I'm just an uneducated amateur pyro, who never finished pyro elementary school. I've made my way on the street, only having the guidance of my mentor LjubicaZubica and the wisdom of ffIX-vivi to help me on the right path. As a pyro on the street, learning as I went along, I picked up a few things that I would like to share. I started playing pyro six months ago. It wasn't the natural classes for me. I started off being a spammy sticky demo, then a Counter-Strike style cuntsman, then slowly progressing into a spammy soldier, then owning it up as an aggressive demo-knight, then turning into an all-around soldier. And then I switched from playing mostly Dustbowl to playing mostly 2Fort. After being a soldier for some time, I was inspired to try out as pyro. Despite advice to the contrary, I insisted in playing as a Backburner pyro. By now, though, I have learned a lot about the ups and downs of the pyro class, and would like to help others gain an overview and perhaps some insight. Styles of pyro There are three significant and distinct styles of playing pyro. First, there is the very aggressive, uncompromising front-runner pyro, who never looks back. This style utilizes the very high potential damage output of a pyro that manages to close up on opponents and leads attacks into densely occupied areas by using airblast to mitigate or diminish the damage of the opponents. To play this style, you likely have to be very masochistic or a perfectionist. You will often run into situations that are outright impossible, but where you can turn the tides of the battle if you do things perfectly. Since you depend on getting close for the high damage output, you will sometimes have to commit to an attack where you simply cannot prevent the opponents from killing you, but you will be able to quickly take out 2-3 opponents before dying. Another style, the most usual one among the skilled pyros, is “utility pyro”. When adopting this style, you accept that pyro is a support class. You might sometimes be the first to push in, but you are very careful to commit to any attack. You use your airblast to stay safe and also as your main damage output in situations where you and your team is outgunned. Since you often adopt a defensive posture in combat situations, you will be in a good position to airblast anything that comes at you, rarely caught at a bad angle. So, if you can bait demos as soldiers to shoot at you, you can often get kills or do damage with the airblast, while taking no damage yourself. While the enemies are closing in on you, you can keep doing damage with your secondary weapon from a distance. You cannot beat a heavy who is charging right at you, but you can airblast him back and do damage with your secondary while retreating/dodging. Once people are charging at you, you can choose to commit in situation where you know that their chance to damage you is limited and you can catch them alone around a corner. This style of pyro is very effective, and becomes particularly powerful when you’re in a group of attackers. While a soldier, heavy or demo could normally use a moment of weakness to gain position on you to do damage, the chance of this is greatly diminished when you’re with a group. Meanwhile, with the cover of your teammates, and with the opponents hard pressed, you will more often find situations where you can commit and get close to your opponents to maximize your damage output. The last style is that of the defensive pyro, who keeps the enemy at bay at all costs, tending to the safety of the base. This kind of player will be a teamplayer at heart, and often will find it much more important to keep the base clear and defend intel than staying alive or getting a lot of kills. Such a pyro will even favour items such as Scorch Shot, which knocks back opponents, and Homewrecker (removes sappers) over more effective weapon combos, simply because their use is more suited for what they want to accomplish. Even at a low skill level they are likely to benefit the team significantly because having a pyro in the base just becomes useful in so many situations. Using this style, you constantly spycheck, using your flame thrower to check the base for spies. You use airblast to delay any attack from opponents and let your teammates get into position. When enemies are approaching you keep shooting flames at them to force them to engage, distract them and slowly wear them down. When enemies use a normal übercharge, you stay by the sentries and blast them away. This way, you can effectively make any übercharge on a pyro useless, and if you get in the right position, you can sufficiently delay any other über and limit its damage. You rarely commit to fights, using flares and flame thrower around corners whenever you can. If you stay alive, you can keep wearing the opponents down, and often you’re close to spawn, so you can quickly get more health if you get low on health. The only time where you are likely to commit is when there is a big attack that your team is not ready to defend again. You will try to get an angle where you can get the jump on your opponents and then run out and set them on fire, giving them something to shoot at, which together with a few airblasts might buy your team valuable time. My focus in this guide will be on the first two styles. I’m sure that playing the “defensive pyro” style comes down to a science as well, but when that is said, I don’t feel that there is much use in describing it in detail. The tasks are fairly simple, and they most often don’t rely on the positioning of your teammates, nor on timing. The only style of pyro that I’ve ever really played is the “front-runner” style. I can easily understand the style of “utility pyros”; I just personally never had the patience. In some situations, it will be hard to distinguish the two styles from each other, because when pyros commit to combat, the techniques are really the same. So, bear in mind when reading this guide that it’s probably written with the mindset of a “front-runner” pyro, but applies just as well to any kind. As far as weapons go, my guide will assume that you use Degreaser and Axtinguish/Postal Pummeler. There is simply no good reason to use any other flame thrower than the Degreaser. There is no way the 10% extra damage of a normal flame thrower can make up for not having the faster weapon switch of the Degreaser. Backburner has a select few situations where its crit-from-behind ability gives you an advantage, but those are very rare. Any time you catch an opponent from behind, using the crit axe combo (which I was describe in the next chapter) is normally just as effective. The Phlogistinator does have a very special ability, but by using it you give up airblast altogether, therefore losing the ability to use any finesse in playing pyro. As for using Axtinguisher, it has to be said that none of the other melee items have any particularly useful ability, whereas using this item really turns the tides of playing pyro. It is the one thing that allows you to get in melee range of your opponent and still survive, giving you a high enough damage output to kill your opponents before they kill you. As for the secondary weapon, it can generally be said that Shotgun is better against pyros, whereas the Flare Gun is better against anything else. I have seen people work wonders with a shotgun, but it really lends itself more to the “utility pyro” style as you benefit from keeping your distance and continually airblasting back your opponents. I have never personally used shotgun, and an important factor in that is that you continually have to reload it, which forces you to stay back and delay attacking. Reserve Shooter gives you a kind of alternative to the crit axe combo, and is definitely an interesting choice. If a heavy engages you in the open, you wouldn’t be able to do enough damage with a shotgun before your die. With Reserve Shooter, you can. When you blast opponents into the air and shoot, you do higher damage, and the knockback of the mini-crit compliments the airblast, allowing you to stay alive for another critical second to finish off your opponent. What’s crucial about Flare Gun is the high damage output it has, allowing you to set up or finish off kills. If you hit one flare, it will do 30 damage as well as 60 damage of afterburn (if the target burns for the entire ten seconds). When you hit a burning player, you will do 90 damage instantly, which allows you to quickly kill or discourage enemies who are at a distance. Unlike the shotgun, it does the same damage regardless of distance, which can be invaluable against classes such as snipers or scouts. I will also assume that you do not use Detonator or Scorch