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The State of the North American Scene
posted in News
Recurse
June 30, 2019

We stand today at the precipice of a grand reckoning — one that will potentially shape our future for seasons to come. Once the old man of North American TF2 finally gives up the ghost, which league will stand to take its place?

Presently, there are four options: the recently announced NACL, sigafoo’s RGL, Sidular’s TFCL, and the established UGC. A brief overview of each of the leagues is compiled below:

League Overview

ESL Play

Hyped to become the next big platform for competitive TF2, ESL Play was met with refrigerated reception following its first European cups. Despite attempts by mitch to garner support for a North American league on the platform, interest numbers fell short, with ESL Play dropping support for Team Fortress 2 altogether.

North American Competitive League (NACL)

Originally announced by the “New Beginnings” team, NACL completes one of the two tenets of their platform: to create a league as a distillation of community desires, along the same vein as ETF2L and ozfortress, and to form a global organization to unite and sustain the global TF2 scene.

The league is led by community veterans erynn, tsc, and twiikuu, who have all previously been involved in the development of PUG platforms, with erynn and tsc building the acclaimed PugChamp, and twiikuu being the primary architect behind TF2PL's Discord integration.

Despite the league's tenured leadership and general positive reception of the project as a whole, NACL's comparatively late official announcement has yet to reassure confidence. Still, since the platform is both under development and open to community feedback, the league may still yet capture hearts and minds.

Recharge Gaming League (RGL)

The brainchild of famed Highlander player and Engineer main sigafoo, RGL has been a polarizing venture. The league originally began as a test-bed for sigafoo's 7v7 "Prolander" format, before expanding to other gamemodes such as Highlander and "No Restriction Sixes". Despite its controversies, RGL has seen wide success, having created a successful Highlander league and holding claim to being the largest league in North America.

Once ESEA announced the closure of its TF2 league, RGL swiftly announced its own "Traditional Sixes" league, whose initial form featured certain departures from ESEA that proved controversial. Although RGL altered many of these aspects of the league according to community feedback, some remain wary. Nevertheless, as one of the most established and ambitious leagues in North America, and thanks to its hefty prize pools and collection of committed top-level teams, RGL remains the community favorite for replacing ESEA.

Team Fortress Competitive League (TFCL)

TFCL was originally established in late 2016 as a free, alternative league appealing to all skill levels. Despite garnering decent attention for its Ultiduo league, the league has been fairly dormant and small for most of its history, remaining an overall minor player in comparison to UGC and ESEA.

With ESEA now gone, TFCL hopes to finally breakthrough and become a major league in the North American scene by more closely replicating the ESEA experience, in contrast to RGL's then-progressive ruleset, and offering the promise of automation. However, TFCL's approach has somewhat subdued, with the league choosing to forgo its Rank S tier, which they had advertised in previous seasons.

United Gaming Clan (UGC)

Despite all the competition around the player-base ESEA will leave behind, UGC will steadfastly hold the niche they have held for all these years. The league plans to continue along their current trajectory without deviation to maintain their grasp on the players unwilling to pay fees to play competitive. A pillar of the competitive community for nearly a decade, UGC remains one of the oldest competitive institutions and an alternative for those who seek to casually compete for free.

While each league and its organizers have different goals, concerns, and visions for the competitive community, they all hope to provide the best service possible for their users and are dedicated to supporting TF2 far into the foreseeable future. What remains, then, is for individuals to pick their poison according to its unique idiosyncrasies, which are as follows:

Maps

Currently, all leagues will feature the following staple maps:

  • cp_gullywash

  • cp_metalworks

  • cp_process

  • cp_snakewater

  • cp_sunshine

  • koth_product

Beyond those, each league adds some additional supplemental maps.

UGC remains the only league to use cp_kalinka. Meanwhile, cp_badlands is used by both NACL and TFCL, with the latter also including cp_granary and cp_propaganda to include the entire ESEA map pool. Propaganda is also included the map pools of RGL and UGC, making NACL the only league where players cannot enjoy and/or tolerate it. Finally, TFCL, along with RGL, will also augment their pool with koth_clearcut, the first time this map will be featured in a competitive environment.

