I have been asked time and time again, what “the secret is”. And the answer is actually quite simple. The secret to becoming better at any competitive game is to know how to predict and control your opponents.
Here’s some brain food. People like to ask what makes people good at games, and often times you’ll see a few answers all the time:
- Good players have good positioning!
- Good players have good aim!
- Good players have game sense!
- Good players play with other good players!
And while those aren’t false, what if we strip those away? What if we remove any random or varying element of a game? What if we have a fair game, and the only variables are the players? Well, then you have Chess. And just because you know the mechanics of Chess perfectly, that doesn’t make you a grandmaster. A grandmaster predicts and controls their opponent.
The same applies to online games as well, but people have forgotten that. That element gets obfuscated by the elements like connection, teammates, RNG, etc. and we’re quick to blame losses and deaths on things that actually could’ve been prevented.
And before I really go in depth to how you 1v3/control people, you do need to understand that this takes time. Actively knowing how to control people will have to be a conscious effort. Just like learning a guitar requires your full attention at first, once you practice you can play a song and have a conversation at the same time. Same applies to this. Conscious effort creates passive results.
Additionally, the difference between knowing how to be good and actually being good is the difference between having a dreamteam for the NFL and actually being in the NFL. One requires experience. In my case, I’ve spent well over 20,000 hours playing games. It takes time. Not as much time as I’ve downed, but time.
For the sake of understanding what I’m talking about, here are some reference points:
- When you lose the advantage, people underestimate you. (1)
- If you do enough damage, they’ll give up on the kill and let their team handle it. (2)
- People tend to not look up. (3)
- The element of surprise is the difference between a 1v3 and a 1v2. (4)
- If you have killed two enemies, you have instilled fear. (5)
- Players will almost always go for the revive before they push. (6)
- Pushing a position is the most dangerous thing someone can do. (7)
- Always thirst the first. (8)
- People take the longest route when running, and the shortest route when chasing. (9) (I’ll explain this one later)
Emphasis on #8. Always thirst one. If you don’t, you will enter a cycle where someone revives the downed guy, and the other pushes you. Then one heals, one pushes, and one revives and they cycle that. Do not let that happen. You will lose that.
Simply enough, right? So, how can we apply this to our gameplay?
First off, being able to win in spite of having no teammates to assist you is the single-most important factor in making you a good player. So to 1v3, what do you do? Shoot a few shots then die?
No. You need to separate the enemy. To 1v3, you need to control them and break it up into 3 different 1v1’s. There are three different ways to do this.
First method: Line of sight
The first method is the hardest to pull off and the easiest to explain. Simply put, if you can’t break them apart, you have to win by using cover to break line of sight and only be in view of one person at a time. Generally if it comes to this, you won’t be able to heal at all. You’ll have to kill all three without healing, hence why it’s the hardest to pull off. You should try to avoid this at all costs if you can, but sometimes you have to do your damnedest. You usually only have to do this if you’re the last one alive.
Second method: Teammates are your meat shields
Exactly as it sounds. Teammates serve as excellent meat shields, and the most common type of 1v3 you’ll do is this. They’re not hard, just kill someone as they’re shooting your teammate. That’s not what I want to go over. The one we’re going over is method three:
Third method: Dangle the carrot (A, B, C, D, E are not chronological. They are the main situations that can happen. For example, do go 2C -> 3C. Do not go 2C -> 3A. If there’s no letter, that step is true for all paths)
Picture this. Both your teammates are dead, and the enemy team is mostly unphased. What the hell do you do?
Step 1: Bait them. You need to make it apparent that you’re alone and ripe for the taking. You’re just one guy, no way you could win! Oh, dear ‘ol me!
Literally, shoot them, get their attention, then run. I’m not kidding. You want to break them apart, and this is the best way to do it. Remember point (1), people underestimate you now that your teammates are dead. They’re not going to try to give you the time of day and peak cover and play it smart. They know they have three people, and they’re going to try to push you all at once. There are five main ways this can play out:
Step 2A: No teammates but you initiate the fight. See point (4). Usually people don’t hold hands if they’re just looting and they don’t know somebody is nearby. This means that if you can open that fight, you have time to kill one of them and thirst them(8). That instantly makes it a 1v2.
Step 2B: They don’t chase you. This can be for two main reasons. The first one is that they might just not be dumb and they know not to break apart. That’s rare, but if it happens, you’re in for a rough time. Another reason they might not chase you is if all of them are low. If you are on mic with your teammates, you can gauge whether you try to kill all three without healing. If you don’t have a mic but you know they did some damage, don’t get greedy. Just kill one, thirst him(8) and back off to heal.
Step 2C: First out. You need to separate one of the enemies first. Usually if your teammates did some damage before they died, the enemy team does this for you. They know you’re one person, and so they’ll chase you. However, a majority of the time, at least one of them will be weak. We will refer to him as HEALER. This guy knows he’s low, so he’s going to trust his teammates to finish you off while he stays back. Perfect. Similarly, often times one of them will stay back to loot while his two teammates fight you. Same thing, but we’ll refer to him as LOOTER. The key is that one stays back and two chase you.
Step 2D: No teammates? No problem. See point (2). If they already know you’re there, you need to break one of their teammate’s shields so they stay back as the HEALER. Extra credit if you can do some health damage.
Step 2E: Knock someone but don’t thirst them. This is the worst scenario. As said above, the last thing you want is for them to enter a cycle of reviving/pushing/healing, because they can sustain that. You can’t. You need to break that cycle immediately.
Step 3A/3B: Well done! You managed to kill one. If you took damage, go long and heal up. If you’re near a respawn, be wary that people will want to hit that respawn before pushing you(6). See Step 3C/3D for separating the next two.
