How to Adapt Your Positioning in TFT

How to Adapt Your Positioning in TFT

How to Adapt Your Positioning

Positioning is a very complex subject in TFT as it requires players to take into account every enemy board to maximize their chances of winning. Usually when positioning, you want to make reactive choices rather than a proactive choice. Rather than simply placing a unit based on a guide, try to figure out what the best placement for them is based on enemy boards.

The opposite is also true, if an enemy player has a Blitzcrank or Zephyr, you clearly will want to react to their positioning to protect your carries. In some games, it will be tempting to simply follow the same basic positioning every game, and while this can be successful, you can be more consistent and even more successful if you master adaptive positioning.

iblitzcrank splash

Positioning and Scouting

Positioning has basic fundamentals about where you should place units. For example, ranged units are placed toward the back, and tanks / melee units in the front. However, positioning gives you the most advantage if you are able to scout enemy boards. By reacting to enemy boards, you are constantly repositioning to give yourself an advantage.

If you have the time to spare, you should try to scout every single round and reposition your board accordingly. Sometimes you won’t have to move your units at all, and other times, you should completely change how you are positioned. But how do you know which players to play around?

Darkstar Jarvan

Match-up Predicting

In TFT, it is possible to narrow down the opponents that you will face next. It can be quite difficult to explain, but here is a basic summary.

Start of game

  • You will fight 4 random opponents in 4 rounds.
  • After this, you will not face any of the last 4 people you have fought.
  • As such, you will face one of the 3 opponents you have not faced recently.
  • When 1 person dies, this is reset.

6 enemies left

  • You will fight 3 random opponents in 3 rounds.
  • After this, you will not face any of the last 3 people you have fought.
  • As such, you will face one of the 3 opponents you have not faced recently.
  • When 1 person dies, this is reset.

5 enemies left

  • You will fight 2 random opponents in 2 rounds.
  • After this, you will not face any of the last 2 people you have fought.
  • As such, you will face one of the 3 opponents you have not faced recently.
  • When 1 person dies, this is reset.

This pattern continues until there are 4 players left (3 enemies left). Before this point, you will always have 3 opponents that you will possibly face next, excluding the initial players you face after a player dies or at the start of the game.

Xayah/Rakan splash

There are two main takeaways from this result:

  1. At the start of the game or after a player dies, you should position in a well rounded way against any enemy player.
    When you are scouting, reposition your board in a way that will give you the most success against the 3 possible enemies you face.
  2. By narrowing down your possible match-ups to only 3 players, there are many things you can do to optimize your positioning. It will be difficult to keep track of all these things during a game, but if you can master this, you will find yourself doing much better and finish more consistently.

How to Track Match-ups

In game, you can hover over the top bar to see which enemies you’ve faced in the current stage. However, when a stage progresses, you won’t be able to see who you fought in the previous stage anymore.

TFT match up bar

Some people recommend using a notepad to track enemy names, or using a 3rd party website to track the players you have fought. Whatever the case may be, using some way to keep track is better than doing nothing at all.

Things to Keep in Mind while Positioning

Early Game

In the early game, positioning can be quite simple. With 4 units, most players will simply have 2 front-line units and 2 back-line units. Oftentimes, players will place the weaker back-line in the corner to tank Blitzcrank hooks, but you should take one extra step to see if there are any Blitzcranks in the first place. The same thing goes for enemy Infiltrators.

tft subpar snipers position

In this example, we can try to protect Ashe from Blitzcrank by placing Rakan in the corner.
But if there are no Blitzcranks, Ashe will deal more damage in the corner due to Sniper.

Taking a quick peek at everyone’s board can help you optimize even the early game boards. You will be able to answer questions like:

  • Which side should I place my units on?
  • What unit do I want to be pulled by Blitzcrank or not pulled by enemy Blitzcranks?
  • Did anyone build Zephyr or Shroud of Stillness?
  • Which front-line will tank most of the aggro in my current positioning?
  • What unit will my carry target first in a fight?

All of these questions and more are things you can answer by scouting. Positioning and Scouting and so intertwined that the majority of these skills work in unison.

