I just hit Challenger, which has been my personal goal for a while. These are just some random tips that I think can help anyone improve at the game. Hope you find them helpful ? happy to answer questions in the comments.
Learn Every Tree: This game is a series of decision making, and if you only feel comfortable forcing a narrow subset of meta comps then you are capping your potential. Sometimes the game is giving you genuinely bad units/items/gold, but in many instances it?s something that is actually decent (or even strong) but you simply can?t recognize it as such. You don?t have to be an expert in every single meta comp, but you should at the very least be comfortable recognizing and going a comp if the game slaps you in the face with it. Having a second screen with a comp sheet can be super helpful while you?re learning. I make my own for every patch, but you can easily just pull from one of the various resources others are creating regularly.
Commit As Soon As Possible: Enter the game with all of the options at your disposal, but your earliest important task is to narrow those options based on what the game is giving you. Your initial item drops should narrow the pool of options considerably, and the longer the game goes the more information you have to make the crucial decision to lock in on a single comp. The sooner you commit, the sooner you?ll become efficient in terms of deciding what units to keep and what units to sell.
The trick is to find the sweet spot of when the game has given you enough info to make a particular commitment. That will vary wildly from game to game, and it only comes with experience and critical thinking. If you?re hard committing to preds because you got a kog/wick in your first shop with a single rod, you?re over eager and exposing yourself to much more bad RNG potential. But if you get 5 kogs, skarner, and wick with tear-rod-vest-vest in PVE then you better type ?me preds? in chat and be as greedy as possible in selling units. This is more art than science. It?s a complex analysis of the units/gold/items you have so far and the level of confidence you can have in forcing a single direction from that moment onward. To help visualize this, here is my rough, CURRENT breakdown of when I commit to a comp:
- Sometime super early: 20%
- Right after Krugs: 30%
- Right at 3-2: 40%
- Anytime after that: 10%
I say current because this varies a lot based on meta. Things are on the more agro side right now and the 3-2 roll down is pivotal, but in the fast 8 meta I was often staying open much later into the game. No matter the meta, everyone will differ in their allocations here based on how greedy they play and their capability of evaluating an increasingly complex set of options as the game goes on ? better players can stay open longer (for example, Grandvice sometimes pivots super late in game in ways that are insanely impressive), but don?t feel like you have to be able to do that to be successful. The important thing is to be looking for your comp commitment in the best way possible for your personal capabilities (e.g. finding the equilibrium between being a one trick and being so open that you have bad econ and frequently get into games where you die not knowing what you?re doing).
[A quick side note about one tricking: it can be super effective in this game because it?s amazing how much efficiency you gain by evaluating every decision for a single lens. I also think it?s a great way to improve when you?re starting out because it allows you to focus on all of the other components of the game (econ, level timings, roll downs, etc.). With that said, I don?t think it?s optimizing for climbing in the long run. Of course, you CAN climb by one tricking. But you?re likely increasing the volume of games required to climb because there will be some games that could easily be top 4s if you were open to other comps, but don?t work because you started with too narrow of an option tree.]
Think Before You Play: Obvious, I know, but bear with me. How often do you going into a game knowing what specific skills you?re trying to improve (learning new comps, positioning, faster/cleaner roll downs, etc)? When you finish a game, do you stop to ask yourself what you could?ve done better? Do you look at your profile to see what comps tend to be successful for you, what don?t, and evaluate why that might be? There are no mechanics in tft, so you?re not going to improve through repetition in the same way you might in a game where you can go from shitty aim to decent aim just by playing. Stop and think to make sure you?re actually learning from your mistakes and continuing an upward trajectory of skill.
Know What You?re Playing For: After every big roll down, you should scout the lobby and determine how likely you are to finish in what position based on your board strength, economy, and life total. This is crucial to deciding how greedy/aggressive you need to be in your decision making. It often times takes more skill to turn an 8th into a 6th than a 3rd into a 1st because the first step is to realize you?re supposed to be in playing for 6th mode. Become an expert at that, and you?ll minimize your LP losses. Getting good at this will make your climb so much easier.
Scout Twice Per Stage: This sounds like a lot, but it?s absolutely not. You will have maximum 2 rounds per stage in which your comp will meaningfully change and require your real attention. Most rounds you have a quick shop and then little to do. You should be scouting basically every such round. If you don?t, what else are you doing with that time? You better have a concrete answer to that question (most commonly that you need to think about your future comp in an active way), because knowing what comp everyone in the lobby is going at all times pays serious dividends. I basically never go the same comp as more than one person and often wind up forcing something strong purely because it?s completely uncontested. Check my profile and you?ll see a bunch of recent mage wins. It?s part item RNG for sure, and part because it?s really easy to hit your units and maintain econ with everyone in the lobby thinning out the pool for you.
- Make them. This item is by far the best use of either cloaks or belts. It?s good in literally every comp, early, mid, and late game. There are some situations where you can use your items more optimally, but if you?re making zephyr it?s almost never bad.
- Use them actively. You need to scout the lobby and think about your comp before deciding if you?re better frontlining or backlining your zephyr. Make sure you?re looking for a last second zephyr placement when you?re down to only a few players. Look to sell and replace units to get more late game zephyr cheese opportunities. If you?re setting and essentially forgetting your zephyr, you?re leaving so much LP on the table.
- Note them while scouting. When you scout, you have two main jobs ? tracking what comps people are playing, and spotting zephyrs. There are tons of complex positioning techniques, but if we?re being honest they?re niche and not very helpful for the vast majority of players. Noting common zephyr positions and avoiding them is something anyone can do quickly, but few take the time.
- Hide your units. If you have a zephyr, place it on your bench until the last second. People won?t notice you have it, and even once they realize you?ll be way less predictable in your placement. If you?re facing zephyrs, place your carry on the bench to make it harder for them to track its final placement.
- See more Zephyr tips