Teamfight Tactics Berserkers Challenger Guide
A lot of people took notice on how quickly I climbed this patch and have been asking me a lot of questions about Berserkers so I figured I’d make a long detailed guide answering the most popular questions I’ve recieved as well as some more advanced info and some neat and/or niche tricks that you might not know about Berserkers even if you’re high elo yourself.
The guide is gonna be very long and I’ll go over a lot of different things but I’ll do my best to highlight every section so that you as the reader can find the information you find valuable as easily as possible. I’m also writing this guide with the assumption that the reader has at least an above average understanding of the game but I’ll try and remember to explain everything and be thorough enough that you can hopefully learn something from the guide no matter what elo you’re at.
So what made Berserkers so strong?
The 10.4 Patch gave a lot of buffs to Berserkers both directly and indirectly. First off they made Olaf 1 strong enough that he’s actually comparable to other 4 costs at 1 star. Before this patch Olaf 1 was completely useless as most of the time he would not even get his ult off and even if he did he was not very strong. So you had to hit 2 star Olaf to spike which made the comp very high variance. It was basically get Olaf 2 or just lose all your HP until you do. Now he’s a pretty reliable spike in power even at 1 star, which is how it should be since he’s the center piece of your entire build.
But the biggest reason Berserkers became stronger is because of the buffs to Glacial, and most importantly Glacial 2. Glacial 2 got an insane buff going from 20% stun chance to 25% stun chance and 75 damage. Giving a 25% flat buff to the stun chance on an already really strong 2 unit synergy is insane and Berserkers get that synergy “for free” since you always play 2 Glacial in 6 Berserkers in Olaf and Volibear.
The buffs to Glacial also made Glacial 4 a very strong mid game transition during Stage 3 and this way introduced a lot of options both in the midgame but also lategame which was something Berserkers did not have before as it was extremly one dimensional.
This together with the nerfs to other meta comps that do well into Berserkers like Poison Crystal Rangers made Berserkers into a top tier comp.
What units do I play?
6 Berserkers or 3 Berserkers?
I always play 6 Berserkers. I find 3 Berserkers to be extremly niche and requires an extreme amount of highrolling and depends on 5 costs and a very strong early game to stay healthy because you need to be able to find Singed 2 and Zed 2. It’s not a BAD comp, but I believe 6 Berserkers to be superior and is also a lot more consistent in getting top 4.
What about 4 Glacial?
So let’s talk about Glacial 4. Glacial 4 extremly strong during Stage 3 because of the damage added to it in this patch and having 4 units on your board that can stun early on is very powerful when there are very few true carries in play yet. Thanks to this you now rely less on finding Olaf and can make a strong board by rolling down at 3-2 level 6 (I’ll go over this in the next part). But just like Electric, Glacial damage falls of the later the games goes on, so you can’t really rely on it to carry you after Stage 3 and I recommend looking to pivot out of it by level 7 at 4-1.
But there are times where Glacial 4 is played at 8 together with the 6 Berserkers. First off all you need to have Last Whisper on your Olaf, with this item you can completely skip Desert 2 and not build Kha’zix. If you don’t have LW on Olaf or run Desert you run a high risk Olaf getting stuck on a frontliner for too long. So some form of armour penetration is mandatory for this comp, no matter what version you run. Besides just needing LW on Olaf you also need the units, which means you should of been playing 4 Glacial during Stage 3. I don’t think it’s worth to look for Glacial 4 if you don’t have it before level 7, it’s not enough power gained for the money invested at this point. Basically your return on investment for Glacial 4 at Stage 3 is really good, but it’s a lot worse at Stage 4. Because just like I explained earlier, the damage component of Glacial 4 falls off as the game goes on as it does not scale.
But Gunmay, you get more units that have a chance to stun! That’s good right? It is yeah, but unlike your Olaf and Volibear, Braum and Ezreal don’t have the Berserker cleave effect so the amount of targets they stun is way lower compared to your Glacial Berserker units. So really they are there more to buff Olaf and less because they are that super valuable themselfs. Braum however is a very nice defensive addition to your team and if you somehow get a ton of armours he’s an excellent Bramble Vest user, something Berserkers lack. He also blocks spells spells with his shield, so with good positioning you can use Braum to proctect your Olaf. This is what your comp will look like at level 8 if you’re running 4 Glacial.
