Hihi! We're near the end of patch 11.5 so that means it's time for a ranked recap! I may move back to doing this recap/breakdown earlier in the patch instead of near the end, but we'll see. Anyway let's put that aside as today is about recapping how to play the 11.5 meta. This will be looking at the priority of components, common items made from them and from there talking briefly about each stage of the game from early to late. And sprinkled amongst that is a quick look at some of the meta mid game compositions we saw this patch. With all that said let's get to it!
As usual we’ll be starting off by covering the current meta for items! We’ll take a look at the priority for each component as well as what items they build into.
It’s always a good idea to pay attention to which components players contest the most from the beginning carousel. This is the easiest way to tell what is going to be important in the meta. For 11.5 the component with the highest priority, and thus the most contested, is definitely Glove. This is followed quickly by Sword, Bow and Rod with Tear slightly below those. Then we end with Chain Vest, Belt and Cloak all having a relatively similar low priority, at least compared to the other components.
Glove is at the top of the meta in terms of components because it’s used for several carry items. The best item it builds into is definitely Hand of Justice. Hand of Justice is the most flexible item in the meta because it can be used by practically any carry whether they are magic damage focused like Aurelion or completely physical damage focused like Olaf.
Besides HoJ, Glove is also used for Jeweled Gauntlet, Infinity Edge and Last Whisper. All of these are useful, though they depend on certain champions. Jeweled Gauntlet, for example, won’t be that useful for an Olaf or Sivir. Later on in the game Glove also has priority because Shroud of Stillness is almost game breaking for late game fights and both Trapclaw and Quicksilver are great defensive items for carries.
Sword, Bow and Rod are next on priority. Each of them tend to lean into certain styles. Sword is used for items like Deathblade, Infinity Edge and Giantslayer which goes on various auto-attack focused carries like Sivir, Olaf, Tryndamere and Samira. Guardian’s Angel has an important role in the meta as well since it’s useful for any carry but also secondary carries like Kennen or Swain.
Bow on the other hand is mainly used for Kayle. Besides Kayle items you can use Bow for Runaan’s which is weaker than it used to be but is still great for Slayer champions. And then there’s Rod which will be used primarily for magic damage champions as it builds into Jeweled Gauntlet, Hextech Gunblade and Morellonomicon. Rod can also be used to build an early Locket which is one of the best early items.
After those three components comes Tear. Tear mainly gets used for Hand of Justice, meaning it’s quite useful, but Glove is far more contested. Besides that you can use Tear for Blue Buff on champions like Neeko or Veigar but generally it’s secondary use after HoJ is Chalice for magic damage compositions.
The lowest priority components are Chain Vest, Belt and Cloak but don’t let their priority fool you as they are all useful in the meta. Vest and Belt build into Sunfire Cape and while it’s not as strong as it used to be in the early game it’s still one of the best options. In general these components all serve as necessary counterparts for different meta items like Guardian’s Angel, Morellonomicon or Runaan’s. None of them tend to be difficult to procure later on in the game so don’t worry too much about not having one early on in the game.
2. Early Game - Stage One
With items covered let’s move onto the different stages of the game beginning with the early game! As we’ve already covered the beginning carousel let’s start off by breaking down what to look for during stage one.
Stage one, as usual, is pretty simple. Look for pairs, buy what you can and look to pick up an early Chosen. Mainly what matters the most is putting together the strongest board you can which means trying to pair up your units to potentially two star them while building out a relatively simple frontline/backline board.
Pick up strong early carries if possible like Tristana or Yasuo or you can play certain traits that do well early game like Cultist, Keeper and Brawler. Keep in mind when buying a Chosen that you can be a bit picky. Sure it’s worth playing a well known Chosen like Duelist Yasuo but if you’re stuck with options like say an Assassin Diana, you don’t have to buy them. Thanks to the increased odds at finding a Chosen you can simply wait and you will have more options later on to choose from.
3. Early Game - Stage Two
Let’s move on to stage two where that mindset will need to be changed. Since stage two is where PvP rounds begin it means you can begin losing health. Health is the single most important resource in TFT so preserving it as much as possible is the best way to earn a consistent placement at the end of the game. This means you should, generally, try to play the strongest board you can right away on stage two and try to win streak.
