Highlander Open #3 FAQ and Homepage

The Highlander Open Cup

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>>> Sign your team up! <<<

Welcome to the home page of the third Highlander Open powered by KEYS-STORE.COM, wiethoofd from whitelist.tf and buddhapest from trade.tf and bazaar.tf. This competition is designed to get new players interested in Highlander and Competitive Team Fortress 2.


How do I sign up?

Check out the guide here to learn how to sign into ETF2L and how to find or make a team. Once you have a team, have your team leader click the link at the top of this page and then signup for the Highlander Open #3!

Is there banned unlocks?

Yes, you can see what weapons are allowed here.

What’s all this stuff about needing a private server for the games? How do we communicate with each other? How are servers configured?

You have a few options in regards to servers. You could purchase a server from a hosting company for your games. Another way is via the brilliant serveme.tf service courtesy of Netherlands Arie where you can rent a server for a couple hours completely free for all competitive TF2 uses. If you buy premium you gain access to a larger selection of servers as well as longer reservations and the ability to have more than 1 reservation among a bunch of other features.

Also, your team needs a way to communicate with one another right? Well in the competitive scene we mainly use Mumble or Discord as our voice chat client.

If you wish to use mumble you can rent a free mumble server here, located in either Russia, Germany or the USA.

Or if you wish to use discord, launch the app and create a room, see the official guide for more information.

Your server will need to have a special Highlander config file and weapon whitelist (9v9 ones here) on the server used to set the competitive environment. If you rent a server from serveme.tf, you will only need to select the right ones from the drop down menus. If you need help regarding to map changes or other config issues contact an admin.

What are the specific dates for stages in the cup/What are the stages of the cup?

The cup will be in 2 main parts, the Group Stage and the Single Elimination Playoff Stage with finals at the end. The group stage will consist of Swiss style groups of 6 teams with the top three moving on to the knock out stage. You will play 5 games in your group, in case of a tie; head to head will be used first then tiebreaker score and finally rounds scored if needed.

  • Signups close: Friday 6th March 21:00 CET
  • Final divisions announced: Saturday 7th March
  • Week 1 start: Sunday 8th March (Submitted by Thursday 12th March 23:59 CET)
  • Week 2 start: Sunday 15th March (Submitted by Thursday 19th March 23:59 CET)
  • Week 3 start: Sunday 22th March (Submitted by Thursday 26th March 23:59 CET)
  • Week 4 start: Sunday 29th March (Submitted by Thursday 2nd April 23:59 CET)
  • Week 5 start: Sunday 5th April (Submitted by Thursday 9th April 23:59 CEST)

At this point the top 3 teams (dependent on signup numbers) in each Group will be placed into the Single Elimination Playoffs (starting Sunday 12th April). In each week of playoffs, half of the remaining teams will be knocked out.

  • Round 1 of playoffs start: Sunday 12th April (Submitted by Thursday 16th April 23:59 CEST)
  • Quarter-Finals: Sunday 19th April (Submitted by Thursday 23th April 23:59 CEST)
  • Semi-Finals: Sunday 26th April (Submitted by Thursday 30th April 23:59 CEST)
  • Grand Final/3rd Place Match: Sunday 3rd May (Submitted by Thursday 7th May 23:59 CEST)

The playoff structure may be subject to change.

What is the map pool? What maps will we be playing each week?

The map pool is as follows:

  • Badwater (pl_badwater_pro_v9)
  • Upward (pl_upward)
  • Coalplant (koth_coalplant_b8)
  • Steel (cp_steel)
  • Viaduct (koth_product_rcx)
  • Gullywash (cp_gullywash_final1)
  • Warmtic (koth_warmtic_b6)

The map schedule for each week is as follows:

  • Week 1 – pl_upward
  • Week 2 – cp_gullywash_final1 & koth_product_rcx
  • Week 3 –  pl_badwater_pro_v9
  • Week 4 –  koth_coalplant_b8 & koth_warmtic_b6
  • Week 5 – cp_steel

The later stages of playoffs will have the maps decided by map elimination, it works like this:

First, teams decide which team will be Team A and which is Team B. If the sides cannot be decided, a heavy fist fight will take place with the winner deciding which they would prefer.

