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6v6 PUG (Pick Up Game) Guide for North American TF2
By MR SLIN
Ever wanted to get into competitive 6v6 TF2 but don't know how?
Want to get started pugging but need direction as to where to begin?

Check out my guide where I outline all of the ways that you can join a public Pick Up Game and compete against the best players in TF2!

If you have any questions, post it in the comments!
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Introduction
The competitive 6v6 TF2 community is small, but we've been around for years and we've found ways to get together and play matches against each other to determine who is the best despite our lack of built-in matchmaking systems. There's online leagues, tournaments, and tons of ways for teams to compete head-to-head. But what if you're a solo player? What if you're an individual who is trying to find a team and needs a place to practice 6v6?

Well then you need to start pugging! PUGs (Pick Up Games), also known as Mixes, are a great way to practice your skills. A PUG is akin to solo-queuing in other competitive games. 12 random people come together and divide into teams so that they can play a for-fun, competitive 6v6 game. There are all different types of PUG groups: some are casual in nature, while others are more serious. There are different formats as well, and in this guide I will walk you through a few of the more popular ones.

Whatever your pace is, just know that if you want to get good at TF2, there is a place in the competitive community for you. Enjoy the guide, and see you in game!

MR SLIN
Inspiration
Need some inspiration for playing 6v6 Competitive TF2?
Here are some of our community's most popular videos:


Which Channel Should I Play In?
In this guide, I've included some basic instructions for joining PUGs located at:
  • www.TF2Center.com
  • #TF2Mix on QuakeNet
  • #TF2.PUG.NA on GeeksIRC

Entry-level pugs are for "the noobs" including pub stars, new players to competitive, and people fooling around with friends. You should have at least 40 hours played on your chosen "main" class before playing here, and you should know the rollouts well enough so that you don't embarrass yourself. If you need help with rollouts, I would check out the MyGamingEdge Video Archive, which has a ton of videos from high level players that outline how to play the game. If you're looking for some live help, check out some of the competitive TF2 streams[teamfortress.tv] on http://teamfortress.tv/ -- perhaps one of the streamers or viewers there would be willing to give you some tips. You could also hop into any of the IRC channels listed below (i.e. #TF2Mix or #TF2.PUG.NA) and flag a player down for quick advice.

If you're looking to join a higher level PUG such as #TF2Mix, you should probably have some league experience and/or consistently outperform your peers in the TF2 Center games. Most players in this channel will have UGC, CEVO, and/or ESEA experience, and if you're the new guy in the channel, you may have a hard time keeping up. Make sure that you're prepared to play against players who know the game and have been playing for quite some time. In #TF2Mix you can begin building your network of players and friends who you enjoy playing with. Pugging here can help you to find a team, so be sure to make a good impression!

If you're going to try to get in on a #TF2.PUG.NA game, you better know some people in the community and have a reputation of performing well. Again, be able to outperform your peers in the #TF2Mix games, and be well-versed in the strategies for each map. The top players in North America frequent this channel, so you'd better know what you're doing lest you disappoint!
Before You Get Started, Set Up Mumble!
Before you start playing TF2 PUGs, make sure to have Mumble[mumble.sourceforge.net] installed and a working microphone. Mumble works like any other VOIP service such as Ventrilo or TeamSpeak. TF2 players prefer Mumble because it is low-latency and high quality.

Be considerate to your teammates and use a microphone that doesn't sound terrible. Use the Mumble audio wizard to set up your microphone and consider using Push-To-Talk to avoid transmitting extra noise that clogs up voice communication for your teammates!
Entry-Level PUG Options
Every single "good" or "invite" player got their start somewhere, and for most it started in entry-level PUGs. Nowadays these PUGs are hosted on public websites with easy-to-navigate interfaces.

TF2Center.com


PUG Channel Type: Public
Picking Style: First Come, First Served
Mumble Required: YES

This is the new go-to website for entry-level PUGs. Mumble IS required, so make sure you have it. It's really easy to join into a PUG, hop in mumble, and get a game going. There are usually a number of games going simultaneously, so you can pick a game that you'd like (with or without your friends), and choose which class you'd like to play. Best of all, there are no requirements for playing so you can always join in on the fun. The only downside to using this service is that because there are no team balancing mechanics involved, many of the games are one-sided. However, it's still a great place to get your feet wet. At the time of writing this website is currently in BETA.
IRC PUGs & Setting up IRC
If you're looking for a bigger challenge, you should consider getting into the higher level PUGs. These PUGs channels are public and anyone can join -- however, there are some barriers to entry that prevent many new players from joining in. The first barrier is setting up IRC.

What is IRC?

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. These are basically internet chat rooms -- the kind that your parents used to warn you about when they said to watch out for strangers on the internet. These IRC channels are primitive but effective tools for arranging PUGs. All of the best North American players hang out in these PUG channels, and you should get familiar with these channels if you want to move up the ranks.

Step 1: Download an IRC client.

There are a number of IRC clients that you can use to access the PUG channels, much like how you use different internet browsers to surf the web. There are also web-clients that you can use so that you don't have to install any software on your computer. I'm going to focus today on accessing the IRC channels using mIRC. If you're looking for an alternative IRC setup guide, check out Shwan's guide here: http://teamfortress.tv/forum/thread/1291

Start by going to http://www.mirc.com and downloading the client.


