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Of Pioneers and Dimensions: An Essay on the Competitive History of Team Fortress 2’s Engineer
By ≡ity 7-2521 #bday
An expository paper on the history of Competitive TF2 Highlander Engineers and the playstyles that Engineers fall under. The focus will be on the Pioneers who have expanded the class to what it is today and the playstyles that have evolved from them and over time.
This is an article/ essay that I have written based on the information I have managed to gather. Thus, it is possible that there is misinformation and lack of certain pieces of the puzzle. I welcome constructive and well informed comments and feedback of all kinds. I made this to get my thoughts out and to inform so corrections will be paramount. If there are aspects that I have incorrect, please inform, criticize, and correct me in a civil and constructive manner. I am, by no means, a Platinum Division Engineer let alone one of the best, but I hope and believe my analysis will shed light on a neglected, important topic.
I’d also like to mention that this is an expository paper on the history of Highlander Engineers and the playstyles that Engineers fall under and their origin points. If you are looking for a guide or paper on the TF2 Engineer that is about how exactly to play him, how his weapons and buildings work, how to get started in Highlander, or even a comedic take on the class, I’m afraid you have come to the wrong place. There are countless Steam Guides, videos, and Reddit threads which go over Engineering in a different setting. This is a long read and I would like to not waste your time if it doesn’t pique your interest. Due to its length, I recommend reading this in chunks at a time rather than taking in the whole article.
It is also to be mentioned that the story mainly revolves around the North American (NA) Highlander as that is the region that I am most familiar with not to mention NA's high performance in the competitive scene. However, there will be references and mentions of Engineers from other regions when appropriate.
Without further ado, let’s get to the topics on hand.
Merriam-Webster’s Definition of Pioneer: 1. a member of a military unit usually of construction engineer 2. a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity or a new method or technical development one of the first to settle in a territory
For a considerable amount of time I’ve been a massive fan Team Fortress 2 Highlander. In remembering events such as the Gun Runners’ matches on dom_canalzone and admiring Dunning Kruger’s dynasty, I am consistently floored by what Highlander has accomplished. Strategy games like Starcraft: Brood War and Red Alert 2 were childhood favorites of mine. As a consequence, I naturally gravitated towards Team Fortress 2’s Engineer class. Intially, I took a look at an player named Dave+, as he was my standard for an Engineer at its peak performance when I played in Iron Season 12. Looking at different Engineers within Highlander, I’ve begun to notice that there is a history to the class. After further investigation, observations were made and the information I’ve managed to gather, compile, and analyze are what you see here.
This particular perspective of the TF2 Engineer history will focus on what I will call the “Four Pioneers”. I originally called them Bonjwas, taking the name from the competitive Starcraft community that describes a player that dominated the scene for an extended period of time. Over time, I began to believe that “Pioneer” is a more fitting word. The reason I gave this title to these players is due to what they’ve discovered, proven, and taught. They’ve added to the class, expanded it and inserted another Dimension. As good as these Engineers were, most of them aren't considered demigods of the class, hence the term Bonjwa was discarded. However, their impact and influence cannot be ignored due to this.
3 out of the 4 Pioneers are linked to what I call the “4 Dimensions” of Engineer. These archetypes can be used to trace an Engineer’s competitive development mindset, and assess the differences in how the class is played today. The influence these dimensions have on the history of Engineer will be discussed after an analysis of the Pioneers who created them.
These four Engineer mains are as follows in chronological order: 1. Dave+ the Scientist 2. Sigafoo the Tiger 3. Gamemaster the Dragon 4. Spamfest the Prototype
These are the four Dimensions to how Engineer is played: Dimension 0: Static Meta Dimension 1: Damage Meta Dimension 2: Dynamic Meta Dimension 3: Inverse Meta
I will discuss them in much more detail after the Pioneers are all explained.
Dave+'s Scientific Method
Dave+’s name is unrecognizable by newer players, but old Engineers will remember both his dominance and unusual playstyle. He was most notable for his time on Season 8 Platinum’s undefeated team The Syndicate. Another accomplishment is the creation of the “Dave+ Spot” on Upward first point defense. Dave+ was a Pioneer due to his high level of detail when it comes to building placements and his lack of reliance on the established Engineer meta.
An exhibit of Dave+’s playstyle would be his Dispenser positioning on Badwater Basin First Defense. The commonplace meta location was to either place it by the large ammo pack alongside the cliff wall, or further along the wall, close to the mouth of the exit tunnel. Dave+ occasionally placed his Dispenser in the open, close to the bottleneck of the cliff where the BLU team is likely to push with an Uber. Indeed, the Dispenser is on the cliff, a meta location, but placed much more forward than normal. This serves a dual purpose. First, it is to prevent the Spy from coming in that direction, as the combo classes will be holding in the proximity of the Dispenser. The building itself serves as an extra obstacle for the Spy to circumvent. Logically, the only way to reach the Sentry would be from the metal stairs. From that point, only one main venue needs to be observed in order to keep tabs on the Spy. Secondly, since Dave+’s team generally favors forward positioning and aggression, the Dispenser spot would support their position while assuring that the BLU uber will be activated farther from the meta-positioned sentry gun that sits on the cliff while watching the exit of the tunnel.
Another example is on a map that has since been removed from the UGC HL rotation: Gravel Pit. On B House Defense, the usual setup is to place the Dispenser on the back wall of the house while the Sentry keeps watch over behind the house and partially the roof by being in placed in the edge of the shadow. Now, for Dave+’s setup, the Dispenser is still essentially in the meta position. There are no drastic change that influence the overall positioning of the team. It still supports teammates that choose to hold or retreat behind the house while the sentry secures the respective territory. However, there is a subtle change that further optimizes and tweaks the meta. When defending during most of the time where Gravel Pit was played, the BLU Sniper would push out on the left side by the rocks and proceed to take shots on the members behind the house, right in the sights of teammates using the Dispenser and the Engineer himself. However, with this slight modification, the teammates using the building will be able to dodge toward the house or away from it. If the Dispenser was placed on the wall of the house, the only method to dodge the Sniper would be to move away from the house only, causing the movement to be more predictable and increasing the chances for the enemy Sniper to land the shot! Indeed, the Dispenser is still in a meta position, but it has been optimized to suit a particular scenario. Take a look at HIGPS’ video on when he analyzes Dave+’s Gravel Pit POV to get the visual of the Dispenser.
Skip to 6:44.
The most drastic example of how Dave+ shifted the meta is his famous Upward First Defense setup. His team, The Syndicate, was known to have aggressive and DM heavy players. Ruwin, Vhalin, and Soup were Invite level Scout, Soldier, and Demoman respectively. TMP was known for butchering people on Pyro and having an ocean deep comprehension of the class’ inner mechanics. Polk was a Heavy with constant looming presence on the front lines and incredible tracking. Jake was a superb Sniper with unfathomable level of mechanical skill. Stabby Stabby was a Spy celebrity that held his own era of dominance. All of these factors created a team that was difficult to pressure and encroach.
