Valve announced back in September that it was cracking down on DOTA 2 players using smurf accounts. That ban wave took out 90,000 accounts, but it seems the company wasn’t finished yet. Today, alongside the massive Frostivus 2023 Update for the MOBA, Valve has delivered its most aggressive ban wave yet.
As a quick refresher, smurf accounts in multiplayer games are alternate accounts used by players, usually to exploit matchmaking systems. Instead of matching with similarly skilled players, smurf accounts allow playing in beginner-tier ranks with newbie players to get easier wins, then making new accounts as their rank gets recognized by algorithms.
“If you’re on the Naughty List, we’ve got great news for everybody else and bad news for you, because this year is gonna be a bloodbath,” says Valve in its DOTA 2 blog. “We’ve continued to invest in player behavior monitoring, on both the manual and automatic analysis fronts. Over the last few weeks, we’ve engaged in an even more aggressive ban wave, including many tens of thousands of smurf account bans today alone.”
DOTA 2 players starting up the game should now see a special Frostivus Gift appear on their accounts. Depending on their behavior and smurf usage, the gift can contain coal (ban or warning) for being on the “Naughty List” or a free cosmetic set for being on the “Nice List.”
Unlike before, not even professional DOTA 2 E-sports players are safe. After discussing the use of smurf accounts with pro players, Valve has decided to apply the punishment effects to that group as well. “The rules should apply to everybody, and from now on they will,” the company adds.
Aside from smurf account users, highly toxic DOTA 2 players are also being targeted with penalties:
“And smurfing isn’t even the only naughty thing players are getting up to. Amongst other questionable choices, some bad actors are playing like jerks, ruining games and losing behavior score because of it, then hiring behavior score farmers to drive it back up (…) Punishments will be handed out for all of the above, including behavior score penalties — and in serious cases, main account bannings.”
Today’s 7.35 Frostivus patch for DOTA 2 brings major changes to the gameplay too, including new items and reworks, hero balance changes, quality of life changes for the UI and HUD, and much more. Read the complete patch notes here.