Teamfight TacticsMentality

When and How to Level in TFT (Three Fundamental Strategies)

Table of contents

Introduction

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.

Furthermore, the addition of Augments to the game makes your economy and leveling needs vary from game to game. I will simply be sharing what I consider to be the general outline.

In TFT, there are currently three 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.

Understanding Power Spikes

Before I cover each of the leveling strategies, I want to cover power spikes and why they matter. Leveling and rolling are intertwined and are meant to adapt to the state of the game.

In general, there are three main points in the game.

  • Stage 3-2 (Second Augment)
  • Stage 4-1/4-2 (Last Augment) Some players may opt to power spike at 4-2 to gain some extra gold and see what their last augment is. Others will do so at 4-1 in order to pick up contested units before other players do.
  • Stage 5-1 (End Game)

The point of leveling strategies is to decide what to do at these points of the game depending on your situation.

For example, if you are already very strong at 3-2 (because you got lucky upgrades), you can relax and build up your economy. This can let you spike harder at 4-1 by leveling up and rolling more than other players.

Conversely, if you are weak at 3-2, you may want to consider spending gold to get stronger. This can help you build a win streak to get back into the game. You won’t have as much gold at 4-1 to upgrade again, but you won’t just bleed out and go 8th.

6-1 Power Spike

To a lesser extent, there is also a power spike at 6-1. This is only important if the game reaches this long. You can keep 6-1 in mind if you are sure you can survive through Stage 5 and want to go for the win.

With this in mind, we have the general framework for how to approach the different leveling strategies.

Rerolling (Hyper/Slow Rolling)

In the past, hyper rolling and slow rolling were two different strategies, coined in the older sets of TFT. As sets have progressed, most players have adopted a sort of hybrid approach to hyper/slow rolling.

Hyper Rolling refers to spending all or nearly all of your gold to find an upgrade you need, like a 3-star unit, or a board full of 2-stars. Slow rolling refers to keeping your gold above 50, and only rolling a few times a turn to slowly find your upgrades.

Combining the two strategies will help you find better success, as the two can be combined to adapt to different situations.

Focus:

Hyper Rolling and Slow Rolling are strategies used for team comps where the carry is 1, 2, or 3-cost. The general idea is to roll to hit power spikes, and utilize win/lose streaking to gain a large economy. Once a strong economy is built, you can then roll to search for a 3-star carry.

Slow Roll Comps

TFT Set 10 Slow Roll Comps

Game Plan

Stage 2:

In general 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 to stay healthy without spending too much gold.

Stage 3-2 Power Spike:

This is where the strategy will divert depending on the cost of your carry.

  • 1-Cost: You will want to roll down to around 20 gold on 3-1. You will still be level 4 at 3-1, giving you increased odds at hitting 1-cost units. If  you’re lucky, you will hit at least one 3-star unit doing so. You can then build back up to 50 and slow roll for other 1-cost units you may need before leveling back up.
  • 2-Cost: For a 2-cost carry, you will want to hit level 6 at 3-2. At this point, you can decide whether to roll for upgrades or to build your economy to start slow rolling. This should depend on how strong your board is and how much Health you still have.
  • 3-Cost: Lastly, for 3-cost carries, you will also level to 6 at 3-2. For the most part, you will not want to roll at this point as your odds aren’t great for 3-cost units. Decide whether to roll or not depending on how weak or strong you are.
Stage 4-1/4-2 Power Spike:

Once again, I will split up the game plan depending on your carry.

  • 1-Cost: At this point in the game, you should have 3-starred most of the units you want to. You can then use the rest of your gold to catch up in levels. You likely won’t be able to add in upgraded units, but you can still throw in some extra units for trait bonuses.
  • 2-Cost: By 4-1, if you don’t have your 3-star carry yet, you should look to roll down and then proceed to level up to 7 afterward. If you don’t hit at this point, you will definitely fall behind.
  • 3-Cost: Most of the time, 3-cost units are able to carry you through Stage 4 so long as your whole board is at least 2 star and you have good items. Roll down to look for a solid amount of upgrades if needed. After doing so, you can build your economy back up to roll down at 5-1 for your 3-star upgrades.
Stage 5-1 Power Spike:

This last Power Spike is where you should look to make your team as strong as possible. This usually comes in the form of upgrading as many units as you can or reaching the highest level you can.

  • 1-Cost: If you can reach level 8 at this point you should do so to try and add a 4 or 5-cost unit to your board. If you’re lacking upgrades, you could also decide to upgrade units on board rather than go for level 8.
  • 2-Cost: It’s mostly the same as 1-cost at this point. Decide whether to spend gold on upgrading units or leveling up for another slot.
  • 3-Cost: For 3-costs, 5-1 should be your power spike. Roll down to find your 3-cost carry and pray you hit. If your board is already strong, you can opt to slow roll for a 3-cost carry instead. This can improve the odds you hit, but you won’t be playing as aggressive to pressure other players.
Notes:
  • 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. To approach this, you can hyper roll for a 1-cost early, and continue to slow roll at level 5 to find the other 1 and 2 costs. You can also use the 3-star 1-cost to propel you to level 6 in order to continue slow rolling.
  • Alternatively, you can opt to slow roll completely at level 6 to increase the odds of hitting your main carry, while still having decent 1-cost odds. This will be dependent on the specific comp and what units provide what power spikes.
  • The general game plan is a general outline for when to level/roll your gold. If you’re close to an upgrade, you can divert from the plan to hit your power spike sooner or later.
    Ie: If you randomly find copies of your reroll carry to 8 copies, you can opt to roll a bit to try and fully upgrade to 3 star and power spike from there.

Standard Leveling Strategy

TFT Set 10 Default Comp

Focus:

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 can 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.

Game Plan

Stage 2:

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. 

Stage 3:

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.

Stage 4:

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.

Stage 5+:

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.

Notes:

“Regular” Leveling often utilizes 4 cost carries like Ahri or Twisted Fate, 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)

TFT Set 10 Fast 8

Focus:

Fast 8 is the process of leveling up to 8 early (usually on Round 4-3 or 4-5) 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.

If you find yourself with a very powerful early and mid game, or have an amazing economy, you can choose to go Fast 8 with a regular comp, or use this gold to find lots of high cost units for a more powerful late game.

Game Plan

Stage 2:

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.

Stage 3:

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 3-5. You usually will not roll after this, and this option is taken when you already have a strong 7th unit to put in from the bench. 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.

Stage 4:

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.

Alternatively, if you are still strong without rolling, you can level up to 8 and simply do nothing. The natural shop refreshes may contain core 4 or 5-cost units, and you can simply wait for 5-1 to roll down. If you’re bleeding out, however, definitely roll down early.

Stage 5+:

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.

Notes:

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.

To learn about the latest new TFT Set, head to our all-in-one Teamfight Tactics Set 10 reveal page that covers all champions, synergies, and more!

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