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Top 10 Strategy Guide
By Diphrael
This guide outlines a broad strategy which is used to achieve top 10 on the leaderboards. Gameplay is based on risk management principles, with a focus on minimizing risk and maximizing rating earned each game.

The author is a peak rank 3 NA FPP solo player.
Achieving a high rank in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a difficult but rewarding endeavor. Having this accomplishment broadcasted to the game’s millions of players every season is a feat that only few have done. Hitting top 10 is not an easy task, and some of the most successful personalities within the PUBG community have never accomplished it.

The purpose of this guide is to help others fine tune their gameplay to yield the best results when playing to get names on the leaderboard. The foundations for this strategy are based in the concept of risk management; the ideal way to maximize winning is to identify threats, and to avoid risk as much as possible. It is important to note that the scope of this guide is strategic in nature; reading a guide is not going to help with aiming or any other dexterity based action. Personal skill in gunplay, looting, and all other accessory skills are best honed through practice and not reading.

A quick bit about myself: I have strictly played First Person Perspective (FPP) since the inception of this mode in Season 4, and peaked at rank 9 in solos. Late in S5 I peaked at rank 3. I have also hit top 10 in duos in several seasons. The strategies outlined in this guide are based on risk management principles that I follow, and are at the core of my gameplay. I am by no means anywhere close to the best player in the world, but the strategy and gameplay philosophy this guide explains will give even an average player the foundations necessary to achieve a high leaderboard rank.

Rankings Explained
The formula for ranking in PUBG is not public, so the specifics of how rank is calculated are not known by the community. It is, however, possible to roughly determine how rankings are work. The system seems to work by combining two separate ELO ranking systems. Win rating (placement) and kill rating that are weighted differently, and then combined to form overall rating. It is crucial to understand how ranking and ratings work in order to understand what is expected out of a player to progress on the leaderboards.

The most important component of ranking up is win rating, which is determined by placement in matches. To put this in perspective, my personal win rating at rank 3 was #2, and my kill rating was somewhere around 200. This indicates that the primary focus for ranking up is to achieve as high of a placement in every match as possible. Achieving 2nd place with a single kill will give far more points than coming in 11th with 5. Once a player starts reaching top 10 on the leaderboard, they will need to hit 6th place in each game to gain win rating. Consistency in high placement is key.

The screenshot above gives an idea of just how ruthless the upper ranks can be. Even hitting 10th place is not enough to be competitive with high ranking.

The second most important, but significantly less impactful component is kill rating. The goal when ranking up should be to get at least two kills per game. This will almost always give at least a small boost to kill rating. An above average player can achieve this kill goal fairly easily. Players have achieved top 10 status with as little as 2.5 KDR.
In order to consistently place high, risk must be managed and minimized by the player. Around every corner and behind every tree there exists the possibility of an enemy. Understanding that there are actions and strategies that players can take to significantly reduce the amount of losses they experience in game will help shape the playstyle of a successful leaderboard player.

Consider this: the average player versus another average player should win 50% of the time in a fair firefight. Now take these same players and put one in an open field with no cover, and the other in a house. Blue circle prevents either party from escape. Are the odds still the same? Even with the exact same shooting skill, the player in the house will see a significant rise in win rates versus the other average player. Focusing on strategic positioning will give a statistical edge, reduce the risk of death, and increase the overall chance of winning.

Let’s look two scenarios where a single average player is in a game with 99 other completely average opponents:

Hypothetical 1: The single average player sequentially encounters each and every opponent on equal footing, with a flat 50% chance to win each engagement. After the first fight, there is a 50% chance for them to have won the fight, and move on to the next opponent. The statistical chance of him getting through even just 10 of his opponents in a row is about 0.098%. Winning the game through brute force killing all 99 other players, the average player will accomplish this once in about every 15 million games.

Hypothetical 2: The single average player manages to avoid every single fight until the last opponent, who is also an average player. The statistical chance of winning the final fight are now 50%. The lesson here is that exposure to enemies, and thus risk, greatly reduces the chance at winning the game, or at least placing high.

