This is the first time we’re going to be looking at “glass cannon” melee champions that are not specifically labeled “Carry.” The total champions I have on this list are Aatrox, Alistar, Blitzcrank, Irelia, Jax, Nasus, Nocturne, Olaf, Poppy, Sion, Skarner, Trundle, Udyr, Volibear, Warwick, Xin Zhao, and Yorick. This would mean that when doing four champions each part will ensure about four parts left of Melee Carry Mondays. If you have any suggestions of anyone else you would like me to analyze as a Melee Carry leave me a note in the comments.
How did I choose this list?
A lot of melee characters can just decide to pick up an Infinity Edge and Phantom Dancer and call themselves “glass cannon melee.” They would not be wrong; however, I specifically chose these champions with a certain guideline:
- They do not have major bursting abilities that do not revolve around auto-attacking. Having large burst abilities (champions like Wukong or Riven) is important in taking advantage of your auto-attacks. Being a Melee Carry means that autos are your prime source of damage. While Riven and Wukong both have some pretty epic auto steroids, their burst factor deters me from focusing on these two champions.
- Their kits aren’t distorted by not being tanky. This one is a little bit iffy. For example, I have included Alistar and Volibear because they have some pretty significant steroids that are really reliable. While they do scale with health and general tankiness, there are ways around this that still make them significant. Someone like Amumu would be haunted by a lot of factors that diminish his power such as his passive being less than relevant, unable to take advantage of his DoT due to low tankiness, and Tantrum not being very useful.
- They are clearly tanks. Again, a shaky point, but for example, I’m a big fan of glass cannon Nautilus and glass cannon Rammus. However, a large source of their damage comes from being able to stay in fights. Rammus’ ultimate and his passive on top of his W are all things that scale with defenses and staying alive. Similarly, with Nautilus, his usefulness is determined by how big his shield is to deal damage. Thus, these champions are better off staying tanks. The longer these guys stay alive, the more impact they have.
- They have to scale well with glass cannon builds. I wanted champions that will be strong when played glass cannon, not champions that will just be strong simply because of the item build.
- They can’t be assassins. This is basically aimed at Talon, Kha’Zix, Shaco, and Zed. However, with the change in labels, Riot did some funky classifications that I do not enjoy. For example, Yi and Nocturne are somehow considered assassins.
Those are the basic of most basic guidelines. For this week we are going to be looking at Xin Zhao, Jax, Aatrox, and Nocturne. These have been selected by me, based off of whatever came to mind first. Let’s just jump right into analyzing Xin Zhao.
Type: Auto-based Abilities/Sustain/Utility/Armor Shred
Xin Zhao is a heavy snowball champion who excels at chasing targets and bringing them down with high Attack Speed, knock-ups, and slows. He is based off of slowing a target and getting off a full Three Talon Strike which deals some of the largest damage early game. His W grants a pretty sizable Attack Speed bonus and a pretty good heal for sustain, on top of any Life Steal you build. Xin has the unique ability to easily isolate his target with his ultimate. This ability not only grants him insane amounts of bonus Armor and Magic Resist, but deals a % of their current health. It also scales exceptionally well with physical damage. The biggest mistake Xin Zhao’s make when committing to an opponent is not using their ultimate right away. Xin Zhao can easily three shot targets with little chance for them to escape. He also possesses a 15% Armor shred making his damage more consistent among all targets.
Core Items: Trinity Force, Youmuu’s Ghostblade
Xin Zhao scales exceptionally well with the utility granted by Trinity Force. It also rewards him when chasing. The slow and Movement Speed allow for Xin to easily stick to targets, using his damage to kill them quickly. The Spellblade passive is not to be underestimated when used in combination with Three Talon Strike for some quick clean up damage. The bonus health always helps when stacked with the free Armor from your ultimate.
Afterwards, if you want even more chase potential, you can opt for a Youmuu’s Ghostblade. The additional Armor Penetration scales with your passive. The Critical Strike and Movement Speed are also beneficial when combined with Attack Speed. If you prefer more damage, you can choose to get a Bloodthirster or Infinity Edge for that extra burst. Xin is also very versatile, so changing a build or not specifically following this core will not hinder him at all.
