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9.23 - Three Meta Compositions
Hello! Ranked has been out for a week now and the meta is still in flux but there's a few compositions that are well defined. I personally feel like the meta is quite healthy as there are many different paths to winning as well as compositions that are known to be good. There's a lot of builds I could go over but this week I'm going to do a break down of three very common compositions; Predators, Ocean/Mage and Blademaster Nocturne/Assassin. These are not the only builds that are played or viable but they are commonly played.
Predators are one of the best base compositions since set 2 first came out. They are versatile because it only requires three units meaning you can fill in the rest of your composition with several different traits. Predator also plays well with Poison because of Kog'maw so pairing those traits together is quite good. On top of their versatility they are also one of the strongest for hyper-rolling. I won't be going over hyper-roll in this article but you can check out my previous article about the how-to's of hyper-rolling here!

Items

There aren't hard set items that you absolutely need to run Predators as they are one of the least item dependent builds but we'll go over a few you may want to look for.



First carousel it's best to look for generally good items and not specific ones so Needlessly Large Rod, Tear and Recurve Bow are all good to try to get. I'd wait to make early game items unless you can make an universally good item such as Morellonomicon which works in a lot of compositions.



On-hit damage items such as Static Shiv are great on Kog'maw because those items work with the 25% execute. Other good items to look for on Kog'maw are Runaan's Hurricane, Ionic Spark and Guinsoo's Rageblade. Luden's Echo can also work well early game but it can fall off later. Generally my recommendation is two damage items and one defensive item. Two good defensive items in this meta for a ranged back-line unit are Dragon's Claw or Phantom Dancer.



Front-line items can vary and it depends what unit you're using. Skarner is a great front-liner in Crystal/Predator so items like Warmogs and Thornmail (Thornmail can also proc Predator) can work to keep him alive while Crystal does the bulk of the damage reduction. Warwick or Rek'sai can use more traditional front-line items like Redemption or if it's Cloud map, Iceborn Gauntlet. Lastly, much like a back-line carry, giving a front-liner Phantom Dancer is quite good.



Since most Predator compositions run Poison with it the last items to go over will be for Singed. Singed works well with magic items and defensive items so he can be fairly flexible. Morellonomicon is an amazing item for him as it applies the burn effect wherever he walks. Deathcap and Jeweled Gauntlet are also good for increasing his damage but be wary of Jeweled Gauntlet as Phantom Dancer can negate it (yes it works against spell crits). The best defensive item is Warmogs but Iceborn can work on Cloud map.

Quick note about itemization on Singed; certain items do nothing for him. He is already considered unstoppable which means he can't be crowd controlled so an item like Quicksilver does nothing for him. Making him an Assassin or Berserker also does nothing as he won't jump forward at the start of a fight. One last important thing to touch on is he can't be lifted by Zephyr so use that to your advantage to waste another players Zephyr.

Strategy

The strategy for Predators is simple as you only need three units to get the trait bonus. Kog'maw and Warwick are the two units you will find the easiest since they are one cost. Getting them two-star early on is crucial to Predators and if you manage to find a Rek'sai 2 early enough that can set you on the path to win-streaking early.



Early game is when you need to decide whether you should go for Predators. Is there anyone else contesting the units? It's easy to scout at that point in the game and you'll know who is contesting it by 2-5. If anyone did not level to 5 between 2-5 and Krugs and they have a lot of gold and Predators they are most likely going Predators (hyper-roll usually in that case).

What that means for you is deciding whether it's worth it or not to continue going Predators. If you've hit several two-star units at this point and have a comfortable board you can easily continue going Predator, just level and play it normal from there and look for whichever transition you want later on. If your plan was to hyper-roll it may be best not to do that if there's one or more people contesting you. Basically, scout. Scouting gives you information to work with and decide what to do as you go into the mid-game.

