Anti-Spy strategy

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Ohhhh... merde.

The Spy is a cunning espionage agent bent on deceiving and frustrating your team. He will use his Cloak and disguises to maneuver behind friendly lines, then use his signature backstab technique to instantly kill any target in one strike. Be wary of his other methods of deception, including acting like a teammate or the ability to fake his own death.

The best defense against a Spy is keen observation; he only has so many ways to infiltrate your team, so a team that regularly performs Spy-check measures renders him far less of a threat. If you catch the Spy, his direct combat is weak, so expect him to look for an escape.

The Pyro, with their wide-fanning flames that nullify Cloak and disguise, is one of the best defenses against the Spy.


Attributes Anti-Spy strategy
Spy emblem RED.png Role
  • The Spy will try to sneak behind your team using his various disguises and his Invis Watch. It's best to Spy check often.
  • A disguised Spy can't perfectly act like your teammate. For example, he can't attack without losing his disguise nor walk through enemies.
  • The Spy excels against an uncoordinated team. Your team should report his existence and location to one another.
  • Take note of the Spy's loadout to predict his general playstyle.
  • Certain weapons, including the Pyro's Homewrecker and Sniper's Razorback, have specific anti-Spy qualities.
Leaderboard class medic.png Health
  • The Spy is quite frail, with only 125 maximum health at best. Once he is spotted, he should not be difficult to kill. However, he takes reduced damage while cloaked and may fake his death using the Dead Ringer.
Leaderboard class scout.png Speed
  • By default, the Spy moves at slightly above average speed. When disguised, the Spy moves at the speed of the disguise's class, with the exception of the Scout.
Leaderboard class soldier.png Power
  • In direct combat, the Spy's weapons are weak.
  • The Spy can see the health of enemy players, allowing him to see if a teammate is weak enough to be picked off.
  • If the Spy passes by undetected and gets behind a foe, he can kill them instantly with a backstab.
    • Experienced Spies can utilise trickstabs to deal with almost any foe, which can cause extra chaos for your team.


Main article: Spy weapons

Secondary weapons

Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Revolver + reskins
  • The Revolver fires quickly and accurately; make yourself a more difficult target by strafing from side to side.
  • Be cautious when you are below half health, the Spy may try to finish you off with his Revolver. Spy-check teammates who seem to be looking at you while running away to find a health source.
  • If the Spy is found out and chooses to fight, he commonly backpedals to create distance. Backpedaling is slower than moving forward, so you can still utilize cover while chasing him down.
  • Most weapons outdamage the Revolver at close range. Unless the Spy is confident he can kill you, consider what routes he might try to escape with.
Ambassador + reskins
  • In direct combat, a Spy with the Ambassador will aim for your head to deal critical damage. Strafe and jump to throw off his aim.
  • The Ambassador is weaker than the Revolver, dealing less damage and fires slower. Additionally, there is a cooldown after each shot where it cannot headshot at all.
  • Spy check teammates that look like they're aiming at you.
  • A Spy using the L'Etranger gains 40% additional cloaking and can attack to refill his Cloak meter, making him particularly elusive. Once you find a Spy, light him on fire or douse him in Jarate or Mad Milk to render cloaking useless.
  • The L'Etranger deals less damage than the Revolver, making his direct combat even weaker.
  • The Enforcer deals bonus damage when breaking disguise, but fires 20% slower. If you survive the first shot, counterattacking should be easier.
  • The Enforcer ignores damage resistances and vulnerabilities.
    • If you are using items that grant resistances, such as the Vaccinator or Batallion's Backup, play safely if you know a Spy is using the Enforcer.
  • The Diamondback stores critical hits as the Spy successfully backstabs teammates or saps buildings. It deals less damage otherwise, so successful anti-Spy measures will leave him with an inferior weapon.

