Community competitive play
|“Gotta move that gear up!”
This article may contain content that is out of date. You can help improve this article by updating the content as necessary. See the wiki style guide.
Notes: None added
— The Scout
Community competitive play in Team Fortress 2 refers to organized gaming done for the purpose of playing through skillful competition, practiced teamwork, and self-improvement, especially in a league setting. There are 3 main competitive formats in TF2 - 6v6 (commonly referred to as '6s'), Highlander (commonly referred to as 'HL'), and Prolander (also known as 7v7). Other formats of competitive play include 4v4, Ultiduo, and Bball, which are played in more casual competitions, rather than prized and more serious competitions.
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, 6 in 6v6, 9 in Highlander, 7 in Prolander, and 4 in 4v4.
- Both teams are under the same basic restrictions, which include weapon whitelists and class limits.
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 set class limits 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 6v6 and Highlander.
In 6v6, the focus is on 5CP maps, such as Badlands, Process and Gullywash, with King of the Hill (KOTH) maps such as Product. Highlander prefers Attack/Defend based maps, such as Steel and Payload maps like Upward. They also have other formats such as KOTH and 5CP. Custom maps are used in both formats, and are usually completely custom maps (pl_swiftwater_ugc) or are pro versions of default maps, such as Viaduct or Granary. Other gamemodes, like Capture the Flag and Special Delivery, are rarely seen in either format.
- 6v6 is the most popular of the competitive gamemodes where teams typically consist of 2 Scouts, 2 Soldiers, 1 Demoman and 1 Medic.
- Highlander (HL) is a 9v9 format with one of each the nine classes on each team.
- 4v4 has teams typically consisting of 1 Scout, 1 Soldier, 1 Demoman and 1 Medic.
- Prolander also known as 7v7 has 7 players per team with a class limit of 1 for each class, therefore encouraging adaptive offclassing. Its playstyle is most closely related to Highlander.
- Ultiduo is a competitive gamemode with teams only having 1 Soldier and 1 Medic on each team.
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. For instance, almost all competitive Team Fortress 2 revolves around ÜberCharges. Medics on both teams have to track both their own ÜberCharge and that of the enemy Medic as best they can. This is because in an organized format, an isolated player attempting to take ground can be focused and dealt with. ÜberCharge allows a team to force their way into an area, giving them the ability to kill other players while invulnerable, at little risk of being killed themselves.
- Roll-outs, which are not often found in casual games due to their advanced nature, are also seen often in competitive games. The basic idea of a roll-out is to get to the middle point (commonly referred to as "mid") quicker by rocket and sticky jumping. By sacrificing health, you can travel much faster than you would by walking, allowing you to reach the initial fight on the middle point (known as the "midfight") faster.
- The team is split into two smaller groups, known as the combo and the flank. The combo generally consists of the Medic, Pocket Soldier and Demoman, while the flank consists of a Roaming Soldier and two Scouts, one of who hovers between the flank and combo. In Highlander, the combo consists of the Medic, Demoman, Heavy, and Pyro, the latter of which sometimes can be found on the flank. The flank consists of the remaining classes such as Scout and Soldier, but the Sniper, Engineer, and Spy also have shifting roles, with the former two sometimes playing in the combo, and the latter employing a more lone-wolf style of play.
Competitive games do not use the standard server configuration, instead opting to use their own values for various settings in order to provide a more organized or competitive experience. While there are no universal specifics, and different leagues and groups use their own settings, there are a few general guidelines that many leagues and groups use for their matches.
- Autobalance is almost universally turned off, preventing players from accidentally being forced onto the opposing team. While this rarely makes a difference during an actual game, in the pre-game when teams are joining the server, it allows players to join the correct team regardless of how many players are in each team.
- Gameplay affected by luck, otherwise known as RNG (Random Number Generation), such as weapons affected by random bullet spread and random crits, are also almost universally disabled, to prevent matches from being influenced by factors outside of a player's control.
- While leagues and groups rarely agree on what to ban, almost all of them have some weapons banned. Oftentimes, it's due to the weapon being considered overpowered, or having some bug attached to it that makes it undesirable to have in play. Some weapons are allowed in certain formats but are banned in others. This is usually due to balancing around other factors such as class limits. For example, the lower number of players in 6v6 able to spam the Engineer's Sentry Gun while "wrangled" means the wrangler is commonly regarded as overpowered (and therefore often banned) in 6v6, but not in Highlander, where there are more classes to do so. For a list of banned weapons per league, see competitive item restrictions.
