PUBG guide to the top 100

Introduction

I’ve reached top 100 on the EU solo FPP server:
the_end

I’ve finished last season as #185. In the previous season I played third person with #257 final position. So the current top 100 result isn’t a piece of luck, but a result of consequent good performance. My final 20 games had 15 top 10 with one of them won.

“OK, that’s nice, you probably got skillz” – you think. Wrong. My kill:death ratio in the current season is 0.15 and was 0.2 and 0.03 previously. My competitive FPS days are two decades behind me. My reaction time can’t compete with a youngster. PUBG doesn’t show pings but WoW does and it’s usually higher than 100ms, often reaching 200ms, thanks to the Eastern European internet services. I’m supposed to be completely non-competitive in an FPS – and as my K/D shows, I am. Yet I’m in the top 100 and you are not. This is because I understand what is “good play” in PUBG and you probably think it has something to do with killing other players. You are wrong.

PUBG is a survival game. Unlike usual FPS-es, you get trivial amount of points for killing enemies. Watch how my ranking (99) is so much closer to win ranking (45) than kill ranking (19370). There is no singular enemy team you weaken by killing a member. The loot of the enemy is usually worthless. If you kill another player, all you get is one less player on the map. But everyone else on the map gets the same. You help all the other players by killing one, while bearing all the risks of the fight. To start getting better in PUBG, you have to learn that there are exactly two situations when shooting another player is appropriate: when there are just the two of you and in self-defense (like he enters the room you are in or run directly at you or shoots you). Killing a player outside of these is a mistake that only brings you third party attention.

The other important aspect of getting much better in PUBG is understanding how big is the effect of luck on the final outcome. Circle placement decides who can snipe from cover and who has to run on the open field. Random decisions of other players decide who will get into combat and who will just crawl watching the counter going down to 2. I would say that winning – or even getting to last 3 – is 95% luck, 5% skill. Trying to improve that 5% part is waste of time. What is 100% skill and zero luck is getting into last 20. If you know how to play, you finish before 20 every single time, no matter how unlucky you were. If you made it to last 20, getting into last 10 is 50-50 skill:luck. From there, it’s mostly luck. To get better you have to focus into getting into last 20. That’s totally in your control. You can’t blame a #80 or even a #29 on luck. I do have such results, but always because of some fail. My improvement is in decreasing such fails.

There is another reason why you should focus on avoiding fails: at high rating, a single fail can cause bigger rating loss than you can gain with awesome play:
moron
The rating loss of the two retarded mistakes was higher than the rating gain of a won game and a #2. Yes, you see it right. Even a perfectly played game and an almost perfect one couldn’t undo the damage caused by these mistakes. On the other hand when I played carefully and got unlucky, I lost mere 3 points. So the “all or nothing” moves are stupid, because “all” can’t pay for “nothing”.

Pre-game decisions

Recognizing the importance of pre-game decisions got me from #200 to top 100. There are much to do before the plane starts to fly. At first: deciding when to play. You get rating for living longer than other players who have higher or similar rating. You lose rating for dying before players with worse rating. You can’t play with high rated players when they aren’t online. Low rated players outnumber them badly and the matchmaker wants to create games in reasonable times. So if it can’t find high rated ones, it fills your game with crappy players. That case you barely get rating for a good result:
peak

If you aim for high rating, always play in peak hours when the matchmaker can provide you high rating opponents.

The next thing to consider while the countdown is running is the number of players:
3down
Despite #3 isn’t a bad result I lost lot of rating here. Why? Because it was a 10-players game. The rating is calculated by who are behind and who are ahead you. A 3/100 means that 97 players were behind you, a 3/10 means 7. What can you do about this? You can just quit matchmaking before the airplane flies by pressing ESC and pick “exit to lobby” on the menu. I’ve tested it in 3pp and I didn’t lose rating. I lost rating for quitting while the plane was flying or – obviously – when I died very early.

Always quit if the match have less than 95 players! The more players are in the game, the more die early while you are evading combat. Practically the same amount gets to the 4th circle, regardless if they were initially 100 or 50. You should also quit the damn fog maps where you don’t see anything but those who mess with the ini files do, because fog is client-side.

If you had a bad game, it’s a very good idea to not launch another. Never play when upset, angry, disappointed, distracted, tired! A single dumb mistake can undo 5 OK games.

One more thing: don’t mix FPP and TPP games. Play one type only in one season. Practices of one type don’t work in the other, as TPP allows (and demands) peeking over corners without being seen.

