Vel’Koz was one of those champions to be released with a lot of hype, only to be quickly forgotten. This happens frequently when a champion is released into a disadvantageous meta and perceived as weak or lacking.
As his lore might suggest, it takes time for Vel’Koz to ramp up to power as he ‘studies’ his surroundings, and consequently, he can struggle in the early game of a solo lane. Current favored picks are very well-rounded and can punish Vel’Koz based on his skill order. In addition, his lack of mobility keeps him from being an effective roamer. Overall, Vel’Koz requires too many levels to reach the same level of efficiency, resulting in a Milhouse status in lane.
However, what if you were to simplify the equation and eliminate the necessity to be well-rounded?
Dawn of the Non-Traditional Support
Traditionally, when most think support, they think of healing, shielding, etc. In Season 3 however, with the changes to the vision system and gold generation items, we saw players take the mold of this traditional style and exchange it for more aggressive, damage-based support picks able to abuse the changes.
Looking at the rise of champions like Annie and Zyra in the bot lane, it is possible to attribute most of their success to two strengths:
- Crowd control (CC)
- High base-damage abilities
These two elements make for great support, because frankly, dead enemies don’t fight back. It cannot be underscored enough just how essential CC is to perform well in every combative facet of League of Legends; it is always useful and you can never really have too much. For this style of support, it provides the desired safety for your carry throughout the game, as well as the ability to engage or disengage for the team.
In unison with high base-damage skills, it is possible to lock down targets and allow your team to clean up kills. One key aspect in the previous sentence is base-damage. Many mages in LoL have max rank, non-ultimate skills hit for around 240-300 damage pre-scaling.
Having base-damage values near the high-end of this spectrum allows these champs to do respectable amounts of damage while still being able to build items that a support would traditionally, such as Sightstone or Talisman of Ascension. Without the high-end base-damage values, other champions would need to spend gold on items that allow for scaling to stay relevant in fights as the game progresses.
So, where does Vel’ Koz fit in all of this?
Fitting the New Mold
Looking at Vel’Koz, we can see how perfectly he fits into the same mold for an aggro-support. He has decent CC with a 70% slow at all ranks of Plasma Fission (Q) and a knock-up with his Tectonic Disruption (E).
His base-damage values lie on the top end of the spectrum and his passive Organic Deconstruction, a scaling true damage (205 at max level) which applies after every third stack, compounds the idea behind not needing items to deal large amounts of damage. Also setting him apart is that Vel’Koz does this at long-range, which keeps himself safe, while being a zoning laser artillery for his teammates. To top it off, his low mana costs allow him to do all of this extremely efficiently.
Playing Vel’Koz support is reliant on effective poke and since he has all skill-shot abilities, it is the fulcrum of success in this pick. To clarify, by effective, it doesn’t mean it has to land. You simply have to use it to get the desired result of controlling your opponents. Landing these shots is usually going to be the best case scenario but proper targeting of abilities will keep enemies where you want them.
The main cons for playing Vel’Koz are that he is extremely squishy and immobile. Getting caught or focused first almost always means certain death until late game. This negative side can be compounded if your ultimate is interrupted, since it is the main reason for picking this champion. Proper itemization can alleviate some of these issues later in the game, but until you get to that point in the game, positioning is extremely important.
Use Plasma Fission (Q) to create breathing room for your carry, allow for ease of farming, and if possible, get enemies into kill range. Its unique trigonometric animation makes it more difficult to predict than other skill-shots. This makes it frustrating to play against, so keep vision and isolate the lane from roaming enemies looking to help angered teammates. As stated previously, position well to avoid getting caught. You will often want to be behind your carry so you can peel and turn fights safely.
- Use Void Rift (W) and Lifeform Disintegration Ray (R) in full engages to deal lots of area-of-effect punishment while focusing priority targets
- Use Tectonic Disruption (E) for engage or disengage as needed
- Using Void Rift (W) after landing Tectonic Disruption (E) is the most effective way to stack your passive
The same basic philosophy applies here too: Create room for your team to act. Hover around your team’s carry and peel off enemy frontline champions. Mid to late game Vel’Koz’s damage output is quite high and you may draw attention from the enemy team which is a good thing, especially with great itemization and positioning. The less attention given to your actual carries the better for your team in the end.
Item Build, Runes, & Masteries
The core of the build is Frost Queen’s Claim, Sightstone, Sorcerer’s Shoes, and Liandry’s Torment.
After these items, shift focus back to protection either for your team or yourself, whichever is needed most. Items like Mikael’s Crucible and Locket of the Iron Solari are great additions for their team utility. Banshee’s Veil is great for ensuring a full ultimate channeling.
For runes and masteries, I recommend using AP Marks and Quints, Health Seals, Flat Magic Resist Glyphs and 21/0/9.
Vel’Koz is definitely unlike most supports – He relies heavily on your ability to effectively poke and understanding what that means.
Vel’Koz fits best in poke and siege comps that need additional disengage, but works well in almost any team with his incredible area-of-effect damage. Due to the unique effect on his Q and being comprised of all skill-shots, he has a higher skill cap that takes time to adapt to, for both you and your opponent.
His engage potential is lacking, but he truly shines in his ability to disengage or turn fights around. He becomes exceedingly strong as the game progresses due to his passive, and is able to rival most mid laners with just a few item purchases. After playing quite a few games with Vel’Koz, it is easy to see that his damage is hard to match even as a support.
Knowing where to be on both micro and macro scale are learned skills of LoL that are essential for a Vel’Koz player. Getting caught without being able to channel Lifeform Disintegration Ray (R) fully can be a huge detriment to your team.
Moving Vel’Koz into the support role pressures the opposing team to make decisions unfavorable to them since focusing a support is rarely the best choice. As more players begin to realize his potential, it won’t be long before you start seeing the Eye of the Void much more often in the bottom lane.