Happy Birthday ETF2L!

Date November 17, 2017

Last month, TF2 celebrated its landmark tenth birthday.
Valve marked the occasion with the release of a major update: new maps were added to the Casual rotation, the matchmaking system was overhauled, and Pyro was given a jet pack (and Spy mains a Rainy Day Case of the blues).

However, there’s been another significant birthday in the community – our own!

This week, it’s been ten years to the day since ETF2L first began.

During that time, we’ve overseen twenty-eight seasons of sixes, thirteen of Highlander, eleven Nation Cups and myriad tournaments more. We’ve seen thousands of players compete, frag and frenetically call for Medic, across over twenty-five thousand teams. Join us as we look back at ETF2L’s competitive history, from ctf_2fort and cp_well to the competitive game we play today.

In the beginning, there was Dustbowl

In November 2007, ETF2L was established to provide a competitive ladder for the incredibly new European  TF2 community.

To begin with, ETF2L let the playerbase decide how the competitive meta would be. Various votes were had and polls proposed. It wasn’t always a given, for example, that there would only be one Medic per team and no random crits, regardless of how inconceivable anything otherwise might seem today!

Overall, the community’s decisions were sound. It was decided that season one would feature a class limit of two for every class other than Medic and turn off random crits, throwing the game’s most fair and balanced mechanic to the wind.

To complement this, the community were also allowed to choose the maps. Unfortunately – though retrospectively amazingly – the calls here lacked the same degree of prescience. Accordingly, the final map rotation for season one featured:

  • cp_granary
  • cp_gravelpit
  • ctf_turbine
  • cp_well
  • ctf_2fort
  • and – of last but not least – cp_dustbowl

Of all the season one maps, only Granary has remained consistently in the rotation. Gravelpit was dropped after season twelve, Well after season seven, and Turbine after season eight, with a few intermittent reappearances in later seasons since. Sadly (if not understandably), Dustbowl and 2fort were left behind at the end of season two.

Season one

Sixes season one began in  January 2008.

The winning team of Div 1 (the equivalent of Prem) was European Relic (FKA 4 Kings) as Sweden Kompaniet came in second, and Finland Clan United third.

However, at the beginning, few teams enjoyed greater dominance than 4 Kings. The team went on to consecutively win all first six seasons of Div 1, and remained unchallenged until season seven, where they placed third behind winners European Epsilon eSports and European TCM Gaming.

Three and a half years later, ETF2L pushed the cart into new frontiers, and the Highlander gamemode was born.

The first, second and third seasons were all won by SouthKorea SNSD. The team were undefeated for all of their history until the very last second of season four, losing in the Grand Finals to France DAROUTOUTOU.

The teams

It’s not a Team Fortress if there aren’t any teams. In the last ten years, ETF2L players have created over 25,000 of them, ranging from national sides showcasing the continent’s greatest talents to groups of friends running Spies to mid.

Though long gone are the days of stealing the Intel and setting up two Engineers on Dustbowl last, two of the oldest teams in ETF2L history still play competitively today!

UnitedKingdom clanda trace their history back to Team Fortress Classic, and played the very first matchweek of ETF2L season one. Since then, they’ve amassed an incredible 276 competitive matches and played every game of every season to date.

‘We started on day one’, said b0nes, a founding member who remains with the team today. ‘It was very different. No one had a clue how to play. There were no weapon unlocks yet, so it was totally vanilla’.

‘We all started as  8v8, because that was how TFC was played. All of the people at the top of early TF2 came from TFC. We were the people sitting and waiting for TF2 to come out. However, ‘ETF2L started as 6v6. And the rest is history’.

Comparing TF2 then to TF2 now, nothing made a greater impact than the introduction of the Gunboats, b0nes added. ‘By a mile. Now soldiers don’t have to know how to aim. They just bump about the place’.

Closely following clanda in the appearances rankings are Germany HerbsArmy. Another team that came from TFC, they’ve played 222 fixtures, spanning every season of competitive ETF2L but one and five.

Teams with the most appearances:

And the players

Just as several teams have been in the league since the start, there are several players who’ve consistently been at the heart of the action.

The player who’s made more appearances than anyone else is England Hildreth.

After joining ETF2L in October 2010 as a member of European LagTastic Gaming, Hildreth’s played 291 games across both Highlander and sixes, with 109 being at Prem level. Most notably, he’s played with teams European Highpander©and European Lowpander :-3, with whom he continues to create gimmicks today.