Parachute phase

Always have a printed map on your desk. The first thing you must do when you see the plane path is to place a pencil on the printed map to help you remember where the plane went. Why? Because the players you need to avoid are the killers, those who prioritize getting kills. They jump at the beginning of the flight and at the hotspots. For example this flightpath creates the following danger zones:
danger
The first big one because of the initial jumpers, the next for School and Roznok right on the path, Pochinki close to it and the Military base right on it. Less dangerous but still to be avoided is everything on the path and the nearby hotspots: Gergopol warehouse, Yas-Pol bar, Mylta bar, Novorepnoye completely. Regardless of path, always avoid School, Hospital, Prison, Military Base, Shooting range, Mylta plant. People often go there for loot. Some data wizard plotted where the winners and the losers jump (the external red circle is the AFK-ers thrown out of the plane):
drop

These aren’t just places where you shouldn’t jump. These are places you should avoid in later circles, because these are the places where killers can survive. I mean if a later circle is around School, it means that the winners of School are still there and alive. If the late circle is outside of School, the School-killers had to move and they suck at moving because they prioritize killing. So they likely won’t make it to Gatka. They never make it to the quarry from School. This is why you should have that map with the pencil, so you can quickly look up where the plane was 15 minutes ago.

Never jump to Military Island, no matter how safe it looks. It’s much easier to get in there (see water tips) than getting out. If you really-really want to be around, jump on the bottom road of the big island.

The most important thing in survival is getting a car (or boat). So jump where you can find them. Hint: cars are typically at the roads while boats are on the shore. Always jump perpendicularly to the plane. You can measure it by placing a marker on the map where you want to arrive and jump when the marker on the compass at the top of the screen is in line with the two wings. Here is where I would jump on this map:
jump
The first is for the top edge road and shore boats. If I’m so unlucky that I don’t find a single one in that flight, I continue on foot on the orange path. Don’t stop for looting until you have a car! If you find a boat, you can travel faster and look for a car. Stop if you don’t see the road, run to the road, look around, run back to the boat if no luck. The second jump is for the left edge road and boats. There are also cars by the big road in South Gergopol. The third jump position is the car hotspot where the roads reach Yas-Pol. Beware of Yas-Pol downtown itself being a no-go-zone. The last two jump zones are the bottom edge roads.

After you jumped, pan your mouse so you see yourself from below. That instruct your character to glide. Press forward and glide. Then you should hold the freelook button and look around. If you look around on the ground without freelook, you start falling. Always open your parachute long before the mandatory point! At first is that it allows longer jumps. No way you can make the jumps I’ve drawn if you auto-open. After you opened, press forward for 2-3 seconds, then backward for 1. This pattern generates the longest jumps. The second reason for early opening is seeing all the other players landing. Those who opened with or before you are visible on the sky. Those who opened after you are visible below you. Never-ever land near someone else, especially not near a car! Early contesting – especially a car – has a chance for early death and a chance for … winning a car, like the ones you could find down the road. If you see a car from above and no players landing around it, just press forward constantly for fast descent and turn if you’d overfly the car. You can see how far you can fly with various speeds in this video.

Early decisions and looting

Usually while you are still flying or just landed, you see the first circle and have to make your first decisions.

  • If you have a car and you are in the circle, drive to buildings at the far side of the circle. I mean far from the danger zones.
  • If you have no car and you are in the circle, keep running for a car, don’t stop for looting.
  • If you have a car and you are outside of the circle, but it’s near, you can drive to the nearest buildings (outside of the circle) and start looting.
  • If you have no car and the circle is near, keep running for a car
  • If you have a car and the circle is very far, start driving for it if you can do it without crossing a danger zone. If not, you are out of luck
  • If you have no car and the circle is far, you are out of luck
  • If the circle has large portion of water, especially if it’s around the Southern island, drive for a boat or land directly for a boat

If you are out of luck, that doesn’t mean you can’t get into the top 20. You won’t get if you panic and go to a danger zone or try to reach the circle on foot. The bridges to Military Island are always camped and must never be used. What you should do instead is collecting medicine. You are in the middle of nowhere, no one bothers you from looting everything and grabbing medkits, first aid kids, bandages, pills and energy drinks. When the circle passes over you, start using them. First the pills and drinks, then the bandages. These should keep you up until the third circle is completed. Then your HP will decrease even if you use bandages constantly and will have to use first aid kit or medkit. After the fourth circle is complete, you will die practically instantly, but almost always top 20, sometimes top 10. It’s annoying to have multiple horrible circles and being forced to loot outside, slowly losing rating. But do you know what’s more annoying: watching a #60 death screen!