Shot. Detonator is decent, and gives you the ability to flare jump, which can sometimes be an amazing ability to have, but it doesn’t have the 90 damage on burning targets that makes Flare gun so powerful. Scorch Shot is not for killing. Sure, it can help you pin an opponent down, but with the low damage output it has, you will sorely miss it whenever you need to finish off an opponent that is out of melee range. Crit axe combo Sometimes good pyros are feared for their impeccable airblasting. More often, though, they are feared for their use of the crit axe combo. Using Degreaser and Axtinguisher, you can employ a simple technique which allows you to do great damage to your opponent. In fact, a hit from a crit axe will kill every class that’s not overhealed except for a heavy. However, while the technique is simple, it’s getting the chance to use it that is really the biggest challenge. In itself, the technique is as such: getting within melee range of an opponent, you set them on fire with the Degreaser, the very instant you set them on fire, you switch to Axtinguisher and hit your opponent. Your Axtinguisher will do crit damage against burning players, so using this technique will allow you to quickly kill any opponent who gets close. If you catch them off guard, even the mighty heavies will fall with just two strikes, unless they are overhealed by a medic (in which case three successive strikes is enough). One thing that is very important to mix into this technique is the airblast. Airblasting your opponents basically lines them up for your strike, and without the airblast to pin them down, hitting your opponents can become really difficult. Thus, the technique becomes: fire, instantly followed by alt-fire, then 3 to switch to melee, instantly followed by fire again. There are times when you’re better off not airblasting, for instance when an opponent is getting away and it just out of reach. If you set him on fire and keep running forward while switching, you can catch up and kill him almost instantly with the Axtinguisher. However, if you opt to airblast such an opponents, you will accidentally blast him just out of radius of your crit axe, and you will end up in a very difficult situation. When this happens, I curse the fact that I automatically airblast whenever I employ this technique. However, in a lot of cases, it works into your advantage. Sometimes soldiers react instantly when you set them on fire, so your airblast will actually deflect the rocket that they instantly fire. This airblast not only saved you from the rocket, but likely killed the soldier as well by doing increased damage by hitting him at point blank. You should not be stuck blindly using this technique, of course. The above situation describes how you can use it to engage a single player. However, if you run around the corner and run into three opponents, a smarter option might be to set them all on fire first and them just hunt them down with the Axtinguisher. If any of them do try to flee, you can airblast, but by not having to switch between the weapons you can do damage with the Axtinguisher quickly enough that you can kill your opponents before they manage to kill you. Whether or not you use the normal crit axe technique will often depend on how quickly your opponents can do damage to you. If they are waiting for you around the corner, possibly pre-firing at you already, you won’t have time to heard them and maximize your Axtinguisher damage. Instead, you will have to use the crit axe technique to kill whichever opponent can damage you first and them either go for the other opponents or be ready to mitigate their damage with airblast into you can get in position for another strike with the crit axe (or you can bring them down with crit flares, which are useful if they are outside the range of the axe, but on fire already). Airblasting Airblasting is no doubt the most important ability that a pyro has. Therefore, no matter how good you are, you are not a complete pyro before you learn to do it. With experience, you will learn all the airblasting timings by heart. It will never by easy to airblast Loch-n-Load pipe bombs or Direct Hit rockets, and in some situations you will simply have to rely on preemptive airblasting, predicting when an airblast is likely to be needed. However, as much as you can, try to prevent doing “panic airblasts”, where you airblast because you’re nervous that you might not be quick enough to react to a projectile and therefore just hope that you do it at the right time. More often than not, it will fail, and relying too much on “random” airblasts will prevent you from becoming really good at doing it. Airblasting can be good in any situation. If you’re surrounded by opponents and won’t be able to damage them in time, airblasting them will often diminish their chance to deal damage and buy yourself or your team valuable time. Whenever you airblast opponents back, you put them out of position and have them scrambling to refocus. However, if you airblast soldier unnecessarily, they are likely to sting you. Many good soldiers wait until you airblast and shoot right afterwards. So, always airblast with a specific purpose. If a heavy übers, and you ran towards him just to airblast him, you might delay him with your airblast, but once he lands, he will likely be able to kill you with his mini-gun before you retreat around the corner. If, instead, you are patient and wait until the heavy jumps around the corner (he will jump to minimize his spin-up time), you can airblast him back with a minimum risk of him hitting you. If you desperately want an opponent not to hit you (if they are übered, for instance), airblast them upwards by aiming upwards while you airblast them. However, if you are also trying to kill your opponents, be careful not to get them too high in the air since you want them to land soon after. Sometimes, you can get in trouble if you’re trying to kill an overhealed soldier because you airblasted him into the air, hit him with your axe, and the knockback of the crit drove him even further away so that you couldn’t finish him off. If you do this on purpose, make sure you have a flare ready to finish off the last remaining health. Basically, airblast is great to catch any player who wants to run away from you. A medic is slightly faster than a pyro, but if you manage to barely hit them with a few airblasts, you can delay them sufficiently to catch up. Blasting them into a wall might be optimal, but any blast upward or away from their escape path will do. While airblasting is a part of the crit axe combo, it can also be great to set you up for a hit with the crit axe combo. If a sniper or scout is defensive in base and is strafing back and forth carefully around the corner, airblasting them will pin them long enough that they won’t be able to escape when you set the crit axe combo in motion. Also, if a medic gives you kritz über, all rockets projectiles you airblast will be kritz ones. While a kritzed flame thrower can kills a group of players really quickly if you catch them by surprise, you will often die running into them. If you get the chance, airblasting can be a really good alternative, depending on how close your opponents are. You can airblast pretty much anything in the game. Any missile you airblast will deal mini-crits to the enemy players you hit (but not to buildings). Only exception is Cow Mangler, where all reflect shots will do normal crit damange when reflect. If a sniper throws Jarate or a scout throws Mean Cleaver, you can airblast it back in their face. Only a few things in the game cannot be airblasted (most bullets, Pomsom, Manmelter). What's important to know about mini-crits, apart from the fact that it deals more damage than a weapon usually would, is that it deal damage regardless of distance. This means that ever at long distances, where a soldiers damage with his rockets would be fairly insignificant, your deflected rockets have a big impact. Airblasting does have a its limitations in certain situations, though. Once a medic with Quick Fix activates übercharge, you cannot airblast the medic, nor his healing target. Once you become really good at airblasting, you should consider learning the airblast rocket-jump. See an example of the pyro airblast rocket jump
