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6v6 PUG (Pick Up Game) Guide for North American TF2
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!
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!

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:

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.


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 typically 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. Hop in a game, try it out, and see how you stack up against the competition.
IRC PUGs & Using ATF2.Org
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: Visit atf2.org or 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 PUG channels through atf2.org, a web-based IRC client. 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.atf2.org and creating a username.

Step 2: Register for a GeeksIRC account.

OK so you're in, but you need to create and authorize your account. This ensures that only YOU can use the IRC nickname you've chosen. The North American TF2 PUG systems operate on GeeksIRC. Go to the website and register for an account using these instructions: GeeksIRC Account Registration Page[geeksirc.net].

Step 3: Join GeeksIRC and conn that you want.
Once you've auth'd you should see a list of channels that you can access at the top of your browser. These channels may include:
  • #tf2mix
  • #tf2.pug.na
  • #tf2.mix.nahl
  • #tf2.pug.nahl
  • #tf2scrim

Step 4: Join a game!
Now you can hop into your desired channel and add up for a PUG!
Mid-Level PUGs
#tf2mix on GeeksIRC

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

For mid-level PUGs, your best option for a good PUG is #tf2mix. 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!

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

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.

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

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.
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.
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Hergan | herganhud.huds.tf Jun 9, 2014 @ 8:08am 
Nice guide bruh.
Fanta Mar 24, 2014 @ 12:19am 
Very nice guide.
tib46rm Jan 27, 2014 @ 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.
luné Jan 27, 2014 @ 4:12am 
Nice guide brah
LAZER PENGUIN Jan 26, 2014 @ 10:51pm 
interesting. I'll remember this should i get into playing seriously :)
MD HRNGTN Jan 26, 2014 @ 8:58pm 
Saving Competitive