Vladimir Build Guide by SynfulJester
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Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Vladimir is one of the most sustainable champions in League of Legends. He makes a very challenging mid-lane opponent by out lasting his opponents even at low health. He makes a very punishing top-lane opponent by being able to consistently push, hurt his opponent, escape ganks, and able to survive in lane for a long time.
Vladimir is generally considered to be an easy champion to play. Do not be Fooled!. Vlad is very easy to learn, but very hard to master. Your Sanguine Pool ability costs 20% of your health, and your opponents will try to force you to use it to escape. Learning when to use Sanguine Pool and when not to is really where mastering Vlad comes in. With good timing you can dodge point blank Ashe Ultimate or even Darius' Ultimate.
It has a very long cooldown early game. However, if you have any DoT on you, you will continue to take damage while in Sanguine Pool. This can kill a Vlad player fast as he has already dumped 20% of his health to use Sanguine Pool, plus he is now suffering a DoT like Ignite. Untargetable does not mean invincible. As Vlad you also have to maintain your Tides of Blood, without it your damage output and your health gain from Transfusion is much weaker.
Vladimir's Hemoplague ability is a game changer. With max cooldown at 3rd rank of this ability you can drop it to a little over 1 min cooldown. With this ability you can turn the tide so to speak in any team fight. Right after the initiate using it in the area where most champions are jumping into causes so much destruction its almost not funny. AOEs become massively more powerful and abilities like Nidalee's Javelin Toss become many times more dangerous. To give an idea as to how much stronger this ability makes Vlad in a 1v1 fight, at max build (which you should never reach), your Transfusion done on a champion suffering from Hemoplague returns 1/3 of your total health in addition to dealing 600 damage. During the duration of Hemoplague you should be able to get 2 Transfusions off before Hemoplague deals the finishing 700 damage from your Ultimate ending. That's at minimum 1900 damage in 5 seconds, this is without using Tides of Blood (which should always be at max stacks having it deal 453 to every target, 507 damage if the target is suffering from Hemoplague).
+ Has amazing sustain
+ His ultimate ravages enemies in team fights
+ Very good farm ability with Tides of Blood
+ Can escape any form of attack or ability with a well timed Sanguine Pool
- Has no CC ability
- Is a slow champion
- Very difficult to play before level 7
- Has a few champions that will ALWAYS murder him in lane
- Sanguine Pool has a very high health cost
You should always have 9 of these.
Having 9 of these over 9 Greater Seal of Armor is much more useful as it synergizes well with your passive
I prefer running these as opposed to Greater Glyph of Magic Resist as you will have better output mid to late game with them instead of putting all your AP in Quintessences.
These runes massively improve Vlad's early game sustain, and are very helpful late game. With Masteries and these runes you start with 9% spellvamp, giving you a very useful edge in your sustainability in lane. Other options are Greater Quintessence of Ability Power for more damage or Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed to try to deal with Vlad's slow movement speed.
For Masteries I prefer 9/0/21. Getting cooldown reduction, +1 AP per level and 8% Magic Penetration. I have seen other builds recommending going more into the offense tree or more into the defense tree, however, I have found that by investing more than 9 points in Offense, your sustain is not as strong and if you put more into Defense your damage suffers greatly.
So why 21 point in Utility? The answer is simple. Utility gives him a second ward which allows you to cover both bushes to prevent an early game gank from the jungler. It also gives you a biscuit which can act as an extra potion. But the main benefits come from Vampirism , Awareness , Intelligence , and Nimble . Nimble helps make up for Vlad's slow movement. Vampirism gives Vlad more Spell Vamp for the early game 9%. Intelligence give's Vlad's early game CDR a much needed boost matching well with Sorcery for a full 10% CDR. Finally Awareness allows Vlad to out level his opponents very quickly. Using Tides of Blood his farming ability rises very quickly and so does his experience gain. However, should you get shut down early in the laning phase, when you start to roam, being able to intercept minion waves, clearing them quickly with Tides of Blood can very quickly allow you to catch up on experience.
Early game I like running Boots of Speed, 2 Health Potions, and a Sight Ward. Combined with Explorer the early ward allows you to prevent yourself from being ganked early. It also allows your jungler to have visible areas of approach to counter their jungler or to get an early gank. It can also be very useful if you in top lane against a Dual Top.
Vlad admittedly suffers early game, but in Mid Game he really begins to shine. I generally get Hextech Revolver first to maximize Vlad's early AP and Spell Vamp. I grab Kindlegem after giving me a nice health boost and small CDR. After I get Ionian Boots of Lucidity to boost up his CDR and give him his much needed movement speed.
These items, combined with Ionian Boots of Lucidity make up Vlad's core item build. Will of the Ancients and Spirit Visage improve his sustain and damage. Which you choose to make first really depends on whether you need more damage or magic resist/sustain.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter gives you a large health boost and AP boost. And it synergizes well with your passive, giving more health and AP. The slow it inflicts can really help chasing down opponents or escaping them by yourself as Tides of Blood will his all people chasing you and Sanguine Pool will slow those who were initially in your pool allowing you to get away faster. Liandry's Torment gives a nice synergy with Rylai's and also give you more Magic Penetration, Health, and AP. As well as a very nasty combo with you ultimate. Because the effect of Hemoplague will also increase the burn effect from Liandry's Torment. Finally Rabadon's Deathcap is always a must have for casters. I generally get this item last. I rarely get to purchase it. And when I do Vlad tends to murder everything that gets in his path, with or without his Ultimate.