Team A Bans
Team B Bans
Team B Picks
Team A Picks
Team A Bans
Team B Bans

The remaining map is the decider map.

How do we play each type of map?

5cp maps are played for 30 minutes. After the timer runs out the team with the highest score wins. The match can also end if one team reaches a 5 round lead over their opponents (5-0, 6-1 etc.). If the match is tied after 30 minutes, a final tiebreaker (Golden Cap) round will be played.

King of The Hill (KOTH) maps are played in a best of 5 series with no timelimit. The first team to reach 3 rounds wins. If the match ends with a scoreline of 3-2, the losing team will receive a point, as this is considered a tiebreaker loss.


Payload is played in a best of 3 round format. One team sets the attacking time, then the sides switch and the other team attacks. The team with the faster time wins the round. Payload is played in a best of 3 round format. If a third round is needed, the team that capped fastest on their round starting on blu gets to choose which side they start on. If teams cannot initially agree on sides, a heavy fist fight is used to determine sides.

I’m a team leader, how do I set my availability? What do we need to do once our game has been scheduled?

To set your teams availability go here, click on availability then choose the best 3 days and times for your team to play, the system will then take into account your and your opponents availability and set the game to the best day for both teams. Once the match date has been set by the system, it can only be rescheduled if both teams agree. You can send a schedule proposal by going here and clicking propose/edit date. If your opponents accept it, the date of your official has been changed. If you have any questions feel free to contact the admin team on our support channel.

Once your game has been scheduled you should add your opponents leader to make communication easier, however remember to document all agreements on the match page as well as on steam. If you want to reschedule the game or use any mercs then you should do so ASAP. You should also agree with your opponents which teams will provide the server, see the earlier post about game servers for more info on this. You must submit your games result by the result deadline, this info will be on the match page.

How do we show proof of the score when we submit results? What’s this ‘P-REC’ thing?

At least one person during the match will need to take a screenshot of the output of the ‘status’ command from the console window as well as taking screenshots of the final score of every map in every official match.

P-REC is a tool which you can install onto your TF2 client. It can automatically record a POV demo of your competitive matches as well as automatically taking screenshots of the status command output and the final score. You can find more out about it here and how to use it.

Can we have more people on our team roster as subs? (more than 9)

Absolutely. But make sure there is no more than 2 players who count as ‘buddies’ and that there isn’t more than 20 players on your roster in total as that is the limit. See the general information section below for more info on what experience is permitted and what a buddy is.

What if my team isn’t available to play one (or more) of our games?
What if the enemy team doesn’t show up for the match?
What if we cannot access or rent a server for our match?
What if I need to find out about something that’s not here?

Contact an admin via the ETF2L Discord. Whatever the problem, an admin will be happy to help you.

General Information:

What is The Highlander Open?

The Highlander Open is a tournament specifically designed for players new to competitive TF2. This tournament is meant for people who are new to serious league play,  For a short summary of what highlander is and the event itself check out the homepage of the event. 

How can I find a team to play with?

You can search for a team to play with by creating a post here.

I have a team…but we need some more players! Where can I recruit players to play for my team?

You can find players looking for teams here.

Will any of the games be casted?

Yes! Certain matches will be casted LIVE on KritzKast so those of you who are not playing a game on some days or who weren’t able to participate because of other issues can enjoy the action as much as the participants!

What is a buddy?

‘Buddies’ are experienced players who may only coach and mentor teams in the HLO. Each team may have up to two buddies on the roster. They must be tagged as buddies on the roster or they risk being removed from the roster. You do not have to have a buddy, you can have a team without one. However if you want to have a more experienced mentor on your team this is the way to do it.

Can my player play in this tournament, or does he have to be a buddy?

If the player meets any of the below criteria they can only be rostered as a buddy.

  • Maximum 15 matches in ETF2L played.
  • Cannot participate if you played in ETF2L Open playoffs or above. This does not include cups.
  • Cannot have participated in quarter finals or higher in any of the previous fresh meat challenge’s or highlander open’s
  • Cannot participate if you played in UGC Silver/Premium or above (the number of UGC Iron or Steel matches will not be counted with ETF2L Open games). This includes all regions of UGC
  • Cannot participate if you played in RGL intermediate or above (the number of RGL open matches will not be counted with ETF2L Open games).
  • No ESEA experience allowed.


