A very bitter night of Overwatch last night

Hey everyone,

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.


Nice post. Thanks for bringing attention to deranking


Nothing to add, but appreciate your insight.


I agree with you for the most part and wanted to point out how I experienced that bug you mentioned- where a player can leave/backfill and still talk in match chat…

In my case, I was solo-queueing for QPClassic and I backfilled a game already over, but I never actually joined the lobby like it normally does for backfills on defeat. Instead, my screen turned the white background arcade has, and I was still able to say stuff in match chat and see what people were saying.

It was like I was in limbo, except it wasn’t black, it was like I was waiting on menus instead.

Eventually, I am assuming once the game finally closed out after the cards, I was only able to see general chat.

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They did change SR to account for leavers and I believe it scales relative to the amount of leavers. So if the match is effectively canceled, you will get less SR than if only one person left.

As for the Hanzo, I honestly do that even on my main. If toxic roaches want to blame me for not doing enough while carrying them, I will show them what not doing enough is. Albeit, I do it by swapping to Genji and still trying.

To that end, I do smurf by your definition. I deliberately play an account lower ranked so that I can enjoy my Genji. In my diamond lobbies, my Genji is worthless. And by starting a new account, I figured out the reason, because he is basically just silver rank. It is not fair to play him on my main and ruin the game for my team. So… I just save that for toxic players and when I feel a Genji stint, I play my Genji account.

Now the real question is what do I do when I am on my Genji account but want or need to swap? That is where things get really dicey and I do not actually know what to do.


MMR is based on statistical guessing, and there is the chance that it mispredicts too high, or that MMR drops organically, be it through meta changes, or getting rusty or simply caring less as the season progresses.

Actioning faster with humans in the loop to reduce the amount of evidence required to make a sound call is probably the best solution that the devs are willing to actually take.

I still think that soloq is a mistake and that comp should be restricted to full stacks and LFG stacks.


It’s the worst in masters. You have half the lobby in GM every game, but they are just on their “unranked to GM” accounts. So you basically have to hope you get GMs on your team.

But then in GM, the matchmaking is so bonkers that you could get a 4600 team against a 4100. I’ve had times where I fight a team that’s 600 sr higher than me. Yeah I agree. The matchmaking/competitive scene could use a rework.


I get this kind of behavior at least once every single evening I play, and of course then there are the endless parade of obvious Smurfs

I’m not sure exactly what it is, but Overwatch has the worst online community I have ever experienced.

Nothing I had in Halo, Gears, or any of the Unreals is even close to this

I don’t know if it’s because the hero balance is so terrible that bullies, cowards and other naturally abusive people gravitate to this game or what, but it’s terrible


If I understand you correctly you are saying that you are a diamond ranked player with other hero’s, but your Genji is a silver?

So when you que as Genji, you get placed in silver level matches.

If you switch, you are now essentially a Diamond level player playing against silvers

That seem fair to you?


Thank you for your kind comments.

That seems different, but the symptoms is the same. In my case I know the user deliberately left the game. What you describe sounds more like a disconnection issue.

I wouldn’t strictly say by my definition as it does sound like you are using an alternate account to play a certain hero to your best ability. Though aieeegrunt is correct saying that based on what is available in your entire toolkit as a player. I myself love to play Tracer, but I know to use her in very specific situations in Competitive. So I have a lot of playtime with her on Quick Play and try to do my best unless I am being really hard countered. So probably what I want to ask is why not work to develop your skills as Genji in quick play instead of using an alternate account?

Well, the one thing I will point out is that I do believe Blizzard is working more to make this happen. They revealed a lot of this in their Play Fair, Play Nice panel from BlizzCon 2018 (click to watch, REQUIRES VIRTUAL TICKET) by using AI-learning metrics combined with Player Reports to quickly identify disruptive behavior while also minimizing the impact from potential false reports.

Fun fact, during the Alpha testing phase, Competitive was only going to allow full 6-stacks, but there was a huge disagreement by the community and those who tested for this. Now I would point out that 6-stacks I still believe are kept at a disadvantage by being forced to play against other 6-stacks, making it unattractive to use tools like Looking For Group.

I haven’t even gotten close to Diamond in my play history so I can’t relate, but from what I understand this is a problem like you describe. I know Blizzard has taken an active stance to stop the “Bronze to GM” accounts which were a popular trend in 2017 and 2018, however, I think “unranked to GM” is an equally wrong thing to do for just the heck of it. I understand that queue times for the GM damage role, however, is out of control though and that may be where the development team needs to address that problem.

The perception of general toxicity is hero-based team games like Hero/Class Shooters or MOBAs. The reason for this is that players are more likely to build preconceptions of specific heroes they don’t like and heroes they rather have their team use. Team Fortress 2 (an older game similar to that of Overwatch), historically has a very toxic community and they never really established a full-fledged esports ecosystem (though I think they have a ranked mode). It comes down to players wishing they had more control over their teammates’ actions and decisions when in reality that is an unrealistic expectation.

