We've known for almost a year that Valve have been planning to add competitive matchmaking to Team Fortress 2 [official site] buuut well, I imagine Valve got distracted chasing a squirrel in the park or something. After many months of staring at the tree the squirrel vanished up, Valve have shook off their coating of snow and come back indoors to crack on with TF2's competitive matchmaking. They don't have too much to say about it yet, such as when it'll properly launch, but closed testing is beginning within a week or so and you can sign up.
Join this Steam group for a chance to try it early. Valve are prioritising people who have enabled the Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator, who have associated a phone number with their Steam account, and who either bought TF2 before it went free-to-play or who've bought an item from its in-game store.
Valveteer Jill explains a little more about how the beta will work:
"We know you'd all like to start testing now, and eventually we hope all of you WILL get a chance to play and share your thoughts. But remember that all testing happens in stages, and right now we're at stage one.
"Our plan is to start small and increase participation as we go. For this initial phase of testing - which will begin in the next week or so - we'll be gradually granting random members from this group an in-game item called a Competitive Matchmaking Beta Pass. Once you've been granted a pass you will have ongoing access to the beta."
As for when competitive matchmaking might properly launch or the format it'll take- oh for... get back in here you lot! Leave that poor squirrel alone! It was trying to reach a winter food cache, and you've scared it off again. You dreadful little monsters!