Teamfight TacticsGuides

TFT Set 9.5 Guide: How to Play Bilgewater

How to Play Bilgewater

Welcome to another in the series of our How to Play TFT trait guides.

Set 9.5 is bringing a few new traits into the game, and Bilgewater is the biggest trait coming. The trait brings a whopping 7 new units into the game, so there’s a lot to cover.

Let’s get right into the guide.

If you haven’t checked out all of the Set 9.5 information yet, check out our Set 9.5 Reveal Page!

How Bilgewater Works

All things considered, Bilgewater is actually a fairly straightforward trait. The trait will deal damage to enemies with cannonballs based on how much damage your Bilgewater units deal.

This incentivizes you to build into the trait more. As more Bilgerats (the units) deal more damage, the trait will deal more damage.

However, we may see comps still only splash in Bilgewater as a way to scale your main carry’s damage. This will take time to figure out and will depend on the numbers for the traits and units on release.

Lastly, at the giant 9 Bilgewater bonus, the cannonballs will deal splash damage, which will add a ton of damage to the team. 9 Bilgewater requires +2 Bilgewater as there are only 7 units, but I imagine if it comes together, the team will deal a ton of damage.

Bilgewater Trait Bonus

TFT Set 9.5 Bilgewater Trait

Bilgewater: Bilgerat attacks and Abilities mark enemies. The mark stores a percentage of damage dealt to the enemy by Bilgerats. Marked enemies are struck by a cannonball after 2 seconds, dealing the stored damage plus a flat value as physical damage.

  • (3): 200 + 25% damage dealt
  • (5): 300 + 45% damage dealt
  • (7): 500 + 90% damage dealt
  • (9): Cannonballs damage nearby enemies

Bilgewater Synergy

The Bilgewater roster has 7 units in total, with many other traits to branch into. Here’s a quick rundown of all the shared traits:

  • Gunner (x2)
  • Rogue
  • Bastion
  • Multicaster
  • Strategist
  • Juggernaut
  • Vanquisher

Even though Bilgewater is a large trait, there isn’t much overlap between the class traits. The only overlap is the Gunner trait.

However, this is difficult to make use of as the two units, Graves and Gangplank, are 1 and 5-cost respectively. This makes the Gunner trait something you can build toward, and hopefully cap out with Gangplank once you find him.

Bilgewater Champions

Let’s briefly go over each Champion in the Bilgewater trait and what you can do with them.

Note: These abilities are based off the PBE, so while the values may have changed, the overall champion design should remain the same.

Graves – Gunner + Rogue + Bilgewater

TFT Set 9.5 Graves Ability

Graves is the first Bilgewater unit, and boasts three traits as a 1-cost unit, which isn’t usually common. This immediately brings up potential as a reroll carry as he can make use of multiple traits to try and carry the team.

However, his ability seems to be a mixture of damage and utility, which makes building him as a carry less enticing. Even still, if his numbers are high enough, we could see Graves reroll come to fruition.

Otherwise, he will likely be a strong trait bot for specific comps that provides some decent utility, ideally chilling the enemy backline.

Illaoi – Bastion + Bilgewater

TFT Set 9.5 Illaoi Ability

Illaoi is the other 1-cost Bilgewater unit and is replacing Maokai as the 1-cost Bastion of the set. Her ability is similar to Maokai’s in that it provides healing for her.

Overall, she’s just a standard early game frontliner that you’ll use to fill out traits in the early game. I highly doubt that Illaoi will fit into late game comps, but in certain reroll comps, she may find a home as a 3-star frontliner.

Twisted Fate – Multicater + Bilgewater

TFT Set 9.5 Twisted Fate Ability

Twisted Fate is the only 2-cost Bilgewater, and is Multicaster. Twisted Fate looks to be a consideration for an AP carry in a Bilgewater comp. He pairs very well with Miss Fortune, which we will talk more about below.

Twisted Fate’s ability is somewhat single target. The cards will explode around his target, so if you position well, you can stack the opponent’s frontline together and get a lot of value out of his ability. If the opponent is able to spread their team out, Twisted Fate will deal less damage as it will turn into a single target ability.

Miss Fortune – Strategist + Bilgewater

TFT Set 9.5 Miss Fortune Ability

Miss Fortune is a 3-cost Strategist, which means she pairs quite well with Twisted Fate. Strategist is a solid way to gain some extra AP for the backline. Unfortunately, Teemo is no longer in set 9.5, so putting Strategist and Multicaster together won’t be as easy.

Even still, Twisted Fate and Miss Fortune might be a solid mid game board to play around if you’re planning on transitioning into an AP comp.

Nautilus – Juggernaut + Bilgewater

TFT Set 9.5 Nautilus Ability

Nautilus is a 3-cost frontliner for Bilgewater, and his ability seems quite powerful for a 3-cost. He has a large CC ability that is premium for a 3-cost unit. The Juggernaut doesn’t exactly synergize super well with Bilgewater, but units like Aatrox or Nasus are still strong frontliners that can flex into your board.