Is poison still good?
The poison nerf was a really big one, going from 50% to 33% increase in mana cost. It was already hard to get items for Singed as you could not add him until 8 with a Berserker spatula or 9 without. So the chances of giving him his core item, Morellonomicon, was already kind of hard because you’d have no room for a unit that can hold Morellos AND go 6 Berserkers. In my opinion the only way that Poison is worth it right now is if you highroll a Singed early and have a the option to make Morellonomicon without skipping out on Olaf items. The reason for this is your third poison unit, Twitch or Kog’maw, will be dead weight in your comp and it’s only there for the poison syngery. So that means that Singed/poison has to be so good that it makes up for basically playing 7 units at 8 and I don’t think it does.
So what is the best Berserker build?
If you’ve seen me in solo queue you probably already know what it is. It’s the highroll double Olaf 2 build. This is the strongest you can be at 8 outside of actually having Olaf 3. Right now the name of the game is Glacial and Olaf, so it only makes sense that having two upgraded versions of your comps center piece is the best thing you can do. Even if you can’t put optimal items, or maybe even any items, on the second Olaf it’s still the best addition at any point after you’ve reached 6 Berserkers. Obviously it goes without saying that this is not something you can hit every game, but rather something you go for only if you’re playing Berserkers uncontested in your lobby. If even one more person is playing Berserkers in your lobby I’d advice against going 2 Olaf 2s. It’s too greedy and most of the time you’ll just burn gold rolling down when you could of added something to your team that would of made you stronger in another way. Playing 2x Olaf 2 also let’s you do some really neat tricks when it comes to positioning which we’ll cover later in it’s own section.
What does the early game look like when playing Berserkers?
During Stage 2 your most important task is making sure you have as much gold as possible without completely sacrificing all of your HP OR making the strongest board possible to winstreak but this is comes with risks and I prefer to focus on having good economy during Stage 2. You want to try and look for any early Berserker units and a combination of Glacial, Warden and Electric units. I’ll give you some examples on what I think are some good early comps that will make you strong during Stage 2.
Level 3 – The best two early game units are by far Volibear and Ornn, Electric is very strong early on and if you can add Glacial on top of that with Warwick or Braum (then you also get Warden) you’re very strong.
Level 4 – Normally you want to add another Warden at level 4 if you don’t already have 2 Wardens with Braum or Leona. Basically you want the combination Electric, Glacial and Warden and whichever you’re missing is what you put in at 4. If you can’t just put in the strongest possible unit that you have.
Level 5 – Basically same rule applies here, but most of the time you just add a Renekton since he’s a strong early game unit and will be in your final comp, so make sure to pick him up along the way. I’d say these 5 units are the best early game units that also translates well into the units you will be roll for at level 6.
When do you level and when do you roll down?
I tend to avoid leveling all of Stage 2, because as I mentioned before I prefer to take the econ route. But I think there is merit to leveling to 4 at 2-2 if you win the first round and can’t make 20 gold that round but can make it by selling the carousel unit after 2-3. But I only do this if I have an early Lockets/Zekes and a strong unit to put in as my 4th unit. Basically if I think I’ll winstreak all of Stage 2. Otherwise just econ all of Stage 2 and level to 5 at Crugs.
You level to level 6 at 3-2 and roll down, normally I roll down to 10 gold to make the strongest board I can. It goes without saying that if you already have a very strong board you can save more gold then 10, but that’s something you’ll have to make a judgement call on from game to game depending on the strength of everyone else in your match. So what do we look for at when we roll down at level 6? It depends on your items. If you have an early Locket/Zekes start you’re less dependant on finding an early Olaf and can instead focus on making the strongest possible board at level 6, which most of the time ends up being 4 Glacial. This is an example of how to build 4 Glacial during Stage 3. This will easily carry you until level 7, especially if you find Ezreal 2. If you can’t make Glacial 4 just put in whatever upgraded Berserker units you found. If you highroll and find Olaf here you start looking to transition into 6 Berserkers right away, as long as you have at least some upgraded Berserker units.
