TFT Ranger Guide - Whittle Down Your Enemies!
TFT Ranger Guide
This text is a part of our advanced series on TFT. If you’re looking for something suited for a new player, check out our Beginner’s Guide. Even though Teamfight Tactics meta often changes drastically from patch to patch, Rangers seem to almost always be present as a viable build. Currently, in 9.21, they received some buffs, even though Kai’sa already was one of the most powerful units in the game. Either way, they’re definitely a huge part of the current meta. Rangers are also one of the few classes that will remain in TFT after set 2 comes out.
In this guide, we’re going to cover all of the most important aspects of playing this top-tier champion class. Starting with key units and items, going into possible variants and pivots, as well as positioning and adapting to your enemies.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Ranger Build
Before we go into the details, we have to understand what actually makes Rangers a strong build. After looking at their class trait, we can see that they can proc extra attack speed (30% for two of them, 70% for four). Additionally, Ashe can make great use of it, since she’s a Glacial. Varus can mana burn more efficiently with his Demon origin. Moreover, Vayne deals with percentage enemy max HP true damage every third hit on the same target, which is obviously also great with extra attack speed.
With right itemization (looking at you, Guinsoo’s Rageblade and Giant Slayer), Rangers can reach attack speed cap in longer fights. The key is to keep them (at least your main carry or carries) alive long enough. They are basically always played with 2 or 4 Glacials, letting Ashe chain stun the target that she’s hitting. That makes Rangers great against non-assassin melee carries that pretty much can’t move. At the same time, it’s the only build that almost always utilizes Phantom, letting you easily get rid of one of the enemy units. Pretty much all the successful Ranger comps will be based on utilizing the high attack speed and on-hit effects.
Rangers want as many long front-to-back teamfights as possible. They deal mostly single target damage, so they’ll often kill enemies one by one. That means that usually, you’re going to want some strong units in the frontline to buy time for your Rangers to ramp up. At the same time, you’ll often struggle against enemies that can reliably reach your backline. Some of the counters include carriers like Brand or Aurelion Sol, or Assassin comps (the last one is kind of dicey though – late game Rangers can actually counter Assassins, but they need a lot of power on the board, right positioning, and itemization). There are also item choices that can help against the artillery mages that we’ve mentioned.
If all your non-Ranger units will be pure tanks, you’re going to do a relatively low amount of damage. You are likely to chain CC melee units and whittle them down eventually, but Rangers don’t kill enemies too fast. Varus’ Piercing Arrow is a really strong burst skill early on, but it gets out scaled later. While it’s definitely possible to win games without any additional damage dealers, many players will often look for something. Especially Aatrox is popular with Ranger builds since he’s a melee champion that also hits really hard. The introduction of Kai'sa warped the meta quite a bit since Rangers got a late-game carry that's much more powerful than Ashe in terms of sheer damage output.
Key Units and Items
While Rangers are not the most flexible build in TFT, there is some wiggle room definitely. We’re going to talk about three variants of Ranger comp that I found success within high elo. However, there’s one unit that has to be included in every Ranger build and it’s Ashe.
The only 5-cost Ranger, of course, had to be included on this list. Her introduction opened up a lot of different possibilities of playing Rangers. a two-star Kai’sa with the right items can often single-handedly carry a fight. She has access to three traits: Ranger, Assassin, and Void. All of them can significantly increase her damage output.
The most common itemization is Guinsoo’s Rageblade, Giant Slayer and one defensive item (Dragon’s Claw, Guardian Angel, etc.). With this setup, she can really become an incredibly powerful carry. She can deal the most damage in a Void Brawler comp, but you can also use her alongside Nobles or Knights. If you have other strong damage threats, you can play more on-hit utility items on her, like Hush or Sword Breaker. These two can cancel the damage output of enemy carries. In the end, every Ranger player should opt into playing Kai'Sa in the late game.
Ashe used to be the main carry in all the high-level Ranger comps. She has a long attack range, pretty high attack speed, a very useful ultimate with a low cast time and most importantly, she’s a Glacial. The ability to chain CC enemies one of the key strengths of this build right now. If you get really unlucky with rolls, you can even transition into 2 Rangers comp instead of 4, getting more Glacials and some damage source, but you can’t play this build without her.
