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RPS Asks: Have You Ever Smurfed? If So, Why?

Reading through the new Ask Riot thingummy where Riot employees will address common League of Legends [official site] questions, the very first question looks at the practice of smurfing. This is not the process of dying yourself blue and donning a Phrygian cap as some sort of pre-game ritual (although I now have a new feature idea - GRAHAM!).

Smurfing in this instance refers to more experienced players playing on a lower level (smurf) account. The idea is usually of an experienced player heading into lower ranked games to beat up on these newer/lower level opponents.

Smurfing has definitely been more noticeable to me in League than in other games. That might simply be because I'm more aware of it as a phenomenon, but it might also be because League has a system in place which sets out to detect smurfing and match those players against one another.

I have absolutely no evidence for this but I do wonder whether my following professional League and being really familiar with similar systems and characters and so on from Dota has flagged me as a smurf (despite only ever playing on the one account and gradually levelling up).

I get to grips with the basics of characters pretty quickly and know the rhythms of the games in a way that's likely at odds with my actual game time. I also encounter a lot of people who seem to be smurfing and who have occasionally accused me of doing the same.

I can understand that appeal of smurfing on some level. It's nice to have an easy victory once in a while - to feel like a champ racking up a massive kill streak and like the time you've spent has been worthwhile because you're definitely better at the game than some people. But I've also seen people getting really cross - ragging on teammates for them not understanding a character or an objective when they're level 5 and still learning.

The smurfing player is there to reap the benefits of being the big fish in the little pond but is angry that the little fish on his team aren't bigger and more ferocious.

The answer Riot gave in their blog was interesting, not because they have solutions, but more because it was a reminder that smurfing can happen for a number of reasons. I mean, I'd be tempted to do it for Dota because I have played the same basic role for over a thousand hours and trying to break out of that rut might be easier in an environment where everyone is learning, rather than facing the ire of frustrated teammates when I'm not instantly as good at a different role.

So I'd like to ask:

1. Have you ever smurfed?

2. If you have, why?

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About the Author

Philippa Warr

Former Staff Writer

Pip wrote for Rock Paper Shotgun between 2014-2017, covering everything from MOBAs, hero brawlers and indie curios. She also had a keen interest in the artistry of video game creation, and was very partial to keeping us informed of the latest developments in British TV show Casualty.

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