League of Legends: It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG League Reporter
Kha’Zix is the latest League of Legends assassin who can choose to either specialize heavily into his role, or opt to gain a number of team-fight enhancing abilities, offsetting the weaknesses found in many of his peers. He plays most similarly to other aggressive glass cannons, while also having a number of mechanical and thematic similarities with Rengar.
Strong duelist, with incredible damage output
Can become a strong pusher
Good mobility (Excellent mobility with correct upgrades)
Unique upgrade system
Can permaslow a target after he gets his ultimate
Has little early game crowd control
Very fragile, and is especially susceptible to burst damage
No haymaker ultimate
Needs farm to be effective (As a jungler, he needs successful ganks)
Unseen Threat [Passive]: When Kha’Zix is not visible to any enemy champions, he gains a stack of Unseen Threat. If he hits an enemy with an auto-attack or an evolved Void Spike it will consume the stack to deal bonus magic damage and slow the target. There is no cooldown on regaining stacks, so repeatedly juking in and out of brush, around corners or using his ultimate in between attacks can allow him to keep an enemy slowed indefinitely.
Taste Their Fear [Q]: Deals damage to a single target in melee range. If the target is not close to any of their allies, they will take almost double damage. This is on a very low cooldown, and has a very low mana cost considering the amount of damage it deals to a lone enemy. Always try to hit an enemy away from minions if possible, but given its low cooldown, you don’t have to be very careful with it. When playing against Kha’Zix, stay near your minions if he is leveling this first, as it will significantly eat into his damage output. The evolved version will add a percentage of the target’s HP to the damage, while also increasing his auto-attack range. Grabbing this evolution early will make him a very strong duelist, able to punch holes in the bruisers that are often found in top lane.
Void Spike [W]: Skillshot that explodes after hitting the first enemy it makes contact with, dealing damage in an AoE. If Kha’Zix is in range of the AoE, it will also heal him. Great harassment tool when laning, and gives some sustain while in melee. The evolved version makes it fire three projectiles in a cone (in a similar manner to Twisted Fate’s Wild Cards), and will also apply the slow and damage from Unseen Threat. The evolved version allows him to clear minion waves with a single shot, and grind entire teams to a crawl. This is a great defensive option, allowing him to farm easily, grabbing a great deal of gold for his mid to late game.
Leap [E]: AoE damage leap with a short range. The evolved version, however, can leap further than most ranged auto-attacks and is also refreshed after a kill or assist, making it a better version of Tristana’s Rocket Jump. The normal version is a fairly good gap closer, but the evolved version is an absolute menace. It is very common for jungling Kha’Zixs to level this first, as it makes his ganking very difficult to escape from, and allows him to attack from unusual angles.
Void Assault [R]: Kha’Zix stealths for 1 second, applies Unseen Threat to himself and gets a movement speed boost. Can be used twice in a short period of time. Best used as a reset in the middle of fights. This is also the only way he can maintain his slow over long periods without juking into brush or around corners, so only use this after you’ve already consumed his passive, and need to slow the enemy again. The evolved version allows him to stealth three times, and also gain damage reduction while stealthed. Great for survivability if you don’t have a strong front line on your team, while also giving him more chasing and slowing power to hunt down kiting enemies.
After you put a rank in Void Assault, it will also allow you to evolve one of his four abilities. This can’t be done instantly like other level ups, and will require a cast time. Every time Kha’Zix evolves, his character model will update, gaining new animations and vocals that reflect his changes (eg. when he acquires wings he will talk about flying, and his run cycle gains a fluttering hop like the butterfly Kog’Maw). Be aware that the updated visuals will give your enemies a clear indication of what upgrades you’ve taken, giving away what you plan to do with the character.
Choosing which evolutions you take, and in what order are going to dramatically change how you play Kha’zix. Since he can only level his ultimate three times, he’s always going to leave himself with a weakness. Not having his Taste Their Fear evolution weakens him as a duelist, but will mean he has a great deal of durability and team fight presence. Not evolving Void Spike takes away his AoE presence, but he will be an extremely mobile duellist and chaser. Letting Void Assault fall by the wayside will render him unable to leap into an enemy’s squishy carries, but will allow him to mop up any front line fighters that are leaping into his own team. Not choosing Void Assault will greatly diminish his durability and chasing power, but will ramp up his damage potential to its absolute maximum potential, great for doing hit and run strikes on an enemy team’s squishies.
Don’t ever stick to one set route of evolutions, as you’ll only be throwing away Kha’Zix’s ability to adapt to any situation. Always watch how a game is going, and try to plan ahead by picking the right set of tools that’ll lead your team to victory.
Combos & Shenanigans
When laning, he can play mind games with his enemy by switching between Taste Their Fear and Void Spike as his main damage dealing abilities. Void Spikes will always catch an enemy that stands near their minion wave, forcing them away, but if you threaten them with a Leap followed by Taste Their Fear, they have to get near their minions to avoid its extremely high damage output. Melee opponents have an especially hard time against this trick, as they can be punished every time they try to last hit, training them to stay away most of the time, and making them easy prey for Taste Their Fear. With an evolved Void Spike, this trick becomes unnecessary, as the spikes will wipe out a minion wave completely, giving your enemies nothing to protect them from Taste Their Fear.
His most common ganking combination is to Leap from behind a wall or in the brush, smack his target with an auto attack, then use a quick Void Spike to clear the area before hitting them with a Taste Their Fear. If he’s above level 6, Kha’Zix can now make use of his ultimate, Void Assault, to speed himself up before auto-attacking the enemy again, keeping them slowed. Keep using the combination of his ultimate, passive and Taste Their Fear to burn down the enemy’s health, while healing back any damage with Void Spikes. An evolved Void Assault will also reduce the damage from towers when diving in for the kill, so don’t forget to time it so you’re always stealthed when taking those laser blasts.
Escaping with Kha’Zix can be surprisingly easy, as his extreme mobility doesn’t require a target in order to work (unlike the recently released Diana). Simply Void Assault for his passive, hit the enemy once, Leap away while they’re slowed (preferably over a wall), then zoom off with the remaining uses of his ultimate.
If adaptability was the key theme of Kha’Zix, then Riot have hit the nail on the head. His evolution mechanic is such an absolute treat, offering new ways to play him every game. This is the way that Viktor’s passive should have worked. If a rework to Viktor ever happens in the future, the design team should look at Kha’Zix for an excellent template to work from.
Kha’Zix provides a highly satisfying blend of long term planning and fast moment to moment play. He’s also a perfect example of Riot’s desire to make every available option a player makes have a possible counter, both in the long and short term. With every evolution being visible to the enemy, they can never claim they’re caught off guard by his tricks. For everything that he has, there’s a way to stop it, but he also has a way of dealing with dealing with the thing that stops him, but there’s a way for the enemy to stop that...
He’s very strong at the moment, and his evolutions make him a fresh take on a well worn type of champion. A worthwhile purchase, and definitely worth a look during his free week. Highly likely he’ll get some form of nerf, though with the world championships so near, we may not see any significant balance changes until it’s over.
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