Guinsoo’s Rageblade is the must-have item, with Runaan’s Hurricane and Giant Slayer being a close second. Statikk Shiv is not as powerful anymore, but it’s still decent. Basically all the on-hit items are also really good. The optimal build would be Guinsoo and double Hurricane, but that requires two Spatulas on your main carry, so it’s unlikely to happen. At the same time, Spatula can be used to make another Glacial what is really good if you’re running a variant with three units of that origin.
The other key piece of this build and a unit that you’ll put some items on is actually not a Ranger. It’s a Sejuani. Remember when we talked about a strong frontline? This boar-riding Knight happens to be one of the strongest tanks in the game, while also being a Glacial and having access to a valuable ultimate. You want to arm her with any tank items that you can get, while also giving her mana and optionally, a Guardian Angel and/or Morellonomicon. The last item is nice, but if I had an option to ensure 1 more cast of Glacial Prison I would gladly sacrifice the Morello for that. If you’re playing Kai’Sa as your main carry, Cho’Gath can play pretty much the same role.
The last unit that I want to mention might not be as important as the previous two, but it also matters a lot. Kindred is a key enabler of this team comp. They will likely be the last Ranger that you get. Getting them can unlock the four Ranger bonus, the Phantom trait and a life-saving ultimate. You want to always position Kindred close to Ashe. Even the one-star ultimate provides 4 seconds of immortality. If you don’t get CCed, it means four seconds of constant auto-auto attacks from Ashe. This can easily flip the outcome of around. Kindred also can use mana items really well, you can also turn them into a Glacial or a Demon.
Other important units
You’ll obviously want the two remaining Rangers. Mordekaiser is also useful as he is both a Phantom and a Knight – both of these are pretty important, but the unit is easy to get and not that strong. If you want to run four Knights in your level 8 build, you definitely want Poppy. Braum is also really useful since he can enable Glacial really soon and open up Guardians if you get an early Leona. The same can be said for Lissandra, no matter if it’s just for transition or if you’re considering Elementalists in your endgame comp. The aforementioned Cho'Gath is a great choice after you already have Kai'Sa in your comp.
During carousel rounds, you might sometimes get a chance to get what you want. In these situations, it’s important to know which items to prioritize. In the first carousel, you’ll most likely go for Spatula, Recurve Bow or B.F. Sword, since they’re generally helpful in every build. Later, when you know that you want to go Rangers, you should prioritize:
B.F. Sword - you pretty much only need one, for a Giant Slayer on one of your carries - the introduction of this item was one of the greatest features for Rangers. That being said, it's probably the most contested item in the game, so grab it if you can. An extra Guardian Angel will always fit your build and denying the B.F. Sword from your enemies is always worth it.
Recurve Bow – you need Guinsoo’s Rageblade and this component is generally more contested than the other one. If you already have at least one Rageblade, you can consider making Statikk Shiv, Cursed Blade, Phantom Dancers (against Assassins) and Titanic Hydra (if you have a three-star Ranger).
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Spatula – Runaan’s Hurricane on Ashe is really strong. You might also want to make a Frozen Mallet for Kindred or Vayne. Darkin is also a decent item for Sejuani or Kindred. Most importantly though, you want to make sure that other players don’t get the Spatula. A lot of builds live or die by this item. In theory, you could also make the Force of Nature, but I don’t think it’s really worth it right now.
If you don’t have Guinsoo’s Rageblade, go for Needlessly Large Rod, if you already have it, you can ignore this component.
Negatron Cloak – it’s generally not that contest, so you should be able to get it easily. That being said it builds into Runaan’s Hurricane, three great on-hits: Cursed Blade (great against strong tanks and Shapeshifters), Sword Breaker (hard counters Assassins and melee Blademasters, but it’s pretty strong against everyone) and Hush (can destroy everyone relying on getting their ult off). You can also get an occasional Dragon’s Claw if you have too much trouble with enemy Aurelion Sol, Brand or Karthus.
Chain Vest – it’s really low priority, but it builds into Guardian Angel, Sword Breaker, and Red Buff and we can use all three of those items. A random Chain Vest or Giant’s Belt is always good on Sejuani too.
If you can’t get any of those, go for any missing components that you might need. If you can’t get them, you can pretty much prioritize the highest cost units.
