In the spirit of the season and the end of the decade, the entire teamfortress.tv writing staff has come together to bring you all a holiday tale. This is the story of the little esport that could, and how it has grown and struggled over the past ten years. Enjoy this monstrous amount of work, and we hope that the next decade will be just as exciting as this last one.
Dignitas take out Power Gaming to win Insomnia39 (photo by Dignitas)
Back in 2010, Barack Obama was still President of the United States, no one had heard of Brexit, Vladimir Putin was (briefly) not President of Russia, and the world had yet to be introduced to Snapchat. It was a vastly different time period.
Mirroring the “real world,” the TF2 scene back then was likewise completely unrecognizable to the one we have today. In fact, between ESEA Season 5, which began in early December of 2009, and today, the Invite scenes share exactly zero players in common. Nevertheless, there remain many recognizable names, including cyzer, the recently retired pheLon, TheFragile, TLR, dummy, A_Seagull, Platinum, and shade.
The record of the European scene is really lacking around this time period, but Europe saw some activity in both ETF2L and ESL. A roster sponsored by TCM Gaming won ESL Season 5 while a team aptly called I Don’t Know? won ETF2L Season 7.
Beginning on 4/20, Season 6 saw the Invite debut of eMazing Gaming, the future powerhouse that would come to be known as High Rollers Gaming. Well-known players on this team include enoryt, mackey, yz50, and of course b4nny.
In the back half of the year, a team sponsored by Epsilon eSports won ETF2L Season 8, which included names that would return for later iterations, such as shintaz, Extremer, and F2.
During that time, the scene in South America was experiencing LBTF2 Season 3. Team Kamikases had been dominating since Season 2 and in a few smaller championships, managing to protect their undefeatability. In the same year, Season 4 came with big changes in best teams of that time. Les watones, LBTF2 Season 3 Central Division winners, were the first Argentinian team to score a top 3 finish in a LBTF2 at Elite Division. The final was disputed between oCla and g0re, the latter being victorious and marking the first LBTF2 Elite win for powah, who would turn out to be a big name in the global TF2 scene later on.
2010 saw the introduction of Highlander into ETF2L’s sphere, as ETF2L hosted their first ever Highlander community challenge. Sparking a long-lasting love-hate relationship within Europe with the gamemode, 2010 marks the original flame that grew into the gamemode that has thrived for over 10 years.
iM at the OZF LAN, one of Australia’s first (photo by Tim “merk” Nagel)
2011 saw the launch of the MGE mod, which soon became one of the most popular training tools for competitive.
Complexity Gaming struggled in Season 8, losing to eMg in both the Upper Bracket Round 1 and the Lower Bracket, eventually placing third. This led CheckSix Gaming, a team featuring TLR and harbleu to win first place. This team didn’t last to the following season, however, potentially because TLR stole the first place trophy (additional interview). Meanwhile, Season 9 of ETF2L saw kaidus take home their first Premiership victory with Team Thermaltake.
After Season 8, Complexity Gaming departed the scene and Classic Mixup formed from their ashes, a team which would go on to be a top contender for the next 9 seasons in North America. Nevertheless, in their debut season, they lost the Grand Finals to eMg, beginning a long rivalry between the two teams.
The following season, Classic Mixup struck back and won the season, coming back from the lower bracket and winning 2-1 and 2-0. At the same time across the pond, a new iteration of Epsilon eSports made their debut by winning ETF2L Season 10, the beginning of what would become an EU dynasty.
In South America, Les watones continued to live up to the reputation they earned in the previous season and fought their way to victory in LBTF2 Season 5, being the first Argentinian team to win a LBTF2 Elite Division. Player Godman was a vital key to such feat. Another Argentinian team, Koala 6, also began their rise to the top, emerging victorious in a smaller league hosted by FBTF around August. After this, Season 6 started and only ended in the following year. However, in the middle of that season, LBTF2 Season 4 winner and rising star powah, that abandoned his medic role in order to play scout, was banned accused of cheating, under debatable circumstances. After this incident and unable to compete in South America for two years, powah started playing in North America, managing to reach Invite level in the next year, making him the first South American to compete in ESEA Invite. His achievements outside of Brazil surely proved that he was one of the greatest snipers in competitive Team Fortress 2.
