Waiting to be Unleashed: Galio, the Sentinel's Sorrow
I recently cast my eye upon the top lane Meta, and remembered one of my favorite Champions from Season 2, Galio, the Sentinel's Sorrow. Now, I had originally intended to include Galio in my ongoing series about Champions in need of an update, and while Galio could definitely use a new Model, Icons (BADLY) and some QOL changes, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if we might see Galio at this year's World Championship. Now, most of you reading this are probably thinking, "don't you play Galio in Mid?" Now, that's certainly a possibility, but I think Galio's true spot in the current Meta is in the top lane. Let's take a look at Galio's Kit and see how it fits into the current Meta
Galio's Passive is Runic Skin, and gives him bonus Ability Power equal to half of his total Magic Resistance. Without a doubt the biggest factor when considering his viability in the current meta, Runic Skin would allow a Player to mitigate a significant portion of their opponent's damage while maintaining his own against such popular top picks as Lulu, Rumble, Ryze, Maokai and Alister.
Galio's Q (Resolute Smite) is a ranged AOE skillshot that deals surprisingly high damage in the early levels on a relatively short cool down, and slows the target for a 2.5 seconds. Combined with Galio's E, Righteous Gust, Resolute Smite gives Galio exceptional wave clear. This would be especially effective against Champions like Rumble and Ryze, who struggle farming under the tower.
Galio's W, Bulwark, shields himself or an ally for 4 seconds, providing considerable resistances and healing Galio everytime the shielded target takes damage. An exceptional skill against persistent damage dealers such as Ryze, Rumble and Lulu, Bulwark functions as Galio's primary sustain, making him very hard to force out of lane.
Galio's W, Righteous Gust, is an extremely long range skill shot that travels in a straight line, dealing damage to all enemies in its path and leaving a backdraft behind that increases the movement speed of Galio and his allies. While the damage is just okay, the Movement Speed boost scalesvery well, making it for a useful engage tool as a match enters the later stages. The movement speed boost from Righteous Gust combined with the slow of Resolute Smite makes Galio extremely safe in lane, while simultaneously increasing his own threat level.
Galio's Ultimate, Idol of Durand, is an AoE taunt that explodes upon completion, with scaling damage based upon the amount of attacks Galio suffered during the Channel. Exceptional in team fights, Idol of Durand is a game changing ultimate with high utility and surprising damage that can turn any fight around.
Now, all of this sounds great. So if you're wondering if there's a reason why he isn't a popular pick, I have one. He's mana gated in lane. Unlike Moakai, whose sustain isn't intrinsically tied to his own Mana Pool, Galio draws his sustain and damage from his mana, forcing players to make meaningful choices between safety and aggression. There are a few possible explanations for Galio's absence from a Meta he feels designed for. Banshee's Veil always seemed like an item designed for Galio, providing Magic Resistance for his Passive, and Mana to sustain him in lane. When Mana was removed from the item, Galio's core build took a large hit. But I think this weakness could be covered up with intelligence itemization. Athene's is just as good an item on Galio as it is on Lulu, and provides not only the necessary Mana Regen, but CDR and Magic Resistance, two stats that Galio scales very well with. Locket and Spirit Visage are both excellence choices, while Frozen Heart could fill a niche role against compositions with higher than anticipated physical damage, while further masking Galio's poor mana pool.
Another thing holding Galio back could how difficult it is to land a really good ultimate. While Amumu and Malphite have ultimates with similar concepts, they both have some way of closing the gap between themselves and the enemy, while Galio has to either wait for Flash, or just use his W to run at the enemy. This makes him extremely weak in team fights against strong disengage comps.
I don't think any of these weaknesses are enough to prevent Galio from being a competitive pick, and even the right pick, against specific compositions. He may not yet be at the point where you can first pick him into anything without concern for possible counters, but I would not be surprised to see a player pull him out against a double AP composition.
Verdict= Viable, and liable to kick some ass.