The positioning worked due to the dominance of the flank and the Sniper. The critical class for overturning Dave+’s position is the Sniper only under the condition that the Sniper managed to reach the hill area on the left flank. What the BLU team needed to do was capture that small hill to the left in respect to RED. Incredibly long sightlines toward the Level 3 is the most glaring weakness of the setup but the Sniper cannot get a clean shot on the Engineer from the spawn and the Soldier cannot hope to outdamage the repair rate not to mention the old Wrangler. It is paramount to note that during this time the Wrangler had no repair penalty, the bullets had no falloff, and the accuracy was near perfect. This old but powerful form of the Wrangler further bolstered Dave+’s strategy. Even without the excellent utility of the Rescue Ranger (which did not exist during Season 8) he was able to maintain his position quite well. The BLU Sniper can get a perfect angle on Dave+ if he manages to get on or slightly behind that left hill. Any other class including even the Spy was shown to be ineffective in assaulting his position. Without an Uber, anyone who wishes to push to the point will be immediately greeted with wrangled fire from the Sentry from a frustrating distance not to mention the requirement of toiling through the rest of his team! As seen in the videos, the BLU Sniper does indeed manage to get the ground he needs to land a clean headshot on Dave+ when he is standing still to repair.
Dave+’s Upward first Sentry started what I call the Dave+ Era. It was a period of time when people reexamined meta locations of buildings and questioned whether it was truly right for the team. Many Engineers, myself included, scoured through maps on our own, hoping to discover something new and interesting to shake up the meta. Engineers everywhere were searching for their own “Dave+ Spot”. I’ve labelled Dave+ the Scientist because he used an experimental approach to finding better building spots for his team and his opponents.
I believe that a byproduct of the Dave+ Era was the change in the Upward second point defensive sentries. If you were to observe the evolution of the sentries on Upward first, the progression is bit by bit. The progressions from the earliest seasons of Highlander to the meta now was an elliptical orbit around the point. First it was in the wooden cubby, then it moved alongside the cliff, then to the end of the cliff, then to the slope of the hill, then to the base of the hill where it is commonly seen now. For second point, the change is sudden. The sentry was positioned on the passive spot on the wooden platform in close proximity to spawn but suddenly moved forward to the tunnel spot as discovered by dK Josh. The will of experimental players to turn maps upside-down and, to optimize them was likely the engine that drove the Upward second spot to where it is today. It could have happened eventually given enough time, but I believe that Dave+ and his impact was a catalyst to the process.
Dave+ Era lasted from about Season 8 to Season 13. This era will fade away and be replaced with a man who influenced not only how the Engineer was viewed to other Engineer mains, but the entirety of the competitive TF2 community to this very day.
Tiger vs Dragon
Before I talk about the next Pioneer, I must go on a bit of a tangent so that you are better able to understand what I am saying. This is the concept of Tiger vs Dragon, a Buddhist idiom from China. This idiom is used to compare a conflict in styles represented in the animals in question. I’m sure some of you have seen a tiger and dragon, usually in sort of conflict, in oriental artwork. Originally used to describe fighting styles in martial arts, nowadays some people use it for sports. The two styles are as follows. The Tiger is focused on power, strength, techniques, and mechanics. It is a muscular, predatory, and bloodthirsty style that relies on aggression and overwhelming the opponent with damage and pressure. The Dragon is focused on patience, understanding, knowledge, and wisdom rather than intense combat. A dragon is a mythical organism that is known for being benevolent and wise, unlike its western counterpart. It’s a methodology that emphasizes taking in information and data and using it to the maximum extent. Both have been stated to be in eternal combat as they are the two sides of the same coin from the martial arts standpoint. Another better-known example is the Taoist Yin and Yang philosophy in which Yin points to the Dragon and Yang points to the Tiger. This concept will aid in explaining the next two Engineering Pioneers.
Even to green Engineer mains, Sigafoo needs no introduction. He is largely considered a celebrity, an active member of the TF2 Competitive community, a Highlander caster, and the architect of a new format of competitive play called 7s or RGL Prolander. Sigafoo grabbed the untapped damage power that the Engineer held in his hands and popularized the now ubiquitous deathmatch (DM) style that exists today. He also popularized a new technique to save Sentry Guns, appropriately named the “Sigafoo Save”. Sigafoo had such a large impact on Engineers and competitive TF2 that I’m giving him two eras instead of one. I’d like to preface by saying I will not be talking about the Sigafoo Save. The reasoning for this is that this is not on topic as it is more of a technique rather than an idea and concept that made a fundamental change to the class.
In the Dave+ Era, DM was an underappreciated aspect of Engineer. DM ability was still important, but placement and gamesense were both seen as more valuable overall. Let me preface by saying that Sigafoo wasn’t the first DM Engineer to have ever existed. There were DM heavy players before his time. Engineers like bman and cusideabelincoln were infamous for their ability to pump out damage during their prime. Sigafoo simply popularized the playstyle and achieved overwhelming success with its use. His frag video “FROM ENGI WITH LOVE” was a major part of his legacy, convincing Engineer mains to more actively pursue DM-heavy playstyles.
Now, in my opinion, this is the most impressive highlight reel of an Engineer from a DM standpoint mainly due to context. Every victim of Sigafoo’s rampage were Platinum players or very competent 6s players. He was defeating the likes of Digresser, Cygnus, Empathy, Max, Deadbolt, LightOfff, Colombiangmr and the 4th Pioneer of Engineering Spamfest. All of these people are no slouches yet a support class blasted all of them away with combat prowess alone.
The damage potential of the Engineer class had been largely neglected before Sigafoo, as the best way to describe the Engineer’s damage weapons is that he is the “Secondary Weapons Guy”. A shotgun as a primary which is a secondary for the Pyro, Heavy, and Soldier while the pistol is identical to the Scout’s albeit with miniscule differences. There has been a negative stigma that the Engineer has subpar damage potential. However, only a mild examination of his weapons are enough to make a substantial argument that the Engineer has the potential to deal extraordinary quantities of damage via his deathmatch oriented weapons. It turns out that the Engineer’s weapons are reliable and the Mini-Sentry is an incredibly versatile tool that can turn the tide of a skirmish or even an entire match. Sigafoo, with his rise in popularity and publicity, began to truly bring the untapped power of the Engineer class to the main stage. He was the first to demonstrate that it can work and thus popularized the DM Engineer through a meta revolution.