When you get to 2-5 and 2-6 and you haven't found many Predator units, especially if you haven't hit any upgrades on them, it's a good time to abandon them and pivot towards something else. Predators are some of the strongest early game units when upgraded but they quickly fall off without those upgrades so I recommend ditching them if you aren't finding them. It's possible to continue with those units but unless your goal is to hyper-roll (which I don't recommend without a good Predator start) and you aren't finding the units you will have a rough game if you continue to force them.



Mid-game and late game is when you're looking to solidify what you want to supplement with your Predators. The most common trait is Poison but with that you can also run Berserker/Glacial, Electric or Crystal. I'll go over all of these below but the best trait to go for will be Poison. Singed is your win condition with a Predator composition as Singed 2, even without items, can hard carry you late game. It's easy to throw in Mundo or Twitch at level 7/8 if you have a Singed so honestly any other traits you get are mostly playing what you find.

Compositions

Early game Predators


Very typical early game for Predators. You can run it as early as 2-5 unless you hyper-rolled in which case it'll be at 3-2. Ornn and Volibear are easily replaced by other units. Nocturne and Skarner are both fine to play early game as well it just depends what you get two-starred. Rek'sai and Kog'maw are very important to get two-starred as early as possible since they provide the most damage for Predators.

Mid game Predators


At this point in the game, around 4-1 if you didn't hyper-roll, you can begin running Poison by playing Mundo and Twitch. Again, Volibear and Ornn are easily replaced by other units (Nocturne is good) it just depends what units you hit upgrades for. You can also run early Crystal with Skarner and Ashe at level 7.

Late game Predator/Poison/Electric


Going into late game you have a lot of options but there's three main routes you'll likely transition into. Electric works quite well if you've been running Volibear and Ornn so it's a natural transition. Singed is the single most important unit late game of any Predator composition so make sure you try to find him as soon as possible. 

You're going to try to stack items on Zed for late game Electric. Defensive items are useful for his clones so they stay alive long enough for Electric to proc. If you find an Electric Lux you can replace Ornn with her for four Electric.

Late game Predator/Poison/Berserker/Glacial


Glacial and Berserker are also easy to transition into late game with Volibear and Warwick as they are both Glacial. Twitch can be a placeholder until you find Singed as it'll buff Ezreal too. Getting a Spatula to make a unit Glacial can free up a slot instead of running Ezreal. Glacial Lux will also free up slots for other units or you can play her at level 9 for six Glacial.

Olaf can be given carry items -- Rageblade, Bloodthirster and defensive items.

Late game Predator/Poison/Crystal


Crystal/Predator is a good transition but is still heavily reliant on finding Singed. Ashe is easily replaced by Taric. You can put items on Twitch (on-hit like Red Buff) but it's best to stack items on Kog'maw, Skarner and Singed. Twitch and Ashe are just there to provide their traits.

Positioning for all Predator compositions is simple; Kog'maw in the back (mid-back) and a front-liner with defensive items at the very front. You want to keep units off to the side to catch any Assassins jumping in so your Kog'maw can be free to do damage. Singed goes towards the front-line off to the side so he walks through the enemy team at a diagonal. Positioning will change depending on the elemental hexes but don't get baited into putting your Kog'maw in a risky place.

Predator works well on all of the elemental maps but Mountain map is one of the best since you're picking up the Predators early game you can begin stacking them right away. Cloud opens up running Iceborn Gauntlet for your front-line and Inferno/Ocean are great for Kog'maw.
Ocean/Mage! This composition got buffed a short bit before ranked came out and it was so good that Brand had to be hotfixed. After the nerf to him the build fell off slightly (and I mean very, very slightly) but it's still very popular and quite strong. There's variations in how you can play Ocean compositions, like with Shadow, but the basic Ocean/Mage style is the same as it was pre-nerfs with your end goal being 4 Ocean/3 Mage/3 Summoner/3 Inferno.

Items

Definitely more item dependent than Predators, Ocean/Mage relies on a few key items to be strong. Early game you're going to be doing the same as Predator by looking for certain strong components; Rod and Tear. Bow, Spatula and B.F Sword are all good to pick up as well.



