I think there needs to be some clarification on the official developer stance between throwing/tanking, boosting, and owning alternate accounts.
Game Director Jeff Kaplan:
Apologies. I have been gone so I have not read every post in this thread. But I will give you some thoughts.
I think there are two separate concepts:
1) Smurfing. I would define this as an experienced player buying a second account to reset their account progress and internal matchmaking rating (MMR)
2) Boosting. This is behavior some players engage in in Competitive Play where one player is more skilled than their partner and attempts to “carry” the lower skilled player to a higher skill tier.
Boosting is bad and we are very actively working on preventing and punishing this behavior. Rules like the 500 SR differential in Comp above Diamond exist because of Boosting. There is nothing about Boosting that is acceptable and we want you to know that we are taking great efforts to minimize the impact on “fair” players.
Smurfing – and I know this isn’t what you want to hear – isn’t really that big of an issue. For example, a few weeks ago one of the Pro Overwatch players created a smurf account and was streaming from it. We were able to watch his MMR internally and compare it against his “main” account. Within 15 games, the MMR’s were equal. I know there is a very bad perception of Smurfing. But the reality is, skilled players are moved rapidly out of lower skill situations.
I’ve also personally witnessed a few cases of players assuming someone is smurfing when they are not. One of the people I play with is highly skilled. He played a ton in the beta. He works on the Heroes of the Storm team and plays Heroes most nights. But occasionally he comes and plays OW with us because he really enjoys the game. As a result, he is way lower level than we are. Most of us are 3-5 stars… and he is about level 30. Every time we group with him, someone accuses him of being a smurf. But he’s not.
Anyway, we will always monitor deviant behavior and if we feel like there is behavior occurring that hurts honest, fair players, we will take action. We are definitely working on the boosting issue.
Starting a new account is not against the rules. Boosting or throwing is against the rules.
If you start a new account and play normally, the matchmaker determines your skill level very quickly and matches you with similar players.
That being said, if a player, regardless of their skill rating or experience level, is ever deliberately throwing the match, report them. But if they are just playing badly, use CAREFUL judgement and its best to assume a low-experienced player is in fact a low-experienced player.