Champ of the Week returns next week

Good News.

I’ve got some good news and some bad news regarding the Champ of the Week series. First, the good news. It’s coming back next week! I know I owe everyone a Talon video and a long overdue Veigar video, but that’s where the bad news comes in. All of the recordings I have from those games is buried somewhere on a corrupt and now very dead hard drive. I’ve since replaced that drive, but I lost my LoL Replay data along with all of my video footage from those games. Yes, it sucks very much.

Back to some good news, though – I should be able to get a game or two in over the next few days with both Talon and Veigar so I can at least upload a replay for those of you using LoL replays. If I have the time, I might even do a quick and dirty video, but that seems unlikely at the moment.

So, check back at the beginning of next week for the return of the champ of the week series. If you have suggestions for a character you’d like to see next week, let me know in the comments.

Champ of the Week: Playing a cutthroat

I thought it might be nice to give some mid-rotation thoughts on Talon while I’m working to gather footage for his wrapup video. I’m not sure if there are some high-ELO streamers playing him these days or if he just shines enough in Dominion to make him worth trying on Summoner’s Rift, but I’ve been seeing a lot of Talon lately. I’ve also been seeing him banned, and though I think there are better bans than Talon, I can understand why he’s on the list for some players.

Part of what makes Talon interesting is the way his ultimate works. He can use it to produce a lot of damage, but most of the Talon players I saw in the weeks after his release were using the skill to get out of a fight or run away before a fight even started. In my experience, though, it’s best to save his ult for when you’re already in the fight and the skill can hit both on its way out and on the way back in.

That’s a mechanic I didn’t really pick up on in the Champion Spotlight (even though Phreak said it) partly because the tooltip is a little unclear on just how the blades deal damage. Shadow Assault has the potential to deal damage twice: once when the blades expand and once when they collapse. In most cases, that means you want to ult while you’re standing right on top of someone. When the blade go out they hit and then even if your enemy flashes the blades will likely land on the return. It took me a while to figure that out, but now that I’ve got it I find it fairly easy to burst down a champion.

I’ll have more thoughts on Talon later in the week, including the wrapup video. Keep checking back and let me know if you have any questions.

No champ of the week this week

Dominion Quarry.

With the release of Dominion and a backlog of videos for both Trundle and Veigar, I won’t be playing a Champ of the Week this week as I typically do on Summoner’s Rift.

In the interest of transparency, allow me to explain the Veigar/Trundle delay. Two weeks ago my hard drive started acting screwy. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but when I started to cut together the Veigar video, several of my clips became corrupted and wouldn’t work. After trying to recapture those clips, I realized the partition of my hard drive that housed my Fraps recordings was corrupt and needed wiped.

I now have a new hard drive up and running, a fresh Fraps install, but sadly, no clips. I’ve been using LoLReplay, which means going through quite a few games and capturing important moments without the benefit of a replay feature, which is time consuming.

The good news is that I should have time to work on both Veigar and Trundle tomorrow. I’m also planning a new feature specifically focused on Dominion, though I’m not totally sure where that one will fit.

Keep an eye on the YouTube channel for the newest videos as I have them. If you haven’t seen it, check out my Dominion commentary video for some tips and basic information on the latest game mode in League of Legends.

Champ of the Week: Veigar


I’ve been hesitant to pick Veigar as the Champ of the Week for a couple reasons. First, I love him. Love, love, love him, so I hate to use him and not have him later. Maybe I’ll just subject you all to more videos of him than could ever be necessary, regardless of this feature.

The other reason I hesitate is that Veigar reworks have been rumored for a while now, and I’d hate to do a video on him just to have him change shortly after. Then again, I see Veigar in one out of every 50 games or so, so he probably won’t be seeing changes any time soon.

Veigar holds sort of a unqiue position in the League. He’s the one champion with totally uncapped AP gain, similar to Sion’s uncapped health gain. Every time he kills a minion with his Q skill he picks up an extra AP and, once he has his ult, he gains another 1 for champion kills per level of Baleful Strike (max 5). Because of that, he can break 400 AP insanely fast.

The flipside is that his mana situation is pretty terrible, and understandably so. Make it too easy to farm and he becomes a one-shot wrecking ball by 15 minutes in. In some cases, that still happens, but more often than not, I find myself flitting around the outside of teamfights, trying to blow up an important target and provide the utility of his AoE stun. When played well, Veigar can be brutally effective in that role. He certainly doesn’t provide the team-killing power of an Annie or a Brand, but I usually find him much more rewarding to play than either of those two champions, and frankly most of the AP champions in the game.

This week I’ll be playing Veigar, focusing on his teamfighting skills and providing more utility than just the initial burst comp. I’m not going to be messing with jungle Veigar. I know it can be done, but it’s just not my thing.

