Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2

406 ratings
An introduction to European Highlander
By kKaltUu and 3 collaborators
Are you new to TF2 or the Highlander (9v9) format?
No worries, mate

I'm here to tell you how to find teams, how to find scrims and last but not least, how to play official matches.
What is highlander?
There can be only one!

That's right, only one of each class.

Team Fortress 2 has 9 classes, who each have their own respective skill set.
By limiting those classes and throwing those in the battlefield, we have found the perfect competitive format to test your skills as a player and as a team.

You can only have the following line up of classes:
  • 1 Scout
  • 1 Soldier
  • 1 Pyro
  • 1 Demoman
  • 1 Heavy
  • 1 Engineer
  • 1 Medic
  • 1 Sniper
  • 1 Spy

Highlander games are played on payload, control point, or King of The Hill maps.

Typical Highlander Scoreboard

If you're more of a visual person, I've found a great cast that shows a close Highlander Payload game:
Most important rules
Class Limits:

As said above, Highlander is really strict when it comes down to the classes. Only one person per class per team, no more, (and hopefully) no less.

Not all the weapons are allowed, nor are all hats and miscellaneous items.
The reason behind this is that some weapons can be exploited, spoil the fun element or ruin the competitive element of a match, or a hat/misc is annoying for the entire server.
The current list of banned items for the official Highlander can be found on whitelist[], a place where you can check what is currently allowed or not or you can even create a whitelist of your own.

Recording official matches:
I can not stress this enough: in most leagues you have to record your official matches! Not doing so could potentially give your team huge warnings or even lose the match if you're not careful.

We at ETF2L advise to use P-REC when you can. Using the Valve verified plug-in automatically records ALL matches and collects the necessary screenshots. You can find a guide on installing and using P-REC over at ETF2L.[].
You can also use built-in demos support by enabling it in the TF2 Advanced Options (you can find it in the main menu of the game).

The other option is to manually record with the following console command:
When you're done with the match, either leave the server or type the word stop in the console.

The specific rules for each game mode are:

Stopwatch (Payload)
Maximum amount of rounds: 2

5CP (5 control point maps)
Time limit: 30
Win difference: 5

King of The Hill:
Win limit: 3
Class specific calls
In a regular Highlander match, each player should hear some specific calls. This will improve their ability to push or retreat without too many casualties.
We've gathered some important ones, which hopefully will help you as much as it helped us.

Where is the combo (heavy + medic)
  • If the opponent pushes in, this information is of the utmost importance

Where is the sniper?
Call out the location of the sniper, and where he's aiming at! Please don't let your medic die.

Where was the spy, where is he heading to?
If there's a spy right behind someone, a call should be formatted like the following
[Player who is about to get stabbed] Spy [disguised as class] [Location relative to your team mate.]
Bulow, Spy Pyro to your left (alternative: Bulow, Spy pyro at 9)

Where are the stickies, or have they been detonated?
If you have the possibility to get rid of the stickies without kiling your team mates, inform them and proceed with the destruction of the spiked explosive balls.

Which medigun does the enemy Medic have equipped?
At the start of each round, your spy will call a certain set of weapons, if the enemy medic dies during the round and changes up his medigun, it would change the course of the match if it's spotted before the can build up a charge.

Any weak classes?
Any 'heavy weak' call is usually useless, make sure you call out their health numbers you see when that person kills you.
The only exceptions are calling out pipe hits (±100 damage) or headshots (150+ damage) that didn't finish the enemy off.

Roles and calls:

Should have a feeling for spies, should know when the enemy spy is around the combo / important classes.

Should respond to calls, if a combo is going to walk choke, he needs to pay extra attention to his sticky trap.

The heavy is the big meaty part of the combo. He should call out where the opposing combo is and should be on edge, looking for any potential threat to his German healing buddy.

The engineer needs to communicate when any of his teleporters is being camped, as well as tell the team if his sentry is down, or when he's falling back to build a new mechanic fortress.

Needs to know the opponent's uber percentage.
Calls his own uber percentage regularly.
Needs to call out when he's switching medi gun, as well as pushes (if the medic is the designated main caller).

Needs to know where the sniper, spy and of course, the enemy medic are.

Should have a certain set of calls that he needs to make at the beginning of a round:

On EVERY map:
Which medigun does the enemy Medic have equipped?
Which wrench is being used by the engineer? (level 3 sentry vs. mini sentry)
Which rocket launcher does the soldier use? (Direct Hit vs sentry etc.)

On payload & defense on a/d maps:
Which sticky launcher + melee does the demoman have? (suicidal caber jumping demos)

As a spy, you'll be behind enemy lines, so those calls are the easiest for the spy to make.
When you see the medic, always mention his health if it's under max, and of course, call his uber percentage.

