"Tip of the Hats," a TF2-themed charity event, is the most fun Overwatch fans will have all week

Listen up, Overwatch fans languishing in the Overwatch League off-season: it’s time to pull it together. There’s an annual charity event in town featuring your favorite feathered streamers, pro players, and British-accented casters, and Tip of the Hats could always use more heroes!

This weekend, the best of the Team Fortress 2 (TF2) and TF2-turned-Overwatch community will unite in Chicago, Illinois for three consecutive days of entertaining games and general insanity, all in the name of raising money for Camp One Step. Camp One Step is a Midwest-based charitable organization that works to provide fun, interactive, and empowering camp experiences all-year round for children who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Uniquely, the organization aims to heal patients' mental, as well as physical, health by providing quintessential childhood experiences that a cancer diagnosis often robs children of. "Camp One Step exists to heal scars that no one can see such as fear, isolation, depression, lack of support and no longer fitting in," says the organization. 

Each day of Tip of the Hats consists of a 12 hour stream chock-full of various games and donation incentives featuring the most recognizable faces from TF2 and, now, Overwatch. Familiar players like Seagull, Clockwork, and Muma will be in attendance, as will popular community members like Bren, Sideshow, and Harsha. 

Day one features a North America vs Europe TF2 showmatch; a three hour block of Overwatch; some Super Mario competition; and, more. There is an Overwatch showmatch on day two, as well as some PUB:G, Counter-Strike, and Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, and then on day three, Fortnite, Overwatch, and a
whole lot of TF2.

TF2, of course, is the foundation of the whole operation. Games like Overwatch and Fortnite may be featured now, but when Tip of the Hats began in 2013, it was with the simple idea of using TF2 to raise money for charity. The event’s founders -- streamers Truktruk, Lange, and Seanbud -- were inspired by the popular, bi-annual speedrunning event, Games Done Quick, and when they pitched their idea to the TF2 community, they found both overwhelming support and a cause to get behind.

Camp One Step was proposed by a close friend and TF2 shoutcaster, Cbear. He was a Chicago resident and had friends that volunteered with the charity,” explained Truktruk. “I didn't know much other than [what was on] the website …, but I had a lot of respect for Cbear and he was passionate about us supporting this charity. Five years later, I couldn't be happier with our initial decision and sticking with Camp One Step for all of our events.”

▲ Tip of the Hats is a 3-day, 36-hour livestream event benefitting Camp One Step - via @TipoftheHats

The first two events were ran out of co-founder Kurt “Truktruk” Russ’ parents’ house -- 
and prior to 2016, Tip of the Hats consisted of a single 36 hour broadcast. “The inaugural event [required] me to sit at my computer alone for 36 hours straight running the live stream,” he said. “I loved every moment. We raised over $35,000 [that year].”

The next year, co-founder Lange and TF2 personality Ma3la joined Truktruk, turning Tip of the Hats 2014 into what Truktruk described as a “mini-LAN with two computers that raised over $100,000 on a zero dollar budget.” It was the first time the three had met in-person; these days, Ma3la and Truktruk are inseparable real life friends.

And from there, Tip of the Hats just kept growing. The crew (now including a certain Seagull) gathered in Chicago at the Ignite Gaming Lounge for 2015’s show and there, armed with only a small, dark (but, Truktruk assures, “lovely”) room in the LAN center, some lights, cameras, and a big couch, Tip of the Hats shattered its previous donation records and set a new one: $225,000.

“I want to make sure to give a huge shoutout to Ster and Jerma985 for helping promote, host, and participate in the early events,” said Truktruk, adding that there are hoards of others he would thank had time permitted. “Without these guys helping out early on in Tip of the Hats’ lifespan, I do not think the event as a whole would be nearly as successful.”

▲ The 2015 Tip of the Hats crew poses in the Ignite Gaming Lounge - via @TipoftheHats


The year after that, now-famous TF2-turned-Overwatch personality Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson made his first appearance at Tip of the Hats, having only watched it in the years before. “Tip of the Hats has so many entertaining personalities involved and we've all known each other for years, so hanging out with everyone makes me die laughing every year,” began Sideshow when asked about his favorite Tip of the Hats memory.

He continued: “In 2016 when I first took part, Getawhale, Ma3la, and Truktruk decided to invest in a pot of Flarp, having had the sensible adult portions of their brain eviscerated by hours of set-up and planning. The serious nature of some of the show contrasted with their antics killed me as they desperately tried to conceal it from the audience.”

The format changed that year from one grueling 36-hour straight livestream to three 12-hour streams over three consecutive days, and when the event’s variety game segments proved a success, it became apparent that something would have to change if Truktruk & Co. wanted Tip of the Hats to last.

▲ Sideshow, Harsha, and Samiface hosting Tip of the Hats 2017 - via @TipoftheHats

Although the game was officially released in 2016
, Overwatch did not make an appearance at Tip of the Hats until 2017 when Sideshow and Harsha (former analyst for the San Francisco Shock) organized a showmatch.

One year later, the segment is somewhat surreal to watch: Jake, Mickie, Boink, Numlocked, Flame, and Goldenboy took on Muma, Clockwork, Mangachu, Dogman, ZP, and Gillfrost (more commonly known as Left Guy) in a bizarre, playful series casted by Sideshow, Harsha, and Samiface, a TF2 personality. No one emerged victorious.

“Seagull and a tremendous portion of top TF2 talent and content creators took interest in Overwatch [when it was released]. It seemed like our staff was resentful or indifferent towards the game and how it impacted our friends and community,” admitted Truktruk. “I felt like it took a huge chunk of my friends and family and hid them away. In a sense, it did. I lost contact with a lot of people that I talked to regularly.”

“However, in all reality, if I just gave the game a chance I would have never had that problem,” he continued. “2017's event taught me that lesson. I was able to meet and hangout with a lot of old time TF2 buddies that moved onto Overwatch thanks to the ex-player's openness to go back and participate in our primarily TF2-themed show.”

Variety, then, is central to Tip of the Hats 2018. Overwatch will make a return with some of the esport’s most popular faces -- Seagull, Muma, Clockwork, Bren, Sideshow, Harsha -- in tow, but Fortnite, PUB:G, Counter-Strike, and even games like Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes will all make appearances. With more games, more on-stream personalities, more donation incentives, and more merchandise than ever before, this year’s event is poised to become one of Tip of the Hats’ most successful yet.

“[Tip of the Hats] started as a pet project for some very passionate and caring people in the talented TF2 community, and there is beauty in that tight-knit feel, but it's growing to be something that people from Overwatch, Fortnite, and a range of other games can call their own as well,” said Sideshow.

“I think the segments and silliness planned for these 'newer games' will be honestly amazing, and we'll still have all the old favourites. If it isn't the funniest event you've watched all year, I'll be very surprised.”

Tip of the Hats 2018 takes place October 5 - 7 on their official Twitch channel. The full list of attendees; schedule of events; and, information on how to donate to Camp One Step are also available on Tip of the Hats’ website.


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    level 1 aturkeysandwich

    at heart, it'll always forever be about Team Fortress 2 ❤️ Love it, and remember to check out tipofthehats.org !

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