You’ll level to 7 at 4-1 and roll down again. This is probably the deciding factor on if you’re gonna place top 4 or not. No matter what you played during Stage 3, at level 7 you wanna transition into 6 Berserkers if you’re not already and probably put in Kha’zix for Desert 2 as your 7th unit. If you can’t find Kha’zix or if you have LW Olaf, you can keep Braum or Ezreal as a filler unit for Glacial 4 at 8 or you put in a Karma to buff Olaf if you did not play Glacial 4 during Stage 3. At this point you want Olaf to be level 2 and most of your other Berserkers should be level 2 as well. If you have a lot of made Olaf items at this point it’s absolutely critical that you find Olaf 2, because investing all your items into a level 1 unit, regardless if he’s buffed, is not a good idea. This is why I prefer the early Locket/Zekes starts because it reduces variance.
I try and go level 8 at 5-1 if possible, if you can it probably means you found Olaf 2 at 4-1. Like I mentioned earlier, the best unit to put in at 8 is another Olaf 2, but if you can’t go another Olaf 2 you’ll settle for Karma 2 or you add back in 4 Glacial if you have LW on Olaf. With LW on Olaf you can also go Mystic 2 at 8 if you’re facing a lot of magic damage and if you’re facing a lot of physical damage or you’re against another Berserker player you can also add Malphite. This is especially good if you happend to get to many Chain Vests and can make Bramble on him. Obviously it can be Taric or any other high cost Warden instead.
What about level 9? What do I add then?
Level 9 is tricky, because you’re kind of “capped” at level 8. You could go poison, but like I explained earlier the value of poison has gone down quite a lot and I don’t think it’s worth it. So I go 9 very rarely, I especially if I’m uncontested. If I’m the only Berserker player in the lobby I go for Olaf 3 every time over going 9, because it’s a much bigger win condition than anything else. Olaf 3 is a guaranteed W. But if I do go level 9 I just try and add whatever good 5 cost I can upgrade, most of the time it’s a 5 cost Warden or Glacial Lux.
This is where a lot of people seem to make a lot of mistakes. I’ve already talked about it a little bit but I prioritize early Lockets/Zekes, preferably one of each, to ensure I stay healthy early game and it allowes me to still be strong even if I don’t find Olaf early. This means that I prioritize any Locket/Zekes component first and second carousel and then look to make Olaf items after that. As a general rule for the opening carousel you want to look for Chain Vest > BF Sword > Rod. If any of those items are on a Volibear or a Jax I go for that 100% of the time, especially if it’s a mountain map because I can start stacking my Locket/Zekes user right away.
So after that you want to focus on making the best possible Olaf items, since he is your primary carry and the corner stone to your whole comp. A bad Olaf generally means a bad game, so while I say I prioritize early Lockets/Zekes I’m not gonna grief my Olaf items completely to do it. I’d say the best Olaf items are Last Whisper, Guardian Angel and Rapid Fire Cannon in that order. Let’s talk about why and what other items that you can also use on Olaf outside of those three.
Last Whisper – This is the best item on Olaf by far. It has great stats, Bow and Glove are not needed for Locket/Zekes and it gives you the ability to flex your comp at level 8. It’s also great for getting through frontline and adds a lot of damage to Olaf, which is most of your damage anyways. It’s also really strong early on Ornn.
Guardian Angel – This is by far the best defensive item for Olaf, maybe just the best defensive item in the game overall. It ensures that Olaf gets to ult, reduces fight rng by giving you a second chance at turning the fight if Olaf gets randomly oneshot and it has great stats. It also let’s Olaf come backt life at a chance at a better cleave angle, which means often Olaf comes back to life and heals up to full again. A lot of times Olaf clutches fights alone thanks to this item.
