Lessons learned from the TFT Challenger Series
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The first official Teamfight Tactics event in North America since November, the TFT Challenger Series, brought together 16 of the highest-ranked players in the NA region to fight for the next two spots at the Mid-Set Finale. After two days of competition, “Spicyappies” and “Aesah” emerged victorious. Here are the lessons we learned from the event.

The New Guard continues to rise

So far in TFT: Gizmos and Gadgets, there have been a number of relatively unknown players making names for themselves in the scene. And, during the TFT Challenger Series, that trend continued. In a 16-player tournament with multiple established pros, two players that many spectators haven’t heard of stepped into the spotlight. The finals on Day 2 consisted of four sponsored players, a TFT World Championship representative, a constant Rank 1 mainstay and Aesah and Spicyappies. Guess who placed top two.

Thanks to consistent play throughout the entire event, both Spicyappies and Aesah managed to top four in five of the six-game finals. And,, although Aesah only managed to win a single game, it was the most important; they took home the title of Challenger Series champion. Spicyappies put up a near-identical performance, as they actually tied Aesah with 39 points. The next closest player had 33.

Now, Spicyappies and Aesah join fellow members of the up-and-coming new guard “Ramblinnn,” “Pickleonion,” “Pawnup” and “Pockygom:” the four qualifiers from the Piltover Cup. All of the players that qualified thus far are having breakout years.

It may be Checkmate for the Standard format

The Challenger Series, with the Checkmate format, had more games played than the Piltover Cup, which used the Standard format. | Screenshot provided by Riot Games

When it comes to TFT esports, there has been a divide in whether the standard points format or Checkmate format is better for competitive play. With pros and cons on both sides, there still remains a split, even as TFT heads into the middle part of its fourth competitive season. With that said, the argument for the Checkmate format gets stronger with every passing event.

The TFT Challenger Series used the Checkmate format with a “safety-net” that is becoming more common in recent times. The safety-net states that on top of the points checkpoint threshold, there is a second one that ends the tournament if anyone hits it. This allows the consistently dominant player, that would typically win under the standard points format, to win the tournament even if they don’t “high-roll” a first-place finish at the end of the tournament. But the Challenger Series didn’t need it and it still had more games played than there would have been in standard points formats.

Typically, in the standard format, players play five games and the player with the most points is crowned the winner. This was the case in the last major NA tournament, the Piltover Cup. But, in the Challenger Series, thanks to the Checkmate format requiring a player in “check” to win a game, the finals went to six games. The main argument for points format is that there are more games played. That argument got dashed with this event.

Kai’Sa shows that Patch 12.1 is just 11.24 Part 2

TFT Patch 11.24 reshaped the entire metagame, as it focused more on five-cost carries instead of four-cost carries. But, even though Kai’Sa was dominant, many of the game’s strongest comps functioned around Urgot, Jhin and Yone. With Patch 12.1, Kai’Sa received nerfs. But in the Challenger Series finals, it was Urgot and Jhin that performed the best. In a weird twist, Kai’Sa was also present in the top placing comps too. In Game 2, both Spicyappies and TSM’s Duy “Souless” Nguyen had upgraded Kai’Sa’s, and both finished top two. And, in Game 5, that famous duo of Fiora and Kai’Sa from the last patch won once again.

Although a couple of other comps showed up, like Souless’ Talon carry in Game 6, it was Aesah’s Challenger comp with Kai’Sa, Yone and Fiora that ended up winning in the end.

ASU alum with a B.A in Sports Journalism, Warren is one of the premier TFT Journalists in the scene and is a decent TFT player as well who has peaked Challenger and has had multiple accounts in Master+ over all sets. Warren also specializes in other esports content including League of Legends, Valorant, Smash Bros, and more.