Take a look on this video. It's comms from one of the best highlander teams currently, the SDCK[].
Let's get started!
Now that you're prepared yourself with the basics to play Highlander matches, it's time to start.

Make sure you download Mumble, a free, open, voice communication program that's used in competitive gaming. You can grab the latest version here.[]

Currently there are 2 ways to play Highlander pickups or lobbies.
The first one is the up and coming TF2Center, a site created by my friend MasterNoob. They have dedicated a lot of time in it and is pretty straight forward in it's use.

The Highlander spreadsheet[]

This spreadsheet is a pretty old one, but still really active. The instructions on how to register for it are listed on the right hand side. Please follow the rules on the sheet and don't ruin someone's scrim or mix.

Make sure you have a correct (and up to date) HUD. The standard HUD doesn't show health numbers, so I would advise you to check the

After that, when you've got a good grasp of the highlander format, and you're confident, you can try the real Highlander Experience™.
For the players that don't know ETF2L, a little introduction:
Originally posted by ETF2L:

World's largest TF2 League!
We're a free to join Team Fortress 2 league based in Europe and are supporting both 6v6 and Highlander formats with the biggest tournaments in the world for competitive Team Fortress 2.

ETF2L is one of the three professional bodies Valve co-operates with, handing out various medals to participants

There we go, a league without sign up fees, with regular seasons and MEDALS for you to have!

Before signing up, read the rules! ETF2L has a rule set, which every league player has to abide. Click here for the rule set.[]
Signing up at ETF2L
ETF2L uses the Steam Sign in system, which links your Steam account to the statistics on the site.
Players without an account will see:

In the top right hand corner of the site. Clicking it will redirect you to the sign up page (or logging in if you've already created an account).

New players will be prompted to add extra information to their account:

Entering your username and your email address will give us the ability to send you mails concerning matches (comments and proposals). That way you will never miss default dates, even if you forget about them.

Making a team / Joining a team.
The recruitment section:

ETF2L has a section of the site dedicated to helping players and teams find each other.
(save this link, you need it later on!)

The big list is scary, but the filters on the side should be enough to help you find the perfect match for your team.
After you've creeped every player's profile, it's time to check the teams.
(save this link, you need it later on!)

Making a team!
Well, now that you've seen the competition, there's time to create your own team (if you'd like, joining teams is right after this section!)

Head to your dashboard (or this link)[] and click on Create Team

After creating a team, you can add details and players to it, and sign up when a competition or cup opens up! (season announcements will be posted on the ETF2L main page).

Joining a team!
Whelp, you don't like leading a team you say?

No problem, we've got you covered buddy.

After your browse through the recruitment section, you're bound to find a team that suits your needs (and vice versa) and they'll probably be inclined to invite you.

If you've done everything correctly in the previous chapter, you'll see an e-mail from us in your inbox, which will link you to the invitations page.
It will look exactly like this:

After joining, you will be unable to play an official match for 24 hours (to prevent players jumping from one team to another).

After that: you're all set to play in the ETF2L![]

The possibility exists that there is a problem in your official match that you aren't prepared for.
When that happens, I advise you to go to the ETF2L support page [], join our ETF2L Discord[], enter #admin_requests[] and click the L emote for League Admin requests or A for Anti-Cheat requests.

If you find any inconsistency in this guide, you can contact us on the ETF2L Discord, just as shown above.
Shoutout to kKaltUu for making this guide.
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Walter White Sep 5 @ 5:13am 
HotPocketChris May 30, 2021 @ 6:54pm 
@knife try rgl
lendunistus May 5, 2021 @ 11:32am 
This seems really interesting and I'd want to play, but TF2Center has a 500 hour minimum and I'd say that I uh
suck too much to even consider ETF2L (plus HLPugs seems to be kind of dead)

Are there any other places to play practice Highlander matches at?
nyxzsche Nov 30, 2020 @ 12:19pm 
Very helpful, thank you!
Vic^ Nov 11, 2020 @ 1:36pm 
tf2 sucks lmao
GRUNTY Sep 28, 2020 @ 7:35pm 
very epic
Chef Slap Sep 5, 2018 @ 3:46pm 
thank you
kKaltUu  [author] Sep 5, 2018 @ 10:14am 
That's right, both HL and 6v6 were set up by various community sites, where 6s was "recently" added into the game as a competitive gamemode with different rules than the community has. If you want to play HL to try out (without having to join a team) there are only two places you can go, which are and .
Chef Slap Sep 4, 2018 @ 10:47am 
ahhh so Highlander is community made, but you have to go on a website that organizes Highlander matches to play Highlander?
kKaltUu  [author] Sep 4, 2018 @ 10:31am 
I wrote this guide 5 years ago, since then a lot of things have changed. There is an ingame 6s mode. This guide was written as an introduction to community hosted competitive games.