For nearly all new esports, figuring out how to balance the game properly can prove to be very difficult. Teamfight Tactics is no exception.
The team behind TFT has had their fair share of ups and downs when it comes to game balance. As the end of set 2 draws closer, TFT has had some of its highest praise and also some of its lowest approval during the games second expansion.
In patch 10.2, the game for many players felt very stable with multiple compositions being able to win games. However, the developers of TFT wanted to take this time to experiment. The result came in patch 10.3. After taking away the infamous Spatula item off of the carousel, many compositions lost viability. Coming off of patch 10.2 where many compositions were viable, Patch 10.3 only really has one. In just one patch, it seems TFT took a giant step backwards.
TFT Patch 10.2-The death of Blademasters
The reason why players really liked the 10.2 patch for TFT was that the game felt truly balanced. For a majority of set 2, Blademaster comps dominated the game. Riot Games, the company behind TFT, spent a lot of time during the set making tweaks to the Blademaster class and champions. In patch 10.2, Blademaster compositions were finally brought down to a balanced level. The rest of the patch focused on a lot of changes to other classes as well.
This paid off for Riot as some of the games top players praised the changes in patch 10.2. Some even called it the most balanced the game has ever been.
This is the best patch that set 2 already have
i really can see different comps with enough potential to win the game. still need some buffs/nerfs but these are understandable
— C9 Jschritte (@JSchritte) January 26, 2020
Players in the highest tier of competitive ranking were able to increase their rank due to their adaptability skills. This was due to the fact that there were so many compositions to choose from like Rangers, Ocean Mage, Lights, and Shadow Inferno. Then came patch 10.3.
Patch 10.3-The death of the Spatula
For some players up to this point in the games life cycle, there has only been one viable strategy to increase their ranking. It was common that a player would lose rounds on purpose to guarantee they get priority over the infamous Spatula item. The reason why Spatula is infamous is because the item breaks the power ceiling for compositions. This means that compositions that are not normally broken, can be. Blademasters and Lights have been two compositions that have used this item the best.
Losing on purpose for Spatula and being able to force build a specific composition with it every game was a big problem. At times not only was a viable strategy, but it also sometimes was the best strategy. This goes against the vision Riot Mort, lead designer for TFT, has had.
“Spatula is supposed to be a unique rare thing you adapt to” Riot Mort said, “this game is about adapting.”
However, there were unforeseen impacts this had on the metagame. With Spatula’s gone from the carousel, only compositions that did not need the item in anyway became the best way to win matches. With that in mind, players very quickly figured out that the only composition that didn’t need a spatula and did not suffer from any nerfs in patch 10.3 was Crystal Poison Rangers.
Patch 10.3-Crystal Poison Ranger takeover
In this current patch, many players have only had success at winning matches when they built this same exact composition. This composition revolves around building damage items on the Poison Ranger, Twitch, and the Crystal Ranger, Ashe. The composition is almost impossible to beat because of the powerful front line Crystal Poison Rangers have with units such as Taric, Braum, Dr.Mundo, and Singed. These units provide an ample amount of time for Twitch and Ashe to delete opposing teams. No other composition stands a chance unless they get very lucky.
Because of this, games in patch 10.3 for many players have lost a lot of skill. Many players in each game will try to build this composition with only one or two players successfully pulling it off, the rest of the players just simply accept defeat. It’s Crystal Poison Rangers or bust.
overall this has been a very frustrating patch, and i may just wait for the next one to hit to see what changes. i’ll probably still share what the “good” comps are, but unless i have an epiphany over the next day, getting there will rely on your stage2 luck.
— Kien Lam (@MeanMisterKien) February 11, 2020
Many tier lists in the community also believe this and many of the top level challenger players have lost significant ranks due to the luck nature of this patch.
Even with the negative impact of the patch, Riot Mort said on twitter that this is a good thing for the future of the game as a “solved game” isn’t the intention.
This might not be popular, but I see this as a win and a good thing for the game long term.
TFT should be about adapting. It was too solved before. Happy to see players having to change their style based on the lobby, not play the same way every game via a guide.
— Riot Mort (@Mortdog) February 11, 2020
Only time will tell if this change will pay off. But looking at the game right now many players are wishing they can go back to patch 10.2. Those same players are hoping that patch 10.3 is just a bump in the road.