General Guide by Janitsu
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Hi, I'm Vapora Dark, a Platinum II player, at the time I wrote this. Before I started playing Talon, Warwick was my main champion as both a mid laner (no longer viable) and a top laner. I've never really liked jungle Warwick, and I, along with 99% of the high Elo League community, consider him a very weak jungler, so I'm not going to bother teaching you that. This is a guide on solo top Warwick, or as I like to call him, the "new" Lanewick.
If I told you I'd never lost a lane as Lanewick, I'd be lying. But if I told you I'd never lost a lane as the NEW Lanewick, I can tell you with all honesty, that's 100% true.
What is the new Lanewick? Well the old Lanewick was a Hungering Strike spam Lanewick. Get a Doran's Ring or 2, and just spam Hungering Strike all day to win your lane. In season 3, that style of Lanewick fell off. But the introduction of Blade of the Ruined King introduced a new style of Lanewick which is actually very strong, in my opinion.
What makes this style of Lanewick viable? I'll answer that with a quote from someone I laned against once.
In other words, he's unkillable. His auto-attacks and Hungering Strike give him a TON of sustain, and his passive means that for each auto-attack he performs on the same target, he gains more and more HP. Which has led to me various times going in an all-in against my lane opponent, and my HP bar only drops by about 20% in the entire fight.
If your enemy doesn't try to all-in you and instead tries to poke you all day, you recover ~40 HP per last-hit, and you can continue to farm with your HP bar remaining unmoved.
That being said though, the one thing that counters Lanewick is very strong early all-ins. Level 2-3 Warwick can barely sustain himself, and he doesn't do much damage. At this point, Lee Sin throwing everything he has on you can potentially kill you, or will most likely leave you zoned out of CS.
But Lanewick has the amazing ability to scale so well with items and levels, that he can come back from anything. I've never lost a lane with the new Lanewick, but the closest I ever came to it was when I went 0/3. But despite being 0/3, I managed to kill my laning opponent ( Fiora) in a 1v1 later on, and ended laning phase 5/3, going as far as to 1v2 Fiora and her jungler ( Kha'Zix). I honestly believe Warwick is the strongest duelist in the game when itemized and played properly, stronger than even Jax and Irelia.
So, the focus of this guide is going to be to teach you how to play Lanewick, and how to team-fight as him. It won't be as long as my Talon guide because there aren't as many tricks to him, but hopefully it will be just as helpful.
I take 14 points in offense for the double penetration (ahue), and 16 points in defense because Warwick needs to be tanky, and the extra defenses will help you more even in lane, than more damage would.
|Greater Mark of Attack Damage help with last-hitting, they increase your lifesteal, and your ultimate scales with AD but does magic damage, so armor penetration wouldn't be as useful. Hybrid penetration marks could be an option, but they wouldn't be as good for early-game, and there'd most likely be a noticeable difference in your CS than if you'd taken AD marks.|
|Greater Seal of Armor are compulsory on almost every champion. On top lane especially, where your enemy will constantly want to force trades. An important part of Warwick's early-game is also to poke the enemy with auto-attacks, which will draw minion focus, and you need armor to mitigate their damage.|
|Most top laners have some form of magic damage, despite being physical damage based. For example, Lee Sin's Tempest, Jayce's Thundering Blow, etc.|
|Greater Quintessence of Life Steal is my own personal preference regarding quintessences. During the first few levels they won't be very good, but as you get items like Doran's Blade, they'll become more useful. Also viable options are Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage, Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed (which unfortunately don't offer you anything in terms of laning, but scale well into late-game), and greater quintessence of hybrid penetration.|
I don't recommend armor penetration or magic penetration for anything because hybrid penetration would be better, and even then, what I've listed instead of hybrid penetration is what I believe to be better.
