2. Try Out New Strategies or Characters
Another reason people smurf is to try out new strategies or characters without having to worry about losing their rank on their primary account. This is especially common in games that have a steep learning curve, such as MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games.
For example, in League of Legends, there are over 140 different champions ( playable characters) to choose from. Each champion has unique abilities and playstyles. It can take a lot of time and practice to learn how to play each champion at a high level.
As such, many players who want to experiment with new champions or strategies will create smurf accounts to do so. This way, they can try out whatever they want without having to worry about losing their ranking on their primary account.
3. Have Fun Playing Against Lower-Leveled Competition
Finally, some people smurf simply for easiness. Beating players who are much worse than you can be very satisfying, and smurfing allows players to set their own difficulty level.
We like the things we’re good at. This means some people love smurfing so they can gain a confidence boost by playing on a smurf account and crushing everyone in their games.
This can be especially satisfying for players who are struggling on their main account and are looking for an easy way to win.
Is Smurfing Cheating?
Whether or not smurfing is considered cheating is a bit of a gray area. Technically, it does not break any rules set forth by most game publishers. However, it does give the player a significant advantage over others, which some people consider to be unfair.
At the end of the day, it’s up to each individual player to decide whether or not they think smurfing is cheating.
There are arguments to be made for both sides, but ultimately it’s up to the player to decide what they think is right.
Many people in the gaming community look down on smurfing though so while it is not cheating, many gamers do not like others who take advantage of smurfing to beat players who are of lower skill level than them and then act cocky like they are the best players.
It’s almost like being a big bully beating on a smaller kid.
If you smurf to play with your friends or just try out new strategies as mentioned, then it’s a different story — as we’ll touch on later in this guide.
Why is it Called Smurfing?
No one is really sure where the term “smurfing” came from. It’s possible that it was simply a made-up word used by early gamers to describe the act of using a secondary account. Another theory is that it comes from the Belgian cartoon character The Smurfs, who are known for their blue skin and white hats.
The Smurfs are tiny characters who live in mushrooms and often get into mischief. They are also known for being very good at what they do, much like skilled gamers who use smurf accounts to dominate their opponents.
Whatever the origin of the term, “smurfing” is now a common word used in the gaming community to describe the act of using a secondary account for ranked games.
How Do You Smurf in Gaming?
Smurfing in gaming is relatively simple. The first step is to create a new account for the game you want to play. This account will be your smurf account. Once you have created the account, you can then begin playing ranked games.
You will likely be matched up against players of similar skill levels, as the game’s matchmaking system will not know that you are using a smurf account. This gives you a significant advantage, as you will be able to easily defeat players who are much weaker than you.
While smurfing is technically not cheating, it is considered to be bad sportsmanship by many in the gaming community.
This is because it gives the player a significant advantage over others, which is unfair. If you choose to smurf, be aware that you may get a negative reaction from other players.
Benefits of Smurfing in Gaming
Despite the negative connotations, there are some benefits to smurfing in gaming. Some of these we’ve already touched on.
1. Try Out New Strategies
One benefit is that it allows you to try out new strategies without having to worry about losing your rank on your primary account.
This is especially useful in games with a steep learning curve, such as MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games. By using a smurf account, you can experiment with different strategies and characters without having to worry about losing your rank.
2. Avoid Matching With Better Players
Another benefit of smurfing is that it allows you to avoid being matched up against opponents who are much better than you. This can be frustrating for players who are trying to improve their skills, as they will constantly be matched up against players who are out of their league.
By smurfing, you can avoid this and set your own difficulty level. Beating players who are much worse than you can be very satisfying, and smurfing allows you to do this at your own convenience.
Once you get really good at a game, there comes a point when you might get matched up against pro players who are just on another different level.
If you’re a gamer who just games casually playing against professional-level players who play for a living, then I could understand the frustration.
3. Play With Lower-Leveled Friends
Finally, some people enjoy smurfing because it allows them to play with their friends who are of a lower skill level. This can be a fun way to play the game and help your friends improve their skills.
For example, if you are a high-level player and your friend is just starting out, you can create a smurf account so that you can play together. This way, your friend can learn from you and improve their skills while still having fun.
Drawbacks of Smurfing in Gaming
Smurfing comes with its own set of drawbacks.
One of the biggest drawbacks is that it can be time-consuming to create and maintain multiple accounts.
This is especially true if you want to have a smurf account for every game you play. Creating and managing multiple accounts can be a hassle, and it takes up a lot of time that could be spent playing the game.
2. Can Get Expensive
Another drawback of smurfing is that it can be expensive. Many games require you to purchase in-game items or currency, and this can add up quickly if you have multiple accounts.
If you are not careful, smurfing can become a very costly hobby.
3. Some Consider it Unfair
Finally, some people consider smurfing to be unfair and bad sportsmanship.
4. Endless Cycle
Lastly, if you create a smurf account, then there may come a point where you eventually hit a high level again and then find yourself wanting to create another smurf account. This will result in an endless cycle of creating smurf accounts.
What is Smurfing in Valorant?
Smurfing in Valorant is when a player creates a new account to play the game at a lower skill level. This gives the player a significant advantage over others, as they will be matched up against players who are much weaker than them.
What is Smurfing in Apex Legends?
Smurfing in Apex Legends is when a player creates a new account to play the game at a lower skill level. For example, if a player reaches the Diamond level and creates a new account to play against Gold-level players.
Nate has been playing games for 20+years now. He is mostly a casual gamer and enjoys most FPS games, Battle Royales, and MOBAs. Outside of gaming, he also enjoys learning about streetwear, photography, and music.