General Guide by TheDragonDescent
Not Updated For Current Season
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Hello community, my name is TheDragonAscent and in this guide I'll explain you how to play and itemize Varus, The Arrow of Retribution.
Varus has been my main since season 3. I'm currently in Diamond tier on the EUNE server. In total I have over 600 games with Varus and I've been using him on every tier from bronze to master with great success. He works with every team composition and he doesn't have any hard counters – with enough skill you are able to beat any lane, any time. He has lost his popularity due to basically one issue he has: no escapes. Thats the only reason why he is not picked in LCS becouse in the league of mobility you may have issues keeping up with other adcs/assassins (although he was picked in the s4 finals by SSB). Nevertheless I recommend picking him for solo q since his kit allows you to always be useful.
Note : This is still work in progress, new sections coming soon!
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Pros / Cons
3.Arguably the best poke of all adcs
4.Percentage damage off his blight stacks detonation
6.AoE slow and healing reduction
7.Good passive to use in lane
8.Strong laner without any hard counters
2.Vulnerable to assassins
3.All your abilities are skill shots
4.Relies heavly on positioning
5.Can be bursted down fairly easly
Passive - Living Vengeance - This is one of the reasons of Varus' strength. Every time you kill a creep you gain 20% attack speed for 3 seconds. It is advisable to kill a minion first and then make a trade for maximum damage in short window possible. Extra 40% of AS in teamfights after kill/assist is also welcome.
Q – Piercing Arrow – This is your bread and butter ability hitting of which separates bad Varus players from good ones. It charges to maximum damage after 2 seconds and deals very high damage to the first target hit. Ratio on this skill is also high so the arrow will always hurt. And it procs blight stacks.
W – Blighted Quiver – Your source of % damage and extra magic damage per hit. This ability allows you trade autos with everyone while always coming out on top( a small exception being Corki whos passive will outscale your W in terms of AA damage.
E – Hail of Arrows – A long range AoE slow with healing reduction. Great for quick trades and as a ground-preparing ability to hit your other skills. Also good for chasing and zoning as well as protecting yourself from the enemy champions. It's very hard to miss this spell and it basically guarantees procing blight stacks.
R – Chain of Corruption – This skill alone will always make Varus a decent pick. It is always welcome to bring cc to the team and the ability to make picks and to scatter the enemy(noone wants to be snared for 2 seconds) is amazing. People will always underestimate how big the range of your ult is and catching them off guard is extremally easy. And you are an adc that can initiate fights. Nuff said.
(...) You should always take a point in your Q first to have additional way of dealing damage outside of your autos. Afterwards you should get your E becouse you have another damaging spell that most popular adcs don't have at lv 2. It allows you to win early trades just becouse you can do more damage in short window of time. At level 3 get your W and the proceed to max Q then E while getting points into ultimate whenever possible. I consider maxing W second as a waste early on. Yes extra damage per auto is welcome but having your utility spell on lower cooldown and dealing more instant damage takes the egde over w. Besides the enemy up to level 13 wont have enough HP for you to be worrying about not dealing enough damage. Maxing out W second is not a terrible option yet it is advisable to max it last.
You start with Dorans Blade and 1 pot for obvious reasons. After your first trip back to base you should focus on getting optimally DAMAGING components of IE. Get an extra Dorans Blade for the extra hp and lifesteal. Afterwards finish your IE, boots and start getting Phantom Dancer/ Statikk Shiv. They are both OK items, with slight egde on PD since the recent increase to its critical chance. So far pretty standard. Now things get a little more complicated. You need to see what items does the enemy have. If they have armor, get a last whisper next. If they have hp Bloodthirster and Blade of the Ruined King are both viable options, however BT will give you a shield and a higher damage stats so your poke will hit harder. BotRK on the other hand is good for kiting as its active allows you to steal some movement speed from the enemy while also dealing percentage damage. After this stage it is optimal most of the time to get a defensive item such as banshees veil or guardian angel. Situational is also maw of malmortius and merculiar scimitar. It solely depends on the opposite team comp and what are their main threats/damage sources. The last item should be another damage upgrade such as BT/BotRK, it depends on what you prefer. In the very late game when you have full build remember to swap your booths with zephyr for the extra tenacity, attack damage and speed as well as MS. Don't forget to buy a red potion when you feel like teamfight is coming. In terms of trinkets get a yellow one first and then swap it with the blue. I prefer this option becouse getting extra ward in the lane phase might be crucial. After your first recall your support should have a sightstone so vision shouldnt be a problem.
Lane Matchups (ADC)
Lane Match-ups (ADC)
In this section I will explain how difficult I think the match-up is by rating it from 1 to 10. Some very „exotic” picks might be missing since I have little or no experiance playing against them. We assume you are both on the same skill level.