Your core build consists of items which you will build in almost every game because they are so good for your champion.
|Warwick's early-game isn't very good as his trades are weak. Alongside that he's very mana hungry early-game, so this will help keep him sustained until he can get some items. Also allows you to start with a ward.|
|Warwick synergizes with every stat it gives. HP makes him tankier which allows him to sustain for longer, regaining 5 HP per hit gives him extra sustain alongside his passive and your quintessences, if you chose lifesteal, the AD will increase the damage from his ultimate, his pokes, his all-ins, and increase the HP regained from his lifesteal.|
|Greatly reduces auto-attack damage done to you, making you even more unkillable. Reaching this stage of your build can in some cases allow you to 1v2, get a kill and run away without dying. Against AP champions I take Mercury's Treads instead|
|The item's passive will proc on your ult, and the AD will also increase your ult damage. Your all-ins with this item is insane, your sustain is off the hook, your damage is really high, and it even gives you great chasing power. Reaching this stage of your build can allow you in some cases to 1v2 and kill both enemies (depending on who they are and whether you get Ignited or not).|
|Your sustain is insane and this item amplifies it by 20%. Absolutely a must-have on ANY Warwick build. Aside from the increase in sustain, it gives you 20% cooldown reduction which is extremely useful on all your abilities except your E, and it gives 400 HP, which is a nice touch to your tankiness.|
|I tend to build this straight after Spirit Visage as after that I'll be almost unkillable. Remember to use the active when you're trying to stick onto an enemy or dueling anyone that's attack speed reliant ( Irelia), as it reduces both movement speed and attack speed.|
|Another item which has huge synergy with Warwick. A lot of his damage is magic and he even has in-built on-hit magic damage. This adds MORE on-hit magic damage, and decreases enemy magic resistance, which increases his large magic damage. The attack speed synergizes with his passive for both sustain and damage. Also, the on-hit adds 210 damage to his ultimate, which is awesome.|
|I build this either when my Guardian Angel goes down and I have enough gold to temporarily replace it, or if I want more damage instead of a GA. I think it's great because it gives you both more magic damage, more physical damage, and of course, more sustain. Your ultimate's damage increases by 200 at full stacks, and your auto-attacks increase by 100 damage (both of these are mitigated by resistances, of course). And your auto-attacks can begin to heal you for up to 200 HP too, after building this. Usually on champions with no wave-clear such as Warwick I would build Ravenous Hydra instead, but as this will be your last item anyway, you won't have much use for fast wave-clearing.|
|This item offers the 2nd highest amount of armor in the game and along with Spirit Visage, will cap your CDR at 40%. This means Hunters Call will have a 9.6 second cooldown, while the effect lasts 10 seconds. In other words, a permanent 80% attack speed boost to yourself, and a permanent 40% attack speed boost to your team! Also offers a large amount of mana which is helpful for Warwick. This is a great item, but I only recommend buying it when the enemy team has very high physical damage. If their damage is mixed or just generally low, or little of their damage is attack speed based, I roll with a BT instead for the massive lifesteal and damage boost. You're tanky as hell without Frozen Heart anyway.|
|Sometimes you just can't survive the initial burst damage in a fight long enough to sustain your way through the fight. In which you're just going to unfortunately have to buy more immediate tankiness. Sunfire Cape is the best option for that as it will also give you a slight boost in damage.|
|In my opinion this is just a worse version of The Bloodthirster. It does give spell vamp, which BT doesn't, but it gives 6 less lifesteal, less than half the AD, and while you DO benefit slightly from AP, you'll be auto-attacking a LOT more than you'll be casting Q. It can be funny to buy it in normal games alongside BT (dat sustain bro), but I don't recommend it as a serious item.|
Your main focus is to farm. Warwick's early levels are very weak in fights, so just try to farm as much as you can without dying. However, if getting a last-hit requires you to walk right next to your enemy while he has 5 enemy minions surrounding near you and none of your minions are near him, just let the minion die. If you don't and try to get the last-hit, chances are your enemy will engage on you and you won't be able to counter-attack at all because of the large number of enemy minions near you, and you'll just have to run while letting him get free damage on you.
When your enemy attacks you, Q him and use one of your Crystalline Flask pots. You should be able to stay on relatively high HP and not go OOM straight away.
Don't be afraid to recall if you get very low, even if you're only level 3 when it happens. Recalling is better than dying, or staying on the lane while zoned out for 3 minutes. At lower Elos people are always too hesitant to recall, because they seem to think it means their enemy is winning. If you're very low or your the wave is pushed to the enemy tower while your ward's run out, you always recall. Recalling will make you lose out on XP, but that isn't always bad. If you go back and get items, then go back onto the lane, you now have an item advantage over your enemy ( and probably a mana + HP advantage too ) until they go back. If they don't go back soon you'll probably be able to kill them because of your advantages, so they'll need to go back and lose the same XP you lost when you recalled.