- Leagues or groups use custom map configs to adapt the game to better fit the meta of competitive play, but these configs tend to vary between leagues. With 5CP, the win condition is almost always some form of round victories, but the inclusion of half-times, what number of victories produces a win, and round timer length is often contested and changes from region to region.
- Almost all leagues utilise class limits, most noticeably in Highlander and Prolander, though 6v6 also includes some class limits (such 1 Medic per team). This is to prevent team composition from disrupting competitive play, either through slowing down the game significantly, or using too many classes of a specific type in an attempt to jeer the opponent.
Classes in standard competitive play are utilized differently than in Casual, due to the smaller team sizes and increased structure/coordination. The standard lineup in the 6v6 format, known as "cookie cutter" or "textbook", is two Soldiers, two Scouts, one Demoman, and one Medic. This lineup provides the highest ability to get kills or complete objectives, while also allowing for fast-paced gameplay and movement.
As such, any other class is deemed utility, used to perform a specific role or objective and not for permanent use. This is known as "offclassing". Some of them, like Heavy and Engineer, are utilized to defend a point, usually the final one, in order to take advantage of their benefits in a situation where their weaknesses, primarily movement, are diminished. In occasions of a stalemate where neither team is in enough of an advantageous position to push, a player may change to a pick class, such as Sniper or Spy, in order to kill an important player on the other team, usually the Medic, and prompt the push. Some maps, like Product, the map design of which potentially encourages permanent use of a utility class, may see teams break from the standard lineup completely to take advantage of that.
In Highlander, since one of each class is always present, there is no offclassing. However, the class strategies do vary from their casual variants, just like in 6v6. As such there are individual pages on the competitive strategies for each class.
In Prolander, due to it having 7 players per team but a class limit of 1, a large part of the strategy revolves around offclassing. However, some classes are almost always used, such as Demo, Medic, Solider and Scout due to their utility and mobility. The other classes are rotated depending on the situation and opposition's classes. For example a team might use an Engineer on Payload defence, and the attacking team might use a Spy to counter this.
The majority of competitive 6v6 play is done on 5CP and KOTH maps, and Highlander varies between Payload and KOTH. The most common maps in 6v6 play are Process, Gullywash and Snakewater. Newer maps like Sunshine and Metalworks are also played regularly in matches. The only non 5CP gamemode actively played is KOTH, on maps like Product and Bagel. Highlander has a larger spread of different gamemodes, from Payload maps like Upward to Attack/Defense maps such as Steel, and King Of The Hill maps like Product and Lakeside.
Maps like Badlands and Viaduct used to be featured more prominently in competitive, either being phased out of league play, like Badlands, or updated by community members to a "Pro" version of the map, with Viaduct becoming Product. Between all of the leagues and gamemodes, many maps have been tested in official matches, with only a handful being popular enough to see any level of active play. Similarly, in the first few seasons of competitive, maps like 2Fort and Dustbowl received play, but have not been considered competitive maps for a long time, due to a number of skilled mapmakers in the competitive community willing to make maps specifically for competitive play.
Organizations and Leagues
Each of these leagues mainly run the standard competitive format, however some host Highlander, Prolander, 4v4, Ultiduo and BBall competitions.
- ETF2L (6v6 and Highlander leagues and cups)
- Classic MGE Cup
- AsiaFortress (6v6)
- Respawn (Highlander)
- ozfortress (6v6)
- Respawn (Highlander)
- No restriction 6v6 League
- teamfortress.tv, Kritzkast and RGL.gg are the active organizations that provide casts for the competitive TF2 scenes in North America and Europe. Teamfortress.tv primarily covers ETF2L and ESEA 6v6, Kritzkast covers EU Highlander and Prolander, and RGL.gg covers NA Prolander and other RGL formats. Previous coverage of EU and NA Highlander has been provided by BlackOut TV and EVL TV respectively, and previous coverage of Prolander by eXtelevsion.
- Comp.tf is a community-driven wiki which focuses entirely on competitive TF2.