Variants of this team comp
Four Rangers and Knights
This is probably the most standard version of the Rangers build. Knights provide a strong frontline and some CC, while also enabling Glacial and Phantom synergies. When running Phantom, Runaan’s Hurricane and Statikk Shiv are even more valuable, because they can help to delete the low HP unit. This is also why some players use Ionic Spark in this comp, but I don’t think it’s optimal anymore.
As usual, you want to make sure that your Ashe is as safe as possible. Always look at potential Zephyrs and Blitzcranks, of course, you won’t be able to counter every player with your positioning, but scouting enemy comps is crucial. If someone is running Hextech, you probably shouldn’t put items on Kindred, since they should always be positioned next to Ashe and you don’t want two of your champions to temporarily lose that much power.
This variant should work really well against Shapeshifters and other Ranger comps, while also beating Gunslingers and Blademasters. Knights are heavily countered by Void, so Assassins might be tough. Really powerful mages with some frontline can also be a problem. If you don’t feel like four Knights bonus is worth keeping the one-cost unit, you can always replace him with Aatrox and maybe going back to four Knights if you manage to get level 9 and Kayle (but hitting level 9 is pretty rare in this meta).
Aatrox has a very specific role as a situational unit in Ranger builds. Obviously, he enables Demons for Varus and provides additional frontline. However, this build can struggle when dealing with Braum, especially if he has some defensive items. Aatrox is one of the best standalone counters to Braum since his ability ignores the shield.
In the early game, you can place some items on Vayne, because since you will later replace her with Kai’sa anyway.
Four Rangers and Guardians
The general idea is pretty similar to the Knights variant. You add a strong and durable frontline to your Rangers and hope for a classic front-to-back fight when your team simply outlasts the enemy. You obviously also enable the Glacial passive for Ashe. In the early game, you’ll still want to transition through Knights, since activating Guardians usually takes a while (unless you got an extremely early Leona).
In certain situations, it might be good to put Thornmail and maybe even Warmog’s Armor on Braum, it works really well against Draven comps, most Blademasters/Gunslingers and other Ranger players. However, this won’t help you against basically anything else. While Leona’s ultimate is much smaller than Sejuani’s, a lot of people noticed that she tends to prioritize the strongest enemies. It’s not confirmed by Riot, but it seems like she’s either targeting the highest cost unit or the one with the highest damage output. Either way, it might be a good idea to make her ult as much as possible, if you have her two-starred and you’re positive that she stays alive long enough.
You pretty much want more melee frontline, as your level 7 and 8 pieces. You’re going to want something that you can double buff with Guardians (remember – they stack). Sejuani is always really good here, so get her if you can. Aatrox is once again considerable, especially if you need some extra power to punch through the enemy frontline. If you can’t get anything better, Mordekaiser can work as a Phantom enabler.
In the late game, you can add Pantheon as a third Guardian. It also opens up the possibility of adding Shyvana. It’s not a great transition, but can actually help you win against Sorcerer comps. It’s a pretty drastic step though, only go for it when all your remaining enemies are mage-heavy and you’re not beating them with your standard build. You will of course also be fishing for Kai’sa in the endgame.
Rangers and Elementalists
This is a really interesting variant. It has a much weaker and less reliable frontline, but it offers more damage. It also deals with enemy backline much better. The item priority changes a lot when you’re playing this variant. The actual fights will be much shorter since it’s not that much of a traditional front-to-back as the other variants.
The Ranger+Ele build utilizes the elemental golem – Daisy as well as Kennen and Lissandra as pseudo-frontliners. Guardian Angel on Kennen is necessary for that purpose, Morellonomicon is also useful since it really amplifies his damage. While your Rangers do their thing, stunning and slowly killing enemy frontline, Brand will always focus backline with his ult. That’s why giving him mana and spell damage might be a good idea.
It’s an extremely powerful build, but it has a somewhat awkward build path. There are two possibilities for a really smooth transition and both of them are quite unlikely. You either need really early Elementalists (I’m talking level 5-6) or two-star Kennen with the items that we mentioned, since he will be able to solo carry you for quite some time – hopefully until you get the rest of your comp going.
Four Ranger variant is really strong and viable, but the ones that you really need are Ashe and Varus. If you can’t get Kindred early enough, you can easily transition to a two Ranger version with more Demons and stronger frontline. If you’re playing with four, your level 7 comp is pretty obvious. Later you can add Sejuani or Aatrox. If you’re playing Kindred, the Mordekaiser for Phantom is also an option, but it’s not even going to give you Knights, so keep looking for something better.
