Champion Experts: KR Diamond 1 Hecarim Top Lane
Tue 12th Aug 2014 - 6:09pm: League of Legends
Welcome to Champion Experts, a series exploring successful solo queue players, especially those who manage to reach the top of the ladder with unorthodox or non-meta picks or strategies.
Today, we'll be taking a look at Dp디피's (DpDiffie) top lane hecarim play. Currently DpDiffie sits at 49 LP Diamond 1 on the Korean servers, playing the vast majority of his games on Hecarim top.
About Hecarim Top
Hecarim is a very rarely seen top laner, but not necessarily a bad one.
His biggest strengths are his early cheese potential (especially with the right runepage as we'll see below), his tremendous snowballing, and a very solid transition into late game.
In some ways, playing Hecarim top is a natural evolution. As any experienced Hecarim jungle player will tell you, one of his biggest issues in that role is the lack of gold when he doesn't get fed. This hurts Hecarim more than other junglers because he lacks signficant steroids or high base damages that normally allow a less-than-fed jungler to transition comfortably into late game.
Of course, Hecarim top also has its weaknesses: notably, a weakness in lane against ranged top laners (at least those smart enough not to get cheese killed early), some mana problems in early-mid game, and trouble in teamfights against very mobile carries like Lucian or Tristana.
Let's take a look at how DPDiffie deals with the weaknesses of Hecarim top while also taking full advantage of his strengths.
DPDiffie uses 2 runepages in the vast majority of his Hecarim top games.
Both of his pages use Greater Marks of Armor Pen and Greater Quintessences of Armor Pen. These are extremely vital to Hecarim top lane. His Q does not have a very good AD ratio (+.6 bonus AD) and he already gets a fair amount of free AD from his passive.
Against AD opponents, he takes Greater Seals of Flat Health and Greater Glyphs of Flat Armor. HP yellows maximizes his early dueling potential (In early level all-ins before extra health pots/sustain can kick in, flat health yellows are far superior to flat armor). Flat Armor glyphs also helps laning against AD lane opponents quite a bit.
Against AP opponents, he takes Greater Seals of Scaling Health and Greater Glyphs of Flat Magic Resist. The Flat MR glyphs help him survive lane against the typically very difficult AP lane opponents. Scaling Health is superior to Flat Health against AP opponents, as most of the time you won't be looking for early fights.
DPDiffie always runs the same mastery page:
Some notes on the masteries:
* Double-edged sword vs Expose Weakness is debatable, but Double-Edged Sword maximizes your early all-in potential, so it gets the nod in most cases.
* Attack Speed is better than CDR because 40% CDR from items is very often built.
* Warlord (+% bonus AD) is a bad mastery on any champon, especially Hecarim who won't even build much Bonus AD.
DPDiffie always takes Ghost/Ignite.
TP is tempting, but ultimately unnecessary. It severly reduces your kill pressure in lane and even limits your chances to dive and kill the enemy carry in teamfights. Roaming can be accomplished by simply getting an early homeguard enchantment and running to another lane rapidly anyway.
Some notes on skill order:
* Q maxed first (after ult) for obvious reasons (only high damage spell in hecarims kit)
* W can be gotten instead of E at level 2 if there is no chance of an all-in and you want the extra sustain from W.
* The second point in Q is taken at level 3 because of the huge spike in damage it gives you.
* E is maxed before W because it offers superior mobility and burst damage, which is more important than the sustain.
Item Build 1 (vs AD lanes):
Some notes on this item build:
* Doran's Blade is started because it gives you superior all-in potential. If you are against an opponent that has substantial poke or is otherwise hard to all-in, you can also go flask.
* Ninja Tabi's can be exchanged for Merc Treads when tenacity is needed.
* Triforce is by far the best offense item on hecarim because it gives a large amount of movespeed (good for his passive) and the most powerful sheen proc (which synergizes amazingly with his low CD q).
* Frozen Heart is the best armor item because it provides very valuable CDR, a large amount of armor, and attack speed reduction which helps you stay alive after diving the enemy ADC.
* General purchase order: Phage --> Ninja Tabi (possibly with homeguard if you want to gank) --> Complete triforce --> Frozen Heart
* In most games you'll want to pick up Visage and Randuins after finishing your core. Getting tanky is more important than building damage unless you are crazy fed.
* Generally, get Yomuu's against very squishy opponents, LW against very tanky opponents, and Black Cleaver against targets with some armor but not a lot.