This started what I call the Sigafoo Era Part 1 which occured from Season 13/14 to Season 16/17. During this time, there was a sudden spike in the population of deathmatch oriented Engineers. You had Engineers like Prez Material and TheMidgetStorm. Scout mains like TheS4rr hanged their running shoes for hard hats and used their mechanical foundations built off of their experiences on Scout to deliver punishment while still giving team support. Later on, DM-heavy Engineers would be seen achieving great success in Platinum. Engineers like waxx and Rebel are well-known for the DM potential despite coming to their peak after the end of Sigafoo Era Part 1.
Damage and pressure were the keystones of Sigafoo’s Tiger playstyle. An example of this is how Sigafoo executes his play in both offense and defense on cp_steel. During the defense of point B, he has utilized Mini-Sentries in conjunction with his DM. The logic behind this was to force the enemy to deal with a 9.25v9 rather than a potential 8v9 that occurs when the Level 3 defending B is compromised. With a consistent form of numbers and damage advantage over the opponent, a defense can be created. The same logic applied to offense, in which Sigafoo completely forgoes the stock sentry which has worldwide popularity, and goes straight for Mini-Sentries and a DM loadout. Another example is when Sigafoo favors the Pistol rather than the Wrangler on KOTH maps such as Product and Lakeside. Other Engineers with similar level of skill and ranking would disagree, even strongly, with such a choice. This argument always seems to come around to the idea of a consistent form of numbers and damage.
To conclude this section, I’d like to touch on how Sigafoo influences Engineer today which is the second component of the Sigafoo Era and can be a rather controversial and bold claim. Part 2 is where the state of the Competitive TF2’s perspective of Engineer is like. Realize that for the Dave+ Era and the Sigafoo Era Part 1, I talked about how it affected, by and large, the microcosm of Engineer mains and encouraged a “personal” relationship with the class to attempt to move away from static play. Sigafoo Era Part 2 is community wide and a gradual transition byproduct from Part 1. DM Engineer became overemphasized, obsessed over, and held as the sole measuring tape in which to judge an Engineer’s level of skill and competence. This is done by team leaders, teammates, and Engineer mains alike from the beginning of Part 2 and even today. This is not to say that the DM style is “bad”. DM Engineer is a powerful way to play given right execution. I personally believe that such a mindset ignores other aspects of what the Engineer needs to be well rounded.
Sigafoo is arguably the most influential Engineer not just for the class, but also for the competitive TF2 community’s understanding of what the Engineer is capable of performing. His emphasis on DM and playing a numbers advantage was rather novel during its debut but is now a standard meta play for today. It has created a new breed of Engineer mains who have taken on his aggressive playstyle and still use it to this day. There are many Tigers prowling in the TF2 Engineering world all thanks to one man. But when there is a Tiger, there is a Dragon.
A Game of Chess
Gamemaster’s legacy is relatively tricky to grasp within the Highlander community. Some players remember him by his shenanigans and craftiness on Engineer. Others have witnessed how his play encouraged other Engineers to explore the class on a deeper level. But hasn’t Dave+ already done this? How can the class be taken further than after the Dave+ Era and Sigafoo Era Part 1?
I’ll be upfront with you, the reader, and say that this is my favorite Pioneer and inadvertently makes Dimension 3 my favorite Dimension. Gamemaster emphasized exploiting enemy mindsets and expectations, multi-step thinking, and would frequently turn the meta on its head to use against conditioned opponents. The philosophy that Gamemaster has developed was one of exploiting a critical weakness in the meta, no matter now refined it would claim to be. This is because for every textbook strategy, there is a textbook counter-strategy. For every textbook defense, there is a textbook offense. To those who have played competitive, think carefully about most map reviews and strategy talk. It is likely that you reviewed how to defend a point and then discuss the offense to counter the defense that was just covered! And what happens after that? You scrim and practice that exact method! Eventually, it becomes second nature. However, a strategy used to counter meta playstyles attacks at a major disadvantage. This is especially true if that strategy was difficult to counter on its own merit.
This is what created Gamemaster’s plays on cp_process at the Season 15 Gold Division Finals match featuring John Madden vs Squirtle Squad. Gamemaster implemented Level 3s into both his team’s pushes and defenses, creating opportunities for his team to strike. He ruined an enemy push onto mid, snuffed enemy Ubers, and gave his team a way to combat an aggressive defense. For the mid-hold, his Level 3 was positioned on the sewer overhang. This sentry immediately butchered the enemy Engineer, Pyro, and most importantly, the Medic after their Uber expired and continued the fight for mid. The gun was eventually destroyed by the Demoman, taking away his attention from his combo and flank by focusing on an area denial tool. The hold at the enemy second involved the sentry being placed on the “cliff” that watches the point from the right side in the perspective of the pushing team. This covered all avenues to the point, maintaining height advantage to force weapon spread, and the inaccessibility of the gun itself by foot makes it so that the Spy physically cannot sap it. His Level 3 delayed pushes and forced inefficient Ubers, keeping the enemy team holed up in their last. Gamemaster has created a video of his commentary on his thought process alongside with the POV. The link will be provided below.
Afterwards, Gamemaster created two Steam guides that emphasized his thoughts. One of them was for the Engineer in particular and the other was for any player of TF2, but both taught the theory of unorthodox play and stratagems.
In a conversation with Gamemaster, he has informed me that his plays work more consistently and effectively against Gold to Platinum opponents rather than Iron to Steel opponents. This further goes to reinforce the idea of the player conditioning of the meta being used against them. By no means, are Gold and Platinum players incompetent. That couldn’t be any more false. These players are the cream of the crop and are some of the best players of their respective classes. However, their pushes and defenses are more likely to be overly anchored on the meta, which makes them extremely susceptible to exploitation via unorthodox practices. It is a weakness that is difficult to exploit as few Engineers can take advantage of this weakness. For instance, there weren’t many Engineers who could run Level 3s on a 5cp map during Gamemaster's prime. Subtle changes like this are extreme characteristics of his play, and show the effectiveness of his anti-meta strategies.
Gamemaster plays like a Dragon in a game of Chess. He is a thoughtful, strategic, and observant player who exploits enemy weaknesses and mentaility on a subtle level. Each movement of his pieces might not be the most stunning and flashing, but with gamesense and deeper understanding of the meta for all 9 classes, it won’t be long before the enemy experiences a hair ripping, frustrating, decisive, and unforgettable Checkmate.
Difficult to Master
The amount of Engineer mains who have played longer than Spamfest is incredibly limited. Hammock is the only name that comes to mind that has been playing as long, if not longer than the 4th Pioneer. Despite Spamfest’s seemingly endless understanding of Engineer and Highlander, he is quite simple to explain for the scope of this essay. Spamfest has been playing since Season 6 and spent Season 9 and forward comfortably in Platinum. His ability to combine the traits of other Pioneers and his drive to innovate on his own terms has helped him create a new, unique style which I have dubbed the Prototype.
