PUBG: If a broken ladder falls in the woods…

Gevlon’s last project in PUBG has come to an end, with a result very similar to his LoL project. He played a huge amount of hours, come up with a pretty terrible plan/strategy, and failed utterly. The main different between his inability to escape the starter ranks in LoL and his almost mathematically impossible feat of never winning a PUBG game out of the hundreds he played however is that at least in PUBG, he was high on a leaderboard.

Now, if you want to debate whether the point of PUBG is to win matchs vs being high on a leaderboard, have fun dying on that hill with Gevlon, you’ll be in quality company.

But, days of real life spent ‘playing’ a game of ‘hide and collect the medicine’ inside a shooter aside, Gevlon inadvertently does bring up one interesting item; how important are such leaderboards when they are clearly so highly flawed, and how much priority should a developer devote to fixing them into something reasonable?

Even to someone who has never played PUBG, it should be pretty clear that when someone who almost never kills anyone AND has never won a single game can get close to the top 100 in a region, something is broken. But just how broken is it? Gevlon is a unique snowflake in gaming, with his combination of being immune to boring bot-like actions, having 7+ hours a day to play a single game daily, and with an end-goal of blog traffic (regardless of why that traffic shows up) rather than playing for fun or achieving actual success. A very well designed system like the one in LoL he can’t exploit (so it must be dev corruption, obviously…), but does it matter if he can in PUBG? (guess no dev corruption here yet…) It’s not a must-team game like LoL, so Gevlon being in a game with 99 other people of much higher skill isn’t a big impact; he is basically a delayed disconnected player in every one of his games. That’s very, very minimal impact to everyone but Gevlon, and Gevlon doesn’t care that he isn’t actually playing the game.

PUBG is in Early Access and still rapidly developing, so the next question is what priority should fixing the ranking system really take? Would a normal player want more weapons and better balance, or a leaderboard system he likely doesn’t look at or care about fixed? Can PUBG leave EA with this flawed system and still be fine? Right now PUBG is one of the most popular games out, period, so clearly a bad leaderboard isn’t influencing many from staying away, nor is it discouraging people and having them stop playing.

The big difference between PUBG matches and say LoL matches is that in PUBG, winning is rare (or impossible in some cases…), so when people do win, that alone is a highlight and makes playing ‘worth it’, and it’s also why the ladder is an afterthought. A better ladder would be nice, but it wouldn’t honestly add all that much to the game. In LoL, you win about 50% of the time, so the victory screen itself isn’t that special. In LoL, it’s winning more often than not and climbing the ladder that most players focus on, which is why a working ranking system is so important.

PS: I do find it incredibly comical that Gevlon, in his own post, includes a screen shot of a player he thinks plays like him. The player is ranked #2, but has only 80 games played, 14 of which he has won, along with a K/D ratio of 1.5. The guy with hundreds of games and zero wins is basically the same as the guy with a respectable K/D ratio and a 17% win rate (which is very high for PUBG) in the mind of Gevlon. You just can’t make this stuff up.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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28 Responses to PUBG: If a broken ladder falls in the woods…

  1. bhagpuss says:

    I hadn’t realized until I read Gevlon’s latest post that PUBG appears to be almost identical in structure to GW2’s “Southsun Survival” mini-game, which was introduced to that MMO back in 2012. The best tactic for winning that has always been the one Gevlon describes, although since almost no-one ever plays the mini-game other than when it comes up as a Daily, there really isn’t much option.

    I’m guessing that, rather than a one-off, this is a genre I was largely unaware of. I quite like Southsun Survival. Maybe I’ll try one of the others some time.

    • SynCaine says:

      The battleground genre has gotten very popular of late, and more refined. DayZ was maybe the first big one, but it wasn’t as focused as PUBG.

      One of my friends, a former MMO player, described it as the best part of a PvP MMO (fighting others) without the MMO junk (grinding PvE, the overall time it takes for a ‘good fight’ to happen). I don’t fully agree, as I think while PUBG is certainly fighting on demand, it lacks the long-term impact of say a massive and important battle in EVE. But if one likes the PvP and isn’t into the larger scope of things (and judging by game popularity, most don’t), it’s pretty much exactly what a lot of former MMO players are looking for.

    • Kobeathris says:

      I forgot about Southsun survival. My daughter was about 4 or 5 at the time, and discovered it accidentally. After a few matches she won because she didn’t know how to PvP, but did a good job of collecting food and hiding.

