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Team Fortress 2 adds skill-based matchmaking, ranked play, and new casual mode

Nine years later, Team Fortress 2 is getting competitive.

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Team Fortress 2's tardy summer update has finally been detailed, and as expected it delivers something we've been anticipating for even longer: skill-based matchmaking and ranked play.

When the Meet Your Match update drops, players will be matchmade based on their skill level - something Valve is introducing to TF2 to support the new Competitive Mode.

Competitive Mode TF2 is a 6v6 affair with all nine classes on offer, no weapon restrictions, no random criticals - and no team changes. There are 18 titles and badges on offer to those who climb the competitive ranks, match and ongoing stat tracking, and stat medals for the best of the best. You can find all the details on the Meet Your Match FAQ.

Competitive Mode is only available to players with a premium TF2 account, so free-to-play blow-ins aren't allowed - and you'll need to link your Steam account to a phone number to participate, as a defensive measure against cheating and abuse. Players who can't or won't provide a phone number will have the option to buy in with a $10 pass.

One of the key rules of ranked TF2 play is that there are no drop-ins; you can only join a match in progress if you were disconnected form it earlier. However, this now applies to casual quick play too:

"Instead of jumping randomly into an in-progress game, you'll be matched into an unranked 12v12 game with players of similar skill," Valve announced.

"This means no more auto-balancing - you'll be playing a match from start to finish, with actual winners and actual losers."

Casual play is backed up by a new levelling system, and players can start parties to keep their friends together in a team.

The update also brings the Pass Time mode out of beta and highlights three community maps, with more to come in tomorrow's update.

Competitive play comes to TF2 right as it gains a notable rival in Overwatch. Blizzard has had serious teething issues getting ranked play up and running smoothly, and it'll be very interesting to see if Valve encounters the same problems.

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