Whitelist

All leagues, including RGL, have committed to the Global Whitelist, in accordance with other national leagues. Originally, RGL intended on using a modified version of ESEA's current whitelist, but chose to align with the Global Whitelist following community feedback.

Ruleset

NACL is the only league to make a major break from the ESEA ruleset, forgoing a two half system for the typical North American scrimmage and LAN ruleset. This features a 5 round winlimit and 30 minute timelimit for 5CP maps and a 3 round winlimit for KOTH.

All other leagues will be retaining the three major standouts of the ESEA ruleset: a two-half system, five round winlimit for Control Point maps, and four round winlimit for King of the Hill maps. However, there are some minor differences surrounding when the half breaks between the leagues.

For 5CP matches, RGL and TFCL will call halftime when one team reaches three rounds won, while UGC will break at four rounds won. Meanwhile, for KOTH matches, halftime will occur at 2 rounds won in RGL, while taking place 3 rounds won instead within TFCL and UGC.

Divisions

NACL

  • Invite (ESEA Invite) – $0

  • Advanced (High ESEA Intermediate) – $0

  • Intermediate (High ESEA Open - Low ESEA Intermediate) – $0

  • Novice (Low ESEA Open) – $0

RGL

  • Invite (ESEA Invite) – $40

  • Advanced (High ESEA Intermediate - ESEA Invite) – $30

  • Main (ESEA Intermediate) – $20

  • IM (Mid ESEA Open - Low ESEA Intermediate) – $15

  • Open (Low ESEA Open) – $0

  • Fresh Meat (Beginners) – $0

TFCL

  • A (ESEA Intermediate) – $30

  • B (ESEA Open) – $15

  • C (Low ESEA Open) – $0

UGC

  • Platinum (High ESEA Open - Low ESEA IM) – $0

  • Silver (Mid-High ESEA Open) – $0

  • Steel (Low ESEA Open) – $0

Both UGC and NACL are completely free for entry, while only the lowest divisions are free among their competitors. However, while the former lacks prizes accordingly, NACL plans the allocate prize money depending on potential sponsorships.

For prizes among the paid leagues, RGL is expecting a $6,000–$8,000 prize pool to be split among its four paid divisions. Meanwhile, TFCL will be offering a $3,000 pot between its A and B divisions, with an additional $150 prize for its free C division.

Miscellaneous

Beyond the major points of interest for most players, each league also presents fringe benefits that may be appealing. For instance, TFCL is working to automate matches and pick-up games on their platform, which may be appealing to some users. Meanwhile, RGL is presenting a unique point system to determine placement, incorporating the rounds won and lost in a match as opposed to win-loss with runoff. Most importantly of all, however, RGL, TFCL, and UGC will also be giving out badges to participants, which will be unlikely to occur for NACL participants due to Valve’s new stricter badge policy.

The latest UGC season has already begun, lasting until around August 14th.

The RGL signups can be found on their website, lasting until August 9th.

The TFCL signups can be found on their website, lasting until July 30th.

The NACL signups can be found on their website, lasting until August 11th


This article has been altered to correctly display NACL's map pool.

This article has been further altered with the new RGL registration deadline.

1
#1
52 Frags +

all of the info in one place... and that chart of maps looks cute asf.... this is very helpful thank you for making this

all of the info in one place... and that chart of maps looks cute asf.... this is very helpful thank you for making this
2
#2
TFCL
31 Frags +

You really outdid yourself, Recurse! Great article!

You really outdid yourself, Recurse! Great article!
3
#3
19 Frags +

TFTV journalism at its best, great work! It seems, though, that the only viable choices out of this group are RGL and NACL so far.

TFTV journalism at its best, great work! It seems, though, that the only viable choices out of this group are RGL and NACL so far.
4
#4
31 Frags +

Where is the BILLDOZER league?