Rapid Fire Cannon – This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot, because the stats are actually not that great. Sure attack speed is good, but with Last Whisper and Zekes it’s normally enough, not to mention once Olaf ults attack speed is a lot less valuable, then it’s more about his attack damage. What’s good about Rapid Fire Cannon is not the stats it’s the item effect. Olaf’s AI is awful, he has a lot of issues with retargeting and does a lot of “stuttersteps” so sometimes Olaf will just waste a lot of time doing nothing which can cost you fights you should of won. RFC basically makes Olaf not be a bot and let’s him find new targets faster. You might think that does not sound that good but it really increases his effective DPS by a lot.
Assassin Spatula – This is actually the true best item on Olaf, but with the changes to spatulas it’s not realistic to expect Assassin spatula Olaf so this is not something you expect to hit but 100% always go if you can. When you run Assassin spatula you don’t run LW because you will always run Kha’zix at 7 and Qiyana at 8 for Assassin 3, so you’ll always have Desert 2 anyways. So Assassin spatula takes LWs spot in case you get it.
Hand of Justice – A very good item, probably the best tear item you can make on Olaf. It has good stats and it uses one of the most useless components for zerks, tear. If you can’t make LW with glove, already have it or if you already have Desert 2 made I’d say this is the next best thing.
Hush – It’s gotten a lot of nerfs over the last couple of months, but it’s still very solid because Olaf with Hush and Glacial is very disruptive and you can shut down frontliners with this combo with some good rng. It’s also good because it uses not 1 but 2 bad item components for zerks, in tear and cloak. I think it’s very underrated and I like playing it, especially since Shadow is very popular at the moment.
Red Buff – I actually prefer to give this item to some other Berserker, but if you don’t have anything else to put on Olaf the item is fine. It has decent stats and he will apply the effect to everyone. Red Buff let’s you win the mirror matchup as well.
Disarm – Disarm is not an item I use often, but is something you can use if you’re going against a lot of melee carries like Yasuo comp, SumSins etc.
Guinsoo’s Rageblade – I really don’t like Guinsoo’s because there are better items to make with the components and Olafs ability does not scale with AP at all. But sometimes you’ll find yourself with to many rods in Berserkers if you play it a lot so sometimes you have to adjust and it’s a fine way to use a rod if you have an abundance of them.
Titan’s Resolve – Surprisingly good, but just like Guinsoo’s it uses item components that are better used on other items. The more Lockets you have stacked the better Titan’s Resolve becomes because you you’ll have more effective HP.
Bloodthirster – A lot stronger after the buffs but any sort of anti healing effect instantly makes this item a waste of item components and Olaf already has a lot of healing in his kit. I suggest that you combine Bloodthirster together with GA, because when you respawn with GA anti healing effects are cleansed and you’re going to heal up to full most of the time in like 2 hits.
Infinity Edge – This used to be one of the best items on Olaf, because when Olaf crits he, especially at low HP, he heals a ton. But after the nerf and the addition of LW, IE kind of lost a lot of value. BF sword is so important for other items which also reduces it’s usefulness. But it’s not a bad item for damage.
This is another area where a lot of people make mistakes, most people think that Berserkers don’t actually require a lot of good positioning or moving around but it’s far from the truth. It’s probably one of the comps where positioning is very vital to your success. But as a general rule you want to position your Berserkers in the absolute back of the board. Here is an example. As you can see the only thing not in the absolute back is Kha’zix, and he’s an Assassin so he’s stealthed at the start of combat so it’s like he’s not there.
Why do we do this? Berserkers, like Assassins, jump at the start of combat. But instead of jumping to the backline they jump to the closest target to them. So with good positioning you can aim where your units jump, which is especially important with Olaf so he gets a good first target. Also since all of your Berserkers cleave, to gain the most effective DPS possible you want the enemy to stack up, so you need the enemy ranged units in the backline to move up to get hit by the cleave. Backlining all of your units makes them move up to try and reach, which is often enough to sometimes get to them. And if your Olaf finds the enemy carry, you’ll most likely win the fight. In general Olaf wants to be around the corner because most people put their strongest tankiest guy up in the middle, so you want Olaf to jump to one of the frontliners on the side that will probably be a bit weaker. Because the quicker he kills the frontline the faster he can move onto the backline. Scouting the lobby and making sure Olaf jumps the right unit is generally how you win most fights.
