This topic was brought up in the forums recently and I felt I needed to chime in. As you may or may not know, I prefer being a lonewolf. I enjoy dropping with other people once in a while in public dropships, but I kept myself from joining "units" and dipping into the competitive scene. I will probably go over this subject once again in the future, but I just wanted to share what I wrote in that thread:
"I have about 8500 drops total, and I'd say about 98% of them were solo. I can think of a few reasons:
Solo matches are random and challenging. You made a positioning mistake? You're dead. You didn't read the enemy team and ran into a 4-man? You're dead. Your team randomly took the wrong route? You're dead. The matchmaker randomly put 11 assaults against you? You're dead. 6 champions in your team? You're dead.
But after a couple of hundreds of matches, you start reading your team. You start reading the enemy team. You know what mechs are capable with which builds. You know what will happen when which team goes where or which mechs they bring. You realize the potential in builds and playstyles that "competitive" players dismiss. You start climbing the Elo ladder and get similar players who think like you, who went through the same thing. Suddenly you coordinate without communication and win impossible matches. You become a better player simply because you're prepared and trained for any possible situation after a while.
On the other hand, I find 4-mans, especially formed from "competitive" players the easy mode. You have your lancemates to "carry" when you make a mistake. You always have the upper hand of skill and coordination against lesser opponents, it's stomp after stomp, you just don't lose. You can even take goofy builds and make them work. You can be an average player, but get carried by others and think you're god. The only losses happen when the matchmaker randomly puts another competitive lance against you, which doesn't happen often. I don't like this type of play, it's simply not challenging and also not fair to solo players.
Then comes dealing with other players. I do use the dropships in Public TS' like NGNG and Comstar once in a while and most of the time I don't enjoy the company. Players who are not willing to coordinate yet still jump in a dropship, players who are just obnoxious, players who are just hopeless in MWO and so on. Most of the time I feel like I'm better off solo.
I also feel like I understand my mechs and their quirks better when solo. Solo-queue is like a torture machine and it instantly exposes the strengths and weaknesses of your mech/build since you're subjected to random variables each match."