Hello and welcome to another TFT article about the current meta. This will be recapping the 11.4 meta by going over items and a general playthrough for each stage of the game. Over time as the meta settled down after all of the nerfs 11.4 brought, we've arrived in a relatively diverse meta. Even rerolling, which basically disappeared entirely at the beginning of 11.4, has made a bit of a return with champions like Neeko, Sivir and Shyvana being used as main carries. Since there's a lot to cover let's go ahead and dive on in!
Overall there’s still a large emphasis on specific items for carries in set 4.5. That makes it much harder to pivot into different compositions so, generally, the first few items you make tend to dictate what compositions you’ll be aiming for later on. Bow and Sword items trend towards champions like Kayle, Olaf and Tryndamere whereas Rod and Tear usually mean spell damage carries like Aurelion or Neeko.
The beginning carousel can determine a lot about where the game is headed for you so let’s talk about priority for components from high to low. At the highest priority, meaning these components are heavily contested, we have Sword, Bow and Rod. These three components are used for most of the current items in the meta. Below those three we have Glove, Chain Vest and Tear and the lowest priority goes to Belt and Cloak.
Sword is typically used for items like Deathblade, Hextech Gunblade and Guardian’s Angel. But really there’s a lot of uses for Sword, just those three are often the most common to make from an early Sword. Deathblade, along with items like Infinity Edge and Giantslayer, are great on champions like Olaf, Tryndamere and Xayah. Tryndamere in particular has risen a lot in popularity, especially after the nerfs to Olaf in the B patch.
Bow is primarily used for Kayle compositions as she needs at least Rageblade and RFC to reach full carry potential. Runaan’s Hurricane is still a top tier item despite being nerfed but the difference in damage output will be noticeable on a champion like Olaf. Another item to look out for is Last Whisper as it is one of the best items for Tryndamere, alongside Infinity Edge. Lastly there’s always the option to run Titan’s Resolve as a defensive utility item for frontline champions that also do damage like Swain.
Rod, and Tear, are mostly used by spell damage champions. Jeweled Gauntlet, Hextech, Morellonomicon and Deathcap are all relatively common for champions like Aurelion, Neeko and Morgana. Locket is always a solid early game choice for the defensive shields. Tear mainly goes towards Chalice for those types of compositions, though Blue Buff is not terrible. Otherwise Tear is reserved for Hand of Justice.
Glove is a solid pick up from the carousel since it builds into several meta items like Hand of Justice, Jeweled Gauntlet, Last Whisper and Infinity Edge. So if you see multiple players contesting the other components, aim to grab a Glove. Chain Vest is mostly used for early game Sunfire Capes, same with Belt. Other Chain Vest items include Locket, Titan’s and after the buffs, Stoneplate.
Belt and Cloak are quite easy to get on later carousels so you never need to prioritize them early. As mentioned, Belt is good for Sunfire Cape but also Morellonomicon or Zz’rot. Cloak goes towards Chalice, Runaan’s and if the lobby is magic damage heavy, Dragon’s Claw.
All in all there’s a wide assortment of usable items. The main issue is those items trend towards certain compositions so pivoting can be difficult to do. This means you can try to greed out your early components to wait and see what you hit in the mid game but that may result in extra health lost. Try to aim for one or two universally useful early game items like Locket, Hand of Justice or Sunfire Cape to boost your early game board.
2. Early Game - Stage One
Alright with items out of the way let’s talk about each stage of the game beginning with the early game! The early game begins right away with the opening carousel and ends during the first few rounds of stage three.
Since we’ve already talked about the beginning carousel, let's focus on stage one first. As there’s not many decisions to make during stage one it’s a good idea to consider your overall game plan. In the current meta we’ve moved away from rerolling and back to flexible play centered around rolling at level seven and eight. What this means is your goal should be to hit those levels with a reasonable amount of health and gold, so aim to have a strong early and mid game.
