TFT Fates Championship Finals: Insights and Key Takeaways
TFT Set 4: Fates is coming to a close and the International Championship has just wrapped up. There was a lot of excitement in the tournament, as well as a lot of lessons to learn. In this article, we’ll be analyzing the top players of the Teamfight Tactics International Finals and their decisions related to comps, items, and economy management.
Since TFT relies so much on context, we’ll break down their choices so you can apply them in your own matches.
Before we get into the analysis, congratulations to 8LJaywalking for his amazing performance, leading him to being crowned the TFT Fates Champion.
Image from Riot Games
Also we want to congratulate all of the players who were able to make it to the Championship. Making the tournament is already a great indication of skill, and we may see some of these players return to take the title next set.
Image from Riot Games
The Tournament Format
For Day 1 and Day 2, points were awarded based on your placement in the game. Each placement was equal, meaning that first place gained 8 points while 8th place gained 1 point. The first two days were a 5 game swiss format where players were seeded into lobbies based on their points. The point leaders played each other while the bottom earners would play each other. This led to the top 24 narrowing down to the top 16 and finally into the top 8.
In the final lobby, the tournament had a checkmate format. This means that players must first reach a certain point threshold awarded by their placement. After doing so, they must then finish first place in a game to win and end the tournament. Another thing to note is that getting 1st or 2nd in the final lobby awarded 1 extra point, further incentivizing players to go all out from the start to gain an edge.
The Tournament Meta
Days 1 and 2 saw quite a variety of comps perform quite well. It’s been known for some time that the two strongest endgame team comps were either Samira-based comps or Mage Swain comps.
Note: Since we were unable to view every lobby, the stats are incomplete and do not include every comp played at the tournament.
The performance statistics back this up as we see Dragonsoul comps perform extremely well, but were rare due to the requirement of a Mage Spatula. Samira also performed extremely well, but players often couldn’t reach Samira 2 and were left with either an Olaf or Tryndamere carry.
Other than that, we saw some comps like Keepers and Kayle underperforming likely due to the fact that they were fairly contested. Fabled on the other hand was very popular and performed quite well compared to other comps.
Other comps like Brawlers, Cultists, Enlightened, and Mages all performed quite well. There were other comps that also performed well, but there simply aren’t enough games to confidently assess their performance.
All of the players that made it into the tournament are extremely skilled, but this tournament displayed two players that stood out from the rest.
8LJaywalking was by far the most consistent player of the tournament. He was able to place third on Day 1, second on Day 2, and finally won the whole tournament in the final. If the tournament was purely based on a point system, 8LJaywalking would have won it even still.
What separates 8LJaywalking from the rest is a playstyle that is known for being aggressive. Korean players are generally regarded to be more aggressive than other servers, which became very evident in the final day of the tournament. This is what ultimately led to his success and consistent performance.
Zyk0o is the other standout player due to his amazing performance in the final lobby. However, his road to the final was in stark contrast to 8LJaywalking’s. Zyk0o in both Day 1 and Day 2 barely managed to move on to the next day. He barely managed to continue by having the minimum point requirement. Had he lost 1 point in either of those days, he wouldn’t have made it.
However, Zyk0o’s performance in the final lobby was nothing short of spectacular. He ended up finishing with the same point total as 8LJaywalking, but 8LJaywalking was able to win due to the checkmate format of the tournament.
Game by Game Analysis
In the following sections, we’ll be taking a look at the 5 games from the Finals, particularly looking at Zyk0o and 8LJaywalking for these games.
Key things to keep an eye on when watching pro play
To learn the most from watching the pros, I recommend taking note of:
- When they level and roll
- Learning when to level and when to roll is one of the most fundamental skills of TFT. Being able to utilize this skill into creating a strong board when you want to is crucial. Another thing to keep in mind is to ask why they level or roll. Learning the intention behind action is key to learning strategy.
- How they position their units
- Positioning is another important fundamental skill. Positioning can be quite tricky, but these players are some of the best in the world. Seeing what details they do with their positioning can give you tips for your own play.
- What you would do differently
- Perhaps the best way to learn from pros is to identify what you would do differently. If they build an item or pass on a champion that would build or buy, ask yourself why they made that decision. This doesn’t necessarily mean that their decision is correct, but considering how good these players are, it’s a very good reference to have.
Note: One thing to keep in mind is that the final lobby has a checkmate format. This format encourages players to place very high in the lobby in order to try to win quickly. As such, not every decision these players make would be what they would do on the ladder.