  2. Meh says:

    I dont get your obsession with Gevlon. Yes, by any measure, he is an odd ball. But, you’re following and reporting on his every move doesn’t so much reflect on him as on you’re own pathology. You long ago made your point – Gevlon is strange and a bad player. Perhaps it is time to move on?

  3. Esteban says:

    There is a continuum ranging from pure shooters (Quake, CS, CoD, Battlefield, etc.), through what you call battleground games (PUBG, DayZ) to open-world survival games still centered around PvP (H1Z1, Conan, Ark). DayZ was designed to eventually become the latter, but I don’t think it ever moved very far in that direction beyond being able to make a basic camp, cook and fish, though I have not kept up with it.

    Your friend is correct, the battleground games are to MMOs a bit like MOBAs are to RTS – PvP fun without all the long term logistics. You are correct in that compared to MMOs this leaves them a bit short on meaning. Winning individual matches is not enough.

    All these games have to, and do, confront the problem of tracking and rewarding improvement and success between individual matches, or individual PvP battles. For purer shooters like CoD or Overwatch, it’s leaderboards and cosmetics/unlocks, with Overwatch leaning heavier on the latter. TF2 went down a similar route. Mass Effect 3 MP is all about unlocks of new races, weapons, incremental improvements to favourite weapons, etc. The more developed sandboxes opt for a mini-MMO situation of persistent servers, where PvP success is reflected in building long-term camps, teching up, and so on.

    PUBG could still develop in unexpected ways in this area, but at the moment, its solution is the leaderboard. Which Gevlon has ascended successfully, because he optimised for it. That is what success in the game entails. It’s precisely the difference between winning random gudfites in EVE and building something long-term or being part of something greater.

    That’s why he’s worth reading, imho. I don’t disagree that learning a bit of proper combat is helpful, because it would help clinch the endgame and increase the point gain rate (as with the #2 EU guy) but a player less single-minded than Gevlon might have been held back by brawling for quite possibly the rest of his PUBG career. The goblin, instead, distilled the winning strategy down to the essential core. If he were to continue with the project, I imagine he would have to refine it to consistently hiding and healing until he’s top 3 and murdering the winner of the penultimate duel.

    • Trego says:

      No, if you look at the videos of actual top players, they don’t play anything at all like Gevlon, because they are actually trying to win individual games. Here’s the #1 Oceanic ranked PUBG player; his play is quite dissimilar to Gevlon’s. He’s trying to set himself up for victory by getting the absolute top gear, rank 3 helmet, etc; while also avoiding taking unnecessary risks. In his wins he generally gets 10-15 kills. Watching his videos shows that Gevlon has indeed *not* distilled the winning strategy down to the essential core.

    • Trego says:

      Hiding and healing till you’re top 3 simply doesn’t work, because the circle is so small starting at around 20-30 people left, that hiding is out if you’re in the circle. If you’re not in the circle, then you run out of medpacks and die with 10 people left. Either way, you don’t make it to top 3.

      • Caldazar says:

        You say hiding doesn’t work because you don’t win the match or end top 3.
        Gevlon says it does because he climbed to world rank 114 with no skill, just grinding.
        Both of you are correct. And Gevlons tagline is basically how to climb to top ranks without skill, so you agree on that as well. The fact that you define different things as fun doesn’t matter, as that is subjective anyway, nor did Gevlon claim his way was fun.

        • Trego says:

          I’m responding to a specific claim here, found in the comment prior to this one in the threading. You’re out of your element, Donnie.

        • Trego says:

          Your comment is basically irrelevant as you’re completely misreading what I’m saying, and you don’t seem to have seen that I’m responding to a specific claim not to Gevlon in general. But I like one thing you’ve said “And Gevlons tagline is basically how to climb to top ranks without skill, so you agree on that as well.”

          That’s true: the way to climb to top ranks without skill is A. find a game with a ranking system that allows you to climb to the top ranks without skill. Since correlating ranking with skill is pretty much the entire job of a such a system, we can rephrase A. as “find a game with a broken-ass ranking system.”. When Gevlon finds a game with a decent ELO based ranking system like LoL, he fails horribly than decides the game is rigged; when he finds a game with an exploitable ranking system, he gets as high as he can before hitting a wall that would require getting better at the game, he then decides the game is rigged. Thank you for clearing up exactly what it is about Gevlons style that is ‘exploity’.

        • Caldazar says:

          Lol, so much anger Trego, relax.