  • A player with 1 season of open highlander and 1 of open 6s does not have to be a buddy, provided the amount of officials is not over 10.
  • A player with no seasons of highlander but 1 season of open 6s and 1 season of mid 6s has to be a buddy.
  • A player with a season of UGC Iron Highlander, 2 Seasons of Steel Highlander does not have to be a buddy.

If you are unsure whether a player counts as a buddy or not, please contact an admin here.

What if one of my players cant play can we get someone else?

Yes you can you can use what are called mercs or ringers, these are players not on your teams roster that either have to be approved by your opponents or meet strict criteria. Each team is allowed one Default Mercs, these are non rostered players who are allowed to play without your opponents permission however your opponents must be told of them before the game and they must be presented on the match page.

Your opponents can if they wish approve the use of a 2nd and 3rd merc but this is entirely optional the admin team will not force any team to allow a 2nd and 3rd merc. All mercs are subject to the same skill rules regarding buddies. Players may merc as buddies if they exceed the skill requirements however they are restricted to playing medic.


This is the end of the FAQ now Below is all the information not mentioned above from the original post:


  • Comprehensive competitive highlander guide.
  • Play some TF2Center or TF2Stadium lobbies and gain great insight and experience in highlander gameplay
  • Find more out about Competitive TF2 as a whole at comp.tf


  • Serveme.tf – For helping provide gameservers
  • KEYS-STORE.COM – Our primary sponsor the the event, donating TF2 items for prizes
  • bazaar.tf & trade.tf – Our secondary sponsor the the event, donating TF2 items for prizes


Players that complete all their games will receive participation medals and those that finish in the top 3 at the end will receive:

  • gold medal 1st Place – Medal + 54 keys
  • silver medal 2nd Place – Medal + 27 keys
  • bronze medal 3rd Place – Medal + 18 keys
  • 4th Place – Medal + 9 Keys

Unlockable Weapons

The full list of banned items is available here on Whitelist.tf
Below is the list of banned weapons:

  • Air Strike
  • Beggar’s Bazooka
  • Red-Tape Recorder
  • The Crit-A-Cola
  • Mad Milk
  • Jarate
  • The Diamondback
  • The Reserve Shooter
  • Gas Passer
  • Scorch Shot
  • Short Circuit
  • Fists of Steel

Huh, ETF2L?! How does this work?

For those of you who are new to the ETF2L site, to sign up for the tournament you will need to be part of a complete Highlander team of at least 9 players. Your leader can then sign your team up for the tournament. We will be adopting ETF2L’s ruleset for General and Highlander rules as well as the Highlander server configs and weapon whitelists. The FAQ section will explain everything about making accounts, teams and signing them up for tournaments in conjunction with the guide.

The Forums are a great way to talk about TF2, competitive play and the upcoming tournament. Don’t have a team yet, or are you looking for more players to join your team? Be sure to check out the Recruitment Section. Even though this is a European centred event, we will welcome players from other regions with open arms. We will even try to place you into the same groups to ease the process of scheduling matches with your opponents. Against European opponents however, you will have to play on European servers at European times. The usual playing time for ETF2L matches is Sunday-Thursday from 19:00-23:00 CET.

Make sure you are willing to (and can!) play at such times and on European servers before you sign up. If you still can’t find the answer to a question or if you have any problem, then the quickest way to get into contact with an admin is to join the ETF2L discord.

You can help us with advertising too.

  • Do you run a TF2/gaming news website? Twitch or YouTube channel? We’d love it if you announced the cup to your viewers.
  • If you’re a creative type with ideas for promoting the tournament – be it propaganda posters, a competitive play survival guide for new teams, etc – feel free to contribute.

If you’re an easy-going person who cares about helping the TF2 scene, we’d like to invite you to become a HLO buddy!

  • Buddies will be the representatives for teams that enter the competition. You’ll join their roster, be responsible for answering their questions, making sure they schedule their matches properly, and depending on how good a buddy you are, organising and helping them out with practising and tactics.
  • Buddies will be awarded with a medal like the rest of their team. The top buddies will receive prizes (more information in a later post).


Have fun and good luck to all that participate!