The first season began on June 15th 2017 in North America, and spread to Europe and Australia in April and August 2018 respectively. The format aims to be a middle ground between 6v6 and Highlander, which encourages the players to not stick to a single meta and adapt to the opposing team.
Classes are limited as such :
Any combination of 7 of the 9 classes is allowed, within the class limits. While a config is used to enforce the class limits, it is still possible to spawn two or more of the same class. It is therefore against the rules for two of the same class to leave the spawn room or to have any interaction on the match.
Even though it's a commodity before a match for both teams to go through a process of pick/ban to define which weapons will be banned or allowed, the leaders of the respective teams can also decide to not select their picks/bans.
In the latter case, the league's default whitelist for the format is instead applied, with the banned weapons being as followed :
Fists of Steel
Darwin's Danger Shield
†Banned from both the default whitelist and the pick/ban process.
If the opposing teams decides however to go through a process of pick/ban, then the order is as followed :
Banning Wave N°1 : Away / Home / Away / Home
Picking Wave : Home / Away / Home / Away
Banning Wave N°2 : Home / Away / Home / Away
Strategy and Gameplay
With its team sizes of seven, and a limit of one class per team, the most common strategies tend to revolve around the support and pick classes chosen by each team.
Classes can be changed in game at any time, as long as there are no more than one of each class outside the spawn at any given time. As with other competitive formats, there is a combo consisting typically of a Medic and a Demo, with other classes such as Heavy and/or Pyro often joining them.
The combinations of the classes possible creates a variety of gameplay options. For an example, the team on defense on a Payload map may choose to use a Medic, Demo, Pyro, Heavy, Engineer, Soldier, and Sniper, which would be a more combo dependent, defensive composition. The team on offense, however, may run a Medic, Demo, Pyro, Sniper, Soldier, Scout and Spy, which is very flank/pick reliant composition, which could be used to counter the opposing teams defenses and exploit lightly held flank routes.
The format revolves around shifting classes in response to the other team, for example if BLU struggles to deal with a RED Engineer they may run a Spy. If a RED Sniper then changes Pyro to counter this Spy, then that leaves RED open to a BLU counter Sniper and so on, making it a counterpick heavy competitive format overall, since it requires its team to have some level of proficiency with each and every classes playable in the game.
History and Reception
The idea of Prolander was a popular discussion in the Highlander community, and Sigafoo had began testing out matches in the said format. Originally, it was supposed to be a 6v6 variation, but then, it was later modified to a 7v7 format due to popular demand from the following playerbase behind it, and the TF2 community itself who shown interest in the format.
For now, the only league that hosts Prolander tournaments is RGL, and it has become popular in the competitive community thanks to the large number of regions the aforementioned league covers (North America, Europe and Australia) as well as the playerbase itself, which continues to grows as the format continues to be played at high-level tournaments. The league has prize pools of up to $4000 at the Invite level which contributes to its popularity.
In 2019, after 4 seasons European Prolander was indefinitely suspended due the retirement of several league admins. North American Prolander continues to run 2-3 seasons a year, though the prize pool for Prolander has been reduced in favour of larger prizes for RGL's 6v6 and Highlander leagues.
RGL.gg and Kritzkast are the active organizations that provide casts for the competitive Prolander scenes in North America and Europe respectively. Previous coverage of early Prolander seasons has been done by eXtelevsion.