As February is beginning to wind down, competitive PUBG is entering a stage of heavy offline play. IEM Katowice has just wrapped up, and StarSeries i-League PUBG is just days away, with PGL’s Spring Invitational follows just a few weeks later to bring us the most PUBG we've seen on LAN to date.
With teams under heavy preparation for the wave of tournament play, We decided to probe the minds of Team SoloMid’s captain Viss, and BreaK to discuss competitive settings, team dynamic, and expectations in upcoming events.
Starting with the obvious question, the ruleset changes. Do you like the new circle settings employed by tournament organizers?
Viss: The new circle system is great, 100% am improvement, glad the competitive community could come together to get the circles right.
Break: The new circle settings in tournaments are amazing. They allow people to move in and fight their way into a top 10 position, rather than fighting and dying anyway to the blue. Much better for the scene.
Should loot tables be overhauled, slightly tweaked, or unchanged?
Viss: For the core game, Yes. In competitive we have been using custom settings. The competitive community has tested out different settings and came up with something we feel is better for competitive games. Such as tweaks to weapon spawns, ammo, and meds.
Break: Loot tables should be tweaked. I still think that lvl 3 items should only spawn on crates to add some incentive to crates & to add some credibility to Kar98's and snipers in general.
If you could change one thing about the game, what would it be?
Viss: I'd change the tick-rate of the servers, it's probably the biggest issue with the game. If the game could ever run at a high steady tick rate it would be amazing!
Break: I love the game as it is. Apart from the obvious, maybe they can speed up looting a little? And bring back the old parachute that allowed you to drop farther from the plane.
Did you guys want to play on Miramar in the Auzom Pro League and IEM Katowice, or not? Or, were opinions split on your team?
Viss: We did want to play Miramar in both APL and IEM, we all like the map, and feel it is a great map for competitive play. We wanted to see it used in both events.
Break: We would have loved to have played Miramar yes. Although it has its issues, there are also problems with Erangel which imo are more pronounced.
Which map do you feel TSM would perform better on right now?
Viss: Honestly, we are performing well on each map, if you asked me 2 weeks ago I'd say Miramar, but we have improved a lot on Erangel recently. I'd say they are about even for us.
Break: Right now we would perform better on Erangel, because it’s the one we've been practicing the most, although I think in the long run Miramar will be the better map for us.
Are there any map ideas you'd like to see implemented into the game?
Viss: Like many others I feel a winter mountainous map would be pretty cool. Whatever type of map comes next, I hope they make the terrain similar to Miramar, and by that I mean I hope there are more undulations in the map, change in terrain.
I feel that Erangel is way too flat, which often makes many areas of the map unplayable. It also causes the map to be very unplayable on foot in many different areas. It heavily relies on vehicles.
Miramar having many dips in the map, makes it more possible to play on foot, also makes circle RNG less of a thing. So I hope whatever the new map may be, I hope it's viable to play on foot as well as using vehicles.
Break: I'd like to see less water on Erangel, and more bridges or simply ways across to the island. A tunnel, a land bridge, anything to make the gameplay more dynamic. Miramar needs to be changed to accommodate vehicles a little better. With the current circle settings it takes too long to rotate into the first circle, even by vehicle.
Moving onto yourselves, looking at TSM PUBG as a whole, what defines your team?
Viss: We're a consistent team that is only a few moves away from being one of the best.
Break: I would say our consistency defines our team. We have done well in every tournament we've entered since PUBG had a scene, online and at LAN, so we try to be as consistent as possible & eventually it will land us a win.
What do you feel are your strengths? Weaknesses?
Viss: Strategy has to be one of our biggest strengths, and understanding terrain. Individually we are all great players, our biggest weakness is maybe executing as a team. It's something we're continuing to improve on.
Break: Strengths would be a great team atmosphere and dynamic. We're all fairly mature, so if we have a disagreement its usually sorted out instantly and worked on. As a team sometimes it gets a little heated, we have a very good ability to listen to each other and work through things so we come back stronger.
Weakness would be failing to close out games. We often get top 5's, top 3's, but right now we're working on how to close games out. Maybe we're too aggressive late game, maybe were not aggressive enough.
What is the primary thing that you guys are trying to improve?
Viss: Executing and working together as a team. Everyone playing a important role to take a objective or hold a point.