. Pipe jumping, where you airblast pipes to use them to jump up, is easier to manage, but not as effective. For people who are used to rocket jumping as a soldier, this technique should be easier to learn. When rocket-jumping you crouch, jump, fire in instant succession. You do the same when airblast jumping. The crouch-jump makes sure that you jump further and higher, while you need to airblast the rocket somewhere close to you and below you to give the needed momentum. In my experience, the hardest way to rocket jump, is when you jump over a rocket and airblast it right below you. This type of jump gives you more of an upward momentum. It is easiest to do when people are shooting at you from above, as illustrated in the video example. The reason it's harder is that the timing you have to hit is shorter. If, instead, you sidestep a missile (aimed below your waist), you can more freely airblast it as it's going by you. You simply let the missile fly right by you, do the crouch jump while aiming your flamethrower at your feet to that side, and airblast the rocket. As long as the rocket is in range to be caught by your blast, it will go where you point it to. While the more difficult technique of jumping over the rocket will usually cause you to take almost full damage from the rocket, around 75 health, airblasting the rocket to your side will normally only cause you to take around 50 health of damage. If you don't want too much momentum and just need to which jump to a low building near you, just do the airblast jump without the crouch. Predictive flares Typically, if you make good use of your flare gun, you will get one kill with the it for every two kills you make with your Axtinguisher. Weapons in Team Fortress do greatly diminished damage if they are fired from a distance. Because the flare does full damage and afterburn regardless of which distance you fire from, it’s worthwhile to use the flare gun to kill opponents who are shooting at you from a distance. If you shoot at people who are running away, it’s often easy to read the path which they are going to take. Engineers and snipers in particular seem to always run right where you expect them to, not wanting to delay their retreat. Medics might stay for a bit longer and do more strafing when they retreat, and solders and demos might stay and spam some more before running back. Once you’ve airblasted an opponent, it’s also very easy to hit them since they are pinned down. However, it’s hard to hit opponents who know you’re shooting at them and are actively watching you and trying to dodge. One thing that makes it harder for people to dodge you is that you’re strafing back and forth. It’s easier for people to predict a shot coming from a player who is standing still than a shot coming from a player moving. This is because once you’re moving, they have to recalculate the angle at which your shot might be fired. Furthermore, if you move towards them, they might be inclined to react in different ways. If you start moving towards a cuntsman, he will normally stop to aim right away. If you start jumping around, a sniper might adjust his positioning slightly to be more directly in front of you. If you run close to the wall where the scout is and make it hard for him to hit you, this will normally prompt him to run away from you in a circle line around you. Once you notice these patterns of movement, it will be much easier to predict where you should hit your flares. Regular snipers normally strafe quite slowly. If they know you are firing any them, they might move slightly. Whenever you fire at a sniper who knows you’re there, you just aim just slightly to the side of him, in the direction in which he will retreat. Cuntsmen that you’re a facing in direct combat will strafe more heavily. So, if you jump to your right and he misses, you can expect him to either jump/run or quickly strafe slightly back to his left. Heavies will either stand still or move slightly while firing. If they are facing some fire, and have decided to move, they will only move slowly, and normally go back and forth, not wanting to stray too far away from the direct angle to their opponent. They will only break this pattern if they see that you’re shooting at them, so normally hitting them with the flares is quite straight forward. If they start dodging back and forth between shooting, you should try to get an area that is directly in front of them, and closer if possible. At this angle, they will be more inclined to stay and shoot and it will be harder for them to dodge your shots since your shots will cut off their sidewards movement better. Pyros will often go behind cover only to come running right at you, so if they dodge, you can depend them to peek forward a moment later. How they do it will depend on whether the aim to engage or to simply shoot at you from a distance.Even though it's nice to get off a quick flare against opponents at a distance, you should never run around the map with your flare-gun out. You should always have the flame thrower ready to airblast opponents and their projectiles away. Enhancing the team As a pyro, you can have the responsibility of acting as a support class for your team. You can do this effectively in many ways. If your team has forward sentries, you can fire the flame thrower to spy check. Spies often like to hide out around dispensers. Likewise, if you see an opponent running right towards your teammates without firing, then quickly dying, it’s likely a dead ringer spy, and you should stay back a bit and use your flame to see if you can catch the invisible spy where he might try to run past your team. If your teammates are on fire in an offensive position, make sure to extinguish them with airblasts, unless any medics are ready to heal them (if the medics don’t have other players to heal, they can get slightly quicker charge by the player being damaged and you don’t have to waste your ammo). If another pyro is trying to go for your teammates, you should be even more aware of airblasting them since this can counter crit damage of the pyro. Make sure you stay aware of protecting them medics, pushing away anyone who jumps at them with your airblast and saving them from stray missiles by airblasting those. If you are next to a sentry that is being spammed by the opponents, you should also airblast those projectiles. Often low-skill demomen will spam pipe bombs at sentries from above in hopes to slowly kill them off if the engineer dies or doesn’t pay attention. If you airblast these pipe bombs, your own team won’t take damage from them since they become your pipe bombs. So, this way you can save the sentries. When you need to enter choke points, pyros can often do a good job as front runners, deflecting rocket shot from above or airblasting away stickies from sticky campers. If your team is being held down by stickies, make sure you clear a path by blasting them to the side so that your team does not have to waste an über to get past a very dedicated sticky camper in a choke point. Stickies that are stuck to walls might sometimes be a bit harder to airblast away than stickies on the floor. If it’s just a single sticky, and the demo cannot see you, it can sometimes be a worthwhile to destruct a lone sticky in a tricky spot with your axe instead.
Fighting in water
With the loadout that I have recommended, it will be hard to fight under water. Whereas a shotgun would do undiminished damage and benefit from the slower movement speed of enemy players, a flare gun will not even fire in water. A flame thrower won't fire in water either. So, with the limited non-burning damage of Axtinguisher, you are at a distinct disadvantage against any other class underwater. However, there are a few tricks that can help you regain a bit of that advantage. If you hold down your jump-button to swim on the surface of the water, you can still fire your flare gun. So, whereas your axe will do greater damage per second by simply hitting opponents underwater, the flare gun will give you a chance to do some damage at a distance. This is great in situations where you are fighting an opponent who is low on health in water. Even if you're at full health, a soldier will be able to kill you off easily in water by shooting unblastable rockets at you underwater, pinning you down before you ever get the chance to get close. However, if you get to do the 30 damage of the flare gun, you could finish him off where your life would otherwise be forfeit. You can also use the flame thrower if you stay on top of the water. However, you will do no damage to your opponents if they stay under the surface of the water. However, it's actually possible to airblast an opponent who is under water, even if you're above it. You cannot angle your airblast far upwards like you normally would. If you aim the flame thrower straight out in front of you, you can only aim it a little higher than that. This helps airblast opponents away from you and lets you get out of water.