If your enemy gets over-confident and tries to fight you on your side of the lane where you have much more minions than him, fight him. Warwick's early-game is bad, but not so horrible that he can't win fights while he has such an advantage. What's more, Eternal Thirst and Hungering Strike will cause the fight to last LONGER than it would against anyone other than Warwick, so the longer you stay alive, the longer your enemy gets hit by your minions. When fighting your enemy, always auto-attack once then cast Hungering Strike at the very moment the auto-attack hits, to reset your auto-attack animation. And remember to consume a Crystalline Flask pot when you begin a fight, you lose nothing if it doesn't end up being useful, as you'll get it back when you recall.
At level 6 you actually get kill potential ( only ******s / dc'ers die to a pre-6 WW ). Warwick's fighting becomes quite good at this point too. When you get into a fight, consume Crystalline Flask, activate Hunters Call, auto-attack once, then cast Hungering Strike at the end of the auto-attack, as I explained before, then keep on auto-attacking. It's natural for you to be losing the fight at the start if you haven't reached Bilgewater Cutlass or at least Vampiric Scepter yet.
But Warwick has the ability to essentially "pause" a 1v1 for nearly 2 seconds, by casting Infinite Duress. He can't move, but neither can his enemy. During the "pause", Warwick regains HP from his ult and his enemy LOSES HP from his ult, and both fighters take minion damage. What's important about this being a "pause" spell rather than simply a damage + sustain spell is that it gives time for Warwick's Hungering Strike to come off of cooldown, and Hungering Strike is one of the best spells for fighting in the game.
So when you / your enemy's / you and your enemy's HP bar reaches ~30% ( BEFORE you get so low that your enemy tries to Ignite you to finish you off ), this is when you reveal to your enemy that the fight is not as close as it appeared to be. Activate Infinite Duress, and watch as your HP bar slowly increases while your enemy's slowly decreases. Once Infinite Duress is over, cast Ignite on them and use Hungering Strike, which probably came off of cooldown while you were casting Infinite Duress, then auto-attack if necessary because they're not dead yet. IF they're so low that the Ignite is sure to kill them, but they're dangerously close to killing you, you can simply Flash away and wait for them to die.
Alternatively to all this, if you don't think you can win a fight, just keep on laning as usual, be careful not to die, farm up, and get your core items, at which point losing becomes an impossibility, as I'm about to explain.
( You can also go gank mid lane with your ultimate if you see a good opportunity )
Warwick is a godly fighter here for various reasons. One being he usually finishes his early-game core items here ( reaches Bilgewater Cutlass ), meaning he's very tanky and has a lot of sustain. At this point he can recover around 40 HP per auto-attack, meaning it's hard to poke him out of the lane. Additionally, Hungering Strike has a few levels in it / is maxed, so it hits like a truck and heals more than an instant Health Potion.
Here you want to start playing more aggressively, poking your enemy with auto-attacks every time they get in your range, and even just walking up to them to auto-attack them, if they're not surrounded by a lot of minions. You shouldn't be afraid of fighting them AT ALL because each of your auto-attacks heals for a 3rd or more of the damage their own auto-attacks do. Even if you initially seem lower than them in HP, remember Infinite Duress followed by Hungering Strike instantly turns any fight in your favour. What's more, with x2 Doran's Blade and Bilgewater Cutlass, your ult heals you for even more than it did at level 6, and does more damage too, as it scales with AD. The result is that it's extremely hard for an enemy to judge whether or not they're winning a fight as chances are, they've never seen this type of Lanewick before, and don't know just how much Infinite Duress followed by Hungering Strike can change the tide of a fight.
And this is why despite being a champion that relies on auto-attacks to win fights, but has no CC that forces an enemy to take your auto-attacks ( like Mocking Shout ), this type of Lanewick is viable. People will let you auto-attack them repeatedly instead of running from you because it looks like they're winning the fight. Then you reveal your trap card and they're dead, or suddenly you have nearly 500 more HP than them.
