Getting Started in Competitive TF2: A Complete Guide
Written by emir.
2. Basics of Pickups (PUGs)
3. Server Rules and Server List
5. Your first PUG
7. Useful Resources
So you’ve been playing TF2 for months now, maybe even years, and somehow, you find that it just isn’t the same anymore. Perhaps stomping noobs and topping scoreboards as a pubstar is starting to bore you, and you’re seeking a challenge. Maybe you’re just sick and tired of the massive spamfest that’s ever-present on goldrush and dustbowl, and just want something more organised. Perhaps you’ve got an inclination for other maps which aren’t very popular in public servers, like cp_badlands or cp_gravelpit. Or maybe you’re frustrated with all the overpowered weapons which Valve keeps introducing to the game, and you just wish you could go back to a time when these OP weapons weren’t around.
Well, maybe it’s time you tried Competitive TF2.
But wait! Don’t let the term “Competitive” scare you. You don’t need to be uber-pro in order to try it. Competitive TF2 simply refers to a different, more organised format of gameplay. Instead of the 12v12 or 16v16 clusterfucks you see on public servers (commonly known as pubs), Competitive TF2 is all about 6v6 games. This makes for a far less spammy and more strategic gameplay experience, and you’ll probably find it to be a refreshing change from pubs.
So, in summary, why should I try competitive TF2?
- You’re less likely to die to sheer rocket/grenade/sticky spam.
- A whole new gameplay experience with new rules.
- Easy to pick up and learn (compared to other competitive shooters), with dedication.
- All those amazing frag videos you’ve seen? Yeah those are mostly from competitive players.
- Teamwork and strategy actually become important.
- No overpowered weapons; the game becomes relatively balanced again.
- You’ll almost definitely become a better player.Sound good to you? Hold on though! It’s not going to be a cakewalk all the way to the top! You’ll definitely find it challenging, particularly if you’re new to TF2. As such, here are some things you should bear in mind when starting out:
- You’re expected to be able to play the game. While hax aim is not a pre-requisite, you should at least be able to kill things.
- Have an open mind. You might need to learn new things like rollouts, and unlearn other things you learnt in pubs.
- Be open to criticism. That’s the only way you’ll improve.
- You probably will get flamed and raged at; not everyone’s going to be nice to you. Just disregard them and do your best.
- If you intend to go far competitively, you’re going to need some dedication to improving yourself.
- Most importantly, be patient and DON’T GIVE UP! As with anything else, you’ll need time to get better at TF2!
Credit for content in this section goes to Cobalt’s Guide to Pugging
Wait, basics of what?
Pickup Games, or PUGs for short, are a form of games commonly played in the competitive Team Fortress 2 scene. Keeping with the competitive format of 6v6, PUGs are played with 6 players on each team, usually comprising 1 Medic, 1 Demoman, 2 Soldiers and 2 Scouts. PUGs differ from Scrims in that PUG teams consist of players who are chosen on the spot at the start of the PUG, whereas Scrims are played between clans or teams with fixed lineups.
In Asiafortress Servers, the standing rules are as follows:
- When 12 players join the teams, i.e. 6 on each team, everyone has to go Spectator. The last 2 players to join Spectator will have to be Medic Captains; this means they will pick team members and more importantly, it also means they will play Medic for the duration of the PUG. Both Medics will then have an ubersaw fight at the midpoint, to see who gets to choose players first.
- At this point, a list of players who didn’t play the previous map will be produced. It is mandatory for the Captains to pick players from this list first. After players on the list have all been picked, Captains are free to pick anyone else in Spectator. If you didn’t play the previous map, simply type +1 in chat to be placed on the list. If no one compiles a list, take initiative! Do everyone a favour and compile it!
- Players don’t have to play Medic if they played Medic the previous map.
- Players are not allowed to play spy, sniper, pyro and engineer if the team disagrees. To be sure, just ask your team if they’re fine with you playing those classes.
- Any form of racism, excessive trolling and flaming and abuse of chat is strictly not allowed.
All reports are private and confidential and identities will be concealed.As much as we try to be lenient and understanding with new players, we still have to enforce these rules to make everyone else’s pugging experience a pleasant one. If you intentionally and knowingly break any of these rules, particularly the first 2, fitting punishment will have to be meted out, most likely in the form of a permanent ban.Class Limits:
These class limits are meant for game balance; it wouldn’t be nice fighting a team of 6 Demomen, would it?
- 2 Scouts
- 2 Soldiers
- 2 Pyros
- 1 Demoman
- 1 Heavy
- 1 Engineer
- 1 Medic
- 2 Snipers
- 1 Spy
Most unlockable weapons aren’t allowed in competitive TF2, for reasons of game balance. Weapons listed here are permitted, all other unlockable weapons are banned. Do note that this list may be subject to revision.