Check back later in the week for more impressions of the tiny Master of Evil, and of course, the video wrapup at the end of the week. If you have any questions or suggestions, drop them in the comments.

Champ of the Week: Gragas Wrapup


I spent most of my League of Legends time this week with Gragas, everyone’s favorite gigantically fat drunkard (to be fair to other fat drunkards, though, Gragas is our only option). It was a good week; as I mentioned in other posts, Gragas has great flavor, and some very unique tools for disrupting a fight.

It wasn’t all sunshine and flowing rivers of mead, though. Gragas has a very punishing kit compared to other casters in the game, and with so many skillshots, it’s easy to waste a few spells over the course of a game. This is actually where I think my proposed change comes in. I have to cheat a little, too. It’s not one thing, but I’ll call it one thing because, well, that’s what I’m supposed to do for this feature.

Gragas needs a responsiveness tuneup, across two mechanics in particular.

First, his auto attack animation needs to be cleaner and a little bit faster. I missed more than a few champion kills this week because I would Body Slam up to a target and get stunned, killed, or just start walking away before my auto attack animation had finished. That loping overhand swing just takes way too long to complete, and it costs Gragas a lot of damage, thanks to Drunken Rage.

His second tuneup skill is Body Slam. That skill seems to have the strangest hit conditions of any dash in the game. It also seems to suffer from variable speed depending on the distance of the cast, which can be extremely punishing if you miss your target. The animation also needs a cleanup, as it seems to lock you out depending on where the character stops along the animation path. It just feels a little too sloppy. Somewhat sloppy is okay for a drunk champ, but he feels painfully unresponsive at times.

There are some other things that I think could help Gragas out, like faster travel time on his ult, but the responsiveness changes would indirectly address some of his other issues. That feels like a fine fix to me.

If you haven’t played Gragas, I would highly recommend checking him out during a free week. He’s not for everyone, but he can be a lot of fun if you’re willing to spend your game time with an obese Scotsman with a drinking problem.

Champ of the Week: Fat Man Slam

So far the Champ of the Week has been going well. I’ve always enjoyed Gragas, mostly because of his flavor. His skills just feel very…drunk, or something. Really, there’s something about his Fat Man Slam and then throwing a bunch of barrels and causing utter chaos that just seems to fit with the sloppy drunk.

He can be as frustrating as he is fun, though. Gragas really does tend to cause chaos, and he deals big enough damage that people will do all sorts of things to avoid you. Flash hurts Gragas Especially badly because his three damage dealing skills are all skillshots. Miss them and you’re stuck waiting on cooldowns. As Kad mentioned to me part of the way through the week, smartcasting helps Gragas a lot. He feels much more responsive than with the click-to-cast alternative. It makes me wish there was a checkbox or a hotkey to toggle smartcasting for individual characters. It would make things much easier than the current menu rebind you have to do.

I promised I’d write up my build this week, so here goes. I start with a Sapphire Crystal and two potions for a little extra sustain. I try to stay in lane until I can afford a Catalyst and my base boots, but going back at Catalyst never hurts. I then move on to Rod of Ages, my ranked boots, and then Deathcap. If I’m really hurting for defense or playing a heavy harass team I’ll grab a Glacial Shroud or Abyssal before Rabadon’s. After Deathcap it’s pretty much your prerogative. I tend to prefer heavy AP builds, with an Archangel’s or Zhonya’s to really pump his damage, but that requires a solid farm. Lichbane could definitely work on Gragas, and I could actually see Deathfire as a solid item. He’s very versatile.

The basics, though, are Rod of Ages, Deathcap, and some sort of defensive item, be that Abyssal, Glacial shroud, or even Banshee’s. From there, it’s up to you.

Check back later this weekend for the wrapup. I’m pretty sure I know what my one change would be already, but we’ll see if something else comes up later in the week.

Champ of the Week: Gragas


I’ve been sneaking some Gragas games in with the final Blitzcrank wrapup, so it only seems fair to make him this week’s Champ of the Week. As anyone who watched Dreamhack can attest, Gragas has the potential to be one of the most disruptive characters in the game. And who could refuse the love of a gigantically fat, barrel-wielding drunk guy? I couldn’t.

I used to play a good bit of Gragas way back when. I wasn’t very impressed with him when he first came out, but shortly thereafter I started taking him mid and playing him…as tanky DPS. I know, for shame, but it was before tanky DPS was a thing, I swear! Actually, this was back when Trinity Force was rarely purchased, but I absolutely loved that build.