With these scenarios laid out, it is important to remember that PUBG is not a coin flip. There are variables in the control of the player, and there are variables totally outside of their control. Players will vary in skill levels, and sometimes there will be encounters with players that are simply more skilled. The reality is also that a player will never encounter every other player, and it is very unlikely that they will reach top 2 in a match without seeing another player. These hypotheticals are meant to demonstrate how exposure to unnecessary risk reduces the odds of a win.

Different playstyles manage risk better, as well. An aggressive playstyle which seeks out kills, shoots at every single vehicle they see, and storms into buildings will tend to encounter more enemies, and subsequently will die earlier. A passive playstyle is one that will avoid fights unless they are forced into them, and will do everything possible to disengage if possible.

Even so, some of the best players in the world still have statistics against them depending on their playstyle. Without naming them, below are the stats of one of the most well-known players in the world. They were ranked 10,304 on the Solo FPP leaderboards, with an 8.8% win rating and a ~12% top 10 rate. Their playstyle involves hunting down enemies, and generally being very aggressive.

A player of this caliber would absolutely dominate the leaderboards if they adopted a more strategic play style and went for wins instead of quick kills. Full aggro is great for streaming, but is not conducive to high leaderboard rankings.
General Strategy (Early Game)
The very first thing that a player must do when entering the game is select a drop location. The ideal area to land at has quality loot, no competition, and a vehicle. It is usually safest to land at least 1 km (1 yellow square) away from the flight path. Scan the sky for possible nearby enemies while parachuting down, and take care to switch target landing areas if the initial landing location will be populated. Keep in mind where potential threats are and think of their possible movements in the early game.

Take care to remember the path of the aircraft. One easy strategy to help remember the flight path is to think of two landmarks that it passed over. For example, if the plane went from north to south down the middle of the map, remember “Severny to Po♥♥♥♥♥i.” This will be important later on when deciding where to relocate on the map.

During the first minutes of the game, the focus should be on acquiring a weapon, starting gear, and evading early fights and enemies. Every bit of care must be taken to avoid early fights. Since win rating is the most important aspect of leaderboard rank, early engagements are an unnecessary risk to take. Even if a player magically wins 90% of their early game engagements, that is still a 10% loss rate. The amount of rating points lost at high placements cannot be understated.

Practice good door discipline when looting throughout the entire game. This means closing every door that is opened. This helps reduce the chance that an opposing player will be alerted of the presence of another player, and more important hides the general direction of looting. It is possible for a player to track a looters movement by identifying which doors are open outward, and follow that path to find their prey.

After the circle first appears, identify the “danger side” of the circle. The term “danger side” sounds intense, but it is a useful concept to grasp that will greatly encourage success. The general premise of this is that based on the plane’s location versus the circle, there will generally be a risky and dangerous portion of the map and a safer portion. Since the goal is to ultimately win, or at least place top 5, the best course of action is to play from the safer side of the circle and maintain a positioning which out of harm's way in each subsequent circle. This will naturally and significantly lower the chances of encountering enemies in the early stage of the game, where rating can be most impacted by a loss.

The images above are a visual representation of some examples of danger and safe sides of the circle. The white line placed through the map is the flight path the aircraft. The third photo demonstrates a danger circle, where there is no relatively secure portion. Matches with a danger circle come down to better positioning, better skills at avoiding fights early, winning fights when they are forced, and getting established in an area earlier than other players.

Note that the safe side / danger side of the circle matters less the longer a game goes on. Players will naturally disperse throughout a circle as time goes on. Typical games will see a trend of the majority of players being on the danger side up to the ~5th circle. After this, all locations should be considered dangerous.
General Strategy (Mid Game)
The most critical thing to do at this stage is to react quickly to circle changes, and to secure defensible positions early on. Being the first to arrive to a building means having easy loot and a strong position to defend in case a vehicle rolls up. Being on the safe side of the circle means that it is nearly impossible for enemies to approach on foot, so open ears are the best defense at this stage.

Since it is impossible to know where the circle will be prior to jumping from the plane, this is where a vehicle will come into play. Unless there is a high risk of enemies in the initial landing area, after getting adequately looted (T2+ armor / helmet, + a weapon with at least a x1 optic, + enough medicine), shift location to be on the safe side of the circle to continue looting. The majority of the time it is prudent to leave early and position on the safe side of the circle.

