I'll be cutting right to the chase, please save the downvote until you have read the entire post, I deeply appreciate your time and open mind. I originally believed I was a whiny bitch when I thought Smurfs were ruining the game, but after 2 of my diamond friends agreed with me, I decided maybe I'm not so crazy after all... and neither are you if you are thinking the same thing.
In High elo gameplay particularly in diamond and master and forward, que times are very bad, and can be upwards 10+ minutes (As per my diamond friend), this results in players to create new accounts to get placed back into lower elo matches to then reduce their overall que times untill they inevitably climb back to where they belong. There are dozens of other reasons players create these account, be it to simply dominate lower elo players or to test the waters in lower elo gameplay, the list goes on. This process of creating a new account as a seasoned and skilled player, to play matches in lower elo, is called 'Smurfing', and the people who commit these acts are 'Smurfs'
Why are smurfs ruining the game. I mentioned earlier these smurfs will climb out back to where they belong inevitably, because these are skilled players who are talented at the game and have put hours of practice into it (Most of the time), so these players deserve the rank that they will climb to. However, it is that climbing process that leaves a trail of fire behind them, that will force players to quit. While these players are enjoying the game and dodging the 10+ minute que timers, there are 5 other players on the other side who are going through absolute torture and are starting to think to themselves "This game... maybe isnt for me man."*1| And that isn't just a quote I pulled up out of my ass, it's actually something a good friend of mine said in discord when we were losing to a 35/2 irelia smurf. He said this before he uninstalled league of legends, and is one of the main reasons I decided to create this post.
Before I continue, it is important to note that some players are just playing good, maybe they drank plenty of water got all their vitamins in and their brains are just on fire. It's very important to know whether you are losing to a player doing good, or a player who is indeed smurfing. One of the best ways to determine this is to go on op.gg and to search their ign. If you see the account is relatively new, and the player has an almost spotless match history, you are looking at a smurf. If you see an account from 2014, there still is a chance it is a purchased account, but the usual gotcha factor is the match history, and particularly the scores in their wins. Smurfs dont just win, they dominate the game. They play at such a high skill level that other players just dont have the mechanics or skill (for lack of a better term) to face them. Granted, smurfs can come from all ranks so their score might just depend.
A trail of fire behind them, is one of the best ways to really see how smurfs are ruining the game, 'ruining' I try to use lightly, It's not like smurfs are the single worst thing for league and they are absolutely killing the game, no not really, but they are definitely a factor. However, it is NOT the smurfs fault. As much as I would love to play pointing fingers here, smurfs can not be blamed for what they do. If you have the option to create a new account to have tons of fun for yourself instead of playing a match you have to wait minutes upon minutes on to actually play vs players who you need to try against, yeah, you'd definitely pick the fun route.*2| And this post is not to create a witch hunt against smurfs, it's to draw awareness, and at least try to decrease the amount of smurfs in the game (However futile it might be).
One of the main "arguments"*3| for smurfs are, going against smurfs are good, because the best way to get better to play with or against a very good player. And that is very true, but far too general. In reality, people will always recommend hanging around smart people, as it will rub off on you, and it is true. But this doesn't work as well with smurfs in league. You see, a smurf in league (Most of the time) Are not just smurfing from 1-2 ranks above you, they are usually coming from the top of the top, and their skill level is near the ceiling where the players the smurf may be going against is near the floor (No offense of course.) The reason people will recommend hanging around people of a certain skillset, is to begin to gain those skills, its because humans have a wonderful way of adapting, and learning quick TO adapt. However, there is a limit, and there is no way a player of a low skill level will adapt to a plat-diamond smurfs skill level in just the 30 minutes, and then the opposite effect, a more negative one will occur. When the human successfully adapts to an environment or situation, there is a sense of great accomplishment and confidence, but when this turns south and adapting fails, and (In the smurfing scenario) a player can not catch up or, adapt, they will get the exact opposite, a great sense of "I don't belong here" and "I should get out of here."4| And this, is where the unhealthy part of smurfing comes in
Another very good argument is, well sure 5 people on the enemy team get spanked, but 4 people on the smurfs team just had the time of their life. This is one of if not THE best justifications for smurfing. However, while it may seem like those 4 people had the time of their lives (Which they probably did), it's not usually the best thing for them. Those 4 players dont get to hone their skills or sometimes have to use any at all, and will move up from this smurf and then realize in the next game, when they most likely dont have a smurf, that they need to try, usually leading to more losses directly after that grand win. This is just speculation of course, and no basis for shutting down the argument, but it's one of the best counters. Not to mention those other 5 players who just got traumatized.
