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Overwatch Deranking & Smurfing 101 – Primer guide to the dark side By: blueman541


Part1:What is deranking & smurfing?

According to wikipedia

To demote; to give a lower position within a hierarchy. (video games) To lower or remove achievements and skill level. To lower or remove an official ranking or accreditation.

In Overwatch that means intentionally lowering your skill rating (SR) in a competitive matches by losing.

Why would someone derank?

  • play with friends – can’t queue if SR gap is above 1000 or 500 for masters+

  • bored – sometimes people are just simply bored

  • burnt out – being a try-hard all the time takes it’s toll

  • smurf – this is the primary reason. Entertains and makes them feel good.

What really is a smurf?
Since we’ve reach the crux of derankers. What is the definition of a smurf? If you have a second account that is higher would that mean you are a smurf? Any different than an ALT?

Urban dictionary has it as:

In online gaming, a smurf is an experienced player who uses a new account to deceive other players into thinking he’s a noob (newbie). The purpose is usually to play against less skilled opponents who will under-estimate the ‘smurf’.

There are many people with multiple accounts. Example, some main tank at a high level, but totally suck at dps. But, when they are on their dps alt account that doesn’t constitute as smurfing, but in some strict fashion they are a little bit with their superior game sense. IMO, this is a gray zone, but we’re going to focus on the more extreme unquestionable definition.

Types of derankers

  • occasional deranks only once in a while mostly to play with friends

  • season ender deranks towards the end of the season

  • obvious trollster blatantly deranking, super trolly and toxic in the match.

  • reseller/bots people like to buy premade deranked accounts to stomp on

  • master manipulator artfully grasped the concept of deranking without anyone realizing what is going on. Controls the ebb & flow of the match with subtle changes. Very hard to dicpher from a legit player unless you know what to look for.

  • group deranks as a group, encompass all the above, more on this further down

Ranks derankers dwell in

  • <500 (abyss_bronze)– just assume everyone is a smurfing deranker. Very few legit players this bad. Most of them trying to get their SR to look cool having “<500” in their profile and/or on their goal to zero SR.

  • <1000 (sub_bronze)– very good amount of smurfs deranking. About 50-75% of varying degree. Many of them quite obvious.

  • <1500 (bronze)– 25-50% are deranking to some degree

  • <2500 (silver/gold) – 25% deranking, but this is the range where people are actually trying to legit rank up.

  • <3000 (plat) – this ELO hell rank is the middle ground of the community has a mash of everything good & bad. Concern is more about the other toxic players than derankers. Breeding ground for future smurfing derankers.

  • <3500-T500 – community is much smaller, most people recognize everyone in the pool of players, deranker still exist, fewer, but easier to identify.

Identifying derankers
Not all derankers will always try to lose. Depending on their goal/situation they will reverse their objective and try to win. The following are some indicator or characteristics, when matched together, could be help identify them. More matches means higher likelyhood.

  • Pure skill – they are obviously so much better mechanically. Aim better, move more fluidly and predict well. Lower ranks players would often call them hacking or cheating.

  • Low lvl – The lower the level the more suspicious. Most players don’t go into competitive exactly at lv25 (min for competitive). Most often they’re smurfs on their new account straight out of quickplay.

  • Lv1 endorsement – not many people have lv1 endorsement

  • Toxicity – especially in lower ranks, most are still trying to learn the game, not be toxic. Watch for proactive trolly/sarcastic/passive-aggressive/insulting comments looking to bait someone. Especially if they are on a low level account.

  • Inconsistency – pops off suddenly like god then goes brain dead, suddenly aim off and positioning questionable.

  • Hero choice – most smurfing derankers prefer DPS role, especially doom, tracer, genji, sombra, widow. DPS provide more control/grieving potential. However, tanks like roadhog hooks or healer lucio boops are often trolly picks too.

  • Spawn camping – a lot of obvious deranker would spawn camp or play off point away from their own team. In general they prefer to be sneaking around or flanking.

  • Positioning/Decisions – bit overlapping with spawn camping, but they will often position in a manner that will increase their odds of team failure. Moving off point during over time or using ult only after team wipe has been lost etc. Lots of dumb mistakes masqueraded as innocent players.

  • Profile history – by default profiles are hidden, but some have them open. Look at their history. You’ll see a pattern.

  • Player Icon – if they have shanghai dragon player icon, this was more relevant back in the past, but many hardcore deranker still carry the tag. Early days of OW, shanghai dragon esport team was the joke of the community with the longest losing streak in pro realm. Derankers would use their icon to signify to other players in secret they are a deranker. Would then ask each other in code “going north or south” or “up or down”, and would help each other correspondingly .

  • Name – often derankers maintain their low rank which means you will see them often. If you pay attention eventually the particularities will stack up. Eventually, you’ll get the drift or see that one game they go balls out obviously stomping people. It is hard to resist and they will give in. They will get their account suspended and buy a new one, but that will take a long time so remember their names.

  • Be a deranker – the best way to understand and identify them is to actually be one yourself or have a team mate previously been one.

  • *Join discord groups – there are dedicated discord groups for derankers, you can learn their names on there

Dealing with derankers
Yea, derankers suck right? They total ruin the fun of the game? So how do we deal with them?