So when, if ever, do we frontline our Berserkers? There are 3 cases where you frontline them.
- If there are two hexes on the front row, then sometimes you want to position your units in the frontline early because the stats (depending on the hex) you get are worth the worse positioning. However I don’t recommend greeding for hexes lategame as damage numbers get higher later on and mispositioning might result in a key unit getting oneshot.
- When you have 2 Olaf 2s you can frontline your Berserkers and put the two Olafs together to oneshot the weakest frontliner to give free access to the backline. This is something I apply lategame a lot, especially if my second Olaf has items. This is also something I do to try and counter Shadow players that run carry Master Yi. Basically you aim to oneshot/stunlock him and kill him before he gets the chance to kill your whole team.
- When you have enough Zephyrs to give Olaf a free jump to the backline. This is something you normally need 2 Zephyrs for, but you basically just zephyr the targets that would be infront of the Olaf and it makes it so Olaf just goes on to kill the backline right away. So instead of having the backline come to you, this way you force your way to the backline right away.
We’ll finish off the guide with some niche tips/tricks that mostly revolve around RFC Olaf. These are mostly based on “theories” based on a lot of games and I can’t actually confirm it because recreating the situations can be hard due to no sandbox mode. So take these with a grain of salt, but regardless it may be interesting for some of you.
You might of seen this guide by the rank 1 & 2 player in NA, Mismatched Socks, and in that guide he has some tips on how to manipulate Singed with another Singed. This made me realize that you could use the enemy Singed to your advantage in Berserkers. Singed and Olaf have a weird interaction where Olaf for some reason chases Singed a lot more often than other units, I’m sure many of you have seen Olaf just run around or even sometimes just wait in the corner to start attacking Singed (this can happen to other units as well but because of Olafs shitty AI it happens to him more often). This happens a lot less often when you have RFC, which makes me think that Olaf ties to retarget something else when Singed runs out of range but because Olaf is melee and slow to retarget he can’t find a target and just keeps going for Singed. So when you have RFC he’ll often give up on Singed and just go for something else because he can actually find new targets. Here is an example where Olaf should (I say should because I can’t recreate it 100% of the time but just most of the time) go for Singed because Singed walks forward right away and will be out of range when Olaf lands and then when Olaf detargets he’ll either have a good angle on the frontliners and cleave them all or he’ll switch to a enemy corner unit depending on how the enemy positioned.
RFC also helps with Assassin Spat, Assassin spat is really good because it gives you backline access and a good angle on your cleave. But sometimes Olaf kills the first backliner then walks towards the centre, instead of killing more backline units. This is because most people seperate their units and if a frontliner is closer to Olaf than a backliner Olaf will just go to the frontliner. But if you have RFC he’ll go on backliners more often, I don’t know if there is some interaction where Ranged units target eachother over Range vs Melee, but from hundreds of games I can for sure confirm it makes Olaf more likely to stay on the backline.
Speaking of Assassin Spat, when you’re running 3 Assassins make sure to avoid throwing Olaf to the same side as your other 2 Assassins, at least on the left corner of the map. Because more often than not your Olaf will get stuck in the corner not able to move for a long time. This is because the left corner is not “rounded” like the right corner. So there is enough room for Olaf to land on the right side together with the 2 other assassins, but not enough room to reach a unit and actually do anything. On the right side of the map the corner IS rounded and because of that Olaf can’t even land in that dead spot to begin with so he’ll just land to the side instead. Which is still not ideal, but better than getting stuck. Here is an example of a situation Olaf would get stuck and here is an example of where Olaf would not get stuck, but instead land on the right or left side of your other assassins.
Some final words and some shameless advertising
This ended up being a lot, so if you actually read through all of this thank you thank you. Hopefully you found it interesting and learned something about Berserkers. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask, I love nerding out about the game so if anything is unclear or if you disagree with something I wrote by all means challenge it. If it can help me become better at the game I’ll consider it a win, even if I end up being wrong in the end.
If you want to ask me questions in real time or see Berserkers in action, I recently started streaming over at https://www.twitch.tv/gunmay and I plan on streaming a bit every night.