If you’ve read any of my past articles, you will know that there is a strong tie between carries and the corresponding leveling strategy. This guide will go over all the popular leveling strategies and how to follow them.
When playing TFT, it is important to learn how to manage your economy, so if you don’t know the basics of economy yet, check out our basic economy guide here.
Leveling strategies are essentially a basic blueprint that determines when you should level and spend your gold. Keep in mind that these strategies are rarely followed step by step as every game requires adaptation and flexibility.
In TFT, there are currently four prevailing leveling strategies:
All of these strategies have their corresponding team comps depending on the cost of the carries in the comp. While there are other ways to play the game, these are the most common strategies used by players of all skill levels.
NOTE: With the updated rolling odds of Set 4, hyper rolling is arguably not a viable strategy anymore. Most comps that rely on 3 star units now slow roll as it is more optimal. However, the strategy is still there for those who want to try it for slow roll comps depending on 1-cost units.
The focus of hyper rolling is to spend lots of gold early to try and 3 star multiple 1 cost units. This ideally will lead to a win streak in the mid game, allowing you to catch up in levels to create a strong enough team comp for late game.
Stage 2 is all about finding your core units while making as much interest as possible. Since you spend all your gold early, it’s crucial to also earn a lot of gold to ensure you can hit your units.
On Round 3-1 you can roll all of your gold in search for your 1 cost units. If you 3 star your main carry early you can stop rolling and use that to carry you back up to 50 gold. You can continue to slow roll your gold for other 1 cost units if you have 50+ gold.
On Round 4-2 you will be 8 EXP from level 6. If you are missing some units or even your main carry, you can continue rolling to search for them and then proceed to level with your last 8 gold. Ideally you won’t have to do this, but if you were unlucky in your initial hyper roll you can do this as a last resort to hit your units.
By this point in the game, you should have all the 3 stars you want and should be focused on catching back up in levels. Level up to 7 when you have a good unit to put in, and save up gold for level 8 to complete your team comp. After this, focus on other things like counter positioning or counter itemization to try and place as high as possible.
Hyper rolling can be quite risky, so make sure you scout your lobby early to see who is taking the units that you need. Furthermore, with hyper roll comps, you can choose to also slow roll instead at level 5 instead of rolling all your gold down at level 4 8/10 EXP.
This can be more consistent, but if you found many copies of your carry early, it can be worthwhile to hyper roll to start an early win streak and save health.
Slow Rolling is the process where you roll your gold above 50 to slowly find the core units you need to 3 star. This often happens when your main carry is 1 or 2 cost. This strategy can be strong if you hit your units early, but can also be scary if you find your units too slowly and lose too much health in the process.
Like Hyper Rolling, you should look to save up as much gold as possible during stage 2. However, with slow rolling, you shouldn’t only pick up the units you need or else you will bleed out. Try to use cheap and effective early game units like Cultists to stay healthy without spending too much gold.
Slow Rolling also depends on the main cost of your carry. For example, in Moonlight Diana, you want to find Diana (1 Cost), so you slow roll at level 5. For Shade Spirit Bomb, you want to find Zed (2 Cost), so you rush to level 7 while staying above 50 gold, and proceed to slow roll at level 7. If you are lose streaking up to when you hit level 7, you may want to consider rolling down to 40 or even 30 gold in order to stabilize your team with 2 star units before you begin to slow roll.
If at any point you find yourself hitting around 30 health, it may be time to all in to find 3 star units before you bleed to death. If you were lucky enough to find your core units 3 star, you can begin to slow level up to 8 to complete your team comp.
Stage 5 will depend on what happened during stage 4. If you are on the brink of death, you can all in to find your units and try to land in the top 4. If you found your 3 stars and stabilized, you should look to hit level 8 and find more units to compliment your team.
Like Hyper Rolling, you should scout your lobby to see if anyone also plans to go the same comp as you. If you are uncontested, you will find better success in finding your units.
Some comps utilize units that are 1 and 2 cost. For example, in Moonlight Diana, you may want to find Diana and Sylas 3 star. Because of this, you slow roll at 5 for Diana, use that power spike to slow level to 7, and then continue to slow roll for Sylas 3.
Regular Leveling Strategy
This leveling strategy is considered regular as it has been in the game for so long. This strategy plays the game quite “normally” and focuses usually on a 4 cost unit as the main carry. In the late game, these comps look to 5 cost units to strengthen the team, but does not center on a 5 cost unit. However, this strategy also will have the most variation as it plays depending on the units you find and the items you find.
In Stage 2, you can try to win streak if you find lots of upgraded units or strong items. You can level to 4 on Round 2-1 if you have enough gold, or even 2-2 if you won the first round and found more upgraded units. If you continue your win streak, you can level up to 5 right after the carousel on 2-4 to try and continue your win streak.
Alternatively, if you don’t find strong units, you can simply lose streak and start to build up your economy without leveling up. At the Krugs, if you don’t feel like you can beat them at level 4, you can level up to 5 to ensure you get all the possible item drops.
If you are fortunate enough to have a win streak going into stage 3, you can level up 6 on 3-1 to secure your streak. If you are feeling strong enough or risky, you can also level up to 6 on 3-2 if you won the fight on 3-1 without leveling. With a win streak, you will be able to continue building up gold without rolling for units to hit level 7 and 8 to find your core units.
