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Team Fortress 2 patch overhauls matchmaking, revamps competitive mode

Team Fortress 2 just received a big update that focuses on improving matchmaking, both for casual as well as competitive.

One of the biggest criticisms against Team Fortress 2 in recent years, especially after the arrival of games like Overwatch, is that its matchmaking is a mess. It's rarely fair for new players, and it doesn't push existing players to improve.

Valve is tackling this in a big way with this patch. The update brings significant changes to both casual and competitive modes that will hopefully modernise an archaic aspect of Team Fortress 2.

Starting off with casual, Valve now uses the Glicko skill rating (used in CS:GO) to match players with others in a similar skill level. When voting on a map at the end of the match, only maps for the current game mode will show up.

For competitive, Valve made it so players will also be rated based on the Glicko rating system. The 18 competitive ranks previously available have been cut to 13, and everyone's ranks have been reset.

Now, you will need to win ten matches, which earns you one of the 13 ranks. Those who do not own a Competitive Matchmaking Pass must now be casual level 3 or higher, as well as being a premium user and having a phone number associated with their Steam account if they want to play competitive.

The update also introduces a couple of welcome features, such as the ability to queue while playing in boot camp or during a casual match. You're now also able to queue for multiple matches at the same time. For instance, you can queue for all game modes. As soon as you accept a competitive or Mann Up match, you'll be removed from other queues.

team fortress tf2 competitive mode ranked play

Check out all the patch notes below:

Matchmaking changes

Competitive revamp

  • The matchmaking system used for Competitive Mode has been overhauled. Players will now be ranked using a model based on the Glicko rating system used in CS:GO.
  • The old 18 Competitive ranks have been consolidated into 13 new ranks.
  • Competitive ranks have been reset and players must win 10 matches to earn a new Competitive rank
  • The requirements to access Competitive Mode have changed: If you do not own a Competitive Matchmaking Pass, you must now be at least Casual level 3 in addition to being a Premium user and having a valid phone number associated with your account.

Casual changes

  • Casual Mode now uses the Glicko skill rating system behind the scenes to better create balanced matches and group players by skill level
  • The maps listed in the Casual matchmaking screen are now sorted alphabetically
  • Added ctf_sawmill, ctf_well, cp_5gorge, ctf_2fort_invasion, and ctf_foundry to Casual Mode
  • Updated the match-end map voting to only vote on maps for the current game mode (if you are playing Payload, you will only vote on Payload maps)

Queue while playing

  • You can now queue for a match while already in a Casual or Boot Camp match
  • While queued and in-game, queue status will be shown in the top right


  • You can now queue for multiple match types at the same time
  • Players can queue for all match types in parallel, but accepting a Competitive or Mann Up match will remove the player from other queues
  • Players who are in a party and not the party leader are now able to freely browse any of the matchmaking menus

Gameplay changes


  • Flamethrowers were able to do full damage regardless of the spread of their flames, rewarding maximizing flame spread over focusing on a target. We've made changes geared toward preserving the current damage range of flamethrowers, but requiring better aim to do so.
  • Flame damage per second now ramps up based on density of flame encountered, up to 200%
  • Initial flame damage per second reduced by 50%, resulting in the max damage being unchanged

The Dragon's Fury

  • We are happy with the design of this weapon, and the playstyle it brings, but it should require tighter hit tolerances in order to reach the higher-end of the damage range
  • The size/radius of the fireball has been reduced by 25%
  • Bonus damage against a burning target now requires the fireball's center to make contact with the target's hitbox

The Gas Passer

  • We found a couple of issues with the Mann vs. Machine upgrade "Explode on Ignite" that resulted in it doing far more damage than intended. We've increased base damage to help offset some of the reduction in output these fixes bring about.
  • Changes to the "Explode On Ignite" upgrade in Mann vs. Machine
  • Damage from the upgrade no longer counts toward the refilling the item's charge meter
  • Fixed an issue where explosive damage could be reapplied for each target in the gas cloud
  • Fixed the triggering bot not taking explosion damage
  • Increased explosion damage to 350 (from 250)

The Axtinguisher

  • The slow deploy time -- which is there to help "pay" for the burst-damage this weapon is capable of -- hasn't been very well received, and we agree that it feels awkward. The design goal of this pass is to embrace the concept of a finishing-move weapon -- which requires planning, timing, and introduces opportunity for "combo" gameplay.