Melee weapons

Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Knife + reskins
  • If you hear nearby teammates scream or notice them dying to backstabs on the kill feed, turn around immediately to avoid being the next victim of a Spy ambush.
  • The Knife does less damage than most other classes' melee weapons. If the Spy loses the element of surprise, he will likely fight with his Revolver or flee by Cloaking.
  • A Spy who approaches you with his Knife out is likely attempting to trick you into showing your back. Refrain from melee combat, where a misturn may lead to a backstab, and instead fight with a ranged weapon.
    • In addition, take caution if the Spy goes up a flight of stairs or goes behind a corner - these are common ways to trick pursuing victims.
  • If you see a Spy approaching a teammate and cannot kill him in time, aim to knock him back. The Soldier and Demoman have explosions, while the Pyro has the compression blast.
Your Eternal Reward
Your Eternal Reward + reskins
  • Your Eternal Reward allows the Spy to instantly disguise as his victim, with no death notice given in the kill feed and no attack noise. If you die, tell your team!
  • Other than standard anti-Spy measures, watch your backs when traveling in a group. A Spy with Your Eternal Reward can silently take down an entire group that insists on always facing forward.
  • Your Eternal Reward makes the Spy's Cloak drain faster and consumes a full Cloak meter if he disguises manually, forcing him to rely on his disguise rather than his Cloak.
Conniver's Kunai
Conniver's Kunai
  • The Conniver's Kunai reduces the Spy's base health to 70 HP. However, his backstab steals all health of the victim at a minimum of 75 extra health, providing up to 210 HP. If he has not backstabbed anyone yet, he should be an easy kill.
    • The Kunai allows the Spy to have ridiculous survivability if he can consistently hit backstabs.
    • Keep in mind one backstab will fully heal the Spy regardless of your teammate's health.
  • Spies with the Kunai often bring the Dead Ringer for a safety net, to offset the severe health penalty.
  • Proper Spy-checking and awareness of the Spy should minimize the impact of the Kunai’s strengths. If your teammates frequently die to his backstabs, it may be helpful to switch to an anti-Spy loadout.
  • If possible, notify your team about the backstabber so that he is denied extra health.
  • Spy-check a teammate who is suspiciously overhealed, especially if there is no friendly Medic nearby.
Big Earner
Big Earner
  • The Big Earner grants the Spy a Cloak refill and speed boost upon successful backstab, making his escape much easier.
    • A good Spy who has landed a backstab may use the speed boost to attempt to trickstab you instead, watch out!
  • This weapon reduces his health to 100 HP - he is more vulnerable before landing that backstab.
  • Ice statues are a clear sign that your teammates were recently backstabbed. If the statues are still standing upright, the Spy killed them less than ten seconds ago - Spy-check nearby teammates!
  • A friendly Pyro can use fire to temporarily melt the Spy-cicle. Upon doing so, you can hear a loud extinguishing sound that identifies the Spy and prevents him from backstabbing your team for up to 15 seconds.

Disguise Kit

Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Disguise Kit
Disguise Kit
  • Walk into your teammates; if you cannot pass through one, he is an enemy Spy in disguise.
  • Occasionally attack your teammates, preferably with fire, Jarate, or weapons that cause bleed damage; disguised enemy Spies will still be hurt.
  • For more information about distinguishing teammates from enemy Spies, see Spy checking.

Invis Watches

Main article: Cloak
  • Cloaked Spies can be revealed if they are doused, lit, or bleeding. Try using Jarate, Mad Milk, fire, and weapons that cause bleeding in areas where you suspect a Spy is hiding. These debuffs cure twice as quickly while the Spy is cloaked, so act quickly once you reveal him.
    • Emerging from water also compromises a Spy's invisibility, as water particles will drip off him for a few seconds.
  • Spies can pick up health and ammo even while cloaked. If health kits and ammo boxes are disappearing for no apparent reason, there is a cloaked Spy nearby.
  • Disguised Spies can receive health and ammo from enemy Dispensers. Occasionally Spy-check around Dispensers and check for healing beams attached to thin air.
  • The Invisibility Watch and the Cloak and Dagger will show a silhouette of a cloaked Spy if he bumps into an enemy; if a Spy's silhouette is revealed, press against him and attack to keep him visible.
  • A cloaked Spy still makes sound. You may hear his footsteps from running across hard surfaces, the crunch from fall damage, or voice responses from unknown sources. He also makes a distinct noise upon uncloaking.
  • If you see a Spy cloak, die at suspiciously high health, or otherwise escape your sight, alert your team and tell them exactly where they are.
Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Invisibility Watch
Invis Watch + reskins
  • If a Spy tries to flee with the Invisibility Watch, grab surrounding ammunition boxes and dropped ammo packs from fallen players to deny him extra cloaking time.
  • Watch nearby pickups carefully and attack their location if they disappear, as you may catch the Spy red-handed.
Cloak and Dagger
Cloak and Dagger
  • Spies using the Cloak and Dagger will often wait in corners or secluded areas to recharge their Cloak. Many Spies use the same spots; check commonly trafficked areas or places you would hide in yourself.
  • With the Cloak and Dagger, the Spy can hide nearly anywhere. For instance, he might hide above high-traffic areas, then drop down behind passing enemies and backstab them.
  • When using the Cloak and Dagger, the Spy cannot pick up ammo to replenish his cloak meter while cloaked; this limits the distance he can quickly travel.
  • Decloaking with the Cloak and Dagger makes a louder sound than decloaking with the Invis Watch does. Listen closely!
Dead Ringer
Dead Ringer
  • The Spy can choose to activate the Dead Ringer upon taking damage to feign his death. When doing so, he is cured of fire and bleeding, and temporarily gains speed and damage resistance. If you believe the Spy is using this to sneak behind your team, predict where he will eventually decloak.
    • Jarate and Mad Milk are not cured even if a Spy feigns death. If possible, have at least a teammate equip one of the said weapons to help detect a Dead Ringer Spy.
  • When the Spy decloaks, the Dead Ringer emits a very loud, distinctive sound. If you hear it, look for a Spy immediately!
  • The Dead Ringer can only be activated when fully charged and cannot be refilled with ammo pickups or Dispensers. If the Spy has uncloaked recently, take him out before he recharges using the effects of weapons like the L'Etranger or Big Earner.
  • You might identify a Dead Ringer Spy based on his behavior, which is important information to relay to your team.
    • If a Spy dies in a single weak hit, he is probably faking his death.
    • The Spy cannot attack while the Dead Ringer is prepared.
  • The Dead Ringer can replicate or fake many in-game mechanics, but not all. For more information, see the "Feign death effects" section of the Dead Ringer article.