With that in mind, stage one is all about picking up pairs and trying to hit two star units. Since the odds of finding a Chosen have gone up, it’s not a bad idea to play whichever early Chosen you hit. If it ends up not working out well you can always sell it later and be able to hit a new one relatively easy.
One other thing to keep in mind during stage one is the changes to two cost Chosen drop rates at level four. They went from 40% to 20% so pre-leveling on 1-4 to try and hit a quick two cost Chosen is unlikely, so pre-leveling is not worth it anymore. But if you do have excess gold you can always gamble and pre-level anyway to see if it pays off.
2. Early Game - Stage Two
Let’s move into stage two where the goal should be to win rounds to preserve health. Don’t be greedy during this stage as it’s better to play your strongest board than to lose streak. The only time that changes is when you’re using Fortune as losing rounds early with that trait can result in a strong mid game. Keep in mind you need to be very experienced at playing Fortune, otherwise it’s generally going to be a bait.
As for leveling you can play standard by leveling on 2-1 or 2-2, whichever works better for your board. With less of a chance at hitting a two cost Chosen it’s not the main goal anymore to leveling aggressively, instead the goal shifts entirely over to winning rounds to preserve health.
On 2-3 if you’re ending the round below ten gold, go ahead and pre-level to five. Otherwise if you’re over ten gold just wait to level until after the carousel. The 2-4 carousel is important because you’re going to be able to, usually, complete an item if you haven’t already. Whatever item you do make, keep in mind it may dictate what you play later on in the game.
The rest of stage two is playing your strongest board and building up your economy. During Krugs it can be a good time to sell your current Chosen if it's being out-scaled or you haven’t been winning with it as you’re likely to hit a new one on 3-1 or 3-2.
3. Mid Game - Stage Three
With stage two done let’s move into the mid game beginning with stage three!
Stage three, and four, are the most important stages of the game. Having strong boards during these rounds ensures a better placement at the end of the game as you’ll have a better economy and higher health than other players. To have the best possible chance at doing this let’s talk about level six which you will usually hit on either 3-2 or 3-3.
Level six is a common round to roll to stabilize your board. Stabilizing means finding a good mid game carry and upgrading a few of your units, especially the frontline. Champions to look out for include Sivir, Kindred, Zed, Kennen, Katarina, Akali and Mages. Six piece synergies are also quite strong at this point of the game, the two best being Warlord and Cultist.
Basically plan to roll on level six if your board isn’t doing well leading up to round 3-2. If you’re win streaking you may want to roll a bit to preserve the win streak but you’re also fine to skip stage three to have a better roll down at level seven. Most players will need to roll at least some gold on level six to stabilize their board a bit otherwise they run the risk of dipping below fifty health by stage four.
Stage four is the next important part of the game as players should be hitting level seven on 4-1. Stage four will form the basis of your mid game composition and how well this stage goes for you will determine whether you’re able to top four or not. This is also why having a strong stage three is helpful as players with higher health in stage four can play a bit more loosely with their health by playing greedily.
4. Mid Game Compositions
Since stage four is where compositions begin to form, let's talk about a few of the current mid game compositions you can expect to see in most games.
Most of the compositions are centered around specific carries. Dragonsoul is a common composition that can use Olaf, Aurelion, Swain and sometimes Shyvana as the main carry. Of those the two most popular are Olaf and Aurelion Sol. Olaf usually gets played with Slayer and does well with splash traits like Syphoner, Mystic and Spirit.
Aurelion basically just needs a strong frontline and the Mage buff to carry. He’s easily one of the most flexible four cost carries since his only prerequisites are decent items like Jeweled Gauntlet, the Mage trait and a frontline. Veigar is an alternative Mage carry that you’ll see used in either six Elderwood boards or 7 Mage.
Going back to Slayer we already mentioned Olaf but Tryndamere has risen quite a lot in popularity. Specifically players are using him with Infinity Edge & Last Whisper as he can kill units quickly with those two items. To help facilitate that it’s important to also have at least one other Duelist with Tryndamere and splash traits to aid him like Syphoner. Tagging in a few Warlords can also be good for the stat increase on Tryndamere.