No one realizes BotRK Lanewick is one of the strongest fighters in the game, and that's why he's so strong. If they did, they wouldn't fight me, and if they didn't fight me, I wouldn't get kills because Warwick can only truly hurt enemies in sustained fights, not pokes. So my only source of gold in-come during laning phase would be CS, something Warwick is comparatively bad at getting compared to many other champions. But thanks to people's own stupidity, I am able to earn various 1v1 kills during laning phase on a champion who, in theory, should have low kill potential.
Resistances (armor, magic resist) synergize well with all tanky champions, due to mitigating damage. The higher a champion's HP, the more damage they have to take, which means the more damage they're mitigating through resistances; the tankier your champion, the more they benefit from resistances.
Resistances have a special synergy with Warwick because while he doesn't innately have super high HP like someone such as Cho'Gath, his sustain replaces HP. For example, if you have 3000 HP, and regenerate 30 HP before dying, you essentially had 3030 HP. In Warwick's case, if you have 3000 HP, and regenerate 1000 HP before dying, you essentially had 4000 HP.
This is why I don't recommend building Warmog's Armor on Warwick. He already has a large total HP pool without it simply by sustaining. Every tanky item I buy is one with resistances.
And it's also why I build Blade of the Ruined King and in some games The Bloodthirster. I build a lot of resistances, so the higher my sustain, the better my resistances are.
Akali's harass, especially since her nerf, is insignificant to Warwick, she can only damage you in all-ins, which is what Warwick excels at. You can buy a Vision Ward if you want, but personally I've never bought one against her and I've never lost a fight against her either. You only need a pink ward if your jungler wants to gank.
So just harass with your auto-attacks, poke her with Q when you need to heal yourself, and if she tries to fight you, accept the fight. You're too tanky for her to burst down, and if she tries to escape with her Twilight Shroud you can just chase her with Blood Scent once she steps out of the shroud.
Farm lane. Chances are neither of you will be able to kill the other. Early-game you both have too much sustain for much to happen, and later on you'll have much higher sustain, but he'll also be much much tankier. I recommend siimply taking Teleport and TP ganking other lanes once you have your ultimate ( or simply any time you think you can clean up ).
Unfortunately for you, Darius is the type of character who can nuke an enemy down from 30% HP to 0 in a single hit post-6. Fighting him is a very dangerous situation to put yourself in. I recommend to simply aim to sustain yourself for as long as possible, by consuming Crystalline Flask whenever you need to and poking him with Hungering Strike whenever you need more HP. If it eventually turns out you can get an easy kill on him, go for it, but you shouldn't be actually aiming to do that until at least level 9.
Fiora has a very strong advantage against you early on, but later on in laning phase she suffers from the unfortunate need to auto-attack an enemy to death, and once you have a few levels and items, you win an auto-attack fight very easily. By very easily, I mean I've gone 0/3 against Fiora and then come back to 5/3 with no help from my jungler. That's how easy.
Simply farm and sustain as much as you can, and go back when you get low. My own 3 deaths against a Fiora would have been easily avoided if I'd gone back earlier instead of risking staying on the lane, with the same out-come as going back, except also giving Fiora 300 gold.
Once you're level 7 or even 6 depending on how the lane is going, then you can consider fighting her.
Farm lane. Remove Scurvy cancels your entire ultimate, making your kill potential non-existant. At the same time, purchasing armor and lifesteal will make you unkillable for him. Take Teleport for the ganks, as you will probably never kill Gangplank 1v1.
Like you, she's a champion that becomes a beast with levels and items, and becomes notably strong at around level 7. Fortunately, you're stronger at that point. Her all-ins will be stronger than yours for 5 seconds, but after that they're weaker, and in between fights she doesn't have as much sustain as you, nor can she poke. Her passive also doesn't affect your ultimate, so you're essentially fighting a champion with no passive.
The only thing to watch out for is dying to her pre-6. She's weak at early levels, but still considerably stronger than you. You outscale her with levels, but if you give her too big an early advantage, she'll still stomp you at levels 7-9.
He's kind of the same case as Irelia, except aside from being very strong post-7, he's also very strong at level 3, and even when you reach your strong point ( which is also one of his strongest stages ), Counter Strike counters auto-attacks, which is what mainly makes you so strong at that point.
