Smurfing really is not taken seriously enough as factor in elo hell

I was watching a Tesla video today (I like that he does bronze to GM so you can see just how much even a GM player suffers due to the crazy randomness of low ranks) and he mentioned that some people said him playing through low levels is smurfing and a bad thing.

He brushed it off by saying no one would recognize him as a smurf and if he wasn't pissing anyone off then what's the big deal?

I feel like this was a really bad way to view things.

Smurfs in all shapes and forms are very damaging to the OW experience and contribute a lot to the "elo hell" feeling.

This is because a smurf in a game can enable bad behaviors and shut down good ones.

In a previous post I talked about how ow has no instructional scaffolding and figuring out what to do to get better is already very frustrating as it's a lot of trial and error.

When you factor a smurf in you compound that issue and create a lot of bad behavior and probably toxicity around it as fallout.

For instance in the video I was watching he was Moira and and propped up a brain dead feeding Rein so much that he actually became viable.

What does this do?

It teaches the Rein (and everyone in the game) that this feeding Rein method is the RIGHT thing to do.

This Rein was also seemed like a pretty nasty personality in coms and probably this will result in him thinking "See I AM right! This IS the right way and if my teamates didn't suck so much in other games they would all be like this!"

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Those who have played at low elos know the absolute garbage "facts" that circulate down there (I recall once a DPS getting pissed and yelling "Zenyata get up here and do something!" referring to the fact I was playing way behind the team – I had to explain that I have no damage falloff and am very brittle and since the enemy team has no flankers it's stupid for me to be anywhere but way back to which he just groaned). It's tempting to say that if I am a smurf no one realizes then what's the harm… this is the harm.

You create players like this – who get shown their bad habits work and then will always think it's the rest of the teams fault when they don't.

Conversely this means that players on the opposing team who are doing the right thing will still get punished and lose the game effectively teaching them they are doing the wrong thing.

It's been noted that when you teach someone the wrong thing, they have to work 7 times harder to unlearn that than they did to learn it just so they can start to learn the right thing.

Smurfs effectively teach you the wrong thing in a VERY convincing way (usually the game will be a definitive win/loss when a smurf is involved).

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This argument heavily refutes the idea that the equal number of smurfs on the enemy team balances things out making it not a big deal.

Quite the contrary when it teaches you that what you are doing right is actually wrong. When you are being punished DESPITE taking high ground or staying behind tanks it quickly drives the idea home that THAT can't be the right thing to do if I got stomped that hard.

Also there is often the line that there aren't enough smurfs to really matter as it's not like they are going to be in half your games.

Well with ow being as complex as it is, extracting education from your games can be quite hard already. It only takes a smurf on EITHER team once every 5-10 games to have a really negative impact on you directly and if you think about it, at any given time there are probably hundreds of smurfs in low elo games so the entire player base is being damaged by this on a very regular basis.

After all if you have a brain dead feeding Rein and a smurf props him up or destroys the enemy team once every 10 games you KNOW he will remember THAT game as an example he was doing the right thing and feel like the other 9 games everyone else just sucks and it's their fault.

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This creates an environment that's both hard to learn from and can actually be toxic to your attempts to actually play well very much contributing to the hell part of elo hell.

So next time you come across someone telling you that this or that absolutely works and you know it's the dumbest thing in the world think to yourself this might well be the result of a smurf.


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