Morellonomicon is fantastic in this build and can be put on a lot of early units. Often you're going to run early game Woodland before transitioning into Ocean/Mage and Morellonomicon works great on Neeko. You can also run Diana early or a Zyra and the item works with them as well. Morellonomicon is the only item I think is a must have for this composition.



Zyra is the best pre-Brand item carry so you can give her anything you'd give Brand -- Morellonomicon, Deathcap, Shojins, Jeweled Gauntlet or Seraphs. It really depends what the game gives you but she can use them while you wait for Brand 2. I do think it's important to either run a defensive item such as Dragon's Claw, Phantom Dancer or even Rapid Firecannon on your carry (Zyra and Brand) so that they live longer to get more mana from Ocean. RFC helps prevent them from running forward while the other two are situational depending on the game.



Defensive front-line items are the usual like Redemption or Iceborn on cloud map. Guardian Angel is great on Yorick. Thieve's Gloves can be useful to just give a unit extra stats like Thresh or Nautilus. Overall front-line items are secondary to stacking your carry. Lastly, getting a Mage's Cap is great to give yourself flexibility later on in the game by making a unit a Mage.

Strategy

The game plan for Ocean/Mage has a more flexible early and mid-game for getting to your level 8 composition of 4 Ocean/3 Mage/3 Summoner. From the first rounds to Krugs focus on having a strong early game which often works best by going Woodlands. Woodland helps a lot in getting you on win-streaks early game and Leblanc will get you an early Mage buff with Vladimir and Syndra. Syndra is also replaceable with Taliyah in the early game.



One of the best units you can find early on is Zyra 2. She, as stated in the item section, is your best pre-Brand 2 carry unit. Finding her early enough and stacking her with items will help in letting you econ towards level 7 and 8. If you find an early enough Annie you can go 3 Inferno/3 Summoner as your mid-game while you're looking for the rest of your Ocean/Mage composition.

Alright so early game you want: Woodlands, Zyra 2, Vladimir/Syndra (or Taliyah) and start looking for Thresh and Nautilus. This is all flexible of course but those units will make your transition a lot smoother later on. You should play normal leveling for this composition so go to level 5 at 2-5 and level 6 at 3-2. 



After going to level 6 at 3-2 I recommend rolling if you don't feel strong enough but not lower than 10 gold. You're looking for any upgrades to your units and hopefully start finding the important four cost units. Annie, Yorick and Brand are highly contested so finding them as early as you can will help a lot later in the game. Thresh and Nautilus, while also contested, are a bit easier to find since they are two and three cost units.



Try not to roll every round after 3-3 unless you're losing a lot of health. Getting to 50 g by Wolves is important since you want to roll down to hit four cost upgrades at 4-1. Once it's 4-1 you level to 7 and roll! Most important upgrades for Ocean/Mage at this point of the game are Yorick 2, Annie 2 and your front-line (Thresh/Nautilus). Play Brand 2 if you get it but if you have a Zyra 2 she can hold you over for awhile until you find the Brand.

At this point in the game if you hit a few four cost upgrades you can play for econ and work your way towards level 8. Level 8 is when the Ocean/Mage composition is completed. Generally you will level to 8 a round or two after Raptors but it depends on how strong you were previously.

Let's see what a basic early and mid game composition may look like and a couple of different late game Ocean/Mage variations!

Compositions

Basic early game for Ocean/Mage


This would be an ideal early game start for a game with the goal of Ocean/Mage. Zyra is your carry until Brand and Woodland/Druid gives you a good front-line and an extra unit. With a start like this you can often win-streak until Krugs. Alternative units you can use are Neeko over Leblanc and Syndra or Taliyah instead of Vladimir. A really early Thresh 2 can also win early fights.