If you were lose streaking up to this point, you can level up to 6 on 3-2 to try and stop the bleeding. You can roll down a bit of gold here to try and stabilize, or try to ride out the lose streak if you are playing a bit riskier. As long as you didn’t lose every fight without killing a single unit, you shouldn’t be too afraid of dying at this point yet.
At Round 4-1 almost every player (who’s not hyper rolling or slow rolling) will level up to 7. Regardless of whether you were win streaking or lose streaking, you should ideally also hit level 7 at this point.
If you have a lot of health or are still win streaking, you can choose to not roll and try to hit level 8 early. If you are low on health and have a weak board, you should roll some gold here at level 7 to stabilize your board and find 4 cost units to carry you back up.
Similar to Stage 4, on Round 5-1 almost every player (who’s not hyper rolling or slow rolling) will level up to 8. Level 8 is often considered the largest power spike as most comps find an optimal combination of units at level 8. Level 8 also provides a solid chance to find 5 cost units, and a good chance to find 4 cost units.
You should hit level 8 on this round and roll down your gold to complete your team. If you find all of your units 2 star, you can proceed to build your economy back up to try and hit level 9 to further strengthen your comp, and to find 2 star 5 cost units.
“Regular” Leveling often utilizes 4 cost carries like Ahri or Ashe, and has variations about how greedy you should be with your economy. If you were win streaking, you can opt to go Fast 8 and sacrifice some health to have better odds of finding your core units.
Similarly, if you were lose streaking, you can also choose to go Fast 8 as a last resort to stabilize.
If you were constantly floating in the middle, you might have a hard time discerning whether or not you should go Fast 8, as you might not have enough gold to do it reasonably.
As such, following this regular leveling strategy can be a good way to secure a consistent top 4 finish.
Fast 8 (Occasionally Fast 7 or Fast 9)
Fast 8 is the process of leveling up to 8 early (usually on Round 4-3) as a way to find 4 and 5 cost units faster and easier than other players. In the past, some 5 cost units could solo carry a team, like Set 2 Zed, or Set 1 Kai’Sa. In those metas, this strategy was a way to rush level 8 to find these strong units to carry your team. Currently, Fast 8 is more of an option from regular leveling depending on the circumstances of the game.
In order to Fast 8, you will need lots of gold to do so. In stage 2, you follow a regular strategy by either committing to a win streak or a lose streak depending on the units you find.
Similarly, Stage 3 also follows a similar strategy to regular leveling. The only caveat is that if you plan to Fast 8, you should not roll down at all at level 6 and continue to commit to your lose streak. If you lose your win streak, you usually will be healthy enough to lose rounds to continue saving gold.
Fast 7 Option: If you have a large amount of gold, you can level up to 7 early after the carousel on round 3-4 (Try to have around 40 gold after leveling to 7). You usually will not roll after this, and this option is taken when you have a strong 7th unit to put in. This will also increase the odds you naturally find a 4 cost unit in the following few rounds. This option is either taken to continue a win streak, or to slow the bleeding from a lose streak.
This stage is what you were waiting for. At round 4-3 you should be able to hit level 8 with approximately 30-40 gold left over if you were greedy and smart with your economy. After hitting level 8, you will roll down to find your core 4 cost carry and possibly 5 cost carries that compliment your team.
By 5-1, almost everyone in the lobby will be level 8, barring Hyper and Slow Roll comps. If you are lucky enough to high roll your entire team without rolling down too much at level 8, you can look to Fast 9.
In order to Fast 9, you simply save up your gold to hit level 9. If you were fortunate enough to complete your team during Stage 4, you can save up even earlier and hit level 9 way before other players can. This usually will only happen if you are on a win streak, but can happen if you high roll your units after hitting level 8 on 4-3 from a lose streak.
Currently in Set 4, there isn’t a 5 cost unit that’s worth forcing Fast 8 every single game. Fast 8 is usually a route taken by players depending on what happens during a regular leveling game.
If you are on a heavy win streak, Fast 8 can be a reliable way to finish top 2 or even first.
If you are on a heavy lose streak, Fast 8 can be a risky option to try and compete for first even after a terrible start. Unfortunately, if you are on a losing streak and don’t find your units even after Fast 8, this will likely result in a Fast 8th.
Lastly, you may feel strong enough to Fast 8 or even Fast 9 if you naturally find your core units. If there are other players playing your same comp, it may be smart to roll down anyway at levels 7 or 8 as they may take the copies of the units you need.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Remember to adapt
Regardless of whatever strategy you are playing, there will be games where the correct decision isn’t always a simple level up here and roll down here. The best players know about these strategies, but also follow the flow of the game and make adjustments when necessary.
For example, if you are hyper rolling, you might not know when you should level up to 7. Is it when you have enough gold? Or should you slow level to 7 to ensure you can hit level 8? There are many other intricacies that you should try and figure out for yourself. If you stray from a strategy, ask yourself if it worked or if it didn’t.
Figuring out your own playstyle
If you are able to understand the basics of every leveling strategy, you will be able to find a play style that suits how you want to play. If you like playing 3 certain comps, you can strategize about how you should level and roll to keep all three options open throughout the game.
Conversely, if you want to become a 1 trick, you can master one comp and figure out every intricacy to your leveling strategy. These strategies are only basic guidelines for how to play certain comps, but finding a playstyle for yourself will be the most rewarding and help you climb in your own unique way.
Use our overlay to help get started
If you are new and just starting out, it will be helpful to have a basic leveling strategy planned out for any comp you decide to play. To help with this, you can download our overlay to give leveling recommendations depending on the comp you decide to play.