I want to share a couple of things I’ve picked up on regarding Riven’s skill order. I main Riven and have over 500 combined games in Normals/Ranked as a reference. I’m providing the following information more as a reason to start thinking for yourself about skill order on Riven rather than a skill order guide. Riven’s playstyle changes with the player.

1) Choosing the right starting abilities – Q is not always the best choice!

It’s important to know the type of matchup you’re going into, and starting Q (Broken Wings) on Riven is not always the best option.

Start with E (Shield) against ranged champions.

Starting shield against ranged top laners that rely on early auto attack harass will allow Riven to safely level to 2 and 3 without taking too much damage. React to autos by shielding while going for CS.

Examples: Teemo/Kennen/Jayce/Nidalee

Start with E (Shield) against certain melee champions.

There are some melee champions that Riven doesn’t really want to trade with early on and have strong level 1 spells.

Examples: Garen/Renekton (sometimes)/Gragas

Riven can block Garen’s damage from his Q (silence) which he will attempt level 1 while Riven goes to CS.

Renekton’s Q (Cull the Meek) can be mitigated early on to allow Riven to get to level 2 safely. This is something each player will have to feel out though, as Q is still strong vs. Renekton level 1.

Gragas’s barrel and empowered auto attack can be mitigated by taking shield on Riven. Gragas’s built in sustain makes Riven work harder to have her harass stick.

2) Choosing the right ability to max – Q is again not always the best choice!

The majority of guides I have read have stressed the following skill order:

R > Q > W > E

That skill order maximizes Riven’s burst over a 2 to 3 second period, which is often what a Riven player is looking for. Maxing Q first gives the highest possible DPS for a full combo of harass.

However, consider maxing W (stun) > Q (Broken Wings).

Here are a few reasons why this can be extremely strong in lane:

  • Riven’s damage in a single instant increases
  • Lower cooldown: W’s decreases while Q’s does not
  • Focus damage away from Riven’s main mobility spell (Q)

Damage in an instant

How many times have you won a big trade in lane as Riven and your opponent has 1/4 of their HP left or lower? By moving Riven’s power into W early on, kills can easily be secured by comboing W with Flash. Flash –> Stun is instantaneous and is nearly impossible to react to. With an autoattack and ignite, this combo is often enough to kill someone before they even have a chance to flash away.

W deals 170 + 100% Bonus AD at rank 5. With 140 AD (60 Bonus AD), stun + auto deals about:

170 + 60 + 0.35 * 140 (passive) = 279 damage.

Combined with ignite this can be an extremely surprising and large burst in an instant.

Lower Cooldown

The cooldown on W drops to 7 seconds at max rank. This means that Riven can possibly use this spells twice during a prolonged trade. Landing her stun usually means landing a free auto attack early on. This also means that Riven can harass more often with a shield + stun + auto combo while her opponent tries to CS. A lot of free damage can come from this.

Focus damage away from mobility spell

The majority of Riven’s damage comes from her autoattacks, not her basic spells.

What this means is that Riven will get the same number of passive procs whether her Q is maxed or not. By putting damage onto W, Riven can rely on her Q for mobility purposes rather than damage purposes, meaning she can use 1 or 2 Q charges to gap close her opponent and the remaining charges to back out.

The math on this using the above numbers:

Q deals 270 + 180% Total AD = 270 + 1.8 * 140 = 522 damage as calculated above.

Riven’s passive auto attack at level 9 (where a spell becomes max rank) deals 140*1.35 = 189 damage.

passive damage from 3 charges = 189 * 3 = 567 damage.

567 > 522 and the 567 won’t change whether Q is maxed or not!

TL;DR: On Riven, starting E (Shield) is very strong against ranged champs, and maxing W (Stun) is often a great way to secure an advantage in lane. If curious, look at a specific section

So this is significantly longer than I initially thought it would be, but I hope it may help some people be more dynamic with how they choose to play Riven. Enjoy!


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