Interview: NiP Sweaterr on circle mechanics, competitive settings, and improving PUBG esports in 2018

One of the longest standing rosters in PUBG currently, Ninjas in Pyjamas have plenty of experience in the competitive scene, and team captain Drew "Sweaterr" Miser has been known to voice his opinion on the various issues surrounding the competitive side of the game. We spoke to Sweaterr, who broke down his thoughts on ideal balance for battle royale and improving PUBG as an esport in 2018.

Hello, introduce yourself for anyone who might not be familiar with you.

 Hey! I’m Drew Miser, more commonly known as “Sweaterr” in the competitive battle royale scene. For those who don’t know me too well, I used to play, stream, and compete on LAN for H1Z1 and pretty much played the game since it’s Early Access release. I had poured around 5500 Hours into H1 (Currently have 7000+ Hours in battle royale games) and was eventually signed with Cloud9 to compete in the H1 competitive scene. 

Upon PUBG’s Early Access release I found myself once again pouring so many hours into another br game and yet again fell in love with br in the form of PUBG. It was then I decided to main this game and competed for Cloud9 at Gamescom, placing second in duos at Gamescom, and since then have joined Ninjas in Pyjamas where I currently and happily play.

I’ll get right into things. You’re quite vocal on social media about changes to the game, and are particularly outspoken on the topic of competitive settings. What are your thoughts on how the circle should be handled? Let’s start with centralization. 

I’ve always stood by the idea that a balanced br game is layered like a 3-tiered cake. Phase one is the potentially hectic, think quick on your feet looting period. You’re worried about being contested, helping potentially contested teammates, vehicle spawns, quantity and quality of loot in a timely manner, safe zone placement, how far away good positioning is, etc.  

Phase two comes immediately after satisfaction of loot. This is the phase where you actually take action and push for the previously stated good positioning. Are your rotations safe? Is your pathing going to take to long to get to your destination? If someone beats you to your preferred spot are you willing to team fight them and potentially win territory at risk of losing teammates or even getting eliminated early?  

Phase three  - if you get through the first two - is where all teams want to be. You have good placement no matter when/if you get eliminated. You probably have a good sum of kills for even further placement buffer. However only one team can actually win which of course involves shootouts and team fights from all parties still alive.  

And where does the circle fit in with all of this?

If we allow the first two or so safe zones to have the current RNG factor while forcing the later game circles to center on themselves so safe zones stop spawning on near edges of prior safe zones when there’s already hardly enough terrain to play strategically as is, we can have more emphasis on team fights and team cohesion as well as strategic planning during “phase two” because precise and proper positioning around this stage of the game will be necessary for good placement in the later stages of a match instead of being late game and spending the allotted time JUST migrating to the unfortunate safe zone that unexpectedly favors teams randomly so much even though they may be playing the edge of a safe zone just like everyone else. 

This way we have a loot phase, positioning or chess phase, and then most simply we have team fights. I've personally always looked at competitive br as an RTS/FPS and settings like these capture that idea and most importantly remove RNG where it’s very harmful but still lets the  RNG aspect of battle royale thrive and predetermine the last couple circles just earlier on rather than last second giving teams with varieties of play styles a fighting chance. 

Alright, and how about adding more circles or any other adjustments you might want to see?

If extra safe zones were to be added, it would help ease the transition from RNG circles to centering circles and will be immensely less punishing to players who experience harsh RNG early game.

How about things like AR settings, some tournaments use 1.5x and some use 2x. While it’s good to see everyone getting loot, there’s a case to be made that 2x provides too much ammo. What do you think? 

In my opinion, on Erangel we have somehow hit the jackpot in regards to loot dispersion and the 1.5x increased AR used in customs. It’s just punishing enough to force a team to lack resources if their positioning is lazy early on while just good enough to put teams looting properly in a position of when enough loot is sufficient enough to justify moving on to “Phase 2” of the game. However on Miramar the loot dispersion is so bad and unrewarding at the minute that increasing Custom Gamess on Miramar to 2x is necessary.

TPP vs. FPP. The next great debate. Where do you stand on this? With Asia adapting TPP as their mode of choice, do you believe an official decision should  be made to regulate international competition? Would you make the switch to TPP?

In the past I was entirely for TPP and I STILL think it's very, very viable. It entirely depends on what we’re looking for in PUBG as an esport. Are we encouraging the more strategy-emphasized, methodical gameplay, or the in the blink of an eye fast-paced, “a fight can be around every corner” type of gameplay. In the game’s current state TPP would definitely thrive more in regards to how late game safe zones function but if we were to begin centering up the safe zones towards end game and encourage team fights universally throughout the rest of the map FPP can thrive as well.  

I do believe an official decision should be made for international competitions. The more competitors, viewers and rivalries, the better. I would absolutely make the switch to TPP for the sake of international competitions. 

You were recently invited to the Auzom Premier League Season 2. Looking ahead, what teams stand out as the strongest heading in? 

Teams that stand out to me are either consistent or are a sort of wild card team that on any given day can show up and cause upsets with ease. Teams like Faze, Vitality, Method, HAVU, Liquid, Penta, and Kinguin. 

The team has been together for quite a while, and is currently one of the longest standing rosters in the PUBG competitive scene. What’s the team environment like? Do you spend time together outside of PUBG? 

The environment in the team is a very, very comfortable one. We all have gotten along so well together that being able to play as a duo with any combination of us (while amazing) is dwarfed by how well we all mesh in person, on LAN, and as a whole. The Holiday season is a very busy one for a lot of us but we often do spend time together outside of PUBG playing other games, chilling on Skype together, or just watching movies or Twitch.  We’re very motivated as a roster, especially going into the 2018 season.

You’ve played on LAN at both Gamescom and IEM Oakland, experiencing two of the first major events and two different production setups. What do you want to see from PUBG production in the future and what did you enjoy most at each event? 

What I want to see most from all PUBG Productions are proper and experienced observers, 24/7 Map Up-Time so information is always available with just a glance for the sake of the spectator, commentators, analysts, and players when reviewing said matches. Team colors, team tags, and a tracker on the livelihood of teams would also be nice. Both events were a ton of fun and very easy-going for the players. The commentators, analysts, and interviewers at both events stood out to me and were remarkable. 

Hold ADS? 

I grew up only playing with Hold ADS but since my switch to PUBG, toggle ADS has forced me to play a specific playstyle to support the Toggle and untoggle motion. As of now im comfortably a toggler and I’m not going back.  

Heading into 2018, what do you want to see most from competitive PUBG and what are you looking forward to the most? 

What I want to see from competitive PUBG in 2018 are specific competitive settings tweaked to support a more balanced environment that displays all skill sets so talented teams can thrive consistently. I’m looking forward to the LAN events the most. I’ve never been one to enjoy traveling but after competing in Germany, bootcamping in Sweden, and competing in Northern California I want to see more and compete more.

Image credit: Ninjas in Pyjamas