How a Starcraft 2 Player Broke the Meta

For most of Set 3, everyone has primarily utilized two leveling strategies: Fast 8 and Slow Roll. With the introduction of Patch 10.9, we started to see some Hyper Roll. We all know how insane these compositions can feel–we see the 6 team synergies hitting their stride at level 8 every game, or we see a ton of 3 star units in stage 3 from the hyper and slow rollers. What if I told you that NONE of these playstyles were actually the best?

Introducing Polt, a Starcraft player who recently started streaming TFT. He has won almost half a million dollars from Starcraft according to Liquidpedia, and has won many tournaments in his highly successful career. He first claimed fame when he defeated BoxeR, a Starcraft legend, so we know he means business. After serving in the military after retiring from Starcraft, his next conquest was Teamfight Tactics.

You may have noticed a shift in the leaderboards recently in North America. Polt comfortably held the rank 1 spot on May 4th for a few days, sitting above 1500LP. Many top streamers were wanting to know how he played, and he finally revealed what he’s been up to with his first stream on May 5th. After watching around 6 hours of his gameplay that day and 6 more throughout the week, the secret was out.

If you thought hyper roll or slow roll or fast 8 was the only way to play, Polt quickly proves that wrong. If you thought early game didn’t matter and that health wasn’t important, he would disagree. Polt adopted an innovative playstyle that involves aggressive leveling and extreme adaptation.

Let’s get into how he plays.

Normally in the early game, we learned that we should level if we think we can win streak. We also had Mismatched Socks, the Set 2 rank 1, coach Becca recently saying how he almost never levels before Krugs. Polt quickly counters that by ALWAYS PRE LEVELING ON STAGE 2-3. Pre leveling is spending gold on experience, but not actually leveling up on that round. Instead the player passively levels up the next round. For example, in stage 2-3, if you never leveled before, you will be level 4 with 0/10 experience. What Polt does is press level up twice, putting him at 8/10 experience. Since we gain 2 experience every round, he will be level 5 after the carousel. Let’s get into why he does this.

First, Polt values health total. You see him always going for strong early game items such as Ionic Spark and Red Buff. Leveling early coincides with this notion where he plays the strongest board possible. Second, he values getting a higher champion pick rate. After every level, you unlock access to stronger units. Polt’s adaptive playstyle allows him to use ANY 4 cost carry, which means that earlier access to 4 cost units allows him to power spike quicker.

The next thing we see Polt do is almost always leveling to 6 by 3-2. Note, if he is on a win streak, he will always level on 3-1. After leveling, he rolls in a high percentage of his games to complete pairs or find 4 costs. Next in stage 3, he will level to 7 after carousel if he wants to continue his win streak. If not, he will wait and go to 7 on 4-1. The general rule here is always staying around 20-40 gold. For example, if he has 55 gold on stage 3-5 and it costs 28 gold to level, he will generally level to 7 since he would still stay above 20 gold. You will rarely see him above 50 gold.

In the late game, he will generally go to level 8 at 5-1. This is a late level 8, but since he rolls during level 6 and 7, it is only natural that he hits level 8 later. The champions he prioritizes is Jinx, Kayle, Irelia, Chogath, and Wukong. If you haven’t noticed the pattern yet, he likes 4 cost units. Another unit he plays a lot is Blitzcrank because he complements both Chogath and Wukong with Chrono Brawler.

Polt has a low risk playstyle with the primary goal of preserving health. He will not hyper roll, he will not slow roll, and he will also rarely go for 3* 4 cost units such as Jinx or Kayle. He also does not go for Mana Printer Sona. If you look at his match history, you may also notice that he rarely plays the same comp, yet uses the same champions every game. He simply plays whatever he hits and completes his team with minor synergies. All in all, what this leads to is a lot of top 2s and top 3s, but very few wins compared to other players. This can be evidenced by his 16% win rate paling in comparison to 23% of Soju, 26% of Milk, and 24% of Socks.

While Polt is no longer rank 1, I am guessing this is partly due to him starting his stream. Playing on stream is completely different from playing on your own. Streamers are often unfocused and need to pay attention to their viewers instead of the game. Very few players actually play on their top ranked account on stream. Another reason why he isn’t rank 1 anymore is because we likely have some players adopting his playstyle, learning to play around him, and perhaps contesting his units a little more than before. Even after all this, Polt’s rise teaches us that no one has figured out the best way to play TFT, and there are many different ways to approach the game. This is why I have always suggested to find a playstyle you enjoy and excel in and sticking to that. We’ve had many people complain about this patch about hyper roll and mana printer compositions, but all I know is that these comps are not even the main weapon of the top players.

Check out Polt’s stream at twitch.tv/polt

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