Stay the **** away from him at level 3, and at around level 7 you can still fight him. But whenever he activates Counter Strike, simply back off from him and then keep on fighting him when it goes down. I've personally never lost to Jax, and I've run the match-up 2-3 times.
Kha'Zix was the very first champion I tested the new Lanewick against, and it was pretty easy. Pre-3 he has the advantage, but after that you can respond to his Taste Their Fear with Hungering Strike to out-trade him. If he tries to fight you post-6, even isolated you'll win.
Lee has a ton of early-game damage, and that's something Lanewick hates. I actually "lost" a lane once in a 1v1 custom game against my friend playing Lee Sin. At level 1 I was already zoned then I dc'd for about 10 seconds and was dead when I reconnected ( which is why I say "lost" ). I lost little to no time from the DC because I was dead through most of it, but the advantage he picked up from it was too big for me to come back from. Re-doing the game with no DC, I didn't die at level 1 and simply recalled every time I thought I might die. He was outfarming me for most of the game and dominating me, but at around level 7 I was eventually able to come back from it like I usually do with Lanewick, and I ended up killing him 3 times in a row before he called it quits.
I rate Lee Sin 10/10 simply because his early damage is insane, and even with no DC, it's entirely possible to die to him at level 1 if you're not careful, and that's something that's very hard to get back from.
His burst is quite strong, but he needs to auto-attack you to do most of his damage, which you easily win. You actually get stronger than him at level 5 rather than 6, and after 6 the advantage only gets bigger, as Rengar's ult is almost useless in a fight. It can have its uses, but I can't imagine it ever being useful against Warwick in anything other than ganks. You don't get low enough in a fight to be insta-killed by double Savagery, so even if he ults while you're fighting him and builds his fury up then attacks you again, you'll still win the fight.
Her damage at all levels is insane. Even at level 7, without being set back, it's still very hard to fight her. What I've done to win this lane is run from her every time she tries to engage on you, when she reaches you activating Hungering Strike while she's in the middle of Broken Wings's animation so she can't block it with Valor ( or whenever the shield runs out if she used Valor as an initial gap closer ), and then keep on running. She isn't able to maximize her damage with Runic Blade because you're running from her. Keep on playing like this, poking with Hungering Strike while you run and she's in the middle of a Broken Wings animation.
Eventually you'll both end up at more or less the same HP ( low ), whereas if you'd straight up fought her, you'd have died very fast. When she activates her ultimate and Valors towards you, Flash away. You don't want to get hit by the stun and burst down straight away. Just Flash from it. When her shield runs out, use Infinite Duress, then Hungering Strike and Ignite her. She'll try to kill you while Ignite kills her, and has a high chance of succeeding because you're also low, but don't run. She has 3 gap closers and they all do damage. If you keep fighting her you'll at least regain HP while she attacks you, and she'll also die faster.
Laning against Riven is a very, very tricky thing to do, but once you get enough experience you'll probably be able to do it. I've laned against 2 Rivens and never died a single time to either of them in laning phase, though each time she died I was also extremely low and had thought I might also die.
She's one of the few champions that actually remains hard to beat at level 7 but also dominates you at every level before that, which is why I rate her 10/10. The only time you can comfortably face her and win is probably level 18.
When I ran this match-up I was worried I'd lose my lane for the first time, but it was easier than I expected. Very early on Flamespitter does small damage, and the time it does begin to do damage, is also the time Hungering Strike actually becomes good at trading. Any time Rumble does some nice damage on you with it, respond with Hungering Strike to remain high on HP. In this match-up, you should take only a single Doran's Blade and then rush Bilgewater Cutlass. Once you have that ( should be level 7 at least ), lane normally ( harassing with Q every time he harasses you ) until he's at around 50% HP. Next time he tries to harass you, activate Infinite Duress straight away. This will put you behind him and Flamespitter won't hit you while you damage him. This will put him low enough for Blood Scent to activate then use Bilgewater Cutlass's active to slow him down and keep on auto-attacking him. Even with his own slows you should be able to keep up with him. If he Flashes away, Flash after him. You should be able to just chase him down and kill him.
I'll add more match-ups as I face them.