Should your opponent ever make the fatal mistake of staying on top of the surface of the water, you've got them. If they are on the surface of the water, they can catch fire. If you set them on fire and they stay on top of water, they will remain on fire for about a second. If you are right in front of them, you can just use the crit axe combo against them, without airblasting. If they are up against a wall, you can set them on fire, airblast them out of water and use your crit axe to kill them. If they are not against a wall, you can set them on fire, airblast them and finish them off with a crit flare. If an opponent is underwater, up against a wall, it will take three airblasts to get them in a position where you can use the crit axe combo. First airblast is to get them out of water, second is to get them higher, third is to get them high enough into the air that you can set them on fire before they hit the water and do the crit axe combo as they fall down on you. It's possible to do with two airblasts, but this will rarely succeed because your opponent is resisting.
Despite all this, the best advice about fighting in water is still not to do it. Given that, you can still use this knowledge to your advantage. If I jump into water on 2Fort to go into sewers, a scout might spot me and jump after me. If I just try to run, I will be dead since he can get some clear shots at me as I'm trying to exit water and getting cover in sewers. But if I don't run and stay at the edge entrance, I can kill or greatly injure a scout with the crit flare combo. Just before he surfaces, I shoot the flamethrower. Since the flames linger for half a second, he will catch fire once I airblast him out of the water. Then I can switch to flare gun and get in my shot. Even if it does not kill him, it gets him out of the range of a killing shot and makes sure that if he pursues you further, a single flare will kill him. If you don't airblast the scout out of water and wait for him to exit water before doing the crit flare combo, it is likely he will land his shot first. Remember, you can also do crit flare combo while you're in the water yourself if you have to, but when the scout is trying to exit water is when you can be sure he will seek the surface. A few of the best scouts will not exit water until they see that the pyro is in fact running away. They'll stay in water, out of airblast range, and shoot, meaning you're dead whether you stay or run. However, by far the most scouts I have ever played against will want to directly chase down what they see to be a free kill and won't pause. Killing all classes Scout Scouts are tricky to kill because they are faster than you and you need to get close to them. They have a surprisingly high damage output, which is why you should never run straight at them if they’re standing still, waiting for you. In such a situation, flares will set them in motion, and once you’ve hit your first flare on them, you’re set up for the second hit, which will kill the scout if he’s still on fire, meaning they have to avoid getting too close to you, allowing you to chase them. However, scouts will actually rarely seek a direct engagement with you. They have low HP, and if they stop to start shooting at you, a stray shot from one of your teammates will quickly finish them off. Instead, they will try to outmaneuver you to either get past you or to get in a position where they can do damage to you or your teammates before you can react properly. So, since scouts will try to get past you, you often get the chance to pin them down with the airblast. Any time a scout has used both of their jumps, they are just as helpless as any other class you will airblast and use the crit axe combo on. However, good scouts will always preserve that last jump, using it to dodge when their opponent reacts to their aggression. So, always try to corner the scouts. If you manage to corner a scout, and you are at full health, they will almost always be dead, unless they get crit or use Force-A-Nature. Regardless of where they jump, you will be able to catch them in an instant, slam them up against the wall with the airblast and kill them in an instant with the crit axe. If they get crit, they will kill you in one salvo, and if they use Force-A-Nature the knockback will save them. In big open areas, scouts will want to engage more often. Due to their mobility, it’s possible for them to isolate the players they want to fight and avoid the others. They will normally keep jumping around you, making sure they’re close enough that their shots do good damage (if they kill you too slowly, they will randomly get killed off by one of your teammates if they keep jumping around, shooting only you), but far enough away to dodge you. Here, the trick is to always close them down, making sure they don’t have any space where they can land comfortably without risking you setting them on fire. Doing this keeps them jumping, making it harder for them to focus on getting in the decisive damage. Once you manage to close down a scout, you force them to jump past you. Whenever a scout jumps past you, you turn around and run in the direction that they are jumping, although slightly sidewards to cut into their path. Now, you can airblast them in the direction that they are jumping and crit axe them right afterwards. Even though they have their second jump available, they cannot use it to jump away from you. They cannot jump forward, nor backwards, and whichever side they jump to won’t be enough to bring them out of melee range soon enough. If, while performing this move, you know that won't get within melee range, use this chance to land and instant flare on the scout after the airblast if he’s burning. If you fail to close them down and they get some space, be careful not to run right at them. Strafe back an forth while running at them, shooting flares to make sure they can never stand still comfortably. If it seems like the scout will be able to get a clean shot at you without you having the right angle to kill him, strafe backwards, airblast the scout out of position and shoot a flare at the scout. Only use such delay tactics if you are forced to, though, if you do this several times, you will give the scout too much of a chance to kill you. Soldier As a pyro, you should have the advantage when fighting soldiers. You can airblast any rocket they shoot at you, and often use it against themselves since they are a slow class and won’t dodge the airblast rocket easily. If they take out their shotgun at a distance, you will be able to do more damage to them with flares than they can to do you with their shots. However, mess up your airblasting once, and you are in big trouble. 70% of all soldiers use shotgun, and will quickly see the opportunity to finish you off. So, therefore, airblasting is the most important element to beating a soldier. If they haven’t managed to damage you while you are running at them, but still decide to take out their shotgun, it’s often a death sentence to them, and you can almost always get close enough to crit axe them. However, one thing to be aware of is the offbeat timing that most good soldiers use to catch you with their rockets. They either shoot before you would expect or wait just a little longer than you anticipate. If they can catch you at a bad angle around a corner, where it’s hard for you to airblast, they can catch you with their first rocket, and once you’re immobilized by the knockback they have rich opportunity to shoot a second rocket into the floor or wall near you, out of your airblasting range, but still dealing damage. And if you’re getting close to using the crit axe on them, they can save a shot for the moment that you take the axe out and try to finish them off. Unless a soldier uses Direct Hit, you don’t even have to predict their shots if you’re good at airblasting, since you will always be quick enough to deflect the rocket. However, at close range, you do. As a last measure, a desperate soldier will be happy to shoot right into the ground, which will mean that you cannot airblast the shot, and you are knocked away from him, both of you taking similar damage. However, if a soldier has used all his shots and has to reload, you should never hesitate to get close and kill them with the crit axe. If they do manage to reload one rocket, you’re so close that they will be forced to use it right after the reload, meaning you can easily predict the timing of the shot. The fact that soldiers have many ways to sneak rockets off at you means that you should not be too standoffish while fighting them in open areas. Whenever you’re around a doorway or at a choke point, doing that can be incredibly effective, but if there is any space at your sides at close-mid range, the soldier will be able to shoot rockets