The first intercontinental LAN, i46 (picture by Multiplay)
The year began with Epsilon taking second to Team Infused, the previous season’s runners-up featuring Mike, cookye, and numlocked. Unfortunately, the following season Infused failed to even make Grand Finals, losing their spot to TCM Gaming, a team including Zebbosai and kaidus, which eventually allowed Epsilon to take back their title. Around the same time, enoryt’s team, freshly sponsored by Leviathan Gaming, took their second Invite championship in ESEA Season 11, setting the stage of i46.
In the lead up to i46, a community fundraiser was held, allowing the top two teams from North America, Classic Mixup and Leviathan Gaming, to travel to Europe to compete against their top teams for the first time in TF2 history. North America and Europe collided in the semifinals, with LG beating Epsilon and Classic Mixup beating TCM, knocking both top European teams to the lower bracket. When it came to the Lower Bracket Final, the rematch between LG and Epsilon was once again settled in favor of the Americans, making the Grand Finals an NA-only decider. Once again, Classic Mixup beat their North American rivals, securing themselves the very first world championship TF2 title.
After earning themselves a victory in Europe, Classic Mixup managed to replicate their success in North America, retaking their ESEA title. After their third-place finish at i46, Epsilon returned to their online roster with a few modifications, picking up Mike and numlocked from Infused to replace randa and F2. With this lineup, they managed to retain their European title, leaving second to Crack Clan and third to the ex-TCM team.
Back there in the Neotropic, the year began with the victory of IMPULSe over Les watones in Season 6 grand finals. Season 4 finalist and Season 5 top 3 dem0, one of the most well known scouts of the region, finally managed to grasp the long-awaited title. A smaller cup, named Custom Maps Championship 5, was executed midseason, giving birth to the core of the most successful Brazilian team up to this date, Nex Impetus, which would be later known as MONSTER. However, this year also marked the birth of a ghost that would haunt LBTF2 until its demise – DDoS attacks. In Season 7, teams DAMNIT and Nex Impetus agreed to refrain from playing the semifinal matches in protest to such attacks. Thus, Les watones were given the Elite title that season, as they were the last remaining team in top 3. This strange win would also be the first of a series of wins that would consecrate the Argentinians as the team with most first places in FBTF organized competitions.
2013 was a busy time for TF2, it saw the first Tip of the Hats, which went onto become the annual TF2 charity event of the year.
In ESEA Season 13, Leviathan Gaming, now sponsored by High Rollers Gaming, shot back at their rivals Classic Mixup by defeating them in Grand Finals. This season also marked the invite debut of both Ma3laa and rando, future key members of Ascent. Contrasting with the competition in the states, Europe saw Epsilon take home another season victory in the new year, as the team picked up basH in place of wltrs.
In the leadup to i49, Epsilon cleanly went undefeated in ETF2L Season 15 with what would become their LAN lineup. Meanwhile, HRG continued to hold onto their title, while some of the best Demomen in TF2 history, duwatna and Bdonski made their way to the highest level of TF2.
August would bring the peak of competition for 2013, as the world’s top would meet for a second time in Telford for i49. The LAN would feature not only an American team in High Rollers Gaming, but for the first time, an Australian team in Team Immunity.
Immunity and HRG would show that they were no pushovers, coming out of groups in 2nd and 3rd respectively, but no one could topple the European powerhouse Epsilon. This would be the trend for the LAN, with the German core taking no prisoners in their Sherman-esque march to the finals. In a complete reversal of i46, this was an EU only affair, with TCM Gaming edging out HRG in the consolation final. Epsilon would not leave the room entirely unscathed, losing their only map of the tournament to the Swedes, but would still grab the series 2-1, cementing their legacy as one of the world’s all-time greats.