If you see players dropping like flies to a single or few players, you should expect them to be autoaimers. Just stay outside the circle and loot medicines. They’ll kill most players by the time the fourth circle kills you.

If you aren’t going for medicine and arrived to the place where you loot, start looting like crazy. Due to you driving away from the landing path and danger zones, there is practically no chance of bumping into a player while looting. So no need for crouching or looking around. Which should also a rule: if you have reason to believe that another player is around, don’t loot, hide or drive away! If a player later arrives on a car, you hear its sound.

While looting, park your car by the road, the way they use to spawn. So if someone comes around, he assumes it’s an untouched car and won’t stop searching for you. Or he stops looting without expecting you with your shotgun.

You can also hear the goddamn plane. If you do, look around and see if it dropped a package near you. If it did, run for your car and drive away, because soon will come the swarm of mindless zombies growling “groooozaaa”!

Don’t overloot! Even with a car you need time to reach the circle. A car or boat takes about a minute to cover the distance of one yellow grid on the map. If the circle is far, that can mean instant driving, even without looting. Yes, if I jump on the top road and the first circle is around the Military Island, I’d jump into a boat (drive on the shore until I find one) and drive for the island instantly, without looting. It will take 7 minutes to reach the island, so I must hurry. On my stats you often see 10+ km travel.

The other way of overlooting is when you are in the circle, even in the safe end. It won’t be safe forever. It’s never completely safe. You must finish looting when the first circle is complete (the big one is blue and the second appears in white). Being safe with crappy gear is much better than having the best gear possible and being in combat.

What to loot for? A mid range weapon (M416 > M16 > AK > SCRL > UMP > semi-auto snipers) with 2x scope and a close range weapon (S12K > double barrel > AK > Tommy > M416 > SCRL > UMP > UZI > pump-action) with a holo/laser sight. Yes, you can have two AKs, one with scope and flash hider, other with extended mag, holographic sight and compensator. Get armor, helmet, backpack and all the medicine you can find. There is no need for too much ammo. But you should always grab a can of fuel if you find one.

First second and third circle

These circles are different from the later ones because you can stay out of them and outheal them. However outhealing them needs constant medicine use, which implies a large cache of medicine on your back or constant looting. This isn’t always possible, neither it’s always advised. If the circle has safe parts (away from the initial danger zones, you should use them). Always be in a house and be prepared to defend it. There are three proper positions:
trap3
This is the best. You are in prone position aiming for the entry point. This particular building is only good for FPP as the third party camera can see you before you see the head of the other player. But if you can find a door you can aim at, this is practically unbeatable. However most buildings don’t have such positions.

trap2
This is the second best. Place loot to the normal spawning point. Not just a single valuable one, but also some clothing, maybe a sidearm or melee weapon, weapon augmentation that you picked up on the way. Of course there should be something worth looting in the mix. Guy enters, sees loot, goes to loot, gets shot at the back. This requires the other player to be unaware of your presence. You must not use it if you just ran into the building. You must close every door while looting and leave some ammo next to the guns you don’t pick up. So the other player just casually loots, opens door, gets happy about the loot and dies.

If you don’t find any suitable location or you have reason to believe that others might expect you inside, there is only one thing left: grab your close-range weapon and sit close to the door. Close enough that you can open it. When he opens the door, three things can happen:

  • He is so good that he kills you before you even see him, due to him having 2x latency advantage (when he opens the door, he sees it open and you behind it instantly. You see it open when his data reaches the server and then it reaches you). This case you die.
  • He is careless and just stand in the door and aims at you. Or even better, casually runs in, bumps into you and gets confused. This case you kill him.
  • He opens the door and instantly dodges out of sight so you can’t shoot him. This case close the door and throw a smoke bomb inside the room. Stay close to the door, but not front of it. Every time he opens it, close it back. If you are lucky, his grenade bounces from the closing door. If not, you die, but with the open-close game you win time and someone might die, decreasing your final rank.

