Ask Fish – Calling Guide ( No Not our Fish)

Feeling a bit shaky or daunted by calling in game? Not sure when or how to push up, hold or even retreat? To help those teams and their leaders clarify this arcane art Fish, a British TF2 player with extensive compeitive knowledge and whom plays for VitalGaming ( yep not our own Fish aka Yaeger) has created a ‘Calling Guide‘.

Ask Fish – Calling Guide Part 1

By Fish

So it’s time to ask some questions again. This week instead of questions, I thought I would answer a question which I get asked a lot. For the next article, to keep up with questions others may ask, I would ask that you sign up to the Vital website . There you will find the forums and at the bottom a sub section in TF2 called Ask Fish!

So to the questions! What advice can you give to someone learning to call?

I will apologise in advance for what will be a long article, but I will break it into bits so you can enjoy it with many cups of tea!

 Who should call?

It is interesting to see who calls in different teams. I call as a medic which has never bothered me. But to the newer medics out there I would focus around getting yourself to a level before you try to start calling. A soldier can call, there is no reason why not, the pocket is probably best to call though as he is closer to the medic and can track things like medic health. Demo could call and of course byte in TCM calls and does a pretty solid job. I would not advise that a demo calls, for the sheer amount of buttons that he already has to press. For the point of this article I play medic and I will be giving advice from that point of view.

The next question is can two people call? I am a firm believer that one person should be in control of the game, and two people calling doesn’t work. I do know some teams that run it and it does work for them, so by all means if you’re comfortable with a two man calling team try that. Can we function without a caller? Again, I know teams that just call what they see, for me to go beyond the level you are now you will have to gain control in the team.

What Qualities should a Caller have?

Be calm under pressure, your team is looking to you for inspiration to take them forward to turn the map around.

Be clear, don’t use more words than you have too. Don’t confuse the situation; make a clear call of what you want and when you want it.

Be able to listen and digest information. As a caller you have the final say on anything but you need your team to give you information from their point of view. Digest the information given to you quickly and decide to act on it. Allow players the freedom to suggest a push but either cancel them or back those up be clear with it and be fast. Take a lot from your scouts, they will spot a lot for you. Try to hear what they say and ask the team to keep their comms as clear as possible.

Be decisive, you want to do something then do it. Push a point, cap a point, get a pick. Be sure what you want and tell your team you want it, don’t delay your team, set up the action and put it into place. A caller that pulls the team around will have an impatient team. It will happen at some point but be sure it only happens on the rare occasion.

Be firm. Words like “let’s try” “shall we” should not exist in your calling. You are in charge of the team, tell them what to do, don’t suggest, tell. You are useless to the team if you only suggest.

Admit fault. You’re going to make a bad call, it happens. Your calls will win or lose a round. If you have made a mistake, admit it to your team with an apology. Then move on, don’t dwell on it. Refocus your team and yourself for the next round / point, ready to make the next good call that wins.

How can the team support the caller?

Trust; the team has to trust the caller to make the right choice

Support; the team has to support the caller in the choices they make, regardless if they believe them to be wrong.

React; the team has to react to the calls. Regardless of what they are doing. Exceptions can be stuck behind them, for example: In this case, make it clear you are stuck and ask the caller what they want you to do, he could create a distraction for you to either pick a class or escape.

Comms; give the right comms all the time, don’t give information that’s not needed. Be clear with what you need to say and use as few words as possible.

Respect; the team has to show respect to what the caller is doing. They will make a mistake, respect them enough to let it pass and move on. After a game, talk to them with input or advice on how it could have been done different.

Feedback; the caller can only get better with constructive feedback. Record mumble, watch a demo and highlight area’s that were a bit weak or consistently not up to par.

 General tips

General tips that can be helpful in calling or what I find helpful.

The scoreboard button is your friend! I hammer mine a lot in games. The only reason behind this is to constantly see what is up what is dead. Although your team will call what they kill it can get lost in the moment so it’s always better just to double check for yourself.

Have a good memory for who is what. It will serve you well to remember who is the demo and medic. This will be a huge benefit for yourself, to realise when the med / demo is dead as these are key classes in most of what you will base your calls to push / defend with.

Position is the key to a good attack or defense. If you set your team up well you will do wonders with a push or a defence. Your team need to be clear about what you are setting up, is it to make them pop uber? Make them fall out of the point to cap? Start with the position you take, if you put your team in the wrong place you will lose to the other team just because you can’t fall out or cap a point.

Be ahead of the play. By this I mean be 2 steps ahead. Think beyond your next move. If you push a point and cap it, what then? If you use an uber and don’t kill the medic, what then? You consistently need to be thinking and getting ready for the next situation.