Follow-up Items: Blade of the Ruined King, Infinity Edge, Ravenous Hydra
Blade of the Ruined King is a good item for chasing and dealing even more % health damage. Make sure you use your ultimate before the active as your ultimate damage is based off of current health, and BoTRK’s active is maximum health. This will help Xin stay alive, shred health tanks, and sustain himself, as well as chase.
Infinity Edge is just for that late game bonus damage on critical strikes. You can also pick this item up early, but on Xin I feel it is better late. It provides a self-explanatory bonus Critical Strike and a bonus to Critical Strike Damage.
Hydra is great for that AoE damage and extra Life Steal. You can activate it for a quick burst for a solo kill. This item is pretty great on Xin. It also provides good wave clear throughout all stages of the game, making it a pretty good farming item.
Roles: Jungle, Top
While mid is always an option, Xin should leave that to a champion who cannot lane as well against the monsters who go top. Xin is a solid top laner because of many things in his kit, such as the sustain and Armor shred. He also can pick up early kills and snowball well. In the jungle, Xin can easily come through with some high burst, good utility ganks, making him a reliable jungle.
Type: Hybrid Damage/Dodge/Scaling Defense/Stun
Jax is an insanely strong champion. He has the unique ability to scale defensively with the offensive stats he gains. He also has a dodge, which is something that no other champion has anymore. Having a gap closer and stun is very helpful to him as well. Jax deals both physical and magic damage, and thus, he’s hard to itemize against unless you plan to stack both Armor and MR. Jax is literally the god of glass cannon DPS and can only be dueled by other Melee Carries once they have a six item build and somehow catch him when his dodge is down. Jax will also have the more unique itemization follow up because of how he is. Jax’s Ultimate also provides a large spike in damage. His passive is literally the same amount of Attack Speed Master Yi gains from his ultimate late game. The only downside to Jax is he must be constantly on and attacking a target to maximize his DPS.
Core Items : Blade of The Ruined King, Trinity Force
Blade of the Ruined King allows Jax to not only have a source of Life Steal, which is a much needed stat for him, but also the slow for chasing. Jax is very limited without Movement Speed and prone to health stackers as it is the only stat that defends against physical and magic damage. Overall, this has quickly become the most reliable build on Jax.
Trinity Force is your next core item as it provides the slow and % Movement Speed that Jax needs so dearly. On top of that, it’s Spellblade passive works perfectly with your Empower, both being on basically the same cooldown. It should always be your secondary item. The mix of stats work well with Jax as you can be sure nothing is wasted.
Follow-up Items: Guinsoo’s Rageblade, Hextech Gunblade, Zephyr
Rageblade allows for a further increase in damage taking full advantage of the Ability Power/Attack Damage, as well as the Attack Speed that stacks similar to his passive. On top of that, when Jax falls below 50% health, he becomes some sort of insane Spell Vamp/Life Steal tank, making him incredibly hard to kill. If he pops his ultimate, the Ability Power and Attack Damage grant him even heavier defenses.
Gunblade works similar to Rageblade, except it doesn’t provide the Attack Speed and instead grants Life Steal and Spell Vamp all the time. It also has a slow with magic damage that scales. It’s cooldown now also lowers based on how many auto-attacks you get off, making it up much more often.
Zephyr provides the Movement Speed as well as Tenacity to let Jax stick to targets. It also gives CDR which works really well with Jax. The small bonus Attack Damage and large Attack Speed help Jax deal damage as well.
Roles: Top, Jungle
Much like Xin he can easily deal with the strong enemies that go top lane. Jungle is also good for Jax as he has decent ganks with his stun. The dodge also allows him to survive pretty easily against those pesky neutral monsters.
Type: Sustain/Mixed Damage/Utility/Life Steal Tank/AoE
Aatrox is a little bit tricky. He has a slow and knock-up, an Attack Speed steroid, and bonus damage/heal on every third hit. He has a large amount of mix damage between his E and ultimate; but, overall, he is mostly physical. Aatrox is an effective champion in general due to his passive–a revive at the cost of some of your Attack Speed. Aatrox is the kind of champion you need to play a bit to find out the balance between his W toggle and Blood Well. Aatrox deals incredible damage, but he is plagued by low base health. Even still, his playstyle requires you to be within the fight. This is all possible because of his passive which forces your team to focus you and probably lose the fight or ignore you and lose because of your shear damage. In order for a team to win, they either need to be massively ahead or shut you down seriously/fight when you passive is not up.
