Whether you are climbing to Diamond or looking beyond, I have 3 playstyles that you can master in order to climb in TFT. Whichever playstyle you choose will depend on your preferences, and while it’s good to know all of them, it’s best to stick to one if you want a quick boost. We will go over every playstyle, and then I’ll give you a primer on which to use and when.
Playstyle #1 – For the Simple Minded: Forcing 1 Comp
Forcing one comp is probably the easiest way to climb. Contrary to popular belief, the comp doesn’t even have to be “S-Tier“. If it’s at least B tier, it’s force-able, but the sweet spot might be A tier because that means not everyone will go for it while still being strong enough to justify playing every game. This strategy has been popular ever since the start of TFT. It’s also one of the easiest ways to develop good fundamentals because you will completely master one leveling and rolling pattern and pick up all the little nuances that go with it. A common misconception is that pro players always learned by playing flex, but many pros developed from playing only one comp. For example, Kiyoon and Robinsongz were both relatively unknown before they started forcing Mech back in Set 3, and then they became two of the best and popular players in the world.
Sometimes I force one comp too. It really depends on the patch and what I feel comfortable with that particular day. For example, when Set 6.5 came out, Sivir was the only new comp, so I went ahead and did a Sivir only challenge from Unranked to Masters. You can go all the way to Rank 1 by one tricking, but it got really boring for me, so this playstyle isn’t for everyone.
Playstyle #2 – The Item Slammer: Playing Only AD or Only AP
If you want to play multiple comps but don’t have time to learn every comp in the Meta Snapshot, I recommend playing either Only AD or Only AP comps. The reason behind this is because you can start with the same item every game right off the first carousel, slam the same type of items (AD or AP), but unlike the 1-tricks, you can flex the champions you play based on what the game is giving you.
For example, a Graves one trick may see 0 Graves in some games, and in those games, that player is completely out of luck. However, if you learn AD flex, you can swap to Sy’fen, Olaf, Xayah, Rengar, and many other carries/comps. The same can be said of AP comps. Let’s say you NEED Blue Buff for a certain character, but you just aren’t getting any tears that particular game. You can still use the AP items you slammed such as Jeweled Gauntlet or Rabadon’s Deathcap on other units that don’t require Blue Buff, and instead if you get a Tear, build a Spear of Shojin. This is a happy middle ground where you are reducing variance by opening yourself up to multiple comps, but the weakness is that your items are still a bit fixed.
Playstyle #3 – Two Roads Diverged: Playing One AD and One AP
This is the opposite of the previous playstyle, though it has similar benefits. Here, you only need to play two comps, which makes learning the game a lot easier because you can focus on more nuances because your comps are already set. However, it does not have the disadvantage of the previous playstyle of having fixed items. Sometimes when you play only AD, but you get a lot of Tears and Rods, you can easily get lost or stuck. However, if you play one AP comp and one AD comp, this reduces that variance. Let’s say you play Sy’fen or Sohm comps every game. You play the early game to win or lose streak while building flexible items, then pivot to whichever comp matches your items or whichever champions you hit first. If you got a lot of AD items, you lean more towards Sy’fen. If you got more AP items, you lean more towards Sohm.
Whichever comps you choose, I recommend choosing carries of the same tier. For example before we had Sy’fen and Sohm which are both Tier 4 units. This makes leveling and economy management a lot easier because they share the same patterns. For example these two comps can both Fast 7 or Fast 8. I’d recommend sticking around Tier 4 because that is the ‘standard’ way to play, but you can use the 4 cost units such as Xayah and… oh wait–Riot forgot to add a 4 cost AP carry to Set 7.5. If you want to do different tiered units, maybe something like switching between Aphelios and Lux reroll could work.
This playstyle is a good way to learn the early game because you will focus on building flexible early game items while also knowing when to commit to AD or AP. This will help a ton if you eventually want to play flex because it teaches you how to commit. In the two previous playstyles, you commit before the game even starts, so you don’t learn that skill. In the Only AD or AP playstyle, you could argue you pivot champions and compositions, but unlike items (since you are only AD or AP), champions can be sold, so you really already committed to things if you built for a specific damage type.
Playstyle #4 – The Reroller: Playing All the Reroll Comps
Next let’s look into reroll comps. Similar to other playstyles, I’ve done a 5 hour compilation video for only climbing with Reroll comps. Reroll is easy to play because unlike all the other playstyles covered so far, reroll has a very simple leveling pattern, whereas the others flex a little bit based on win or lose streaks. When playing reroll, you almost always lose streak during Stage 2 and build up as large an economy as possible to roll down at your desired level. The math is simple–the more gold you have, the higher chance you have of 3 starring your desired unit. You can do 1 cost, 2 cost, and 3/6 cost rerolls.
