Maybe it's time for your first Master's Trial or Gunslinger's tournament. Perhaps you're one of the last two 'Mechs standing in a tandem or 4-man team event, or maybe you've gotten yourself into a name challenge and just don't feel like being renamed "KelticPrincess" for a month or so. (again)
Whatever the reason, you've gotten yourself into a Dueling situation. Two 'mechs enter, one 'mech leaves... hopefully.
The Good News
The good news in a Dueling situation is that you're only dealing with one opponent. No need to fear someone coming over the hills onto your six and letting off a shot into one or the other of you, taking you both out in the explosion.
No need to split your attention. No need to look at 'mechs on the field guessing for sparks or fire, hoping for a clean shot into a weakened torso or leg. Set the other duelist as your target, swing the crosshairs over them once, and your enemy target readout will tell you everything you need to know about their armor status for the rest of the fight.
The Bad News
See everything I just said above? You only have one enemy to face. So does your opponent. You have their full attention. Weaving through the melee, or trying to get them to peel off for a juicier target? Not going to happen.
Start With The Basics
Remember your Advanced Tactics. Strafe, don't narf. Fire only when you have a good shot and focus your fire where it will do you the most good. Swing away after firing and show them as little of your center torso as possible.
If you feel you may have an advantage in terrain to get visibility on your opponent first, try going to passive radar. You might just manage to get a clear first shot to their CT. If you're really lucky, you might land a nickel-plated watermelon in their canopy.
#1 - Jousting - in a Jousting scenario, you're both running high-heat 'Mechs, or on a hot map in general, and favoring the Alpha Strike. Think Nova Cats on Hotplate. The goal is to swing around, fire off one alpha strike into the CT of your enemy, and then swing away to clear some distance while you cool back down. If you're both doing it, and you get your shot off first, you may cause their 'Mech to shake and their counter-shot to go wild.
Of course, if your enemy is cooling down a bit faster than you are, this can be dangerous. They might just be lying in wait, turned towards you, anticipating your shot...
#2 - Circle of Death - If you're both strafing in the same direction, you may be circling around each other. Both of you may be jockeying to get "ahead" of the other pilot just a bit, to fire a shot into their CT and fade off before they can line back up on you.
Of course, if your 'mech can only torso twist 90 degrees left/right, and they can twist further, you need to get out of this situation quickly.
#3 - Circle of Death, Sidearm Style - If you've both got a "big gun" in matching arms, it's very tempting to lean on that arm and circle around each other while looking out the side window. Again, a sound idea, except that many 'mechs expose their CT more when the arm is turned out to the side. Resist the impulse; only swing the arm out long enough to take your shot. The rest of the time, keep them to the side using your radar.
Also, before getting into this situation, make sure you're not bringing a knife to a gunfight. Many a pilot has regretted going up against the Templar's AC20/MPLAS combo or the Masakari's gauss rifle with just a pair of medium lasers.
Moments of Advantage
From time to time, you're going to have a few moments in which you have the chance to take the advantage against your opponent. We'll go over them here. This list isn't all-inclusive, but it should provide some help.
#1 - Gyro Hit. - "Components Destroyed." Your opponent's been putting shots dead-center all duel, and all of a sudden his shots are going wild. His 'Mech appears to be a little more "wobbly" than before. Has he lost his nerve? Gotten a bit shaken from a partial hit to the canopy? Maybe, but it's more likely that his 'mech has taken a hit to the internal gyro. Press the assault; put a couple fast-cycling weapons onto chain fire and poke him repeatedly. With a gyro out, even a single medium-laser hit can throw a 'mech's aim off, and a large laser or beyond will have them staring at dirt or force their torso to twist away for a couple of seconds.
#2 - Shut Down - if you see your opponent bowing to you, resist the urge to politely bow back if at all possible. You can do that out of the pods.
Also resist the urge to snap off a shot on impulse. If your opponent has any coolant left, he's already hitting the flush button. If he doesn't, you have the time enough to maneuver into position.
Take a moment. You were just given a few seconds of free cool-down time for your weaponry, after all. Get onto your opponent's six, to keep him from firing right at you when he starts up. Line up a nice, leisurely shot to someplace vital, make sure your heat is in the green, and then pull the trigger.
If the enemy 'mech is one that tends to expose the cockpit panel on shutdown, you're far enough away to avoid splash damage, and you think your alpha strike can take it out in one hit, then consider the opportunity to line the shot up. On the other hand, if you're facing something that tends to protect the cockpit instead, then by all means use the time for better positioning.
#3 - Field Stripped - If you've taken an arm or torso panel off of your opponent, you've reduced the power of their alpha strike. Remember, depending on which 'mech they're running, they may be able to compensate by increasing their rate of fire from the remaining weapons. In general, though, try to stay on the side with missing weapons. Damage done to that side will transfer to the CT, which is what you were trying to hit in the first place (you WERE trying to hit the CT, right?). As an added bonus, you've now got the luxury of using side-arm fire, while they have to face you with their torso to line up the remaining weapons.
Remember: You're Sitting On Top of a Thermonuclear Device.
Also Remember: So Is Your Opponent.
Sometimes, this is a good thing. If it's a 4-man or Tandem Team Destruction tournament, where the tiebreaker for a last-man-standing match is "which team got the first kill", by all means, hug your opponent if you think he's too close to killing you. When you both die, that may win the game for your team.
If you're in a Master's Trial (more on those later), and you've killed one Master but are pretty far gone, consider trying to give the second Master a great big hug.
On the other hand - in a Gunslinger Tournament? One 'mech already gone in a Master's Trial? Watch your distance very, very carefully. Going up with your opponent in those scenarios can very well snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Hugging your opponent in a Gunslinger's, when the opponent is fearful of a double-out end to the round, may also force them to back off before going for the killshot, giving you time to take a few shots and cool your weapons down.
On the other hand, I emphasize the word "may" in that sentence for a reason. It's your decision whether you think your opponent is (a) paying enough attention to your armor status and (b) calm enough to fall for that tactic, or might just take the shot anyways and finish you both off.
The Master's Trial
So - the big event. Your chance to earn a Burton and come to future events as a Defending Master. Also, your chance to take on the meaningful responsibility to teach your skills to the next generation of pilots.
Here's how this goes: you have one respawn. There are three Masters, who will engage you one at a time as called out, unless you let the timer run (in which case, the next-up Master will automatically be called), you call a second Master out, or you fire on an un-called Master. Your goal: kill two and survive the third, in a 10-minute scenario.
Since most of this is one-on-one, most of the time you're going to be dueling. Most of what's above applies. You're going to face at least the first Master in a completely clean 'Mech. Depending on how well you fight, you may be able to do some damage - perhaps even significant damage, if you can catch them in your explosion - to the second Master before respawing.
Once the second Master goes up, it's your choice what to do. You can stay and fight, trying to take the third down, or you could decide that discretion is the better part of valor. The choice is yours.