I rarely complain about this game, but I am starting to see some really bad behavior in my games, and I think it is time to bring attention to this problem here on the forums. I know many of you don’t like smurfs and I do not either. Now please keep in mind that I define a “smurf” as a player who deliberately sets up an alternate account to play below their actual skill rating or in a matter intended to disrupt other players in their games. Officially, it has been addressed by the development team owning an alternate account is not a violation of the game rules, nor is it a violation of the Blizzard End User License Agreement or the Blizzard Code-of-Conduct.
Now obviously doing anything to disrupt games of Overwatch including throwing games is against the rules. However, let me tell you about my experience last night. In two of my last matches, the opposing team had a player deliberately throw the match (which means I won that match of course, but it sure didn’t feel good).
In the first game, on Oasis, both teams played rather competitively in the first round, but my team came out on top. At the start of the second round, one of the Damage role players decided to leave the match after saying “GLHF” in-match chat. After a few seconds, they returned and then immediately left again, which was timed just right to force their allies to play out the entire remaining second round against my team, however they stayed in the lobby (where Rejoin Match is showing) and for some reason (I think this is a bug), that player who left could still participate in the match text chat. They were constantly using abusive language to everyone and making direct insults at their team. It was a very bitter experience in that match and I felt bad for the opponents.
In another game, on Volskaya Industries, my team had trouble against a potentially high-skilled Hanzo and in the match chat they claimed they were smurfing. Their team who started the opening attack took both points with a little over 2 minutes remaining (very good time in my opinion). However in the second round, that Hanzo began to no longer participate in the team fights after they claimed his allies accused him of not playing good enough. Throughout my team’s attack round and the succeeding enemy attack round, he would simply watch from a distance and keep moving around the objective areas so that they would avoid getting AFK’d by the inactivity timer rules (45 seconds of not moving, 3 minutes of not being in the area of the objective or engaging the enemy). This too resulted in a bitter victory for my team, and frustrated opponents who had no chance of winning playing a 5 versus 6 that they could not even leave to requeue.
In both cases, these two opponents were excessively abusive in chat (to both teams) and both claimed to not care about the penalties they could incur, implying they would just log onto a different account. Yes, I won both matches, but I felt like I didn’t earn them. In fact, with the first match where the opponent did leave the game server, I only gained 11 SR which unless there has been an official change, should not happen as leavers should not be accounted for when calculating the SR adjustments for all remaining players.
I have no doubt in my mind that these two players will be actioned, in fact I received report notifications recently, but I am concerned there is still a culture of disruptive behavior that is impacting a good portion of our community because of the ability to create alternate accounts exist. I know this is not an easy problem that can be solved directly (just as Jeff Kaplan pointed out when addressing a similar question for consoles).
I have been in this debate about alternate accounts a lot and I agree there really is no effective way to directly deter the creation of alternate accounts. So really I feel there need to be changes to Competitive Play’s skill ranking and system to filter out those who attempt to deliberately smurf. I did a lot of thinking about this, and if anything, the lack of sense of progression in the current system seems extremely unrewarding. I was not a beta player (believe it or not), but I have been playing since the launch, and the one thing I really regret is not having a chance to participate in the Beta Competitive Season for Overwatch. The skill rating system for Beta was extremely different from what we had today. Here is the article that breaks it all down if you are interested:
Now Jeff Kaplan mentioned in the Developer Update Video for season 1 competitive that the community felt like that system did not feel very Competitive enough, and there is truth to that. From what I understand the original rules had planned skill rating resets (not sure about hidden MMR resets) so in someways matchmaking would be erratic at the start of each season. However, the appeal I see in this system is the fact that players advance through the starting tiers and once they reached a certain tier, they could not drop out for the rest of the season. That encouraged continuous play on one account and there was a sense of progress and once they reached the Heroic tier, then they could compete for skill rating and the top 500.
It would probably be a huge ordeal for the development team to even consider overhauling the Competitive Play skill rating and tier system and matchmaking… again. However, I feel if disruptive behavior like what I have described from last night is ever to be addressed, I think we need to have a Competitive game mode that encourages participation on a single account rather than a system that makes it easy to allow an alternate account disrupt all levels of skill.
Thanks for your time everyone, I would love to hear your thoughts. I also would appreciate any positive vibes.