TF2 Ranks Guide – Ranking System Explained

It might not be common knowledge, but the origins of Team Fortress stretch back to 1996. It was way back then that a mod was created for Quake, and it essentially paved the way for the remarkably popular 2007 release, Team Fortress 2. When it was released on Xbox 360 as a part of The Orange Box, Team Fortress 2 quickly rose to become one of the most popular multiplayer shooters of all time. Today, we’re here to discuss its consistent strength and take a look at the TF2 ranks that exist in the multiplayer modes.

There are few games that have been as successful as Team Fortress 2. In 2011, four years after TF2 surfaced, it went free-to-play, and it was one of the best things that the developers, Valve, could have ever done. It seemed as though the player base quadrupled overnight, and today, more than eleven years later, it’s still dramatically popular. We’re going to learn a little something about the game today, and dive deep into the TF2 ranking system.

Is TF2 Still Popular?


Recently, TF2 has actually grown in popularity. While the game has existed for more than 15 years, it actually hit its all-time peak player count in June of 2021, clocking in a respectable 150,000 concurrent players on Steam. Since then, the game has continued to maintain a consistent player count, averaging around 75,000 – 90,000 players a month with ease. It’s a superb number of players, especially when you consider that TF2 is relatively niche, boasting a humorous and unique art style that hasn’t really changed for over a decade.

For years, critics have awarded TF2 high praise across the board. It delivers excellent results through simple, enjoyable gameplay, and quirky, explosive mechanics that fans absolutely adore. It can get hectic at times, with certain game modes featuring a 9v9 format – but typically, in an esports environment, teams will play with a 4v4 format. While Team Fortress 2 never made it big in terms of the esports industry, it has remained a popular grassroots title, with many small-tier esports tournaments taking place even today.

But, even with these smaller tournaments taking place, the TF2 betting scene is pretty much non-existent.

However, if we look outside of the hardcore esports industry, we see a thriving competitive scene. There are many new players loading up the game these days, eager to climb the TF2 ranks and try out all of the interesting, innovative characters featured in the title. It’s certainly a popular title, and it will likely remain so for some time yet to come.

Exploring The TF2 Ranks

If we’re going to break down all TF2 ranks, we’ll need to look at two sides of the same coin. Firstly, there’s the TF2 casual rank system, and then the TF2 competitive ranks structure. They’re opposite ends of the spectrum, and to explain them by other terms, we’d say that one is ranked, while the other is unranked. They’re terms that most competitive gamers should be familiar with, regardless of their proficiency.

Let’s start with the TF2 casual rank system:

  • Civilian Grade (1 – 25)
  • Freelance Grade (26 – 50)
  • Mercenary Grade (51 – 75)
  • Commando Grade (76 – 100)
  • Assassin Grade (101 – 125)
  • Elite Grade (126 – 150)

These ranks are mostly arbitrary and simply show how far you’ve progressed through the casual mode found within TF2. They won’t be downgraded if your performance suffers, but they are subject to tiers. Every time you reach level 150, you’ll hit the next tier, and your badges will change accordingly. They’re less ‘coveted’ than the TF2 ranks in the competitive mode, though – here are the ranks found in the more hardcore areas of the game:

  • Mercenary (1, 2, 3)
  • Contract Killer (1, 2, 3)
  • Executioner (1, 2, 3)
  • Expert Assassin (1, 2, 3)
  • Death Merchant

These TF2 ranks are much harder to come by, and there’s a minimum requirement to complete before you can even play competitive matches. There’s no way to jump straight into the competitive mode – instead, players must complete ten placement matches before they get assigned their first rank. In the competitive mode, all TF2 ranks affect the matches you’ll be put into, as they work closely with an MMR mechanic to determine the players you’ll face in-game.

Will TF2 Ever Be a Big Esports Title?

Unfortunately, it seems that any esports potential surrounding TF2 has died out over the last decade or so. As time has gone on, it has become less likely that TF2 will ever be a top esports title, despite the opportunities having stood there, plain as day, for several years. It’s a hugely enjoyable multiplayer platform backed by tens of thousands of players, and even after all these years, it’s still a strong fan favourite title.

For now, players will have to satisfy themselves by just climbing the TF2 ranks in the game’s multiplayer modes. It’s the closest we’ll ever get to TF2 esports, and that’s all there is to it.