Advantages what is a major and a minor advantage. For me a major advantage can only be defined as a medic or a demo kill. The reasons behind this is for a demo you take away a huge damage output and the danger of the stickies. The medic for the simple reason of no more heals and the uber advantage. Although a scout and a soldier pick is great it’s not always the best pick to work on but it will leave weakness in certain area’s the other team are defending. So pressure the area he was defending see if you can get an extra pick. I will cover more of this in part 2 pushing and defending!


There will always be a lot of jokes around rage and such but is it always a bad thing? It’s interesting for me how different people call. Some of the callers out there are quite aggressive in their manner. Some are a bit soft in there calls, the game is there to be enjoyed and nothing is more enjoyable than winning. For me, I do rage at my team, but at the correct moments rage is a tool for me, how you use it is another matter. As long as what happens in a game stays in the game everything will be good. The teams passions run high in the game and things are said that are sometimes in the heat of the moment. For me rage cannot be personal you cannot single a player out and insult him on a personal level.

Words like you’re an idiot, a moron, are not beneficial to that player. It happens and it has happened to me on occasion. Offer an apology to the player to build a bridge as such. I use rage to focus the team make them look at areas that are really poor. As a medic, it can sometimes be that they simply not keeping me alive long enough. It can be that someone is having a poor game and he needs focus again. It can sometimes be that we are not treating the other team with enough respect to get the game one playing a game of little control. Don’t be afraid to use rage, but use it correctly, it can refocus your team if used at the right time and help get you back on track.

I was also asked a question about how to resolve in game conflict between 2 players. In a team you need to welcome opinions from everyone and in a game is not the right time. You can easily say where the issues are but fighting between players is not going to help anyone. Simple, as the caller / leader tell them both to shut up and resolve it after the map. Take them into a mumble and let them sort things after a game it looks different anyway and it will be minor compared to in game. If you do not control the team to respect each other in game you will suffer long term. Always try to keep an open air in mumble too after a game have a bit of a feedback session let everyone say there piece and think things over.


 Risk vs Reward

I get asked quite a bit from soldier who playing in the roaming role what they should do at 3 other area’s jump a class stay back. Although I can’t give a full guide to how to play a roaming soldier, I thought I would cover a little bit of it in the calling. I am quite fond of the thought of risk vs reward when calling. What will I gain as a reward against the risk of if it fails. To give the most obvious situation is launching the soldier on the medic to make him die / pop. Reward is uber advantage potentially a winning round. Risk is a soldier down and defending a point. As you start to look at the game in this way you will start to think like a caller more and when a reward is far greater than the risk you will start to make better choices. I will put a few more situations to think on.

The other team are capping point 2, they have uber you are sitting on 70% you need 15 seconds to get that uber. Here the team will be on you quick enough to kill you if you don’t do something so you have an option to push 2 scouts into them. All you really want the scouts to do is buy you time, pop the med just give you 10 seconds to get closer to uber. Reward – Getting uber holding last scouts spawn you can rebuild from last. Risk – scouts get wiped in seconds you lose last. In this situation it’s already pretty grim. The risk is about that of what it already is if you do nothing. In the second piece I will explore the other options of holding them off like utility classes!

You’re ready to push last you have uber they have uber everyone is alive you still have 2 scouts. You could make a bold choice to suicide a scout for a sniper or perhaps both if you’re brave! Reward – scout may pop the med get a pick or spawn back as sniper and kill the med. Risk – You lose 2 scouts the other team push you back you lose cap 2. As a caller there is always a risk in any tactic, so the choice will always be yours if you do take the risk. You can set the rest of your team to protect the point hold them out from anything so you don’t lose more than you plan.

After what seems constant dribble I will leave it there for part 1. As always these views are that of my own and are by no means correct. People will always learn better developing the team finding what works for you. My aim was just to give new callers food for thought in how I work in Vital.

Part 2, as it was longer than I expected will cover more advanced calling like pushing defending, key things to watch out for.

Thanks for reading, as always join our steam group spec some games feel free to chat to me in the steam chat room for the group if I am not busy I always enjoy talking to people.


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10 years ago

Excellent article.
“Don’t be afraid to use rage, but use it correctly, it can refocus your team if used at the right time and help get you back on track.”

<3 X

10 years ago

Sad thing I read it on VanillaTF2 first.
Maybe just copy a piece and let someone read from the main website.

Also I advice to read the comments

It gives some intresting views on the article.

Reply to  Fair
10 years ago

Well Fair hopefully they will read your comment and check those comments too 🙂

We could be doing what you are saying but this way the article will be archived under our “Tutorial” category and most likely will be readed by people that do not check on a daily basis as we do. You know people are lazy!

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