outside of your airblast radius and slowly kill you off. Some will simply take out their shotgun. Since you aren’t moving towards them, cutting off any retreat angles, they can purely focus on dodging, more easily escaping the flares. Sure, bad soldiers might feed you the rockets you want, but the good ones will always have a good chance to kill you. Airblasting while moving is slightly harder, but it really helps to limit the options of the soldier and make it much harder for them to beat you. Once you’re running at them, one thing that instinctively seems to bait a rocket out of most soldiers is activating your flame thrower, even if you’re not in range. Whenever a soldier sees this, they will fear your airblasting less and start to envision the pyro in front of them catching up to them and setting them on fire. So, they want to shoot a rocket at you to keep you back. That means that you can usually expect a rocket almost right after you’ve activated the flame – you’ll get used to the timing. Any soldiers that use Direct Hit are likely to have an advantage on you. It’s incredibly hard to airblast these quick rockets, which means that you will often be quite defenceless until you get close to the soldier. Most pyros can airblast them at long range. At medium range, very few pyros will manage consistent deflects. At close range is where most pyros get kills with their deflects against Direct Hit soldiers, but also where they die most often. At this range, no pyro will be quick enough to react to the Direct Hit rocket. Instead, you anticipate when the soldier will shoot and activate airblast right before the shot. Since you have a hard time airblasting, what is interesting about fighting Direct Hit soldiers is the chase. Due to the very limited blast effect of Direct Hit rockets, the soldier will be more likely to shoot directly at you instead of aiming for your feet. This often means that the rocket become easier to dodge. If you can anticipate when the soldier will shoot, you can bait a rocket by running straight forward and then strafing right when he shoots. Once you close in on them, even the Direct Hit soldiers will try to aim for you feet to knock you back. However, given that you’re running towards them, you can simply jump over such rockets and avoid most of their damage. Often it’s smart to be jumping in advance when you’re approaching close range against a Direct Hit soldier. Since Direct Hit mini-crits when hitting airborne targets, jumping bears a risk, however, if you are hit once, it will set the soldier up for a second shot and likely kill you either way. When you run at them, make sure you try to cut off any retreat angles while constantly strafing around and forcing them into bad angles with your flares. If you can get close to a Direct Hit soldier and keep them from getting a good shot by airblasting them around, a Direct Hit soldier can be just as easy to pick off as other soldiers with the crit axe combo. However, what often happens is that you dodge their shots and shoot flares at them. They try to retreat once you’re close, you use walls and corners to dodge their fairly predictable shots and finish them off with the flares, without ever getting into melee distance. Pyro Fighting other pyros can often be a costly affair. Unless you outmaneuver them, they will do almost as much damage to you as you do to them when you kill them. And the fact that you have no quick way to kill them off (since you cannot use the crit axe combo) means that their airblasts will leave you exposed, more easily killed off by their teammates. Of course, enemy soldiers will often work to your advantage when you face other pyros. While the other pyro is focused on you, your focus is on the soldier. He will often no have any qualms shooting rockets at you when one of his teammates is close to engaging you. Once he does, you deflect that rocket to bring down the other pyro. This can be a great way to deal with a tricky situation where you are surrounded by opponents and a pyro is keeping you pinned. If you do end up fighting other pyros, positioning is really all-important. If a pyro is running straight at you, you can start running backwards and activate your flame thrower. Your flames will have longer range since you’re running backwards, whereas their flame will have shorter range because they are running forward. Not only will your flame hit them first, since they are running into you, but you can stay away from their flame altogether. Yes, since you are running backwards, they will run 10% faster than you. But before they ever catch up, they are dead. So, this way you can kill another pyro almost without taking any damage. If a pyro manages to catch you off guard. You need to quickly airblast them back so that you once again have a chance to keep your distance while backing off. Of course, when you are attacking, it won’t work out quite so easily. You need to get behind the other pyro. If you round them around their side, while making sure your flame keeps hitting them, you will often do more damage than them because they have a harder time controlling their flame while standing still or moving forward once they have to quickly aim to their side. Some pyros will sidestep and get in your way, and if they do this, you have to airblast them to the side. Once you manage to get behind them, either by running past them or airblasting them, you’ve set up a situation where they have to run towards you. If they don’t, you’ve cut off their retreat path or you’re allowed into their base. So, once again, you have a great chance to run backwards and deal damage while they’re running at you. Skilled pyros will make sure to airblast you away so that you don’t get in position. If you’re almost cutting them off, what will often work is counter-airblasting them, making sure that if they airblast you, you also airblast them out of position and make it harder for them to airblast you away with their second airblast. Meanwhile, you keep moving into position and airblasting them further out of position. If they manage to blast you back completely, though, you will have to bring out your flare gun and shoot at them to keep them off balance. Slowly bringing them down with flares is a slow way to kill them but if they take out their flare gun to retaliate, it can leave you with an opening. However, if they manage to airblast your flares or hit you a few times with theirs, you are too low on health, and when you try to run around them, they can simply turn around and run with you, which means that even though they kind of run into your flame, their health advantage wins out and they kill you first. Be careful to airblast while running directly into another pyro. This allows them to get in some damage with the flame thrower, and should you miss your airblast, they can manage to kill you before your second airblast. If you are using Flare Gun, as prescribed by this guide, you will have a really hard time against shotgun pyros. If you engage directly against a shotgun pyro, they will have an easy kill at their hand. They can kill you with the shotgun before you ever get close. So, your best chance to kill a good shotgun pyro is to stay back, dodge shots behind walls and catch them whenever you manage to get close. If they’ve used a few shots and you manage to get close, they will often miss at least one of their remaining shots, meaning that they won’t have enough to finish you off. So, they are forced to reload or switch to the flame thrower, in which case it’s often too late for them. While the technique of getting close and running around them will kill of some shotgun pyros, some of them are simply too good at airblasting. They will do a quick combination of airblast, shoot, switching between weapons with every shot. Here, you once again have to dodge amazingly around corners with your strafing, while getting into whichever damage you can with flares. Your best chance against these guys is really to use missile that their teammates fire against them or to pin them with the airblast to expose them to your teammates. If you are working with a teammate pyro against other pyros, you can always bring them down very effectively if you mange to surround them. One can airblast, while another can do the damage. If you work together well, you can even take it to the next level. If one of you pins down the other pyro and is then attacking with the flame thrower, his teammate can quickly finish off the enemy pyro with a flare, which will do crit damage because the target is burning at that very moment. Whenever you get a normal über from a medic, stay away from pyros if there are any other targets to kill. If you get the chance, airblast