  • Even if the Spy is disguised, you can still see him reach out and place Sappers on buildings. Keep an eye out for this animation to quickly figure out which teammate is the Spy.
  • Pyros with the Homewrecker are excellent for defending buildings; it only takes one strike to dislodge Sappers, compared to the two strikes required by the Engineer's default Wrench.
  • Keep special notice of your team's Teleporters. If left unguarded, a Spy can place a Sapper on one end and continue to replace those that are removed on the other end, eventually sapping more health than what the Engineer can repair and slowing your team's reinforcements.
  • The Spy may put a Sapper on a Teleporter entrance and take it as soon as the Engineer removes it. Do not stand on your Teleporter Exit, as the Spy may Telefrag you.
Weapon Anti-Spy strategy
Sapper + reskins
  • A Spy can replace any Sappers removed from a target building faster than an Engineer can remove the Sapper and repair the building; locate the disguised Spy and kill him before removing his Sappers.
  • An Engineer who needs to leave his buildings should have a teammate, preferably a Pyro or another Engineer, guard them while he is away. A Pyro who has either the Homewrecker or Neon Annihilator equipped can also remove Sappers from buildings, making it even more difficult for the Spy to do significant damage using his Sappers.
  • Spacing Engineer buildings from each other forces the Spy to cover more ground between Sapper placements, giving your team more time to react.
Red-Tape Recorder
Red-Tape Recorder
  • The Red-Tape Recorder quickly downgrades buildings to their level 1 version, but takes some time to completely destroy them. You have more time to kill the offending Spy before restoring the affected buildings.
  • When your team's Sentry Gun is downgraded, that is a prime time for the enemy team to push in. Your team should support the Engineer while his buildings are re-upgraded.
  • An enemy Spy with the Red-Tape Recorder can waste the time and metal of an allied Engineer using the Gunslinger's Mini-Sentry Guns, as the Recorder’s slower destruction rate means the Engineer must wait longer before placing another Mini-Sentry. Mini-Sentry Guns are often placed at the frontlines away from other buildings, so gun down the Spy before he causes more problems.

Telling them apart

See Spychecking for more strategies.
  • Your team can always hurt an enemy Spy. A stray bullet or explosion may reveal a cloaked Spy.
  • A disguised Spy can't pass through you like teammates can. If you bump into a teammate and can't pass, they are a Spy.
  • The Spy cannot copy special abilities or use weapons of other classes. A strangely slow Scout or a Medic who is not healing warrants suspicion.
  • Consider where allied classes are typically found and are played. For example, two common disguises are the Sniper and Spy. The Sniper is usually played away from allies on high ground, while your Spy should be with the enemy team!
  • Teammates who appear overly-fixated on other allies, suddenly beeline towards friendly targets, ignore objectives, refuse to fire their weapon, or otherwise deviate from typical behavior should cause concern.
  • Note how teammates interact with the environment. A few situations might call for a Spy-check, including a teammate who is at full health but can pick up a health kit, an injured teammate moving away from your respawn area, or team-specific doors not opening for a teammate.
  • A Spy's disguise does not grant him any of the effects that the disguise's loadout may grant. For example, a Sniper disguise equipped with the Darwin's Danger Shield does not make the Spy immune to afterburn. Similarly, a Pyro disguise does not make the Spy immune to afterburn. If you see a burning Darwin's Danger Shield Sniper or a burning Pyro, it is most likely a disguised Spy. Be aware that the Gas Passer can make Pyros burn for longer than normal.

See also