Dota 2 matchmaking update aims to tackle smurf accounts

The a widespread Dota 2 matchmaking update ahead of the new ranked season has been announced, including the introduction of measures to clampdown on smurfing.

The fight against Smurfing - generally someone who makes an additional Steam account to install play at a lower level than their actual MMR - is ongoing for Valve.

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Part of latest matchmaking update, announced on the Dota 2 blog, is designed to make smurfing more difficult closing a loophole around phone number verification.

Valve said the would be rolled out "gradually over the next two days" and calibration part of the new season will begin on Thursday.


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Smurfs be warned

The blog post announcing the new matchmaking update said: "We recognise that recently there has been an increase in smurf accounts.

"We share the sentiments the community has expressed on this issue and we consider it a high priority for us to solve as well. There isn’t a single solution that can address this issue easily, but we hope that a combination of multiple different changes over time will reduce the negative impacts and frequency of it.

"The first change in this area is the usage of phone number verification. We’ve found a loophole that allowed a large number of users to play ranked without a unique phone number attached.

"We have fixed this bug and any user that does not have their account set up correctly will be prevented from queuing until it is resolved. This will also affect accounts that have been actively playing in ranked matchmaking, rather than just new accounts going forward."

Ranked access change

"We are also changing the mechanism to grant Ranked access. Rather than a fixed number of games, we are changing the metric to be a time based one and increased that amount to 100 hours of playtime. Any users who already have access to ranked without meeting this requirement will be removed from ranked until they’ve played enough time.

"Our general approach to Smurfs is to try to get accounts that are performing higher than expected to their correct rank faster. The first change on this axis is to adjust MMR by more than just +/- 25 when we detect that a user has been clearly over performing (based on how the played heroes usually perform at a given rank).

"This will be an ongoing process as we get better at detecting this, but from the data analysis we’ve done so far, we think we can make some progress using this. This change will be silent for a few days as we verify the detection mechanism is working as intended, and will be enabled once that is verified.

"The other change we are making is how we calibrate the initial ranked MMR for new accounts entering ranked. Leveraging the new hours played gate we are adding for ranked access, we will be using your account’s historical performance more aggressively to place you into a more accurate initial rank.

"In the past we introduced a really low cap on initial rank, we think that was a mistake on our part, because it caused smurfs to unnecessarily impact a large volume of games before arriving at a closer-to-accurate rank."

Live detection in place

"Moving forward, we will be spending more time on live detection of smurfing and boosting behaviors. This will hopefully allow us to put detected accounts into an aggressive recalibration, resulting in a much quicker adjustment to an accurate MMR while reducing the number of games that are ruined in the process.

"In addition to this aggressive recalibration, we’ll also be detecting and banning accounts for egregious boosting or exploiting of game mechanics."