Smurfing has become a thing in competitive DOTA 2–so much of a thing that Valve is making it personal. It wants your phone number starting next month.
The technique of smurfing is when higher ranking players create new accounts to appear as inexperienced players so they can get paired in competitive matches against noobs. To combat this, DOTA 2 developer Valve wants a phone number tied to each players account. If you create a new account, you'll need a separate phone number.
"Players using multiple accounts create a negative matchmaking experience at all skill brackets, so our goal is to add just enough friction to this process that the number of players doing this will be noticeably reduced," Valve said on the official Dota 2 blog. "Having more players using their primary accounts will have a positive effect on both Ranked and Unranked Matchmaking."
If players don't register a valid number for their accounts by May 4, the accounts will be ineligible for ranked play. If you change numbers, that i fine, but the old number cannot mysteriously show up on a new account. That old number become inactive for three months, basically keeping players from using it on multiple accounts. Also online phone services that give out free numbers are not allowed.
While the move is laudable, it will be interesting to see how Valve enforces it. Players will try to find workarounds, such as using Grandma's cell or your neighbor across the street. We suspect that Valve will use some sort of text or email verification system similar to what happens when you log into Steam from a different PC.
In addition to the phone number requirement to tighten up on player experience, Valve also added some new rules for weeding out "undesirable behavior from the matchmaking pool." Players placed in low-priority queues, usually reserved for abandoning games too often or getting reported one too many times, will not only stay in the queue for a set number of games, but also for a set duration of anywhere from a few hours to four days.
Valve is also putting stricter monitoring guidelines to weed out intentional feeders and those that bot. The recent update brought permabans to several bot accounts. "This should help resolve several areas in which these bot accounts have a negative effect on the experience of the Dota community," Valve said.