For Season 32 of their Highlander league announced that they'd be unbanning every weapon sans the Diamondback. Now as their seasons in NA, EU, SA, and APAC have concluded, we're left wondering what comes next for the league and the community. So we sat down with UGC Head TF2 Admin reno, to see the league's take on it all.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Why did UGC elect to run these test changes for the season?
reno: Unbanning weapons was something I’ve wanted to try for a long time but it’s a bit difficult when everyone is so used to essentially the same whitelist. One of the biggest reasons I opted to do these changes was because i wanted to see if it was possible in general. TF2 has always been the same with little change for years and years and it got to a point where i thought to myself that hey, maybe the community could use something different and show to other people that it’s possible... possible to add new maps, etc. The community is so scared of change and anything new and before I made these changes I was nervous of backlash, but honestly I received more praise.
Another reason is because for the past few seasons, people came to me personally about unbanning weapons. Someone gave me a very good case as to why I should unban the weapons, which was: “it makes it easier for newer people to adapt from pub to competitive” and I agreed. Also from past pollings people have mentioned they wanted certain weapons unbanned so I pulled the trigger for them all. Except the diamondback, we genuinely felt that weapon is... too much.
Lastly, it was a way to differentiate ourselves from RGL, we were essentially the same; map list and white list, therefore the new whitelist put us apart.
My end goal was to show that change can be made, because the Tf2 comp scene is molded around a lot of veteran’s who don’t like much change. I think the best way to keep everything fresh is to introduce new things, new maps, changes, and I’m glad I did this change because it opened my eyes that the world won’t fall apart if something is unbanned. After years of being an admin and watching our presence at UGC decline, all I can do is throw darts at a board and see what sticks. I’m very open to feedback and always looking for opportunities to grow UGC and the comp community
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Seeing how this season's gone, do you see UGC running more of these experimental seasons in the future?
reno: Yes, likely! We usually keep anything “experimental” for the summer season , it’s usually when new things are introduced and tested. This next season won’t have anything “new” or experimental only because our staff is small and we have all been very busy with the holidays and school. I am very interested in doing more tests in the future and to possibly add other leagues like BBall etc... when we have the time we might look to arrange an experimental cup.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: While playing in the season was there any change that really stood out to you?
reno: Well, disclaimer for me... my team came in second place so there is a possibility I didn’t notice because we won matches.
I didn’t see a difference- I played scout. But the class I saw that had the most notable change and reaction to this was actually snipers. It’s like the sniper mains became excited and flocked back from the unbans, and I can’t really tell you if it affected me or not since I’m not really around snipers as the scout. There was never a moment where the other team complained they lost because of a weapon, and vise versa. I actually found most of the time, even with the unlocks people still played standard Highlander setups. I really have to wait and see what the polls have to say, but I don’t think NA had an issue. I do know that Asia had a huge issue with the unlocks and are possibly leaving the league, we have to discuss a new NA/ASIA whitelist later...
I did notice a lot of team fights were won because of milk throws so there’s that advantage but nothing was honestly too over powered. The other weapon I think people are weird about is the short circuit on payload, but again pretty easy to counter if you’re smart. I’d like to maybe experiment with a koth/pl/cp whitelist but I’m also afraid it might be too much for people.
TEAMFORTRESS.TV: Did you have anything you wanted to add?
reno: Before this season when I unbanned everything, I genuinely thought it was going to be a madhouse in game. I signed up this season because as the admin that made this decision, it’s only fair I test it personally. I think this taught me that the community is capable of change and even if something is different, you can still have a fun and serious atmosphere. I extend the idea to other leagues to try something new, because I gained something positive out of it! (At least, until I hear the feedback from the polls lol)
UGC will be releasing a post-season poll to see how they proceed into the future, so share your thoughts to shape the coming seasons! Congratulations to the season winners Super Dickmann's KANNONEN!, Thunderstorm, Dream Hunters, Ambulas, and Suck a Thick One.