FPX’s DoinB is famous for his innovation in the mid lane. After securing a League of Legends World Championship title in 2019 with creative tanky picks like Nautilus, Sion, and Malphite, he has continually brought creative drafts to enable his teammates in the LPL.
One particular pick that’s been picking up recent game time in FPX’s drafts is Nocturne mid lane. More typically seen as a jungle pick, Nocturne is an all-in roaming assassin with an almost unparalleled ability to create space on the map. His short-range and lack of wave clear have historically made him an unpopular laner, but he can be a situational power pick depending on draft.
His solo queue win rate sits at a high 52.64 percent, according to op.gg, and although his pick rate is relatively low, he is currently one of the highest win rate mid laners in Platinum and above across the world. He’s an early-game monster whose win rate plummets the longer the game timer. And although normally played as an assassin-style champion, FPX’s game today against Rare Atom saw DoinB play a more supportive style that brought his team a dominating victory.
Here’s our guide on how to play this more supportive Nocturne pick, complete with a rune page and build path.
DoinB opted for the less commonly-picked but higher win rate Conqueror loadout for this Nocturne game. With many solo queue Nocturnes choosing to run Lethal Tempo for increased burst potential, Conqueror can provide some survivability for a champion whose entire kit is based on throwing himself at the enemy team. With Nocturne running attack speed both in his kit and through his build, he can stack the Conqueror passive fairly consistently in extended trades.
Further down the Precision tree, we saw DoinB go for Legend: Alacrity to further enhance Conqueror’s utility. The bonus attack speed augments the attack speed he receives from his Shroud of Darkness (W), which in turn increases the healing from both his Umbra Blades (passive) and Conqueror. This brings Nocturne an unusual amount of sustain for an assassin, meaning he can play fairly self-sufficiently in lane.
Ironspike Whip is a cornerstone of Nocturne’s item path. Dealing 75 percent of the user’s maximum attack damage in a cone, the item helps Nocturne immensely with some of his early issues clearing waves. Despite receiving nerfs in Patch 11.3, meaning it no longer dealt double damage to minions below 50 percent health, the item is still a must-buy for Nocturne.
In terms of pure one-shot potential, Nocturne’s most popular Mythic item is Duskblade of Draktharr. In this game, however, FPX had an overabundance of damage coming from their AD carry and jungle, meaning that DoinB’s focus was much more on setting up for the Nocturne/Galio ultimate combo that can be so deadly in teamfights.
For this combo, there is no item more perfectly suited than Stridebreaker. It gives the perfect stats for Nocturne: ability haste for more Paranoia (R) casts, attack speed, health, and attack damage. The power of this item, however, isn’t in its stats but in its active effect. When activated, it applies a decaying 40-percent slow for two seconds—the exact duration of Nocturne’s Unspeakable Horror (Q). This slow allows Nocturne to fully channel his fear without the enemy running away, getting the maximum value out of the limited crowd control in his kit.
This area-of-effect, divebomb crowd control from Nocturne is the perfect setup for Galio’s heroic entrance. From the darkness, a Nocturne appears to lay waste to your backline, and then from nowhere a huge stone dragon comes flying out of the sky to slam down into the middle of your team. Pretty scary stuff.
When to pick and how to play
If you’re going to be playing this more supportive style of Nocturne, you need to have the damage to back it up. DoinB had the security of two high-damage carries in the jungle and bottom lane to back up his engages. Champions like Karthus jungle serve as perfect partners for Nocturne, since Karthus thrives in cleaning up targets left at low health but not quite dead.
But the key component to pulling off the DoinB special in your solo queue games is a hard-engage support. Rell and Galio are both perfect picks to accompany Nocturne because both are more than happy to dive on into the backline alongside him. Healing or enchanter supports aren’t as important for Nocturne because of the amount of inbuilt healing he receives from his kit. It requires some coordination, so if you’ve got a support-playing friend, now may be the time to convince them to accompany you into the world of duo queue.
Hard engage and follow-up damage are needed to make this pick work, but if the team can work together it can be incredibly oppressive. Try picking it into low-mobility burst mages like Lux and Syndra in the mid lane, both of whom struggle to escape from Nocturne’s Paranoia. His current most-challenging counter is Anivia, whose Rebirth passive nullifies the majority of Nocturne’s surprise-attack potential. He also struggles into safe laners like Vladimir and Neeko.
It may be unconventional, but sometimes those surprise picks are just what’s needed to secure that clutch win. Whether it’s your Challenger promos or your first set of placement games, all that’s needed is a little bit of synergy with your teammates to make Nocturne mid a dominant pick. That might be easier said than done in solo queue. But remember that if you ask nicely, your support might take a break from stealing CS to come and gank your lane.