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The Reason Why Players Are Stuck In Their Skill Level

A write-up by Nanda


The purpose of this script is to hopefully raise awareness about the issues people may face and help them envision their goal to aid them on their way of improvement. Know that this is less of a guide than a write-up about the common issues that people face when seeking help with improvement. If you’re looking for a “what to improve” guide, I suggest reading the guides we have published and provided here.


To visualize the topic, let’s look at the current distribution of players’ ranks in the current season (season 9, end of first split). For the sake of simplicity, I’ll explain the issues starting with the layout of the current statistics of the player base in Diamond ranked. The current statistics show that there’s around 7% of the player base that have advanced to Diamond IV. Now, let’s look at the percentage of people who have climbed further to Diamond I-Diamond III. That’s as little as around 2%.

Less than half of the diamond players are climbing out of D4. Why? They’re unable to climb either due to their inability to see what’s needed to progress further and/or have stopped trying, either due to their mentality which prevents progression, or the desired rank has already been reached.

Many players that are stuck in their rank (including diamond) lack the bare essence of understanding and proper usage of logic when problem solving. It’s not skill that is preventing them. It’s their belief and their obliviousness & uncertainty of the laws and rules of this game.

Very little people have yet to investigate and dive deep into the essence of battle in Apex. Look at tac-shooter games or even League of Legends! People have dissected the game into the tiniest of puzzle pieces, to a point where mastery becomes a yearlong practice.

Apex Is A Lazy But Brutal Coach

To learn how to play any game or sport, you are first presented the ways to win and lose. It’s followed by the laws and rules to learn the limits of what is possible and allowed. Breaking any law or rule will result in some type of punishment.

What are the laws for Apex Legends?

Since we (usually) aren’t handed a guide or a book of rules, the way how people learn is by simply playing the game. That’s when the harshness of “coach Apex” comes into play. Apart from the RNG of this game, the biggest random factor is literally us, the players. The results we get feel very random at first, sometimes we prevail, sometimes we fail. We tend to learn the rules by constantly failing, more often than winning.

However, “coach Apex” never truly gives us any guidance. Whether a gameplay was correct or wrong is up for the players themselves to figure out. People are often oblivious to the fact that one can die while making the best possible decisions and because of the way most teach themselves, we often do not see where breaking these laws go unpunished. Failure of identifying those factors will lead to an inconsistent and stagnant growth. How each person chooses to develop their own playstyle and what they base their success on is up to each individual to decide.

Because of the way how we are taught the game, we sometimes get away with breaking the laws without receiving punishment.

When we win, chances are that we can be influenced by the confirmation bias, which misleads us into thinking that what we did will lead to more success in future games, even when the play was fundamentally wrong. That’s one of the main reasons why people will continuously get inconsistent results. It’s the point where we think we have plateaued and feel stuck at our rank with how we see and understand. When we get sucked too deep into the confirmation bias, we keep wondering whether we can pull it off again, rather than identifying the necessary factors needed for another success.

It is often our mentality preventing us from progression, not so much our current mechanical skill or abilities in-game.

How We Lose Games

How does one win a game in Apex? By being the last surviving team standing right? Now, how do people lose/die? Well, the simple answer would be that they most likely lost a fight, somehow. Whether it was a fair fight, a third party, an ambush/ getting caught off guard etc. The how doesn’t really make a big difference. The why however, does! To elaborate even further:

To win is to prevent death and to win fights that are necessary for your survival.

Because this concept is simple and beatable, the best chance of survival is to avoid any engagements until the last team, right? If we were to logically think about what issues this strategy might cause, we would know how it would be flawed in many ways. Against many popular opinions, the game devs/designers are smarter than some may think ;) They are fully aware, so they implement a Kill Point (KP) system in which players are rewarded for winning engagements to encourage fighting rather than avoiding them completely. Also, a “ratting” game is rather boring, isn’t it?

If losing fights is how we lose games, how do we win those more consistently?

How many people teach how to PROPERLY fight? How to operate mid fight? What are the objectives in a fight? How do I judge if a fight is winnable or will likely lead to my defeat? When to reposition and how? How do I know whether a position is good or bad? Who ‘s the most threatening target? What do I do to aid in the team’s survival?

