Getting familiar with a new set in TFT is one of the most exciting parts of playing the game. There are new synergies to explore, new champions to play and new comps to abuse. But playing at the start of the set is much different than playing during the middle or the end, so here’s 9 easy tips for quickly climbing at the start of a set.
Tip 1: Know that your opponents don’t know what they are doing
After every Set, there is a Rank Reset. During a half set like 7.5, they do what’s called a Soft Reset. This means your MMR or hidden rank is approximately the midway point between your old rank and the median rank. This means if you were Platinum and the median rank is Silver, your MMR would be around Gold.
Now, what do we do with this information? Since no one knows what they are doing, you need to focus in on the fundamentals of TFT to gain an edge. If your strategy was to force a comp, you will fail because no one knows what the best comps are at the start of the set. This heavily rewards flex and inventive players.
Tip 2: Win Streaking is better than Lose Streaking
Following up on Tip #1, new sets make playing for win streaks much more effective because no one knows which comps are the best. That means gold is less useful in the hands of every player at the start of the set compared to the end. Therefore, Health is a more important resource than Gold. As the set matures, Gold will become more important than health because you will improve at using Gold.
Tip 3 & 4: Level Aggressively and Slam Items
Now you might be wondering, how do I preserve my Health and play for win streaks? The answer is simple. Tip #3 is to level aggressively and slam items–especially in the early game. For leveling, check out my leveling guide, but err on the side of leveling earlier.
In the early game, that means leveling up to
- Level 4 at 2-1
- Level 5 at 2-5
- Level 6 at 3-1 or 3-2
- Level 7 at 3-5
You can even level up earlier than these timings if you get an economy Augment
Now for slamming items, you will want to focus on flexible offensive, tank, and early game items. What is a flexible item? Well, for tank items, this can pretty much be anything.
- Gargoyle Stoneplate – great for comps with 1 main tank
- Warmogs – general good early game tank item
- Titan’s Resolve – great hybrid tank/damage item
- Bramblevest – good versus AD
- Dragon’s Claw – good vs AP
- Fimbulwinter – good vs aoe damage
- Redemption – good for teams with multiple tanks
Next are the Early Game Items. These are great for win streaking and winning early fights
- Zz’Rot Portal – a lot of teams cannot handle this item early game. Place on frontline unit
- Sunfire Cape – great HP and damage
- Locket of the Iron Solari – a lot of teams cannot handle the extra flat shielding
- Ionic Spark – great early game damage
- Statikk Shiv – probably the best early game item because of large flat damage
- Rageblade – great for early game because of longer fights which allows more stacking
- Thieve’s Gloves – iconic flex item since every comp has at least one person who can use this. Also good for Cybernetic augments
The trickiest category is Offensive Items because many items are not flexible here. Every team can use the same tank items, but not every team can use the same offensive items. This is because champions typically scale off of AP or AD. Luckily, here’s a list of items that are slammable for flexing
- Hand of Justice – the most iconic flex offensive item, giving both stats and healing
- Bloodthirster – not my first choice since omnivamp isn’t that great early game, but if you have nothing else to build, you generally want 1 healing item for your carry later on
- Hextech Gunblade – not my first choice since omnivamp isn’t that great early game, but if you have nothing else to build, you generally want 1 healing item for your carry later on
- Chalice of Power – good to enhance your carry later on without committing a slot because it is an aura item
- Zeke’s Herald – good to enhance your carry later on without committing a slot because it is an aura item
- Quicksilver – not my first choice, but a lot of carries can use this later on
- Giantslayer – not my first choice, but a lot of carries can use this later on
As you can see, tank and early game items are generally preferred over the offensive items because they are simply more flexible. While the offensive items are not ‘bad’ per se, they are just not as strong early game. But hey–if you are trying to win streak, you need every edge in the fight that you can get. If you are unsure about what items to slam, always check out the Meta Snapshot which is updated every Friday.
Tip 5: Read champion abilities
This sounds so basic, but even pro players don’t even know what units do. In the Set 5 World Championship, Milk who was an NA representative, exclusively played a Kled comp. However, not even he knew that Kled had an enhanced auto attack every 4th attack.
It is crucial to know what each unit does because it has huge positioning implications. I will admit, in Milk’s case, Kled just did damage, so it wasn’t that important, but some other abilities are critical to know about.
For example, did you know that Soraka instakills units when she casts her ability when you are at full hp? Since you are using this guide, you may find yourself in a situation where you are at full health and then randomly see a Soraka in your shop. You better not skip it!