The very first levels are the most crucial ones. If she doesn't zone you early with her passive crit on you + W you should have easy time dealing with her. Her main advantages over you is slightly higher AA range, permaslow, and quicker trades. Since her range is higher you unfortunetly can't hit her for free after she has been snared by your ultimate. You do outscale and outdamage her as the game goes on. Overall don't screw up the first few minutes and you will be ok as long as you keep hitting your abilities while procing W.
This one is tricky. Caitlyn doesn't counter you that much as other adcs yet it doesn't mean you are stronger. She is the most powerful lane bully of all adcs for a reason. There are some ways to mitigate this advantage but one bad decision can set her on a snowball you may never stop. What makes her so annoying? Range and waveclear. To win this match-up you have to play very aggressively early on. Push the wave as fast as you can, get 2 before her, poke her with your q and autos. If you manage to get her under her turret you should be fine. Remember if she has to use her AAs or skills to get the minions before the turret kills them she can't use it on you. Use the Q range to your advantage. After level 3 you can trade autos with her and be on top (unless she has her passive activated). She will do more damage than you in early fights that's why you need to poke her. Remember that she is most powerful before first recall. Overall a hard lane.
Dodge his q pre-6 and you will tear this guy to pieces. You have higher range, reliable sources of damage and cc. Post-6 he does more burst damage provided he has hit his q on you. If he didn't he will die. Easy lane for Varus.
This is quite interesting match up. Trading autos with draven while he has his axes spinning is not an option. Getting into prolonged fights is not an option. To win this match up abuse your longer range of both AA and abilities. Draven has only one damaging spell pre-6( that can also disrupt your Q charging) so remember to play the game of cooldowns. You do not want to fight him without your skills being up and ready to either slow him down or take a chunk of his health with fully charged arrow. At level 6 if you manage to snare him remember to stay at your maximum AA range(unless you want to chase him down, then move while attacking) so he cant hit you back. Extra 2 seconds of free damage is often times enough to either win or lose a fight. Another tip is to aim your abilities to where his axes are dropping. Often times he will just walk into your q or drop the axe while trying to avoid the missle. TL;DR keep the distance.
While Corki can do decent amount of damage to you early on Ezreal has very big issues doing so. All his power comes from hitting skillshots, poking. If he can't push the wave quick enough to force you under your turret he won't be able to do a thing against you. Your autos hit harder, your quick trade ability hits harder(E) your poke/snipe ability hits A LOT harder and your range is higher. The only real moment when he is stronger pre-6 is level 2. Q and his E will do a lot of damage and if he caught you off guard you may even die/ be heavly wounded. But if you play this match-up by the book Ez is eazy ;).
Good Graves will make your life hell. He is the no.1 adc for a good reason. Mobility with a steroid, very high burst, mini nocturne ulti and a passive that is outright broken. How do you deal with this guy? Poke him till he cant go ham on you. Your range is higher but not high enough to get out of his Q range when he does his combo. There is not much you can do against him but to avoid engages and poking with your abilities. His 6 damage wise is far stronger than yours. Keeping him at range with your snare and hoping you will manage to blow him up before he does is your only option. In general I wouldn't advise picking Varus into Graves.
She is a fragile adc and that's something you like. Pre-6 she might be annoying with her Q and she can push you under your turret quite easly with her steroid so remember to trade with her as often as possible post-3. You will do much more damage than she and eventually you will kill her/zone her. Watch out for her ultimate though.
Do not let let stack up Rend on you. Never go into any prolonged duel becouse she will do more and more damage as the fight goes on. Quick trades and disengage. Watch out for her W passive as well, it's damage is surprisingly high so don't let enemy support proc it.
A game of cooldowns. He has only 1 reliable damaging spell so it shouldn't be much of a problem. His W however will make him be able to attack you from afar and if he does it correctly you won't be able to retaliate. But the moment it goes on cooldown you should go very aggressive on this guy. Post-6 his total damage output will be higher than yours so remember to dodge his ult shots otherwise you will get chunked easly.
Multiple nerfs to Lucian made him weaker and weaker in lane. 75 range advantage over him is an enourmous difference . While he can do more damage in short window of time in this match-up you accually want to make a prolonged duel. Use your E to slow him down, make him use his dash and then get a fully charged arrow right on his face. Post-6 just lock him down and he will have a hard time doing anything against you. Remember though about deceptively high range of his q when used on minions.