This is the best Ranger build to deal with Assassin comps. GA Morello Kennen can actually solo carry some fights against them, Brand will likely do a lot if he gets a single ult off and you should be winning fights against Assassins unless the enemy got really lucky with rolls. You will also do very well against front-to-back comps since Brand should easily access the backline carries. Dragon’s Claw or strong Aurelion Sol with the Dragon buff will cause some problems though. It’s also not as strong against Blademasters and Gunslingers since it’s overall a squishier setup.
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I believe it’s currently the strongest and most versatile version of a Ranger comp. The biggest problem is that it is pretty difficult to force every game. Item-wise you can pretty much use everything, but in order to hit the full power, you will need a lot of strong two-starred units. Ashe and Kennen are an absolute must. The difference between one and two-star Brands is humongous too. You’re going to want Kindred to reliably get their ult off. Eventually, a strong Sejuani in the frontline would be a great cherry on top. Hitting all of that might be difficult if RNG gods are not on your side. However, if you do get early Elementalists, you can snowball really hard.
If you find Anivia you can play her instead of the Lissandra. If there are no Assassin players left, you can get rid of Kennen and transfer his items to other units. Anivia is really strong against Rangers and Draven – the two builds that Kennen struggles against the most. Varus is also a really strong temporary carry, that can be replaced with Kai’sa in the endgame.
Two Rangers and Void Brawlers
This build is focused on the sheer power of Kai’Sa. It’s the least Ranger-focused comp of the ones that we talked about. You pretty much only need Kai’Sa, Ashe as the second Ranger is kind of optional. When playing this build, you want to get Guinsoo’s and Giant Slayer as soon as possible and put them on a temporary carry (usually Lucian or Varus, later on, you can go for Jinx if you really can’t get Kai’Sa). At the same time, you should try and get as many Brawlers as possible. Their flat HP will be really helpful in getting through the mid game.
This variant is relatively flexible. You can sometimes give up on Ranger buff, Assassin buff or Glacial. The core is a bunch of Brawlers, four Void and the Kai’Sa as carrying. Some variants can go up to six Brawlers for the most durable frontline. Besides the core Kai’Sa items, you also want to get some defense and AP on Cho’Gath - he’ll often be the second-highest damage dealer, while also providing a ton of crowd control.
Playing against other meta comps
If you’re struggling with winning against very specific builds, you’re in the right place. We’re going to talk about positioning, build adjustments and itemization that will help you in some of the most difficult matchups. Of course, there are some rock-paper-scissors going on and you can’t really build to win against every team comp. What you can do is scout to look for the toughest, most dangerous enemies and try to prepare against them.
How to win against Assassins?
We already mentioned that Rangers are actually not the worst build to play against the Void Assassins. If you’re high rolling with this build, there’s a big chance to beat the Assassin players even without focusing on specifically countering them. However, we’re not going to tell you to rely on pure luck, because there are ways to beat them pretty consistently.
Elementalist variant – as we touched on earlier, Guardian Angel and Morellonomicon on Kennen, as well as an extra burst from Brand and Lissandra will help a lot.
Sword Breaker – one of the best ways of beating Assassins is taking away their ability to attack. To reliably win against this build, you’re going to need multiple Sword Breakers though, preferably combined with Runaan’s Hurricane. It’s not optimal against every comp, but it works really well against this one.
Positioning – there are two things that you can do. The general best option is cornering Ashe and surrounding her with other units as tightly as possible. If you see that it’s not working and she gets focused and killed really fast, you can take the second approach. Position your team in the middle - your main carry's location is in the middle of everyone, with two Assassin baits in both corners (use your least useful units – in many scenarios, it’s Vayne and Mordekaiser). This way, you can buy a bit of extra time for your remaining pieces to auto-attack and charge their abilities. The problem is – this positioning is only good against Assassins and pretty bad against everything else.
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How to counter Brand and Aurelion Sol?
As we said, the artillery mages are one of the main counters to the Ranger builds. That doesn’t mean that you have to quietly accept your losses though. While the counter options are somewhat limited, there are some things that you can do.