One thing to keep in mind is that Nautilus knocks up enemies, which synergizes with Taliyah. Taliyah deals more damage when enemies are knocked up, and she synergizes perfectly with Twisted Fate, another Multicaster.

Nilah – Vanquisher + Bilgewater

TFT Set 9.5 Nilah Ability

Nilah is the only 4-cost Bilgewater and is clearly designed as a carry. She is a short range, auto attacking, AoE damage carry, which is not a common archetype for TFT.

Vanquisher as a trait means that her ability can crit, which likely will scale her empowered auto attack (if regular crit doesn’t already).

I expect most players to build a mixture of damage, (Deathblade, Guardbreaker, Hand of Justice), along with some healing (Bloodthirster, Hand of Justice), and lastly some Attack Speed (Guinsoo’s Rageblade).

This loadout should be quite strong to let Nilah become a strong carry without being too squishy.

Gangplank – Gunner + Reaver King + Bilgewater

TFT Set 9.5 Gangplank Ability

Lastly, Gangplank is the last Bilgewater unit and a 5-cost unit. If you want to play Bilgewater (7) and don’t have any Emblems or Augments, you will need to get lucky and find Gangplank.

Gangplank can flex between being a carry in melee range, or a supportive unit through his ability and putting him in the back two rows.

The viability of melee or ranged Gangplank will depend heavily on what his numbers and stats are, but it’s nice to see there are options.

Best Bilgewater Augments

Here is a quick list of some of the standout Augments for the Bilgewater trait.

Bilgewater Heart / Crest / Crown

If you want to try and reach Bilgewater 9, you definitely need to have a +1 from either an Emblem or an Augment.

Either way, having +1 to reach a higher threshold sooner is always good if you’re committed to a comp. Bilgewater Emblem is also interesting as you want to place it on a champion that deals a lot of damage. This way, you will get more damage through the Bilgewater trait.

Rising Infamy

Round start: Get a level 1 treasure chest. Your cannon barrages permanently improve future Chests. Gain 3 Bilgewater units. (Next level: 40 Barrages).

The Bilgewater Gold Augment provides a very interesting effect. It makes it so that you gain loot over the course of the game, but the exact loot is really what determines how good this Augment is.

Cannon barrages always happen every 2 seconds, so I’m unsure if you can actually speed up this chest leveling process or not. Either way, this Augment is hard to evaluate until we get to play with it.

Bilgewater Team Comps

With everything in mind, let’s go over some sample team comps for the Bilgewater trait. Keep in mind that these team comps aren’t meant to reflect the meta. These are simply different paths you can go down when approaching the Bilgewater trait.

As different patches come and go, different variations will be better than others, or the trait as a whole might be underpowered.

Bilgewater Nilah Team Comp

TFT Bilgewater Nilah Team Comp

This first team comp is what I would expext a Nilah carry team comp to look like. With the other Vanquishers, you have access to a lot of damage if you can get a lot of AD items. Bilgewater is easy to splash in with Gangplank and Nautilus, and the rest of the comp is simply just good units to fill the board.

This comp has a lot of traits to buff up Nilah as your main carry, tons of frontline, and a decent amount of utility as well. With this comp, I expect Gangplank to be a ranged support unit as you want to build up your Nilah and Xayah secondary rather than GP.

Bilgewater Taliyah Team Comp

TFT Bilgewater Taliyah Team Comp

This second Bilgewater comp uses Twisted Fate and Miss Fortune to build into an AP comp. Taliyah is a perfect carry unit for this comp as she deals more damage when enemies are knocked up, which Nautilus does.

Nautilus pairs right alongside Sett for Juggernaut, and both of these units will knock up enemies to scale Taliyah’s damage. This comp likely will be best when you have the Double Trouble augment, but with the new Bilgewater units, it may be possible to play without it.

Bilgewater 5 Team Comp

This last team comp is what I would expect a somewhat vertical Bilgewater comp to go. You have Gangplank as a carry, with Aatrox to provide strong traits and some Omnivamp for GP.

The new Ixtal units pair really well into this comp, as they provide beneficial traits while also being strong units themselves.

This comp is quite expensive, and it runs two 5-cost units. I’m not sure how viable a vertical Bilgewater comp will be without an Emblem. It may simply be better to build your 5-cost board around Bel’Veth or Ahri instead of Bilgewater.


All in all, the new Bilgewater trait is adding a lot of exciting champions to the game. While the trait itself is quite simple, there are a lot of ways you can explore the trait, either vertically, or splashing it into other comps.

We hope you enjoyed this guide, and hopefully it helps you climb some ranks. Good luck and have fun!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out our meta team comps page, or head to our Team Builder to try and come up with your own comps.