In general, good strategic positioning will put the player at the center of the upcoming circles early on. This accomplishes several key risk reducing points. Since the goal of the early and mid game is to remain on the safe side of the circle, enemies should never be approaching on foot. Vehicles which approach can easily be heard and reacted to. It means that opposing players who come later will be heard first. Another benefit of early arrival is that it eliminates circle chasing, and all of the risk that entails.

Another important concept is a “catch point” or funnel. These are a part of the map where players are statistically likely to appear because the blue circle forces them that direction. These locations are typically villages, buildings, or bridges. This is largely based on the initial flight path and how it interacts with the terrain. Naturally these points should be avoided these since the risk of being shot while funneling through is high, especially if if coming in from the blue zone.

The photo above demonstrates two catch points based on the flight path and the general flow of movement that players take. The majority of players will be forced over the southern bridge, or along the eastern road. The buildings circled in red are naturally where people will hole up. Give extra caution if forced to approach positions like these.

Circle chasing, or constantly running through the blue zone to get into the white zone, is one of worst ways to be exposed to risk. As the circle constricts, other players will be forced into these paths and unnecessary fights will break out. Not only that, being in the blue will eventually eat up meds. The worst aspect of circle chasing is that it can force into unfavorable or exposed positions.

Some high level players prefer to loot in the blue zone for the first few circles, and use medicine to power through it. This will generally guarantee at least 40th place in the match. This strategy is certainly viable, but carries extra risk with it. There is always the chance of someone spraying down the vehicle as they return from the blue zone. It also does not allow for them to position themselves early on in the safe zone, and they run the risk of rolling up on contested houses. It also has the inherent problem of depleting medicine early on. Looting in the white will usually yield the same amount of meds, without forcing their use. While I am not a fan of this strategy, feel free to test it and see if it works out.
General Strategy (End Game)
The end phase of the game is where individual skill and tactics come into play the most. When 20 or less players are in game, the focus should be on surroundings, and surviving while other players pick each other off. In general it is ideal to simply wait until top 10 to start focusing on forcing fights with enemy players. It is impossible to write a guide specifically for how to win the final fights, but there are a few strategies to maximize the chances at success.

Letting enemies kill each other off is a very valid end game strategy. Every downed person is one less competitor for the chicken dinner, and allowing for other players to do it exposes them to risk. One key advantage to allowing others to fight is that it is an information source. Gunshots are astoundingly loud, and can reveal locations, fighting styles, and even who wins a fight.

Typically it is prudent to avoid fights, even in the end game. However, it is sometimes very important to force them. The risk of leaving an enemy alive is sometimes greater than the risk of dying in a fight. An instance of this would be if the blue forces movement into the white zone, and there an enemy is on the edge of it as well. Killing this person early on means that it secures position, and reduce the chance of being forced into an unfavorable fight with them. Use critical thinking when deciding who to engage and when. Listen for shots, keep acutely aware of the surroundings, and commit to the play which maximizes the chance of winning.

Engaging the enemy should be ideally limited to insta-killing them. Ambushes, double headshots, or prefiring when they are heard around the corner are great ways to ensure that the enemy cannot shoot back. PUBG’s shooting mechanic allows for kills like this with a bit of practice. Even the most veteran players cannot recover from a perfect unexpected spray down.

Another great end game strategy is to find a position in the final circles which are very defendable. An example of this would be behind a hill, with the blue circle at the rear. This means that anyone who would want to challenge a fight would need to take on a great bit of risk themselves as they rushed an easily defended position. While holding this position, the opposing players remaining in the match will be forced into each other, while maintaining relative safety in the trench.

Sometimes the position will be the last house in the circle, but many times not. The context of the scenario is important. If aggressive players are throwing themselves at this house, or it is held by a player who knows how to defend, it is generally better to avoid the house and secure a better position. Getting into a high visibility but defensible position largely depends on timing. Being the first to arrive greatly increases safety and reduces risk. Arriving late greatly increases risk. Use critical thinking to determine which course is action is best.