Win-streaking is the easiest way to gain an advantage going into stage three and four since you’ll have slightly more gold than other players and a lot more health to play with. Of course win-streaking is not something you can always force, sometimes you’re not given the best options in your shops or other players are high-rolling. In that case it’s all about doing what you can to mitigate health loss.
To do this you want to have a Chosen champion as not having one makes your board strictly weaker than everyone else's. This is where being greedy is a negative as bypassing Chosen after Chosen just puts you in a worse position. During stage one you can be a bit greedy but once you hit stage two just buy and play around whichever Chosen you hit. And again keep in mind you can just sell it after a few rounds if it’s clearly not working out for your board.
Besides your Chosen, another way to gain early board strength is to level. Look to level to four on either 2-1 or 2-2, though earlier usually means your chances of winning goes up since not every player levels to four on 2-1. After that you can either pre-level at the end of 2-3 if you’re unable to hit 10 gold or wait until 2-5 begins to level to five. Lastly you can also slam early items, though be wary about using too many components. But certain early game items are always worth making such as Sunfire Cape, Locket or Hand of Justice. They provide a decent power spike while also being useful for any composition later on in the game.
It should be noted that yes, playing for a loss streak is a viable option, especially if you're able to find early three Fortune. But that playstyle is inherently risky so unless you're comfortable with knowing how to pull it off, playing standard is going to be better on average. Still, lots of high ELO players are able to make this work well so at the end of the day play what's most comfortable for you, whether that's playing strongest board to win streak or looking for a mid game advantage with a loss streak/Fortune.
Anyway, from 2-5 onward it’s mainly about building up your economy and replacing units when you hit better ones. During Krugs it can be a good time to sell your current Chosen so you have better options during stage three.
4. Mid Game - Stage Three
With that let’s move into the mid game since we’re about to enter stage three!
First of all when it comes to stage three you want to level to six sometime around 3-2. This can be a round earlier or later but six should be hit around that time, otherwise you will fall behind the rest of the lobby and will begin taking bad losses. Stage two and three are extremely important for health preservation.
Once you level to six you may need to roll if your board isn’t doing well, or you’re close to a few upgrades. When rolling you want to find a useful carry, usually a three cost unit, and a few units to pair with them. Rolling on six is also the best time to try and find specific champions and trait combinations. Cultist, for example, spikes hard when you can fit in six of the trait so rolling when you already have a few Cultists on your board to try and hit six is an easy way to increase your boards strength. Warlord, Mage, Duelist and Keeper are other strong stage three traits to look for.
In terms of champions it's going to be a lot easier to play around a three cost since finding a four cost is difficult on six. Sivir, for example, is an amazing carry that you can end up building a full composition off of later. Kennen is another example, though he serves more as a frontliner than a hard carry. Basically the goal, as mentioned, is to find a unit you can give your carry items to with a solid frontline to protect them.
Regardless of what you end up with, the point of rolling is to stabilize your board just enough to win rounds or at least not lose too badly. How much you roll really depends upon how weak your board is, but don’t go below 10 gold as that will completely ruin your economy.
5. Mid Game - Stage Four
Next let’s talk about stage four as this is where the lobby will be hitting level seven right after Wolves on round 4-1.
Level seven is also important for rolling to gain strength but you can slow play it if your stage three went well and you have health to spare. But if your health is lower than most of the lobbies, you will want to roll. The goal is to find four cost champions to begin piecing together your mid game composition, though just upgrading your existing board to two star units can be alright as well.
There's a lot to keep track of when rolling at level seven. Scouting is immensely helpful at this point of the game just to give an idea of what others are playing so you can try to steer away from champions that are heavily contested. Overall though the idea when rolling on seven is not to aim for specific champions or traits but to try and stabilize your board with what you hit. Much like level six you're just looking for a main carry to hold your items with a solid frontline and traits to pair with them.
Depending on how much you rolled at 4-1 you will either be aiming to hit level eight on 4-5 or sometime after Raptors on either 5-1 or 5-2. Level eight will solidify the mid game composition players formed during stage three and four.
6. Mid Game Compositions
Before we move into the late game let’s quickly cover a few common mid game compositions!
