Apex Legends Dueling 1v1 Guide
This is based on personal observation, and analysis from top players as well as my own experience. Am I the best player? No, but I throw a 4.5+ K/DA (~1,000 ADR) overall, and 8.5 K/DA (~1,600 ADR) this season. I’m a strong enough player to trust my experience, and to pass on something I observe a lot of players struggle with. There are elements that exist in other guides, but not many on the art of just 1v1’ing and becoming a stronger fighter in those scenarios.
This is a more conceptual and analytical breakdown of the elements that go into a 1v1 and general dueling. Apply it to your own playstyle and thoughts about this game. Simply applying the content here 1:1 won’t cut it.
This won’t really go into mechanical skill. If you want to practice that, there are a ton of videos and trainers to help you strengthen your mechanical skill. This will dive more into the cerebral side of 1v1s and how to deconstruct a typical duel and how to get the upper hand. This will also not go into teamfights, yes it’s a team game but strengthening your ability to duel or 1v1 will inherently help your team as you become more reliable in disjointed fights.
Start developing an internal flowchart for fights
This one I don’t see enough. People tend to autopilot fights, when they feel like they’re thinking about them. Initial players response is “point and shoot”, congrats you got about 1/10th of the way there and you’ve subjected the fight to nothing but “Who can aim better with better gear.” That is not how you want to take fights in Apex. Pointing and shooting is a start, but it’s also what every single other player is doing. Getting the upper hand shouldn’t be left to chancing that you’ll be a better shot.
Is aiming important? Yes, but it’s far from the only thing that will win you fights. When engaging in combat in Apex, there’s a finite number of potential important decisions you can make before understanding how the majority of fights will play out. Learning what these decisions are and when to apply them is how a flowchart begins to develop. There are things you want to be autonomous, and there are things you want to adapt to.
Things you want to be autonomous are obviously mechanical things such as healing, reloading, shooting, sliding etc. The less obvious things that you want to be autonomous are crucial.
One of these things is recognizing a losing fight before it begins. And this might sound strange to some of you, so let me break it down. Developing good reactionary autonomy comes from understanding your surroundings. An example of stronger autonomous understanding is running into a building, hearing a Peacekeeper go off, and recognizing you’re within range of it and backing out. That’s the start to building a flowchart right there. In the future, that should be an autonomous response. All of it will help you before you’ve even fired a shot.
Limit your opponent, if you can’t find an advantage
This leads a little bit from my point above. Say you run into a building, and notice they have a Peacekeeper and you have a Longbow. The chances of you winning that fight are vastly lower. Far too often I see players engaging their opponent regardless of their gear or their own gear. This is a fast way to get you killed out of position.
If both players are autopiloting and doing the aforementioned “aim and shoot” with nothing else in tight corridors, that Peacekeeper will lay out that Longbow user. And I don’t want to hear, “Well they could win with the Longbow still.” and sure, they could. They could also win with their fists. But this is all about minimizing risks and maintaining/gaining advantage. You can win fights with an infinite amount of methods but what we’re chasing is improvement and optimal play.
So what do I mean but limiting opponents? This comes with understanding what weapons are capable of. Listening for certain guns, seeing how your opponent uses them. If they have a R-99 and you’ve got a Longbow, make some distance. You might not necessarily be able to kill them any easier, but you can bet your ass they’re going to struggle more to reliably fire that R-99 at you with a ton of distance between you and them.
Same goes with character picks. Say you see a Caustic or Wattson, you know their kit becomes less powerful outdoors than indoors. There are certain conditions and autonomous decisions you need to be comfortable with making on the fly to strengthen your dueling potential. Stop having such an itchy trigger finger. Gather as much information about your opponent as you can before making a play.
If you find yourself saying, “They had a Peacekeeper.” or “Man how did he snipe me with that Longbow?” you’re probably depriving yourself of vital information needed for combat. Combat doesn’t just mean the portion of the fight where you’re actually shooting. Combat begins when you or your enemies intend to pull the trigger.
Stop taking losing fights
This goes back to the previous point as well. If you’ve got no armor and a RE-45 and you know the person below you has better gear, don’t shoot. Just leave, gear can be found later but getting downed away from your team is a much worse outcome. This happens more often in early game as RNG dictates your starting gear obviously. But the point still stands in the later portions of the game.
You wouldn’t want to fight a Peacekeeper with a P2020, so why would you fight a Kraber using an R-99 at distance? You’re putting yourself at needless risk for no reason at all. Just because you have a kitted R-99 and Golden Armor doesn’t mean you’re at the top of the food chain. Some dude with a Kraber, 1 bullet, and no armor can take you out of the game just because you engaged in a fight that was disadvantageous. You need to develop some restraint and understand what the most likely outcomes are possible before the fight starts.
Stop relying on your opponents to be a worse shot to win fights
I think a lot of players naturally do this. They’ll scrap it out with other enemies and just bank on them being a worse shot. And this will net you kills. But it isn’t a product of you being a better player, rather you’re just hoping they’re worse.
If you’ve got worse gear, and you don’t have any plan or reason for your fight, just don’t shoot. Leave, regroup with your team, find another route, go loot another building. Just assuming they’re going to lose the fight before it’s begun is going to get you killed over and over again.
Use verticality to your advantage
The advantage of vertical play cannot be understated at all, especially in duels.
If you force someone to climb after you, that puts them at a massive disadvantage. Climbing up to someone is 1000x more dangerous than dropping in on them. They have to put their gun away to climb, they likely have no view of what they’re climbing up to, you lose a massive ton of spacial awareness when climbing up. If you force an enemy to climb, it’s a method to even the playing fields at least in one aspect. It’s free cover from opponents below, it’s an escape route, it’s a vantage point, high ground only offers you benefits. Take it when you can.