How many people have put their teachings in a simple and logical concept, instead of having to explain every scenario individually? I will let the people answer that question even though the answer is obvious.

Many people have tried teaching and making videos on:

"how to get better at Apex”"how to gain RP""how to get the 4k 20bomb"“ratting spots in {insert map name}”“best legend comp for ranked”

What are the commonly given tips and advices?

“stay with your team”“take smart fights”“learn how to rotate and know the map well”“get better mechanically (movement/aim/weapons)”“just play often and play a lot, skill will come in time”

Though all those advices are certainly helpful to some people, they’re either about ways to avoid fighting, methods to increase overall success or simply very generalized and shallow. They all miss the most deciding factors and reasons why people die in game.

But why? There’re so many insanely talented and skilled players some may even be worshipped as gods. So how come nobody can give us a more detailed analysis of ANY fight, not just specific scenarios? In order to answer that question, we would need much more data to analyze to deliver a conclusive answer. But the simplest answer would be: The pros aren’t always the best at explaining why they’re pros. It has to do with the way players operate when logical decisions are made through habit or instinct. The ability to teach depends on the ability of conceptualizing the decisions made unconsciously. If operating correctly “feels right” without being able to logically conceptualize the actions, teaching becomes very difficult

It’s significantly harder having to explain a feeling than a logical concept.

Properly Identify Skill And What You’re Bad At.

Many of us have watched very skilled players’ gameplay online. We’ve watched them destroy lobbies in pubs and ranked, pros compete in the highest level of competitions and have acknowledged their level of skill being far above the average player. But what exactly is the difference between them and you? Could you name all the skills they possess which the average player doesn’t?

If you were to define the skillset needed for Apex Legends, what would you say?

Most people would answer with the generalized terms: Aim & Movement, Awareness, Decision Making. If those are all the skills needed, how does one improve on them? People would then be forced to dissect the generalized categories into smaller chunks of knowledge and skill. It’s as if you were saying that the skillset for basketball is shooting, dribbling, passing and knowing when to do what. There’s much more to the game than what most people can see and failure of recognizing those is the issue.

Maintaining The Balance

The overall performance of a player is determined by their mechanical skill, physical/mental state and their knowledge & mindset. The sections influence each other depending on their conditions. The optimum is reached when all sections are in a balanced state and it has a great impact on our decision making.

The flow and progression of the game can be broken down into small decisions we make over the entire game. Such as: peeking from your cover, positioning yourself a certain way, deciding to move from one point to another, shooting at an enemy or even as small as reloading/switching your weapons. All those decisions influence the outcome of our game. Therefore, we can analyze our gameplay by reviewing which of the decisions we made brought us closer to victory and which ones lead to our defeat. In order to properly identify the correct decisions, we first need to define the right objective.

As an example: Many players share the common objective of improvement in Apex and there are many aspects and measures to achieve that. The measures must be given the same amount of value and effort. By obsessing over certain aspects, others get neglected to a point where their importance is lost. Not setting the correct target has negative impact on our progression and can damage growth in the long run.

When a measure becomes the objective, the measure ceases to be a good measure.-generalization of the adages Goodhart’s Law & Campbell’s Law.

Your Mind Hinders Your Improvement

If you haven’t read “Optimizing Improvement” – a write up by @Nugget, I strongly suggest you do. In his writeup, Nugget has laid out several ways and reasons how and why we get better at any game. It gives insight into so many subjects being touched on and beyond. It is a great guide to better ones understanding of how to hone any skill, effectively.

The following chapter is my take on the biggest mental blockages of Improvement/Mastery players face. By interpreting a Buddhist wisdom called the “Five Hindrances” we can identify some of the most common mental blockages that prevent improvement.

Sensual Desire

It refers to the desire of pleasure and immediate gratification. We can get easily distracted by the short-term affirmation of our skill; Elimination of enemies, stylish movement to outclass our opponents may be fueling our motivation in game. But it can also be the biggest distraction and could cloud our vision of what true skill in Apex may look like. Visualizing the skillset and making sense of every single kill will boost your understanding and consistency – leading to a far better yield of every game played and reviewed.