Spamfest’s mastery of the meta, fearless attitude, and impeccable DM makes him one of the best Engineers in Highlander. His DM ability on Engineer is not shocking given his background. He spent multiple seasons playin ESEA-IM, and has spent more time playing Scout than Engineer. Yes, hours don’t mean everything but given the amount of time Spamfest plays competitive TF2, we can safely assume that those hours are ones of quality rather than hours dedicated to casual play. His countless seasons in Platinum and no hints of faltering would indicate Spamfest’s vast knowledge of the ever-evolving Highlander meta. Lastly, his desire to experiment and knowledge of unconventional play would infer that he has explored the idea of a dynamics meta. An example of this behavior is when he replied to a /r/truetf2 in which he says that the Eureka Effect. In it, Spamfest claims that the Eureka Effect is “basically mandatory when you want to run lvl 3s on koth, 5cp outside of holding last, and payload offense” but also claims the explanation of why one would run level 3’s on koth and payload offense is “too complicated for the scale of this post”. I will provide the link the Reddit discussion below.
All of these factors points to Spamfest having mastery of the Dave+ and Sigafoo Eras while having some level of experience in unconventional thinking and playing. Spamfest’s mastery of these areas made him both a formidable opponent and a brilliant innovator. Spamfest was the prototype of the Hybrid Engineers, those who have proficiency in multiple fields and can combine them or select them appropriately in their plays. The number of Engineers who have achieved this level of excellence and mastery throughout the years of Highlander is extremely limited, and very few of those Engineers continue to play today. The overwhelming number of elements to Engineer makes it a significantly difficult class to master. While being an average competitive Engineer isn’t terribly challenging, few have been able to ascend to the next level.
This is the history of the Four Pioneers of the TF2 Engineer. These Pioneers have expanded the range and capabilities of the class. By assessing the impact of these Four Pioneers, we have distilled Engineer down to 4 historical Dimensions. I will now be covering those individual Dimensions in detail.
Dimension 0: Static Meta Dimension 1: Damage Meta Dimension 2: Dynamic Meta Dimension 3: Inverse Meta
The numbering might seem awkward to some but this will be explained.
I’d like to first start off by saying that there is no “best” Dimension. Understand that the players in all of these Dimensions are all attempting to answer the same questions and solve the same set of problems: “How can I support my team while debilitating my opponents as the Engineer?” If anything, the “worst” Dimension is Dimension 0 as that is as close you can get as a stereotypical turtling Engineer.
Another detail that I’d like to provide before I start talking about this is that each Dimension have Stages. Stages are phases in which the Engineer learning this playstyles goes through to go deeper within this Dimension. There will be instances where these Stages and Dimensions overlap. There might be instances where different Dimensions come up with the same building positions or strategies! But the heart that keeps the blood of a Stage and playstyle pumping is the Dimension that it originates from.
Lastly, the Dimensions are my own personal interpretation of the multiple areas in which Engineer can be played and could be played. There will be areas in which I talk in theoretical aspects rather than ones that exist to this day. They could have errors, could be lacking in detail, could have too many details, or could be just incorrect altogether. These are important because of how they link to the Pioneers, how the class plays, and the under the surface and specific aspects of how the Engineer can be played.
Dimension 0: Static Meta
Dimension 0 is the raw basics. It is the paper in which the in which all the other three Dimensions are drawn on. Removing Dimension 0 removes the foundation on which Engineer is built. This is the simplest Dimension and thus contains even the most rudimentary steps of learning the class. It is to be noted that every Engineer main has gone through this. The largest difference between Spamfest and that Gibus wearing Engineer that builds on his Snakewater last despite his team pushing the enemy’s last with an Uber in complete oblivion is the latter’s ignorance of Dimension 0. This Dimension is populated by most Pub Engineers and players entering Competitive Highlander. It is also to be noted that Dimension 0 is the only one without a Pioneer. This Dimension originated from the players and the whole TF2 community itself rather than an individual.
Stage 1: Basics
This is the stage when the player selects Engineer for the first few times. A complete novice that have yet to learn even the most basic mechanics and functions of the class. These Engineers are still learning the workings of their buildings, and well as how to build and maintain them It is a period of cluelessness marked by not having the foundational Engineering knowledge. Thankfully, there are resources and people out there willing to assist novices out of this stage.
Stage 2: Development
Now that the player has gotten used to the controls and the basic commands from the first phase, they are beginning to perform actions that are strategic in intent but have components missing. For instance, defending a point on Dustbowl but failing to properly sustain it and/ or ignorant to many of the threats and counters that exist. They are beginning to understand the basic of their weapons and are attempting to be as effective as possible in-game. However, they are unaware of the meta and have yet to learn the maps they play on or the flow of the battle. Foundational strategies are being grasped, but there is still an extra step to go to in order to do well in your average Casual games.
Stage 3: Knowledge
At this point of Dimension 0, the Engineer knows how to play the game, have some level of gamesense, and knowledge of the class to perform at least rather well in your Casual game on a consistent basis. This is because they have learned how to use the meta. Most Pub Engineers that use meta spots and do well to maintain them exist in this stage of Dimension 0. This also includes Engineers who are about to play their first season of Highlander. What they do is effective. It brings them success. They give the enemy team a recognizable level of trouble. But their level of understanding of the meta is surface level at best and there is a tendency to use the same methods and strategies in reckless repetition. They are using a power drill to create holes in the wall but do not have any reasoning to what makes the drill function, where to make holes, and the proper technique to wield it. There is a lack of reason, change, and flexibility. Hence, this way of playing the meta is static. To many Engineers, this is where their journey ends.
It is to be noted that the large middle region of the bell curve consists of Engineers that are in Stage 3 of Dimension 0 and Stage 1 of Dimension 1 and 2. In all honesty, to do well in Casual games and in the lowest Divisions of Highlander, Dimension 0 is all one needs. It can even be argued that Engineers that do Dimension 0 extremely well can reach upper levels like Gold. However, to rise to new levels and consistently succeed in a competitive environment, an Engineer needs more than just the foundational meta.
Dimension 1: Damage Meta
Despite being established by the second Pioneer Sigafoo, Dimension 1 has its number because it is the simplest Dimension to understand, observe, and enter just like how a line drawing has only one dimension. Do not take this polemically, underestimate it, nor fall under the impression that Dimension 1 is a brainless one due to this description. A line, despite its simplicity, can be very powerful. A line can be a border between countries. A line divides lanes on a highway. A straight line can be used as a point of reference to see which lines are crooked. A damage oriented Engineer, despite not having as much depth as Dimension 2 and 3, can still make a phenomenal difference in the right hands.
Most Engineers that leave Dimension 0 enter Dimension 1. In fact, it can be argued that most Highlander Engineers fall under this category. The ability to DM can be easily measured, seen, and calculated. It brings in quick, noticeable, immediate, and flashy results that even the most untrained player can point to and compliment. It’s not surprising that Dimension 1 is the most populated compared to its siblings and there is nothing wrong with that. However, most DM Engineers get stuck in Stage 1, many are satisfied with Stage 2, and a miniscule amount ever ascend to Stage 3.
