If you haven’t seen it yet, this is the video I’m talking about.
Little fun fact for those who are in doubt: Full AP Varus can 100-0 any target with 50 MR and LESS THAN 13,000 HP in 2 seconds. 150 MR targets need to have ATLEAST 4000 HP to survive.
I’ve played AP Varus for 2 years now and picked him in probably 300 games or so. He’s an incredibly fun champion and he’s definitely LCS level viable (mid and toplane AP Varus, not so much botlane as replacement for an AD; you kind of need a ranged ADC).
There are multiple ways of playing I’ve tried now, but I’ll only mention the 2 most successful ones here.
Basically, the 2 playstyles are
1) teamfight oriented (better in 90% of the time)
2) oneshot/burst oriented. (better in maybe 5 -10% of the time)
The itembuilds are mostly the same, I just change one item depending on what role I want to play.
The teamfight oriented build includes:
- Sorc shoes (or defensive boots, if really needed)
- Runaan’s Hurricane
- Nashor’s Tooth
- Void Staff
- Rabadon’s Deathcap
- Zhonya’s Hourglass
This gives you lots of AP, AS and magic pen.
With full build, you’re going to sit at about 500 AP and 1,8 AS. That means 250 magic damage on hit and Blight stacks of 15% max HP (x3).
By the way: I would not recommend Ignite if you’re not facing a mundo top, nautilus jungle and support braum or a swain. You’re not looking to fight early and pick up kills, so grab something defensive and scale; you will deal more damage than any other champion with a full build anyway.
AP Varus is very vulnerable early game, so I just play defensively and try to farm as much as I can. I really like to start with a long sword, because AD is nice to help lasthit and it scales very welll with Q. Long sword > DB, because the doran’s passive was changed months ago and it sells for less gold than long sword does.
The first item I rush is Hurricane. That might seem a bit weird, but I’ll explain it to you:
In my first games, I always grabbed nashor’s first, but it isn’t as good as hurricane. Nashor’s passive scales with AP, so it’s really weak early on. You don’t really need the CDR yet either, so those aspects of it are kind of meh. Hurricane on the other hand allows you to push your lane incredibly fast and effectively. That’s something you really want, because trading early on will never go in your favour. Just clear the minion wave as fast as you can and wait till you got more gold.
This is also the reason why I put 3 points into Q before I max W; I need to be able to get as much gold as safely as possible.
The second item I get it Nashor’s tooth. More AS and AP is nice to have; also note that the Hurricane applies the Nashor’s passive on each bolt. At that point, having the bonus CDR is pretty cool, because it’s about time teamfights will start, so you want to use more abilities and proc more blight stacks.
Third and fourth down the line are usually Sorc shoes and Void Staff. Some AP is always nice, but the main reason to get these is the magic penetration. You won’t be successful if you got thousands of raw damage, but the enemies just migitate 90% of that with their MR.
You should be about 25 minutes into the game when you got these 4 items. At this point, teamfights are pretty much won already. If none of your teammates misplays badly, you will win the fight. Reason for this is that not only do you deal a lot of damage, but you also deal all that damage in an AoE.
5th and 6th items are simply Rabadon’s Deathcap and Zhonya’s Hourglass; order depends on how the game goes.
As the name suggests, this build is great for teamfights.
Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter whether you use your ult in the beginning or later to proc blight stacks. You do want to hit 2 or 3 people with it, though, so make sure you won’t hit the support only.
Just like any squishy you want to kite people that chase you and proc blight stacks when you can. AP Varus’ ult is anexceptional zoning tool, because compared to AD Varus, it doesn’t only snare, but it also deals a lot of damage, especially if you can proc your stacks.
A nice interaction with hurricane is that you can ult someone, autoattack a few times and then proc all these stacks with your ultimate, because it takes a moment to spread. Ult -> 3 autos -> Zhonya’s is a combo that will get you super easy pentakills.