Basic mid game for Ocean/Mage


A potential composition to run at level 6 if you find the upgrades and units. Woodland is perfectly fine to run if they are all two-stars but it's a good idea from 3-2 to 4-1 to begin looking to steer your composition towards Ocean/Mage. Annie in the mid-game is great. Yorick can be good too but it isn't as strong as a one-star as Annie is. Zyra is still fine to run at this point in the game and I'd even suggest running her over a one-star Brand if she is two-star with items.

4 Ocean/3 Mage/3 Summoner/3 Inferno


This is the composition you're aiming for at level 8. It can be run at 7 without a Summoner or without Brand if he is still a one-star. Level 8 is when the entire composition comes together. You can transfer your items over to Brand 2 from the Zyra if you have a replacement Zyra although she can still be used as your item carry even into the late game especially if you happen to three-star her.

Late game Ocean/Mage


Ocean/Mage can be flexed a few ways depending on your items. If you get a Mage's Cap you can make Annie (or Zyra) a Mage and that allows you to put in Nami over Syndra or Vladimir. You can run Mystic at 9 by adding in Soraka if you were able to secure a Mage's Cap. Level 9 can be flexible but the two best transitions you can look for are either an Ocean Lux or a Zed 2.

Ocean Lux will give you six Ocean at level 9 which is amazing and Zed 2 with Ocean will produce a lot of clones. I suggest replacing Yorick 2 with the Zed 2 and give whatever items were on him to Zed. Ultimately Ocean/Mage has a strict composition of what you're looking to play but be flexible since it is a highly contested build.

For positioning try to keep your non-important Mages (Vladimir/Syndra) off in the corners and sides to bait Assassins and keep Brand/Zyra near the center. If you have RFC you can put that unit mid-back. Yorick works well in the front-line when he has Guardian Angel but if he doesn't try to off-set him slightly behind Nautilus and Thresh. Annie is usually on row 2 behind the front-line.

Ocean map is by far the best for Ocean/Mage but Mountain can let you run an early Taliyah/Qiyana combo to ease your transition to the mid-game. Inferno map is useful for early game but doesn't really do much overall for the build and Cloud is only helpful if a hex is near the front-line, though this build is good against others on Cloud since it's not auto-attack dependent.

The last composition we're going to go over is likely the strictest to play as it requires you to get a Spatula. Blademaster Nocturne/Assassin is a very popular build in the current meta. Your end goal with the composition is generally 4 Blademaster/3 Assassin/2 Steel/2 Cloud/2 Mystic/2 Desert, though the most important bit is the 4 Blademaster/3 Assassin. Nocturne is the key to this build. What makes it so powerful is how much single target and AoE damage Nocturne can do as a melee Assassin while getting having a ton of survivability.

Items

Probably the most item dependent, BM/Assassin requires you to get a Spatula. I personally don't even recommend trying to do this composition if you don't have a Spatula by Krugs but it's still possible you get one after that but! If you never get the Spatula you are going to have a rough time.



Your goal is to stack Nocturne as much as possible. The best items to do that are Blade of the Ruined King (BotRK), Infinity Edge and Rageblade. Infinity Edge can be replaced by a Bloodthirster or a defensive item (Dragon's Claw/Phantom Dancer) if needed but essentially those first three items are what you want to stack him with.



Additional items to look for will be on-hit items for Sivir such as Red Buff, Hush and Sword Breaker. Kha'zix is your secondary carry usually so giving him a Seraphs, Infinity Edge or even just Thieve's Gloves is quite good. With this composition you really don't have to worry about front-line items but if you get any, Iceborn tends to be good because you will often run Cloud or Redemption since it's just a solid front-line item.

Strategy

Early game you want to focus on looking for Rek'sai and Nocturne. It isn't essential to find Nocturne right away but it can help a lot if you do as getting him two-starred as soon as you can is great. Predators work well early game since you want to be playing Rek'sai. Woodland can be used for Leblanc since she is Assassin and Diana for trying to get an early three Assassin buff, especially if you find an early Qiyana.