Item Build 2 (vs AP opponents)
Some notes on this item build:
* Flask is the best start against any kind of lane with ranged harass (as almost all APs have some sort of). Hecarim will eat a lot of harass as he lacks any form of ranged abilities.
* You can pick up the extra mana pot by going back at 1:25, and waiting in base for a little extra gold.
* General build order is: Phage --> Mercs (with homeguards if you want to gank) --> Complete triforce --> Visage
* A hexdrinker can be a valuable pick up at some point in early-mid game if you are against a very heavy AP composition (especially one which has a lot of burst)
Early Game Playstyle:
Hecarim's level 1 is surprisingly very strong. His Q offers tremendous damage while also (crucially) not proccing creep aggro. This can allow for level 2 or even level 1 all-ins.
In order to set up the all-in, you will need to get your Q stacked up. (For those who don't know, hitting something with Q gives you stacks which can cut the cooldown of Q in half). Ideally, you'll be able to run up and hit the Q on your opponent (but settle for hitting creeps if necessary).
Once it's stacked up, you can run up to your opponent and begin Qing them. Do NOT auto attack while you are in the enemy creep wave as it will start to damage you. Once your opponent has ran back out of creep aggro range, you can start to auto. Pop your ghost and ignite if necessary and chase them down for the kill. Don't worry if they get away, as you often can go back, get level 2 off the creep wave and immediately level and activate E and chase them down.
Important note regarding the use of E: Do not use the knockback until it has charged up most of the way. You will lose a substantial amount of damage from the scaling on E as well as the increased AD from your passive. Instead run alongside your opponent Qing them repeatedly until your E has charged up close to all the way or you can knock them back towards your tower.
Players who have never played against hecarim top before will very often fall pray to this cheese. DPDiffie earns a huge amount of first bloods this way.
Do however, be careful when trying this against ranged champs. If they don't overextend, you will take a lot of free damage before you can get close enough to even damage them. In most cases, it's better to farm up and wait for level 3 or 4 or before trying anything.
Assuming you aren't able to get a cheese kill at level 1 or 2, your primary goal is to farm up. Don't completely abandon the idea of all-in (as it can still be very effective if they overextend into your creep wave), but don't go too crazy chasing for kills either.
Mid Game Playstyle:
Your first buy will depend on what kind of lane you're in and how much gold you have, but it will typically include:
* Phage components (or a full phage)
* Doran's Blade (in a tough lane)
* Boots 1, Cloth Armor/Null Magic (often because of gold limitations)
Hecarim has a powerspike every time he gets another point in his Q. Often opponents that bullied you early (especially ranged opponents) will start to struggle as you get more items and levels. Always bear in mind the possibility of going all-in (particularly when your ghost/ignite are up).
If your lane is too hard for you to win (or they are cowering under their tower), you may want to try a different approach: early homeguard roaming.
Hecarim's E combined with homeguards allows him to very rapidly go from lane to lane. And as anyone who has played hecarim jungle knows, his ganks can be absolutely devastating post 6. One of the most effective ways to pull off this strategy is to grab homeguards on your second back and immediately run to bot lane, executing a lane gank.
As the enemy bot lane frantically pings your top tower, you will be able to back and return to top lane with your huge MS. Your (often terribly overextended) top lane opponent will sometimes also be easy to chase down and kill.
Late Game/Teamfight Playstyle:
You generally don't want to be initiating on Hecarim. He doesn't have amazing lockdown and he has an annoying tendency to get way too far ahead of his teammates.
Instead, Hecarim is best played as a pseudo-assassin. Basically, you wait for a fight to start, and then come charging in from the side or flank onto the enemy back line. His burst to squishies is absolutely disgusting, and he can be extremely difficult to peel.
Furthermore, unlike true assassins, Hecarim still contributes a lot to fights after killing his first target. He has immense sustained damage with Q spam and triforce procs, can be very tanky/hard to focus, and can easily chase down fleeing targets in a winning fight.
Outside of teamfights, you can also play him as a split pushing type. He clears waves very well and can rapidly rotate to emerging teamfights or other objectives.
Hecarim top, as played by DpDiffie, is extremely underrated in solo queue. He brings a lot of unexpected power in all stages of the game, and can easily carry a solo queue game singlehandedly (something rarely seen in a top laner).
Please feel free to check out DpDiffie's profile on op.gg, which contains a large number of his Hecarim games and some of his replays which can prove quite instructive.