Dragon’s Claw – if you see some strong mage players in your lobby, you can save an item slot on your Ashe to potentially give her the Dragon’s Claw. At the same time, double Runaan’s Hurricane provides 80 magic resist. It might not be enough and it’s more difficult to get, but it provides a ton of utility with extra stuns. Of course, it helps against all the other mages too.
Positioning – if you’re playing against one of these carriers, you can actually do a really nice trick to dodge their damage. Both of them are coded to focus the furthest away unit with their ultimate. What you have to do, is position all your units on the same side as the enemy and place a single piece as bait in the far corner. This way they should absorb at least one ultimate. That means that Aurelion Sol will ignore your carries for a bit and the Brand’s Pyroclasm won’t bounce to other units. In both these cases, it’s a huge damage loss. Of course, it’s not that reliable, as enemies can also switch positions and you might not know who you’re going to fight next.
How to beat Dragons?
In general, Rangers are a pretty good comp against Dragons and Shapeshifters. As long as you’re able to chain CC the key units, you’re good to go. The main problem is Gnar and his ability to destroy positioning and stop the constant flow of auto-attacks. Kai’Sa is actually probably the best counter to Pantheon at the moment. She shields herself, which allows her to ignore the healing reduction that he inflicts and she does a ton of true damage (you don’t even need Void - Giant Slayer also inflicts true damage). At the same time, her Assassin leap makes it less likely that she gets hit with the Gnar and Aurelion Sol ultimates. Some other things to look at are:
Itemization – on-hit items, most importantly Hush is very good against the Shapeshifters. If you manage to chain Hush and Glacial stun them and kill them before the transformation, you pretty much won the round. Hurricane is also great to spread these on-hits. You can also consider Darkin on one of the Rangers or simply playing Aatrox, to enable the Varus mana burn.
Positioning – while Gnar will definitely destroy your battle formations every time that he gets to ult, he tends to not reach the unit that’s cornered the most. It’s not that much, but it can let your Ashe keep auto-attacking. You can also make a gap between your frontline and your backline, since Gnar will charge his ult where he’s attacking, making it harder for him to reach your backline. However, I would only do this when I’m in the top 2, fighting against a Gnar player. That being said, the enemy can simply reposition the Gnar in the last seconds.
Pivoting out of Rangers
We already discussed a few small pivots, while we talked about different variants. But what if you had to completely abandon Rangers? Let’s say there are multiple players going with this build and they’re all doing better than you. You may also have a lot of bad matchups or maybe you simply can’t get the units that you need. Let’s see.
A general tip – always start building the items that are useful in multiple comps – this is why people build so many Guardian Angels – they work in every comp and you can never go wrong with them. The same goes for Morellonomicon, it might not always be optimal, but every team comp will have at least one decent user.
However, let’s consider a situation when you committed a bit harder. As a Ranger player, you probably have a Guinsoo’s Rageblade, since it’s the most important item in this comp. You might also have some on hits and maybe a Statikk Shiv. You’re also likely to have some Knights since they’re the best Ranger frontline that’s also easy to get.
Weirdly enough, Shapeshifters work pretty well with Ranger items. They usually live pretty long, so they can stack Guinsoo’s effectively. They auto-attack a lot so on-hits are also not bad, but maybe suboptimal. Run them with Knights for some time and then look for more standard units that go well with this build.
The second, maybe a bit more obvious pivot is Draven. He works really well with the Knights – especially Darius. Draven’s also a great Guinsoo’s Rageblade and Giant Slayer user, while his Runaan’s procs hit like a truck. You can make him a single carry in six Knights comp. The other option is four Knights and three Blademasters, with Gangplank holding the on-hit items. You can also look for the full Imperial transition.
Lastly, you can go to the Gunslingers’ direction. It’s especially good if you went for the Kai’Sa + Brawlers variant. Jinx also works extremely well with items like Giant Slayer and Guinsoo’s Rageblade - she also provides the Hextech synergy with Vi. It’s not as powerful as the endgame Kai’Sa comp, but it’s still really strong.
TFT Rangers Team Comp
I believe that these are the most important basic and slightly more advanced concepts to keep in mind when going for a Ranger build-in TFT. I hope this guide helped you with planning a Ranger comp, as well as improving your overall gameplay. It’s a really strong team comp that can bring a lot of LP. It’s also flexible enough to really make you learn the game. Knowing how and when to pivot is a really important skill in Teamfight Tactics and it’s going to require some practice.
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