Where is the BILLDOZER league?
5
#5
28 Frags +

I See You Used My Name Suggestion. NaCl, good choice.

I See You Used My Name Suggestion. NaCl, good choice.
6
#6
19 Frags +
NicholasI See You Used My Name Suggestion. NaCl, good choice.

Yep, thank you, I think we bought the domain a few hours after your post

[quote=Nicholas]I See You Used My Name Suggestion. NaCl, good choice.[/quote]
Yep, thank you, I think we bought the domain a few hours after your post
7
#7
17 Frags +

Very good write-up and break-down. I'm impressed by how quickly you got this out. Thanks, Recurse!

Very good write-up and break-down. I'm impressed by how quickly you got this out. Thanks, Recurse!
8
#8
7 Frags +

Recurse very epic writer

Recurse very epic writer
9
#9
4 Frags +

I really like the idea of a "league market", because now leagues, unlike ESEA would actually have to listen to the players and develop systems that the community wants and likes to attract players to their own league. Will be nice to see how this turns out.

I really like the idea of a "league market", because now leagues, unlike ESEA would actually have to listen to the players and develop systems that the community wants and likes to attract players to their own league. Will be nice to see how this turns out.
10
#10
-1 Frags +
ArticleNACL is the only league to make a major break from the ESEA ruleset, forgoing a two half system for the typical North American scrimmage and LAN ruleset. This features a 5 round winlimit and 30 minute timelimit for 5CP maps and a 3 round winlimit for KOTH.

5 round win limit or 5 round win difference (mercy rule)?

ArticleMeanwhile, TFCL will be offering a $3,000 pot between its A and B divisions, with an additional $150 prize for its free C division.

Should S be listed here? Seems odd if the top tier has no pool

[quote=Article]NACL is the only league to make a major break from the ESEA ruleset, forgoing a two half system for the typical North American scrimmage and LAN ruleset. This features a 5 round winlimit and 30 minute timelimit for 5CP maps and a 3 round winlimit for KOTH.[/quote]
5 round win limit or 5 round win difference (mercy rule)?
[quote=Article]Meanwhile, TFCL will be offering a $3,000 pot between its A and B divisions, with an additional $150 prize for its free C division.[/quote]
Should S be listed here? Seems odd if the top tier has no pool
11
#11
10 Frags +

https://imgur.com/a/hhF01JU

https://imgur.com/a/hhF01JU
12
#12
2 Frags +
BumFreezeArticleThis features a 5 round winlimit 5 round win limit or 5 round win difference (mercy rule)?

not sure

BumFreezeShould S be listed here? Seems odd if the top tier has no pool Article TFCL's approach has somewhat subdued, with the league choosing to forgo its Rank S tier, which they had advertised in previous seasons.

i dont read recurse's articles either tbh why would i waste my time with that

[quote=BumFreeze][quote=Article]This features a 5 round winlimit [/quote]
5 round win limit or 5 round win difference (mercy rule)?
[/quote]
not sure

[quote=BumFreeze]Should S be listed here? Seems odd if the top tier has no pool [/quote]

[quote=Article] TFCL's approach has somewhat subdued, with the league choosing to forgo its Rank S tier, which they had advertised in previous seasons. [/quote]
i dont read recurse's articles either tbh why would i waste my time with that
13
#13
11 Frags +
BumFreezeArticleNACL is the only league to make a major break from the ESEA ruleset, forgoing a two half system for the typical North American scrimmage and LAN ruleset. This features a 5 round winlimit and 30 minute timelimit for 5CP maps and a 3 round winlimit for KOTH.5 round win limit or 5 round win difference (mercy rule)?Unveiling NACL Thread Standard Control Point (i.e. 5CP) maps will be played with one regulation period of 30 minutes, with the first team to reach five rounds winning the map. If 30 minutes elapse with no team scoring five rounds, the team with the most rounds wins. If both teams have scored the same number of rounds and a tie is not permitted, an untimed "sudden death" overtime period will be held, where the first team to score a round will win the map.

