Riot details how developers are combating smurfs in VALORANT’s ranked mode

Smurfing is a problem that affects many free-to-play titles.

Image via Riot Games

If you’ve been playing VALORANT in the hopes of climbing up the ranked ladder, there’s a good chance you’ve run into a few smurfs in the lower ranks of the game. But in Riot Games’ latest blog post, the developers explained how they’re battling this ongoing problem.

“While it’s hard to stop smurfing entirely in a free-to-play game, we are taking action to combat it,” senior producer Ian Fielding said. “Right now, we have a behind-the-scenes system for Unrated as well as one that applies to Iron through Diamond ranked players.”

This system tracks a player’s performance throughout their ranked matches. If they have a “highly disproportional impact” on their games—compared to how their rank usually performs—they’ll be boosted to higher Elo matches in the future.

The tracking system isn’t applied to players who are ranked Immortal and above, however, since those players are much more closer in skill. In the long term, Riot is looking to find a better way to accelerate the detection process for smurfs so they can be placed in the appropriate skill bracket.

Smurfing is a big problem that affects many popular free-to-play titles since it’s easy to create a new account for the ranked grind. For example, in Riot’s other popular game, League of Legends, there are thousands of smurfs who play in lower-ranked lobbies and popular YouTubers even make videos out of their games.

This is a problem that will continue to plague VALORANT, which is why Fielding said that creating a more in-depth system to catch smurfs isn’t high on the development team’s priority list just yet. Instead, they’d rather focus on improving the game’s core rank system and figure out how to implement in-game leaderboards.