A ticking time bomb. With each minute passing she is getting stronger and stronger. In lane she does surprisingly high amount of damage. In early levels everytime she kills a creep she can do damage to you, she has AA reset on her E that does higher damage the more you attack with the debuff. She has assassins-like W that resets on kills and assists and a high burst ult. How do you deal with this? You have to focus on hitting all of your abilities with as many blight stacks as possible. She will win the trades if you make them quick, so if you maximise your damage output over time, even at the cost of initial burst you should be fine. Also note that this lane, like in many others is a game of cooldowns. What does she have as her reliable and not suicidal damaging spells? pre-6 E and situationally W. E is on roughly 20 seconds cooldown and thats a huge window of opportunity for you to attack.
This one can go either way to be honest. She does have her AA reset so a quick auto+Q can hurt at level 1. You have to maintain the range and limit her mobility. Just use E on top of her, add some autos and follow with fully charged arrow. At level 6 you absolutly have to snare her if you want to win the fight or poke her before it. Otherwise she will do her „Vayne stuff” and murder you.
You won't kill her, she won't kill you. She will make you farm under your turret no doubts, she just pushes too quickly. Your abilities are free mana for her so be careful how you use them. Overall a farm fest with an edge on her side.
The ones you like
Shield with AD steroid, bonus movement speed and slow, knock-up, knockback, heal. Everythingyou could have ever wanted.
Engage support with 3 forms of CC and high damage. She makes you hitting your abilities easy and if executed properly, together you can make enemies never move again. A fantastic support for you.
Thresh works with everyone, everyone works with Thresh. No exception here.
High damage, high CC and an ability to completly lockdown any target for around 6 seconds in conjunction with your ultimate. Also you can't be hooked, pulled and stunned due to her shield that makes her one of the best supports for you (or anyone).
Similiar to Janna and Nami, with Lulu you can play both aggresively and defensively however she is much stronger in offensive aspect. She has high damaging and slowing ability that can hit multiple enemies, polymorph, shield and speed up and on top of that she can give you a huge HP boost and slowing aura. And if you don't need it, she can make anyone a solid frontline for your team. Definetly Lulu is one of the better choices with Varus.
Blow people up. Both of you are equal threats early on, Annie is one of those supports that can kill enemy adc by themselves, especially at level 6 and also you can CC lock the enemy for a long time. Deadly combo.
Just like in Annies case you can 100-0 enemy by yourself and also you have higher range and poke. You can poke, Varus can poke and you both have means to initiate and then follow it up with your burst.
Similiar to Jannas, Namis kit allows you to be both passive and aggressive in lane. Healing while harrassing is an ideal form of trade, ability to have slow on your autos is also welcome. Bubble and Tidal wave can both serve as a means of peeling and initiating.
Braums kit with conjunction with Varus' is a decent combination. Like in many other cases, you have both defensive and offensive options. While most of supports mentioned above are fragile, Braum can also be pseudo frontline for you and your team.
The ones you hate
Note: I could put most of the supports listed above here and just rewrite every single description. I find quite pointless so instead I'll write about certain forms of CC that you dont want to have on your face, with small exception of Blitzcrank who wasn't listed in the previous part.
So what types of supports you hate the most? First of all, anything that can blow you up and CC you like Annie, Vel'koz is no.1 threat. After that I would say displacements like Blitz grab or Thresh hook. Also any type of stunlock when you can't retaliate is dangerous for obvious reasons.
Displacement is a death sentence for any fragile character with no escapes. In the lane a good hook will force you to burn some summoners or even die and there is not much you can do about it by yourself. You just simply cant get grabbed
When to Pick Varus
When to pick Varus
Lane matchups have already been discussed so now we move to the various team compositions Varus fits nicely.
- He exceels with poke comps, so lets say you have Xerath/Azir mid and Nidalee jungle. That makes sieging turrets and other extremally easy and its pretty common nowadays to see these champions in your games. Plus siege comp the safest of all since you force the enemy to engage on you.
- Teamfight comp. You have 2 forms of CC and % damage so your teamfighting potential is high. Your ultimate can be used to either lock the enemy team down or scatter them from the isolated target. Simply put you provide another layer of control and why wouldn't you want for your team to have it more
- „Catch-someone-and-kill-him-before-he-can-escape” comp. If your team relies on making picks in order to for example get some turrets or pressure other objectives you fit those needs nicely. Your ultimate has a deceptively high range and people will hardly ever suspect that it will hit them making it a perfect tool for catching people off guard and getting numbers advantage.
When not to pick Varus
Whenever the enemy has a strong initiation or crowd control that can lock you down regardless of items you have for ex. Lissandra, Sejuani. You have no escapes and you have to be aware of that. Sometimes it doesn't matter how strong or how fed you are. If you get caught out of position you will die. Even if you position perfectly they can still lock you down and there is not much you can do about that.
High mobility assassins/bruisers – Someone like Zed or Fizz might be your worst nightmare. While you have means to stop them, they can avoid it. So if you screw up your timing you'd better hope your support is decent. Otherwise your life is over.