After their disappointing finish at i49, High Rollers Gaming dissolved before ESEA Season 15, with some of its former members reforming under the sponsorship of iT. This team would ultimately concede first to Classic Mixup. Meanwhile, coming in third was the foundation of what would eventually become known as eLevate and Ascent, then known as lost in translation. On the other hand, Epsilon continued to ride high in Europe, again winning their season undefeated. Unfortunately, this lineup would not survive into the next season.
This was a rather busy year for the South American scene. In an attempt to boost up the morale of the organization after the upsetting end of season 7, 2013 marked the beginning of a big series of offseason tournaments, named FBTF Cups. In FBTF Cup Season 1, the first Argentinian final occurred, disputed between Les watones and Koala 6. Players weren’t 100% Argentinian though, as LBTF2 Season 3 winner polaco and Kemp, who climbed his way from Aberta (akin to open) to Elite, were in the champion roster of Les watones.
After FBTF Cup Season 1 succeeded to spark up one more time the passion players had for the game, LBTF2 Season 8 began shortly after. And one more time, Spanish speakers were strongly represented in the top 4. However, for the first time a Chilean team, Tor Project, found its place in LBTF2 Elite grand finals, going up against dominating Les watones. Unfortunately, even after winning Season 8, the group of Argentinians (and recently Brazilians) who had been playing together since Season 5 decided they would be no more.
The last tournament played that year was FBTF Cup Season 2, which took place a few months after LBTF2 Season 8. This was an important competition because FBTF Staff was completely renewed as Doug became FBTF Head Staff; it was the beginning of MONSTER 's reign and it also was when several well known Elite players had their debut in lower divisions, such as Kiyoshi and helnot. The grand finals were played by MONSTER and SemSkill. MONSTER was formed by the core of Nex Impetus and LBTF2 Season 8 Central players majesty and ole, along with powah, making his debut in South America since the 2011 ban. SemSkill strongest name in that cup was former Les watones soldier Kemp, who was accompanied by the today well-known in North America duo legit and ninjax. MONSTER won a one-sided grand final, though.
2014 was a big year for rando and his squad eLevate. (Photo by Austen "tagg" Wade)
In the ashes of Epsilon, half of the team merged with byte from TCM and the previous season’s runners’ up SVMZI and kaidus. Under the name Made In Germany, they took first, although not as cleanly as the old Epsilon lineup.
In North America, after the ESEA’s Bitcoin mining scandal, lange spearheaded an effort to move the North American scene over to CEVO, leading to two major seasons with that organization. ESEA Season 16 and CEVO Season 4 debuted froyotech, completing the team’s rebuilding effort after i49. Other notable things include the first appearance of Street Hoops eSports and the forging of a bond between Ma3laa, rando, and Bdonski that wouldn’t be broken until Season 23. Just in time for the third NA vs EU showdown at i52, Epsilon made a return with a radically different roster in preparation for LAN and winning Season 18.
Like i46 two years prior, two North American teams attended i52, Classic Mixup and froyotech, and like i49 the year before, Team Immunity flew in from Australia. In the group stages, Epsilon looked to continue their i49 dominance, going undefeated. Trailing behind them were Team Immunity, with their only loss to Epsilon, and froyotech, only losing to the above two. Meanwhile, Classic Mixup looked to be struggling, finishing with a negative record and fifth overall behind Awsomniac.
At the semifinals, Epsilon and froyotech knocked down Mixup and Immunity, respectively. At the resulting Upper Bracket final, froyotech proved that Epsilon were fallible, defeating them 2-0. Once they returned upon beating mix^ in the Lower Bracket, 4G once again defeated the European monolith 2-0, retaking the world title for North America.
Classic Mixup's performance at LAN foreshadowed their demise, further backed up in Season 17 where the team missing out the Grand Finals for the first time since their formation. In their stead, eLevate marked their first second-place finish in a long legacy of such.