Now, though, I’m really enjoying AP Gragas. I used to think AP Gragas could only be viable with a solo lane, but I just rocked a game with a Skarner lanemate (who also rocked and may have had a couple kills stolen). Gragas plays like a much tankier version of, well, I’m not really sure who. Gragas is sort of unique in the game, which is part of his appeal.

So this week, I’ll be giving the fat man his due. If you have build suggestions or questions you’d like answered, drop them in the comments. As always, you can catch a game with me by adding me at “The Wiggin Boy.”

Champ of the Week: Soraka Wrapup


The forums provided a serendipitous thread necro for me to wrap up the Soraka Champ of the Week series. In the thread linked here, Xypherous lays out some of the design problems around heals, which I think is a decent place to kick off the Soraka discussion. Soraka is strong as most every other healer is strong – they all remove attrition from a game.

Healing is a really tough mechanic to balance for a game like League of Legends. In order for the healer to have any fun whatsoever, the heal needs to do something during the laning phase, which usually means giving it a somewhat short cooldown. Later in the game it needs to scale in some way to be remotely useful, which means AP builds can be both viable and infuriating. In short, heals don’t really work. Even if a heal could truly provide a judgement call for a player, heals just happen too often to really be balanced.

That’s essentially what I saw with Soraka. If my team was willing to sit back, not rush fights if the enemy ignites were up, or start a poking war, we won. We won easily, too. Even in games where I’ve built a Deathfire or a Guinsoo with Soraka, the wins have been decisive. There’s not much more to say about her.

If I could change one thing about Soraka, it would be Starfall. Though the spell is occasionally lulzy and provides a decent debuff, it doesn’t have a practical range for teamfighting. It’s decent for farming, but again, it suffers from a short range. I’d love to see Soraka get something like Lux’s Lucent Singularity, a skill that could slow in an area on the ground. She would probably need a slight heal tweak due to the increased lane power, but I think she would be more fun.

That does it for Soraka week. Check back tomorrow for next week’s Champ of the Week. It’s back to someone I’m not particularly good with. What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment.

Champ of the Week: No Surprises Yet

It should come as no surprise that supports are strong in League of Legends. They’ve made appearances in some shape or form in every major competitive event, often as the cornerstone of a team. My experience with Soraka so far has been, well, that she’s strong. She’s pretty amazing at keeping a team healthy, helping them push, silencing the AP carries, even soaking a little damage. There’s really not much to say beyond that without breaking into a discussion of healing and its place in the game and why it’s so strong/such a design problem. I don’t want to do that yet. That’s going to be the end-of-week wrapup.

For now, I’ll say that Soraka is kinda fun to play in a solo lane. I recently played in a five-man premade consisting of Soraka, Nocturne, Malzahar, Leona, and Tristana. I took solo top against Mordekaiser so that Leona could bring her amazing CC to support Tristana. It went surprisingly well, though I did die to a tower dive from Vayne and Mordekaiser – pretty tough to stop that one. By going top, I also got to have a little more fun with the farm, which was really nice. Most of my reluctance toward playing Soraka (or any support) is the passive gameplay. It just isn’t fun. I much prefer to see my character grow in strength over the course of the game – it’s what drew me to the MOBA genre.

For the rest of the week I’ll be testing some strange builds and rune setups to see where I might sneak a little more fun out of the character. Check back this weekend for more focused thoughts on healing as a whole.

Champ of the Week: Soraka


I’ve never been much of a support player. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I like to farm. I like to take buffs. I like to gank. I like to set up champion kills. I don’t like to stand in lane watching my Clairvoyance cooldown tick away. But there’s no way to deny that support can make or break a game, and playing against a good support can be extremely frustrating. Lucky for anyone matched against me this week, I’m not a good support. I bring you this week’s Champ of the Week: Soraka.

Soraka is probably the most straightforward support champion in the game. She doesn’t have any crazy AoE disables, any shields, any CC other than her silence. She just heals, and heals for quite a bit. I have two problems when playing Soraka that I’m hoping to remedy this week. First, I put too much faith in her early healing. That cooldown is long and without any AP the heal is fairly weak at lower levels. As mentioned above, I really like action, so standing in lane and waiting for my carry to get farmed gets really boring. That’s when I tend to overextend or try to harass too much and get my ass killed.

I also need to work on her build. I know a lot of players like to get an Aegis, but I often feel like it comes too late in the game to be truly useful. It’s a good item, I just hate looking at my spells 25 minutes into the game and seeing the base heal amount on all of them. That said, an AP rush usually isn’t in Soraka’s (or her team’s) best interest. I’m going to focus on playing builds that maximize my team efficiency and maybe one or two that can add a little flavor to her playstyle. I see a Deathfire in my future.

Check back later this week for more reports on how I fail as a support. If you have any suggestions, drop them in the comments. I will need them.

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