Competitive play in Team Fortress 2 refers to organized gaming done for the purpose of having fun through skillful competition, practiced teamwork, and self-improvement, especially in a league setting. There are 2 main competitive formats in TF2 - 6v6 (commonly referred to as '6s') and Highlander (commonly referred to as 'HL'). Other formats of competitive play include 4v4, Ultiduo, and Bball, which are played in more casual competitions, rather than prized and more serious competitions.
- See also: Standard competitive format
All competitive games are based around the following principles:
- Team members are chosen before the game starts.
- Players use vocal communication to quickly relay information.
- Both teams are of the same predetermined player count, usually either 6 or 9 players.
- Both teams are under the same basic restrictions, which include weapon whitelists and class limits. This is usually predetermined.
Beyond these, there are many differences between various leagues, seasons, and communities. That said, most competitive TF2 games follow the standard competitive format, which has class limits, 6 or 9 players per team, and certain gameplay settings that try to encourage fairness and reduce the impact of chance. All of the major TF2 leagues and PUG communities follow the standard competitive format, though each has variations on specific rules. Many leagues contain a subdivision for both 6s and Highlander.
The focus in Highlander is more on Payload maps, such as Upward or Badwater, as well as King of the Hill, with maps such as Ashville, Viaduct or Lakeside, while the 6v6 competitive scene favors 5-Control Point maps such as Badlands, Granary and Gullywash. Non-official maps are used as well in both, such as Snakewater (Now official) and Swiftwater (cp_swiftwater_ugc), along with edited or "_pro" versions of default maps like Viaduct or Barnblitz. Other map formats such as Attack/Defense, King of the Hill and Capture the Flag are used occasionally; with maps such as Gravelpit, Viaduct and Turbine being the most common.
- See also: Category:Competitive
Patterns and protocols have emerged from competitive play's unique format and setting, leading to a set of gameplay dynamics distinct from non-competitive play.
- Certain dynamics have become a standard in competitive play, one of the most noticeable is roll-outs, which are not generally used in public games, due to their advanced nature. The basic idea of a roll-out is to get to mid quicker by rocket and sticky jumping. By trading health you are trying to get there quicker to get a better position and lock the other team out of the point.
- ÜberCharges are what competitive Team Fortress 2 is all about. Medics on both teams have to track both their ÜberCharge and the enemy Medics as best they can. This is because when a team doesn't have an ÜberCharge they are vulnerable to pushes against a team that does as they can't save any teammates who are at low health.
- The team is split into two smaller forces, the combo and the flanks. The combo generally consists of the Medic, Soldier and Demoman, while the flanks consist of the Scouts and the roaming Soldier who hovers in between the flanks and the combo. In the case of Highlander, the combo mainly consists of the Medic, Demoman, Heavy, and Pyro while the Flank classes include the Scout and Soldier. There is a third group called "pick" classes, which work relatively on their own, but coordinate with their teammates. These classes include the Spy and the Sniper.
Classes are used somewhat differently in standard competitive play than they are in public play. The smaller team sizes, increased coordination, class limits, negation of random critical hits, and refraining from turtle-prone maps result in classes being used at different times, for different reasons, and for different durations than one might expect in a typical public TF2 game. The usual, or standard setup for competitive teams in 6v6 (sometimes referred to as the "Cookie Cutter"/"Textbook" setup) is often two Soldiers, one Demoman, two Scouts, and one Medic. Any other class is referred to as a utility class. When any other class is played, it is referred to as "Off-classing" and is usually done by Scouts or the roaming Soldier - usually in situations such as a last defense or a stalemate. The most commonly used offclass to defend last point is Heavy - as his very low mobility makes no difference when he is simply standing still on the point to stop a cap and deny and jumping Soldiers or Demomen. In a stalemate situation, such as when both Medics have Uber, an assassination class such as Sniper or Spy is often used to try and make the medic drop his Uber, or pop it early - ending the stalemate, and giving their team what is known as an Uber advantage. However, there are some maps, such as Gullywash, on which it is viable to 'Off-class' for the entire game, as the map layout is friendly to certain non-standard classes. In Highlander (9v9) there is one player playing each class. Due to the different style of game play, there is a competitive version of each class article:
Within some competitive leagues, restrictions on items allowed in matches are employed to ensure matches are balanced. See Competitive item restrictions for a list of restricted items in certain leagues.
The majority of competitive 6v6 play is done on 5-cp push maps, the most popular being Badlands and Granary, though exceptions sometimes exist (most notably Gravel Pit, Turbine, and Viaduct). On these maps, the standard format and lineup have caused strategies and tactics to form unique to competitive TF2. You can read more about them in each map's competitive article:
- Badlands (competitive)
- Coalplant (competitive)
- Croissant (competitive)
- Foundry (competitive)
- Freight (competitive)
- Granary (competitive)
- Gravel Pit (competitive)
- Gullywash (competitive)
- Lakeside (competitive)
- Process (competitive)
- Snakewater (competitive)
- Sunshine (competitive)
- Turbine_pro (competitive)
- Viaduct_Pro (competitive)
- Warmfront (competitive)
- Well (competitive)
- Yukon (competitive)
The majority of Highlander play is done on Payload maps such as Badwater, or King of the Hill, such as Viaduct. There are, however, exceptions - with other gametypes such as push 5-cp (such as Croissant), or Attack/Defense (such as Steel or Gravelpit).
- ETF2L (6v6 and Highlander leagues and cups)
- Wireplay (6v6 and Highlander leagues and cups)
- ESA Gamer (6v6 cups)
- ESL (ESL closed down all TF2 sections)
- TWL (TWL closed down all TF2 sections)
- IGL (Currently inactive, website is down)
Each of these leagues mainly run the standard competitive format, however some host Highlander, 7v7 and 1v1 competitions. TeamFortress.TV and VanillaTF2 are fairly well-known portals that post current events for the competitive TF2 scenes in North America and Europe respectively.
- If you're interested in the competitive league and you don't know where to start, take a look at one of the guides by Admirable or speedygeek. You could also look on Steam Guides.