them out of the way and run away from them, if you can do this at an angle where they won’t be able to catch your medic with their airblast. If you are forced to engage other pyros with your über, preferable lure them into attack before you go forward for the über. If you get them down to around half health, they shouldn’t manage more than a few airblasts before dying. And if you catch them mid-combat, they might not adjust quickly enough and won’t airblast in time to save themselves. Heavy As a pyro, you can always kill a lone heavy around a corner, If they try to get into position against you, you can blast them back infinitely, and your flares will eventually bring them down or set them up for a quick single-strike kill with the crit axe. This can be a very effective way of killing off a lone heavy who is staying in a fairly defensive position inside the enemy base. Likewise, you can always kill a lone heavy at a distance, since your flares will be able to do more damage than his minigun, unless he dodges very well, in which case, you can always run away unless he catches you with a random crit burst. However, heavies are not normally alone. They often have a medic healing them. So, if a heavy is in a defensive position, you need to keep them back with airblast while trying to kill off their medic with flares. If a heavy is attacking you, you need to find just the right situation to kill him with the crit axe combo. An overhealed heavy takes three consecutive hits with the axe to take down. The rule is that if a skilled heavy can react to your aggression right away, you don’t have a chance of killing them. You need to somehow catch them off guard or make sure they cannot react because they are being airblasted around. This gets even worse if they use Natasha or Tomislav, since the knockback will prevent you from staying in melee range from the moment they start shooting at you. So, it goes without saying that if at all possible, you should try to catch the heavies from behind, from the side or while they are shooting at your teammates. If you see a chance to quickly kill their medic and escape, this will be a great option as well, of course. If a heavy is waiting for you, with their spin up ready around a corner, you will never get them. However, if they are jumping around the corner and you manage to pin them against a wall, you have a chance to get in all three hits. Once you hit them with the axe, they will get a knockback effect due to the crit. So, if they are not up against a corner, make sure your anticipate where they will be knocked back and make a strafing movement towards that location. If you do this right, the knockback will have a similar effect to the airblast, making it hard for them to focus their fire on you because they are kept off the ground and keep changing positions. If you are trying to finish off the heavy and feel that you are a bit too far away to make it if they start firing, don’t hesitate to quickly airblast them once more to delay their fire and give you that extra second to get close. Against bad heavies, you don’t normally need the extra airblast, but against good heavies, you often will, unless you manage to catch them in a bad position and get in the first hit before they react. If you make a crit axe move on a heavy who has full health and doesn’t have a medic, you will be able to kill him in two hits. However, since the knockback knocks him away, he will be able to kill you if he’s not up against a wall. Make sure you anticipate this and switch to your flare gun right after you hit him so that you can finish him off with a flare before he hits the ground. A crit flare and an crit axe hit is enough to kill a heavy at full health. Alternatively, if the heavy gives you the time, you can do enough damage with your flame thrower that your axe hit will kill the heavy. You only need to burn the heavy for a short moment longer, and the moment he reacts you will already be doing the crit axe combo. Demoman When talking about demos, you need to distinguish between two different types of demos. There is the demoknight and the sticky demo. The demo knight will not be able to use stickies against you and has to rely on pipe bombs. At medium-close range, pipe bombs should be fairly easy for you to either dodge or airblast away. So, basically, you just have to get close to the demo and finish him off. One hit with a crit axe will kill a demo unless he is overhealed or has more health due to having killed multiple opponents with Eyelander/Nessie’s Nine Iron. Once you get into close range and get ready for the crit axe strike, you are most vulnerable since a quick pipe can catch you and will either kill you right away (if you’re not a full HP) or knock you back slightly and leave you to be killed by a second pipe bomb. Therefore, you should never let up on your airblasting awareness and stay ready to kill the demo with his own pipe bomb. However, if you are at full health, a single pipe will not kill you, so if a demo keeps shooting his pipes and reloading with each shot, you know he’s dead even if he manages to hit you with that one pipe. If you try to kill someone by airblasting pipe bombs, try to aim slightly upwards as you'll have a greater chance of hitting others with the airblast because the pipe bomb flies a great distance while still at face/chest height. Another thing that can kill you is if the demo manages to catch you off guard with his charge. Most often this will happen if you get too greedy with the flares while a demoknight is backing up. Never loose awareness of the fact that the demoknight will charge at any chance he gets. If you stay ready for the charge, you will find that it’s one of the easiest kills you can get as pyro. The demo charges at you, and you can basically do the crit axe combo, where the airblast stops his charge and the axe kills him right afterwards. Despite charging while shooting pipes actually being a quite effective combo, I never see demos using it. So, you can rest assured that they will try to hit you with their melee weapon, and you known exactly when to stop them with the airblast. If you face a sticky demo, they will often prefer to use their stickies against you. Sticky bombs are perhaps the most effective weapon in the game, since they do great damage and are hard to dodge. They just need two good sticky hits on you and you’re dead. However, the fact that they use stickies means that they are incredibly vulnerable when you get close. So, any chance that you get to catch them around a corner, you’re very likely to kill them by simply charging at them and using the crit axe combo. Bad sticky demo will shoot the stickies right at you, which often means that they miss you or end up knocking you into them. Good sticky demos won’t panic in such a situation and will know to shoot the stickies at their feet or the wall. Doing this means that they can retreat while keeping you back with stickies. They will also try to make a surprise switch into pipe bombs, which means that you have to be quick to close the distance and stay very aware with your airblasting. To make it hard for demos to get in a position to do damage to you, you can airblast them once as soon as you get within airblasting range. This doesn’t set them up directly for the kill, but it halts their retreat and can leave them in a angle where it’s hard to hit you with their shots. This is the best way to deal with a demo if they bring out the pipe bombs. However, if they stay on stickies, you should always be ready to airblast. If you’re close enough, of course, you shouldn’t airblast since you will end up airblasting the demo, getting him away from melee range. But until you get that close, you need to airblast any sticky he shoots at you while it’s in the air. The demo will try to shoot stickies at you and detonate them instantly. But if you airblast the sticky bomb before it with your range, it does very limited damage. Also, if the demo tries to place stickies on the floor before you, you simply airblast those stickies into him. If you do manage to get close and he detonates a sticky which knocks him away, you will be able to quickly finish him off with a flare if you set him on fire. Sniper There are two different types of snipers. A regular sniper, who uses a sniper rifle, or a cuntsman, who uses the Huntsman bow. The regular snipers are easier to kill off at close range, whereas the cuntsmen are easier hunt down and kill when you are at mid-long range. A long range, if you run at a cuntsman, you can dodge the arrows. Once you get closer, you can try to dodge them by baiting and predicting shots. However, the closer you get, the harder it becomes to