At first, you may not be able to reposition well since you aren’t sure what to look out for. The more you play, the more you will learn what went wrong during fights, and how you can identify holes in your positioning and fix them before the fight starts.


Mid Game

During the mid game, there are a few extra things you can try to keep in mind other than the usual ones like Zephyr or Blitzcrank. Of course, all of the usual things you look out for early in the game still hold true during the mid game. However, during the mid game, you can start to envision where the game will go.

  • Which player is the strongest?
    In the mid game, the strongest player will usually have the highest health. You can try to see if you can position in any way to ruin their win streak or mitigate damage should you fight them.
  • What enemy build counters my build?
    If you are playing an attack damage heavy build, and an enemy has high armor units, play around to see which unit you want your carry to target first. Look for mistakes in their positioning that you can exploit.
  • Who have I lost against?
    This one can be more of a mental tracker. If you know who you’ve lost against, you can attribute that to a certain aspect that you are lacking. You could be lacking upgraded units or items or maybe it was subpar positioning. If you can remember what went wrong in a fight, you can attempt to resolve it by the next time you fight them.
  • Which enemy do I prioritize countering?
    Since you have 3 different possible enemies a fight, you should try to evaluate which enemy you will have the most trouble facing. If you are confident you can beat two of the 3, you should position yourself solely for the 3rd player. Ideally, you would figure out a position that best suits all 3 enemies, but this is often impossible to do with such a short time frame.

tft random dark star units

With units like these, you want to see which sides to place your Infiltrators on.
Which enemy carry do I need to target first?
Which enemy will be the hardest to face?

Late Game

Once the lobby reaches top 4, positioning becomes extremely important. One slip up can cost you a possible win. Everyone will be constantly looking out for Zephyr and Shroud. The only up side to late game positioning is that you have less opponents to position around. With only 3 enemies, you will only have to position against 2 players each round.

Minute Details

The late game is one of the hardest times to position because there are so many units on board that create so many interactions. It will be near impossible to cover them all, and late game positioning is one of the skills that is best refined by reviewing your own games or watching top players play.

Here are some examples of things I’ve experienced in late game scenarios:

  • Against Infiltrators, should I try moving my carries up toward the front where there is less danger, but are more susceptible to CC?
  • How can I ensure that X unit casts their ability before dying?
  • Where should I target my CC for it to be most effective against their team?
  • How can I avoid Shroud of Stillness or Zephyr if my team bunches up like Rebels?
  • If I can’t land Zephyr on their carry, what’s the next best unit that I can guarantee I’ll hit?

tft random BB team formation
In this picture, you can ask yourself a plethora of things.
Will my Gnar survive to cast? Which way will he jump?
What unit will Vi target after Blitzcrank hooks the right corner unit?
Will the unit I pull be killed quickly to reset Jinx?

There are tons and tons of minute details in late game fights that really becomes a culmination of experience and knowledge. Even the smallest decisions can win or lose a fight in the late game. Also keep in mind that while you are trying to reposition, your opponent is likely doing the same.

Mind Games

This one can be tricky and is usually done by high elo players. Imagine the enemy has a Shroud of Stillness. You don’t want to be hit by it, but you know the enemy has an easier time moving 1 unit, than you have moving your entire team. In the final seconds, you can fake move your team over to one side, only to move them back to their original position.

If your opponent was paying attention, they might see you move a few units and panic to move their Shroud. Little do they know that you intentionally tricked them into doing this. These techniques can also work against Infiltrators, Zephyrs, etc.

There is one BIG catch to this strategy however. Oftentimes, you may just overthink things and end up screwing yourself over. One game, I didn’t move my carry away from Zephyr as a way to call out the enemy player. Well, he didn’t move it either. And I lost. Don’t overthink things. For the most part, just moving units around without the mind games will give you more benefit than trying to mind trick opponents.

Conclusion

In the early stages of TFT, positioning was often a basic strategy that was kept throughout the entire game until top 4 or top 3 where players would begin to counter play each other. Once the discovery of Match-up Predicting was made, positioning has become a crucial skill that every top player utilizes near every round.

It would be impossible to cover every single unit and every detail, but I hope I have given you a solid foundation in which to analyze your own games and build upon your own knowledge.