Imagine the scenario in the photo above. There are two enemies remaining (red dots). The one in the house has been spotted, and there were heard gunshots from the south west. Through sound, it is possible to identify that house shooter has an M16 and the other has an SKS. There are then lots of loud bangs from both the house and the field. Watching the kill feed, a message shows that someone with an M16 just got a kill. At this point, it is possible to know exactly where to focus attention. Instead of wasting time and attention looking south west, it is clear that the last possible opponent is coming from that house. Position is key here, and reaching the edge of the white behind a tree forces him the house shooter into an very unfavorable position; to get into the white zone he must expose himself.

Adhering to this risk averse strategy will greatly improve player ranking on the ladder. Remember the key points: Land at safe locations. Avoid fights unless forced into them. Position away from the danger side of the circle. Aim for top 5 each game. Following these basic points will significantly improve rankings.
Miscellaneous Notes
Optimal drop distance

One strategy to maximize flight distance for to reach a safe starting location over 1km away is to mark the target spot on the map and then align the studs on the end of the wings of the aircraft. Once the compass white heading marker hits the placed mark, the aircraft is the absolute shortest distance to the target area and it is time to jump. Below is a picture demonstrating this.

Weapon proficiency

World drop loot (which does not come from crates) will make up the bulk of what players will use. Winning games with crate loot such M24, AWM/AWP or Groza is nice, but it is impossible to dependably acquire these types of weapons. Proficiency with the standard rifles (M16, M416, AKM, and the SCAR-L) is a very important skill to have. Being able to get one tap head shots with the crate snipers is nice as well, but they cannot be relied on to win every game. Learn the basic rifles, and master them. The majority of my games have been won with an M16.

Game Purpose

PUBG is not a deathmatch arena, nor is it a shooter. It is a survival game, with guns. With this realization in mind, it becomes easier to justify a strategically passive playstyle. I personally enjoy the gunplay in this game, but early fights are not nearly as exciting as the final circle, being the last of two, or winning a game. While it is easy to understand why people drop school or military base every game, that seems like it is a quick fix. The real rush comes from getting that chicken dinner.

Fight or flight

While the typical response to seeing an enemy player in PUBG is to immediately send a storm of lead towards the smallest glimpse of an enemy, this is not always the wisest decision. There is no shame in retreating from a fight if it means survival. It is better to live a coward than to die a noble or arrogant fool. Practice good risk management by starting to recognize situations where it is better to disengage from fights.

Baiting kills + wins

One of the best traits that a player can have which minimizes risk is to understand when to interrupt fighting enemies, and more specifically who to target. Take for instance a scenario where ahead is a group of four enemy players (Team Close). This team is engaged with another team of four (Team Far). They are both completely engaged and unaware of their surroundings.

Scenario A: Team Close starts downing and finishing members of Team Far.
Scenario B: Team Far starts downing and finishing members of Team Close.
Scenario C: Team Close and Team Far both down and kill an equal number of players.

How does one react to each of these situations? On paper it is easy to say, but in game it may be a bit more difficult to determine what is happening, and what one should do. In scenario A, it is clear that the best course of action is to attack Team Close. In scenario B, the best option would be to reposition and take out members of Team Far. In scenario C, let nature run its course and finish off the inevitable but unaware victor since he was focused on a firefight.

These scenarios are clearly simplified, and there are always rogue variables which may need to be considered. Is this in an open field, and one team clearly has superior ranged weapons and optics? Is the safe zone close, or far? Is the blue circle encroaching? Utilize critical thinking, and weigh the specific variables to choose a course of action. This strategy also applies to solo games.


PUBG does a great job representing just how loud unsuppressed firearms are in real life. A gunshot reveals the position of a player very effectively, from a rather long distance. Keeping this in mind, it is generally a bad idea to linger after shooting. Staying in one location too long after firing allows for players to echo-locate the shots. Relocation should be far enough to evade any lurking enemies who are seeking out the initial fire.

With that said, suppressors in PUBG are unrealistically quiet. Even so, it behooves a player to relocate after firing a suppressed weapon. While the risk of being detected after firing a suppressed weapon is lower than an unsuppressed one, any competent player is able to locate a shooter of a suppressed weapon if they are close enough.