South Americans continued to see MONSTER dominate all over when they won all competitions held that year. First, they beat dozen ’s Evolution Gaming in Season 9. This same season also saw an unexpected Squishers Esports third place with the assistance of veterans Caloi and Pena. Then, they defeated the strong scout duo Venom and ninjax of Koala 6 in Season 10. Finally, Chilean/Brazilian dreamx and unlead stack could not beat MONSTER ’s teamwork in FBTF Cup Season 3, assisted by hii and Doug. This third cup also saw the brief return of LBTF2 Season 4 winner control to the top division, but unfortunate to reach desirable results. FBTF also announced their first season of Highlander during 2014.
The last ESEA LAN Finals, and the fall of a dynasty. (Photo by Austen "tagg" Wade)
2015 was an incredibly eventful year for TF2 as a whole, with plenty of highs and lows in this period.
Early in the year, scandal struck over the TF2 “charity” event Flares That Care, a supposed fundraiser for Child’s Play that had much of the upper-level management being outed for incredibly shady pasts and scams. However, from the ashes, TF2Can raised its head, running an event the weekend FTC would’ve, raising over $9,000 and creating a legacy that continues to today.
In Europe, the foundation of the next European juggernaut were slowly lain. In ETF2L Season 20, first place was won by SUAVE, a team based on former Epsilon players and the previous season’s winner. However, this team also marked the third-place finish of Reason Gaming, making the first time Hafficool, kaidus, and kaptain played on a team together. This team would take first the following season, with that core joined by former Epsilon players schocky, Mike, and KnOxXx, setting the scene for i55.
It’s no secret to anyone here that Valve and competitive TF2 have had what can only be called a rocky relationship, but in late April, TF2 diplomacy reached Bellevue. As a product of many individuals across the competitive community, a dialogue and eventually full meeting with the TF Team gave many hope that Valve did care about the competitive scene, and teased what would become matchmaking in 2016’s MYM. This for many was a signal to hold out for Valve, and a beacon of hope for the community to gather around. Valve also shipped three major updates in 2015: Gun Mettle, Invasion, and Tough Break. These brought weapon skins, contracts, and slew of casual updates and balance changes.
America’s competitive front would undergo great change in 2015, firstly with the conclusion of ESEA season 18. Not long after froyotech swept Ascent 2-0 in Dallas was the news heard that this would be the last LAN finals for ESEA-I. ESEA had considered dropping TF2 at this time, but elected not to, after, in the words of ESEA admin Ipkane, “seeing again how passionate they are for the game [...] we will continue our support [...] for as long as the game remains healthy.'' This change came as a result of ESL’s partnership with, and later, their parent company’s acquisition of ESEA, making room for CS:GO’s EPL and MDL.
But with the loss of one LAN, came another, as intercontinental TF2 once more graced England with i55. Two NA teams made the trip across the sea: froyotech, looking to defend their i52 crown, and Ascent, who were ready to prove themselves against European competition. The teams both presented themselves as top opposition for Europe’s top in nerdRage, Reason Gaming, The Last Resort, but it was froyotech, on the brink of elimination in the losers’ finals that fought back against all three. The Americans took a narrow 2-1 against Reason, and in a reversal of their winners’ final clash, took the finals 3-1 against nerdRage to take home yet another LAN crown.
ESEA season 19, while still feeling the ripples from the loss of LAN, went about as expected, with another faceoff between froyotech and Ascent going convincingly the way of the former. But season 20 would turn that on its head. After conflict between teammates in the LBF match against Team SoloUber, ash was benched in the team, and seymour would fill in the two remaining maps in the series, which culminated in a 2-1 loss for froyotech. In the fallout of this, the team would almost immediately fall apart, with clockwork publicly announcing his move to Overwatch alongside it. Following the elimination of FROYO, Ascent would win their first Invite season.
