[Patch 11.7] Spirit Sharkshooters/Assassins
Hi I'm Agon. You might know me from playing spirit sharpshooters 80% of the time during my NA finals run. lolchess
This is my best attempt at explaining some of people's most common questions when playing my spirit compositions
For the most part, this is a text guide that will enable you to make better decisions during the entire game. For best results, I suggest watching my vods or livestream at https://www.twitch.tv/agontft, as not everything can be covered over just words or images. Watching someone play through specific situations or boards is probably your best bet at hitting your maximum skill level. (Just as a note you might want to lower your expectations on how well you do as the build itself may be overly contested by the time you attempt to play it).
The best explanation I can provide for spirit compositions, is that they are very high in damage, but are balanced by their squishness. In the same way GP and Ahri were strong burst champions balanced by their mana costs, Katrina/Akali/Teemo/Tristana are balanced by a specific strength and a specific weakness. Understanding this makes it quite easy to understand why a spirit composition might end up wanting lockets as your DPS output is a lot higher when you units actually stay alive (Can't do damage if you're dead). Subsequently, defensive items on a Diana 3 are quite valuable in this composition as it puts a tank in between your squishy carries (Kayles can get stuck on tank Diana and Asols lose 1v1s easily against Dclaw Diana 3.
You might wonder if it's viable to play actual frontline. Given that units like Sej/Aatrox have differing roll times with 3 starring specific units, this is highly unlikely to be a cost efficient comp. Additionally having frontline lowers your DPS output and lowers the value of your lockets. Not having lockets is also not a good option, as many units in this set have backline access (Asol), you basically just auto lose if you choose a traditional front to back composition with some of the sharpshooter/assassin carries.
With that understood, here are some example compositions/items/default positions that you might play throughout the game. Items are rotated around in each comp to show possible outcomes that may occur in your game.
Level 8 with SS Chosen:
Level 8 with Spirit Chosen:
Level 8 with DS Chosen:
Level 7 with Assassin Chosen:
Level 7 with Spirit Chosen:
These images should serve as a guideline for what you'll probably end up with. In order to best play out this comp, you are still going to need to figure what your best level 5 board is (in the event you end up slow rolling for a 1 cost 3 star).
Positioning is always something you have to scout and figure out. In this comp it's mainly a 5 man line with your lockets. Yuumi is usually diagonal to your carry, that way when it gets hit it'll heal itself, and then heal your corned unit. Spirits are usually in the locket as they are squishy and have high value second casts. Pyke doesn't really need it and Janna can do without.
At the starting carousel the best item for spirits is vest: mainly to build lockets, bramble, or to fodder away a bow with titans. Rod might be the optimal choice as it is more contested in other compositions (Mages) and is a locket component. Given this you normally go for vest, as it is usually uncontested. Either way the last thing you want is to miss rod/vest, so try to go for something uncontested if you can. As with all comps, glove is preferred in glove/tear carousels.
One of the questions I want to answer is why in some cases I skip specific chosens in the early game (mainly because they aren't Diana). It's mainly because the odds of chosens are pretty close to guaranteed, so when you reroll for three stars, you'd rather have 3 unchosen Tristanas, rather than just a chosen Tristana. A chosen Tristana at 2-1 does NOT mean you have a good reroll spirit sharpshooter opener. Starting something like vest/glove/rod and 6 gold with 3 Tristanas on 2-1 (therefore you have 11 gold behind) is a good opener because you have 3 copies of Tristana, while still retaining the ability to hit Tristana chosen/Diana chosen/Teemo chosen/ or a chosen that can stabilize (Pyke/Kat/Kindred/Sivir). Starting CHOSEN tristana and nothing else on 2-1 does not mean you have a good start, as you have closed off your ability to hit a 2 star unit to strengthen your board and require 6 natural Tristanas at best to 3 star.
You'll be tasked with making your own judgement in a lot of these cases, but just remember that your chosen doesn't really dictate your gameplay on this patch, as you can practically hard force a chosen for your composition. For example, to get an EV of 1 for a specific 3 cost chosen, you only need to roll 44.82 times. (58% chance of 3 cost chosen at level 7, divide by 50% chosen rate for 29%. 13/.29 = 44.82 rolls). In a lot of games you might find that you've secured 5th already with assassins, and therefore even if you only have 20ish rolls, you should still sell your chosen spirit Kindred and play for assassin Akali 3/kat 3. You might only hit half the time, but going 2nd 50% of the time and 5th 50% of the time is better than going 4th 100% of the time.
