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Valve is banning Dota 2 accounts in the Christmasiest way possible

Following on from its last wave, Valve is banning thousands of Dota 2 'smurf' accounts but they're doing it a brilliantly seasonal way.

A worried-looking, green-faced goblin-style character.

Smurfing, the practice of creating fake accounts to play lower-level players, is a bannable offence in Dota 2. After previously banning 90,000+ accounts in the last wave, Valve has given thousands more the boot, but they’ve done it a wonderfully Christmassy way.

Dota 2, Valve’s fantasy-based MOBA game has, like several online games, been the subject of smurfing. The practice sounds like it should involve an illegal amount of blue bodypaint but it’s got only a passing connection to the diminutive, white-hatted cartoon characters.

Instead, smurfing is when a non-amateur player creates a brand new account to bypass a game’s ranking system and take on lower-level characters. Why? For practice, for the smug self-satisfaction of crushing other players or, sometimes, just to play with friends who are new to the game.

Whatever the reason, it’s an apparent violation of Dota 2’s Terms of Service and Valve has previously banned people who have been caught. No, coinciding with Dota 2’s Festivus event, the company has just banned thousands of accounts for smurfing.

But this time, Valve has wrapped the banhammer in tinsel, adding a lovely Christmassy flavour to their anti-smurfing actions. Players who have been banned for smurfing are finding a Highly Toxic Lump of Coal in their accounts, a ‘Seasonal Reward’.

An image of a lump of coal along with a warning as to why a player's been banned.

What’s the significance? Traditionally, Santa is said to give coal to children who have misbehaved. The gift, which only has an ‘accept’ button, explains why the user has been banned. There’s also a Toxic Lump of Coal which is a warning, rather than a full-on ban.

Some recipients of this gift have complained about being on Santa’s naughty list, voicing their displeasure, or confusion, on Reddit’s Dota 2 subreddit. Players can contact Valve to appeal, which seems like a better option than paying $10 to ‘some guy in a Russian forum‘.

If you didn’t receive any coal, you’re on Valve’s nice list so enjoy whatever Festivus brings you. New DOTA 2? Here are the best Dota 2 heroes for beginners and the best custom Dota 2 games.

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