Ask Fish – Calling Guide Part 2 (Advanced Calling)

After a great first part of Fish’s Calling Guide he has released the 2nd part of his calling guide and this one has a lot of great information with advanced techniques that you must definitely read. Get this stuff in your head mate! Check it out:

By Fish

Before I ramble into the wall of text that will become Part 2, I wanted to just touch on a few areas of Part 1 that I perhaps made unclear. Most of it was about how I preached to only have 1 caller, as most of my articles are aimed towards the div 4 Teams and below, I still believe myself to be right in this way. The higher you go – into the dizzy heights of div 3 and beyond – one caller becomes still a useful tool, however, the rest of the team have to become more vocal in the tactical game of TF2. To make it even more clear, I will explain how vital works with regard to in-game calling as well as how we tick as a team.

In game, I lead no questions asked. I will make the choice of what play we make, what push we do, when to change out a utility and what I want to achieve from a play. Within this Hitleresque leadership of the team there is a lot more I take on board; I have to respect everyone within my team to make tactical choices in game that I don’t always ask them to do. I trust my team to become self-aware of the game and improve on independent decision making. I trust that the comms are solid so that I can support each player with ideas and I will always take each players’ thoughts on-board.


Part of my role is to maintain that we play as a team. When things don’t work I will take a firmer hold over the team to make sure that we re-group, become tight and work as a unit. In this article I will explore more of my role as leader in-game, the role the other players have around that and what I look for in-game to work on. I really hope this article will make things clearer to people; by no means am I saying that this is the only way to do it, this is what works for us. Each team has their own way to play but the way we have played in the last 8 months has taken us from div 4 to div 1.


Caller, Coach, Leader

A caller can be much more to the team than just the guy that says ‘lets push!’. You have the power to inspire your team and to instill confidence and belief in themselves. The last time I touched on rage and how it can be used to refocus the players, get them to listen to the comms and play tighter as a team. In an almost coaching role you would be surprised how people can react to some praise and recognition of a good play. When confidence is high people have a lot of belief that they can go forward and beat the team in front of them. When it is not, your team will begin to struggle and lose momentum. Do not overuse this fact to the point where you’re saying “OMG well played” on every kill but use it in the right moments. Recognise great rounds by the team by saying “Fantastic round guys well played”. Recognise individual moments and kill streaks to build people up so they know you have noticed their good play. This also falls into the role of trying to find the right words when it’s not going so well. Encourage your team to win a small victory first – defend or take a point and then build on it. Words have a lot of power in game and you must learn to read your team to get the best out of them. Try to understand what they need to hear to get the best out of themselves.


Al Pacino giving his famous “Inch by inch” speech in “Any Given Sunday”


The Smallest thing

Not really a caller paragraph but something that is interesting nonetheless and a caller could use it. In my time during TF2 and leading vital I have watched quite a lot of STV. What I have realised in this time is that a round can be won or lost on what is sometimes the smallest thing. People won’t realise the implications of an action or a play that can eventually lead to a round loss. I will give a pretty obvious example:

You’re holding a point and your soldiers are busy spamming areas rather than building uber. Ubers were even at the start but the other team were busy building and gained a 15% advantage. The other team uber through on the dot, kill the medic and wipe the team due to the small error of not building.

It can extend further into losing a player in a stupid way such as letting someone get behind, not listening to a call of “player here” etc.


Position / Mentality

When you’re playing TF2 you should be fully aware what advantages the other team has. For this section I will be using badlands as an example. How you should set your team up to hold or prepare to push depends on the situation but here are 3 common scenarios:


  1. Enemy has uber you do not – Defensive line.

You’re in control of cp3 on Badlands. Medic should be near your train being built but with a clear fall out plan to get out of there alive with as many people as possible. Along side this you will want to have a certain amount of presence on the front train to make sure the enemy does pop and doesn’t simply walk into the point without using. A defensive line is that where you should have a clear fall out plan ready to rebuild on the next point or push back in.

  1. You both have uber – Aggressive line.

You both have an uber – it now comes down to who is going to push first. On cp3 badlands it’s normal for you to push cp2 as cp3 is a bit of a pain to push. But if you were to think more along the lines of holding cp2 badlands you would hold quite an aggressive line so you can pop the medic when they walk in, keep people alive and try to push them back. In this situation it’s good to not spread off an uber so you may get a second or 2 extra to try and bag yourself a key pick. If you hold defensive with an uber you’re going to give the other team a good chance to walk further into you without using.