-New design

  • Attacks mini-crit and then extinguish burning targets
  • Receives a damage bonus based on the remaining duration of after-burn
  • Added: "Sketchek's Bequest: Killing blows on burning players grant a speed boost"
  • Base damage reduced by 33%
  • Holster speed 35% slower
  • No random critical hits

The Thermal Thruster

  • We erred on the side of conservative with the initial design -- as this item introduces a lot of mobility to a class that's typically lacked it -- but having watched players for a while, we think it is safe to make it easier for Pyros to switch back to their weapon
  • Holster time reduced to 0.8 seconds (from 1.1)

The Sydney Sleeper

  • Jarate is a powerful effect, and this weapon makes it too easy for one Sniper to substantially increase the damage potential of their team. And, unlike the Jarate jar, the infinite-range of the rifle means the Sniper can be far away from danger. These changes are designed to preserve the "Jarate Rifle" identity, but tone it down, add more reward for the Sniper's skill by allowing higher first-shot damage output, and offer a way for players who want to focus on providing area-of-effect Jarate to recharge their Jarate jar more quickly.
  • Fully-charged body shots and headshots no longer splash Jarate on players around the target
  • Reduced length of on-hit Jarate to 2 to 5 seconds (from 2 to 8 seconds)
  • Added: "Nature's Call: Scoped headshots always mini-crit and reduce the remaining cooldown of Jarate by 1 second"

The Short Circuit

  • The current design of zapping projectiles is interesting, but we're not happy with how much it can be done. While it would be easy to simply increase the metal cost (which we've done before), it would quickly push this weapon into the rarely, if ever, used category. Instead, we've changed the fundamental behavior of the weapon, such that it requires a bit more anticipation and positioning from the Engineer, has more skill depth, and increases the team support potential of this weapon.
  • Alt-fire attack changed to launch a medium-range, projectile-destroying energy ball. Requires 65 metal.

Pretty Boy's Pocket Pistol

  • We underestimated how much health high-skill players would be able to recover during combat.
  • Reduced maximum (close-range) per-hit heal amount to 3 (from 7)

The Panic Attack

  • The recent redesign left this weapon feeling a little weak close-in, so we've increased the damage potential at point-blank and close range.
  • Reduced worst-case shot pattern spread by 40%
  • Reduced damage penalty to -20% (from -30%)

The Atomizer

  • This is basically a bug fix. Players could perform a double-jump and then quickly switch to this item and eke out a third jump. The goal of the previous change was to require players to commit to this item in order to gain the extra jump.
  • The weapon must now be fully deployed before a triple jump can be performed

Gameplay fixes

  • Fixed the "-40% health from healers" penalty on The Fists of Steel (it wasn't active)
  • Fixed an issue with The Gloves of Running Urgently and Eviction Notice where players that were missing health would not be properly restored when touching a resupply cabinet
  • Fixed the Cow Mangler 5000's charged shot so that afterburn lasts 6 seconds (instead of 10)
  • Fixed a case where Engineer buildings could be placed such that players would become stuck when exiting a teleporter (a.k.a. "teleporter trap")
  • Fixed Flamethrower particles sometimes failing to draw on the client
  • Fixed Flamethrower flames not colliding with tf_generic_bomb entities
  • Fixed being able to fire flames and then quickly switch teams to attack teammates
  • Fixed The Loose Cannon continuing to play the priming sound if the weapon is holstered while priming
  • Fixed projectiles from The Pomson 6000 and The Righteous Bison pushing players around
  • Fixed the Razorback shields not being preserved across round restarts
  • Fixed the Dragon's Fury not giving health when attacking an enemy under the effects of Mad Milk
  • Fixed being able to load the Beggar's Bazooka with rockets and then spam the inspect key to hold the loaded rockets until ready to fire them
  • Fixed the Heavy being able to attack with secondary and melee weapons while stunned
  • Fixed being able to collect organs with the Vita-Saw during a truce
  • Fixed not being Marked-for-Death when doing a melee attack while under the effects of Crit-A-Cola
  • Lag compensation system will now reliably restore pose parameters responsible for animation layering
  • This makes server-side hitboxes for lag compensated players better match client-side rendered models
  • Fixed stickybombs sometimes blocking explosive damage from other stickybombs
  • Fixed The Back Scatter not mini-crit'ing when the Scout was in the air and behind their target
  • Fixed the resistance-piercing property on The Enforcer not working against some items or effects (Wrangler shields, Battalion's BackUp, Fists of Steel, Spy invisibility passive resistance, The Dead Ringer, Brass Beast and Natascha)
  • Fixed The Sandman and The Wrap Assassin projectiles colliding with invisible objects in team spawn rooms
  • Fixed player movement speed sometimes being faster than intended while under the effect of a movement stun (i.e. Natascha, The Sandman's ranged attack, Bonk! Atomic Punch)