Medic – Blutsauger, Kritzkrieg, Ubersaw
A server whitelist is currently in place, so you’ll find that the banned unlocks aren’t available anyway.
- Your attitude in PUGs reflects on you as a person and a player, so be nice and always have a smile on your face, like Wish.
- Cooperate with the admins, we don’t want to have to kick you.
- When entering a server, ask if it’s a scrim or PUG. Otherwise, you might end up waiting 30 minutes to play, only to find out it’s a scrim.
- Don’t immediately join a team if there’s a game in progress; this disrupts the flow of the game. Go Spectator and wait for the next round.
- If players are voting for a map change or team scramble, do your part and vote too!
- Play your best! If you’re going to play half-heartedly and be a douchebag, you’re better off giving your spot to someone else.
- If you have to leave, make sure someone subs for you. If there’s no one in Spec, invite a friend to the server to replace you.
- Cooperate with your captains. You might need to play a class you don’t usually play; don’t make a big fuss out of it!
- Respect the server admin’s decisions.
- Trashtalk is fine, but don’t overdo it. Simply put, don’t be a douchebag.
- In the heat of the game, people might understandably start raging. As much as possible though, don’t make personal attacks on others.
- Of course, racism, flaming, excessive trolling, and abuse of chat are all strictly not allowed. Treat others as you’d like them to treat you
In order to join the server, click on the link.
AsiaFortress.com #1 | PUG
AsiaFortress.com #2 | AFA
AsiaFortress.com #3 | PUG
ozfortress.com Asia #01 | hosted by GamersUnited
ozfortress.com Asia #02 | hosted by GamersUnited
ozfortress.com Asia #03 | hosted by GamersUnited
ozfortress.com Asia #04 | hosted by GamersUnited
[hsp.hk] Reserved Match Server
[hsp.hk] AsiaFortress #2
#1 BFX_Match Scrim ‘n’ PUG Server
[JP]TF2 TJT match server01
[JP]TF2 TJT match server01
Withgod’s Private Server #1
Withgod’s Private Server #2
Note: Different PUG servers operate by different rules. Medic Captains only applies to certain servers.
Alright, I read the hell out of that section. Can I PUG now?
Almost, young fella! Before you do, you need to get Mumble first!
Mumble is an open source, low-latency, high quality voice chat software primarily intended for use while gaming. Yeah, that’s from their website. Essentially, it’s used for communication in a PUG or scrim, but people are known to just hang out in Mumble all day waiting for people to talk to them.
Do I really need this?
Some PUG players don’t use Mumble, but if you intend to get serious about TF2, then yes, you really need it. Mumble is preferred over in-game voice chat, because Mumble has better quality, and because in-game voice chat doesn’t allow you to talk to your teammates when you’re dead.
That aside, Mumble helps you get to know people, since most TF2 players in our region just chill in their own Mumble channels all day, waiting for people to talk to them. Just join people you know in their channel, and over time, you’ll get to know practically everyone in the community.
Somehow, it’s much easier to make friends with voice chat, because people are generally nicer and less douchey . Lots of pubbers use Mumble too, so it’s not just for competitive players alone. Some people *cough*PGTF2*cough* use Mumble to play other games too.
Just look at all those people waiting for you to talk to them!Alright, fine. What do I do?
- Download Mumble from here.
- Install Mumble and follow the instructions to setting up your mic.
- At the top left, click “Server”, then “Connect”.
- You’ll see something like this
- Click on “Add New…” and copy the same details seen in the picture.
- In case you can’t see, Server IP is 220.127.116.11 and Port is 64738.
- Click “OK”, then “Connect”.
- You’re in Mumble! Double click on channel names to join them. Remember, be polite and friendly!
Announcements will be posted whenever PUGs are starting in any of our servers, or even in any of the non-Asiafortress servers.
Alternatively, make friends with some PUG regulars; they’ll invite you to the game when they’re trying to get a PUG started.
Okay, I joined a PUG server. What now?
Check if there’s a game in progress. If there is, ask if it’s a scrim or a PUG. If there’s a scrim going on, you’re better off going to another server; scrims usually last a few maps. If there’s a PUG in progress, you should wait till the next map/rejoin when the map changes. Make sure you come in right after the map changes though, or you’ll miss your chance again!
Okay, I waited for that map to end. Now what?
(This only applies to Starhub E-Club servers) Join a team, and wait till there are 6 people on each team. When that happens, go Spectator as fast as you can! If you’re the last 2 to go Spectator, you’ll have to play Medic Captain. If you don’t know what that is, refer to Server Rules up in Part II.
Whew. It was close, but I managed to go Spectator in time.
Good. Now keep an eye on chat, someone should be asking, “Who didn’t play the last map?” That’s you! Type +1 in chat; you’re now on the list. The Captains will have to pick from the list first, and that means you get to play!
