League of Legends: A Pyrrhic Viktory
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG MOBA Reporter
Welcome Summoners, to… well, simply a League of Legends article about Viktor, actually. He’s been added to the game without much fanfare, with only a quick hotfix to mark his addition.
Viktor is a pure mage, focused on zone control through the use of large amounts of area of effect spells. The further away from him an enemy gets, the lower his damage output becomes, meaning his summoner must always know when to take risks up close and when to hold back at a distance. His play style is similar to Swain, with a touch of Oriana’s long lasting area denial, and various spells that move independently of the character.
His most unique mechanic is by far his unusual passive, Evolving Technology. This grants him a single item in his inventory at the beginning of the game, The Hex Core. The default Hex Core is nothing special, a single slot item that grants more ability power as he levels. However, Viktor can upgrade this item into three different items for a moderate sum. Each one of these upgrades provides a permanent special effect to each of his core abilities, Power Transfer [Q], Gravity Field [W], and Death Ray [E], along with an appropriate stat boost.
His go-to ability during the laning phase is his Power Transfer, a very short range targeted damage ability that grants him a shield after a short delay. This delay is shorter the closer you get to your target, though even at very close range it feels too long. The idea of the shield is clearly to allow him to trade at close range, granting him some added survivability at the cost of positioning. The problem is that in such situations, the enemy usually hits you before you hit them, because they’ll get in range before you can land your hit. Even in the best case scenario, the enemy will hit you at the same time, meaning that regardless of circumstance, you will always receive the shield too late.
The most reliable use of the shield is to simply use it on a minion right next to you, granting you instant protection. The problem with this though is that you’ve just wasted his most reliable damage dealing ability to gain a bit of survivability in order to get in range of an enemy. This leaves you with only auto attacks usually, though if you think the remainder of your abilities can be used to burst an enemy down, then it can be a good way to bolster yourself before diving into an assault, trading damage for guaranteed protection.
The upgrade for the Power Transfer is best taken to help with his laning phase against particularly tough opponents. It can also make a good trick to help with his escape and roaming capabilities, using it on anything nearby before using the speed boost to nip away.
His Death Ray is a vector targeted skill shot, similar to Rumble’s ultimate, The Equalizer. At the starting point of the attack, there is no delay between you clicking and the beam coming out, making it nearly impossible to avoid at close range. In addition, vector targeted abilities were improved some patches ago, so it can even be quick cast now. In other words Death Ray can you hit you faster than you can process the word ‘Death Ray”.
The end of the skill shot though can hit enemies at very long distances, but moves very slowly along the ground, so is very easy to avoid. This allows him a very long range, high damage poke but it gets easier to avoid the further away you are from an enemy, giving them plenty of time to avoid the approaching laser.
The enhancement for this is his main go-to upgrade. It grants him more ability power, helping the damage output on all of his abilities, while also granting a 30% damage boost to the Death Ray itself. The only time you would avoid this one is if you’re struggling being farmed due to a difficult lane opponent, or repeated ganks from a jungler. In that case, making use of the previously mentioned Power Transfer enhancement can be a good way to wrest back control of your lane.
While Viktor has multiple crowd control abilities at his disposal, he has no ideal combo to let loose on an enemy. The closest thing he has to a true spell sequence is to simply hit an enemy with everything you have after catching someone in his Gravity Field. This is a rather unusual trait in a mage, as most of the characters that share that role with Viktor require specific spell chains to optimize their damage output. While enhancing the Gravity Field is possible, it’s only worth it if you really cannot afford to go near any enemies during a team fight.
His ultimate, Chaos Storm [R], is similar to Oriana’s ball in how it’s controlled, but is far simpler to use. Simply cast the spell near the largest group of enemies, and then press R again on the squishiest enemy to watch it follow them about as it rips them to pieces. While I would advise you hit an enemy with Gravity Field before unleashing the ultimate on them, the movement of the storm is fast enough at even medium range to outpace most characters as they try to run away from it. The short silence on it can be surprisingly effective, used for stopping channeled ultimates or to stop someone just before they flash over a wall (using alt clicks you can then sit the storm on the other side of the wall to cut off any delayed escape). The damage output of the ability is impressive for how hard it is for enemies to avoid, though its lengthy cooldown means it can’t be used frivolously.
Take a level in Power Transfer to begin with. This is usually best maxed out first. His second level choice should be a rank in Death Ray. This is most often his second maxed out ability, though it can be a situational choice to take early against characters that are too dangerous to go near in the early game, since this is his only poking tool against such dangerous individuals. This can be a very risky choice though, and should be used with caution. Grab Gravity Field last at level four, and leave it to be leveled last.
For items, start with boots and three health potions on summoner’s rift. Doran’s Ring stacking will help his early game, though be aware that you’re working with one less item slot than usual. In Dominion the stock start of boots, Prospector’s Ring, and potions serves him well.
His build should emphasize Ability Power, tempered by survivability items to keep him in one piece. Items that grant both of these are, of course, good situational picks for him. Zhonya’s Hourglass can be a particularly nasty pick on him, because his ultimate, gravity field and laser can still be active (and moving) while he’s making use of its invulnerability. The common picks of Rabadon’s Deathcap, Rylai’s Crystal Scepter and Void Staff remain good choices on him.
How you choose to work your masteries on Viktor are dependent on how much risk you’re willing to take. Making use of the stock 21/0/9 page for mages is good for straight damage output, but allowing for some splashes in the defensive tree will provide you with more room for error. For runes I once again have been making use of the stock mage page of magic penetration marks, mana regeneration seals, ability power per level glyphs, and ability power quintessences. Again, splash into defense runes if you want to take more risks, and still survive.
My biggest emotional reaction to Viktor has been disappointment, unfortunately. Swain is one of my favourite characters, and I had hoped to make use of a brand new mage in my regular arsenal. He’s not a terrible character, but I feel that he doesn’t gain enough benefits for the very close range that he has to fight at to be at his most effective. I feel he needs either more range on his abilities, or he needs more damage when he gets up close and personal. The delay on Power Transfer, while an interesting mechanic, is a real problem for his laning phase, since he can’t trade hits easily at all. His team fight presence can be devastating at times, and he really has a strong time in the mid game, but once again, he has to put himself at far too great a risk for not enough of a reward when he’s so easily focused by the enemy team.
Hold off on getting him at the moment as he’s likely going to get some buffs once most of the Riot staff get back from their Christmas breaks.
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