For new champions, let’s take a look at Sohm. Sohm gets a bonus spell after 3 casts. How do you get additional casts? Well, Mages seems to be a good option. This means you pretty much NEED to have the Mage trait for Sohm to be effective. If you are deciding between playing 0 Mage + 6 Lagoon vs 3 Mage + 3 Lagoon, you definitely would rather have 3 Mage + 3 Lagoon in order for Sohm to be worth playing.
Other important info to know are Champion Ranges and Ability Targeting. This is incredibly important for positioning. Some ranged units may only have 2 range, so you would not want to put them in the back corners. Next, some abilities target randomly, some specifically. Zyra, for example, targets the most units in a line. So if you are facing a Zyra, you may want to not put every ranged unit in the back line since she could potentially hit all of them.
Tip 6: If possible, focus on the old champions and traits
This is unfun, but let’s take a look at this logically. New set comes out… Many players will want to try the new champions and traits. This means they will be more contested than usual, which makes them less worth it to play. Only play the new stuff if you actually hit the units naturally.
For example, everyone may want to try out the new Lagoon trait or any of the new Dragons and carries. This means these comps and champions will be highly contested. I highly doubt anyone is going into their first few games and planning to play Xayah carry for example. Everyone instead wants to do Zippy/Nomsy Reroll or use Darkflights, Nilah, Pantheon, Graves, Sohm, Lux, and Kaisa. Use this to your advantage.
Here are the traits that are unchanged:
Here are the traits that are relatively unchanged:
- Dragonmancer Lee Sin
- Xayah + Shyvana Ragewing
- Syphen builds
Tip 7: Don’t force a comp before the game begins
A lot of YouTubers and Streamers including myself may want to force a new composition for the novelty or fun of it. Don’t do this. While it is important to practice every comp for long term improvement, if you want to climb early on, just play flexibly using the tips I have already laid out. Don’t go into a game with a comp in mind already because
- We don’t actually know what is good yet, and forcing a comp generally only works because it is good
- Take the time to learn how to pivot when people won’t punish you as hard early in the set compared to later on
- You may lose streak and thus suffer from the earlier tips because typically, when you force a comp, you are also forcing specific items, which means you aren’t slamming items and therefore your early board is weaker. This is not a good idea at the start of a set.
Instead, realize you will play many games of TFT, and you don’t need to play that specific composition quite yet. Instead, maybe commit to a comp after you see a few of your items or augments first. For example:
- If you get early swords and bows look to test Graves, Zeri, or Rengar
- If you get early rods and tears, try Sohm, Swain, or Kai’Sa
These don’t have to be perfect–we are all trying to have fun–but just going into the game with flex playstyle in mind means you are less likely to get stuck if you don’t hit the items you want
Tip 8: Always be learning and be noncommittal
Just like my Tinder matches, don’t commit to specific strategies because the meta is changing every single day. One day, one comp will be assumed to be the best, but then the next day, a different comp will counter that, then the next day, TFT Dev team will put out a hotfix which flips the meta. Don’t commit to a specific comp or playstyle if you are actually trying to get better. Too many things are changing, you need to keep up with the meta by watching guides, streamers, and YouTubers to know what is happening that day. Some people spend hours and hours researching what is good, and you may as well leverage their work to save you time by checking out my Meta Snapshot which is updated every friday.
Tip 9: Have Fun (and take a break if you’re not)
Honestly, this is the best tip of them all. TFT is a game that encourages learning and development, but it’s easy to let that get in the way of having fun. All these tips are good but if you have a way of playing that’s fun for you then stick to that because let’s be honest, most of us are not going pro. I don’t even know why people want to become pro TFT players so badly because there simply isn’t much reward. That means you should only do it if you truly love the game. If you want to make money, go to the LCS (or get a real job)? If you want egirls or eguys, get good at Valorant. If you want to appear smart, start playing manual chess. Jokes aside, there’s no single right way to play, learn or improve, but enjoying yourself while doing it is always going to be a big advantage.
There will almost certainly be times with a new set where the game is a frustrating and you lose rounds and games. If you’re not having fun and getting frustrated with things not working, take a break and come back to the game. If you want to get your TFT fix without the grind you can always hop on over to YouTube and watch a few games to see if you can learn something from that. Again, all these tips work particularly well early in the set as there’s lots to be discovered and youtubers and streamers will likely have grinded out hundreds of games on PBE already so they already know what works and what doesn’t.