Assassin compositions are quite popular in Teamfight Tactics due to their hilarious potential to one-shot just about anything. There is more to Assassins than just rolling six for the synergy and here is a guide to help you build your own.
Assassins are one of the most powerful composition elements in Teamfight Tactics if executed right, but you will have to keep in mind that they are glass cannons all the way through a match. Therefore, their positioning is crucial and you will likely have to change it several times before a game ends.
Rule of the thumb when playing Assassins is that you want your strongest units to fight with the enemy's strongest ones as soon as possible because Assassins beat just about anything in a straight up fight.
Therefore, the main tactics to counter Assassins is to clump up a bunch of beefy units around carries in hopes they block the path long enough until carries can kill the Assassins before a Rengar or Akali reaches that precious Ashe, Vayne or Aurelion Sol.
As an Assassin player, you will have to counter this with positioning of your own. One of the best ways to do so is to place your tanks as far away from the enemy units as possible. Assassins start the game stealthed and jump on the target farthest from their initial hex but they don't always do so immediately.
This allows Assassins to wait for a fraction of a second in case the enemy frontline moves up. By placing your tanks far away from the enemy team, you will lure their beefy units out at which point they will free up hexes for your Assassins to occupy right next to the squishy targets.
Keep in mind that you always want your strongest Assassins to jump into those positions first. It can be whichever Assassin you upgraded to three stars or whichever you decked out with fancy items, even if they have just two stars.
The best Assassin picks
My personal favourite carries are Rengar and Akali so here is a quick rundown of what they can do and why they are probably the best Assassins to run with.
Rengar can easily be paired with another champion that has the Wild origin, such as Warwick or later Gnar, for a stacking attack speed boost which will enable the menacing cat to one-shot everything even faster. You can read up more on that in the Synergy with Non-Assassins section.
Anyway, Rengar will make short work of squishies and tanks alike since his ability will make him get additional attack speed and critical chance, both of which are invaluable stats for Assassins. Slap an Infinity Edge on him and he will absolutely obliterate any enemy team, provided he lives long enough.
In case the enemy team is running a squishy with Phantom Dancer (PD), you will need to give Rengar Rapidfire Cannon (RFC) to render PD obsolete. The third item should always be a defensive one since the cat has more than enough damage even with Infinity Edge alone. Grab a Dragon's Claw in case you see many Sorcerers or Elementalists on enemy teams or PD if the enemies are running Rangers.
Akali is an Assassin that will either blow up the enemy team on her own or force them to run tanky items such as both PD and Dragon's Claw on their carries which is obviously not ideal for their damage output. This is because she is basically Zed on steroids.
The Ninja origin will cause her to have an additional 40 per cent attack damage if there are no other Ninjas in the team, which is really not much of an issue since you should have access to Evelynn, Katarina, Pyke, Kha'Zix, Rengar and Yoummu's Ghostblade already by the time you field Kinkou Order's exile. This is more than enough to bring your Assassin count to six for that juicy 350 per cent bonus critical damage.
Unlike any other Assassin, Akali can deal both physical and magical damage consistently, critting with both her auto attacks and Five Point Strike. The ability can crit for ridiculous amounts of damage, depending on which items you give her. This makes her have the unique trait of being able to carry in any of the three paths listed below.
I tend to run Rabadon's Deathcap, Infinity Edge / Sword of the Divine and a defensive item, either PD or Dragon's Claw. The main difference between IE and Sword of the Divine is whether you want more one-shots with physical or magic damage. Sword of the Divine proc will make all her attacks crit, meaning 4000+ damage from the spammable Five Point Strike will be all over the place. It is a great counter for Phantom Dancer users, without having to build Rapidfire Cannon.
Synergy with Non-Assassins
Early into the game you will have only three units on the board and chances of getting three Assassins for the 150 per cent critical damage bonus are low. Try using two Knights and one additional unit regardless of what it is, since Knights work well in early game.
On the other hand, don't forget to keep collecting Assassins on the bench so you can field them as soon as you get enough to trigger a crit damage bonus.
Once you hit level 7, you should start thinking about replacing some units in order to get that 6 Assassin bonus. It usually involves mixing up with Imperial, Void or Wild bonuses. Sometimes, depending on the situation you can even get two of those bonuses.
Imperial Assassin path
Garen and Darius are the prime early game picks since they are beefier than Mordekaiser and Darius can stay useful in later stages of the match by providing Imperial (double damage on random Imperial champion) bonus to two of your potential carry Assassins. Should you decide to gamble on Imperial Assassins, make sure you give your Katarina Seraph's Embrace and/or Spear of Shojin to help her actually activate Death Blossom.
On the other hand, if you get a Yoummu's Ghostblade, put it on a Draven and you can ditch either Katarina or Darius. Give him a Rapidfire Cannon (RFC) and he will become a hyper carry that will absolutely obliterate everything on the board. Be mindful that without RFC, he will jump into the enemy backline just like the other Assassins. It's not ideal.
I would suggest using Imperial Assassins if RNG gives you more upgrades and items that fit Katarina and Draven. The enemy will not be able to adapt at all because Draven will shred through tanks and squishies alike, no matter what they build.
Void Assassin path
Alternatively, if you can get your hands on Rek'Sai, Kassadin and Kha'Zix, you will have a decent start that transitions well into later stages of the game due to already having acquired the Void bonus that lets you ignore 50 per cent of the enemy armour.