Near the end game getting a Warmog's Armor can be very useful, but it does not replace the benefits gained from Deathcap. Even with Vlad's passive, the damage and sustain granted through Deathcap far outweighs the extra 1k HP from Warmog's. However, if you need to be more of a tank and less of a damage dealer, replacing Liandry's Torment with Warmog's Armor is a viable choice.
I cannot stress the Importance of improving Vladimir's Transfusion ability. It is his sustain, his main damage dealing ability, and his poke. Without it, he kills himself very quickly. One thing to note, you only gain health back from this ability if the animation fully returns to you. If you Sanguine Pool before the blood returns to you, you will not receive health back from the ability.
This ability allow's Vlad's health regen, his healing from Spell Vamp, and from Transfusion to increase greatly. In addition, it is a decent damage ability that massively increases his farming ability, almost eliminating the need to always last hit minions. With this ability altering with Transfusion you can easily wipe out hordes of minions, while taking next to no damage. You will also notice late game that it deals almost no damage to you, and can actually heal you if you use it with more than 1 target around.
This ability is useful as it is not a targeted ability, so it can even hit untargetable foes. It also has another really nice ability, that requires you to pay attention where the animations of the ability go. If you can get used to the range of the ability, and pay attention, you can use this to check bushes and deal damage without actually going into the bush. You can also use it to hit invisible champions like Teemo or Evelynn.
This is the hardest ability Vladimir has to master. It allows him to become untargetable and dodge almost any kind of attack or ability if timed right. An example of an exception would be Warwick's Ultimate. Knowing when to use this ability, and having patience with it is very important. You should get 1 level of it within the first 3 levels, and max it last. The healing from this ability is negligible. You should reach max CDR before you level it to 2nd rank, meaning its cooldown will be already at 15. Its main benefit is as Vlad's escape and dodge. Using this ability to dodge initiates, ganks, and ults of opposing champions can change a game quickly. If you like being risky it has another use, which will be explained in the team fight section
Vladimir's Ultimate is a game changer. If used at the right moment in a team fight, it can wreck an opposing team. Giving your teammates an extra 12% damage boost, especially with ultimates from Nunu, Amumu, or Gallio, the damage becomes obscene. On top of that, if champions escape at low health, you'll be doing a decent amount of damage when your ult ends. If you have items that proc from spell damage like Liandry's Torment, the proc will come when the damage is dealt when your ult ends, leaving low health champions dead.
Always useful as an escape or if you need to be just a little closer to a champion to get a kill or to mover through barriers.
This is a very useful ability since it does true damage. It's damage, like all sources of damage are also increased by Hemoplague allowing you to use it to deal 12% extra true damage.
I have seen a few interesting uses of Ghost with Vlad, but only when used in combination with Sanguine Pool Stacking the movement speed increase for an escape or engaging the enemy can be very surprising. Having a red pool move that quickly towards or away from you can be difficult to grasp (no pun intended).
This is useful as another means to get health back, however, you shouldn't need it.
In the early game Vlad suffers greatly. He is not able to really farm as well as he could until level 2 or 3, and will often not have a good escape from abilities. Most players fail early game with Vlad and give up because he doesn't have the same early game potential as other mid champions.
At level 7 Vlad really begins to pick up, as the use of his ultimate in team and solo fights allows him to begin to wipe the floors with his enemies. His Transfusion ability will have reached its peak and really be a powerful poke. If you have Will of the Ancients, Spirit Visage, and Ionian Boots of Lucidity, you'll find his damage and sustain are terrifying, and that he can use his Transfusion and Tides of Blood instead of his attack.
Late Game Vlad becomes very useful in team fights and can solo most champions. His damage output and sustain make him very hard to kill 1v1 and in team fights his Hemoplague devastates.
In team fights Vlad can be played in one of 2 ways. The first way is that of the traditional caster, using your Ultimate to increase the damage of other players and use your poke at range to poke off enemy ADC and APC. This works very well, however it has a lower damage output, as Tides of Blood has a very short range.
If you are willing to be more risky, wait for the initiate, and when everyone piles in, use your ultimate to begin the slaughter, then use Transfusion and then quickly Sanguine Pool into the fight. You will slow enemies and deal a small amount of damage. Then use Tides of Blood which will trigger the double damage from Liandry's Torment thanks to Sanguine Pool triggering the full effect of Rylai's Crystal Scepter. Then use Transfusion and Tides of Blood to wipe out everyone near you. Not including the damage from Sanguine Pool and Liandry's Torment you will quickly deal around 2300 damage to 1 target and 1100 to everyone near you until you switch to targeting them. This strategy also has an added bonus of only lasting 5~ seconds, which at max CDR, your Sanguine Pool cooldown should almost be up in case you need an escape. Thus allowing you to make use of its slowing effect and meager damage to add to the team fight.
Swain, Fiddlesticks, and Fizz will be the bane of your existence. A decent Swain is a hard counter to Vlad, as he has many abilities to poke, root, slow, and DoT Vlad. On top of that his Ultimate heals him, which makes it very difficult to kill him when your sustain and damage output get blocked by his other abilities.
Fiddlesticks is very painful for Vlad. Fear prevents you from using Sanguine Pool to escape. His silence prevents you from using abilities. His Siphon Life ability will drain you even if you are in pool form. Plus he can use his ultimate and use any of these things on you.
Fizz is just one of those champions you are going to hate. Yes you can dodge his shark. However Fizz can dodge your Ultimate as well. He can also engage you and nuke you down so very fast that you can't really heal back fast enough. Plus, Fizz's passive will still effect you while in pool form.
What is my best suggestion on how to deal with these guys? Hug to your tower and beg your jungle to help you kill these guys. Because if you don't have an early game lead on them, they will devour you.