Even after placing third at i55, Reason Gaming cemented their new European dynasty. After picking up Starkie, Zebbosai, and Permzilla, they defeated #tf2center, a team including half of Epsilon and half of nerdRage.
Crowns reigned supreme in Birmingham for i58 (photo by Declan "Mr. Jelly" Atkin)
In North America, the incumbent RONIN looked strong in the Season 21 Regular Season against the reborn froyotech. However, after winning the upper bracket 1-2 and gaining a full bracket advantage, they eventually lost the series following a 4 map sweep by the underdogs in the Grand Finals. As of the writing of this article, froyotech is still yet to lose another season. In the following season, despite the loss of many players to the new game Overwatch, many veterans returned to the fray, including TLR, tagg, cyzer, and shade. This season’s Grand Finals saw yet another bracket reset, except this time, the Upper Bracket champions, froyotech, barely managed to hold their own, winning the final two maps of the final best-of-three.
Meanwhile, in Europe, the construction of the future juggernaut known Se7en continued, with Reason Gaming picking both Drackk and a nerdRage sponsorship, eventually securing themselves another championship. The following season, their leader and maincaller kaidus had to step down due to a wrist injury. After that loss, as well as that of Permzilla and their sponsorship, the team now known as nameLess picked up spudd and Raymon as replacements. Once again, they secured a clean first-place finish, developing a characteristic slow, Karpovian style of play, squeezing victories out of their opponents like an anaconda.
All these developments culminated in August for i58. During the group stages, Jasmine Tea impressed, finishing top of the standings, while the other international team, froyotech, struggled mightily and finished fourth. The biggest shocker of the LAN occurred in the Lower Bracket Finals: froyotech vs Full Tilt. At the end of the day, froyotech lost 1-2 and made third, marking the first time a North American team failed to make the Grand Finals since i49. After that, Crowns eSports Club, the newly-sponsored nameLess team, managed won the Grand Finals against their European rivals.
Shaken by their loss at LAN, froyotech drastically remake their roster. TLR, Muma, and phorofor departed, to be replaced by veterans blaze and shade as well as up-and-coming Demoman habib. With this roster, froyotech easily won another ESEA season. On the other hand, Crowns looked stronger than ever, replacing the retiring Hafficool with Thalash and easily winning ETF2L Season 25. Despite taking second at LAN, Full Tilt did not survive for this season, although members Silentes and alle did eventually take second-place with sauna slayers.
September marked the release of the very first Global Whitelist, standardizing the allowed and banned weapons across all regions for the first time in the scene's history.
2016 also marked the year many TF2 players left for Overwatch. They shall be forever remembered here in
The Overwatch Memorial:
The intercontinental game landed in America for the 1st time with ESA Rewind (photo by Esports Arena)
The year opened with ESA Rewind, which aimed to be essentially a North American equivalent to an iSeries event. 6 teams participated, 4 from North America, Se7en representing Europe, and Jasmine Tea representing Australia. Se7en was an attempt to create a self-sustaining esports organization for TF2 and was built upon the foundation of the Crowns eSports Club lineup, except with alle and AMS taking the place of spudd and kaptain respectively. Meanwhile, compared to i58, Jasmine Tea swapped out their creatively-aliased Medic Dave for the equally uniquely-named Mike.
The Grand Finals at the first international NA LAN was as exciting as anyone could hope for. It was an international affair, froyotech against Se7en, with the former possessing a 3-0 record against the latter. Nevertheless, it proved really close with both teams trading maps until the fifth map on Granary. Thanks to a crucial two-minute long distraction by Freestate, froyotech managed to hold a 2-1 round advantage on their last as the clock ran out, retaking their world championship title.
In ETF2L Season 26, Se7en suffered from some early season roster-shuffles. Starkie left, leading to kaptain’s return to active duty. A few days later, AMS left the team for Overwatch, leading the team to pick up the rising star Puoskari. This season also introduced the world to Lowpander, a team that shook the 6v6 meta by having Muuki on a “Flex” role instead of Roamer. Also of note was Arctic Foxes, a team of mostly German players, including former Epsilon eSports player shocky, that eventually ended up taking second.