Post-match review

Every loss can be seen as a lesson learned. Anytime I lose a match I review the facts surrounding a game, what I did right, what I did wrong, and what was within my control. I focus strictly on what I have power to change, and adjust my gameplay accordingly in the future. Learning from losing to a better player, or even from one’s own mistakes is a trait that helps hone the best gameplay possible.


Currently we see a very large portion of players jumping in hot spots like school, military base, and large cities. Strategies are largely meta dependent. There could be a time in the future when everyone is making long range jumps and playing the safe side of the circle, which could negate this general strategy. A shift in meta is likely to occur once developers implement rating based matchmaking.


It is possible to play a perfect game and still lose. Freak shots from across the map, bugs, cheaters, power outages, and other factors can ruin a game. Leaderboard presence is established through repeated and consistent success in matches. Losing a game does not mean the end of the world, but can be used as a lesson learned.


It is impossible to resolve a problem without first understanding its existence.One important aspect of risk management is identify what threats exist. The best way to determine this is to gather information through visuals and audio. Once there is an understanding of what threats exist, it is possible to appropriately react to it. Keep this in mind, and work towards bettering the recognition of information as well as how to utilize it to win.

Stream learning resources

I randomly tune into twitch streams sometimes, and have found a few players that adhere to the risk management strategy outlined in this guide. Tune in to watch them in action, and to learn. - English stream with a Duo top 10 player. I think he has peaked at rank 1, but I am unsure. Very laid back and easy going, but also extremely skilled in shooting. - English/German stream with a Solo FPP peak rank 1 player. A calculated streamer with very precise shooting.
TL;DR / Conclusion
  • Ranking is based primarily on placement in matches.
  • Chances of winning matches are severely statistically diminished by taking unnecessary fights, especially in the early game.
  • Always avoid early fights.
  • The goal of every single game is to reach top 10 each game by playing with high risk aversion.
  • Drop at least 1km away from the plane.
  • Secure starting loot.
  • Reposition to the safe side of the circle.
  • Avoid hot spots, danger side of the circle and catch points.
  • Keep repositioning into safe locations on the safe side of the circle until top 10.
  • Shoot only when it is a necessity. Spraying down a passing vehicle will bring unwanted attention.
  • Quickly relocate after shooting.
  • React to the circle, and relocate to strategically advantageous positions.
  • Kills should not be the main focus, but aim for at least 2 per game.
  • Force enemies into unfavorable positions, and avoid being placed in one.
  • Gather and use information to have an advantage against opponents.

Word count: 4474

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jred Dec 25, 2017 @ 3:58pm 
You should update this for the update. Best guide I've seen so far.
The Y'all of Whiterun Nov 18, 2017 @ 10:42pm 
I often find myself just jumping directly under the plane in the hope of getting a few quick kills, not minding if I die. This guide has really opened my eyes, thank you for that.
WeiMengYang Nov 18, 2017 @ 9:54pm 
Dev1ce Nov 18, 2017 @ 10:18am 
Huimanoidi Nov 18, 2017 @ 6:07am 
I'd rather kill 10 and finish 50 than kill 1 and finish 1st, its just not entertaining to just sit and prone all 30min imo, I mean u just loot and camp and all that boring stuff for 25min without seeing any1 and then BAM u r dead, is that some sort of fun?
Pos 5 Nov 17, 2017 @ 11:33pm 
Im looking for people who would like to play pubg with me, please add me
Preoticc Nov 17, 2017 @ 4:41pm 
Flamin'Phoenix Nov 17, 2017 @ 4:10pm 
hey dude, can you make a guide wth how to win top 10's? I can reliably get myself into the top 10 provided i dont get mudered on the first 5 minutes while looting. However every goddamn time in the top 10 i die because i have to push into the circle. the 13 times i have been in the top 10, not a single time has the final circle been in my favor
Carl Carmoni Nov 16, 2017 @ 3:14pm 
Thanks, I'm still a bad player but I'm a bad player in the top 2000 wich is nice
VivieVampire Nov 16, 2017 @ 6:59am 
Thank you, author. With this mindset while playing I'm getting higher placement.