Following Hildreth closely behind are UnitedKingdom b0nes (274), Latvia atomic- (260), Denmark Dr. Phil (259) and Germany stefaaan (252).

Whilst Hildreth’s played the most games, he hasn’t played the most in the Prem. That honour goes to another English Demoman – UnitedKingdom kaidus.

Though Kaidus joined his first team in 2008 (Shut Up and Play), his league experience began in season four with team European FakkelBrigade 2. By season eight, he was starring in the Prem with Netherlands FakkelBrigade alongside Fisshu, drleånn, Arie, Exfane, and Mirelin.

Kaidus’ success in ETF2L speaks for itself: he’s joint second for the most awards in the league’s history (tying with Germany stefaaan at twelve and behind Wales Mike, who won seventeen). Amongst many other accomplishments, he’s played for UnitedKingdom Se7en (FKA Reason Gaming and nerdRage), founded, coached and led UnitedKingdom Se7en, and won multiple international LANs. Most recently he’s played in High for UnitedKingdom fm-eSports.

Prem appearances:

Behind the scenes

Running a league for ten years requires a fair amount (read: a small mountain’s worth) of organisation, and – over time – a huge number of users have contributed countless hours to making the league the best it can be.

Alongside the sheer hours of ensuring that everything is ticking over, many admins have dealt with literally thousands of user queries:

‘I didn’t immediately follow or join competitive Team Fortress 2’, said former Head Admin CanFo, who currently plays for HerbsArmy. ‘I only played public and found a neat server with pleasant people. With some players from that server, I founded my first team, which I played with for about four years’.

‘Eventually, the team disbanded but I had no desire to stop playing TF2. I was looking for a team with players of the same mentality and with the same goals, which is just to play a few nights a week and have fun’.

CanFo acknowledged that he didn’t have quite the desire to get to the top of the league. However, he realised he could meaningfully participate in a different way. ‘I noticed quickly that I wouldn’t progress that far’, he said, ‘and figured I could put my skills to use as admin’.

It wasn’t just skills that CanFo put to good use; it was time, too. ‘It required a lot of hours.  At times, it was basically like a second job.

However, I enjoyed helping people and felt useful. The community was really important to me and I felt I was making an impact. It gave me purpose.’

The league’s longest serving admin is Germany Sonny Black. Like CanFo, he began playing competitively with a team of players from a community server.

‘My Counter Strike 1.6 and Battlefield 2 community became a Team Fortress 2 community’, Sonny said. ‘Soon I was hooked and spent countless hours on the community’s public servers.’

‘Eventually, around Season 3, I found out about ETF2L and I started watching matches. Soon after, I recruited players from my community and its public servers for my first team and we started playing in four leagues at the same time. Pretty quickly I wanted to be involved more than just as a player and I applied as admin!’

‘Before too long, I found myself taking every opportunity I could get to form and shape the league, even though I was only a trial. This led to over a year as a league admin and four years as Head Admin. It was very exhausting at times, but it felt good helping the community and trying to make TF2 the E-sport it deserved to be’.

Thank you!

For playing your part in ETF2L history. Here’s to the next decade!

Written by UnitedKingdom joe the brave

51 Comments

  1. F2: Vintage - -chess- said:

    congrats!

  2. Volcanix: #T4F said:

    congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

  3. Atzebumm: (ETF2L Donator) - NOM - Dr. med. said:

    thank you etf2l for the countless hours of fun and joy you gave me!

  4. Clark: bisenen - WASP said:

    Congratulations, the community continues to appreciate all the hard work!

  5. DuMmTm: APEX said:

    Happy Birthday Permzilla

  6. Biohazard: ;) - DRR said:

    Happy birthday ETF2L. Thanks for putting every season together and I hope there are more to come.

  7. MNK: England - HZ said:

    Happy birthday ETF2L and thanks for a heck of a lot of fun :3

  8. nabique: Ki11ERS.PRO said:

    Ah, I remember when b0nes invited my team to play second season of wireplay. Dunno how he’d found us, because we were pub players back then.
    I wonder how my life could shaped if I’ve said “No” back then.

    Thanks for everything, buds. :’)

  9. seeds: mkcat - -chess- said:

    happy birthday and thank u all so much for the work u do

  10. kKaltUu: R6S - SDCK said:

    Happy birthday, doing stuff for ETF2L never felt like work because of the amazing community!