In most solo queue lobbies you'll probably end up going for the assassin variation as it caps at a much better round (closer to 6-1 or 6-3). Spirit Tristana sort of ends at about 5-1 when you level to 8 for pyke or mystic. Spirit Tristana spikes much harder before assassins are 3 starred, and thus sounds a little more appealing at top 4ing tougher tournaments. Meanwhile, assassins are much more gold intensive since they require 3 starring 2 costs and 3 costs to fully cap. They usually contend for top 3 placements after securing a minimum placement. Given the amount of risk attached with Tristana reroll, most games I find myself trying to see if I can find a good board for Tristana (having 3 unchosen tristanas + teemo + 2 Dianas) where I can hit Tristana 3 reasonably timed while having a decent board on 3-2 to avoid bleeding out too hard. If this is not the case (and I feel like I won't make it very far with my board), then I usually level to 6 on 3-2 and begin the assassin path.
I'm not sure if there is a good way to explain this as it is intuitive, but basically the game flow of assassins (this is pretty similar to rengar in set one) kind of starts off with sacking hp early to prepare for a rolldown. You roll down for 2 star assassins to stabilize in the mid game (3-2/4-1), and then coast your way to a later stage like 5-1/5-5/6-1 to roll down for 3 star assassins. You usually end up falling to 40-70 hp on stage 3 before stabilizing on 2 stars. From then you win most rounds on stage 4, and then start bleeding out a bit on Stage 5. Once you 3 star your board, you try to winout (Your hp most likely will be around 1-30 at this point). If your rolls don't work out, then you hope that this pacing can get you a top 4-5-6 before you bleed out.
Spirit Tristana is just tank all game and then spike. Since you fall off late game, this can be a bit unfavorable sometimes since solo queue lobbies can slow down rather aggressively when some players auto 8th. Once you hit level 8 there isn't too much to go for and leveling to 9 costs an additional 80 gold. Meanwhile if you were assassins, you would have used this 80 gold to hit akali 3 and katarina 3. The tradeoff is that in a faster moving lobby against tournament level players, 2 star assassins might not stabilize hard enough, leaving you to die before you can hit your win conditions. Spirit Tristana has a better chance of consistently winning Stages 4-1 to 5-3 over assassins.
Spirit Sivir is just one of comps that you take if you need a bailout. Maybe you only have 3 Tristanas and 2 Sivirs with Diana 3, making it so that continuing to roll at 5 is a waste. Maybe you lost carousel and have pretty bad items, putting you in a dire spot on 3-2. You find chosen cultist Sivir, slam a LW and pretty much commit yourself to playing it through. There's always the possibility of stabilizing hard and then rolling down for Teemo 3 and Sivir 3 in the future, but usually you just sort of take whatever placement you can get if you find that you have to commit to Sivir.
Before we begin progressing through the mid game I want to talk about optimal gameplay for streaks. If it is correct for multiple boards to go for a loss streak, then simply playing absolutely nothing could be the optimal way to play (this of course is just a scale between how much gold you'll earn from streaking vs how much hp you lose). Sometimes people ask questions like "why not play... to kill..." and in these cases it is that playing a unit for a slight attempt at killing one unit is not worth losing your loss streak to another open forter. The OPTIMAL play is to avoid playing a board when there is another loss streaker (assuming we've determined we want to lose). However, in solo queue there are many instances when players might not know they are suppose to open in their position and thus a good exploitable play would be to not only reach your 5 loss streak on stage 2, but also kill units while doing so. Either way just be mindful of these scenarios (and honestly it's just math/being able to see how each outcome will affect your future in that game).
One last thing to note about open forting/loss streaking is that strategies like these are more prominent when the game is IMBALANCED. You can't just loss streak/open every game for nothing, there has to be a composition to go for or an item you want to pick off carousel. Just open forting and then playing Kayle afterwards is going to just straight bleed LP. This is why there are so little pivots, it's because the comp you're going for usually has to justify the amount of hp you're giving away to loss streak, and some compositions are just so bad at winning out that there is no coming back from 40 hp (therefore they can not be played). In this case I've determined that lockets and spirit/sin compositions are worth tanking for, and having less gold through an inconsistent streak just hampers at your ability to win out. You don't have to open every game, but unnecessarily spending gold on your stage 2 board might just slow your board's development.
Alright finally onto the mid game. Nothing really big to note as the last few paragraphs should be doing most of the work in terms of getting you to understand what you're getting into. Diana chosen is really the only chosen I always try taking, but again you might sell this later on if you are too far away from 3 starring it. Like I mentioned previously, as a start you can think of assassins as the fodder (lowroll) part of your strategy (the lowroll part of the strategy meaning you play like this when you don't have anything better to do). If you have a lot of Tristanas or a lot of Dianas, you can slow roll at 5 for them. If not, level to 6 on 3-2 and roll to stabilize. You don't have enough gold to guarantee assassin chosen so try to go for a strong board. Heavy damage chosens can use lockets well, so pray for stuff like Neeko/Shyvana/Kindred/Sivir. Holding fable/cultists/keepers are all good run outs, as stuff like fable Naut or cultist Pyke can be good options if you already have a Neeko/Sivir/Kalista/etc.