Core Items: Ravenous Hydra, Trinity Force
Ravenous Hydra is important when increasing Aatrox’s heal/damage. He scales well with physical damage and Life Steal so first buying a large damage and Life Steal item is important. You can opt for a Bloodthirster instead if you aren’t a fan of AoE or want more single target damage. On top of that, even if Aatrox pops his ultimate for the bonus range, he is still considered melee for the sole purpose of Hydra.
Trinity Force relatively takes care of Aatrox’s low base health. It also provides the slow and Movement Speed that are crucial to him. While he does have a slow within his kit having one that procs on autos is more effective than one you have to land that generally fades off once you Q on top of your target. The Attack Speed, while not the largest amount you can get from an item, is very helpful. Spellblade works well with increasing your upfront burst with Dark Flight and Blades of Torment
Follow-up Items: Wit’s End, Phantom Dancer, Guinsoo’s Rageblade
Wit’s End is my preferred follow-up item because it now also shreds some Magic Resist making your ultimate and Blades of Torment more effective, as well as providing the large Attack Speed bonus to maximize Blood Price/Thirst. However, if you aren’t against any magic damage, you should opt for something else.
Phantom Dancer is another large Attack Speed item to help with your killing endeavors. It also grants that devastating stat known as Critical Strike which only further makes you a problem. If there is low or no magic damage, take this with you.
Rageblade is a relatively experimental item for Aatrox as he deals the mix damage and does scale with all the stats it provides. However, the full effect of it comes from when he is below 50% health. This leads to a very awkward position where while you are at your peak to deal damage and heal from the Life Steal/Spell Vamp, you may need to take off your Blood Price and go for Blood Thirst to heal because you want to live. Either way, it is beneficial.
Roles: Jungle, Top, Mid
While Aatrox may just farm in the top lane and be very difficult to push out, it is possible for him to be bullied. He can go mid or jungle because Dark Flight and Blades of Torment can allow for very potent ganks and play a big role in setting up kills early and mid game. It is up to you and your play style.
Type: High Steroids/Fear/Spell Block/Solo Killer
If you have never seen a glass cannon Nocturne, be prepared to actually be afraid. Nocturne is actually really much like a carry. He excels at solo killing more than a lot of the previous champions we’ve discussed. With Attack Damage, Movement Speed, and Attack Speed, as well as a spell shield and fear, Nocturne can easily chase down his prey and secure kills. He has the ability to leap to basically anyone he sees from ridiculous ranges. The fear also enables him to give them little chance to fight back. The key to playing a glass cannon Nocturne is to jump on anyone who is out of position every time your ultimate is up. He brings some pretty solid upfront burst and has a healing effect built into his passive that also increases his auto-attack damage. All in all, glass cannon Nocturne is really effective if he isn’t limited to team fighting, but instead looking around for victims who are alone (side note: good ward coverage by your team increases your ability to succeed in searching for those victims).
Core Items: Bloodthirster, Youmuu’s Ghostblade
The Bloodthirster provides the Attack Damage and Life Steal Nocturne needs when dueling an opponent and farming. Since Shroud of Darkness provides some Attack Speed early, he does really well with just building damage first.
The Ghostblade allows for better chase. It should be used in conjunction with Unspeakable Horror to ensure the fear. The Critical Strike and the Armor Pen also help increase Nocturne’s DPS.
Follow-up items: Infinity Edge, Trinity Force
Infinity Edge helps you quickly take down your targets. You want to make sure they die relatively instantly so that you may get in and out of there as quickly as possible. Having a large amount of damage and insane Critical Strike Damage ensure that you aren’t going on long chases.
Trinity Force is similar to Infinity Edge. It increases the front-line burst, but with no RNG. It also grants the slow which keeps opponents near the area you ultied them. It also provides Movement Speed, a stat Nocturne needs because he lacks a gap closer outside of his ultimate.
Roles: Jungle, Mid
As Nocturne, you will want to have access to every lane, so mid and jungle are the best at providing those opportunities.
This sums up Part One of the glass cannons. Be sure to check out Part Two next Monday.