In the offseason, Puoskari and alle both left Se7en, which brought back Starkie and kaidus to active play, despite the latter’s injury. However, the most notable thing that arose from this season is what occurred in the offseason. Lowpander had made a strong showing in the regular season, taking second seed and knocking down third-seed Arctic Foxes to the lower bracket in the first round. In the Upper Bracket final, they were nonetheless beaten by Se7en. From here, Arctic Foxes began a spectacular performance, beating Lowpander 2-0 in the Lower Bracket Finals and securing a ticket to the Grand Finals. Then, discounting Se7en’s default one-map advantage, they clean-swept the European juggernaut 3-0 to win the season. However, Se7en did have paddie, best known as a former Pocket Soldier of froyotech, ringing for Starkie on Scout, and Arctic Foxes were ringing Silentes and alle.
Despite their newly minted world title, froyotech declined to correct their performance at i58, making i61 an all European affair, the first since i43. Nevertheless, this LAN marked the debut of the SVIFT organization, whose debut lineup featured astt, SVMZI, b4nny, Silentes, alle, and Raptor. Without the presence of their international rivals, Se7en managed to win their second iSeries in a row.
ESEA Season 26 marked the first time the Ascent core failed to make the Grand Finals since Season 16. After suffering many roster changes throughout the season, they were eventually eliminated by the cafe monster core under the banner of SVIFT NA. Ultimately, it is likely this event that led yomps to jump ship to the rival froyotech.
After their victory at i61, Se7en took a season off from competition, leaving the door open for another team to win ETF2L. Among the mix were the i61 runners-up SVIFT, longtime playoffs competitors LEGO and Lowpander, and the newly sponsored Ascent.EU. At the end of the day, Ascent.EU almost replicated the performance of Arctic Foxes the previous season, losing in the first round of playoffs and coming back to play in the Grand Finals. Unfortunately, they narrowly lost to SVIFT 3-2 in the end, thanks to the one map advantage.
froyotech stole the show at i63 (photo by Declan "Mr. Jelly" Atkin)
Like the previous, this year opened with another Rewind LAN hosted in North America. Se7en returned from the shadows with what was essentially their ETF2L Season 27 roster, except with AMS instead of Starkie. All other teams at the event were from North America, including froyotech, a heavily-modified Ascent, and SVIFT NA.
Things were initially going rather swimmingly during the group stages, but Se7en unfortunately suffered a great loss at the Upper Bracket finals. Midway through the first map against froyotech, kaptain had to be substituted out for Permzilla due to a food-related illness. Subsequently, the team lost quickly to froyotech, before being cleanly knocked out by Ascent in the Lower Bracket Finals, failing to score a single round in either of these encounters. The question still remains as to their performance if kaptain hadn’t gotten sick. Se7en’s elimination cleared the way for an easy froyotech victory against their main North American rivals in the Grand Finals 3-0.
Upon returning to Europe, Se7en lost Drackk, kaptain, and Raymon, replacing them with Thaigrr, adysky, and seeds to win ETF2L Season 29. They won the following season as well, swapping out seeds for Starkie on Medic, eventually taking this roster to i63.
This iSeries, froyotech actually showed up, once again competing against the top talent in Europe, especially Se7en, for another unofficial world title. blaze and shade were unable to journey across the pond, leading to garbuglio and cookiejake to take their place for LAN. Coming out of the group stages, Se7en and froyotech clearly stood out from the pack, with the sole defeat between the two being the latter’s loss to the former. They coasted through the knockout bracket, with froyotech getting their revenge on Se7en by sweeping them 2-0 in the Upper Bracket Final. Once Se7en came out of the Lower Bracket, one of the closest and most exciting Grand Finals in iSeries history took place. froyotech narrowly took the first map 3-2, while Se7en won the second 3-2 in Golden Cap. froyotech then cleanly won Product 3-0, but then lost Granary 2-3. On the fifth and final map, Sunshine, froyotech cleanly won it 5-0, retaking the iSeries title they lost at i58.
