Let’s face it, competitive Team Fortress 2 isn’t nearly as popular as anyone had hoped. Apart from b4nny, who is essentially the god of TF2 and can turn almost any invite team into a winner, most people don’t get many views. All the big leagues, ESEA, ETF2L, UGC, AsiaFortress and so on, get a few thousand views for their big grand finals, which doesn’t sound too bad, except when I tell you that a person being banned from League of Legends and sulking got just as many views, if not more. Despite the competitive community’s enthusiasm, the general populace and the outside world just don’t find TF2 that interesting.
While aabicus explains why that might be in this article, I’d like to point out that a big part of it is because there’s more incentive to watch other games. While TF2 has been ‘lending’ parts of itself to other games – crates to CS:GO, stranges to Dota 2, how to make good free to play games to everyone else, TF2 hasn’t really stolen anything of use from other games. No, weapon pickups and weapon skins are not useful. I’ve only ever successfully used weapon pickups once, by filling up a team mate’s Kritzkrieg after he got killed at 85% Uber, filling it up and then handing it back to him.
In competitive TF2, there is NO INCENTIVE to watch or get involved. Oh, yay, you get a badge from participating in leagues and some tournaments. No one likes badges though, and most of them are hard to see. Plus, any old schmuck can get a medal by playing in UGC. I have a UGC Silver participation medal for 4v4 for heaven’s sake. Do I deserve it? Yes, because I spent 6 weeks getting my ass kicked by Gold/Platinum HL teams, but it just goes and proves my point. The top teams can win some money, but they’re often community-driven fundraisers and Valve only really sponsors them via small notices on the TF2 blog and occasionally adding said badges.
Let’s look at CS:GO, where competitive is a much bigger thing. Like TF2, Counter-Strike pubs are NOTHING LIKE ranked gameplay. But the game has a lot of incentive to get people to play, not just the ranked matchmaking. The top teams can win some genuinely good prices, but Valve has supplied plenty of stuff for non-pros. There are betting sites where players can win items. There are items – weapon skins and stickers and all sorts of things – added to get players to buy them. People like tat.
The same goes with Dota 2, which essentially bribes you to watch their competitive tournaments. The Compendium gives you a literal fuckton of stuff, by pushing people into a community fundraising frenzy, as well as competing tasks in-game and picking winners and things like that. You could win all sorts. Cosmetics, in-game cursors, emoticons, statues displayed in-game, new loading screens, new wards, free chests with random awesome loot, new couriers, new map themes… The list goes on. The Axe comic was another one of the many rewards from the Compendium. Seriously, just look at all of this! And the community actually completed it and reached the last goal!]
On top of all that, you can watch the International live from inside Dota 2. In the end, the prize pool for the last International was a fucking stupid amount, many millions of dollars. Players and pros alike went home happy, having gotten something extra out of it.
Why would anyone want to play TF2 competitively when you’ve got the chance to win big in other games, whether you play the damn game or not?