Winlimit, NA has never used windiff in a major league

[quote=BumFreeze][quote=Article]NACL is the only league to make a major break from the ESEA ruleset, forgoing a two half system for the typical North American scrimmage and LAN ruleset. This features a 5 round winlimit and 30 minute timelimit for 5CP maps and a 3 round winlimit for KOTH.[/quote]
5 round win limit or 5 round win difference (mercy rule)?
[/quote]
[quote=Unveiling NACL Thread] Standard Control Point (i.e. 5CP) maps will be played with one regulation period of 30 minutes, with the first team to reach five rounds winning the map. If 30 minutes elapse with no team scoring five rounds, the team with the most rounds wins. If both teams have scored the same number of rounds and a tie is not permitted, an untimed "sudden death" overtime period will be held, where the first team to score a round will win the map. [/quote]
Winlimit, NA has never used windiff in a major league
14
#14
1 Frags +
reakoi dont read recurse's articles either tbh why would i waste my time with that

lol chill they still had S tier in the division list when i commented

[quote=reako]
i dont read recurse's articles either tbh why would i waste my time with that[/quote]
lol chill they still had S tier in the division list when i commented
15
#15
16 Frags +

+1 great article, well written, informative, and as unbiased as is humanly possible. thank you for putting in the time :)

+1 great article, well written, informative, and as unbiased as is humanly possible. thank you for putting in the time :)
16
#16
53 Frags +

I'm a bit disappointed in what could've resulted from the death of ESEA--a singular league that accommodates the community with credible and respectable administration, in addition to a prize pot--but hasn't all occurred.

I don't know if there's a real benefit of people playing in NACL at all. Imo it's okay for there to be a free league and a prized league, although I don't particularly advocate for that (and how that's been a thing with ESEA and UGC lasting together), and I don't know if there needs to be two of each. To me, NACL seems like an upgrade to UGC, where its intention from what I read, was to be an ESEA replacement. This is disappointing, although understandable, because dropping money for a league to have prizes is a bit of a task.

TFCL seems to be even more disappointing because the top tier/division isn't advertised for ESEA Invite level of course, but also what led to this. I don't know much about TFCL and why it isn't as big as it seems like it could be, but that always leads back to the administration and the choices they made. From my understanding, their sixes leagues weren't successful (https://www.teamfortress.tv/post/949165/re-introducing-the-tfcl-sixes-league-tfcl-2-0).

RGL is the only league atm that is inevitably going to replace ESEA (unless some significant actions are made) due to it having the largest prize pot by quite a margin, as well as some "success" so far. Unfortunately, prizes are one of the most dominant factors in what league to play in as a replacement for ESEA, unless, also, the administration decisions are questionable, which leads to the important point that RGL doesn't particularly satisfy the community. Botmode's essay (https://www.teamfortress.tv/post/949378/on-natf2s-future) covered this well. One thing, though, botmode didn't delve into (but implied), unless I missed it, is that the respectability and credibility of the administration at RGL is kind of a joke, and that alone makes people not want to play in that league.

But what's more disappointing than all of these individual negatives (that I didn't go into too much detail and many, many more that I haven't listed) resulting in four mediocre leagues, is why this happened: the selfishness of some business ideas instead of working as a team for the better of the TF2 scene and specifically the inability to work together to make one legitimate, credible, trustworthy, but also large league, where resources could be combined. It would be pretty cool if there were one large, successful league, where any sponsorship for instance, big or small, could go towards this one league that would essentially go towards the entire competitive TF2 scene. Not working as a team to combine one league is understandable if it's making you a lot of money @sid @sigafoo @whoever else makes money off of leagues, but it is most certainly not respected in regards to the scene of TF2. I don't necessarily see this changing if it didn't already either.

Thus, I suppose the community is going to have a couple failed leagues that were a waste of resources that could've been used for this "one league" (and unfortunately personal time) that will eventually result in a league that is worse than what could've been. In any case, now is the time to make the competitive TF2 scene more enjoyable for everyone. The progress I see is by far the opposite.