ESEA Season 29 is notable for the return of FROYO BLACK and all its resulting drama. The departure of yomps and shade to form this new team spurred froyotech to poach the remainder of the previous season’s Ascent, which resulted in the brand picking up the Street Hoops eSports roster. Midway through the season, after both experiencing roster troubles, SVIFT NA and FROYO BLACK ultimately merged and eventually took second.
The excitement at i63 managed to coax Starkie, kaptain, and Raymon out of retirement for Se7en, although kaidus had to step down early in the season due to another injury. Meanwhile, Ascent.EU picked up a new team featuring AMS, credu, Drackk, Silentes, Elacour, and Connor, which cleanly took second.
RGL finally branched itself out internationally, beginning to host some minor one day cups as test events in both Europe and Australia. The cups were received with relative positivity, securing enough players to build a foundation for the future of the leagues in these regions. However, many old school players stayed cautious and wary of sigafoo’s new gamemode.
TF2 took to Europe once more for LAN in 2019 (photo by Declan "Mr. Jelly" Atkin)
The year opened predicably with ESEA Season 30 and ETF2L Season 32 crowning froyotech and Se7en as their respective champions.
In ETF2L Season 33, Se7en swapped out Thaigrr with Silentes, while Ascent.EU took their third straight second-place finish with new pickups Zebbosai, PolygoN, and Domo.
Unfortunately for North America, 2019 would mark the 31st and final season of ESEA, with admin Aluminati citing lack of interest relative to CS:GO and other platforms in a brief statement. In the aftermath, a mess of initialisms jostled for the coveted North American playerbase, including UGC, ESL, TFCL, NACL, and RGL.
Not everything was as peachy across the pond, with the short-lived EU counterpart of RGL coming to a close. Closing due to a lack of manpower within the admin team, RGL is yet to prove itself to be a contender for a serious league in Europe.
Summer brought LANs, and LANs galore. Australia had the LAN Downunder and there was another hosted in Moscow. At the forefront was the latest Insomnia LAN, i65. Faced with yet another froyotech absence, Ascent.NA went in their stead to defend their region against their European compatriots. Unfortunately for the Americans, despite defeating Se7en in the Upper Bracket Finals, the European juggernaut swept them in the Grand Finals and took back their world title.
Again, without the presence of their main international rivals, Se7en took another season off competition, allowing Ascent.EU to eventually secure a season victory, the first time the Ascent brand has taken first in a major league since ESEA Season 20. In North America, most of the competition shifted over to RGL upon ESEA’s collapse, with the very first Invite season being won by froyotech.
ESEA was not the only important league closing its doors to the community this year. The South American scene also saw the end of LBTF2 after its fourth season of Highlander, due to the organizers (FBTF) of the biggest tournament in the region ceasing all activity. After a long a record of DDoS attacks and harassments to the staff personnel and after a lot of the top players in the region going inactive, the competition saw a huge decrease in the quality of the highest division and an awkward stasis in the lower ones, ultimately leading to the end of the league that fostered great players such as powah and ninjax. While the near future for the South American community might seem bleak, a small group of passionate players, lead by ratawar, is already under move to keep the scene alive, in the form of the legacy.hub project, which should release more information soon.
Much of 2019 has been overshadowed by the controversy of the year’s end. October saw the bans of four high profile players over instances of pedophilia. This was followed by the mismanagement and death of the BTS LAN in California, alongside which several high-level accounts of assault from Dashner were made public, and spread through outside reporting by Richard Lewis.
This brings us back to the present day. Thanks to everyone in the TF2 community for continuing to support this wonderful game. Happy New Year to all and best wishes for the coming decade!
More details, especially concerning the AU, Asia and South America scenes, may be added soon at writers' discretion.