  • Added the Blue Moon Cosmetic Case and Blue Moon Cosmetic Key
  • New community cosmetics case with 19 items
  • Reduced the base price of the Competitive Mode Pass from $19.99 USD to $9.99 USD and left it on sale for 50% off the new base price
  • Added The Dragon's Fury and The Hot Hand to the list of weapons used when generating Killstreak Kits in Mann vs. Machine
  • The type of badge shown on the main menu can now be changed by clicking the gear button near the badge
  • The in-game action buttons (Call a vote, Request a coach, etc.) have been moved to the bottom center of the main menu
  • Sped up the main menu screen transitions. Controlled via the ConVar tf_dashboard_slide_time.
  • Party members will now have a status indicator on their Steam avatar when they are offline
  • Improved Steam rich presence integration based on the player's current status
  • Improved UI when certain match types, such as Mann vs. Machine, are unavailable for maintenance
  • Fixed Squad Surplus Vouchers only being usable by the party leader in Mann vs. Machine
  • Fixed the console, server browser and options menus sometimes going behind the main menu and becoming unclickable
  • Fixed a client crash related to the cycling ads in the main menu
  • Fixed a bug related to the ConTracker not displaying the correct number of earned contract points
  • Fixed not being able to move if you opened the ConTracker menu while dead and closed it after you respawned
  • Fixed Sniper ragdolls not displaying the correct state for the Razorback when the Sniper is killed (drawing when it should be hidden and vice-versa)
  • Fixed the match-end map vote menu drawing if you disconnect from a server during a vote and then connect to a new server
  • Fixed not using the initial observer point when first connecting to a Casual or Competitive server
  • Fixed not being able to spectate observer points or your own buildings in Casual Mode
  • Fixed not being able to inspect the Pain Train in-game
  • Fixed a visual artifact when inspecting the Panic Attack
  • Fixed The Thermal Thruster launch effects only being visible to the wearer
  • Fixed the Heavy fists not showing the Killstreak sheen
  • Fixed the Yeti Smash taunt not removing the Yeti prop if the taunt is ended before the animation is complete
  • Fixed Mann vs. Machine robots sometimes using human voices instead of their robot voices
  • Fixed Festivized items ignoring any other quality for their name (i.e. "Collector's")
  • Fixed Festivized Australium weapons not using the correct skins for players on the BLU team
  • Fixed Festivized Holy Mackerels, Soda Poppers, and Wingers not drawing the festive lights for the BLU team
  • Fixed the Steam Community Market icons for several Festivized weapons
  • Fixed training bots suiciding in the respawn room
  • Fixed the Prinny Hat and Prinny Pouch not displaying their painted areas when painted
  • Fixed The Hot Hand being hidden when the Pyro taunts
  • Fixed the Deflect Projectiles strange part not counting deflections
  • Fixed the Engineer's PDA not always honoring the "Use minimized viewmodels" option
  • Fixed missing display attribute for the Rescue Ranger (client display issue only)
  • Fixed seeing "Red Rock Roscoe War Paint" as a valid tool for all items in the context menu
  • Fixed the Community Sparkle particle effect not drawing on the viewmodel for players with Community and Self-Made weapons
  • Fixed the Wrangler's death notice icon being clipped
  • Fixed the Overtime label not being centered under the team status HUD
  • Fixed the Sap Auteur achievement not working with all types of sappers
  • Fixed the Krazy Ivan achievement not requiring the victim to be underwater
  • Added RGB sliders for Combat Text in the Advanced Options screen