  11. Teepee: SHAG - Comp G said:

    Fucking hell. Sick article etf2l. Fair play

  12. Deki: sneaky - Comp G said:

    My boy Joe im proud. Outstanding job

  13. Kars: 4CE - KAAS said:

    thanks etf2l

  14. dempsey: sneaky - Comp G said:

    I ghost wrote this

  15. unu: L3RD - pizza said:

    <3

  16. b0nes: [DA] - [AD] said:

    congrats and thanks! fuck im old ;/

  17. Lerec: PAROX - pootis XD said:

    Congrats and thank you all for what you have done over the years

  18. thaZu: (Anti Cheat Staff) - ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ - inv said:

    Happy birthday ETF2L!

  19. Gorzum: zesty - pootis XD said:

    Congrats for the amazing work !

  20. TimTum: (ETF2L Donator) - LvG - inv said:

    Who’s the player with the most games in total? :O

  21. TimTum: (ETF2L Donator) - LvG - inv said:

    Ah never mind I can’t read, I thought it was prem only for some reason.

  22. TheMackey5: DOWN - -яв- said:

    Thanks a lot for the countless hours and the huge effort you put into this organisation! League admins really don’t get the appreciation they deserve imo. Thanks and congrats for the amazing work!

  23. yahoo: officer - Lucrosa said:

    nicely written

  24. Manus9696: bu. - gaeta said:

    Happy birthday :) And thank you all for keeping the good work

  25. Hildreth: MUUQ - bad said:

    I need a new hobby…

    Thanks ETF2L for being a huge part of my life <3

  26. snappe: half - ( ͡~ ͜ʖ ͡9 said:

    HBD

  27. Chasing: Ja said:

    Here’s to another 10 years! Thank you for creating a community of friends, not just gamers!

  28. Sheezer said:

    Happy bday! :D

  29. joe the brave: (Newswriter) - sneaky - Comp G said:

    happy bday etf2l : )

  30. Stan: penguins - #team_tag said:

    hApPy bIrThDaY [email protected] ! ! !

  31. Roper: ζ said:

    Happy Birthday!

  32. Ace: MSBT - lil said:

    Happy Birthday!
    ALL HAIL SONNY BLACK!
    ALL HAIL SONNY BLACK!
    ALL HAIL ETF2L!

  33. Polarium said:

    ty for good league

  34. Autarch: tom - MJC said:

    You guys keep Tf2 going for a lot of people. Fair play to you lot for a full decade.

  35. gemm: analyzed - regretful said:

    awesome writeup

  36. WRU: ORA ⚡️ said:

    happy bday european team fortress two league

  37. maly: penguins - #team_tag said:

    Happy Birthday ETF2L and to the next 10 years!

  38. Zwockl: D-War said:

    It’s honestly so great to have a league run by players and not by an org like in NA and in most esports.

  39. Yohn: TBC said:

    <3

  40. nutshiny: (ETF2L Donator) said:

    Happy birthday best league in TF2! <3

  41. obla said:

    cute

    happy birthday

  42. duckers: BaB - zap said:

    I loved this

    I love you

  43. sheepy dog's hand: (cute asian schoolgirl) - sleep gang - bad said:

    Hildreth is the king of european TF2.

  44. oJ: yerbaby - PAKI said:

    nice

  45. san alex said:

    I moved to overwatch in late 2015 and I still open etf2l (almost) everyday. Its such a great project actually the more I think about it the sadder I get. Knowing we had such a good community in a website built by volunteers and valve never really gave a relevant support to what could have been a really great esport.

  46. Arie: (serveme.tf) - FB - [FB] said:

    Happy birthday ETF2L

  47. Hurry Kane said:

    CONGRATSS

  48. osvaldo: KT said:

    epic

  49. CanFo: (Legend) - [HA] - #T4F said:

    Great article and thanks for the opportunity to say a few words. Without ETF2L, I would probably not be enjoying the career path I am on. I’ve met wonderful people through this league and learned many valuable lessons along the way. To the next 10 years!

  50. freshmeatt: ‹Con› - One punch man said:

    My E key has been missing since what by now feels like forever.
    Thanks, ETF2L.

  51. DeNeusbeer: (Legend) - HoT<3 said:

    ETF2L still going strong. Nice, congratulations! I spent some wonderfull years here, back in the day.