Follow the installation process. Note that although you're using an MIRC trial account, you can continue using the trial even after your trial period has ended; in other words you should never have to pay for this client.

Step 2: Register for a GeeksIRC/QuakeNet account.

OK so you downloaded the client, but there are thousands of servers that you can join. The North American TF2 PUG systems currently operate on two servers: GeeksIRC[www.geeksirc.net] and QuakeNet[www.quakenet.org]. The European PUG systems operate exclusively on QuakeNet. Start by registering for an account on the server of your choice.

Step 3: Join the Server that you want.
Go to File > New Window. Then File > Select Server. Choose the server from the list of servers -- if it's in a folder, choose a server within the folder. If you're connecting to GeeksIRC, you'll have to do this process manually by clicking "Add" then inputting IRC address irc.geeksirc.net with port 6667.

Once you have connected to the server, you need to use your login information that you've just created in order to log in to your server account. The instructions differ for each server, and you should reference the appropriate guide listed below:

GeeksIRC Account Registration Page[geeksirc.net]
How to Register an Account with QuakeNet[www.quakenet.org]

Step 4: Join the channel(s) that you want.
Go to Favorites > Add to Favorites. Under channel you list the channel name. Check the box "Join on Connect" which will automatically join you into the channel when you start-up your IRC client next time. Under "Networks", make sure that it joins into the correct server; this applies mostly to people who are joined into multiple servers at once. Notable channels include:

GeeksIRC:
  • #tf2.pug.na
  • #tf2.mix.nahl
  • #tf2.pug.nahl
  • #tf2scrim

QuakeNet:
  • #tf2mix
Mid-Level PUGs
#tf2mix on QuakeNet

PUG Channel Type: Public
Picking Style: Alternating Styles
Mumble Required: YES

For mid-level PUGs, your best option for a good PUG is #tf2mix on Gamesurge. Here you'll find a good mix of skill levels here ranging from UGC players to ESEA-IM players. These PUGs occasionally feature high-level players, but only when PUG.NA isn't going. What makes Mix so nice is that it alternates PUG types between Captain-mode and First Come, First Served. One game will be captain-mode, and the game immediately following will be FCFS. This means that you won't have to sit out for more than one game before getting your chance to play. In addition, you can only add up as one class, which makes things a lot simpler for players and captains.

If this channel is dead (i.e. nobody is added), feel free to add up to the high-level PUG channels. Who knows -- you might even get picked to play!

Commands:
  • !ip
  • !mumble
  • !stats NAME
  • !status
  • !captain
  • !add CLASS
  • !surf CLASS

Instructions:
Use !ip or !mumble to get the information needed for the next game. !stats NAME will check the PUG stats for that player. !status will check how many games are live and which servers are in use. !captain will check whose turn it is to pick during captain-mode games. To add up to the next game, type !add CLASS (captain, scout, pocket, roamer, demo, medic). If you're authorized by an admin, you can !surf CLASS which will allow you to skip the First Come, First Served game. This is a great option for high-level players.
High-Level PUGs
#tf2.pug.na on GeeksIRC

PUG Channel Type: Public
Picking Style: Captain-Mode
Mumble Required: YES

#TF2.PUG.NA, also known as pug.na, is the premier PUG channel for North American TF2 players. The best players in North America congregate here to play in semi-serious PUGs. The channel is open to anyone, meaning that any player of any skill level can add up to the queue, however, the difficulty lies in getting picked. The channel features a captain-mode only system, and it's in the captain's best interest to pick the best team possible. If you're new, you'll often sit out a lot of games until you make a name for yourself in the community; the captains typically don't like to pick people that they haven't heard of before.

You can add up as as many classes as you'd like.

Commands:
  • !ip
  • !mumble
  • !stats NAME
  • !status
  • !captain
  • !add CLASS

Instructions:
Use !ip or !mumble to get the information needed for the next game. !stats NAME will check the PUG stats for that player. !status will check how many games are live and which servers are in use. !captain will check whose turn it is to pick during captain-mode games. To add up to the next game, type !add CLASS (all, combat, captain, scout, pocket, roamer, demo, medic).

Extra rules:

You need to have played 40 games of #TF2.PUG.NA in order to add up as captain.
If you add up as "Medic" AND "Captain", you MUST play as Medic in that game.
If you add up as "Captain" and pick a team that loses 0-5, you will be temporarily restricted from adding up as captain again.
Conclusion
I hope you found this guide to be helpful! Please keep in mind that these PUG systems do change over time, and what may be true now might change later on. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments and I will answer them as best I can.
5 Comments
< >
Sumbol Mar 24 @ 12:19am 
Very nice guide.
64 </{[(R+C]})\> Jan 27 @ 8:26am 
Nice, this made it to the featured guides in the Steam overlay!
I've played lots of tf2center, thinking about taking it up a notch and trying something like tf2mix.
lune Jan 27 @ 4:12am 
Nice guide brah
LAZER PENGUIN Jan 26 @ 10:51pm 
interesting. I'll remember this should i get into playing seriously :)
Jonah Hill Jan 26 @ 8:58pm 
Steven
Lin
Saving Competitive