If you end up having like 5 Tristanas at krugs, then you can try to play Tristana. Hopefully you have your first locket at this point. After krugs you can roll a bit if you prefer the odds (usually if you don't have a chosen or 2 stars). If you already have Diana 2 star/Pyke/Tristana 2 star, then you might not need to roll yet. Save the gold and roll at 5 to improve your board. A mismatch of sharpshooters and assassins can easily be your best board. These days Pyke is pretty much a part of my end game composition but don't be afraid to take Katarinas and Akalis to kill additional units. If you have a lot of Dianas at krugs but not a lot of Tristanas, then you might be on a better path to go for assassins or Sivir after you 3 star your Diana. Once you get your first locket, your item build path definitely opens up a lot more. A second locket is not as important as the first but is still fine. 3 star Diana could prefer some items like dragon claw/bramble if they are easily completable. For the most part I find myself completing items after my first locket rather than going for a specific one. If you have a locket 3 star Diana and a vest and cloak on bench, there's definitely times where you might pick up dragon claw since the vest can build into multiple items (bramble/locket/titans) whereas cloak in assassins can't make anything other dragon claw.
My lolchess has records of all the items I might play but if I were to designate the best items you'd want at each point of the game, they'd look something like this:
Spirit Tristana: First locket -> First damage glove (Hoj/LW) -> Second locket (Bramble/Dclaw if you have 3 star diana) -> Second Hoj/LW/QSS -> 3rd glove item(usually you don't go IE unless you have LW or when you have 9000 swords) -> Third defensive(Zzrot/Dclaw/Bramble/Locket/Titans or Zekes -> Redemption (if your board has multiple 3 stars) -> Defensive utility like Shroud/Zephyr -> Shojin/Morello on Teemo (this can be moved up a bit if 3 star) -> More zekes when you don't really have anything better to take
Dragon soul spat is in there somewhere when you have Dsoul Tristana. It's mainly because dsoul is so useless late game you almost end up sacking it sometimes but you can also play 2 sharps with Teemo Tristiana and a Brand frontline. However with dsoul spat you'll be able to play 4 sharps and have 3 DS in. Dsoul spat usually just goes on Nid/Samira, and you can go ahead and frontline them.
Spirit Assassins: First locket -> Bramble/Dclaw/Titans/Fully stacked Diana if Diana 3 star (or just more lockets if you don't have anything better) -> Sin Spat (This is just for 6 sin as it requires both an assassin chosen and talon to hit 6 sins. You don't really need this if you've already hit 6 assassins. Sin spat usually lands on Kindred or Teemo) -> Glove items for Akali/Zekes/Another locket. Assassins kind of quickly just goes into completing items past stacking your diana. HOJ/IE/RFC/QSS/Gunblade are all makeable items. Akali is usually stacked but 3 star Katarina is sometimes better. (Katarina is much better with the defensive carry items like QSS/Titans/Gunblade/HOJ as additional damage is not as good) Diana 2 star could be stacked with defensive items if you have nothing better but its meh at best (although it is much better than you might expect for a 3 gold unit).
Again you mainly go for item completions past your first locket unless its glove. Sometimes if you're strong and have a glove you just go for more gloves on your Tristana (and just complete with whatever drops form wolves/raptors) (If lantern gives you more gloves you might TG Pyke). For sins you end up going BF for IE a lot simply because IE is better in assassins (than normal comps) and more BFs can be zekes.
Spirit Tristana usually finds a chosen pretty early since they roll a lot at 5 (usually Diana/Trist/Teemo can be SS Nid/ SS Sivir/ Spirit Yuumi in some cases if you 3 star your units before finding a good chosen). Spirit assassins usually takes what it can get IF it can stabilize with it. (any good unit on 3-2, on 4-1 you usually end up with spirit/exec Kindred at the worst). However, you will have to end up selling it on 5-1 (usually you've guaranteed like 6th place at worse at this point), and go for an assassin chosen or something like warlord Katarina if it spikes you to 7 or 8 Katarinas. A lot of this is just math and with assassins you'll have to learn to calculate when to go for the win, as well as when to hold your current board and bleed to a 5th.
And that's pretty much it for now, there may be other things I could try to explain but it's probably better to just play yourself as words are a substitute for gameplay at best. Good luck playing (contesting) this comp