Valorant streamers’ rank up challenges are not funny or impressive

Valorant’s smurfing issue persists despite Riot's backbreaking work, and there is a possibility that streamer challenges are further aggravating the issue

Valorant streamer smurfs - Jett, wearing a hood, faces up to Phoenix

You come back from a hard day at work to enjoy a chill game of Valorant, but XYZLiveYouTube wants to play Bucky only. So, while four players strive to clinch the win, there’s the shotgun-wielding streamer with a muted mic and no regard for the team. This is how the multiplayer game has become at the lower ranks: a nightmare. Yet, surprisingly, these trolls are heroes on Twitter and YouTube, going viral for every trick shot, and it’s not okay.

Valorant’s long-standing smurfing issue has been well-documented. However, in 2020, smurfs had different motives – they just wanted to play with friends. So Riot investigated and modified the system accordingly to filter them out. Since then, the developer has taken commendable measures to nip it in the bud, but smurfs still plague lower ranks. Sure, the numbers have tapered off, but new smurfs are deadlier than ever.

Valorant smurfs are going viral and it’s surprisingly normal

Why, may you ask? These new smurfs are challenge streamers, and they’re heroes. Trick-rank ups normalize smurfing, setting a precedent that it’s okay to lurk in lower ELO if you’re wielding a weapon that puts you at a disadvantage. Streamers ruin games for enemies and sabotage teammates, yet social media loves them, encouraging others to follow suit.

Riot introduced five-stacks as a means of disincentivizing smurfing. However, Radiant players going viral for being cracked with just a pistol in Silver is enough incentive to aggravate the smurfing problem.

“In addition to addressing smurfs by identifying them and putting them in fair matches, we’ve also made specific changes to lower the incentive to create alternate accounts in the first place,” Riot says.

Let’s take the example of Valorant TikTok challenges, a platform that can make you a star overnight, and it’s an excellent thing. Except that Valorant cheaters were going viral on the platform for hacking. Eventually, it became a trend to start a challenge, post it on TikTok, and boom. You’re a star. Valorant’s ‘most assists’ challenge is an excellent example.

For this challenge, the streamer would deliberately lose to extend the game duration in order to gather many assists. It also means not killing an enemy at all. It was a viral trend and by far the worst one, as it clearly sabotages teammates. Back then, Riot hadn’t introduced an update that minimizes the impact of round disparity over ELO gained, so all five players were losing tons of RR for winning by a close gap. That is, if they even win.

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Some streamers speed run through ranks, and some use pistol-only and whatnot. All of that should not be taken lightly. Sure, these high-ranked players are at a disadvantage due to the challenge’s requirements; for example, if a Radiant smurf is doing pistol-only rank-ups, you may argue that the enemies should be able to shoot them easily with a Vandal. The issue is that a Radiant player shouldn’t be in Silver, to begin with.

Silver ranks feel competitively harder than Immortal

Complaints of Silver being more complex than Immortal are plenty. This dilemma has many explanations, but smurfing is the most logical one. Ranked demons find it easy to achieve the Radiant peak, and then they create new accounts to restart their grind. For this reason, you’ll see unbelievably skilled players in low ELO, making it just as tough as high ranks.

Riot has added advanced smurf detection that places high-skilled players into the correct MMR in as few as four matches. According to the developer, the smurf cut down has mostly been successful, which is incredible. But all of that effort is in vain when popular streamers glamorize smurfing.

Valorant challenges - graph showing estimated smurf counts in competitive play, with a sudden drop-off at one point but a fairly consistent, slightly rising number otherwise

Speed run challenges are the most dangerous. Streamers reaching Radiant in X number of hours wrecks the ranked experience for everyone. Nine players are playing within their skill ELO to get to the next rank, playing against a Radiant who’s trying hard to jump multiple divisions as quickly as possible. In no world is this fair.

It’s about time Riot Games publicly punished the challenge streamers for setting an example and made it clear that Valorant has no place for a circus. Steamers shouldn’t treat low ELO as their personal playground or a ramp to flex their skills. It’s a competitive game, and low ELO players deserve a fair competition.

Fortunately, Riot is already working on tackling the smurfs at a higher level, so players should keep their fingers crossed and strive to escape the ELO hell. Tweaking your settings and getting the best Valorant crosshair code might help you climb the Valorant ranks and deal with the smurfs.