Riot Games is taking big steps to reduce the number of smurf accounts in Valorant. Smurfing, which refers to when a higher-ranked player uses a lower-ranked account to stomp easier lobbies, hurts competitive fairness and integrity.
After rolling out an automated smurf detection system earlier this year, the developer is finally ready to share the results of its new and more stringent anti-smurf measures.
The goal was to adjust the MMR of smurf accounts so they reach their real rank quicker — and the good news is that it appears to be working. Smurf counts are down 17 percent compared to earlier in the year, said Riot, and new smurf accounts are getting to their correct MMR two to three times faster.
What Riot is doing to improve smurf detection in Valorant
With automated smurf detection, Riot uses data to place smurf accounts within the correct MMR as quickly as possible, dramatically decreasing the number of games where players experience unfair matches.
To test the system, the team held a test in North America on patch 5.01 to check that it could accurately identify smurfs and bump their MMR to be as close as possible to their main account.
It started by measuring the rate of lopsided matches (or what Riot calls stomps), where one team wins by eight or more rounds. Before the changes, smurfs stomped their opponents 32 percent of the time, or one in three games.
The team applied the new system to 50 percent of detected smurfs, while leaving the other 50 percent alone to serve as a control group. The smurfs in the test group eventually came within 1 percent of Riot’s target stomp rate, while the control group was still stomping in 25 percent of matches.
The test was expanded globally for one final experiment, where the team once again saw similar improvements.
In fact, the system was so effective that smurfs were being placed in their actual MMR in as little as four games. On the other hand, smurfs in the control group were still roughly three divisions away from their correct MMR even after playing 10 matches.
Moving forward, Riot is looking to make sure that no smurfs slip through the cracks. This means bolstering the methods it uses to identify smurfs, and experimenting with more aggressive MMR adjustments to push smurfs up to their correct rank even faster.
At the same time, the developer is focused on addressing the reasons why players create smurf accounts. One of the most common reasons is that players want to team up with friends of different ranks — which is why Riot made it possible to 5-stack regardless of rank disparity in patch 3.10.
That said, the work is hardly complete in terms of smurf detection, and the developer is promising additional improvements further down the road.
You can read Riot’s full blog post here.