          And obviously Gevlons style is exploity without being an actual cheat. Thats his whole thing, find a game mechanic he can (ab)use to climb rank, and if he can’t (lol, albion) claim it is a rigged game. Why does him making posts about that create such rage and anger though?

        • Esteban says:

          It’s just bush league psyche-out stuff. It don’t matter to Jesus.

        • SynCaine says:

          No anger at all from me here. I’ve always said Gevlon is rather entertaining, just not intentionally. But he did claim he uses this to win (see his first post here on his Reddit thread:, which is a lie since he has never won. That’s the first half of the blog.

          The second is whether the leaderboard matters to really anyone but Gevlon, and I think the answer to that is pretty much ‘no’.

        • Trego says:

          I get enough “lol u mad bruh” in MOBAs, it really has no place in a serious discussion. If I were mad, although there’s no reason to think I were here, it wouldn’t really be relevant, or your business. :)

    • SynCaine says:

      The problem is saying Gevlon found a winning strategy. You can’t call it that when not only does it result in LESS winning, it actually results in ZERO winning.

      • Esteban says:

        Thanks for that link, genuinely pleasant watching – and authoritative given his position on the leaderboard. I see more Gevlon in this than not-Gevlon: emphasis on combat avoidance until as late as possible. Unlike Gevlon, he follows by camping at an advantageous elevated spot. His kills are either forced by proximity or long range/alpha strike style on unwitting targets of opportunity – I particularly enjoyed that vehicle run-over in what must have been a high ELO game. Total defensive mindset, he never actively goes out and seeks out kills until just about the final handful.

        The refinements you talk about, gearing for the final showdown, being able to handle forced combat, and what he calls ‘abuse’ of 3rd person view may make the difference between #114 and #1, but a strategy that gets you 99.5% of the way to the top in any game is pretty solid.

        With regard to hiding until the very end, have a look at this time point: where Koala basically echoes what I said, while at 4 players alive: stick to the edge of the circle, make them kill each other, make a mental map of where they are. Then continue to see how long it takes him to find the player Three-Eyed Raven, just playing possum right on the other side of the rock since who knows when.

        Bonus: earlier in this one, he even eats a fair bit of circle, like Gevlon.

        • SynCaine says:

          I’m guessing you don’t play PUBG Esteban? Asking because you seem to be mistaking similar gameplay patterns for using the same strategy. Basically anyone playing PUBG after a few games knows that if you want to survive, you don’t want to draw attention or run towards combat, that’s very, very basic knowledge. It’s also somewhat common knowledge that towards the end (top 10), shooting isn’t good, because even if you kill who you shoot at, the remaining players now know your position (since the circle is small) unless you have a silencer.

          But both those things are very different from what Gevlon is doing, which is dying outside the circle, delayed as long as possible by looting meds all game. The above two pieces of knowledge increase your chances of actually winning a game (with of course the side-effect of getting you deeper into a game vs people who drop into hot spots and have early shootouts, which many players also do because they are fun, more instant action, and if you survive them you are likely walking out well-equipped).

          Doing what Gevlon is doing will result in NEVER winning a game, as he proved. They are basically polar opposites.

        • Trego says:

          “I see more Gevlon in this than not-Gevlon”

          Syn already covered this pretty thoroughly. I want to respond mainly to “I see more Gevlon in this than not-Gevlon: emphasis on combat avoidance until as late as possible. ”

          There appear to be three main strategies in PUBG at the moment.

          1. Gevlon-esque, although we must remember that Gevlon didn’t invent this strategy, he invented it for himself and found many others already employing it. This strategy consists of avoiding combat as much as possible 100% of the time, gathering as many medpacks as possible and never going to the circle.

          2. Melee asap: this strategy consists of going for kills as soon as possible, landing along the path of the plane, it’s the opposite of the Gevlon strategy.

          3. Having an overall plan, in which going for kills is always weighed on a cost/benefit scale. I don’t know which of this guy’s videos you watch, but he talks through his decisions as he goes. He nearly always goes for the kill when he has a tactical/positional advantage, but otherwise he has larger goals, he goes for the dropboxes which Gevlon never does, and which is often a huge melee, he avoids fighting in buildings because he can get a larger terrain advantage outside.

