Vladimir General Guide by VladOnly
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How to Vlad
vlad is a zhonyas champ
Choose 2 offensive items
Choose a trinket/Blue pot on top of final build
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.
This is a season 4 up-to-date Vladimir guide. Vladimir is my most played champion overall, and a decent pick in any game mode. In this guide, I will talk about his strengths and how to exploit them, as well as his weaknesses, and how to overcome them. I hope you enjoy!
NOTE: This guide is under construction! This is my first guide, so I will be constantly improving with every update.
Completed Sections: Runes, Masteries
New Chapters to come: Itemization, Summoner Spells
Sections under construction: Teamfights, Laning Tips, Pros/Cons, the one with the long name
Always take Magic Penetration Marks
I prefer to take some type of defensive seals. With the recent buff to health seals, this has been a small buff to Vladimir due to his passive. In a low pressure lane, I would recommendGreater Seals of Scaling Health(These runes also scale with your passive). For the most part, you will end up in lanes where you need either Greater Seals of Armor or Greater Seals of Magic Resist.
For Glyphs, I takeGreater Glyphs of Scaling Magic Resist, or Greater Glyphs of Ability Power. Against an AD bruiser top? Take the flat AP. Against an AP caster? Take the MR per level.
For Vladimir, I see 4 different options for Quints that are viable on him:Greater Quintessence of Movement speed, Greater Quintessence of Ability Power, Greater Quintessence of Spell Vamp, And Greater Quintessence of Cooldown Reduction.
Ok, so you have 4 options. In my opinion, the best for competitive play would be Movement Speed or Flat AP.
Explanations for why I use/don't use the 4 types of quints:
The reason I don't take CDR runes on Vladimir is because there are plenty of effective items that you can buy that offer CDR and scale well with Vladimir like Spirit Visage, Will of the Ancients, and Ionian Boots of Lucidity.
Spell Vamp Quints
Spell vamp is very fun and effective to use on Vladimir. The only reason why I don't use these quints is simply because I find Movement Speed and Flat AP much more viable.
Movement Speed Quints
These are necessary in match-ups that are based on mobility, or skill shots. EX: Tryndamere, Teemo, Ahri, and Ziggs.
Flat AP Quints
My favorite quints to run on Vladimir. They are specifically to enhance your weakness, that is, your early game. By strengthening our early trading, we are able to set the tone for the lane. Most people underestimate Vladimir's early game damage by a ton. When you Transfusion them at lvl 1 & they can't even retaliate without taking minion aggro, they will know that you aren't F***ing around. Show them you mean business.
However, I know a lot of people will point out that Movement Speed is a more viable stat to stick on to your opponent. This is why we take ghost. In the contrary, you can substitute Ghost or Flash for Ignite if you take Movement Speed Quints.
In the introduction, I said we were going to exploit Vladimir's strengths and buff his weak points. We used our runes to strengthen his weak points because they allow for more flexibility than the current masteries.
For Vladimir, I think that 21-9-0 is the best setup IN-GENERAL for masteries. The reason we're taking the offensive tree masteries is because it increases our damage by an estimated 15%, which is valuable on any offensive-based champion. The reasons for each of our masteries are as follows:
OFFENSIVE TREE 21 points
This increases our damage dealt and damage taken by 1.5%.
Cooldown reduction is vital on Vladimir. Put 4 points into this mastery.
Put 3 points into this mastery for the bonus ability power.
6 free AP... We'll take it!
This mastery is broken. 5% bonus damage when a target is below 50% health. Use this mastery along with your ultimate for a deceptively powerful burst. Put 3 points into this mastery.
3 points into this gives us 5% bonus AP, which is good on any AP caster.
Take a point in this to avoid all those times you died on the last tick of Ignite after you won a close duel. RIP no more!
This helps us last hit better. It is basically an upgraded version of the Butcher mastery because it works against champions and minions. It scales your auto attacks with your AP, so flat AP runes will make it easier to last hit early.
Armor and Magic Penetration. Put 3 points into this mastery. Combine this with your Greater Mark of Magic Penetration to help negate the enemy's base Magic Resist.
3% increased damage! This mastery helps boost our overall damage even more.
Why invest 21 points into the offensive tree?
We put such a large amount of our masteries into this tree because it is by far the most cost effective of the 3 branches when playing Vladimir, so you get the most out of it.
Here is some of the math behind the offensive tree:
3% DMG(havoc) + 5% damage below 50% HP(executioner) + 1.5% damage(DBL-edge sword) + 12% damage from Hemoplague=21.5% bonus damage with only 1 point into your ult!! Combine this with a Deathfire Grasp to get over 40% bonus magic damage to your target!!
And yes, we did just make the tanky/dps mage, Vladimir into an appealing assassin.
DEFENSIVE TREE 9 points
Take 1 point in this to protect against auto attacks.
Take 2 points in this mastery for better early game sustain. This item works well when combined with an early Doran's Shield.
This is a solid defensive mastery, giving us a 5% bonus in our Magic Resist and our Armor. This makes items like Zhonya's Hourglass and Spirit Visage even more effective.
This is my favorite mastery. This mastery Gives us a little extra early game tankiness to survive those champions that will try to all-in you at level 1, like Riven. This mastery along with Recovery make up for the Doran's Shield nerf. Put 3 points into this mastery.
This mastery synergizes well with our passive, Crimson Pact. The extra health also gives you extra AP. Always take this mastery.
UTILITY TREE 0 points
I honestly believe that investing too much into this tree is a waste of stats. Although the utility tree is very appealing, the defensive and offensive trees will be more useful.