A few things to ensure a successful league in my opinion, at the very minimum, are to:
1) Appoint a head admin (and other relative admin positions) by the community
2) Continue to listen to community polls in regards to map bans, to whitelists, to even broadcasting rule, etc.
3) Run the league as a non-profit for the good of the community

Correct me if any of this is wrong. It's just how everything has come across to me.

I'm a bit disappointed in what could've resulted from the death of ESEA--a singular league that accommodates the community with credible and respectable administration, in addition to a prize pot--but hasn't all occurred.

I don't know if there's a real benefit of people playing in NACL at all. Imo it's okay for there to be a free league and a prized league, although I don't particularly advocate for that (and how that's been a thing with ESEA and UGC lasting together), and I don't know if there needs to be two of each. To me, NACL seems like an upgrade to UGC, where its intention from what I read, was to be an ESEA replacement. This is disappointing, although understandable, because dropping money for a league to have prizes is a bit of a task.

TFCL seems to be even more disappointing because the top tier/division isn't advertised for ESEA Invite level of course, but also what led to this. I don't know much about TFCL and why it isn't as big as it seems like it could be, but that always leads back to the administration and the choices they made. From my understanding, their sixes leagues weren't successful (https://www.teamfortress.tv/post/949165/re-introducing-the-tfcl-sixes-league-tfcl-2-0).

RGL is the only league atm that is inevitably going to replace ESEA (unless some significant actions are made) due to it having the largest prize pot by quite a margin, as well as some "success" so far. Unfortunately, prizes are one of the most dominant factors in what league to play in as a replacement for ESEA, unless, also, the administration decisions are questionable, which leads to the important point that RGL doesn't particularly satisfy the community. Botmode's essay (https://www.teamfortress.tv/post/949378/on-natf2s-future) covered this well. One thing, though, botmode didn't delve into (but implied), unless I missed it, is that the respectability and credibility of the administration at RGL is kind of a joke, and that alone makes people not want to play in that league.

But what's more disappointing than all of these individual negatives (that I didn't go into too much detail and many, many more that I haven't listed) resulting in four mediocre leagues, is why this happened: the selfishness of some business ideas instead of working as a team for the better of the TF2 scene and specifically the inability to work together to make one legitimate, credible, trustworthy, but also large league, where resources could be combined. It would be pretty cool if there were one large, successful league, where any sponsorship for instance, big or small, could go towards this one league that would essentially go towards the entire competitive TF2 scene. Not working as a team to combine one league is understandable if it's making you a lot of money @sid @sigafoo @whoever else makes money off of leagues, but it is most certainly not respected in regards to the scene of TF2. I don't necessarily see this changing if it didn't already either.

Thus, I suppose the community is going to have a couple failed leagues that were a waste of resources that could've been used for this "one league" (and unfortunately personal time) that will eventually result in a league that is worse than what could've been. In any case, now is the time to make the competitive TF2 scene more enjoyable for everyone. The progress I see is by far the opposite.

A few things to ensure a successful league in my opinion, at the very minimum, are to:
1) Appoint a head admin (and other relative admin positions) by the community
2) Continue to listen to community polls in regards to map bans, to whitelists, to even broadcasting rule, etc.
3) Run the league as a non-profit for the good of the community

Correct me if any of this is wrong. It's just how everything has come across to me.
17
#17
-1 Frags +

NaCl is a salt.

NaCl is a salt.
18
#18
0 Frags +

I think this will be an unpopular opinion however I will voice it anyways out of respect for those who admin and run the leagues.

1.) I don't think someone who pours their time and money into making sure that their league has been running smoothly should just sacrifice their work and brand and league to come together and make a community league. Honestly its quite disrespectful to people who actually spend the time and effort to run the leagues. Saying that they should just give up on everything they've been working on and become a martyr for the rest of the tf2 community is asking a little too much of someone and shaming them for doing that is really awful. I don't like RGL 7's or HL and I didn't play unrestricted 6's but I can at least respect that sigafoo put his time and money into the game, made a league despite everyone giving him shit, and made it a respectable enough league to be a contender for the replacement of esea. Yes, he made mistakes but to ask him to give up all that work seems pretty unjustified. Administration work is not a fun task, I personally don't mind them reaping the benefits of their work.

