PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a dangerous battle of wits and reflexes. It takes calm nerves to come out on top. Yesterday, I failed to keep my nerves at ease and committed the greatest of all multiplayer shames: teamkilling.
I’ve poured a lot of time into Battlegrounds, leading to a miraculous victory the first time I streamed for Kotaku and a few more throughout 2017. Toward the end of the year, I had a bit of a drought. I could get close to victory but I couldn’t seal the deal. Heading into 2018, I wanted to win a match as soon as possible. I had a few good solo matches but decided to shift to a duo match with a friend (who once joined me on stream for a winning match) to see if some teamwork could lead to victory.
Our initial matches went well. We had a strong showing on the new desert map, which instilled confidence and bolstered our spirits. We worked with discipline, calling out enemy positions and carefully choosing when to engage. Everything seemed fine as we loaded up a new match and dropped into the game’s original forest map, Erangel. We decided to drop in to Rozhok, a small town near the center of the map that isn’t as much of a hotspot as many players think. Two enemy squads joined us and began rifling around in a building down a small hill to the south of our position. Early incidents like this leave you with two different options: loot what you can and run away, or gear up and rush to take down the enemy. After the other duo shot at us, my teammate and I chose the latter.
I ran up toward the enemy position and entered the building from below. Spotting a stun grenade on the floor and sensing a opportunity, I scooped it up and equipped it as I moved to the staircase. I peeked up and saw that the enemy was completely focused on shooting out the window. I had a clear angle to shoot and take them out. Instead of taking that easy opportunity and shooting my tommy gun like James Cagney, I pulled the stun grenade’s pin.
What had seemed like a smart choice turned into disaster as I approached the stairs again. The grenade hadn’t detonated as quickly as I thought, and I arrived just in time to get blinded by my own grenade. I began shooting wildly, unloading my gun at what I hoped were my opponents. I knocked down one enemy and as I regained vision I found myself at the bottom of the stairs. Expecting an enemy to be crawling towards me, I rushed back to the stairs and fired on the first person I saw, killing them immediately. Then, I began feeling dread as I realized I had just murdered my own teammate.
Throughout nearly a year of Battlegrounds, I’d never killed someone in my squad. It felt like I’d accidentally stepped on a someone’s cat or opened a door in their face. Utter embarrassment and shock rushed through me. My recording software wasn’t capturing my microphone at the time but I can assure you that string of apologies that followed was profuse and unrelenting. Between belabored gasps and a few chuckles, I begged for my teammate’s forgiveness. Thankfully, he laughed it off and we went on to a new match where we came in second place.
Blinding myself with my own grenade and blasting my buddy has entered my Hall of Fame for embarrassing video game-related moments. It ranks second, right next to the time I almost hit Shigeru Miyamoto with my backpack. It was a shameful display and the guilt will follow me to the grave.