If no one makes the effort to put the list together, take the initiative and do it! Just compile the names of players who didn’t play the previous map and tell the Captains.
I got picked!
Which class should I play?
Well, you probably have a class you’re used to playing in public servers. Unfortunately, only 4 classes are usually played in PUGs, namely Scout, Soldier, Demoman and Medic. This means you HAVE to choose between these 4 classes, as running a full-time Pyro, Heavy, Engineer, Sniper or Spy is against the rules. Players are permitted to play these classes occasionally, but not the entire round. To help you choose between these 4 main classes, here’s a quick rundown of their roles:
- Scout –
Scouts play a supporting role in the team, helping to cover flanks and preventing enemy Scouts from getting behind your team. Due to their low HP, Scouts should focus on picking off damaged enemies, not trying to take the enemy team on face-to-face. When the situation calls for it, Scouts can also get behind the enemy team (known as “leaking”) and capture control points (e.g. Last cap of cp_badlands, which is extremely fast to cap) or pick off key targets (Demoman and Medic).
As heroic as this looks, please don’t do this as a Scout
- Soldier -
The 2 Soldiers in a team usually assume different roles; 1 Soldier is known as a Pocket while the other is a Roamer. The Pocket Soldier and Medic together are known as the Combo; they are the main force of your team, attacking and defending territory with the Uber. The Pocket Soldier’s responsibility is to protect the Medic at all times, to make sure he doesn’t lose his Uber. The Roamer, on the other hand, is more versatile and plays a little bit more independently of the Combo. The Roamer may switch between flanks to dish out damage wherever support is needed, e.g. if the Scouts are facing trouble on the opposite side of the map, the Roamer will rocket jump over to help out. At times, the Roamer may also jump the enemy’s Combo (with the support of the Scouts) to take out the enemy Medic. Soldier players may need to switch readily between these roles, depending on the situation. As such, Soldier players HAVE to be able to rocket jump properly.
Yes, you really need to be able to do this
- Demoman –
The Demoman is a critical character in the team, since he has the highest damage output in the entire team. Fittingly, the Demoman is also one of the hardest classes to become proficient at, as he has a very wide range of responsibilities in the team. Among this is area denial; the Demo’s sticky traps, if strategically placed at choke points, allow him to cover an entire flank by himself. Additionally, his high damage output through his stickies and pipes make him crucial to winning fights, most importantly the midfight. For this reason, Demomen need to be able to rollout (reach the midpoint at the start of a round) fast. This also means Demoman players MUST know how to sticky jump.
This pretty much spells R-A-P-E
- Medic -
The Medic is THE most important member of your team. The entire metagame of competitive 6v6 revolves around pushing and falling at the right time, and that push-pull dynamic revolves around your Medic’s Uber. In brief, the Medic’s Ubercharge or Kritz lets you lay the smackdown on the enemy team, to help you gain or defend territory. It’s definitely not an easy class to play; everyone on the opposite team will have their sights on you, and everyone on your team’s depending on you not to make mistakes. Nonetheless, as the centrepiece of your team, being able to play Medic well is extremely rewarding.
Things can get really stressful; feel free to rage at your team if they don’t protect you well
- Utilities -
Utilities refer to all other classes aside from the 4 classes listed above, i.e. Pyro, Heavy, Engineer, Sniper and Spy. Occasionally, having one of these utility classes on your team may be beneficial, and your team may decide to have a Scout or Soldier switch to one of these classes. Some examples include having a Heavy when holding the last point, or running a Spy/Sniper to get a pick on the enemy Medic to sway things in your favour. Remember to ask your team first before changing classes! Players playing Demoman and Medic should never change class, as these classes are crucial to your team.
Disclaimer to all the pubstar Spies: Playing Spy in a PUG is way different from pubs.
If you fail, switch classes
Well, you’re on your own then! You might do badly, but keep playing, you’ll improve with time. Good luck, and have fun!
Some PUG regulars are happy just playing PUGs, and go no further into competitive TF2. Many players, though, choose to go one step further by getting involved in a team. Play enough PUGs and you’ll soon realise that it’s not quite all it’s cut out to be. The communication and coordination within your PUG team aren’t quite there, and it gets rather frustrating when you can’t win games due to poor teamwork. And, try as you may, this will never change, because your PUG team only lasts till the end of that map.
And so, some players choose to form or join a scrim team. In terms of composition of classes, a scrim team is identical to a PUG team; the main difference is that a scrim team usually has a fixed lineup and a roster of 6+ players (including substitutes). By repeatedly playing with the same people in a team, players gradually adapt to each other’s style of play and get used to one another. As a result, members of a scrim team are able to communicate better with one another and accordingly work better as a team.
