Champ of the Week: Malzahar wrapup


My week with Malzahar was probably the most successful Champ of the Week I’ve had so far, though Nunu may have edged him out. In any case, I can only remember having one truly bad game with him, and that was this evening in a post-cookout haze. Malzahar is just an incredible pick for an AP carry, offering a solid mix of utility and damage without really falling short anywhere.

One of the biggest things to learn about Malzahar, and something I haven’t quite mastered, is when to use his ultimate. I know it sounds simple enough, but that ultimate is devastating, completely shutting out an opponent in most cases, and it can be used on a variety of targets if played right. There is that unspoken rule – never focus the tank – but if the tank has all of the enemy CC and made a misstep near a tower, a quick Malzahar ult can give your team 5v4 advantage and allow you to steamroll down a lane. The flipside is knowing when not to use your ultimate. Using your ultimate during a teamfight can cost you a lot of damage. A stun or silence and you’ve missed out on a crucial part of your kit.

Even without his ult, though, Malzahar still devastates teamfights. His AoE silence has excellent utility and the percentage based damage from Null Zone grows quickly with AP. Malzahar has no problem farming, either. At level 3, Malefic Visions hits hard enough to easily farm creep waves with a few auto attacks. With a Voidling proc, Malzahar not only burns through creep waves, he also becomes a strong side pusher that requires two people to gank.

If I could change one thing about Malzahar it would be the AI on his Voidlings. I lost more to towers than I wanted, and they often danced back and forth in the lane instead of defending me in the midst of a gank. The Voidling deals heavy damage, especially once it levels up. Having a little more control of that damage would probably make him a bit OP, which I honestly think he’s on the verge of, anyway.


Champ of the Week: Early Malzahar impressions


I got to play a few games over the holiday weekend with this week’s Champ of the Week, Malzahar, and I’ve been having a really good time. Malzahar is an incredible farmer, and when left alone for too long, he becomes an incredible pusher as well.

My basic strategy to this point has been simple: build enough survivability to get by and then stack up mass amounts of AP. In about half of the games I’ve picked up a Rod of Ages early (12 minutes in one case) and moved to Deathcap from there, but in others I’ve been less worried about the health stack and just picked up Catalyst before moving on. I’ve had roughly equal success both ways – the basic lesson seems to be ‘don’t overdue the survivability.’

I had sort of forgotten the massive buffs Malzahar received since his release. The last time I gave him any serious attention his ult could be Cleansed, it had a much shorter range, and it didn’t have the suppression bonus. Those changes have given Malzahar the ability to fight at great distance with devastating power.

If I’m having trouble with one thing, it’s remembering to keep my Malefic Visions up in team fights. The cooldown gets very short with a golem buff or enough CDR, making it totally feasible to have a couple spells ticking at the same time. I’m slowly improving on that, though.

I’m really curious where Deathfire Grasp could fit in a Malzahar build. I don’t know that it’s any more efficient than a raw AP stack, but the active and the extra cooldown reduction could be interesting with enough AP. I think I underuse Deathfire, even though it is one of my favorite items in the game. If I can get ahead of the enemy farm and pick one up, it’s an almost Veigar-style insurance that one of my enemies won’t get to participate.

Check back later in the week for more Malzahar impressions.


Champ of the Week: Malzahar


The more I play League of Legends lately the more I’ve fallen in love with AP characters. There’s something so satisfying about using a skillset to melt opponents that doesn’t quite translate in the auto attack kills of physical carries. Every team in the Dreamhack qualifiers relied on an AP champion for the utility, control and incredible burst potential those champions offer. This week, I’ll be playing a champion that has long frustrated me as an opponent, one that I have rarely played at length, and a champion that many believe to be underrepresented This week, I’ll be playing Malzahar for my Champ of the Week.

I’ve always been frustrated to play against Malzahar, largely because it’s so hard to shut down his farm. He’s not particularly deadly at early levels, he’s just super deadly to minions and has nearly infinite mana thanks to the kill bonus on Malefic Visions. Malzahar can also melt champions like no other, thanks to the percentage based damage of Null Zone. When coupled with AoE CC like Amumu or even Jarvan, Null Zone absolutely shreds the enemy. To round out the kit, Malz has an AoE silence and a pet for extra damage. Malzahar punishes enemy mistakes with devastating efficiency and provides both push and anti-push to his own team. In short, he’s a great pick.

I’ll be focusing on build order, Summoner Spell selection, and relative power on low-CC teams. Obviously Malzahar shines when his targets are held in place, but how well can he perform in less than ideal circumstances? My guess is extremely well. I think it’s safe to say that the only caster I fear more than Malzahar is Anivia.


Champ of the Week: Karthus


It’s Monday, which means it’s time for a new Champ of the Week. I was thinking about rolling with one of the remade champions from tomorrow’s patch, but I think I want to have a champion to play that won’t be getting picked quite as often as those champions are likely to. With that in mind, I’ve chosen Karthus as this week’s Champ of the Week.

Karthus currently holds a very strange position in the game – he’s one of few champions that can provide almost as much value dead as he can alive. In fact, I’ve seen some Karthus players use death as a viable carry strat. They allow themselves to be focused so that the teamfight happens on top of their dead body. Once dead, they cast like mad, dropping that humongous ult in the middle of five opponents. It can be seriously devastating.

I have a problem with the concept of global ults in general. So much of the game is knowing how to position yourself – when to run, when to fight, when it’s good to leave lane and help your teammates survive a gank. Global ults circumvent that knowledge requirement, allowing players to be more sloppy with their play.

With the advent of Deathcap, Karthus poses an even bigger threat. His ult has a pretty awesome AP ratio, which Deathcap obviously takes advantage of. Dealing 700-900 damage to an entire team before the fight starts can be catastrophic. If the teamfight then happens on top of Karthus, well, it’s probably game over.

I’ll be focusing on the ways Karthus affects the game, mostly at the early and middle game – I think we all know what he can do late game. I’ll also be taking a look at his best build. Is just rushing all out AP best for that big ult or is some sort of utility a better service to the team. At the very least, it’s going to take some time for me to get used to mouseover casting again.


Champ of the Week: Cassiopeia


I’m starting up a new column, mostly because League of Legends is pretty slow during non-patch weeks, not counting the new champion ability posts. I really like writing about League of Legends but I needed a new focus so here we are. I’ll be choosing one champion each week as my Champ of the Week and playing that character significantly more than others and reporting on the experience. After my Cassiopeia post, I thought she would be a good place to start.

I’ll let you read through most of my initial thoughts there – no sense rehashing them. After a few games with her, my biggest problem is that her W is easy to land but low damage and her Q is difficult to land but really big damage, especially with a bit of AP. I know it makes sense – the higher damage should be harder to land – but it’s tough to know which spell to prioritize. Do I go for the cast with the highest potential damage or the reliable, albeit smaller damage?

For now, I’m rocking W after Twin Fang, just to get some reliable burst out of that combo. Later in the week I’m planning to try a build that relies very little on Twin Fang for damage. Hopefully my Noxious Blast skills will be to the point that I can make some use of them.

Check back throughout the week for more on Cassiopeia and in coming weeks for more Champ of the Week profiles.


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