What Does Smurfing Mean In Gaming?

Smurfing is a term used in video games to describe players who play using multiple accounts.

What Does Smurfing Mean In Gaming?

This practice is often frowned upon because it can be deemed unfair for highly ranked players to use lower ranked accounts to play against others online. 

In some games, you can create multiple accounts using the same username. For example, you might want to play two characters in the same game.

The problem is that these accounts aren’t really separate from each other. They share the same information, including your inventory, items, and level.

Most of the time, however, smurfing occurs when a high ranking player wants to play against low-ranking competitors, so they create a new account in order to start from scratch with all the skills they have previously built from playing the game for many hours. 

Where Does The Word “Smurfing” Originate?

The term “smurfing” comes from a couple of Warcraft II players who would often play together in the mid-1990s.

They were so good at the time that when other players saw their names in matchmaking, they would leave, so they would not get beaten by them. 

To avoid this problem, these players create alternate characters to hide their true identities.

They decided to use the usernames “Smurfette” and “PapaSmurf”, which led to the word “smurfing” to describe this practice.

For What Reason Do People Use Smurf Accounts?

There are several reasons for why smurfing happens. One of the main reasons players smurf is because they can find matches faster at the top ranks than they can at lower ones.

For example, if someone has reached Grand Master in an online game like Overwatch, they might be waiting 30 minutes before a match becomes available.

By placing their smurf account in a gold server, which has a large number of other players, they’ll be playing much sooner. 

Smurfing could stem from the desire to dominate others, but it could also be for fun.

If a player isn’t seeing any improvement in your actual rankings, they could create a fake account and play against players who aren’t ranked as highly as they are. 

This makes them feel like a much better player, because they would be consistently winning against the less experienced players. 

Smurfing isn’t exclusive to top players; anyone can smurf. A mid-level player might use a low-ranked account to defeat new players who don’t know the game well.

Sometimes, people often use the word “smurfing” to describe behaviors that aren’t actually smurfing.  It all depends on the intention of the player. 

If you have an alternative account for playing casually with your friends who rank lower than you, or if you have another account where you test out new strategies without messing with your main account, then it isn’t really smurfing.

Is Smurfing A Big Problem?

Ranked matchmaking systems were designed to help players get good matches, but smurfs are trying to purposefully get bad matches.

Most online games with ranking systems are meant to allow players of the same skill level to play against each other and move up through the ranks. 

Adding smurfs into this equation means you cannot be sure that the players you’re matched up against are actually fair opponents.

Smurfs sometimes intentionally lose games to keep their account at a desired low rank.

They can do this by not moving, purposefully missing shots, or by running straight into the enemy’s lines.

Smurfs are messing up the ranking system that others are trying to use. If you end up in a low-ranked match against someone who’s more experienced and skilled who’s using a smurf account, you’re bound to be defeated.

However, if you get a smurf on your team who’s playing badly intentionally, again, you’re bound to lose. 

How To Prevent Smurfing

Some games have ways of stopping people from playing multiple accounts at once.

For example, an MMO might make you reach certain levels before you can use powerful equipment or items.

This stops you from using items acquired from a higher-ranked character.

These systems, however, don’t really help you play skill-based games online.

A game could require players to authenticate with their phone numbers to access ranked matches, however, someone could circumvent this by purchasing a prepaid phone. 

Eventually, people who wish to smurf will eventually figure out how to do so.

One way to reduce smurf attacks is by including measures to prevent them, and another way is by letting people report smurfs.

It is, however, very difficult to eliminate smurfing entirely. 

How To Spot A Smurf Account

If you suspect that someone is smurfing, there are several thing you can look for:

  • They don’t seem to care about winning.
  • They seem to be doing things like running away from fights or deliberately missing shots.
  • They’re constantly switching characters.
  • Their stats don’t add up.
  • They’re consistently losing.
  • They are consistently dominating the game and winning every time.


Smurfing is a term that describes a form of cheating where a person plays a game under false pretenses.

It usually involves creating a second account to avoid getting punished for something they did on their main account.

Smurfs often attempt to gain unfair advantages over other players by purposely playing poorly.

A smurf account can also be used legitimately. Someone might start a new account when they’ve been banned from a previous one.

Or, someone might start a new account after being kicked out of a legitimate one. In addition, some people might start a new account to practice with a friend.

In conclusion, smurfing can be a deeply frustrating thing for gamers, but sadly there isn’t a lot that can be done to prevent it entirely. 

If you suspect a player of using a smurf account to cheat in an online video game, make sure to report their account to the administrator. 

Try not to get into arguments with players whom you suspect are using smurf accounts. 

Ashley Newby