WotA and the Rise of Tanky AP



Fri 22nd Feb 2013 - 6:05pm

Not so long ago, characters like Vladimir and Kennen ruled the LoL scene. Double AP champions in top and mid lane with Will of the Ancients (“WotA”) were a lethal combination until, eventually, the combination saw several nerfs. Since then, double AP has become less common and seeing WotAs even rarer. But the tides may be shifting.

Perhaps best exemplified by the play of Joedat ‘Voyboy’ Esfahani, playing AP champions top lane as bruisers has become increasingly common. The most widespread of these champions is Elise, but Voyboy’s bruiser Katarina has started to take hold among other players. The assassin-loving player also routinely uses Akali as well as the tanky Ryze top lane.

Tanky AP

For those that don’t know, tanky APs work under some simple concepts. A generic tanky AP in the top lane will build Haunting Guise and Sorcerer’s Shoes to get a healthy amount of magic penetration and will accompany this with tank items like Sunfire Cape and Warmogs as well as hybrid AP items like Rylai’s.

The most effective characters use this rushed magic penetration to harass their opponent in lane while negating any early magic resistance that they buy. Combined with tanky items like Sunfire Cape against a normal AD bruiser, AP champions that used to be considered fragile are able to stand toe-to-toe against bruisers in duels.

Elise’s abilities focus around doing percentage HP damage but have a relatively slow damage buildup when AP is added, making penetration items the superior choice. However, she shares certain traits with the other newly minted AP bruisers: good base damages, non-prohibitive cooldowns and low/no mana costs (as Elise follows the Nidalee model: mid-range costs in human form and no costs in “animal” form). Katarina is purely cooldown based and her W is only on a 4 second cooldown. Similarly, Akali uses energy and her damage abilities, when maxed, have cooldowns ranging from 1-4 seconds. Ryze also has low CDs, but his typical mid build is already tanky and only requires situational adjustment.

All of this comes together in a way that yields champions that can easily harass in lane and, in the case of the “assassin” bruisers, have excellent kill potential throughout the game. Though they sacrifice damage for tankiness, their tank helps stabilize their laning phase and can keep them alive in a fight long enough to, in Katarina’s case, for example, get the resets that they need to dominate.

Will of the Ancients
Will of the Ancients

WotA is a sadly neglected item. It went from being bought in almost every game to seeing almost no play at all. And, in my mind, people are really missing out.

If you’re building tanky and want to be able to live long enough to do damage, sustain can be a real help. Sustain for AD bruisers has always been popular: top laners used to buy Wriggle’s or would sometimes pick up a Vamp Scepter. As I’ve touched on in my last two articles (here and here), Blade of the Ruined King is an amazing damage and sustain option for AD bruisers.

While it is not the powerhouse of damage, crowd control and sustain that BotRK is, WotA is very powerful in its own ways to a tanky AP player, especially those with short cooldowns who can spam to take advantage of it. First, it has a mindblowingly good build path. Its components, Hextech Revolver and Kage’s Lucky Pick, are relatively low cost and are, themselves, made from small, low cost components. Hextech is an easily attainable form of early game sustain. The real gem, however, is Kage’s. Not only are you getting a GP10 item (specifically 4 gold over 10 seconds, the second highest GP10 in the game), but it doesn’t hurt you at all to get it. Kage’s gives you AP, which you want anyways. A Philosopher’s Stone only gives regeneration, making it an investment, while an Avarice Blade is harder to justify because it only gives critical chance. The AP on Kage’s, however, is useful on any character that would go down its item path.

WotA is not something you have to rush to finish, either, since Hextech gives you some initial spell vamp. Unlike, say, Statikk Shiv and Avarice Blade, you’re not pushed to get the end item as fast as possible to be effective. It seems like everyone has forgotten just how recently they tried to pick up GP10 items whenever they could -- why would you not pick up one that has such great build paths (Kage’s can also build, for example, defensively into Twin Shadows and offensively with utility into Morellonomicon, both items that I don’t think get enough credit)?

Since it has 80 AP, WotA has enough AP to stay in your inventory throughout the entire game; it’s right around the value of items like Abyssal Scepter (70 AP) and Rylai’s (80 AP). What makes WotA stand out, however, is that you help your team with it, and not just in the simple way that many think either: WotA helps EVERY member of your team.

WotA’s aura of 30 AP and 20 spell vamp spreads to teammates in a 1,100 range (just short of Aegis’ 1,200 range -- you should be covering most people in a team fight). The AP obviously helps casters, but what about the spell vamp? Unlike what you may assume, spell vamp does not only apply to “spells” that deal AP damage. Instead, every ability works with spell vamp. In other words, you’ll be giving people like AD casters significant sustain. This universal appeal combined with building out of a GP10 item makes WotA, in my mind, an incredibly cost efficient item and a great secret weapon for any AP bruiser.

WotA is not right for every tanky AP champion, but if you’re looking into playing AP bruisers top, consider buying a WotA to help out. Communicate with your team and, if you can get a WotA user mid and/or an AP jungle like Amumu, you’ll be putting up some incredible team fighting potential.