          3 is much closer to 2, than it is to 1, is that part you’re missing. 3 is basically “go get a helmet and decent weapons, then look for fights with advantage to finish out your gear. 1 is “avoid fights for the entire game until you run out of medpacks and die”. But, although 3 is closer to 2 than 1, it is still distinct from 2. The easy mistake would be to confuse 3 and 2, since they are so much closer together, but somehow you are confusing 3 and 1, despite them being so opposite. You are looking at the person with the most kills in these games, generally, and saying to yourself “he’s basically playing almost exactly like this person who’s doing almost everything he can to avoid combat completely” [paraphrase]. .I don’t understand how you don’t see how laughable that position is, and then we have Caldazar jumping in with no actual points to make other than the uncanny ability to mistake laughter for anger. I guess when you write about Gevlon you get commenters who can’t get the point of what’s going on either.

        • Trego says:

          I can boil down the essential difference between Koala and Gevlon in one sentence. If Koala sees an enemy, and that enemy doesn’t see Koala, Koala will almost always use that informational assymetry to kill that enemy and take their stuff; if Gevlon’s in the same situation, he would use that advantage to continue hiding or run away. If you don’t see that this difference is definitional, and the stuff you quoted before is all just normal PUBG strategy, then perhaps you should try playing a game or two of PUBG.

  4. Esteban says:

    I do not play PUBG and, although I do intend to try it out, I do not think my noob efforts would be particularly instructive in an argument about high-level play. Knowing myself and the limits of my self-discipline, I would probably end up roughly like you, getting distracted by victories in individual matches to the detriment of my rating. What on earth would that accomplish?

    To understand what Gevlon is doing, it is enough to understand exactly what you said: the basic heuristic of PUBG is to survive rather than to kill, even if a kill can occasionally enhance your odds of further survival. Judging by the comments in the reddit thread, it’s what players like about it over other shooters, and basically no one wants to turn it into a mindless fragfest. Gevlon has taken this heuristic to its logical conclusion by avoiding combat nearly entirely, apart from running into occasional others way out in the boonies who have also opted for this strategy.

    Which brings us to an interesting point: in your explanation of how I got my comparison of Koala to Gevlon so utterly wrong (even as you concede that 3 lies between 1 and 2 and only quibble over relative distance) you admit that the Gevlonesque strategy is one of the three main strategies in PUBG at the moment. I think this has only become psychologically feasible once you felt you could detach this strategy from Gevlon’s person.

    You grouse that a post on Gevlon brings dullards like me out of the woodwork; fine. But I think writing about Gevlon does something to your faculties, as well. Consider the original blogpost: irritated that a ranking system allowed Gevlon to succeed, not only do you argue that it is flawed (which is quite defensible, if petty; some tweaks to the scoring would probably bring it more in line with most players’ values) but you question the value of a leaderboard in PUBG in general. It’s like, if Gevlon claims the sky is green, you feel compelled to argue that it is orange, because you cannot bear to alight beside him on the colour wheel. And for what? Because he said some mean things about LoL, CCP, the Goons, things you enjoy and support?

    • SynCaine says:

      He’s not taking it to the logical conclusion though, he is completely missing the point, as you are now as well. Trego is wrong in saying that what Gevlon is doing is on one end of the spectrum of strategies for winning PUBG games; what Gevlon is doing results in never winning, as he has proven. Very few people (only Gevlon?) play PUBG with the intent to never give themselves a shot to win a round.

      As for how important the rating system is in a game like PUBG; the newish game mode, forced first person, doesn’t have a rating system or stat tracking right now, yet its far more popular, especially for better players, than the traditional mode of play. What does that tell you about the value most put in winning games vs climbing the ranks?

      • Esteban says:

        It tells me that the forced first person mode is fun. As in, more immersive and more challenging with the more limited FoV and no peeking around corners. It does not surprise me that the better players (how do we know who they are? right.) like it.

        And leaderboards for it have been announced far as I can tell, so practice with it is not wasted as far as the competitive dimension goes, either.

        • SynCaine says:

          Streamers are generally better players, and they play FFP. Based on that trend (and the fact that 3rd person is a cheesefest compared to FFP), I think its pretty safe to say most better players choose that option, even without a leaderboard/stats.

          The leaderboards are in the works, but are a lower, priority according to the devs, than a lot of other items, which again tells you how they feel about them in terms of importance,

    • Trego says:

      Esteban: me and Syncaine are different people. If you can’t keep our arguments separate, … perhaps writing about Gevlon did something to your faculties ;)

      @Syn: I never said it’s a strategy for winning games, just one for playing games. Gevlon claims it’s popular, although it’s quite true that the one person he gave as a specific example of someone using his strategy is obviously not…basically I was giving Gevlon the benefit of the doubt in that some proportion of the players he thought were using something like his strategy may have been actually using it, or perhaps not.

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