Rocket League: Tips for Solo Duel
Tue 12th Jun 2018 - 8:47pm
Solo Duel is Rocket League's most unforgiving playlist. The frustration most players experience when queuing for Duels is due to it requiring a fundamental shift in strategy from any of the team-based playlists to be successful. The heart of that shift is that almost every mistake in Duels will lead to a goal. With that in mind, one of the big strategic differences that you should apply to your game is changing the way you approach challenging a ball. This one change will alter how the game is played drastically.
Despite the frustration that comes with getting accustomed to the different gameplay style, playing Solo Duel is a vital aspect to your improvement as it is also one of the best ways to get better at the other playlists. It improves your on-the-ball control and opens up slow plays that are essential in higher level Rocket League. So while you prepare to head over to Solo Duel, we have a few tips to help you challenge the ball better.
Stay Goalside - Especially for Defensive Challenges
Every action you make in Solo Duel should be made against a single question, "Can I protect my goal after making this move?" One of the biggest factors in answering yes to that question is always knowing where the line that leads directly from the ball to the center of your goal is. Prior to every challenge, make sure your car is on that line. Challenging your opponent this way allows you to make a play for the ball that has the lowest chance of resulting in a hard loss - and subsequently a conceded goal. One of the biggest mistakes players often make is that, when transitioning back to defense, they challenge in the corner at an angle that leaves little opportunity for success. Obviously any challenge is better than no challenge, so if you're facing a breakaway opponent and don't have any chance to approach from goalside, do what you can with the knowledge that it's a high-risk play. But if you have any time to take a wider approach or settle into a shadowing position, you'll find more success defending your net.
The above image shows the player on orange team challenging blue's attack from a position that is not goalside and therefore has a lower percentage of success. This specific instance led to a blue goal.
Limit Your Aerials
The hallmark of Rocket League is its aerial play. Teams are constantly launching into the sky for flashy aerials to push the ball forward, challenge possession, and attempt low-percentage shots with the knowledge that they have one or two teammates to back them up or continue the pressure after their touch. But in Solo Duel you should keep your car on the ground as much as possible. The biggest reason is simply because aerials use a lot of boost. So if your shot doesn't go right in, you're now stuck waiting to fall back to the ground and then to attempt to get back to your net in a low boost situation while your opponent is settling in for his attack. Most aerials are just too risky in duels. There are a few simple guidelines that can help determine if an aerial will be worth it.
- If it's a shot you don't make 100% of the time, it's not worth going up for. Keep in mind that a shot you make a 100% of the time against a goal with a settled defender in net is actually not a shot you make 100% of the time.
- If the aerial is in the midfield and a touch is guaranteed to send the ball over your opponent and cause him to retreat, then you may want to attempt the touch.
- If you're on defense and waiting for a ball to come to the ground means risking a shot from your opponent, launch as soon as you can. In this case, you should do everything in your power to get up before your opponent.
Outside of these exceptions, if the shot would require a double jump or require you to be in the air long enough to lose your second jump, it's not worth it.
Change Your Camera Settings
With your car sticking mostly to floor-play, dribbling is one of the best options available to more advanced players. One way you can obtain a small dribbling advantage is to change your camera settings. Most players have their camera settings designed to improve aerial accuracy. The camera is mostly right behind the car, with a minor angle and height lift. However, we just established that you won't be going for aerials anymore. With that in mind, we can make some adjustments to give you an improved POV for dribbling. I personally have settings for duels that pulls the camera farther back from the car, lifts it higher from the ground, and tilts it down at a greater angle.
These settings provide more view of the area behind the ball when it's on top of your car, giving you better awareness of your opponent's position and knowledge of the line and timing of his challenge. Like anything in Rocket League, it takes time to get used to the change. I recommend that you spend a few minutes in free-play, the dribbling challenge, or unranked for about a week before taking it into ranked, but you'll soon be able to dribble just as well as before and do so with more knowledge of what's around you. You'll want to switch them back once you queue for another playlist that'll have you resume your launches for those sweet aerials. You can do this a couple ways. You can simply write down your preferred settings for both Duels and the other playlists so you can switch them back on the fly. You'll memorize them quickly, so you won't need the notes long. If you're on PC, you can also install BakkesMod, which allows players to save your camera settings and switch them in the options menu as you need.
Offset Your Dribble Trajectory
With your new camera settings, you're going to be attempting even more dribbling than ever. You should already be familiar with the dribbling challenges and be working on those skills regularly, but they can only do so much in game. There's another level of urgency and difficulty involved when an opponent is on the same field and wants to relieve you of control at the slightest misplay. And the thing about dribbling is that, even with adjusted camera settings, there's still a big blind spot at the center of your screen. Your vision is always going to be limited when dribbling, but along with your shiny new camera settings, there is another tactic you can use to give you more awareness of your opponent's position, his approach to challenging, and how to beat that challenge.
After gaining control and starting for an attack, instead of driving directly at the center of your opponent's goal, drive toward the opponent's half at a relatively shallow angle. Aiming for a corner is too wide but driving toward somewhere between your opponent's back post and about halfway to the back corner depending on the area you're starting from will give you a much better field of uninterrupted vision. Whether your opponent is shadowing or already set up in their goal for defense, you'll have a better idea of what they're doing and be able to react more quickly to a challenge.
The biggest way to improve is always to keep playing. Using these tips to improve your challenges and turning them into habits will help you improve. These tips will take some time to adjust to, but be critical of yourself, be mindful of your play and you'll be sure to turn these into habits that are second-nature.
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