Why would I mention my 2 diamond friends if I'm not gonna talk about them? Well here's where they come in. Smurfing doesn't just negatively impact the gameplay of the lower elo getting smurfed on, but also negatively impacts the higher elo play. I quote Dplayer1, "These dudes don't understand that, if you gonna smurf bc you hate these que times, you're not helping the problem, you're making it worse. When you're off smurfin that's one more player that que needs to search for, you could save the players your skill is supposed to go against, 3-4 minutes from que time if you just didnt go visit silver elo." I never even thought of this, but this is very interesting. Smurfing can even impact the elo you leave, because the less players up there, the even longer the que gets. Dplayer2 brought up another point, "Why would you even spend all them hours and grind just to go back down there to Fuk on some people that you know cant do shit against you, it's stupid honestly idek why people do it. Just pick on people your own size." This is the very victim approach to it, but at least it came from the mouths of someone up there, and it's a good point.
Here is where I want to add that, smurfing in normals, smurfing in aram and stuff like that, is 100% fine, and anyone who thinks otherwise should reconsider. Because in a normal match, nothing is on the line but some BE, players are nowhere near as geared into a competitive mindset and will let losses go easily. Ranked is where competitive players go to get better and hone their skills*5|, this is where smurfing takes a negative effect.
Suspending, reprimanding or even banning smurfs is one of the worst things that could ever be done to try and solve this issue. A bit odd for me to say that right? I don't really think so. First of all, there's no feasible way to even punish smurfs as they will just make or buy new accounts, and most likely make the matters worse. Second of all, that wont solve anything at all even if it did work, as players would most likely just quit from getting their smurf banned. It's just not a good idea.
So how do you tackle it? What's the solution. Well, there's the hard part. The easiest solution of course is player based, where smurfs decide to just not smurf and stick to their elo level, and that clearly isn't going to happen. So the best solution that I could come up with*6| is to up the win detection in ranked. I'll speak little about this, as I already know a ranked revamp is coming, but currently ranked works in a Bad-Good scale, where the better you get the more you will slowly climb. I believe one of the best ways to get smurfs to play as few matches in low elo as possible is to aggressively implement a Good-bad system, where players a judged as good players and are slowly debunked down based on how they play. There are numerous systems already in place that assist in this, like division skipping and such, but if a player is winning non stop for 20 games with insane scores, there can easily be a detection system for this, and just place the player randomly into a very high elo. Of course, the player could just start playing bad but I guess there's just the hope that they accept they're back in their elo and just keep playing how they play.
There you have it, a detailed reasoning as to why smurfs are unhealthy for league of legends, If you actually read ALL of this, write "Read all dat" in your reply, I'd love to see who actually read it all. Whether you read the whole thing with an open mind, or just skimmed it through, I still appreciate your time, and would love to hear your thoughts. I'm very open minded about this myself so I'd love a conversation about it. I'm off, we meet again when I find something else to complain about.
*1: This was a player was very competitive, and only wanted to play ranked. I did try to explain the fact that he was against a smurf and it doesnt usually happen, but I guess the damage was too heavy for him, and I can't blame him.
*2: Fun I guess depending on how you see it. Some smurfs do indeed create these smurf accounts just to ruin the low elo gameplay experience for the enemy team, pretty sick people, but thankfully few.
*3: I put quotations because it's not really an argument, but more of justification and reasoning, and pretty good ones too, to definitely be considered on the apposing side of this situation
*4: Smurfs aren't in EVERY game, in fact they can be quite rare (Not nowadays though unfortunately,) but sometimes, it takes just one horrible defeat to just crush a players entire confidence and lead them to seeking a different game.
*5: There are 24 mil active players in NA and only 1.5 mil are in ranked (as per op.gg), This gives some perspective on how many players smurfing is effecting, honestly not a lot when compared to the big picture of players, but it's definitely enough to stir the 1.5 mil in ranked for sure.
*6: If you have better ideas, please leave a reply, come up with some creative counter measure to reduce the impact of smurfs, it's all up you in the end, the playerbase.