  1. You have uber the enemy don’t – Aggressive line / ready to push

You want to set up this push on 90% and you need to be clear on what you want from the push (covered more in uber use). Get someone to spot the other team; can you afford to walk in without using the uber or are they close enough to get in and wipe the team. Make sure you’re trying to kill the medic if he is getting close to an uber but if he is not close enough pick what you can and bully the team backwards trying to gain a position in which to cap.


The Uber

A lot of focus in TF2 is going to be around an uber, how to defend against it and how to attack with it. As a caller, the key to an uber is making it crystal clear to the team how you want to use it. It’s key with an uber that you make your team fully aware how you want to use it and who with. If it’s clear before you even push with it then the players know who your uber focus is so that they can best position themselves around it. A defensive uber is a bit different, try not to multi too much but you’ve got to keep numbers so spread it around and trust your team to move into better positions to keep themselves alive. For the purpose of using an uber I will again give 3 scenarios:

  1. Uber vs uber: They have uber you have uber and it’s a stale mate! So you can try to make them pop the uber with a jumping soldier or perhaps a scout. So you tried that, it failed and your 6v6 time is ticking. Get your spawners back and then you can push a player into their team, pop the uber get them to pop or fall out and see what position you are in afterwards. Try to take the demo and a soldier in to damage them enough to uber while perhaps using your scouts and other soldier to flank them, picking a kill off so you have a numbers advantage.

  1. Positional uber: You have an uber, they are not far off it and are sitting quite defensive. Let us use granary cp2 as an example. If you were to push one player in like the demo you could simply use the uber to push the other team back out of the point while the rest of your team caps. The danger here is that they are going to have uber to come back at you but of course you can pull your team further back / flank them and see if you can confuse their team.

  1. Killing uber: You have uber with a big % advantage on their’s and you want to get into the team and wipe them out. It’s a simple tactic really, take your heavys in and just focus the targets off. Spread the uber around to keep them alive while they pick the team off. It’s important that your heavys do focus fire or it will fail. As a medic you can afford to delay the uber a little bit here so long as there are no traps and your team should push them back giving you less pressure.


Uber vs. Uber


React to your team

As we near the end of this guide I will finally touch more on how to react to your own team. There was a lot of debate over using more than 1 caller and this is all about how I let the rest of my team call things and react to them. Everyone in TF2 has the power to change the round, be it a soldier picking a medic, a scout back capping – it is the creative aspect of your players that what will make a team better. It has to be used at the correct time, you can’t have a soldier launching the med every time they spawn – the game doesn’t call for it and it becomes obvious. Also, game sense can’t really be taught – it is the experience of the game and how to read it what is the benefit.

So we come to reacting to your team. What your teammates do at any given moment can distract the other team, affording you little windows of opportunity. The simplest way to describe this is a scout flanking could draw the attention of half their team, giving you a window opportunity to push round the other way and get some damage on the other team or cap a point.

Give your team the freedom to be creative but remember at key points to bring them back to focus, the best thing you can do as a caller is to not limit the team’s ability to make things happen but to draw focus at the right time. If you feel you’re losing players then tell them to calm down, hold a point for 20 seconds so that everyone can refocus on the task at hand. Comms will always be everything in how a team functions and you must share ideas before you try to carry them out – if a player does go in and gets the medic to 20hp but he failed to call it beforehand, then you lose the opportunity to back him up and maybe pick that medic. Let others call ideas and back them up where you can. A team that keeps the same line up for longer will improve together as you can start to read each other with less comms needed. I would encourage people to really stick with a team as the longer a team plays together the more you have together.


Final thoughts

So with that, my Calling Guide Part 2 is done! Although, reading back I feel I may not have given as much advice as I can to be a great caller, however, I do feel and hope I have made some things clearer. Every game of TF2 is different – situations are similar of course but to make someone a rigid caller would make the team itself beatable.

I have really enjoyed writing these 2 articles and if a few people have got something from it then I feel it was worth it.

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