There's a thing in competitive eSports game called smurfing. If you're not familiar with this practice, it's when people who are REALLY good at the game get to the top of the leaderboards, and then turn around and make a new character and play through the ranks again. It really only works in games that have "seasons" of Ranked play. And primarily it is a tool that the best ranked players (who are also generally the professional players of the game) a chance to experiment with different characters and roles in the game in a way that it won't hurt the record/standings of their main account (which they're sometimes required by contract to keep really high on the leaderboards).
But then there's the other side of the coin. Players who hit a ceiling in their attempt to climb up the ranks, and then decide to make a smurf account to troll the lower ranks. They tend to do things like only play a single champion/role and just try to screw with people and generally have a negative impact on the overall play experience for a game. Whether they intend to or not.
Interestingly, in their most recent update for DOTA2, Valve has decided to do something to curb this practice in their MOBA megahit. If you want to play ranked games in DOTA2, you now have to register a unique phone number to your account.
So this basically forces a player to only be able to play a single account in ranked (or have multiple phones and phone numbers). I'm working from the assumption here that you'll have to verify the number in some capacity by either receiving a pin number via text or call, or something of that sort. In theory, this likely won't effect professional players all that much. If it really does benefit the pro players to have a smurf account, I'm sure their teams will fork out like $20 to get them a second cellphone that is basically only used for the game.
But why would Valve do this? What benefit do they see to limiting people to a "single" ranked account? According to their announcement: "Players using multiple accounts create a negative matchmaking experience at all skill brackets, so our goal is to add just enough friction to this process that the number of players doing this will be noticeably reduced. Having more players using their primary accounts will have a positive effect on both Ranked and Unranked Matchmaking."
So they feel like any and all smurfing is hurting the game for other players and making it a terrible experience. They want to remove that toxicity from their ranked experience. It's a pretty noble goal. Will it work? Who knows. Will people still find a way to abuse it? Who knows. Will other developers follow suit? Again, who knows. I'm curious if other people will try to add this to their game and try and disguise it as a "security feature." You know, the old, "Add a phone number to your account to improve security and keep other people from stealing access!" trick.
So what do you think? Do you think it's a good move? Do you think it will work? Is there a better way? Is it even necessary? Let us know in the comments below.
** CHOP'S LCS GAME OF THE WEEK **
This one is super easy. It's the North American LCS Finals this Sunday. The two biggest and best teams of the North American Professional scene over the past like 3 years facing off against one another. Winner takes the title for the first half of the competitive year, goes to the Mid-Season Invitational Tournament, and is almost guaranteed to stamp their ticket to the World Championships this fall. There's a lot at stake. Who will take home the trophy in Vancouver?
Tune in at "3pm Eastern"* on Sunday the 23rd to see #2 Cloud9 take on #1 Team Solomid.
* - Next week's blog is going to be about this. Foreshadowing!
** CHOP'S BONUS ESPORTS CORNER! **
Yesterday, Twitch posted a little guide to the eSports being played this weekend live on Twitch. So if you're interested in checking something out, this seems to be a pretty good weekend to do so.
eLeague (they do a variety of games, including Street Fighter V) - coverage starts at 6pm Eastern on Friday.
Rocket League - coverage begins at 3pm on Saturday and Noon Eastern on Sunday.
Check something out, you never know, you might actually enjoy it. Let me know if you do and what you think.