How to solo queue and climb in Apex Legends ranked

Here's how to earn RP as a solo player in a world of duos and trios.

Screengrab via Respawn Entertainment

Today marks the debut of season 13, and with it comes a new start to the ranked grind in Apex Legends.

While some players have dedicated teammates to help them climb the ranked ladder, others aren’t as fortunate. Random teammates are occasionally great, but most of the time, they’re unreliable. That leaves solo players pitted against squads that have better communication and coordination, making life as a solo queue player in Apex significantly more challenging. But some basic knowledge can go a long way toward improving the solo queue experience.

Here are some of the best tips and tricks to climbing the ranked ladder as a solo queue player.

Never drop hot

It may be tempting to drop in the middle of the action and hope to pick up easy kills early, but it’s not an optimal strategy for players looking to gain consistent RP. Drop somewhere secluded and away from other players. The great loot in the highlighted zone at the beginning of each match is not worth it, and there’s stiff competition for those items. Dropping into a zone full of other players isn’t smart, even for the best players.

Former No. 1 Apex Predator Jacob “HisWattson” McMillin, who is currently one of the top ranked grinders in the world, reiterated the value of a cautious early game in a conversation about solo queue climbing with Dot Esports last week.

“Just try to land away from people,” he said. “Usually, like eight squads will die off instantly. Let those eight squads die off because you’re way more likely to win a game when there’s 12 squads than if there’s 20. Let that first wave of people die.”

Once the early fighting is over, it’s much easier to get into the top tier of finishes and makes it much less likely solo players will lose the majority of the entry cost RP they used to get into the match.

Look for third parties

It may seem obvious to some, but it’s always preferable to take an easy third party over initiating a fight.

Players who are nearing the end of a fight against another team will usually be weak, and swooping in for easy kills is the best way to get KP in ranked matches. Always assume other teams in the lobby are thinking the same thing. When solo queue players end up in a fight that lasts more than a minute or two, remember gunshots in Apex can be heard from vast distances and potentially half of the lobby will be charging toward the location of a fight. Maintain situational awareness and never be afraid to retreat if a third-party attempt goes haywire.

Choose the right weapons

Given the random nature of battle royale gameplay, using a different set of weapons in each match is pretty typical. But it’s also a mistake, particularly for solo queue players who need to make each match as consistent as possible to succeed. Those who struggle with high-risk, high-reward weapons like the Wingman should practice those skills in the firing range or in unranked play. Ranked mode is for using the guns in the arsenal that produce results. The R-301, which is in the crafter this season, can now be reliably obtained in every single ranked game. It’s the best light ammo weapon in Apex. The R-301 has easily controllable recoil and is effective at a wide variety of ranges.

At long distances, it’s possible to tag enemies with the 3X ranger or 2X-by-4X variable scope. At close range, the R-301 has great hipfire and its iron sights offer a clean picture. These qualities make it a must-pick for players who are looking for KP in every game.

Since the Rampage, another high-tier pick for solo queue players, is now in the crafter, players who favor the LMG class should return to the Spitfire, which has been brought back from the care package for season 13. This gun was highly popular in earlier seasons, and players can expect to see it frequently in ranked games despite the nerfs. What the Spitfire lacks in the deadliness of the R-301 or Flatline, it excels in reliability. A purple magazine gives the Spitfire 50 bullets, a laughably huge supply of ammo that allows players with bad aim to produce excellent results. Solo queue players should focus on these reliable weapons and avoid high-damage but inconsistent weapons like the Sentinel or Bocek Bow.

Given that the Mastiff is now in the care package, the Peacekeeper once again reigns supreme among shotguns. Its potential for huge damage and excellent finishing ability on weakened opponents make it a perfect close-range secondary in season 13.

Live to fight another day

It’s crucial to step up and be the best player on the squad in solo queue.

“Don’t rely on your teammates,” HisWattson said. “Assume in every single fight that you have to kill all three people.” If that’s simply not happening, realize it and accept it. Players who want to rank up as solos have to learn when the fight is lost, and how to retreat effectively.

If one player on the team gets knocked, there’s still an small window of opportunity to turn the fight around. A quick trade will turn the fight into an even 2-vs-2, and those are acceptable odds. If the fight continues and the numbers don’t equalize quickly, however, it’s highly unlikely that a duo will clutch up against a full trio.

HisWattson suggested this rule of thumb: “What I tell myself a lot is that if my teammates die instantly, and it doesn’t look like I can immediately trade the knockout, just run away. Literally, instantly dip…Go hide in a corner and try to salvage points.”

While it may seem cowardly to run away due to a numbers disadvantage, it’s the smart move every time, and highly-skilled players won’t think twice.

Become an escape artist

It’s easy to suggest running away, but it’s often harder to do in practice. Characters like Gibraltar, Lifeline, and Wattson have no movement abilities, making a hasty retreat from battle difficult. That’s why a crucial part of solo queue ranked play is legend selection. Some ranked warlords can make do with nearly any legend, but most players will want to choose a legend who has a reliable escape ability. Characters like Loba can use her teleport to vanish and then rat or quietly go after the banners of dead teammates. Valkyrie can use her ultimate to escape from sticky situations. Bloodhound’s ultimate, Beast of the Hunt, is traditionally thought of as a tool to chase down opponents and get valuable battlefield intel. It also doubles as a escape technique since it increases movement speed and allows Bloodhound to avoid accidentally running into other squads. Wraith, Ash, and Bangalore also have effective escape abilities.

Finally, solid performances in solo queue ranked play are all about mentality. It’s easy to blame random teammates for failures. Instead, try to improve your own gameplay when things go wrong. Accept that the circumstances of each game are different, and that not every game will result in a massive gain of RP. Take regular breaks. Climbing is significantly easier with a good attitude, and there’s plenty of time to hit Platinum or Diamond later in the season.