You should not try the insane tricks you see on streams. You are not and will never be on par with those who pull these off. Otherwise, you’d already be top 100 by simply killing anyone in your way. Make peace with the fact that the other top 1% players are faster and better aim than you. You just have to be smarter than them. Keep it simple, it’s better to kill half of the people who ambush you with a simple “shotgun at the door” than pulling an awesome trick that could kill them all – if only you wouldn’t fail in pulling them.

Obviously you should mind the windows and shouldn’t set up any kind of trap in a position where someone can shoot you from outside.

When the circle shrinks, always travel by car and only travel during shrinking phase, outside of the white circle! Never travel in the white circle. Stop at the first building of the white circle, get inside and take position! Why?
move
Adam and Betty are safe in the white circle and have nothing better to do than shooting you. Cindy and Dave are busy reaching the white. If you’d start moving before the shrinking, they could shoot you, now they are busy running. Betty has three targets, so there is good chance that she’ll notice one of the others and try to hit them, won’t even notice when you leave your building and enter the car. When she hears the car sound, she might ignore it and keeps trying to kill her current target. Adam on the other hand has only one target: you if you choose to go inside of the circle.

There is one exception from the “first building” rule: avoid those buildings that have flat roof with access. Snipers love them and they have full view of the surroundings. Don’t even drive near these things. If there is no other complex around, skip that circle.

When getting out of the building and getting into the car, don’t waste time looking around, just rush to the car and drive. Use the boost feature (keybind it) when accelerating to reach top speed fast. Use it also if you have to climb up hills. This uses lots of fuel, that’s why you should always have fuel cans. Rushing seems counter-intuitive, as anyone around can easily kill you. But no one is around, because you are at the far edge of a shrinking circle so he can’t loiter. You are hiding inside some building, so he can’t know that you’ll go out for the car, he believes you left long ago. Also, if he wants a kill, he won’t loiter around a car, he’ll search the buildings. I’ve never been killed in early circles while mounting my car.

Same thing when arriving. Just jump out of your car and rush for the door and close it behind you. The faster you do it, the less time the shooter has to kill you. If someone is in that very building near the door, you are out of luck. Run to the window-less toilet or up the stairs with your close range gun (select it before you leave the building and get into the car). Never-ever try to loot in a building you arrived this way! That lucrative loot can be a trap and even if it’s not, the seconds you spend picking it up can be your undoing if someone saw you entering and choose to run after you. If you really-really want that loot, pick it up when you are leaving for the next circle!

You can skip circles if you consider the next circle particularly dangerous or you expect someone wait for you outside, assuming you have the medicine to outheal that circle. Always consider the option of skipping, don’t run mechanically, don’t just look for the least bad building. Skipping is always an option in the early circles.

If the third circle is a danger zone (you have that map with the pencil, do you), always skip it. If it is car-unfriendly terrain (hill, quarry, swamp, cut down trees), skip.

If you skip, you can loot after the blue passed you and you wait for a few more seconds. No one lingers in blue. When the next shrinking is 40-50 secs away, select a building in the white circle and get into the car, use pills/drink and a first aid kid and drive. You’ll reach the blue circle first which has few seconds before shrinking or is already shrinking, then you reach the target building in the white. The downside of it is that you’ll reach it with half health, so if someone shoots at you, you’ll much more likely die. The upside is that you skipped one running phase and one building to enter.

If you lose your car in the early circles, that’s a good reason to just give up on the circle and collect medicine until the end. It’s better to finish #20 than running on the open field for minutes.

Blessed water

If you are lucky, the first circle contains large amount of water or is around the Military Island. This case you should always grab a boat. If the circle is far, you should skip looting and grab a boat. Just drive to the coast and keep driving on it until you find one. Boats are very effective in survival, because at sea there is no terrain that would give snipers a position to shoot you while relocating. The only way to get shot while at sea is from the coast and from other boats. In watery maps, survival is enough, since the limited land space and remote circle (has to be at the edge of the big island or at the little one) guarantees that most people just die to the blue zone or when they desperately try to cross some chokepoint.

The most important thing to know is that you cannot be shot at while underwater. Keybind the “swim up” and “swim down” controls for easier sinking. Of course you can’t stay underwater forever, you need to come up for breathing. This is why it’s important to learn how to position your boat:
boat

This way you can come up for air and your head will be covered by the boat against snipers at the coast. Unless you are particularly close to the coast, they can’t explode your boat, since the amount of shots needed are too high for a sniper rifle. If you are close, they can shoot the boat with an assault rifle, if you hear bullets raining on it (you can hear it underwater), just swim away (even into the blue) and return after the explosion. The boat will still be afloat, just unusable. This case you have to swim for the next circle, but this can only happen when the coast is close anyway.

