Blitzcrank is a unique mid pick with substantial deficits compared to most midlaners. Blitzcrank lacks poke, disengage, sustained damage, split-push threat, and waveclear. He (hopefully) makes up for it with game-changing Rocket Grabs, but getting the most out of your Blitzcrank means adapting to his play style more substantially that you might for other mindlaners. I hope that this guide will help teams who are seeing if midlane Blitzcrank is right for them. If you're just a poor soul paired with a midlane Blitzcrank in solo-que, I hope this guide can be your ray of hope in an otherwise hopeless game.
Picking Your Lane
Blitzcrank falls off pretty quickly if you don't win the mid-game objective trade, which largely means winning lane. There's a lot of pressure on you to play a winning lane or to snowball Blitzcrank with roams. Champions which synergize with Blizcrank (described in chapter 3) interact in similar ways when roaming mid during the laning phase. Picking just for the lane match-up is advisable. You have an advantage in the pick/ban phase if you pick Blitzcrank before you pick your support, because it's fair for the other team to assume Blitzcrank is the support. You're likely to see champions with some weak early match-ups, like Alistar, Leona, or Nautilus, because those are frequent counter-picks to Blitzcrank .
Midlane Blitzcrank isn't something that you are likely to encounter in solo-que, so I think it's fair to assume that anyone using this guide is working in a team setting, or at least in conjunction with their Blitzcrank . That being said, I realize how narrow the premise of this guide is. Midlane Blitzcrank is a niche pick that changes a lot about how the rest of him team plays, which is a large part of the reason he doesn't see much play. Playing with Blitzcrank is about coordinating pressure over objectives. Blitzcrank is much stronger at towers than dragon or baron, but you probably don't want to be competing for five dragons anyway. Pay close attention to Blitzcrank's Rocket Grab range and use his pressure to whittle down towers.
Preempting the Tendency Towards Scaling
It's easy to look at your role within a Blitzcrank composition and say "if we have a support mid and I go a scaling mage support, our endgame will look like a regular team composition." The problem is that no team with Blitzcrank can be played regularly and win without a destructive laning phase. There may be situations where strong scaling supports like Zyra do make the most sense, but scaling with Blitzcrank is never a guarantee, and a scaling support probably isn't enough to make up the end-game deficit that Blitzcrank creates for your team.
The Laning Phase
Blitzcrank's strongest roams are lane ganks. Getting an early Sightstone gives you to freedom to shove the wave in and set up for him. An additional Vision Ward for your lane brush is good if you're confident you can protect it. The best way to use Blitzcrank roams is to coordinate with your jungler and four-man lane gank or dive. Blizcrank gives any jungler the power to lane gank by standing in the bush or just pulling the fight away from the tower.
If you can go Targon's Brace, it's probably worth it for the sustain for your marksman. Beyond that, Blitzcrank synergizes with both the Talisman of Ascension and Frost Queen's Claim actives, so deciding which to go is either an in-lane decision or a more complex one about which active you need more.
If you already have an AoE movement speed buff (like from Sivir's On The Hunt or Karma's Defiance), the Talisman active might be redundant. Blitzcrank's engage pattern often makes it difficult to disengage once you've started a fight, so if the opposing team has limited engage you might not even need one AoE speed buff. The advantage that Blitzcrank-based teams get from Talisman is follow-up on the pull. If you have a team with low-mobility carries, it's often difficult to take advantage of a good pick, a problem which Talisman can help solve.
Frost Queen's Claim synergizes with Blitzcrank because it isolates and reveals a single target and Blitzcrank is really only making engages on that one target. I really like FQC against carries with high priority and low mobility. Against a team with, for example, Riven and Kalista, there's really no reason to go this item unless you really want it for the lane.
Other Roles and You
I think it's worth quickly summarizing the assumptions I'm making about how other roles will play around Blitzcrank. Much of this is based on how my team plays the composition; I won't pretend to understand any role but support.