Kassadin is particularly good since you can give him Yoummu's Blade to activate the 6 Assassin bonus sooner while avoiding less useful champions from that class, such as Katarina and Evelynn. Phantom Dancer and Dragon's Claw also work well on Kassassin, making him a super tank with a replenishing shield, massive critical damage and spell denial. He also helps provide the armour ignoring Void bonus.
Rek'Sai will provide a decent enough meat shield along with the Void count. If you manage to stick a Warwick into the build, you will have two beefy frontliners and a massive boost on Rengar. I would still strongly advise you to replace her with Cho'Gath as soon as you get him. He has more health and a much more useful ability while sharing the same Class and Origin, providing the same bonuses as the burrowing predator.
The Void Assassin path is my favourite because of the early onset of versatility. Imperial Assassins require you to deck out Draven with at least two stars and two items. Void Assassins allow you to make Akali, Kassadin or Rengar the hyper carry fairly early into the game, depending which items you get, while also providing crowd control from Cho'Gath, spell denial from Kassadin or even more crowd control from a tank with crowd control that doesn't inherently fit into Assassins, such as Sejuani.
Wild Assassin path
The third option are Wild champions - Nidalee and Warwick. Warwick works well especially because he has synergy with both Rengar and Rek'Sai. He gives Rengo the stacking attack speed buff as mentioned before while simultaneously activating the Brawler bonus health with Rek'Sai so they can both soak up more damage and buy time for your Assassins to wreck the enemy backline.
You can transition Warwick into Gnar later on for additional meat shield potential along with some of the best crowd control in Teamfight Tactics.
Wild Assassin path relies on Rengar to finish the fight before the enemy champions even get enough mana for their first spell. It is most definitely a fun path to play with since Rengar mauling tanks as fast as squishies will provide a sense of pride and accomplishment, no loot boxes required.
It does, however, require Rengar to have Rapidfire Cannon in order to bypass Phantom Dancer defences that the opposing champions might have. Alternatively, you can buff Akali up to two stars and give her a Rabadon's Deathcap so she can deal with such enemies instead.
When to level and what to build
Gold and experience management
I usually don't reroll at all early on and just buy every 1 gold champion that is available, up until the battle with Krugs. The champions you don't need you can sell for the same price if your bench gets filled up. By buying them up, you minimize chances of getting unwanted champion rolls so when you get something you like, you can just sell a useless champion and get those Kha'Zix buffs.
Buy experience when you are level 4 with six experience on the bar. This will bring you to five champions in total - ideally two tanks and three Assassins. After that, save up the money until you build up more than 50 gold for maximum interest and try to purchase eight experience for eight gold whenever you see that amount will level you up.
Make sure you get your champions on the board up to two stars as soon as possible. Once you are over 50 gold, don't shy away from rerolling and go below that amount only if RNG blesses you with a critical champion upgrade.
The only other reason to go below 50 gold is if you are getting beaten down hard. If you hit the 40 health mark without hitting the full power spike with at least one decked out carry Assassin and the 6 Assassin bonus, go hard on rerolls and levelling - you need to pull yourself out of that spot as soon as possible and build your economy back up.
Alternatively, you can check Scarra's video on the economy, it gives a good picture of what to do and what to expect.
The best complete items you can have are:
- Infinity Edge - works on every carry Assassin. I recommend using it on Rengar, Akali or Draven. Before you get anyone from the trio fantastico, you can use it on Kha'Zix or Zed for maximum potential. Make sure you have a spare two-star Kha'Zix on the bench for the moment one of the better Assassins comes along. That way you can sell the Infinity Edge Kha'Zix, field the itemless one and give IE to the hyper carry.
- Rabadon's Deathcap - works extremely well on Akali, allowing her to kill tanks in one Five Point Strike unless they use Dragon's Claw or have the Dragon origin bonus. If this happens, she will just kill them with basic attacks. Alternatively, you can use the item on Katarina if you already gave her Seraph's Embrace or Spear of Shojin. This can result in entire team wipes in a matter of seconds, depending on how well she positions herself when using the ability.
- Spear of Shojin - you can give one to Pyke early in the game for increased crowd control. Low crowd control potential is one of the Assassins' weaknesses so it really benefits them to have a crazed pirate dashing around the board, stunlocking half the enemy team.
- Phantom Dancer - works well as the third item on your hyper carries. It will make Akali or Rengar easily win 1v4 fights against other auto attacking champions. If you are running a Kassadin with Yoummu's Ghostblade, you can use this item in conjunction with Dragon's Claw to make him a raid boss.
- Dragon's Claw - Basically the same drill as with Phantom Dancer, just works against champions that rely on abilities. You can put it on one of your hyper carries or combine it with PD on Kassadin.
There are some items you should avoid as well:
- Zephyr - The initial five-second immobilization of one enemy champion can prove disastrous for your Assassins' positioning if it happens to randomly choose a tank. That tank will remain in place for five seconds and later be able to mess with your hyper carries that are attempting to deal with the enemy backline. If you do get a Giant's Belt, you are better off using it to build Zeke's Herald to provide attack speed for Assassins.
- Cursed Blade - This item doesn't have inherently bad effects but it's nothing that really stands out while it requires two otherwise important items to craft - Recurve Bow that is more useful for building Phantom Dancer and Negatron Cloak that is part of Dragon's Claw.
- Spatula items - Same deal as with Cursed Blade. They are all useless to you except for Force of Nature and Yoummu's Ghostblade. The latter is only useful if you are building a Kassassin or Draven Assassin.
That should do it. If there are any instructions that are unclear or if you think we missed something, you can contact us via direct messages on our Facebook page. We will make sure to clarify or potentially add more sections to this guide based on your feedback. Good hunting!