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VALORANT patch 3.10 brings unrestricted 5-stack rated queues to fight smurfing — But why and how does it work?

VALORANT patch 3.10 brings unrestricted 5-stack rated queues to fight smurfing — But why and how does it work?

Naim "EnKay" Rosinski


VALORANT patch 3.10 is out with the news of agent Chamber joining the fight as the headline. However, a huge change to Rated (competitive) mode is also implemented in patch 3.10. Unrestricted 5-stacking is coming back with some restrictions on received Rank Rating (RR) and how these parties will be matched with others.

As always, we are highlighting the most important changes from the patch notes. For the full patch notes, head on over to the official VALORANT website for the full breakdown.

VALORANT’s war on smurfs

Smurfing is a pretty common sight in competitive titles. The act of playing on lower ranks than one’s actual rank is a frustrating act for the enemy team. VALORANT devs have loudly projected their stance on smurfing with an “Ask VALORANT” post on May 6, 2021. Back then, they did not have an answer to the problem. Yet, they did say that they are working on a viable solution. This solution is presumably patch 3.10.

But before today, devs have decided to issue a ban wave on accounts that did not comply with the Riot’s Terms of Service. While this ban wave did not specifically target smurf accounts, it did allegedly ban accounts that offered boosting services, which does go against the Riot’s Terms of Service. That was on November 4 of 2021.

Banning accounts is not, however, a viable long-term solution to the smurfing issue. Instead, patch 3.10 takes a new direction that may or may not aid in reducing the number of smurfs in VALORANT.

Non-Restricted 5-stack Competitive

Starting from patch 3.10, everyone will be able to queue Rated in a 5-stack without rank restrictions. This means that a Radiant player can technically queue up together with a Bronze player. However, there are some major differences in how this will work regarding the RR (rank rating) change received at the end of the match, as well as how teams are matched up against each other depending on their MMR.

5-stack Competitive outside of rank restrictions

First of all, the previous competitive matchmaking rules are staying in place. These have been introduced in patch 2.04 and will very much continue being a part of the Rated experience moving forward. A Silver player can match up with an Iron, as well as a Gold, as an example.

Competitive rank disparities. Image credit: Riot Games

The new unrestricted 5-stack rated queues have their very own rules. These affect the aforementioned rank rating (RR) and matchmaking rating (MMR).

Firstly, the higher the rank disparity basing on the traditional competitive party range, the higher the % RR reduction. This starts at 50% and goes all the way up to 90%. The disparity exists between the highest and lowest ranked player in a party. For example:

  • A 50% RR reduction is imposed on a party in which there is a 1 rank disparity. For example a Platinum 1 and a Silver 1 player in the same party.
  • A 75% RR reduction is imposed on a party in which there is a 4 rank disparity. For example a Diamond 3 player and a Silver 1 player.

Queue types for these types of 5-stack parties are likely to be longer. This is due to the system only matching parties to other 5-stack parties with a similar MMR. What’s more, the higher the disparity, the more likely it is that the wait time will be longer.

4-stack queues no more

To add to that, 4-stack queues in competitive will no longer be allowed in VALORANT. The following explanation has been provided by Matthew Le, the Competitive Producer of VALORANT, as for why that is.

Alongside the 5-stack changes, we are also removing 4-stacks from the Competitive queue. These types of groups tend to leave the remaining solo queue player with a relatively poor play experience, and we believe that removing this option will result in a significant reduction of overall toxicity reports.

We are excited about these changes and the potential improvements they’ll bring, but are also acutely aware of the potential risks of changes like these. We’ll monitor the Competitive queue very closely in the coming weeks, and will quickly move to make adjustments if needed.

The message is loud and clear. If you want to party-up with your friends, they either need to be in the same rank range (duo/trio stack) or you will need a full party of five to queue up together.

We will be monitoring the situation with smurfs in VALORANT and keeping you up-to-date on whether the unrestricted 5-stack competitive queues are the actual solition.

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