Sett, League of Legends’ first champion of 2020, touched down fist-first into the top lane of Summoner’s Rift from the Ionian criminal underworld, bringing with him a little vastayan swagger and a whole lot of Noxian grit.
Sett is a punch-your-way-through-your-problems juggernaut through and through, and while the Vi comparisons write themselves, he is more suited to being a top laner than his mechanically-gauntleted counterpart. Indeed, there are gap closers and tools in his kit that would allow him to clear the jungle with relative ease, but neither are as strong as top-tier jungle champions.
Additionally, despite being a resourceless champion, his shortest rank-one cooldown is nine seconds, which could present sustain issues in the jungle that wouldn’t rear their heads quite as much in lane. His Q, E, and R abilities all provide crowd control or mobility of some kind, but are much more for engaging and staying in the middle of fights as opposed to providing safety or escapes.
All that being said, the Boss has seen rising success rates in the jungle in the short time since his release, and there’s a school of thought that says any champion can work in the jungle with a few well-placed wards, good macro play, and enough communication.
Passive: Pit Grit
One of two parts of his kit that make him stronger as he loses health, Sett’s passive ramps up his health regen in proportion to his percent missing health. In some respects, it’s similar to Volibear’s passive, but unlike Voli’s, it isn’t directly “proc-able,” leaving no cooldown to play around for you or your opponent. Pit Grit also defines Sett’s punching style: left first, right second, with attack speed dictating how quickly the right punch comes out after the left.
Q: Knuckle Down
On top of being a decent gap closer, Knuckle Down is one of a few tools in Sett’s kit that allows him to fight even the beefiest tanks on enemy frontlines. It also gives Sett an all-important auto-attack reset to squeeze as much damage as possible into low-level laning trades. Max this first.
Enter Sett’s secondary resource: Grit. This ability, as well as Sett’s ultimate, is why bonus health is so important on him. Grit is built up as you take damage but is expended entirely on one W cast. Any additional Grit will need to be rebuilt via taking additional damage, but with an eight-second cooldown even at max rank, you’ll most likely only be getting one meaningful cast off per team fight. Casting it also gives you a shield equal to the amount of Grit you had build up when you cast it (how much damage you took up until that point).
If it seems like finding that optimal point at which to cast your W is what can make or break a skirmish or teamfight, that’s because it really can. The midgame is when both you and your lane opponent start building bonus health, making it the perfect power spike window to max Haymaker.
Facebreaker casts a lot like Thresh’s Flay (E), but instead of pushing enemies in one direction, it brings enemies on either side of you towards you. Even if you only catch one enemy with it, they are slowed, but if you’re able to catch an enemy on both sides of the ability, all of them are stunned for one second.
In the laning phase, the important thing to take note of is that the tooltip reads “enemies” as opposed to “champions,” so during a trade, and especially during an all-in, if you can grab a minion on one side and your opponent on the other, the stun still procs, allowing you to line up your W’s true damage for some devastating burst. Take one point early and max it last.
R: The Show Stopper
Prioritize dunking tanks that have built up a ton of bonus health if you can, as the damage you deal not only to them but to those caught in the blast zone, is all based on how beefy the unfortunate soul on the business end of your ult is. This ability truly allows you to dictate the terms of a team fight. Any tank caught just a little too close to you on their frontline can be punished and sent right back towards the squishy carries in the backline, bringing you along with them.
Once back there, you are in the perfect position to use your E to stun and disable the enemy team’s damage dealers and wreak other forms of havoc, prolonging your stay in the middle of their team with the shield from a well-timed W, ideally after baiting out key abilities.
Runes are always situational based on your lane matchup and team composition on both sides, especially in the last three choices, but you can rarely go too wrong with Precision-Resolve or vice versa with Sett. If the Boss wants to not be pigeonholed into being the world’s most durable punching bag, Precision-Resolve is the move. If he does, then respect his wishes and go Resolve as your primary path with Precision in the secondary tree.
Conqueror is arguably the most versatile rune in the game, especially in the top lane. The sustain it gives when fully stacked can be the difference in early game trades before you’ve had a chance to build proper lifesteal or resistances. Triumph can get particularly tilting for opponents to deal with in teamfights, as can Last Stand. Finally, Legend: Tenacity gives Sett a slight defense against his one true hard counter: crowd control.
Start Doran’s Shield and a potion to get the ball rolling on that bonus health early. If there’s a lane matchup you’re confident in or want to take the Boss in a more damage-dealing direction, Doran’s Blade is a perfectly viable start as well.
Your first item back should be a Phage, which can be built into a Black Cleaver or Trinity Force, the latter of which has helped Sett’s win-rates steadily climb given the versatility it gives him in exchange for long-term team-fight survivability. You can take a more balanced approach with a Trinity Force if you do decide to play him in the jungle and can get the health you need from your jungle item with a Cinderhulk enchantment.
Boots are situational between Ninja Tabi and Mercury’s Treads, but when in doubt, build to counter your lane matchup.
As with many bruisers, and especially resource-less champions like Sett, cooldown reduction is your best friend. Also, the longer you can be a nuisance in the middle of the enemy team, the better, so after your Phage-into-BC/TF, Titanic Hydra should be the next thing you shoot for in the vast majority of matchups. It makes you considerably beefier, but also gives enough offensive firepower to warrant attention from enemies peeling for their carries during the midgame.
Bonus health is a big part of Sett’s kit, so if you want to really abuse those interactions, this is the build for you. If you find yourself getting locked down and focused immediately because you are enough of a menace to warrant every marquee CC from the enemy team, you can absolutely build a Guardian Angel to ensure that even in death, the Boss gets his way. With all the big abilities burned to kill you the first time, your opponents will have far fewer answers when you rise again.
Even though it didn’t quite fit into the previous build, Sterak’s Gage is, in truth, borderline indispensable on Sett, no matter how you choose to build him. Along with Death’s Dance, it allows Sett to deal really good damage and survive for a long time on the brink of death — just how he likes it.
Since your build in practice will most likely be somewhere in between these two examples, hopefully this can give you a solid item pool to pick from, if nothing else. Before they are anything else, these are templates and suggestions that have seen success in-game, so remember to always build situationally in the late game, and to always build an Adaptive Helm if you are punished with a Teemo or Singed in the top lane.
Best of luck climbing!