The other way to be attacked is from another boat. It’s rare, because killers aren’t patient enough to bother with boats, but it can happen, especially if you are unlucky enough to get an airdrop near you. If that happens, just sail away! But there is a chance that some idiot drives all the way over the sea just to kill you. This case you can see the boat coming from underwater. Just swim below his boat and board it from below. Yes, from below:
boat

Then you’ll be sitting on the boat, probably in the driver seat. Instantly spam the key that puts you to the fifth seat. If he is in it, try 4. Aim with your weapon, otherwise you can’t shoot and kill him. If you are lucky (and you mostly are, as only idiots try to kill you at sea) he is aiming for the water, waiting for you to come up and won’t have any idea how did you shoot him.

If you are close to the coast and see a swimmer coming for your boat, wait until he’s near and board it first, take the fifth seat and aim. If he is dumb enough to board after you, you got a free kill. As you can’t switch weapons in the water, select your close-range one before leaving your boat.

As long as the circle is in the water, keep positioning your boat as pictured and stay in the water, watching the player count running down, while you are at safety. If the white circle is totally out of the water and it’s the second or third circle, just sail away and collect medicine in the blue! Landing into an early circle is pretty much suicide. If it’s a late circle, just shore your boat when the shrinking starts and rush for the circle, hoping to get lucky.

Final circles

The final phase starts when the fourth circle completes (this one):
safe

These circles cannot be outhealed and you die in short order if you can’t get inside. If you are close to them, you can spam first aid kits and live, but you’ll run out fast. Even if you skipped the third circle, you must be driving for a building in the fourth. The fourth circle almost always completes with less than 20 players alive. Dying before this is always a fail, as you could realize whatever danger killed you and just stayed outside popping meds instead of dying to it.

Assuming you are still alive after the fourth circle completion, you did well. The skill-based part of the game is complete, you did everything you could. Will you be the next person being shot, or will you be #1 is mostly on the luck, so don’t stress. You will get rating or only lose minimal amount. I never understood those who reported shaking hands at a #2. If I get that far, I’m smiling over my luck and be genuinely surprised when I end up winning.

That said, there are still things you can do. The first is defending your building. The second is not messing up the next run. If you leave the building early, someone can still linger around. If you leave late, you get caught by the deadly blue circle. If you have your car and you have reasonable hope that there is an empty building in the circle, you can do the old routine. But usually late circles have no buildings or only 1-2 for 10-20 people.

If the surface is flat and especially if it has bushes or wheat, you can use the car the same way as you’d use a boat. Drive to the edge of the circle, place the car sideways and hide between the car and the circle. However if there are vantage points or there is no foliage, the others will see your car and saw you jumping out of it. They will either crawl for it or run out to the blue to shoot you. Or simply throw grenades. If you have no better idea, you can do it, but it’s a Hail Mary move.

The usual way of traveling the final circles is crawling. Just crawl and hope. If you are getting shot, try to crawl sideways into some hole or behind some obstacle. Or simply use first aid kit. Trying to shoot back is pointless, you just show yourself to even more enemies. Your best hope is that the shooter will be killed by a third party before you die.

If the next circle is too far, or there is some obstacle you can’t crawl over (fence, wall, ridge) or naked surface (beach, road), just wait where you are until the shrinking begins. With every second hiding you have chance that someone dies. When the shrinking starts, sprint and hope that no one looks that way.

If there is water (even river) in a late circle, don’t hesitate to go for a swim. You can’t be killed underwater and you can survive 30 seconds without breathing. Even if someone sees you jump in, that’s 30 seconds more life and a good chance that someone take him down while he’s camping the water. There is a good chance that he turns away and then you can come up for air.

If you get a target of opportunity, do not shoot unless he is coming right at you or takes a place where you must go to reach the next circle! Killing him would remove someone who is now acting as a bodyguard, killing your enemies and drawing their fire. The perfect ending is that other players are dying, only the two of you left with him being in your crosshairs.

If there are only three players left, prepare. As soon as one of them dies, stand up and try to find the other. You heard which side the shooting happened, run that way! If you are lucky, he is busy using medicine and looking at a wrong direction.

But again, don’t give much thought to it if you die right after the 4th circle completes. Focus on making sure that you live to see the fourth circle every game and you’ll soon be in top 100.