As mentioned in the introduction the meta revolves around the Slayer trait. Slayers are by far the best carries, especially since they are so flexible. Olaf, Tryndamere and Samira are the three best Slayer champions that you can build compositions around. Olaf wants Dragonsoul for extra stats and damage, Tryndamere can be used with several different traits since he’s also a Duelist and Warlord alongside Slayer. Samira essentially just needs to be two starred but six Slayer with Sharpshooter is great for her.
Of course there’s plenty of other options in the meta besides Slayers. Six Keeper is likely the second most contested composition, though it’s definitely less flexible. You will need a Chosen Keeper, Xayah, Kennen, Executioner for Xayah and then frontline units. Give Xayah items like Hand of Justice and Kennen absolutely needs Guardian’s Angel.
Then there’s builds utilizing Sivir like Spirit/Sharpshooter or Cultist, Assassin builds using Talon or Vanguard/Mystic/Fabled with Neeko as the carry. There's even a few a reroll builds floating around as Duelists are still a somewhat viable option as well as Tristana 3 with Sharpshooters. And of course there’s plenty of Mage compositions with the most common being either seven Mages or Elderwood/Mage. Those rely on hitting Aurelion Sol 2. Lastly, Kayle is still a playable composition but it can struggle a lot against Slayers, so you will need two star Kayle relatively quickly to earn a better placement.
All in all there’s a lot of options in the meta despite Slayer being the clear favorite. What you end up playing does matter a lot on what you hit when rolling on seven and eight, as well as the items you have.
7. Late Game
With that we can move into the late game which starts during the latter rounds of stage five!
Level eight is the deciding factor for the late game as this is where the majority of players will remain. Sure level nine is great if you can hit it but it’s so expensive to level that it’s rarely worth the gold investment. Instead rolling on level eight to fully upgrade your board is better, along with finding five cost units. That said, level nine is achievable by any players that high-rolled a lot during the mid game.
Five cost units are the main goal of the late game. Samira is easily the best since she’s used as a main carry in Slayers or just as an all around strong DPS. Lee Sin is the best utility champion because kicking units off the board to instantly kill them is pretty darn useful. Swain is incredibly good as a frontliner in the late game, especially if you can squeeze in another Syphoner or Dragonsoul units to pair with them. And Zilean is always worth adding if you can, especially since Mystic is a useful splash trait.
And then there’s Ornn. Ornn is not the type of five cost character you want to add ultra late into the game but if you can ever afford to have him on your board it’s usually worth it. This is because his artifacts give you access to extra items you otherwise won’t receive. Plus the strength of these artifacts can be game changing like Eternal Winter.
Overall the plan you should have in the late game is to upgrade your board the best you can, meaning two starring units and adding in five cost champions. Only level to nine if you have an overwhelming advantage in terms of health and economy, or you really have nothing else to spend gold on. Keep in mind that you never want to lose a game with unspent gold as that gold could be the difference between a third and a second.
The other part of the late game, arguably the most important part, is positioning and scouting. Scouting diligently is a necessary skill in TFT so make sure you do it often once it gets later into the game. Positioning is equally as important but there’s no proper way to explain how best to position since it varies greatly from game to game and composition to composition.
Basically make sure you scout often and reposition your board as needed. Avoid obvious threats like Zephyr and Aatrox and keep moving your carry around to throw off other players scouting you. Mastering positioning for any composition is a great way to consistently place higher in the late game.
That's it for the 11.5 ranked recap! The game feels like it's in a healthy place, though Slayers are definitely a tad bit too versatile. Still, the fact you can play several different variations of Slayer means it's not that toxic of a trait, plus there are plenty of non-Slayer compositions to choose from. As far as the flow of the game that hasn't really changed much for quite a few patches. Patch 11.6 is unlikely to change that, especially since we're inching closer to the final tournaments of the set which means the meta should remain relatively balanced as huge changes likely won't come until set five.
Thank you for reading and if you're looking for additional TFT content you can find it over on the GiantSlayerTFT YouTube here and twitter here! And if you'd like to you can follow me on twitter here.
As always I recommend using https://lolchess.gg/ as it's a great resource for TFT!