Game 1: Korea Starting off Strong
31:12 We first see 8LJaywalking in this game at 2-2 and see that he was able to find a Cultist Chosen and committed a Runaan’s Hurricane on Kalista to try and win streak. Not only that, but he even proceeded to level up to 5 on 2-3, an interval that isn’t perfect. This shows how aggressive his playstyle is when it comes to win streaking early on.
34:23 At 2-5, we see 8LJaywalking further commit to this aggression by building Ionic Spark on Elise. Ionic Spark isn’t a very commonly built item in the current meta, so this just goes to show how aggressive he wants to play in this first game.
59:29 Going into the final round of the lobby, we see that 8LJaywalking’s aggression paid off. He’s in the top two going into what may be the final fight. He doesn’t opt to complete the 9 Cultist synergy, and his items on Kalista aren’t considered to be optimal either. Even still, managing to place top 2 in the first match puts him in a great spot to start the day.
- 8LJaywalking was able to secure a solid top 2 finish by playing extremely aggressively. He found a strong early Chosen and was able to ride his streak into a strong end game position.
- The top 2 players were both from Korea, showing off how strong of a region and their playstyle is. Kalista isn’t a very popular carry in the western scene, so having both of them use Kalista to top the lobby shows how diverse the meta can be across servers.
Game 2: Fortune Favors Fools
1:25:43 We first check in with Zyk0o at round 3-2 where he is rocking a 3 Fortune board and a 6 round loss streak. This means he has not won a single round since the game has started. He has already built a Mage’s Cap, indicating that he plans to play a Mage comp and likely will want to make a Mage Swain.
1:28:17 At round 3-5 after the carousel, we see Zyk0o level up to 7 to try and pop his Fortune loss streak. He rolls for a good Chosen unit to try and win a round before he falls too low.
1:31:42 Zyk0o is playing with fire at this point. He loses another round bringing his loss streak all the way up to 11 and has only 1 HP left. However, his luck finally comes around and he is able to find a Chosen Dragonsoul Shyvana. This allows him to finally pop his Fortune cashout and gets amazing items and two Neekos.
1:34:56 Now that he has stabilized, we see Zyk0o make a greedy play. He finds a single ASol, but opts to not use his Neekos on it. This ends up being the correct decision as he continues to win streak and eventually finds a Swain to Neeko. This marks his huge comeback with only 1 HP.
- Zyk0o showed an amazing run with his Fortune game. He gambled on his payout and it definitely paid off. This marks a completely different playstyle to that of Jaywalking. Instead of playing aggressively and consistently, he places his bets on high rolling a game to build one of the strongest endgame comps available to him.
Game 3: Keeping the Lead
2:50:37 This game is best described by the recap Sologesang gives afterward. Zyk0o once again starts off Fortune but doesn’t have a huge payoff like he did in the last game. He finds a very nicely timed Kennen Keeper Chosen and a Xayah 2 by stage 7 which is huge. This put him in a comfortable position where he was able to snatch a back to back victory.
2:41:00 One thing that wasn’t touched on in the recap is the important adjustment made by Zyk0o. Razza is playing a 7 Mage comp with the nearly unkillable Swain. Because of this, Zyk0o opts to put in Sett, a unit that is extremely effective at killing tanky enemies. This adjustment is what ultimately leads him to victory in this lobby.
- We see Zyk0o opt to play a Keeper comp which is considered to be a much safer top 4 comp. Even still, he was able to finish first without 3 starring either of his main damage carries. Even without 3 star carries, he still opted to 3 star other units such as Jarvan and Rakan. This definitely did give him an advantage, but one could still argue that saving that gold could have led to a Kennen 3 or a push for level 9.
- We see Keepers winning this lobby which isn’t a very common occurrence. I believe this is due to the nature of the checkmate tournament format. Players needed a boost to their points in the third game, which led to riskier play. Zyk0o on the other hand was able to play a consistent comp and was able to effectively punish players who played more greedily.
- This makes Zyk0o the only player to reach the 18 point threshold, putting him in a position to win the tournament in the next game.
Game 4: Five Challengers Approach
3:04:40 In this match, we’ll once again look at 8LJaywalking who we first see at Krugs. He once again slammed his items early to try and win streak and he is successful here. He didn’t perform extremely well in the last two games, but he only needs to top 4 in this lobby to reach the checkmate threshold.
3:23:10 We check back into 8LJaywalking at round 5-5 where we see his aggression pay off once again. He is the healthiest player in the lobby by far and is running a very powerful 6 Dragonsoul board. None of his units have the best in slot items, but they are all very strong items on very strong units.