And then there’s Kayle who is possibly the least flexible carry of the four costs. You can play relatively flexible boards around her as she only really needs Executioner but to play her you have to have specific items like Rageblade. Divine is also important to boost her damage and survivability.
Outside of those main carries there’s plenty of other compositions to aim for. Vanguard/Mystic/Fabled is doing well with Neeko 3 as the win condition and even though Warlords took a major hit in 11.4 they can still scale into the top four with Katarina 3. Assassins are a solid option with either Talon carry or Akali 3. Lastly we’ve seen the rise of Sivir carry this patch, either with six Cultists or Sharpshooter. Keep in mind, as with most three cost carries, you do need to three star her at some point.
5. Mid Game - Stage Five
Alright that’s a quick look at the current meta which is mainly dependent upon what four cost champion you can find that fits with your items. Let’s shift over towards talking about level eight and stage five!
Level eight will generally happen sometime between 4-5 and 5-1. This is determined by how much a player has rolled on level seven, meaning those that stabilized their boards quickly or didn’t need to roll much will level to eight earlier than those that had to roll more. In general the rule for leveling to eight is to make sure you have around 30 gold leftover after leveling to roll. This allows you to roll for upgrades right away if necessary.
All in all, level eight and stage five is about solidifying the compositions you began forming during stage four. It’s a good time to also roll for a four cost Chosen which will determine your final board. Whichever Chosen you hit, just build a composition that suits them such as Slayer for Tryndamere or Mage with Aurelion. Stage five is also where five cost champions are most likely to come into play so let’s talk about goals for the late game!
6. Late Game
The late game is mostly about scouting, positioning and upgrading your existing board. Scouting is a concept everyone should be familiar with by now but basically make it a habit of scouting after each round ends. Specifically keep an eye out for what upgrades others are hitting and easy to position around threats like Aatrox or Zephyr.
Positioning, on the other hand, is harder to explain because it’s entirely dependent upon your board and the lobby you’re in. But a good piece of advice to follow is to be constantly moving your board around to ensure other players don’t get the jump on you for free. Don’t be caught out by having your Swain 2 get kicked instantly by a Lee Sin or your Kayle gets pulled in by an Aatrox.
The other aspect of the late game is how best to upgrade your current board. The most common way is, obviously, to two star your units. In particular you want your main carry to be two stars and your frontline as that’s the best way to make fights go in your favor. Another way of upgrading your board is to play five cost champions.
The strength of five cost champions is far diminished in 4.5 compared to previous sets as four cost carries currently control the meta. But champions like Swain and Samira have a place in several compositions because of their traits. Ornn is a great frontline champion to farm artifacts for but he’s better to have as early as possible rather than later on. Zilean is still a fantastic late game Mystic and Azir can be useful thanks to his sand guards and CC. But the king of the late game right now, at least for five costs, is Lee Sin. Lee Sin can straight up win you games because of his ability, so if you can fit him onto your board it’s worth it.
The last option for upgrading your board is three starring your four cost carry. This is not going to happen often, but it is one of the ways to secure a win. Generally this is only doable by players with a good economy, so don’t attempt this if you still need to hit two star units. As for level nine, well, it’s rarely worth the gold investment. Only level to nine if you can only improve your board by upgrading five cost units. Otherwise it’s better to spend that gold by rolling, especially if you’re low on health. As always the rule of the late game is never end the game with gold as spending even just ten extra gold could mean you finish one placement higher.
Alright that's all for the 11.4 ranked recap! Luckily 11.5 is slated to be a relatively small patch, at least in comparison to 11.4. It should (hopefully) even out a bit of the chaos that all the nerfs and changes this patch brought in without altering the meta too much. Which is a good thing as the end of 11.4 really showcased a diverse meta.
Thank you for reading and if you're looking for more TFT content you can find it over on the GiantslayerTFT YouTube here and twitter here! As for me you can follow me on twitter here.
As usual I also highly recommend https://lolchess.gg/ as it's a great resource for TFT!