Break: The primary thing we're trying to improve right now is our team fights. We often get caught up playing our own game. Maybe it’s because we all have a Battle Royale background in Arma, which was primarily a solo game.
I think if we would have come from a scene like CS:GO or H1Z1 where teamplay was more of a focus we would have ironed out the issues by now. It’s something we're trying to improve rapidly.
TSM is generally a very consistent team that has few if any extremely low placings in events. What do you attribute this quality to?
Viss: Our strategy contributes to this, we usually always bring a good game plan. Helps us stay consistent.
Break: I guess we play in a calculated way. We're aggressive when we need to be, but I think we play smart for the most of the game. We avoid early fights, as they dont gain you much, and make plays when we have to.
Can you give us a basic rundown of what your team's communication is like during the game?
Viss: We all bounce thoughts off of one another. I do most of the calls. I'm usually the one telling the team when where to rotate, what building we are taking etc. But in a game like PUBG sometimes one person will not have all the right ideas, other people also may have info to help the situation.
Sometimes calls will be made by another player that has a good feeling about the move. As in game lead I probably do a majority of the talking, but it isn't a ton more than the others. Outside of shot calling, it's basic comms, calling enemy positions, etc.
Break: Communication is fairly simple, and we normally know what were doing when each circle comes up. Viss calls the shots, we bounce ideas off him, he listens and makes a final call. We generally dont argue, if Viss calls something we do it.
TSM has often played with all four members close together. Is this derivative of playing the edge of the circle, or is there another reason?
Viss: We recently have changed this, our strategy has changed some. We've been splitting up a little more often now. But yes, when playing the edge of the circle usually there is not a lot gained by splitting up.
Break: I guess this comes with playing edge, but we've been trying different things recently that allow us to be more dynamic. If we fight, generally we want to be 4 strong, not make 2 2v4's and split up.
When looking at where to drop at the start of the game, how much of your decision is based on what other teams do?
Viss: Our decision is based off of what town we feel best fits the strategy we want to use. Other teams have set spots they want to loot, so yes it does play a role. You don't want to be dropping into a town with a bunch of other teams, you risk early fights losing people for no gain. Also it's far harder to get gear when sharing.
Break: Zero. We drop where we want. We practice certain areas that we know to play in every situation.
Obviously we would prefer to have it to ourselves, but we are experienced in looting towns with other squads in. You just have to know the area you land in like the back of your hand.
Moving onto upcoming events, having two EU and two NA players can present challenges, including defining what region TSM plays for. For example, in the APL you play in the EU Region, but you are an NA invite to IEM. How do you make the decision of which region to play in and represent? Or, how much of that decision is up to you guys?
Viss: We made the decision to play EU due to time constraints on the team, with Break and Marius both being from EU they'd have to stay up very late to compete in NA events. So we go with the earlier EU events to make it at a time everyone could consistently play. We represent NA due to TSM being a North American team.
Break: Its not really up to us which tournament organisers choose us for a certain region. We play more EU tournaments just because of the time difference. For us to play in NA events it would mean Marius and myself would have to play from 1-4am. So thankfully Viss and SmaK play a little earlier in the day so we can play at a reasonable hour.
As an invite to IEM Katowice, how did you prepare for the event and the upcoming Starladder PUBG.
Viss: We're not doing a bootcamp this time around. We practiced everyday leading up to the event, reviewing vods, looking for tendencies of other teams etc.
Break: No bootcamp no. I don't think we have any facilities in the EU like we have in America. We scrimmed at night, played in most online events, and played everyday while streaming. We have an analyst now too which hopefully will speed things up.
How confident do you feel heading into these events?
Viss: We are confident in ourselves and our team to perform, we know if we are on our game we can be there at the very top with any other teams. In battle royale however, with RNG playing a factor, it would be foolish to be extremely confident. Even the absolute best team in the game can get multiple unfavorable shrinks and place poorly due to this.
Break: I'm pretty confident, but anything can happen in battle royale. With some circle luck, anyone can win, but I'm confident. I'm not telling about any cards hidden up my sleeve.
Are there any other teams who’s gameplay impresses you right now? (Pre-IEM)
Viss: Many teams have impressive players, but the teams that have impressed me the most are Faze and Vitality, they have been very dominant since the start. Have shown great consistency.
Break: There are a few teams doing well at the moment. Liquid & Knights are doing well in scrims and in online events. I'm always impressed by Faze and Vitality when I see them play, the competition is healthy right now.