STAY ON THE MOVE
Don’t stand still. Just keep moving with intention. If both you and your opponent are behind cover and have no visual on eachother, don’t stop moving. Chances are when you reengage, you’ll more likely be somewhere they weren’t predicting. You know what your next move is going to be, do your best to make sure they don’t. Dissolve any information they have by switching positions, going back to old positions, flanking them and poking them a little then moving back. If you remain unpredictable and poke at them with safe shots, you’ll chip away at them without them ever being able to pin you down. Change angles, change engagement distance, change floors. As long as you don’t lose information on them, preventing them from gaining any on you is invaluable.
The last thing that you want is to be predictable. That will get you killed with little effort from your opponent. Learn to jiggle peek, and fire off a few safe rounds. Safer, more guaranteed damage is almost always better than sustained fire to burst an opponent down unless you’re confident you can secure that fight. Forcing your opponent to heal using cells, or batteries or whatever resources they have is good. Chip damage isn’t nothing, even if they heal it back.
Keep your proximity weapon on when entering buildings
This goes back into autonomous play. If your close range is a Peacekeeper and your long range is a G7, don’t walk into the building with the G7 equipped and fumble to switch guns after you realize its occupied/they also have close range weapons. Switch to what you would want to be shooting with if a fight were to break out at that time, even if you have no intent on fighting anyone. Be ready.
If your teammate is screaming “They’re low!!!!” and you’re also low as well, there’s nothing wrong with stepping back and healing instead of chasing. I would encourage it, honestly. Unless you know they’re reloading/healing/reviving, you have no idea what they’re up to most likely. Far too often have I killed my opponent because they saw I was low, assumed I went to go heal when really I knew they would follow and would stand around the next corner with a Peacekeeper and kill them as they ran to chase. I had the advantage of listening for them, as well as controlling where the fight would take place next. And I can potentially pop cells/synergies incrementally while waiting for them.
They assume or are ready for you to follow. You likely have zero information on them. If you’re low, heal up, reload, get a better position, and ready up for another engagement. Or, disengage and leave. Which leads me to my next point:
Disengaging/Leaving a fight. Your Life > Your Knock/Kill
You don’t have to always finish whatever fight you come across. If you’re in a 1v1, and you’re nervous about your ability to win it, leave. You know there’s only 2 possible outcomes if you leave and survive. They’ll either chase, and reengage the fight, or you’ll move to a new area. Nothing else between you or just your opponent can happen. I would rather a teammate acknowledge an unsure fight and attempt to disengage than to throw themselves at an enemy they have no info on.
Being alive comes above all else in Apex, especially in 1v1s with potentially no team to immediately back you up.
Leave, get help from your team, and reposition.
Finishing off downed enemies
Before I engage in a 1v1, I make sure to finish off downed enemies involved in our fight. This isn’t just to secure kills. Let’s say the scenario is this, an opponent just finished off my other teammates while both of their teammates are also down making it a 1v1 between me and them.
If you take into consideration how much info you can get just by watching and listening, you know that a downed player has almost all of these things at their disposal. They can ping, type, talk, and communicate what an opponent is doing while I’m on my way there. If I down an enemy and start another fight, you can assume that they’re telling their teammate what I’m doing in cover. If I’m healing, reloading, setting up an ult etc.
By killing downed enemies, you disable another eye they have on their team. If you want to engage in a 1v1, try your best to safely remove the another enemies from the game if they’re downed, or move to an area they won’t ever be able to see you. I prefer to kill them though, as moving to a new area means they’re influencing how you’re positioning yourself. Better to take them out. Do this safely, and without wasting time though. Engaging and capitalizing on a wounded enemy comes before taking out their teammates.
Finally, here are some general tips for duels
– Keep a Thermite on you whenever you can. Currently, Thermite hits through doors. A common strategy when losing is to run to the nearest door, and block it while healing. Sure you can kick it down, but having a Peacekeeper/Mastiff/R-99/Eva sitting on the otherside could spell your death really quick.
If you use a Thermite, you can break the door cleanly while also providing some quick tick damage, so by the time the door breaks you’ll have a shot lined up for them without exposing yourself with just kicking the door.
This works inversely as well. Block the door, throw the Thermite at your feet and door while running to the opposite wall/door. Force them to run around the building, in which time you can hopefully get a heal off or reload. Blocking off exits with Thermite is a great way to force them into different areas/unfavorable positions
– Arc stars for the aforementioned problem above also work in a different way. You can bait them to kick the door down by healing, and when they kick and they’re stuck in the animation momentarily, it’s a free arc star stick in which you can quickly turn the fight around on them/make them flee.
– Count your damage, never be afraid to melee. Melee is actually quite strong, dealing nearly a 1/3rd of a health bar with massive knockback with a single use. Many times I’ve won a fight by knowing if my melee attack will kill. If you hit them with a burst of the R-99 and deal 180 damage, you know a melee will knock them. Keep floating numbers on, and pay attention.
– Switching weapons is faster than reloading! If you know they’re low after bursting them/emptying out your one weapon, don’t retreat to reload, just switch and hip fire if they’re close. You can reload after they’re dead. This goes back to autonomous awareness in any given situation.
– If your fight is taking place on a hill, heal while sliding and jumping. If you aren’t shooting back at them while sliding down the hill, do something at least. Pop a cell, syringe, whatever you can to keep you in the fight longer. It’s better than just taking the damage and hoping you have enough health to last you the trip down.