Yes, smurfing by itself is a completely safe practice.
While it is frowned upon by Riot, smurfing as a whole is a legal practice in League of Legends. This means that it is not a bannable offense.
However smurfing becomes a gray area with legality when you start getting technical with the terminology.
The common argument by the community is that you can interpret smurfing as either ELO boosting, or griefing. While people argue this, what do the official Riot rules say?
MMR / ELO boosting is practice in which a player purposefully increased the MMR or ELO of an account that they do not own, usually for profit. This is a punishable offense.
MMR or ELO boosting is taken very seriously by Riot. They cite the following reasons for dealing with is so harshly:
- When a player playing on a boosted account attempts to play ranked, they cannot keep up with their teammates. This not only results in a poor game experience for them, but also for everybody else in the match.
- Riot argues that ELO boosting discredits the effort and time that players put into grinding out a high rank. It devalues the time commitment made by many of the community.
Whether you agree with this stance or not, the fact that is punishable remains.
When an account is found guilty of ELO / MMR boosting, it is subjected to one of the following punishments:
- Two-week account suspension.
- Honor drops to level zero and be locked for a certain period.
- You do not receive the current season’s ranked rewards.
A second offense results in a permanent account ban.
However, Riot defines ELO / MMR boosting as being when a player, known as the booster, logs in to the account of the boostee, the one being boosted, to play a game of ranked.
By this definition, smurfing is not ELO boosting. Meaning you’re all clear to smurf to your heart’s desire on this front, but what about griefing?
Griefing is defined as “feeding or making it purposefully harder for the rest of the team”.
As a smurf, what you do in a game is the complete opposite. The rule does not extend to the enemy team for obvious reasons, so you are all in the clear on this rule as well.
The Community’s Take on Smurfing
The League of Legends community is split right down the middle on the matter of smurfing. As one might expect, the high-ranked players with smurf accounts argue that smurfing is a completely acceptable practice.
Meanwhile lower level players, often on the receiving end of a smurf, believe that it should be against the rules, with some even calling for it to be a permanent ban-able offense.
Everyone has been on the bad end of a smurf. Everyone has been a smurf themselves at some point.
It simply comes down to whether or not you are good enough to be a smurf at any point in time. Everyone hates smurfs until they become one.