WTF?! Valve is notoriously persistent in catching and banning DOTA 2 players who break the rules, having kicked well over 100,000 in 2023. However, the company’s latest campaign to keep the game fair is getting into the spirit of the holidays by transmitting bans through digital lumps of coal.
In a clip circulating online, DOTA 2 streamer “Masondota” can be seen opening a mysterious gift he received for the game’s holiday “Frostivus” event, which turns out to be a lump of coal. The “highly toxic” item contains a message informing him that Valve banned his account for smurfing and other TOS violations.
The item is part of Valve’s latest campaign during the holidays to ban players on the company’s “naughty list.” Valve is paying particular attention to “smurf” accounts – created by advanced players to circumvent matchmaking and terrorize new players.
This might be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen relating to Dota. Well played Valve. pic.twitter.com/v37jGXHQK1
– Richard Lewis (@RLewisReports) December 15, 2023
Mason denied smurfing in a lengthy Reddit post but confessed to paying for a service to boost his behavior score. The confession and many thumbnails on Mason’s YouTube channel imply a habit of yelling at other players, which likely brought his score so low that he was forbidden from using voice chat, restricting his ability to coordinate with teammates.
TTo dodge the policy, numerous services offer to privately play DOTA 2 on a customer’s account with good behavior to restore their reputations. It’s unclear what triggered Mason’s ban precisely, but he has asked Valve to reverse the decision.
The company has repeatedly demonstrated its seriousness regarding cheating and other bad behavior. When some players gained an unfair advantage by reading internal game data using third-party software earlier this year, Valve patched DOTA 2 with a mechanism to catch the cheating method, resulting in 40,000 bans. The company banned 90,000 smurfs in September and tens of thousands more this week.
Pro players began a conversation with Valve at The International in October regarding their smurf accounts, indicating that bans aren’t the company’s only method of combating the problem. Discussions are ongoing, and Valve said pro players agree that smurfing hurts the game.
Meanwhile, players on Valve’s nice list can receive various holiday-themed cosmetic drops from the 2023 Frostivus update. The patch, updating DOTA 2 to version 7.35, also includes several quality-of-life user interface adjustments.