Stage 1: Growth
This is the area where Engineers are either focusing on DM skill or already have competent level DM. The beginning areas of this Stage involve training in mechanics, be it through MGE, DM servers, tr_walkway, etc. There will also be a need to play Scout and even Soldier as those are mechanical and DM oriented classes. People of all types get to this location, from the gifted to ones that need a bit more work to get to the late areas of Growth. These Engineers will have noticeably potent damage output and can occasionally shine, when given the opportunity. Another attribute is developing aggressive tendencies to make use of their DM. This can be problematic if over-aggression and over-extension become habitual. DM is at its peak effectiveness in moments of combat and aggression and thus it would make sense for such behaviors to manifest.
Despite being Stage 1, these Engineers are already outputting damage and work for their team and provide a respectable amount of pressure. This will only get better as their DM and mechanics improve. Improvement will be noticeable as the results of them are easy to point out. Aim will become more consistent. Movement will serve them in combat well. Bit by bit, they are traversing through Stage 1 and it will be clear that a Tiger style is being developed. DM will lead to confidence, confidence will lead to aggression, and aggression will lead them to fights they can contribute to with their DM skill.
There has been a mention that many Engineers who wish to learn Dimension 1 get “stuck” in this particular stage. The particular reason is that reaching a point where Engineer DM is feared by even competitive players is one that is difficult and boring for most. MR SLIN, an Invite Medic, made a video on “How You Can Become the Best TF2 Player”. In the video, he talked about how YZ50, one of the most mechanically gifted Invite level players, mentored a single student. The training regimen was one simple instruction: play on a DM server for 5 hours a day every day. To most, this regime will be monotonous, uninteresting, repetitive, and boring. However, if one does do this, that person will improve and rise to higher levels of DM that are much more satisfactory that being “above average”. One must have discipline to go through this process and many, if not most, Engineers in Stage 1 do not have it. MR SLIN also talks about how to make the most out of DM server and how to work on your mechanics. Those videos are provided below along with his tale of YZ50.
Stage 2: Internalization
This state of the DM Engineer is one that is a step above Stage 1. If the previous is a boy, this is the teenager. Stage 2 is when the idea of damage and aggression begins to become ingrained in the playstyle and is a dominating logic that drives strategies and tactics. The Engineer now knows how to properly use damage because they understand of what it is capable of accomplishing. Due to this extra layer paired with their raw mechanical abilities, they are able to formulate and execute damage oriented plays. Now that Stage 2 has been mentioned, it is to be noted that some DM Engineers do not leave Stage 1 because they do not have the properties of Stage 2.
The best way to demonstrate this is through some examples. First example is one that has already been discussed. It is Sigafoo’s method on cp_steel where he used Minis to defend B and were the sentry of choice for offense. Damage comes to play as the Mini-Sentry is much more mobile and is quickly deployed on the front lines in combat, allowing it to deal consistent and large quantities of damage despite lacking the raw massive DPS of the Level 3. Also the fact that Sigafoo is running a combat loadout in conjunction with the Mini Sentry means his team will consist of 9.25 men rather than 8 plus a roadblock. Damage was the foundation in which this play was constructed upon.
Another one is Mini-Sentry defense on Swiftwater. The admins of Engineer.tf, a Highlander Engineer organization, made a video talking about Swiftwater and one of the topics was Mini Sentries on defense. Spamfest and waxx, two Platinum Engineers, talk about Mini Sentries on the third and fourth point defense.
Discussion of Mini-Sentries Defending Third: 9:37 Discussion of Mini-Sentries Defending Fourth: 12:17
Spamfest states that Minis allow the Engineer to become more offensive and take ground alongside the flank via the silo and windows, critical flanking routes toward the defenders. The Mini Sentry on silo is quite forward for a Level 3 but a Mini-Sentry in that position dissuades the enemy from rushing the cart and key locations of the area. Waxx further expands on this by pointing out that the combo is no longer tied to protecting and working with the Engineer’s Level 3 and thus have more flexibility to rotate to different locations.
On fourth, waxx goes forth to argue that Minis are better for defense in comparison to Level 3s and Spamfest seems to give the seal of approval. Minis positioned on the grass field applies pressure and quickly denies attackers using the garage as a foothold. The wide area of the field is overall a superb location for mobile damage sources and the Mini and combat Engineer is included in that group. Working with flank classes such as the Scout and Soldier, any enemy attempting to rush out of shutter to push will immediately be met with damage. Waxx then goes on to state that running Level 3s force the Engineer to play passively due to the Sniper sightlines that exist and the myriad of angles in which the enemy can assault from. Running Minis circumvents these problems thanks to its disposable, mobile, and forward nature. You can see Sigafoo doing this with fantastic levels of success where he forgoes the stock sentry in favor of the Mini on the fourth point (this is an older version of Swiftwater and thus differences from the modern one will be seen).
It is not just Minis that are subject to Stage 2 or the Damage Meta. Level 3s are also affected by such a mindset. Sigafoo has created one of the most audacious Level 3 spots on Upward second as seen in the picture.
What on Earth is this!? The idea of pressure applies here all. With the Wrangler, Sigafoo is able to rain fire on any opponent on the hill, an important territory that the BLU team would preferably like to control. Seeing where the sentry observes, the enemy has very few options to move around on hill and the ones that exist aren’t even optimal. BLU must hide behind the rocks, on the cliff of first point, go through tunnel, or not even climb the first third fraction of the hill to completely avoid being attacked by the sentry. If the enemy does decide to step forward without an Uber, they will surely be heavily injured before they can even push! Sigafoo’s team will have an advantage even if Sigafoo’s sentry were to be destroyed as the RED team would have a better health pool and less wasted resources!
Realize that all of these plays all share the same root of outmuscling the opposition. It is centered on dealing damage, applying pressure in an aggressive fashion, and taking all the ground that can be wrestled away from the enemy. DM and the mindset of damage have been internalized and therefore integrated into a complex style. Even Level 3s can frequently be affected by the mindset found in Stage 2. The Tiger is starting to have moments of calculation and deeper thought, a property that is not commonly associated with that animal and style.
The word choice for Engineers who remain in this Stage was “satisfied”. Engineers who do not move to Stage 3 are likely due to satisfactory with Stage 2 and thus do not feel any need to progress further in their journey in Dimension 1. DM Engineers who can play Stage 2 are forces to be reckoned with for sure. However, there is still one last piece of ground to cover that separates the men from the teenagers.
Stage 3: Maturity
Before this section begins, there are a few videos that I’d like to draw your attention to. You do not need to watch the footage in their entirety, as it is likely you will not want to. Just watch a few minutes of the “action” and see you can make the key observation. The three videos are from martial arts tournaments in the field of Tae Kwon Do, Judo, and Kendo respectively.