Level at normal intervals and focus on your economy until Krugs. At 3-2 you want to level to 6 and roll (no lower than 10 gold) to find pieces of your composition. Nocturne 2 and Rek'sai 2 will be the most important at this stage but finding any Blademaster is good if you have BotRK at this point. Qiyana is great to pick up as she will usually be your third Assassin.



Overall this build ends up being quite simple. You want to get a BotRK, Nocturne 2 and 4 Blademaster as soon as you can. You'll be looking for Kha'zix and Qiyana as your two additional Assassins and Rek'sai to give your Nocturne the Steel trait. Your fourth Blademaster will likely be Aatrox until you find Master Yi. I don't recommend even getting Aatrox two-starred since you want to sell him as soon as you can.



If you're able to keep a healthy economy and get to level 8 you can flex in a lot of different units. Janna is can be used for Cloud/Mystic, Kindred for Shadow to buff Master Yi and a Steel Lux is great for giving Nocturne the four Steel trait. This build is one of the best currently because it is straight forward to play and even contested it can still do well.

Compositions

Early game is very flexible so I won't post any particular compositions for it but look for Woodland for the Leblanc or run Predators for Rek'sai.

Early/Mid game Woodland/Assassin


At level 6 this composition can be a great starting point for your transition towards 4 BM/3 Assassin at level 7. If you do have a BotRK you can look to run early Blademaster over the Woodland but if you don't have it yet this will give you a good front-line while having the three Assassin buff. Qiyana is one of the best units you can find early besides Nocturne since you can play off what element the map is with her. Early Mountain, Cloud or Inferno all work really well at this point of the game so look try to play around that with Qiyana.

Mid game 4 BM/3 Assassin


Level 7 is where the composition comes online as you'll be able to play all the units you need for 4 BM/3 Assassin. It's okay to run Leblanc still if you don't have the Kha'zix and if you manage to find an early Master Yi feel free to replace Aatrox with him. Don't rush too hard in putting in all the Blademasters once you have a BotRK as the two piece trait is enough while you look for upgrades of your units.

Late game 4 BM/3 Assassin


Late game this build can be flexible with either a Janna to give you Cloud/Mystic or a Steel Lux to give you four Steel. Mystic is most common since it gives your entire team magic resist but be sure to scout your game. If there aren't that many magic-based compositions you can flex in different units at this point instead of Mystic such as a Kindred for Shadow.

Level 9 lets you run Lux if you find her or a Shadow unit for Master Yi. Depending on what element Qiyana is you can also look to play off what she has such as playing a Malphite if the element of the game is Mountain. This composition has a lot of flexibility later in the game so scout around and see what you may need to put in to counter other peoples builds.

For positioning try to split up your Assassins to jump on different sides. Nocturne can be easily blocked in by the other two if they all jump together so try to keep him on his own side or paired with Kha'zix since that unit will usually be moving around often. You'll want to play around where the hexes are so the rest of your units positioning will vary but try to protect your Sivir so she can get her ultimate off to apply her on-hit items.

Because you're running Qiyana this build works great with a lot of the elements. Mountain helps early and mid-game while Inferno can buff your Nocturne before he has full items. Ocean is the least useful elemental map to get while Cloud is a mix. Cloud gives you early 2 Cloud with Yasuo and Qiyana but because the units are heavily auto-attack focused it can be a detriment attacking units on a Cloud hex or someone running Cloud. Keep that in mind when you position Nocturne so he isn't slapping away at someone with the Cloud hex buff.
Thanks for reading! This was a bit of a longer article as I wanted to make sure you walk away from this with a good grasp on the basic fundamentals of each composition. As I said at the start these are not the only viable builds out there but they are the most common I see in games and on streams. Overall this meta, in my opinion, is quite healthy in the variety of builds you can play which I am quite happy about as even though these three builds are the most common they aren't unbeatable. As always I recommend checking out streams to see what people are playing! You can also check out match histories over at https://utft.gg/ and keep up to date with the current ladder standings. 

Thanks to https://lolchess.gg/ for having a ton of resources that I use in my articles!
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