ESPORTS DISCOVERY

Team Fortress 2 community loses it, decides to ‘meme a character into existence through the power of mass gaslighting’ while Valve focuses on Counter-Strike

We need to do some kind of wellness check on the Team Fortress 2 community. Sure, the game might have gotten a big summer update and smashed its all-time concurrent player record in the last year, but it’s hardly the apple of Valve’s eye in 2023. Players of the venerable shooter were left to gaze forlornly over at Counter-Strike 2 when that game was announced back in March, wondering if TF2 might get similar treatment “in another decade”.

I think that loneliness might have driven the poor souls to breaking point. In a fit of nostalgia, players across the TF2 community are reminiscing about better times, the golden old days when the game was a brand new and potential-filled part of The Orange Box. Specifically, they’re all singing tributes to the game’s missing tenth class: The Madcap. Gone but not forgotten.

Thing is, though, the Madcap never existed. TF2 has never had more than nine official classes—three offence, three defence, and three support—and yet for the past week or so the game’s subreddit has been a sea of memes, retrospectives, and fond recollections of the time players spent with the character before Valve supposedly removed him early on in TF2’s lifespan. The community has, apparently spontaneously, decided to try to collectively delude itself into believing this class actually existed and everyone has just forgotten it. Why? Boredom, mostly. 

Is meet the madcap archived anywhere? Or is it actually lost? from r/tf2

It’s a bit wonderful. A kind of wilful shared hallucination that the community has embarked on out of love for the game and a lack of much else to talk about, and for a while there they genuinely had me wondering if I had somehow completely forgotten about a tenth TF2 class that Valve yanked out early on. Alas, no. The real Madcap, the one that kicked this whole journey off, is a terrible, beautiful remodel of the Scout that’s haunted the Steam Workshop for TF2 since 2012. 

(Image credit: MadCap_Official / Valve)

He’s called, yeah, the Madcap, and he looks a bit like one of Fallout: New Vegas’ Great Khans if they’d been designed by the kid who drew Johnny Fiveaces. His spiky leather biker jacket engulfs him, he’s wearing glasses that are coke-bottle thick, and he seems to be wearing some kind of Mercurian winged helmet. 

You can’t actually download and play him, either. His workshop page carries a big bright notice that he’s “incompatible with Team Fortress 2”. Nevertheless, he’s a figure of myth, of legend, and he has now been adopted by the collaborative self-delusion of TF2’s community, who reckon they might be about to “meme a character into existence through the power of mass gaslighting”.

He’s the Scout’s older brother, who was murdered by the Spy after uncovering his secret, says a player named A-literal-sandwich. He was removed from the game for being OP, after which Valve scrubbed all mention of him in the game’s promotional materials, says scout_jpeg. His “bleed damage blocked Medic’s healing and it didn’t count as Uber building. The support he provided was Uber denial and healing denial, balancing out Medic’s overpowered influence,” reads the disturbingly detailed fantasy of a player named rictopher.

You get the idea. For several days running, it seemed like the entire TF2 community had decided to embark on a bit of collective worldbuilding, leading some people who aren’t in on the joke to question if they’re losing their grip on reality, and others to try to explain the phenomenon only to find themselves downvoted out of existence. Anyway, here are some of my favourite fruits of the community’s labour: 

What happened to Madcap? I Haven’t played since 2008 if that matters. He was my favorite class and I was quite taken aback not seeing him ingame. from r/tf2

I just found old screenshots from my old PC, rip Madcap from r/tf2

I rarely see people talking about the trading cards, they are probably my favorite pieces of artwork of the game, which are your favorites? mine was always the Madcap one from r/tf2

this is why madcap is my favorite class from r/tf2

It’s been years since I’ve played TF2 myself, but this fits with everything I know about the game’s community (including its voice actors, who continue to have dangerous amounts of fun in live-action skits as their characters). The fact that the game still generates this amount of absurd passion is honestly kind of sweet, and as unlikely as I know it is, I can’t help but hope Valve one day returns to give the game the attention it deserves. Maybe it could introduce a new class. Or bring back an old one? 

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