If the comments section of these YouTube videos were any indication, it certainly wasn’t akin to watching action packed thriller or a recent Blockbuster hit. Night and day, in fact. Frankly, these videos are difficult to watch and not exactly entertaining. They lack adrenaline, are slow, and mostly consist of two men having a staring contest with short sporadic slug fests, if one can even call it that. It comes to reason that these combatants are experts, have superior physique, and possess pristine technique given the echelon of competition that they are participating in. So why are these matches so dull to spectate? Why such care in engagement? This is because these fighters have maturity, self-control, and upper levels of discipline in their actions and power.
Let’s take a look at a POV review of the previously mentioned waxx on Product, courtesy of Engineer.tf. As a reminder, waxx is a Platinum Engineer known for his DM and favors aggressive play. He also places extra emphasis on DM, compared to other aspects of Engineer, when working with mentees. Again, you need not watch the whole analysis but enough to get a feel for how waxx is playing the match
Seems rather like the martial arts competition videos, doesn’t it? It’s not action 24/7 but a more methodical style. He barely crosses the point, doesn’t dare to encroach on the enemy half without seeing some sort of reasonable opening, and is rather quick to retreat to safety. By no means is this happening due to waxx’s lack of skill or confidence but rather because he is more mature with how he uses his mechanical skill that he has obtained throughout his seasons of Highlander. He is intelligent when taking fights and adds layers of thinking to his actions. Lower division Dimension 1 Engineers would make novice mistakes like overextending without proper team support, engaging in fights they cannot win, and chasing kills that they are unlikely to finish.
DM maturity is arguably more important on Engineer than the other classes mainly due to his stature. He lacks the health pool and punch of the Soldier and the mobility and slipperiness of the Scout. These two classes are the ones that the Engineer will be fighting often as he is sometimes paired with the flank classes and said members tend to collide. The Engineer is like a martial artist fighting opponents that have a 60 lbs weight advantage over him. Yes, if the Engineer has excellent physique and skill, he can outmatch a larger opponent that has no training. But what if that heavyweight has the equivalent level of skill? Then the lighter combatant will likely lose! So how does the smaller fighter, the Engineer, win against classes like the Soldier and the Scout? By being patient, looking for openings, and knowing when and where to strike to best cripple his adversary. By having maturity.
The reason why very few Dimension 1 Engineers truly reach this point in time is due to the fact that it requires discipline and restraint to achieve. It has already been mentioned that one requires these personality traits to exit Stage 1. One needs even more to reach Stage 3! However, it can be argued that a DM Engineer that reaches Stage 3 are the most frightening. This is when the Tiger beings to add Dragon attributes. At their core, they are still a Tiger and fall prey to its weaknesses. That being said, some of these cracks are beginning to seal due to the Dragon aspect that come with stepping into Stage 3.
Dimension 2: Dynamic meta
Dave+ is the Pioneer that has established this region of Engineer play. This Dimension is still playing the meta of Engineer. The conventional spots are still being utilized in the general sense. However, Engineers in Dimension 2 shift and modify the established meta to accommodate for teammates and enemies alike. The philosophy goes that one size does not exactly fit all. Meta plays do indeed work for the overall populace, but it can be taken a step further and be optimized for a case by case, individualistic basis.
Some notes before the Stages are discussed. Dimension 2 is not as populated as 0 and 1 but there are still a considerable amount of Engineer mains who reside in it or find some liking to it. Another thing to mention is that Stage 2 and 3 can be used together. They are not exclusive to one another but something that can both be seen with one building placement or action.
Stage 1: Understanding
Before the meta can be toyed and tweaked with, it must be understood much more than the surface level. It is recommended to learn the inner workings of a desktop if one wishes to overclock it without resulting in much trouble. Same applies with the Dynamic Meta. Engineers in this Stage are taking a critical view of the meta with the subtleties and intricacies. Such foundation is essential to even consider Stage 2 and 3. Not much more explanation is required for this Stage. Having a deeper understanding of the meta, why it works and the details of its function is the only way to progress.
Stage 2: Harmonization
This is actively shifting the meta in order to suit the needs of your allies. The reason why this is the second Stage and not the third is due to the fact that your teammates are easier to keep tabs on and observe. One can see their style, tendencies, and preferences on a more regular basis than the enemy. This goes further for Highlander Engineers, as they play with the same group of people for a season which is around 3 months. That is a lot of time to learn about how your teammates play on an individual level and not just the whole team in its entirety.
Here are some examples to demonstrate harmonization and how there are complications in even simple cases. In Lakeside, there are two locations that one can place the Dispenser. One is behind the obelisk that exists behind the point and the second is beside the entrance of the bathhouse. The obelisk harmonizes with the combo (Medic, Demoman, Heavy) while the bathhouse harmonizes with the flank (Scout and Soldier). Both are paramount to having an excellent hold on the point or in sieging it. Keeping the combo supplied will create a stronger front line by increasing the survivability of the medic and assures that the ammo hungry Heavy and Demoman will never run empty. However, the bathhouse is vital territory as it is the main flank route and thus supporting the flank classes allows them to win wars of attrition and allows them to take riskier trades against the enemy Scout and Soldier that wouldn't be possible under normal circumstances. Both are meta Dispensers, but the two different positions harmonize with different members on the team to fulfill their needs and cover weaknesses. This, in turn, bolsters certain important areas of the map. But realize that when it comes to these two positions, there is a tradeoff. Engineers must choose between the combo and the flank. Who needs it more? How will this affect my teammates 2 minutes down the line? Can I rotate the Dispenser between the flank and the combo? When do I do this and what are the indicators that I can? Answering all of these questions accurately with consideration of what will occur in the game under the Engineer’s influence is an indicator of a player that has an excellent grasp of Stage 1 and 2.
Another Dispenser problem of a similar theme is when the BLU team is pushing Borneo third. For this, the admins at Engineer.tf can introduce the two meta Dispensers.
IcedKappa mentions that the Dispenser on the right side supports the flank as there is only a small ammo and health kit on that area. Chicobo then goes to add that he likes to place his Dispenser on the left side to supply the combo as they also suffer from the same problem: the closest ammo and health kit are both small. The same questions in choice still exist as the Lakeside Dispensers! The key variables are your teammates and their respective needs on a case by case basis. Yes, an Engineer can place the same Dispenser for the flank or the combo over and over again without much thought. It will work and assist the team. However, knowing when to shift and adjust these meta positions are the difference between an Engineer going through the motions and one that truly understands his teammates and has superior gamesense.