2.) Voted admins may seem like a good idea at first, but the most liked admin isn't always the best admin. In a perfect world, the best admin would be voted in but that's just not going to happen. There are too many social factors to take into consideration.

I think this will be an unpopular opinion however I will voice it anyways out of respect for those who admin and run the leagues.

1.) I don't think someone who pours their time and money into making sure that their league has been running smoothly should just sacrifice their work and brand and league to come together and make a community league. Honestly its quite disrespectful to people who actually spend the time and effort to run the leagues. Saying that they should just give up on everything they've been working on and become a martyr for the rest of the tf2 community is asking a little too much of someone and shaming them for doing that is really awful. I don't like RGL 7's or HL and I didn't play unrestricted 6's but I can at least respect that sigafoo put his time and money into the game, made a league despite everyone giving him shit, and made it a respectable enough league to be a contender for the replacement of esea. Yes, he made mistakes but to ask him to give up all that work seems pretty unjustified. Administration work is not a fun task, I personally don't mind them reaping the benefits of their work.

2.) Voted admins may seem like a good idea at first, but the most liked admin isn't always the best admin. In a perfect world, the best admin would be voted in but that's just not going to happen. There are too many social factors to take into consideration.
19
#19
8 Frags +
BuffMcStrongHuge Voted admins may seem like a good idea at first, but the most liked admin isn't always the best admin. In a perfect world, the best admin would be voted in but that's just not going to happen. There are too many social factors to take into consideration.

Id prefer democracy over dictatorship anyday

[quote=BuffMcStrongHuge] Voted admins may seem like a good idea at first, but the most liked admin isn't always the best admin. In a perfect world, the best admin would be voted in but that's just not going to happen. There are too many social factors to take into consideration.[/quote]
Id prefer democracy over dictatorship anyday
20
#20
16 Frags +

why tf does rgl have 6 divisions? seems a bit overzealous

erynn tsc and twiikuu are good people to run a league imo. even if their league is underwhelming off the bat I think it would payoff in the long term

why tf does rgl have 6 divisions? seems a bit overzealous

erynn tsc and twiikuu are good people to run a league imo. even if their league is underwhelming off the bat I think it would payoff in the long term
21
#21
3 Frags +

Rgl prefers smallest divisions over bigger ones used by esea and ugc. In the Highlander scene it seems to be working fairly well and new players are staying and moving up over the 3 seasons.

Rgl prefers smallest divisions over bigger ones used by esea and ugc. In the Highlander scene it seems to be working fairly well and new players are staying and moving up over the 3 seasons.
22
#22
3 Frags +

the most impacting story so far. i hope we get the right league at the right time

the most impacting story so far. i hope we get the right league at the right time
23
#23
0 Frags +

wait so what league are we all gonna play next season

wait so what league are we all gonna play next season
24
#24
-1 Frags +

RGL is looking dominant right now, but there are people signed up for NACL and even UGC

RGL is looking dominant right now, but there are people signed up for NACL and even UGC
25
#25
7 Frags +
DiscordRGL is looking dominant right now, but there are people signed up for NACL and even UGC

barely any teams in NACL sadly, seems like its going to either flop or have one small division. Dont see why people dont sign up though, its free practice. Scrim for RGL and have a match in NACL that you can simply treat for practice in RGL, dont see the harm

[quote=Discord]RGL is looking dominant right now, but there are people signed up for NACL and even UGC[/quote]
barely any teams in NACL sadly, seems like its going to either flop or have one small division. Dont see why people dont sign up though, its free practice. Scrim for RGL and have a match in NACL that you can simply treat for practice in RGL, dont see the harm
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