Valve has recently deployed another ban wave, targeting players involved in smurfing or account sharing, resulting in the ban of even pro players’ accounts. Prominent among those affected is professional Dota 2 player Steven “StingeR” Vargas, whose account was notably banned in the midst of a competitive match.
The Reason behind Stinger Dota 2 ban
While Valve has not officially confirmed the occurrence of a new ban wave, evidence from various high-ranking players indicates a substantial number of account bans. The primary focus appears to be on smurf accounts and those shared with other individuals.
This policy seems to be the underlying cause of StingeR’s ban. His teammate, David “Parker” Nicho Flores, was recently found using StingeR’s account. This is a violation of Steam’s terms of service, which Flores acknowledged on Twitter.
I don’t see anything wrong with what I did, he is a professional player and I am not boosting him as you think, I couldn’t play my account for reasons, and I went to his account to start practicing, because I have a team and I have a chance to qualify.
— David Nicho Flores (@ParkerDota2) January 17, 2024
The ban occurred during a match between Mad Kings and Thunder Awaken in the South American qualifiers for DreamLeague S22. StingeR, serving as the captain of Mad Kings, was disconnected from the game. His teammates subsequently revealed in the in-game chat that his account had been banned. The match broadcast was paused soon after, and Mad Kings were assigned a default loss for the second game of the series, leading to their elimination from the tournament.
This outcome potentially cost Mad Kings a chance at participating in DreamLeague S22, which boasts a $1 million prize pool.
Valve’s stance on multi-account users since December 2023
Though official confirmation is pending, reports suggest that several professional players have faced bans, primarily on their smurf accounts. StingeR’s situation is seemingly unique as his main account was banned.
Last year, Valve communicated its decision to the professional gaming community, stating that pro players would not be exempt from smurfing bans, a policy that now appears to be in full effect.
Valve’s Strict Policy against smurfing
Valve’s recent actions demonstrate a firm stance on smurfing. By applying this policy universally, which includes professional players who traditionally maintain multiple smurf accounts. Their objective is clear, to discourage boosting and smurfing, regardless of the account’s intended use.
Other Pro Player Bans
StingeR’s mid-game ban is unprecedented, but other professional players have also faced bans for holding multiple smurf accounts. For example, Dota 2 streamer Mason “mason” Venne received a permanent ban and a “Highly Toxic Lump of Coal” during the Frostivus 2023 event.
Additionally, Russian streamers, including rostislav_999 and others, were banned for smurfing in low rank games and exhibiting toxic behavior. These players with high MMRs have been found smurfing in significantly lower brackets, ranging from 1K to 4K MMR.
While StingeR and his team felt that the ban was unwarranted, it certainly contrasts the general Dota 2 community. In fact, the move to effectively deter smurf accounts was well received.