Ill will/aversion

The hindrance of ill will latches onto negative thoughts and feelings such as dislike, objection, aversion, frustration, anger, resentment, hostility, etc. It can also be referred to one’s pride and ignorance – hindering us to grasp, visualize, accept, and adapt a certain concept or mindset. In game, it can be found in players’ perception of what their success is supposed to be based on and their attitude towards failure. Frustration with outside stimuli such as other players or any circumstance or factor come from our judgments within. It’s easier said than done, but we can choose how we feel about certain scenarios, the trick is to form a habit of excluding negative feelings from the outcome and only focus on the prevention and improvement of the factors leading to an undesirable result.


The progress of improvement can be viewed and experienced as a tedious and exhausting journey. Without the proper mindset and lack of motivation to investigate the issues we face in game can be like shackles, stopping us from advancing. To not be able to identify is one issue. Knowingly neglecting it is a far greater mistake regarding one’s growth in general.


This refers to an agitated, worrying mind which is unable to settle down. In Zen philosophy, this is described as the Monkey Mind. Constantly switching training routines without proper utilization or second doubting one’s approach regularly is like jumping from one branch to another, never being able to yield sufficient benefit. Nugget states in his write up that for one to properly optimize their improvement, dedication and training of the identified weakness/subject is one of the ways for a better gain out of the invested time. It is often better to direct your focus on fewer tasks at once to efficiently make use of your time and resources.

Skeptical doubt

Philosopher Alan Watts describes this as mental wobbling. Worrying about variables beyond our control is tiring and adds no value to any development. Players may be stuck in an endless mental loop “Am I skilled enough?”, “Do I suck this much?”. This feeling originates from lack of confidence or fear of the unknown. This is a typical example of uncertainty of one’s way of improvement; “Is practicing this really going to be any good?”. Doubt can also be triggered by not having a clear understanding of a concept. Doubt can be logical and useful, but the difference lies in the effect it has on our mind and progress. Identifying where the doubt is coming from is key to solving doubt with a logical mind.

R A I N - The Solution to the Hindrances

R - Recognize which of the 5 hindrances and the connected issues you have

A - Accept and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses

I - Investigate into the issues and apply logic on your solutions

N - Non-Identification “I am not my weaknesses, nor am I my thoughts and emotions, I am only identifying them and visualizing the ways I can change”


At the end of the day, Apex is just another video game. Entertainment is placed as a priority, learning how to “beat” a game of Apex is only up for people who are willing to improve. The common mentalities can be summarized into the following:

  1. It’s just a game, we just want to play – “I just want to have fun, improvement will come with time I invest into the game”
    • That’s completely fine, but if improvement is what you seek, one thing you need to understand is that the mindset “time = Improvement” is only going to get you so far. Effective improvement won’t fall from the sky and doesn’t grow on trees. It comes with dedication and targeted practice.
  2. We are humans with ego and pride (Dunning-Kruger effect) – “I’m good at the game, my gameplay is flawless. I’m not the problem, my teammates/the maps/the third parties/ {insert random reason} are”
    • We lose to so many factors in the game, but don’t be an ignorant brat. Take responsibilities of your own mistakes. Only way YOU can improve. Nothing you can change about the outside factors.
  3. Unwillingness to think and judge with logic and blindly adapting concepts/methods instead – “if the pros aren’t doing it, why should I?”
    • Well why aren’t they doing it? “cuz it’s not a smart thing to do?” Yea Sherlock.. If you cannot make sense of why certain strategies work, you are riding a bike without knowing what keeps it moving, driving without knowing how to steer the wheel, baking bread without kneading the dough, the list goes on.

By recognizing these hinderances and mindsets that prevent improvement we can sculpt our gameplay, analysis, and goals to improve while avoiding unhelpful perspectives. Remember that /everyone/ will have moments where they think/feel these hinderances/mindsets, and that’s okay! What’s important is that we can check ourselves periodically, recognize if/when we’re succumbing to these unhelpful perspectives, and adjust the way we think about the game so we can play in ways that are more enjoyable and conducive to improvement.