Now let’s move on to the 2nd build, which is focused on oneshotting literally anyone that comes too close to you. The items I get are the following:
- Sorc Shoes (or defensive boots, if needed)
- Deathfire Grasp
- Nashor’s Tooth
- Void Staff
- Rabadon’s Deathcap
- Zhonya’s Hourglass
If you’re going for this build, Ignite is a good idea. Definitely recommend getting that, as it helps you finish off kills.
As you can see, the only difference is the change from hurricane to DFG.
With this build, you’re still weak early game, but it doesn’t take as long for you to get strong as with the teamfight oriented build.
Firstly, I begin with a long sword again for above mentioned reasons.
After that, I obviously stay defensive and try to get gold. I also put 3 points into Q so I can farm safely, but I’ll definitely start maxing W at lvl 7, unless I’m so far behind that I can’t even dream of fighting someone.
As soon as DFG is completed the fun part starts: You can and should be aggressive. Walk up to people, attack them a few times, hit a spell. Against most champions, doing this once is enough.
When your enemy is at 70% you can all in him. DFG -> 3 auto attacks > ult should pretty much kill them. If not, throw in another autoattack and Q/E. Ignite helps a lot, too.
After that, I get the same items which I get with the teamfight build. Nashor’s -> Void Staff and boots -> Rabadon’s/Zhonya’s -> Zhonya’s/Rabadon’s.
The main difference is that you only have to fear very mobile assassins like Leblanc, Zed or Talon.
Play the game similarly to how you would with hurricane, but don’t fear 1v1s; you’re gonna win them if you play them correctly.
One (maybe not thaat obvious) tip: If you want to fight a 1v1, use DFG BEFORE you autoattack 3 times, then ult. The DFG amplifies all magic damage, so in lategame you’ll get a few hundred bonus damage from your autoattacks . It does of course also amplify the ult and blight proc damage, which is why this allows you to oneshot people so easily.
Here’s the math on DFG full build AP Varus (using 800 AP in case you went for 18 AP/lvl runes or you got baron buff.)
Did that a while ago, but I was (and still am) too lazy to make a graph. I think these numbers illustrate the potential well enough, though.
When to go for the teamfight oriented build and when for DFG?
DFG is nice if you want to 1v1 people and oneshot them in the blink of an eye. That doesn’t work too well against highly mobile enemies who can dodge your spells. Against these champions you should get Hurricane.
Vs Mundo, Trundle, Shen and other less mobile champions, DFG is a good item to consider, although Hurricane is never a bad buy.
Right now I’m using a weird page that features multiple things, but I like it for the mixture of stats it gives. You can also use standard runes and do well; in fact they might be just as good. Currently, my page looks like this:
- 9 Hybrid pen marks (red)
- 4 armor seals and 5 HP/Lvl seals (yellow)
- 4 AP/Lvl glyphs and 5 MR/Lvl glyphs (blue)
- 3 AP Quints
MR is really important on Varus because he doesn’t get any MR from leveling up. If you don’t get MR from runes, you’ll be at 31 MR the entire game, which is pretty bad. That’s why I like to run MR/Lvl glyphs; I don’t care too much about MR early on, but later they are crucial to surviving.
If you want to go for a more standard page, you can ofc just take
- 9 Hybrid pen marks
- 9 armor seals
- 9 MR / 9 MR/Lvl glyphs
- 3 AP / 3 MS quints.
I’m not gonna say much about matchups, but you will have a bit of trouble vs highly mobile and bursty champions. They can dodge your spells and kill you before you kill them, so beware.
Hard matchups :
- (AP Malphite)
- (probably) Azir
- Dr. Mundo
- AP Nidalee
What should your team look like?
Since you’re a squishy champion without any escapes, it’s recommended to have supports that focus on peeling.
Alistar, Braum, Janna, Sona and Thresh all do pretty well. You should have a tanky champion on your team, so you can stay in the back and let him soak all the damage / cc while you destroy the entire enemy team. Lulu / Orianna / Kayle / Galio are pretty nice as well.
Having some other form of initiation on your team is nice, but you don’t want to have 3 people diving the enemies and leaving you alone.
I hope you enjoyed reading my guide. If you have any questions feel free to ask.