dodge thee arrows. The speed of the arrows is almost as quick as a Direct Hit rocket, in fact, even quicker if the cuntsman gets time to fully charge his arrow (it will be fully charged if he draws arrow back and waits one second). Cuntsmen rely on being able to predict where people will run so that they can get headshots against moving targets. So, at medium range, even if you’re dodging well, a skilled cuntsman will hit you with half of his shots. However, since the timing of the arrows are often easy to predict, you have an excellent shot of airblasting them. Dodging is good to get close to the opponent, but with airblast you can make absolutely sure that he won’t hit you, and sometimes even kill him with his own arrows. Once you get close, it’s a simple matter of using the crit axo combo to finish him off. The cuntsman cannot shoot when he’s in the air, so if you get in the airblast, you should be good to go. If you can see that the cuntsman is in too good a position, where it will be hard for you to dodge or airblast because you have a very narrow angle and you’re too far away, it makes sense to keep distance until you hit him with your first flare. From that you can move up and kill him with your second flare if you don’t get close. If you’re chasing a cuntsman around the corner, make sure you never round the corner at a predictable timing. If they have a bit of distance around the corner (which is really the optimal position for a cuntsman), they will pre-fire an arrow, knowing exactly when you will come around the corner if you keep running. If they are too far away, don’t even go in (unless you feel you’re in a position where you can airblast the arrow coming for your head), but instead do a quick strafe and pre-fire at where you expect them to wait with your flare gun, at an offbeat timing. If you’re close enough to airblast against a cuntsman, but too far to get in melee range, airblast to keep him from killing you. You might have to airblast twice to get him against a wall, but once you do, he’s yours. Regular snipers will be waiting for you to come around a corner or into a clearing, focusing intently with a zoomed sniper rifle. If you can do it from an unpredictable position, doing a quick strafe out to fire a flare at their position is a very effective way of making sure that you get a bit of freedom to move. Either they move and dodge your flare or get hit by it. Either way, since you’re only exposed quickly, they won’t manage to kill you. If your flare hits them, they have to run back (or switch to Jarate to extinguish), which means that you get the chance to get forward without them waiting for you. If they doing go back, you can pre-fire a flare at their position (or where you expect them to peek out from) and kill them instantly. If you ever catch a sniper around a corner, they should always be an easy kill. Their unzoomed shots won’t kill you, and if they react quickly and throw jarate at you and in order to kill you with one hit from their Bushwacka, it’s basically suicide for them. If they try to hit you with their melee weapon, you simple use the crit-axe combo against them. The airblast means that they don’t hit you. Even if they predict the airblast, it’s pretty much impossible for them to get in a hit if you time your crit axe combo correctly. Engineer Like snipers, engineers are another easy pickoff if you get close enough. They shotgun does decent damage, but they rarely manage to get off more than two shots when you close them down. Many engineers will be hesitant to engage, and if they try to escape right when they see you, they will do even less damage. If an engineer has a sentry behind him and is peeking, you should set him on fire right way. While charging into him with the flare thrower or crit axe would mean running into the range of the sentry and dying, you can simple use the airblast to make sure he cannot escape back into safety and the use the flare gun to kill him. If he’s at full health, the flame and flare hit sometimes won’t kill him soon enough, and he will escape back to his dispenser. Therefore, if you have the chance, hold the flame on him a little longer before you airblast him back and finish him off with the flare. Alternatively, if you’re in the right position, you can airblast him once, flare him, airblast him again and hit the last flare as he tries to round the corner. It’s entirely possible to lure out an engineer and kill him this way. If you’re a lone pyro against his sentry and you’re just posturing and firing flares, engineers will often want to finish you off, feeling they are safe with their sentries in the back. If they’re not aware you’re there, you often have the chance to kill you when they’re peeking around the corner, trying to see what’s going on or simple wanting to spam with their Pomson 6000. Engineers who use mini-sentries can really be a nightmare to pyros. The mini-sentries can kill you quickly, which means that if you engage, you’re forced to kill the mini-sentry first. If the engineer is trying to run away and you’re in a great position to kill him, then go for the engineer first. But if he’s strafing around, trying to kill you with his shotgun, then always kill the mini-sentry first. You minimize the damage you take from a mini-sentry by getting close to it and running in circles around it. Of course, when you do so, make sure you first run in the direction that is furthest away from the engineer shooting at you. Once you’ve killed the mini-sentry, you’re free to kill the engineer, who will still be close by (his shotgun doesn’t do much damage from a distance). If you can see that a mini-sentry is too far for you to close the distance, you might have to kill it with flares (it cannot be repaired). This is never an effective way to kill mini-sentries, so I suggest that you never do it if you have to expose yourself in areas where snipers will be aiming. You need four flares to kill the mini-sentry. If you encounter a mini-sentry in water, don’t try to kill it with your axe. It will take four hits to kill, but you will never make it since the shots of the mini-sentry will knock you too far away. Sentries can often be the big weakness of pyro. If a sentry is holding down a choke point, you cannot get close. Any time you can bring down an enemy sentry, you help yourself tremendously, since sentries greatly hamper your offensive efforts. Despite the limitations of range, there are several situations where pyros are quite good at taking down sentries. Whenever you encounter a sentry that is around the corner, you have a chance to kill it. If you peek around the corner and you can see a little of the sentry without being fired upon, that means that you can crouch down and fire at the sentry through the wall. Part of your flame will hit the sentry, and you will hit it burning. If an engineer is repairing the sentry, he can repair it quickly enough that you won’t kill it. However, if he doesn’t have a dispenser right beside him, he will burn to death or quickly run out of metal, allowing you to kill the sentry. The same goes for a sentry up on a ledge, where you can kill it with your flame from below. Even if the engineer manages to repair, you still give your teammates a great chance to take out the sentry since you’re doing great damage to it. If you engage in direct combat with a sentry, it’s very important to remember to constantly run around it to minimize the damage it will deal to you. However, even if a sentry is unguarded, you cannot kill it outright by just running into it with your flame thrower. If a sentry is close to a corner, but not quite close enough for you to hit it around the corner, it will survive such an assault with a very low amount of health left. So, if you know the sentry is slightly damaged or a teammate will be hitting it as well, go for it. In fact, if you get a head start on the sentry, with something blocking its view for a moment, you can run around the sentry quickly enough that it won't hit you at all. Another important thing to remember is that you can airblast the sentry rocket. If you’re at full health, don’t hesitate to get the sentry to shoot a rocket at you if you see the chance to finish it off, kill the engineer or one of his teammates. Sentry rockets have the same speed as normal rockets and do slightly more damage. If you airblast them, they will do mini-crit damage, which will be enough to kill an engineer with a single direct hit. If you kill the engineer and want to finish off the sentry, you can do this at a distance by employing a simple method: strafe out to get the attention of the sentry. Once you hear the sentry active and then hear the sound of the first shot fired