Skip to main content

Valve gifted a lump of coal to naughty Dota 2 players, triggering bans

Smurfers have landed on Valve’s naughty list
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Valve has sent out a present to every Dota 2 smurf account it was able to identify. Containing a piece of coal, these holiday presents trigger a ban upon being opened – and the developer isn’t taking any prisoners. Even the smurf accounts of professional players and streamers weren’t granted mercy, leading to some hilarious scenes when people opened these gifts during their live broadcasts.

“Your Dota account has been permanently banned for Smurfing, or other violations of the Steam Terms of Service,” the message accompanying the “Highly Toxic Lump of Coal” item reads.

Dota 2 lump of coal.

If you landed on Valve's naughty list, this is what you get.

For those out of the loop: A smurf account is kind of like an alternate identity in a game, which starts completely fresh.

Players showing problematic behavior often use them after their deeds got their main account banned, while high-level players use them to play games on a lower competitive level, enabling them to completely dominate matches and ruin everyone else’s fun – which makes smurfing extremely unpopular. Streamers often do it for entertainment purposes, preying on low-level players to create content for their viewers.

In most online games, making smurf accounts is against the terms of service due to the negative impact they have on the experience of everyone coming into contact with smurfs. That’s exactly why many players feel quite a bit of Schadenfreude about the way Valve has swung the banhammer here – the prevalent opinion is that these punishments are deserved.

Could players circumnavigate the ban by not opening their gift? Maybe for some time, but it seems likely that Valve is tracking those on the naughty list and will hand them that ban in any case – similar to Call of Duty’s very public and hilarious anti-cheating measures, this way of doing things ensures that perpetrators get publicly shamed and strengthens the community’s faith in the developer’s capabilities to move against the people responsible for ruining the game.

This wave of bans accompanied the big Frostivus 2023 update for Dota 2, which is the game’s annual event for the holiday season. It contains tons of seasonal cosmetic items and the 7.35 patch, which brought about a huge number of balance changes.