Team Fortress 2 may be getting a competitive matchmaking mode.
Clues seem to indicate the addition is imminent in an upcoming content patch. Over the past two months, updates have snuck code related to “player skill rating” into the game.
“TFPlayerSkillRatingAdjustement”, which had three fields, “players,” “Steam_id,” and “match_type,” looks like a precursor to a competitive matchmaking mode. Other additions include a “competitive_skillrating_update” struct with “index,” “rating,” and “delta” fields.
In short, all the trappings of a matchmaking system, with players rated by skill level.
Last night, Facepunch forum user “testinglol”, famous for accurately leaking future Team Fortress 2 content patches before they revealed, posted that a Spy vs. Engineer update is coming and with it “Competitive Mode” with “New matchmaking and ranking.”
Valve is mum on any potential update, but for the competitive community the development could be huge.
Team Fortress 2 has supported a small but passionate esports scene since the launch of the game in 2007. This year, the community raised almost $20,000 just to send the two best teams in America to the i52 tournament in Europe.
But the community has received little support from Valve, and that’s caused a bit of schism in the game. Team Fortress 2 has nine classes, all prominently played on public servers, but the competitive game is usually played 6-on-6 with two soldiers, two scouts, one demoman, and a medic. Also, many of the numerous items added to the game since launch are banned from competitive play.
So how will Valve reconcile those differences? Will it implement its own competitive mode, follow the currently accepted standard, or possibly merge the two?
It’s question that won’t be answered until the mode is released (if it’s released). But whatever Valve does, the benefits for Team Fortress 2 competition are plentiful. The game has a large playerbase—it hit 100,000 concurrent players just three days ago. That’s where Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was one year ago, an impressive number despite Team Fortress 2’s age. The problem for competitive players is that the playerbase at large shows little interest. A competitive matchmaking mode will make it more appealing, potentially bringing competitive Team Fortress to a larger audience.
Right now, that “competitive mode” is just a bunch of hanging code. But it’s enough to give hope to an esports community looking for a break.