Darius is one of the best top laners in League of Legends solo queue. He can win the laning phase from level one and snowball out of control.
His passive deals a lot of damage over time if stacked up, and the self-heal from Decimate makes him a fearsome foe in the top lane. He doesn’t need items to get going and can destroy his opponent with a surprise level one engage. While some players try to out-trade him early on, others instead focus on leveling up and nullifying his presence.
While Darius is a strong top laner and can be a huge issue to deal with, he does have weaknesses you can exploit in both items and champions. Here are the best counter picks to beat Darius in the top lane.
Darius has a simple kit. He needs to get into melee range to do damage and relies on his passive to stack up. While he might be scary during his engages in the laning phase, without his passive he won’t be doing much damage. It’s important to keep distance if possible and avoid trades in which Darius can stack his passive. It can be the difference between life and death during the laning phase.
His main sustain ability is Decimate (Q), which has a small channel time, giving you enough time to react and avoid getting hit by the edge to heal Darius up. His main trade pattern is to walk up to you and use his Apprehend (E) to hook you to him, then follow up with a Crippling Strike (W) to slow you and stack his passive. If you avoid getting hooked in, he can’t do much against you and you’ll have a clear path to victory by keeping him in check.
Kled is one of the best counters against Darius because he has a built-in healing reduction effect, which allows you to stop Darius’ sustain in the laning phase.
Your kit as Kled allows you to use Jousting (E) to dash through minions to escape the melee range if Darius catches up to you, then Bear Trap on a Rope (Q) to follow up with some damage against Darius. On top of that, your attack speed steroid in Violent Tendencies (W) makes your trades much more powerful compared to Darius if you avoid the edge of his axes and stop him from stacking up his passive. While he might be more powerful in an all-in scenario due to his passive, by making short-trades you should come out ahead.
By setting Darius behind early on, you can get an early item lead and use your Chaaaaaaaarge!!! (R) to roam around the map while Darius is stuck in the top lane farming up creeps to get back into the game. Since he will most likely not have Teleport as a summoner spell, he won’t be able to stop you from your roaming playstyle and will instead push his lane. The advantage built by helping your teammates will pay off in the long-run since they’ll deal with Darius later on.
If you trades correctly in the laning phase and snowballed to help other lanes, you should have an advantage in neutral objectives and towers. Retain a roaming playstyle and use Teleport to keep Darius away from his team before you join your team and force five-vs-four teamfights.
Gnar is one of the most popular top lane picks currently due to his recent buffs. He counters multiple champions, including Darius, due to his ranged form, and if you get into close range with your melee form, you can destroy him in no time with your base damage.
When laning against Darius, use Gnar’s ranged form and poke Darius down with Boomerang Throw (Q) to force him to play defensively. Don’t look for short trades since Darius can out-heal and out-trade you with ease. By poking him down and building up your rage bar, you can all-in with your melee form if he is low enough and get easy early kills. Hyper (W) is a great tool to kite him while also poking him down every three attacks. The movement speed buff can help you avoid Darius’ engage and keep up an aggressive playstyle. Even if you get caught by his Apprehend, you can use Hop (E) run away until you are ready to fight.
While you have an advantage by having a lot of ranged damage, the downside is that you’re squishy in your ranged form and can only fight one-on-one in your melee form. As a result, look to continue with a poking style and avoid getting too close to get engaged on.
If you kept Darius under control, you should be equal or ahead in gold and provide a good frontline for your team in teamfights. Pay attention to Darius’ positioning in teamfights so he doesn’t freely roam and kill your carries. Most players are going for offensive builds, so focus him down if he is out of position to get a quick kill, then turn on his teammates.
You will have a Teleport spell advantage in most of your games, since Darius is bound to run Ghost. Use this to split push and join your team if needed. If Darius is matching you, he won’t be able to join his team and you’ll get a five-vs-four scenario. Avoid Teleporting in without a rage bar, however, since in the later stages of the game your ranged form is quite lackluster and won’t be too much of use.
Vayne is one of the most annoying champions to deal with in the top lane as a melee carry. She counters Darius’ tactics perfectly with her ranged kit and has the possibility to knock Darius away even if he gets too close.
During the laning phase, use Vayne’s autoattack reset from Tumble (Q) combined with the damage from Silver Bolts (W) to poke Darius’ health down. Avoid going into close proximity to him to not get hooked into him and possibly killed if you’re low health. Keep an aggressive playstyle and poke Darius down every time he tries to go for a last-hit. By doing so, you can build a significant gold and experience advantage and set up the lane for a freeze.
While most players will push the lane and give Darius time to farm back up, it’s better to stop the lane near your tower and focus on last-hitting while it’s frozen. This will allow you to win the laning phase without exposing yourself to too much risk by going for constant aggressive trades. Since you are a squishy champion, every small misstep can cost you the laning phase and eventually the game if you’re not careful enough.
If you’ve froze the wave or played aggressively and kept forcing Darius on the defensive, you should be ahead in gold and experience. Look to help your teammates to secure Rift Herald, Scuttle Crabs, and dragons early on to snowball your lead. Avoid sitting idle in the laning phase and use your gold advantage to help teammates. If you stay in lane with a huge gold lead, you will eventually lose it.
During teamfights look into killing the frontline of the opposing team and avoid diving into multiple enemies. It’s better to spend more time killing the frontline instead of risking to quickly eliminate the backline and get killed in the process as well.
Items to build into Darius
This is the boots option when facing Darius since his entire kit revolves around basic attacks and physical damage. The early armor and flat damage reduction from attacks will prove handy against the Hand of the Noxus.
This is a great anti-sustain item against Darius if you want some additional tankiness and are finding yourself in melee range against him too often. The build path is cheap and you can sit on this item for prolonged amounts of time until you can upgrade it.
This is a great anti-sustain item if you’re ranged and can poke him down before you get into a close range against him. It’s cheap and has great build paths along the line, making it an amazing early-game investment, especially in the current sustain meta.
The Mythic tank item can shut down Darius, especially if combined with Bramble Vest. You will be doing a lot of damage while also stopping him from sustaining via his runes, items, and kit abilities.
Goredrinker is one of the strongest Mythic bruiser items. It allows you to turn the tides against Darius if you get caught by regaining a huge amount of health. While you won’t have a huge window to turn against him, the heal gained should aid your escape if you can’t kill him.
This Mythic item should help you escape Darius’ engages if you are not careful with your positioning. It gives you great stats and a great movement speed passive to kite Darius and chip his health away.