That’s a long title, I know, but this is a problem I’ve had for ages with competitive TF2. In all competitive games, you are going to get some snobbery based off ranks and the like, but here, in our tiny little competitive community, we can be incredibly snobbish and pretentious.
I want to start off with a personal story. I played in 4v4 EU Silver. Most of my matches were against platinum or gold 6v6 or Highlander teams, playing casually for fun. My team on the other hand had only played a season of 4v4, and were at the same time just getting into 6v6. The last match we played, the enemy team were all platinum players and one of their players streamed the game from their end. I watched the stream afterwards, and all our opponents did (apart from calls) was say how stupid we were, comparing us to bots and calling us idiots. Yes, we were a bad team, but we were trying our best to learn and have fun, and what do you expect from a gigantic skill difference?
After that season and the horrible 6v6 season, I quit competitive. I decided I wasn’t cut out for it. On top of that, whenever I talked about 4v4, the general feeling was that everyone considered it to be a massive joke, including the admins reluctantly running UGC’s 4v4 league. What was the point in playing and enjoying this game mode, striving to get better, if not even the admins cared?
I continued following competitive TF2, because I thought it was alright, if a bit repetitive at times.
Okay, back to the criticism here. Admittedly, a lot of this is partially aimed at UGC, but it’s not just their fault, it’s part of the TF2 community.
The biggest problem with TF2 competitive is that you are derided if you are a low level. There is an on-going trope among the TF2 community as a whole that participants in UGC Iron and Steel (and sometimes even Silver) are either try-hard bastards ruining pubs with their teamwork (non-competitive players) or are frowned upon for not being very good, a “step above pubs” (some competitive players). ETF2L, ESEA, AsiaFortress and other leagues aren’t as bad in this aspect, but considering how UGC is the only league with a hint of world-wide presence, and a lot of competitive players all this trope does is make the average competitive player look bad. Especially for Iron and Steel, the two ranks in which players are SUPPOSED to be learning and getting into the swing of proper competitive as a team. When you throw in things like teams sand-bagging, teams wanting to go up a rank but being unable to and players in general not sure where they should be, it causes chaos. Rank issues are to be expected, it is in most other games, but with such a small player base, TF2 competitive really doesn’t need the negative thoughts that come with it.
But why leave our snobbery at ranks? We have a huge issue with Highlander, 6v6 and non-competitive, mostly to what “real TF2” is, but also with what people enjoy. I enjoy 4v4, but on r/truetf2, it’s considered a joke and no one seems to want a decent discussion on it. Anything that isn’t HL or 6v6 is considered pointless or “just for practice”, and even Highlander is considered a joke in the eyes of 6v6. Then the reverse happens and 6v6 is called elitist and unchanging. Which would normally be fine, but we have a habit of putting down the other side when we do so.
I realise I’m rambling on a lot. I tend to do that. The point I’m trying to make is that we need to be less harsh and judgemental and (that word again) snobbish and pretentious when discussing things, and not mindlessly dismissing anything by calling it stupid or pointless. Otherwise TF2 competitive will remain stuck in the mud.
I fear though that TF2 competitive is already too far gone. We might not be able to save it.