by the sentry, strafe back. Now the sentry is triggered and will fire a rocket. Once you have a sense of how quickly these rockets fly, you will be able to know exactly when you need to strafe out again and airblast the rocket towards the sentry, strafing into cover before the sentry fire at you. You can then repeat this process. The closer you are when you do it, the harder it will be to do dodge the shots of the sentry and time the airblasting. At medium-long range, if you do this right, you should only take 5-10 damage for each time you deflect a rocket from the sentry. If the engie is repairing the sentry at a distance or around a corner, you can often finish him off with flares even if he’s sitting right next to his dispenser. If he’s not covered by the setry, and your flares can hit him, it normally takes three consecutive flares to kill him despite the dispenser healing. It requires that the engies never hides completely and you’re able to predict it if he tries to dodge. However, if you’re in a stand-off situation, it’s often worth a try. Another thing that pyros can abuse against engineers is bad building placement. If an engineer has placed a dispenser in front of the sentry, simple crouch behind the dispenser and shoot through it with your flame thrower. The sentry won’t react, since it doesn’t see you, and you will be able to kill both the sentry and the engineer while destroying the dispenser (dispenser has same health as sentry if they are same level, so you will destroy them almost simultaneously). Also, while killing off an engineer with crit axe works great, don’t waste your chance to kill of his dispenser quickly if he’s standing right next to it. Run around the engie and the dispenser while killing them both at the same time with your flame. That way, you are exposed for less time against other possible opponents when killing the dispenser. If an engineer wrangles a sentry (you can see it from the force field that appears around the sentry) around a corner, you have a great chance to kill it if you can sneak up on the engineer. Once the engie is dead, the sentry won’t do anything. However, don’t waste any time to kill it, since it will have double the usual health because of the effect of The Wrangler, and will shoot at you once the effect wears off. Spy Killing spies is an important function of pyros. Detecting a spy is easy enough once you recognize how the suspicious behaviours look like. If you’re ever in any doubt, you can use the flame thrower to test it, either by setting the suspicious player on fire or airblasting him. If a really good dead ringer spy is roaming around, it can be hard for your team to get the jump on him without a pyro to set him on fire and give away his position. Around 80% of spies on public servers use the Dead Ringer item, so unless you catch a spy while he’s trying to kill someone else, you should always assume that they are still alive, even if they seem to die. The only exception to this is if they just got hit by an engineer with Pomson 6000 or if you just saw them uncloak. If they uncloaked without any sound, that means they were using Cloak and Dagger, and if they uncloaked otherwise, it means they dead ringer (or Invisibility Watch, depending on uncloak sound) effect just wore off, and unless they just picked up a lot of ammo from dead players (or hit you with L'Etranger), they won’t have enough cloak to do it again right away. If a spy manually cloaks, without taking damage, it likewise means that they are not using Dead Ringer, and should be easy for you to kill once you catch them. The best way to know that a spy is dead is to notice whether he drops ammo. A fake death will still leave a weapon behind, but it will not provide you with any ammo. Spies who Spy-cicle will not catch fire or take damage for the first two seconds after you first hit them with your flame thrower. However, when you first hit them and initiate this two-second fireproofing, they will give away a unique sound which gives them away, so you will always know when they are using this effect. For the next 15 seconds after the fire-proofing activates, you don’t have to worry about the spy facestabbing you, though. His knife melted, so he’s quite harmless, unless he gets in some good hits with his pistol. Normally when you set a spy on fire and they activate their Dead Ringer, they will stay on fire. What happens is that the fire is put out and then they re-ignite if your flame is still on them. However, if your flame is not right on them when the Dead Ringer activates, they will not catch fire again and you have to find them with your flame and put them on fire again. In this situation, you will have to wait two seconds to ignite a spy using Spy-cicle, but as long as your flames are hitting the spy they will make a burning sound, you know they are still hitting the spy. So, if the sound stop, you know that the spy has turn, and you can try to predict where he has gone and turn the flames there. If no other opponents are around, I recommend that you keep a spy who activated his Dead Ringer pinned down with airblasts until the 6.5 seconds of cloak (more, if he picks up ammo after cloak activates, less if he gets hit by Pomson) have expired. A spy has 125 health, and while he’s a cloaked dead ringer you do a tenth of your normal 195 crit damage with the Axtinguisher. This means that it would take seven hits of a crit axe to kill a full heath spy. But if the spy is low, you could finish him off with a few hits, and this save some time and ammo instead of airblasting until cloak expires. Just be careful that you only hit the spy with crit axe when he’s up against a wall, since otherwise the knockback from the crit will help him escape if you do it in the wrong direction. Using the axe would ruin your airblasting fun, of course, and if you’re in a defensive situation, you should airblast the spy into an engie, who can wrench-kill him (this will open the doors of pyroland to you, I'm told). If the spies manage to escape, keep in mind that a flare will finish them off if they are already burning. Try not to shoot too soon if it’s evident their cloak is just about to expire. If you catch a dead ringer spy in the middle of the enemy base in an exposed position, I suggest that you ignore the spy. Going for the kill means that someone else will often kill you in the mean while. Ignoring the spy often provokes them to uncloack sooner rather than lately, trying to backstab you as you engage their teammates. So, you can turn around and get an easy kill. Ignoring cloaked and burning dead ringer spies is tricky, and requires great positional awareness. You need to know exactly when the spies could come to backstab you if he uncloaks so that you can turn at the right time (in case you don’t hear him if he has item set that allows for silent dead ringer uncloak or uncloaks from afar). You should never assume that a spy is a sure kill just because he’s cornered, burning and low on health. Many spies use Ambassador, and one headshot from it will kill you if you’re at half health, so don’t get lazy and run right at them from a distance. Also, when you chase spies around a corner, never aim for where you think they will be. Instead, aim for where they would be if they stopped, jumped out and tried to stab you. Many good spies perform so-called facestabs (watch
about lag compensation to understand how facestabs work), and if you look down or to the side, they will get an angle which allows them to kill you instantly with a backstab, even if they are technically right in front of you. You can easily prevent this if you stay aware of which angle you have in relation to the spy. Medic Fighting medics is quite straight forward. If you get close enough, they hardly have any chance. The most important thing to note is that you should never run straight at a medic who’s firing off his needs unless you’re close to him or he’s almost out of needles and has to reload. Right when then start shooting, you strafe and run behind wall to dodge. Also, when chasing down a medic, don’t get careless. When they know there is no escape, medics will often turn around to get in a hit with their melee. Don’t let them get a free hit just because it seems inconsequential. Melee weapons crit more often, and they might end up killing you with a random crit. The more damage you've done recently, the more likely you are to crit, and since assists count as damage, medics always have a high crit chance with their weapons. Your opponents might sometimes be very protective of their medics, but if you posture a little with the flame thrower and perhaps do some airblasting, you can normally get an opening to flare the medic.