Stage 3: Targetting
Targeting is actively adjusting the meta to further impede particular enemy players, styles, and/ or classes. This represents Stage 3, and is much harder than simply observing teammates. Enemies are less frequently seen in game, especially by a more supportive and backstage class like the Engineer. When it comes to opponents in a single, particular game, the player might never face him or her ever again. Researching oppoenents and watching enemy POVs is a recommended process in knowing what the Engineer is up against. Thus, making modifications to the meta to cripple particular opponents requires faster thinking, quick analysis, and extra planning and preparation compared to Harmonization.
An example of this has already been seen. It was Dave+’s strange Dispenser at Gravel Pit B defense. A simple but sufficient example. Remember how that Dispenser was one that added extra trouble to the BLU Sniper? This is Dave+ Targeting the enemy Sniper. With a mere adjustment of Dispenser positioning, he is throwing another obstacle for a particular player on the enemy team. Now, this does leave the Dispenser more exposed to enemies who might find their way onto the roof or those intruding the house and point itself, but these are all factors that need to be weighed in consideration to what is happening. Again, the logic arises from a dynamic form of the meta in which one method doesn’t match every situation and players involved and therefore needs to be optimized as such.
Let’s use another example but with some additional subtleties. Upward First RED is a good starting point. Take a look at these two sentry spots, both in a general meta location but inches apart:
These two sentries target different opponents and objectives, despite being so close to each other. How is this so? The first Sentry immediately opens fire on anyone intruding on top of playground, the structure with the medium ammo pack on top and the medium health kit on the bottom. This particular area is where BLU Soldiers, Scouts, and even Engineers and Pyros like to step on to get a height advantage over the RED team. The RED Sniper also resides in playground as that provides numerous solid sightlines as well as offer a decent amount of cover. Due to the RED Sniper being in playground, it also motivates reasonably competent BLU team members to pressure out the Sniper and force him to the back hill where he is forced to give the BLU team more ground than he’d like. By placing the Sentry in this particular position, the Engineer is actively targeting the enemy flankers attempting to take control of playground. However, this is more exposed to the more direct path which is the staircase by the tracks. As such, an Ubered player have a better sightline and BLU Soldiers have a safer angle to attack.
As for the second Sentry, it does the opposite. That slight movement to the left obstructs a solid amount of the angles that arrive from the front lines. An Ubered player, a class that can abuse long sightlines, or an aggressive combo will have a tougher time killing this Level 3. It mitigates the issues with the previous Sentry. This is done through Targeting against all of the culprits mentioned. However, as shown in the picture, it has limited range and view of the top playground.
Both instances still cover the main objective, the lower route with the large ammo pack on the left, and punishes BLU players that are overextending, but that small difference creates a great change that impedes the progress and effectiveness of certain enemy classes. It is not enough to just know intricacies like this but also how and when to use them. An Engineer must quickly know, predict, detect, and calculate how the enemy will behave and position his buildings to accommodate. Going back to that Upward first example, if the BLU team has an aggressive Soldier or a Scout, the first Sentry would most benefit your team. If the enemy combo or frontline forces like to take encroach on a regular basis, then the second Sentry is optimal to throw obstacles that the enemy will be affected by but will not even feel them on a conscious level. Positioning is dynamic!
There are much more positioning nuances that can be discussed but Engineers that I personally consider excellent in Dimension 2 such as Mothership, scratchy, and Exaflamer are much more suited to go into greater detail on these subjects. It is also to be noted that a single building placement can fulfill the roles of Harmonization and Targeting. As mentioned, Stage 2 and 3 are not mutually exclusive but can be used in tandem with each other if the situation arises. The Engineer must have the gamesense, experience, ability, and the capacity in make the little decisions that have a large impact later and reach Stage 3 of Dimension 2 to a higher extent. Engineers who adeptly utilize Dimension 2 are keenly aware of the meta, their enemies, and the tools they have at hand. Such Engineers are well-suited to adjust their setups, support their team, and undermine enemy efforts.
Dimension 3: Inverse Meta
This Dimension, established by the Pioneer Gamemaster, is by far the absolutely least populated Dimension in all of TF2 Engineer and the most unexplored. I personally believe that there are many potentials that have yet to be unlocked and discovered in this field but that is for another time. The Inverse Meta is all about exploiting the most vital weakness of the meta: the fact that just about everyone practices and prepares for it. It shakes entire enemy teams at their very core. It can make composed Platinum veterans run around like confused Iron novices in a matter of seconds. All of this is done by shattering the mental conditioning that is done by repeatedly honing in on the meta, leaving the future victims unable to properly react to both unintentional and calculated unconventional play. One can see this occur to even the best players. Stabby Stabby has mentioned that beginner Spies are harder to predict as they don’t follow the conventional rules of Highlander Spy. Gamemaster’s opponents, who were Gold Division Finalists, were sweating bullets as they struggled to find a solution to the 5cp Level 3 play. Even B4nny, the poster boy of competitive TF2, once got absolutely furious from getting killed by Open Scouts because he perceives their moves as illogical and were awestruck in confusion because how the Scouts maneuvered and attacked did not follow the meta of how an Invite level 6s Scout behaves.
Two of these instances are unintentional but the result of these actions can still be seen. But what if a calculated unorthodox play were to be made? It is powerful, indeed, but the barrier of entry is extremely high, the process is delicate, and the execution can be obnoxiously difficult. The number of Highlander Engineers that are at least Gold Division or similar ranking that I personally consider noticeably immersed in Dimension 3 in all of TF2 history is five. To those curious, they are, in no particular order, Hammock, Gamemaster, Desuq, MightyBurger, and BubbleBobbler. Gaber0ll and AltitudeCow could potentially be added to that list, but more research on them would be required before I can be more confident in that call. Due to the lack of exploration done in this particular Dimension, the description will be more brief than Dimensions 1 and 2.
Stage 1: Deconstruction
To go up against the meta, one must take it apart to see all the functions. While Dimension 2 observes the strengths of the meta and how to increase its effectiveness, Dimension 3 seeks to understand the meta to break it and to find flaws that can be harnessed. This is the step that countless amount of Engineers that wish to enter Dimension 3 fail to even get a foot in the door or skip before moving deeper within the Dimension. Players attempting to deconstruct the meta must have complete mastery over it. Engineers who use deconstruction must also observe and understand how players following the meta react to their plays in detail and with the future in mind. With all of this, an Engineer in Stage 1 of Dimension 3 is developing not only an incredible mind for the meta but also learning how players will react to changes within it.
Stage 1 is absolutely critical as it serves as the baseline foundation for which the Inverse Meta is built on. It is about breaking down the meta, observing critical weaknesses of it, seeing tendencies of players following the meta and their reactions. Understanding the meta and the nuances of not just Engineer but most, if not all of the 8 other classes and what they are capable of doing is much more emphasized than the other Dimensions. Gamemaster goes forth to recommend purchasing a strange weapon for a class one is having trouble against and working to make it a Hale’s Own to better learn the functionalities of that class. A better Stage 1 will result in a better Stages 2 and 3. If Stage 1 is weak, Stages 2 and 3 will be ineffective, inconsistent, and often result in failure.
