TF2 was the first game I really immersed myself into, meaning that a lot of my earliest internet memories come from this game. And through all the years, all the updates, all the thousands of hours of playing this game, there are a few memories that stand out to me the most. In the spirit of Love and War Part 2, I thought I’d take an article to recall my fondest memories as a TF2 fan. Especially since my more traditional “what I love most” article already exists.

In no particular order:

5. STAR_ wins Mixup 2013. It was possible for you to guess this, but I’ve been a massive fan of STAR_ for years. He was the first youtuber (not even just for TF2) that I subscribed to and watched every new video when it came out. I remember finding him for the first time when someone reposted his 2012 April Fool’s video thinking it was legit, and then his now-iconic Sniper_Stomper came soon after. (I was there when this video had 301+ views :3) So I was (and pretty much still am) a total STAR_ fanboy. And his run through the Charity Mixup Tournament was the greatest thing ever for those on team STAR_.

It had all the parts of the Hero’s Journey; STAR_ was added last-minute onto a team who had never played TF2 before. He carries them through the first match, not taking anything seriously, but as the teams get better his mischievous attitude brings them dangerously close to being eliminated, up to the final round of Map 3 which is winner-takes-all, loser goes home. They win, and you can see that STAR_’s teammates have been learning and improving, up to the championship match against the team who beat them in Round 2. A team with Robin Walker. And then they put together everything they’ve learned to win the championship, with STAR’s one-man 4-kill with 19 hp being one of the greatest plays in TF2 I’ve ever witnessed live. I can totally understand why STAR_ hasn’t done Mixup since; there’s never going to be a higher note to end on than that.

4. Unboxing my strange crossbow. This one is a bit more personal than the others, but the crossbow was one of the very first eight strange weapons I ever uncrated. This was extremely early in my TF2 career, and after eight Mann Co. crates had dropped, I decided to just buy keys and see what came out. I had done literally no research, so when Strange Sandmans and Strange Boston Bashers came out, I thought these were new weapons unobtainable any other way. So when one of them was a crossbow for my favorite class that healed teammates, I could hardly contain my excitement and have been married to the thing ever since. Luckily by the time I figured out that normal crossbows were a thing the allure of strange weapons kept my enthusiasm up. Plus my strange crossbow (and strange sandman) are the only “complete” strange counters that show literally every kill I’ve ever gotten with that base weapon, since I owned them before a normal one ever dropped.

3. Meet the Medic’s release. I was one of those players who owned the game before it went free-to-play, but just barely. Plus I was a medic main to boot. So the Uber Update, which brought more new weapons (and players) than any other, was extremely exciting in its own right even before you factor in the new Meet the Team video, where the videographers showed just how much they’d improved and refined their craft. Far from the relatively simplistic Meet the Heavy all the way to the intrigue and mystery of Meet the Spy, Valve had gotten better and better at telling a story that highlighted the class, strengthened the lore of the game and demonstrated the zany awesomeness of the base game to people who hadn’t played it. And in my opinion Meet the Medic was the single greatest video they’d ever released, only being eclipsed later by the first MvM trailer. But more on that later.

2. COMIC SPOILERS! Highlight the text to see it, otherwise jump ahead to number 1 if you haven’t read them: The Team Fortress Classic team’s appearance in the 3rd issue of the ongoing TF2 comics was an amazing moment for fans of TFC like me. Not only was it a perfect opportunity to introduce new players to the old game, it broadened the horizons of the canon by bringing up questions about the nature of the original game and its maps. Instead of poking expense at how old the original mercenaries are by this point, it showed them as no-nonsense professionals who were a legitimate threat to the heroes’ safety. And now that they’re apparently getting killed off like flies, I can appreciate that the TFC Medic will likely be spared the comic writer’s scythe.

1. Blood Brothers is released. The Mann Vs. Machine ARG might probably be the greatest event in the history of the game. Valve’s hype-drumming and sly teasing banded the community together, kept the mysteries coming and was sufficiently challenging that people from all over cooperated to get the necessary info and data for the community scientists to piece together the clues. I remember donating my string from High-fiving with the Capacitor, refreshing the Facepunch thread to see what new discoveries were being made, and calling my friends up and telling them to get back online when the comic was unlocked by a single player crafting the secret recipe. And then the comic itself shook the TF2 canon to its core, ending several years-old story arcs and introducing the newest and most dangerous villain yet. It was one of the greatest times to be a TF2 fan.