More than other lanes, top is about the match-up. That being said, top-laners with strong pick potential or split-pushing power have the best synergy with [Blitzcrank]] compositions. Pick potential often means that your top-laner and Blitzcrank have similar patterns of threat. Split-pushers capitalize on Blitzcrank's excellent siege pressure. In addition, all of the ways that supports have synergize could potentially apply to lop-laners. Lulu and Karma are examples of supportive top-laners who fill an enabling role. Our favorite picks are Lissandra and Trundle.
Midlane Blitzcrank severely constrains and dictates your team's jungle pick. We like to think of this relationship as "snowballing each-other". You need a jungle with a strong early gank and strong mid-game scaling. It's difficult for the opposing mid-laner to play far enough back where a Rocket Grab doesn't create an engage for a jungle with a dash. One way of thinking of this is that Blitzcrank makes strong junglers stronger and weak ones much weaker; someone like Malphite or Shyvana without good pre-six ganks often doesn't help Blitzcrank get going fast enough. Our favorite choices are Xin Zhao and Vi.
Marksmen are the least diverse role so Blitzcrank is fine with most of them. You want good siege and good burst, depending on your other picks. Sometimes it's up to the marksman to build extra wave-clear to make up for Blitzcrank. We prefer Caitlyn, Graves, and Tristana. We avoid Ezreal.
Ways to Synergize
None of these are really supports you can't play. Picking one of these for the laning phase is potentially the right call, especially because of how important the early snowball is to Blitzcrank. All this really means is to be wary about the counter-synergy or gaps in your composition that you might be creating with a sub-optimal pick.
Movement Speed Buffs
Giving Blitzcrank faster positioning can let him land an unexpected Rocket Grab or just pressure an objective. Often this requires better communication than realistically happens in solo-que, but it is, in my opinion, the strongest choice in team play. Karma, Lulu, and Zilean offer the most in this department.
An additional advantage that Karma and Lulu have over Zilean is their shield ( Inspire and Help, Pix! respectively), which is useful in the siege situation. They are joined in this respect by Janna's Eye Of The Storm, who's actually the best in this department. Any support with strong non-committal siege is strong with Blitzcrank, but the strategy of shielding your marksman while they weave auto-attacks works really well with Blitzcrank's pattern of pressure.
Playing when not super ahead with Blitzcrank often means that after you make a pick you need to get out of dodge fast with your whole team. You can think of a lot of aspect of Blitzcrank's play in this way; the reason he doesn't want to Rocket Grab tanks is because they give their teams time to counter-engage. As a support, you have many tools to respond to teams with counter-engage, and it's something you should be considering heavily in champion select
Traditional disengage champtions like Janna do this job the best. Placing Janna in between the Rocket Grab target and the enemy team gives your team the most time to make their pick. Gragas can do this job worse but from a safer position, and the rest of his kit is so different from Janna's that choosing between the two is a larger compositional decision.
Champions with long-ranged AoE CC also create a delay between your pick and their counter-engage. Throwing a Bard Tempered Fate or a Sejuani Glacial Prison can either let you disengage from the pick or give your team time to finish the pick and force a teamfight. This approach to preventing counter-engage is best for snowballing leads with compositions that want messy, scrappy teamfights. It's also worth noting than many of these champions lack enabling tools for Blitzcrank.
Zone control supports, often traditional midlaners with high based damages, can punish but often not prevent counter-engage. Forcing the opposing team to wade through Zyra's Rampant Growth or Anivia's Glacial Storm might be disincentive enough to give your team time to disengage. If not, starting your teamfight with a pick and some free damage hopefully gives you an advantage.
Having CC that can easily set up a Rocket Grab without much commitment provides an additional threat in stand-offs over objectives. While generally attempting an unlikely shot can be not worth trying because of the lost pressure, having multiple long-ranged threats gives all of those threats freedom to take risky shots. I like Morgana, Lux, and Syndra here due to their high range and burst. Bard's ultimate also provides long ranged engage, but it's different because it's a high resource commitment. The way that Bard contributes to siege situations with Blitzcrank is very different from other champions in this department.