Recall that competitive Team Fortress 2 is, above all, a team game. Every class has its own weaknesses and strengths, and no one class is able to singlehandedly win a game for a team. In most matches between evenly matched teams, teamwork really becomes a deciding factor, as cliche as that sounds. The team aspect of the game overshadows individual ability to the extent that a team of well-coordinated, albeit weak members, is able to overcome a team of stronger, but poorly coordinated players.
In short, here’s why you should be part of a scrim team:
- Play with people you actually know and like, not random PUG regulars.
- Improve at the game as a team.
- Members of a good team motivate each other, and help each other improve by giving criticism.
- Once you understand each other, you’ll find that you play much better with your scrim team than with PUG teams.
- Teams can take part in competitions and tournaments, like Asiafortress League and TF2 Masters.
- You can make awesome frag videos for your team, like this:
By Team Dizziness, Champions of AFL Season 2 and 1st Runners-Up of Mercs Cup 2
Joining/Forming a team:
Everyone’s got their own criteria when choosing a scrim team to join. Some people make it a point to join a team of their own skill level so they can improve together with the team, some people join a team of a lower level so they can help that team improve, and others simply join a team because their friends are in that team. Whatever it is, there are several ways to finding a team to join:
- Ask to join a team your friend’s in.
- Visit Asiafortress’ Recruitment Forum. Teams looking for members will occasionally post a thread there.
- Make a post advertising yourself in our Free Agent List.
Improving as a team:
No 2 ways about it – the only way your team will get better is to scrim against other teams. Arranging scrims is as simple as setting a date and time with another team’s captain, and making sure your players turn up. If there aren’t any teams around, ask someone capable to put together a mix team; i.e. he/she will find 6 random competitive players and form a team on the spot. This is a good way of getting playtime in together as a team, even when there aren’t any other teams around.
Constantly scrimming will give your team the opportunity to get used to working together; over time, you’ll adjust to each other’s playstyles. When first starting out, it’s likely that your team will lose against every single team you play.
This is normal. Most teams started out this way. The important thing is to make every loss a learning point for your team; if need be, ask players from other teams to give comments and criticisms about your team. No one ever got better playing against weaker teams. Simply put, DON’T BE DISCOURAGED, KEEP SCRIMMING!
You can also seek out mentors for your team. A mentor should ideally watch your team play, and educate you accordingly on the things you’re doing wrong. You could try asking more experienced members of the community to be your team’s mentor, or you could post a thread requesting a mentor in our Mentoring Forums.
The bottom line is, don’t disband your team simply because you keep losing to other teams. Put some dedication into getting better as a team, and you’ll slowly start seeing results. Remember to constantly motivate each other, and don’t forget to have fun together! After all, that’s why you’re playing TF2, isn’t it?
In this section I’ve posted some useful downloads and links. If there’s anything you’d like to add, just reply to this thread.
If you’ve got any questions about things found in this guide, or just any queries about our competitive community in general, head over to our General Queries thread and make a post! Don’t be shy!
Custom Maps: (Custom maps played during Asiafortress events)
AsiaFortress 2011 Official Custom Map Pack (includes cp_gullywash_pro, cp_obscure_final, cp_snakewater_rc3, koth_ashville_rc1, cp_turris_b3)
ctf_bball2_fixed (Good for practicing airshots and jumps)
tr_walkway_rc2 (Practice just about anything against bots here)
mge_training_v7 (Excellent for training your aim and raw skill against other players)
General Gameplay Guides:
Ubercharged.net’s Guide to Competitive TF2 (Comprehensive guide, detailing each class’s roles and gameplay)
TF2 Guide to Getting Good [ozfort] (Excellent guide to helping you understand the metagame of 6v6)
Learning TF2 [ozfort] (Article about improving your game)
Communication [ozfort] (Great article for helping polish your team’s communications)
TF2 Vocabulary (Good videos to help familiarise yourself with the maps commonly played competitively)
Ten Top Tips from TF2 Pros (Article taken from PC Gamer)
Jaeger’s Tips and Tricks (Set of videos containing tips for competitive players. Be sure to watch all 5 videos in the series)
Tips for more consistent Scout aim [ozfort] (Q&A with top ozfort Scouts)
DJ’s Roam Soldier Roundtable (A Q&A Session with some top Soldier players in USA)
Fragga’s Soldier Tutorial (Youtube video; great tutorial)
Demoman Roundtable (A Q&A Session with some top Demoman players in USA)
Demoman Fundamentals [ozfort] (A few top Demoman players in ozfort answer the community’s questions about Demoman gameplay)
Medic for Bodohs (Very basic Medic Guide written by our very own Brandon Yuko)
Medic Roundtable (A Q&A Session with some top Medic players in USA)
Class and Unlocks Rules