However, what I am going over is specifically players using accounts to disrupt games deliberately.



Okay, I get your point, but I don’t see any real suggestions for solutions here. What exactly are you proposing?

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This doesn’t seem like a bug to me. Seems intentional. It happens every time someone willingly disconnects.

You gain less SR when there’s a leaver, unfortunately.

Tournament mode. Groups of 6 players against 6 players. The mode would only be available during set hours. This is the way Overwatch is intended to be played. Rewards could be CP or even OWL points.


I didn’t want to get into too many details but if I had the opportunity to build the Competitive system from scratch I would probably build it similar to that of the Beta Competitive Play system. Basically stepped tiers that once you reach it, you cannot drop out no matter how bad you do. This allows players a little more control to fight their way out of each tier without getting stopped by those who try to deliberately tank their rank.

There are a lot of disadvantages I could see with this system, however, and I think there would have to be a lot of refinement to ensure there are not things like a chaotic season-opening because everyone would be playing against everyone.

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It didn’t work like this since after season 1 up until Role Queue. However, I think they changed it and did not announce it. See this article from my dev post archive:


A tournament mode would be fun someday. However, it would not serve as a replacement for Competitive itself as that would compromise on players’ ability to play the game on a reasonable schedule.

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I like the idea of having tiers where you cannot fall below. Of course, that would reset every season, but boy would it be nice!

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I’m aware of the outcry, but I still think it was a mistake, and one that is largely responsible for many of the pervasive cultural problems we see in the playerbase today.

As for LFG being at a disadvantage against regular stacks, I see no problem with the better team winning, and believe it would be a good incentive to form regular stacks and play the game as intended. It’s a polarizing opinion to be sure, but I see other games let stacks roll soloqers, and not only does it work out, I believe it also fostered a culture of collaboration and self improvement.

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Well you and I are in agreement there, but it is not the philosophy of the Dev team though they really don’t explain why.

Sorry to hear about that experience.
I also like to win fairly.

One question unless I misunderstood.
Isn’t it common to get less SR if enemy team loses players?
I found I also get less SR if other team lose a player or 2 and we win.
I know tonight they lost two players and I got 7 Sr for my win.


Nice post.

I would like to add something vaguely related.
I think there is something in this game that give the impression there are more smurf that there really is.
Let me elaborate.

After losing 400 DPS SR recently it became apparent there was still many enemy DPS players who vastly out perform me in raw aim. I really have to play smartly with my team and maybe swap to win against them.
I was surprised, 400SR lower should make my games much easier, I thought!

So what I think is going on, what is called “gamesense” (that nebulous skill about positioning, ambushing, playing with your team, knowing many heroes) can carry very significantly upward, and you can have much worst aim that many enemy player at your rank. Leading to the impression there are lots smurf!
While in fact, it’s just that there many player with good aim but poor decision making…

Well, you see, that’s the problem with Role Q (and this game, in general). No matter what Seraph does, there is no way to truly make it “fair”.

In the old days, a lot of us Flex Players had “Pools” that we used in Comp. Now, the general hope back then was we could play all those Heroes, at the same rank and we wouldn’t play Heroes that weren’t in that Rank. For example, if I was a Diamond Widow, but I knew my DF was Gold, at best, I wouldn’t bring that into a Comp match.

Well, then Role Q came along and all of a sudden, instead of a “Pool” across all roles they could work with, people were forced to play on one role and almost expected to play all those Heroes at the same level (especially, Tank and Support). The thing is, that isn’t realistic, either. I doubt most people’s Ana is the same level as their Moira or their Widow is the same level as their Pharah or what have you.

Honestly, there is no way Seraph could truly play “fair”, given what they just said. If they make a Genji account (and it places Silver) and they switch to one of their Diamond level DPS, they’re smurfing. But, if they do the opposite (play their Genji on their Diamond account), then they are, basically, throwing.

Now, I suppose they could “solve” this issue, by making a 1 trick Genji account. But, then one could argue that isn’t “fair” to their teammates, especially, if they are getting (hard) countered. So, this “solution” doesn’t really work, either.

I suppose another “solution” is they just don’t play Genji (in Comp). But, then that’s not “fair” to them, as someone who enjoys playing the Hero.

So, no matter what they do, they can’t win

And, honestly, it’s not just them. I’m sure a lot of players are in this boat, Seraph is just more self-aware of their situation than most people are. And, short of having Hero Based SR, this is no way to “fix” it. And, Hero based SR would have its own problems, especially, in a game where swapping to counter and/or for team synergy is baked into its core game play. In order to do Hero based SR properly, they would have to lock people into one Hero, but They would also need to redesign the game, so things like hard counters didn’t exist and so team synergy is much easier to achieve.

But, unless they do that, there really is nothing players like Seraph can really do to make whatever game they are in truly fair, for the reasons I mentioned above. So, unless the entire gameplay system of Overwatch is changed, there isn’t much anyone can do.