What I mean by this is CC which chains after the pull has landed. The disadvantage of this approach is that these champions often lack ways of threatening an engage which synergies well with Blitzcrank. The advantage is that these champions are tanks. Often, choosing this option is a function of necessity in champion select. Follow-up CC is something which becomes a lot less useful if Blitzcrank can burst squishy targets without help. The top-tier supports for this are Alistar and Braum.
I don't often think that getting primarily chain CC from someone who isn't a tank is an efficient pick, especially with Blitzcrank. That being said, Nami actually has great ways to capitalize and enable Blitzcrank's CC. If you trust your Blitzcrank or just think their Rocket Grab is going to land, shooting your Aqua Prison right in front of him will guarantee good lockdown. You also have a small movement speed buff ( Surging Tides) and Tidal Wave is actually a pretty good way to stop the counter-engage.
One of the glaring weaknesses in Blitzcrank's kit is his lack of waveclear, especially in tower defense situations when he is saving his Static Field for a potential dive. Because many team compositions depend on their midlaner for wave-clear, a Blitzcrank pick might force you, the support, to pick up the slack. You want to be wary of making this a priority when it causes you to forget about other ways to synergize with Blitzcrank. Other members of your team can contribute to waveclear, with the worst case scenario being an early Runaan's Hurricane for your marksman. If picking someone like Zyra or Vel'Koz leaves Blitzcrank without enablers, you're probably losing out. My favorite picks with both wave-clear and utility are, once again, Lulu and Karma. Keep in mind that, especially with Lulu, you probably need to build more damage to keep up the necessary wave-clear.
My favorite champions to pair with midlane Blitzcrank are Karma for the speed buff and wave-clear, Janna for the siege and disengage, and Alistar for the chain CC and tank threat.
Supports to Avoid
Predicting where your Dredge Line will leave its target is difficult for Blitzcrank, which makes it difficult to chain your CC. You basically have to chain your non-hook abilities into Blitzcrank's Rocket Grab by standing with him, which creates some undesirable redundancy. Nautilus really can only follow up on Blitzcrank but he cannot enable him much. If Blitzcrank is at the point where he can burst squishy targets, Nautilus often has a difficult time assisting at all.
If you are forced into playing Nautilus, don't despair. Good coordination and patience go a long way, especially if you can talk to your Blitzcrank. Call out who's going to attempt each hook; landing one will cause the other to miss if you shoot at the same time. You can also adapt to a more peel-centric role and leave Blitzcrank to make engages. Depth Charge is not a great tool for this, but it can help delay the counter-engage after a successful pull. In terms of itemization, make yourself more useful by rushing Righteous Glory early.
Flanks are Tahm Kench's big play in the mid-game, and it just isn't a great play with Blitzcrank. Rocket Grabs take the fights to your team, making it easy for the opposing team to collapse to one side or the other. Either you and your co- Abyssal Voyageer end up excluded from the fight or you get collapsed on while the rest of your team kills Blitzcrank's target. In addition, Tahm Kench's chain CC is generally too slow to capitalize on a Rocket Grab; Getting three stacks of An Acquired Taste is just not going to happen very much.
The bar for successful communication between Blitzcrank and Thresh than it is with most supports. I would call this a pick to avoid only in solo-que; Thresh has the problems as Nautilus with redundant abilities, only his Dredge Line is easier for allies to predict. You and Blitzcrank should call out your hooks to avoid throwing at the same time. Thresh also makes up for this high skill floor with [Dark Passage], which is great for getting Blitzcrank out of an overzealous pick attempt.
Sona is not in a great place right now and she doesn't really bring much of what Blitzcrank needs. Song of Celerity doesn't have close to as much impact as Karma, Lulu, or Zilean's movement speed buffs. Sona gives a numbers (in terms of damage, heals, and shields) advantage, but having Blitzcrank on your team already necessitates a stratagy that wins with inferior numbers. Sona's saving grace is her ultimate and its use as a disengage/counter-engage tool, but champions like Bard and Leona tend to fill this particular role better with Blitzcrank.