The best part about this playstyle is that you can commit to something after seeing your first Augment and items. If you see a very specific trait Augment on Stage 2-1, you can comfortably commit to a specific reroll that benefits from that Augment. The reason why this works is because there are so many different reroll comps, so you are likely to get a polarizing Augment, meaning it is either really good or bad depending on the composition, so essentially you can just abuse that power dichotomy.
The only issue with the reroll only playstyle is that sometimes reroll just isn’t good in the meta. This could be due to a multitude of reasons, the primary being simply that their numbers are too low. Reroll is incredibly hard to balance. In Set 7, the only viable rerolls were Olaf, Astral, Dragonmancer, Nidalee, Ezreal, Sett, and Karma. If you played Set 7, you may have noticed the pattern already–all of these comps were only relevant for a week or two before they were massively nerfed. Some weeks, you legitimately couldn’t solely play reroll comps because they were just so bad in certain patches, but then the other weeks where they were strong, too many people were playing them. The balance was just not there in Set 7, but in previous Sets, this was not the case, and there were at least a few different viable rerolls every patch.
Playstyle #5 – Big Brains Only: Flex
Finally, the playstyle Mortdog intended us to play: Flex. It’s no surprise that theoretically the best way to play the game is flexibly. However, we are not computers, we are humans! Humans do not have insane calculation powers, which is why players ‘get away’ with playing the first 4 playstyles (even in pro play). As players get better and better (and assuming the game is balanced), more players will be flex players.
I remember watching Frodan on stream one time talking about when Milk coached him. After watching his game play, Milk told him “You are playing really good TFT if this game was good. But this is not a good game. It is not balanced. You need to play around what is broken.”https://www.reddit.com/r/CompetitiveTFT/comments/u2bbwf/comment/i4i1hv6/
Of course the downside of flex is that you will need to play a lot of games to get good at it. Think of it this way… a Set of TFT lasts around 3 months. If you played 1 hour a day (which is a lot for most people), that is 90 hours of games. A TFT game lasts around ~35 minutes, which means you played 154 games of TFT each set. The way TFT is designed right now, one goal of the developers is to have each game ‘feel different.’ This means you likely won’t play the same game twice (same item choices, augments, champions, etc.). If you only played one comp, maybe after 50 games, you faced ~99% of scenarios that could happen (in a general sense, not a statistical sense), and you are prepared for almost anything in your next 104 games, which means you can spend all your energy focusing on perfecting your play and climbing. In my Set 7 Meta Snapshot, I had 31 comps listed. It would take you 1,550 games to reach the same level of mastery on every comp (assuming there aren’t any more comps, which there are). As you can see, this is why many of the top TFT pros play around 1,000 games per set (generally they focus less on the ‘bad’ comps so you don’t actually need 31*50=1,550 games played). What ends up happening is after 50 games into the Set, you are at a huge disadvantage compared to 1 tricks in terms of playing strength, but you do have the benefit of less variance… it’s a tradeoff
Not everything is bad about flex though–I’m making it seem much more difficult than it is. It is definitely the best way to play if you hate RNG. Since you aren’t committing to anything, it’s very rare to get ‘screwed’ by RNG. You will also have a high top 4 rate. It’s also the most fun way to play because it’s the way the developers intended the game to be played.
Which Playstyle Is for You?
If you don’t have much time to play but want to focus on climbing and getting a high rank, one-tricking is definitely the way to go. You may have to change your comp depending on the patch, but it allows you to focus all your energy on TFT fundamentals each game instead of being too busy pivoting. If you enjoy a bit more variety, I suggest doing only AP or AD comps because it allows you to slam your items. If you want to practice flexing but are too intimidated by it, I would do the one AP one AD combo. The reroll only playstyle is for degenerates, but it’s similar to the one-trick playstyle. Sometimes you can even one-trick reroll comps. Lastly, if you have infinite time or you don’t care about climbing, then flex is the way to go. It’s just the way Mortdog intended.
Personally for me? I play flex most of the time because I need to know the basics of every comp for my website and YouTube channel. That way if I want a more in-depth look at a comp, I can just ask high level players who specialize in that comp what they do and I’ll be able to understand them. I will say that for climbing, I climbed the highest when I just played one comp, it’s simply too powerful–especially since every game feels different in recent sets. However, if I just made Scalescorn videos, no one would watch that… or would they?