  • Added a unique particle effect whenever a player performs a "Stomp" attack on another player with the Mantreads or The Thermal Thruster
  • Added the BLU skin to the Neo Tokyo War Paint
  • Added the ozfortress Season 21 tournament medals
  • Added the National Heavy Boxing League tournament medals
  • Added ETF2L Highlander Season 14 and 6v6 Season 29 tournament medals
  • Added the Ultimate Ultiduo tournament medals
  • Added Pick Ban Prolander Participant Season 2 tournament medal
  • Added the One Day Prolander Cup tournament medals
  • Added the Palaise tournament medals
  • Added the Newbie Prolander Cup tournament medals
  • Added the ESA Rewind II tournament medals
  • Added the Florida LAN 2018 community medals
  • Added the Journey to the East community medals
  • Added the Canteen Crasher community medals
  • Updated the Harvest Moon, Dead Presidents, and Circling Peace Sign unusual effects to fix display problems
  • Updated the autobalance feature to more quickly respond to team imbalances
  • Will select the best candidates to balance the teams then ask the candidates for volunteers
  • If no volunteers are found, candidates will be switched when they die
  • If no candidates die within a reasonable period of time, candidates will be forcibly switched to the other team
  • Updated past Saxxy and Memory Maker items to be Strange
  • Updated the Huntsman contract to give 5 points instead of 4 on the Expert objective to fix not being able to fully complete the contract
  • Updated The Jag to fix a problem with the Isotope unusual effect
  • Updated the team status HUD to be enabled by default when playing on Community servers (for game modes other than Mann vs. Machine)
  • Can be toggled via the Adv. Options menu
  • Updated the Thermal Thruster status icon in the HUD to match the actual model
  • Updated Titanium Tank Participant Medal 2017 so it can be used with name/description tags
  • Updated the description for the Skullpluggery achievement to clarify what needs to be done
  • Updated the equip_region for the Wally Pocket
  • Updated models/materials for The Patriot Peak, The Crit Cloak, and Special Snowflake 2016
  • Updated the localization files
  • Added a bot navigation file for ctf_turbine
  • Updated pl_badwater
  • Fixed a few cases where Pyros could shoot through spawn doors
  • Updated cp_dustbowl
  • Fixed Pyros shooting through the stage 3 doors
  • Updated some entities that were disabled but shouldn't have been (func_nobuilds, soundscapes, powerlines in the 3dskybox)
  • Updated ctf_foundry
  • Added func_noclip instances to the base areas for both BLU and RED to prevent nasty sentry locations
  • Updated cp_mercenarypark
  • Fixed RED being able to shoot through the roof of BLU's starting spawn
  • Changes to control point C
  • BLU's spawn time has been slightly lowered
  • The upper-mid route window now has a small opening for attackers to use
  • Players can no longer build on the very top of the crate stack overlooking the control point
  • Increased cover next to the control point
  • Increased the size of the metal supply next to the cover stack
  • Added a vent route that exits behind the new cover
  • Bullets no longer go through the chain fence wall at the ramp connecting lower and upper
  • Community requests
  • Fixed the Start Disabled logic in the func_nobuild entity
  • Added OnEat, OnEatRed, and OnEatBlue outputs and filter support in the func_croc entity
  • Added ConVar mp_tournament_prevent_team_switch_on_readyup (default 1) to prevent team switching on ready-up when using tournament mo

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Sherif Saed


Sherif (he/him) is VG247’s go-to shooter and Souls-likes person. Whether it’s news, reviews, or op-eds – Sherif is always eager to tell you about video games. He's one of VG247's most veteran writers, with 10+ years experience on the site.