Stage 2: Theorization
In this Stage, given that Stage 1 is strong enough, the Engineer can now begin creating solid, concrete, and reliable theories and strategies that can go against the meta and discombobulate the enemy who rely on it. Many Engineers who attempt to enter Dimension 3 make the mistake of skipping or skimming Deconstruction and moving straight to Theorization as soon as possible. This is a monumental error which explains why most creative strategies that Engineers of this breed go through fail miserably even if they sounded fantastic on paper. Theorycrafting is a core part of this Dimension but such inventions must be practical to be patented. Deconstruction has the keystone role in manufacturing a plan of action. As such, an intense breakdown and analysis of the meta is a must.
Another component of this Stage is when new theories begin to be field tested. An experiment must be held in order to see if the theory can hold any water in the real world. With this, theories can be refined and optimized. This also serves another purpose in education and learning. These experimentation experiences gives the Dimension 3 Engineer more concrete grounding to formulate the next theory.
Stage 3: Execution
Now there are final touches to experimentation. With the foundation from Stage 1 and the experience from Stage 2, an excellent execution of the unorthodox and exploitation of the meta can now be performed. An aspect that could arise from this is complex improvisation that yields great results stemming from the same ideas of disrupting the status quo.
For this Stage, Gamemaster’s play on Process must be dissected once again. We can safely infer that he has excellent understanding of the meta given his many seasons of experience and his commentary on his video. Gamemaster also brings up a variety such as weapon damage drop over distance, covering multiple routes the enemy needs to retake their second and push out of last, and the fact that the enemy is conditioned to dealing with Mini-Sentries and battle Engineers. He knows what the enemy classes are capable of and how they can compromise his position. Stage 1 has passed. From this, he concludes that the sentry position perched up on the high ground on the enemy second was the best place to solve the variables in play. Stage 2 has passed. Finally, Stage 3 is reached in which he executes the Sentry positioning. Now all he needs to do is stabilize and wait for the enemy to scramble. Another Execution performed by Gamemaster was the Level 3 on Process mid that halted an enemy push. That is the improvisation that is possible by reaching Stage 3 because Gamemaster understands Stages 1 and 2.
Another Engineer I’d like to briefly mention is Desuq. He was bizarre for consistently ninjaneering in Highlander Silver-Gold Divisions. The enemy always ended up needing to check their backs on a regular basis on payload and 5cp for a wily Engineer teleporting in with revenge crits on a Frontier Justice. Desuq understands where in the meta have the biggest openings, he knew when and where to be, and then finally he executed his plan. It is also to be noted that Desuq had excellent DM. His Shotgun aim is consistent and worthy of almost IM Scout, further raising the effectiveness of the Frontier Justice, and his Pistol aim was so accurate that spread didn't looked like it existed for him. This also factored into the enemy’s fear of a surprise flank from behind and thus needed to peel allies from the front to be cautious. Even if one managed to catch Desuq red-handed in building a Teleporter Exit behind, he couldn’t always be defused thanks to his combat prowess. Because this was so unique and player behavior was taken advantage of, Desuq was more than a handful to deal with on certain maps.
To those who wanted to know more about this area, apologies for it being shorter than the other Dimensions. As stated before, it is due to the lack of study and observation done in this area. Work is being done to expand this Dimension, I’m sure, but only time will tell if there is a successful harvest.
Now that the 4 Dimensions of Engineer have been covered, the last two categories of Engineer needs to be touched only briefly. Spamfest is the Pioneer of both of them. The first are Semi-Hybrids or the Uncrowned. These are players who have a firm grasp of multiple Dimensions or those who are jaw-droppingly good at a particular dimension with proficiency in others. They are clearly a cut above the average and are ever so slightly under being masters of the craft. The only thing that separates them and the Engineers above them is those last bits of experience and refinement that is the difference between an A and an A+. Semi-Hybrids include Spades Slick, Yipyapper, Exaflamer, scratchy, and TheyCallMeEngee.
Hybrids/ S-Class/ Bonjwas
These are the undisputed masters of the class by consensus of experienced and reputable players. They have clear mastery of multiple Dimensions and are overall demonstrates unparalleled understanding, knowledge, and performance of the class. Bonjwa, the term that was the original planned terminology, would have been the more fitting title to give to them. Being a Hybrid is a solid goal to set if the journey is to become a master. There are only four Engineers who fit in this category: Ender, Spamfest, Jordan_ and Josh.
Conclusion and Closing
Team Fortress 2 is a game that has existed for over a decade. Throughout that time, competitive players have invented the Highlander format, and evolved each class to fit their specific roles. The Four Pioneers of Engineer brought the class to new heights. Dave+ with his dynamism, Sigafoo and his insane DM, Gamemaster and his multi-step thinking, and Spamfest for putting everything together. They served as catalysts for bringing the class further and to new levels not seen by the masses. Then with the Pioneers came the Dimensions, paths that are taken by Engineer mains who take their game further in the field and begin to develop special attributes and ascend to new levels.
I hope this essay shed a light on the history of the Highlander Engineer, the methods the class can be played, and the stages within it. Thank you very much for staying the whole way through.
The Grandmaster: Revisions and editing Team Fortress 2 Wiki: Achievement photos ESEA: Information on Spamfest UGC: Information on Spamfest Engineer.tf: Informative videos from Platinum Engineers HIGPS: Dave+ Gravel Pit Video SalTV: Cast of -ts- vs brb.u MR SLIN: TF2 videos
The Four Pioneers: Evolving the Engineer class to what it is today Special Thanks: Meatshield, Paul, Teli, Brigadeiro, Mothership, hyper
On the Backburner/ Future Works
These are other topic on TF2 HL Engineer I'd like to research and write about in the future. However, I'm on my last semester of college and have other tasks that take priority and therefore don't have sufficient time to work on them. I will leave the list here not only to keep record but also gage what those who read this are interested in reading next if I ever get to future works. Maybe there will be a consensus on what people want to see next.
- The Master Builders: A critical analysis of the S-class Engineers like Ender, Josh, Jordan_, and Spamfest and why they are what they are. - World Tour: Researching the difference in playstyle and methodology of Engineers in different regions: EU, ASIA, AUS, etc - Unorthodoxy: Exploring Dimension 3, the Inverse Meta. Thesis and theory.
- TL; DR: No. I understand that it is a long read. However, I ask you to simply take your time and read it in chunks if the entire thing is too much for your schedule to fit in one sitting.
No piece of writing is perfect and this is no excpetion. Edits will be recorded here.
2/19/2018: Word choice correction on the "Sigafoo Save". Moved Jordan_ to Bonjwas. 2/20/2018: Included Jordan_ as a person of interest for the future work in researching the masters. Added content to "FAQ"