The 2021 League of Legends preseason introduced extensive changes to the traditional item system, bringing the new class of Mythic items into the game’s eleventh year and disposing of some classic items as well. All roles have benefitted in some part from the changes, but none more than junglers, who have seen already powerful champions grow even stronger to the point where one strong gank can determine an entire game’s outcome.
Graves, Nidalee, and Ivern are three of many jungle champions whose play, ban, and win rates have spiked exponentially due to new Mythic items like Galeforce, Night Harvester, and Moonstone Renewer. In Patch 11.2, many of the strengths of these items and the synergies with these champions were addressed. But it also introduced a new problem: Viego, the Ruined King.
From a clunky kit full of new mechanics to strong flexibility outside of the jungle, Virgo has the potential to be one of the strongest champions in the game—which isn’t what League needs right now.
Another champion with a game-changing kit
Following suit with almost every champion released in the past two years, Viego brings with him a kit full of new mechanics that immediately present him as a new major threat.
Viego’s sword—the Blade of the Ruined King—is his primary method of attacking, as well as his Q ability. If the length of the sword providing him with one of the highest melee attack ranges in the game wasn’t enough, his Q’s first passive gives him a version of the item with the same name at all times.
After using an ability, his Q’s second passive is activated. This results in a second immediate strike of his auto attack that does significant bonus damage and heals Viego for a percent of damage done.
And those are just its passives. Its active is a strike in a straight line with a low cooldown that’s perfect for melee skirmishes.
His ultimate ability, Heartbreaker, combined with his passive, Sovereign’s Domination, is where the problems with this jungler get worse. With his passive, Viego can take over the body of any champion he defeats, stealing their stats, abilities, passive and active item bonuses, and appearance for a short amount of time. Unlike Sylas and Neeko, who steal ultimates and looks, Viego “becomes” the other champion.
And the worst part is he can spam their abilities without using mana or energy during this duration, only having to worry about their cooldowns. Although he can’t take their ultimates, Heartbreaker’s percent health damage remains powerful when possessing another champion and is available to use immediately every time he possesses a new champion—which also scales with the stats of the champion whose body he stole.
Luckily, Viego’s W, Spectral Maw, is the only somewhat balanced part of his kit. It’s a dash and if you hit someone, it stuns them briefly.
His auto attacks are rather slow when the game begins, but his jungle clear is comparable to Kayn in that he needs no help. When starting Q, the percent health damage when auto attacking jungle monsters and its heal after using its active, combined with the Omnivamp of the jungle items, ensures that he’s fully capable of doing a full clear by himself. Conqueror is also Viego’s rune of choice, so healing will likely never be an issue at any point in the game.
Incredibly strong ganking potential
The importance of ganks in season 11 is more prominent than ever. Champions with high mobility have dominated the preseason and the beginning of the year, and Viego only makes that more prominent.
Perhaps the most glaring issue in Viego’s kit that will make him a prominent pick is his E, Harrowed Path. This ability combines the team shroud of Senna’s E with the wrap-around-walls effect of Qiyana’s ultimate all in one fell swoop. When used toward walls, the ability goes around the entire wall and provides Viego with bonus movement speed and attack speed while he’s inside of it, on top of stealth. Aiming it toward normal terrain creates a small field of shroud where he receives the same bonuses. Did we mention that the shroud itself is the width of almost an entire lane?
By having ways of boosting his attack speed through his abilities, Viego can focus on building damage-centered items, such as Trinity Force and Blade of the Ruined King, and still have over one-percent attack speed at all points of the game.
When combined with his W, Viego can swiftly go in and out of lane without any issues, even before he reaches level six. Luckily, he can’t use it to go over walls.
And when he finally does reach level six, his power grows exponentially. Being able to ult immediately after possessing a champion with no drawbacks makes Darius’ ultimate refunds look futile. In theory, Viego can ult five times in mere seconds during teamfights while also gaining new abilities upon every kill, making it impossible to fully prepare to fight him.
Jungle champs with mobility were recently tuned in Patch 11.2 but not enough to make them irrelevant. This means Viego is coming in at the most opportune time to take advantage of these strengths and adding even more to the table at the same time.
Maneuvering outside the jungle
Compared to other prominent junglers, Viego’s clear isn’t that fast and could ultimately lead to the opposing jungler dominating the early game if their clear is any faster. Therefore, players have started experimenting with him in other lanes and have only made this complicated champion more of a mess.
Top lane Viego takes everything that makes the champion good and boosts it exponentially. He wins every trade with increased damage and self-sustain without items, his range as a melee champion makes him comparable to ranged top laners, and getting one kill if ganked completely nullifies the gank. His low mobility in lane has negatively impacted his win rate upon release, but that hasn’t made him any less oppressive.
His laning is comparable to Renekton and other top lane fighters. Viego wants to constantly be in the enemy’s face without worrying that his health will be brought low. With the tools at his disposal, picking Viego in a solo lane almost always guarantees a safe lane. If the enemy jungler tries to gank the lane, one kill on an enemy can completely turn the tide of the fight since you gain a completely new set of abilities and items.
It’s likely that Viego will continue to see a lot of play in the top lane and even mid lane, possibly more than his jungle presence.
Easily overpower (and become) your enemies
Viego being able to possess any enemy champion that he defeats is, in itself, true to his theme as the Ruined King and ruler of the Shadow Isles. But when translated to League alongside a massively overloaded kit, this new mechanic presents major issues that are unhealthy to the game.
In a similar vein to Seraphine’s release, Viego takes what other champions do and just does it better.
He’ll certainly be a prevalent factor in solo queue and in pro play, but the likelihood of him getting past the ban phase is very low. If you can get your hands on playing Viego, take advantage of his power to easily snowball games without many faults—but do this before he inevitably gets nerfed.
Viego’s win rate might not be at an optimal level right now, but like all recent champions, it takes time to find their niche. And with the change of Viego from a jungler into a solo laner, players seem to finally be understanding why he’s a force to be reckoned with.
If Viego’s only new feature was his possession, then perhaps his addition to League would have been welcomed with open arms. But the smorgasbord of options that he has at his disposal will make him an issue to play against on the Rift until he receives eventual nerfs.
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