The poke kings?

Two picks that emerged recently in competitive play mainly attracted my attention with their roles that looked so similar to me, being poke machines.

Screengrab via WCA/Twitch


Two picks that emerged recently in competitive play mainly attracted my attention with their roles that looked so similar to me, being poke machines. Varus and Kog’Maw saw a lot of competitive play recently, and follow the path led by Ziggs and Xerath as poke/waveclear centric mid laners.


The key difference here is obviously that one of them is dealing physical damage while the other one does magic damage. In this light analysis of those two champions, i’ll look into the damage per minute that the spells that those champions use to poke, respectively piercing arrow for Varus and living artillery for Kog’Maw, the most common builds on those champions and the overall raw poke damage than they can do.

(Active) Kog’Maw launches a living artillery shell to a target location at a great distance which falls after a 0.6 second delay, dealing magic damage to all enemies hit and revealing them for 4 seconds. It deals 100% base damage to Champions.

Each subsequent Living Artillery in the next 6 seconds after a cast will cost 40 additional Mana, capping at 400 per cast.

Cost: 40 Mana

Radius of AoE: 200


Cooldown: 2 / 1.5 / 1 second(s)

Magic Damage: 80 / 120 / 160

(+0.3 Ability Power) (+0.5 bonus Attack Damage)

Magic Damage to Champions: 180 / 270 / 360

(+0.3 Ability Power) (+0.5 bonus Attack Damage)

Range to Center of AoE: 1,400 / 1,700 / 2,200




(Active) Varus readies and then fires a powerful shot that gains extra range and damage the longer he spends preparing to fire

Damage reduced: 15% per enemy hit (minimum 33%)

During casting: Movement speed is slowed by 20%

Maximum charge duration: 4 seconds


Cooldown: 16 / 14 / 12 / 10 / 8 seconds

Cost: 65 / 75 / 85 / 95 / 105 mana

Minimum Damage: 10 / 47 / 83 / 120 / 157 (+1 max Attack Damage)

Maximum Damage: 15 / 70 / 125 / 180 / 235 (+1.6 max Attack Damage)



While both champion have other range abilities than those two, i strongly believe that what qualifies them as poke champions are those two.


In a perfect world, (see URF mode), Kog’Maw could do an average of 34 380 magic damage per minute, only with his ultimate at level 3. Of course that’s if he hits all of his ultimates, which isn’t assured. A more realistic DPM is in my opinion a Kog’Maw using his ultimate twice before waiting for the 6 second cooldown to be able to use his ultimate without using all his mana, which would be a DPM of around 9195 magic damage, including 4 procs of Luden’s Echo in an optimal use.


These maths are based on a level 18 Kog’Maw, with a typical build composed of a Rabadon’s Deathcap, a Luden’s Echo, a Seraph’s embrace and sorcerer boots. The damage calculated is the raw damage coming out of the ultimate, the penetration isn’t integrated in the math.


For Varus, i based myself on the fully charged piercing arrow damage, with the 1.6 ad ratio. I tried to obtain a DPM similar to Kog’Maw’s, but it would’ve been too much of an item discrepancy. I stopped myself with Varus having a DPM of 7622 with piercing arrow only, if he hits it every shot.


The Varus build i looked into was a level 18 Varus, with a build composed of a Muramana, a BloodThirster, a Last Whisper, Ionian boots of lucidity and a Youmuu’s Ghostblade. It’s an item advantage for Varus, and still he ends up with a smaller DPM. The cooldown of his Q with the 20% cooldown reduction is 6.4.


We can see here that already Kog’Maw got the edge on Varus on his damage output, but his range also is superior by 575 units. The range of Kog’Maw’s ultimate is longer than Varus’s Q at level 2, with a range of 1 700 compared to the constant 1625 max range of piercing arrow. The range of Kog’Maw’s living artillery is 2 200 at level 3.


Without saying that Kog’Maw is the best choice in every situation, i believe those maths shows that as far as straight out poking goes, he is the strongest of the two. Of course, the rest of their kit is still to debate, as well as the defensive itemization of their opponent before one could determine which one of the two is the best pick.

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Thanks for reading,