Valve is ramping up to launch competitive matchmaking in its venerable team shooter Team Fortress 2.

Closed testing of the system, which will match players with others of a similar skill and success level, is starting this week.

Players seeking to try out competitive matchmaking must join the game's Competitive Beta group on Steam; Valve is prioritising access for people who purchased either the game itself (before it went free-to-play) or an in-game item, as well as those who have enabled Steam Guard and linked a phone number to their accounts.

"Our plan is to start small and increase participation as we go," said the studio.

"We know you’d all like to start testing now, and eventually we hope all of you WILL [emphasis Valve's] 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."

Valve has considerable existing experience in eSports, with its MOBA Dota 2 ranking high amongst competitive games; with competitive matchmaking, it may be seeking to add the wildly popular Team Fortress 2 to its eSports roster.

Team Fortress 2 launched way back in 2007 as part of The Orange Box, and has since evolved into a significantly more complex and finely-tuned game.