Step 3C/3D: Now you need to separate the next two through distance. Whether you go far or go up is based on the two people chasing you. For example, if they have a Pathfinder or Revenant and you’re also Pathfinder or Revenant, climb something and bait that person up. What this does is leave the LOOTER/HEALER behind(if they’re alive), the 2nd guy has to try to climb after you two, and you get alone time with your new friend. You need to kill him and thirst him(8). If they don’t have someone with vertical mobility, go long if they have someone with speed. The two that you can go far with are against a Pathfinder or Octane. Get them to make a gap, then kill them and thirst them. If a Wraith is chasing you and she starts portaling, keep running. You can also take the approach of Step 2B where you break shields to break people apart. Both work fine, but you risk taking a lot of damage just for the sake of getting them to break apart.
Step 4: Rinse/Repeat. Whether you break their shields or separate them through distance, once you get the first two down, you’re in a great spot(5). You killed two of their teammates by yourself. You have instilled fear. The last person will now either try to go for banners or push you. Either way, as long as you thirsted one you’re good. You don’t have to thirst both because you can just guard the knocked guy and use him as bait. Bonus points if he tries to go for the revive because he doesn’t know where you are. Even if they don’t try to go for the revive, pushing is dangerous as hell(7). He’s scared and you have the advantage.
Step 5: Win that 1v1, profit. Well done.
Obviously there are different situations that can happen. For example, you might get third-partied and have to 1v3 that team followed up by killing the last guy on the first team. Tons of things can happen, and you’ll learn how to appropriately approach a fight as you get better at 1v3’s. Some situations warrant breaking shields, some warrant dangling the carrot and simply putting a gap between them. Do your best.
Also, while you can predict people, it’s not an exact science. It’s not about getting it right all the time, it’s about getting it right more and more often.
While we’re on the topic, let’s talk about controlling certain behaviors:
- Remember point (7) and (1)? Pushing is dangerous, but people underestimate you. Those two lead to point (9). People take the shortest route on the chase. What does that mean? Well, it’s simple. When you’re running from someone, you usually strafe, jump and just try to make yourself hard to hit. However, when you’re chasing someone, you aren’t trying to strafe. You’re taking the shortest route: a straight line. This is huge. This is especially useful if you have to take the route of breaking their shields because you can get people to follow you, you take an advantageous spot (ie a head-glitch) and they’re running in a straight line just for you. This is also super useful for killing people who have more health than you.
- Remember point (3)? People tend not to look up. This has two super practical purposes. The first one is when you’re not Pathfinder. When you’re fighting, climb a box, door or something in the middle of a fight. People tend not to look up. An example might be when you’re fighting around a car located around the map and you climb it when the person is on the other side of it. On the other hand, if you’re Pathfinder, you should be abusing this through your grapple. It works in any situation since you create that height yourself. To test, go into training grounds. What you need to do is aim at the floor close to you(but not too close), jump right before the grapple connects to the ground, then break the grapple(press crouch) immediately after the grapple connects. What this will do if you can get it right is send you straight up into the air, essentially allowing you to superjump(example). Since the ground is close to you and you broke the grapple, the animation isn’t that long and by the time they can aim up at you in the air, you’ve already landed. It really confuses them, making it prime for winning 1v1’s. Again, super useful for killing people who have more health than you, but you do use your only escape to do this. Be cautious.
- “I didn’t see you”. Simply put, sometimes people will be popping a Phoenix Kit/Battery and you’ll see them doing it. They will most likely commit to it, so if they’re not in a spot that allows you to kill them easily, then you might want to act like you don’t see them and prepare before pushing. For example, if they’re blocking a door, you might want to run past that door to act like you didn’t see them, turn the corner, pull out a Thermite, prime it, then throw it as you peek back around the corner. This is better than simply throwing a Thermite because if they see you pull out the Thermite, they will likely back off the door. However, doing this doesn’t let them see you prime it.
There are more examples, but those are the three most important that I want to offer. This guide is long enough!
- Abuse Pathfinder’s superjump in fights. Go two paragraphs up to know how to do it.
- ADS/Jump/Strafe/ADS. You need to ADS, start shooting, jump sideways and when you’re going sideways you need to hipfire. When you’re about to land, ADS again. This gives you a nice blend between accuracy and speed. See a perfect example, here
- Jump-slide. ABUSE THIS. IT IS THE MOST USEFUL THING YOU CAN MASTER IN THIS GAME. What you need to do is move in any direction, jump, then queue a slide mid-air. This will allow you to slide without needing to sprint, and you can do it as you’re fighting. You have 100% accuracy while sliding, so there is no reason whatsoever not to abuse this.
- Wall-climb/Wall-jump. This one isn’t as necessary but if you can get it down, it’s pretty solid. You can start climbing a wall to confuse people (3) or wall-jump to get unholy mobility. To wall-jump, run-slide into a wall, face perpendicular to the wall, then press the jump button. This will make you bounce a far distance off the wall. Combine this with a slide to basically ensure you win a 1v1.
- If you’re using a controller, use the Evolved button layout. It swaps Melee/Crouch and Jump/Tactical. LB becomes jump and crouch is RS. This allows you to jump/crouch without needing to take your thumb off the right analog(aim).
- If you’re using a controller, go into firing range and tap RS. Try to go the shortest distance you can with just a tap. Unlike a mouse where you can go pixel by pixel, it will jump a decent distance. That’s because controllers suck. The workaround for this is actually quite simple. For anything past that margin, use RS to aim. For anything within that margin, use LS to strafe your sights into your target. Use both at the same time for actually good aim.