3:36:37 In the end, 8LJaywalking is able to clutch out the victory with health to spare. For a better look at his journey in this game, take a look at the post game recap summarized by Bryce Blum.
- 8LJaywalking shows off once again the power of playing aggressively. He uses a strong early Chosen unit and slams items to put himself in a strong position late game.
- At this point in the tournament, 6 players have reached the checkmate threshold. This means that almost every player in the next game will want to get 1st or bust. These 6 players will want to win the whole tournament, while the two that didn’t reach the threshold will need to get first in order to prolong the tournament.
Game 5: Rock Paper Scissors
If there was one game to watch start to finish, it would be this one. The stakes were at an all time high, and the game was entertaining from start to finish.
4:00:39 Rock: We first see 8LJaywalking’s board at round 3-3. He has no streak and his items don’t look amazing. He has a Chalice of Power and Guinsoo’s Rageblade, which are core items for a Kayle composition. However, Kayle has not performed well the entire tournament. He ends up committing to Kayle which is quite a difficult comp to win with, but he makes it work in the end.
4:10:25 Paper: In this game, I want to highlight a third player Razza. He did not hit the 18 point threshold, so he has his own incentive to getting first to extend the tournament. We see him here at round 4-6 going for a 6 Dragonsoul comp. He’s first in the lobby with a very healthy economy. Unfortunately, he is unable to make Mage Swain, but he still creates an extremely powerful board for the endgame.
4:16:27 Scissors: Lastly, we get to take a look at Zyk0o’s endgame board. He is running an Adept Samira comp which is largely considered to be one of if not the best end game comp in the meta. He was extremely fortunate to find two Neeko’s Help early on which he then was able to use on Samira for a powerful board.
4:19:20 At the end of round 6-1, we see the game narrow down to the top 3. At this point in the lobby, anyone can win. Traditionally, Kayle loses to ASol comps due to Asol being able to two-shot Kayle with his ability. However, Samira often has a favorable matchup against ASol as her lifesteal and Guardian Angel allow her to deal with Dragonsoul or Mage comps. Even still, if one person could defeat the Samira endgame, it would be 8LJaywalking with Kayle. Kayle’s ability damage goes through Samira’s Inferno Trigger, and her Quicksilver negates the attack speed debuff from the Adept units on Zyk0o’s board.
4:21:52 At 6-3 we see 8LJaywalking with only 4 health and up against what is usually an unfavorable matchup against Razza’s ASol. We don’t get to see it, but he manages to win that round likely through good positioning or just fight RNG. Also, we see in this fight, Zyk0o loses to 8LJaywalking’s Kayle board and is left with just 1 HP.
4:23:15 Going into 6-5, we see Zyk0o up against 8LJaywalking’s Kayle. Here we see 8LJaywalking’s team in clutch. Samira unfortunately casts her Inferno Trigger while Kayle is in her Divine ascension buff. This makes Kayle take reduced damage while also dealing additional true damage to Samira and the rest of his board. 8LJaywalking was able to get 6 Divine with a Spatula and a Chosen Kayle, making his Kayle easily live through Samira’s ability. He barely manages to win the fight, and we quickly turn to Razza, who is losing to Zyk0o’s ghost. 8lJaywalking pops off with a nail biting victory with a comp that almost no one played in the final lobby due to the mediocre performance in days 1 and 2.
4:31:17 For a last recap of the final match, we once again recommend checking out the recap from analyst Bryce Blum.
- In the last game, we get to see a clash of playstyles. 8LJaywalking commits to an aggressive playstyle with an early strong board slamming items. Razza too has an early strong board, but he also has Fortune to rack up some extra gold. And lastly, Zyk0o saved up his gold to eventually hit big with his Samira 2. In the end, 8LJaywalking was able to barely get the win with his Kayle comp and the favorable matchup against Zyk0o.
The TFT Fates Championship was a rollercoaster ride with huge comebacks and stomps everywhere. These matches host the best TFT players in the world and they did not disappoint. In the end, 8LJaywalking was able to take the crown with the classic aggressive Korean playstyle. This strategy ultimately led to his consistency over each day of the tournament.
Even though 8LJaywalking ended up with the victory, other players could have won if things were just slightly different. Ramkev from NA was extremely consistent and played a large variety of comps throughout the tournament. Razza was the sole representative of OCE, made it into the final lobby, and just barely missed on extending the tournament for one more round. Yatsuhashi was another sole representative from Japan who also played very well.
There are plenty of other players who all showed their skill, but in the end, only one can win it all.
This article is brought to you in collaboration with Secretlab, the official chair of Teamfight Tactics Esports.