Now, if they are hard set on losing the match you want to win there is nothing you can actually do, just keep playing the game like normal. The worst thing to do is go full tilt/toxic or give up. That is exactly the behavior they want to see. It is pure entertainment you’re feeding them. However, you can do things to increase the odds of them going in your favor. Ya got nothing to lose at this point.

  • Enable them – How so? Well you want to stoke their ego. Make them feel special & not hated. Feed them positive energy and compliments. Example: mercy could follow the deranker and support/boost them. This puts them in the spot light. They have a harder time goofing off or slacking off. The pressure is on them to perform. They have more indirect responsibility.

  • Call them out – When they’ve have been identified as a deranker often the response is either “screw you” or “let me prove you wrong”. Use reverse psychology on them.

  • Use the enemy – If you have a deranker on the team, good chance the enemy has one too. Pit them against each other. Let their ego clash. Ride the wave that comes.

  • Join their party – Ask to be carried/boosted. They love attention and have their ego stoked.

  • Challenge them – derankers are bored people looking for entertainment value, give them a challenge to nibble on. Example “bet you can’t get most elims without using a single ult”.

  • Queue time – change your queue time or timing. Depending on regions they may come out more at night or in the afternoon. If you immediately que again after the match is over you’ll likely get them again. If you avoided and now get matched against them they might troll you esp if you were toxic/angry prior.

  • Mimic them – if all fails, then make the most of your time, follow them around, learn their play style and pattern. You might learn something or get enlightened.

Part2: Art of becoming a derank master

Derank techniques

  • Avoid on-fire status – below 3000SR you gain more SR for individual performance, the more you are on fire the more SR you gain and fewer SR you lose.

  • Add team mates to avoid list – add team mates that are actually trying hard to win to your avoid list. This increases your chances of being put on a dysfunctional team or with other derankers.

  • Leave after leaver timeout – when someone leaves the match there is a 1.5minute time out period before you can also leave without incurring a suspension penalty. This is a free SR loss. If you team mate leaves a red box appears. However, if ur enemy has a leaver there will not be a box, but you can still leave after 1.5 mintues by watching the timer and screen warnings.

  • Be passive – stick near/behind your team, don’t be aggressive and get early picks tipping the odds, wait for your team to partially fail before doing something

  • Stat hording – very easy to farm gold elims/dmg but yield no value. Tap hits on enemies but don’t kill. Pump dmg on tanks that have pocket healers when team isn’t engaging

  • Feed enemy – give the enemy more ult charges and avoid having the enemy using ults on you unless team is near. If they wasted an ult just for you then your team just got an advantage

  • Delay death slightly after a wipe – stagger your death so the team is never fully together for pushes

  • Don’t be first to pick hero – let the team decide their hero then pick the worse possible combination or change it last second

  • popoff after team wipe – wait for team fight to be likely lost before flexing your muscle and popping off without achieving any team results.

  • Queue timing – queue fast after a loss, especially if the enemy or your own team mates hate your guts and announced they avoided you. If you get matched against them your loss is more guaranteed.

  • Lead enemies to ambush ur team – if being chased by enemy lead them to a vulnerable team mate. Expose your team mate hiding position by exposing yourself.

  • Help kill stranded enemies – kill enemy stragglers fast before they get staggered from their team on respawn.

  • fall off map – position & fall off map if enemy touches you, they will receive full credit for all your health loss, but don’t make it too obvious.

  • be a real noob – this is actually harder done than said, your natural tendency/habit will often take over.

Hero/role tactics

  • Tanks – Eziest role to derank since it is the most crucial role, but very hard to go undetected playing MT (main tank) than an OT (off-tank). Position poorly. Engage early or late to cause chaos to your team’s flow. Put shields up/down at the wrong time.

  • DPS – Pick off the least valuable enemy first only after you’ve lost a team mate or some advantage.

  • Healer – hardest role to lose with. Encourage your tanks unnecessarily, example nano MT to encourage risky play or mercy res at odd times to force staggering.

Derank Discord/Groups

  • Most effcient method of deranking is with a group. However, it is best with 2-3 man parties. Larger parties will take longer for queues and often get matched with other deranking teams. Too many team member popping off out of sync inadvertently carrying team to victory.

  • Careful using those LFG derank groups in-game, mod sometime ban people, rarer now, but does still happen

  • There are many dedicated deranking discord groups with thousands of players actively looking for groups of all SR ranges.

Account suspension

  • After X amount of reports the automated system will give you a orange message/warning. This means you are within 10% of getting a suspension. There is no exact number of reports, but a varying/sliding scale based on recent games played and concentration of reports. Very much like how leaver penalty work.

  • If you get 2-3 match back to back with all 11 people reporting you then likely a orange message will appear, but if only have 1-2 people reporting every other match then you can last all season.

Suspension mitigtion/avoidance

  • don’t be obvious – hard to do, sometimes your inner habit leaks out,

  • don’t talk – just be quiet, don’t talk, don’t argue, don’t say anything, there is no winning their approval just more reports if spot light is on you. You want to be forgotten type.

  • avoid off-meta – certain off-meta hero just plain illicit immediate hatred and likely reports rolls in no matter what.

  • spread it out – have multiple accounts and spread out your play time. Usually 2x accounts if you want to be little cheeky/toxic, 3-4x+ if you want to super super in your face trolling people.

  • avoid full groups – full derank groups have higher rates of reports since the enemy team can tell more evidently what is happening


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