There are quite a few different competitive gamemodes in
competitive TF2, all with their own common team compositions known as the 'meta'. Different leagues also have
their own variations, maps, and rules for these gamemodes,
so there will be some information on the leagues as well.
Some information found on this page is not hard fact, but instead may be opinionated. Be aware there are varying opinions in the community and many of these are just some of the most common.
This page uses common competitive vocabulary and slang. Certain words will be within single-quotes (e.g. 'word'). You can hover over these for a small tooltip definition.
Meta Forced Classes: Soldier and Medic
Ultiduo is always played with two players on each team, a Soldier and a Medic. The maps will always be custom KOTH maps which are very small when compared to other maps. The Soldier and Medic both need to be skilled enough to manage player on the offense and defense at all times. A general strategy for this gamemode is for the Medic and Soldier to stay together whenever possible and for the Soldier to always stay nearest to the enemies. Not much else can be said for strategy as the gameplay relies heavily on 'DM (deathmatch) skill', map knowledge, and callouts.
Meta: Scout, Soldier, Demoman, and Medic
Fours is a competitive format with 4 players on each team (as the name suggests). Class restrictions are usually set to 1 per class and it is most commonly a rule that there cannot be a Heavy and a Medic at the same time on a team. Pyro can also occasionally be played instead of the Soldier. This gamemode usually features smaller maps, most commonly KOTH and smaller '5CP' maps.
Common Meta: Scout (2x), Soldier (2x: Pocket and Roamer), Demoman, and Medic
The most common map types for this gamemode are KOTH and medium-large '5CP' maps. Commonly referenced as the staple format for competitive TF2, 6v6 has been a community favorite for a long time. 6v6 is by far the most frequently played gamemode in tournaments. It is considered to be the best form of competitive for TF2 and has the largest playerbase of all the gamemodes.
Meta: Scout (2x), Soldier (2x: Pocket and Roamer), Demoman, and Medic
There are 6 classes per team in a match, with class restrictions (usually) set to 2 for each class except for Demoman and Medic which are set to 1 per team. Demoman and Medic are the most important classes in this gamemode with Demoman being the team's greatest damage output and with the Medic being the only way for the team to receive healing other than health packs. Getting a kill on one of these are very important and as such, they are usually one of the main focuses in a game.
The most common strategy is to have a Scout and a Soldier stay by the Demoman and Medic as part of what is called the 'combo'. This Scout and Soldier are called Pocket or Combo players (e.g. Pocket Soldier or Combo Scout). The other two players (most commonly a Scout and a Soldier) are known as Flank or Roamer (e.g. Roamer Soldier or Flank Scout). These players will defend the team's flank paths, clean up low-health enemies, and push through the flank paths when preparing for a push.
Due to its unrestrictive nature, there isn't a set meta (yet).
Running the standard meta and adapting your composition to combat theirs seems to be an effective strategy currently.
6s is not a community-supported gamemode like the rest either. TF2 has its own implemented competitive mode which is played with 6 players on each team, a different map pool, and no restrictions at all. The restrictions in standard stem from community trial and error, but Valve is attempting to balance around competitive to make a functional gamemode with no restrictions.
Similar to the meta, there isn't very much of a strategy for unrestricted sixes other than the strategy for standard sixes. One thing the lack of restriction changes drastically, however, is reactive team composition. Classes in this gamemode will change based on the enemies', leading to fights of not only deathmatch skill, map-knowledge, or positioning, but also class knowledge and skill as all classes and with all weapons. Based on how skilled one of their players is, you could change your class or your weapon to better combat their playstyle (e.g. if they have a very strong Roamer Soldier, you could change to Pyro and use the Reserve Shooter to shut them down).
RGL (Recharge Gaming League) also offers a No Restriction Sixes gamemode to further experiment with this and to showcase how it can be played.
Meta: Scout, Soldier, Demoman, Medic, Sniper, and 2 'Flex Classes'
Prolander is one of the newest competitive formats to come to TF2. It was conceived on the idea of trying to have the lowest playercount possible, while still maintaining class diversity and dynamic choices. Each team has seven players on either side and has the same restrictions as Highlander with only allowing one per class. It focuses on mainly Payload, Attack/Defend and KOTH map types.
Due to Prolander's 2 flex classes per team, a good strategy for gameplay is to change your flex players' classes often to combat enemy playstyles and classes. If they have an especially skilled Spy, someone on your team may go Spy. As always in competitive, you should play around your team's positioning and never advance further than where you should be.
"Prolander is a 7v7 format where you can only have one of each class, meaning that at any given time you'll see a majority of the classes in TF2 actually being played. This also means you'll have to constantly be thinking about what classes are best in that moment, to help your team or counter theirs" - sigafoo, creator of Prolander
*Some or most of the information on this gamemode has been sourced directly from other sites and people.
Meta Forced Classes: Scout, Soldier, Pyro, Demoman, Heavy, Engineer, Medic, Sniper, Spy
Highlander is often referred to as the best way to transition from casual, 12v12 TF2 to competitive. This gamemode has the most players on each team out of all other mainstream gamemodes and features all 9 classes (unlike others where you usually won't see certain classes anywhere in a match). Highlander has been a long time gamemode in the competitive community and is often seen as a good option for competitive when you want to main a class which isn't commonly used in other gamemodes.
Frag Academy, created by Elk
for the betterment of the TF2 community :)