NOTE: This is a general set up for Vladimir. I have different mastery pages for different laning opponents. For example, this is the mastery page I use vs. Tryndamere:
When vs. Tryndamere, I take this 12/15/3 setup.
OFFENSIVE TREE 12 points
*1 point in Double-Edged Sword for extra damage
*4 points in Sorcery for the CDR
*3 points in Mental Force for the bonus %AP
*1 point in Arcane Mastery for the bonus flat AP
*3 points in Executioner for the bonus damage when they're low--this works especially well against Tryndamere because he will not be afraid of fighting you at low hp
DEFENSIVE TREE 15 points
*2 points in Block because the main source of damage coming from Tryndamere are his auto attacks
*1 point in Recovery for sustain
*2 points in Enchanted Armor for tankiness
*3 points in Veteran Scars to help in early all-ins
*1 point in Juggernaut for the bonus HP
*1 point in Oppression because of Tryndamere's Mocking Shout, making us take 3% less damage
*3 points in Hardiness for 5 bonus Armor
*1 point in Swiftness to reduce the slow from Tryndamere's Mocking Shout by 10%
*1 point in Reinforced Armor to reduce the damage you take from critical strikes by 10%
UTILITY TREE 3 points
*3 points in Fleet of Foot for the extra movement speed
*At level 1, you should be able to out trade opponents easily if keeping a safe distance and using minion aggro.
*Most melee top lane champions will not take gap closer at level 1!!! Take advantage of this!!!
*Take advantage of ranged auto attacks as useful harass on enemies.
*Be sure to practice auto attacking to secure last hits early on, saving your abilities to deal damage to your lane opponent.
*Because Vladimir's auto attacks tend to do less damage than enemies auto attacks, you will find the wave naturally pushing towards you, so long as you aren't spamming tides of blood.
*Level 4 is a small power spike for vladimir because you can safely turret dive an enemy and lose aggro of the turret through your Sanguine Pool--imagine it like a built--in Zhonya's Hourglass.
*Once you hit is power spike for laning at lvl 9 with 5 points into Transfusion, you can safely harass your lane opponent, even if taking a turret shot or two.
*WARD! I cannot stress this enough. If you are pressuring your lane opponent at their tower, you should have 2 wards out: a deep river ward, and a ward in the enemy tri-bush. If you are freezing your lane in early levels, you should trinket your own tri-bush to watch out for a dive.
*Ultimate is a huge damage steroid in fights
*Amazing self sustain
*Does not utilize mana
*Easy to play
*Built in zhonyas
*Scales off of hp/ap items
*Good at kiting
*Great tower diving
*Has badass legendary skin
*Great wave clear after early laning
*His waveclear, survivability and kiting potential make him a huge split push threat and hard to lock down
*Build him glass cannon and he will receive hp boost and able to dive in the middle of teamfights while taking a good amount of damage
*One of the few AP top laners--allows for more effective use of ad mids like yasuo and zed who are strong in current meta
*Can be built tanky
*Cool laugh animation with Blood Lord Vladimir skin
*No hard cc--but the slow/speed up from pool is life saving
*Very weak level 2-3--playing level 1 well is vital on Vladimir
*No huge burst if not fed
*Weak auto attack
*Positioning is vital
Ap champions with lifesteal and hard cc like swain and fiddlesticks tend to do well against Vladimir. This does not mean they are impossible lanes. They are both mana intensive champions and have poor wave clear. Eventually Vladimir will be able to shove his lane, farm a jungle camp and repeat. The lane is not hopeless though. Neither of these champions have a consistent form of escaping from a well planned gank. Even if you cannot land a kill from a gank, they will be forced to heal using mana. Swain will most likely waste half or more of his mana from 1 jungle gank if he doesn't get a stun off, the same goes with fiddlesticks.
Also, if you think swain is a counter to you, just remember that his damage is mostly single target, and yours is aoe, which helps more in team fights. Also, if you can stop fiddle from ulting with good ward coverage and cc from teammates, his damage output in a fight will be drastically reduced(take ignite instead of ghost in both matchups).
Your job is to land your ultimate on as many players as possible, q the priority target and e as many targets as possible. Use your pool wisely. You should not be initiating fights, but do not hesitate to flash into the middle of 5 as long as focus is on your tank.
This rarely happens, but if the only fed player on the enemy team is their tank, and he needs to be focused or he will destroy your whole team(ex Nasus with a lot of stacks), it is acceptable to ult the 1 fed player so that your team can burst them down very fast--they will probably run past you and go for the adc, so you can use your pool to slow them down as they pass by.
I like to run Ghost/Flash on Vladimir and do so 95% of the time. There are certain matchups where ignite is necessary (ex: tryndamere). In this case, the best option is to take ghost/ignite. If you are playing Vladimir mid, it is best to take ignite and flash for more burst potential, and quick escapes.
Because Vladimir has more sustained damage rather than burst damage, ghost and flash work well due to the increased kiting/chasing potential. They also both help with staying alive and surviving ganks that would have been sure kills on champions that just took flash/ignite.
You should have 3 wards out when your summoner spells are down and you are pushing past the first tower. Ward deep river, closest buff, and tri-bush. Take enemy buffs if possible, keep timers so you can steal again. If you have taken their buff once, you should take sweeping lens to clear any wards by their buff next time you take it, as they will most likely ward that area for counter jungling.
Off topic--Vladimir has been chosen in some LCS play recently. Any champion that is played competitively is a very strong champion and can carry games consistently if played well.
Competitive Play-when to pick vlad-matchups & counter picks (in depth h
Vladimir is a decent pick in most games. However, there are some team comps where Vlad really shines. Here is a list of situations in ranked play where Vladimir fits into a comp well:
*when you have an aoe based team
*when you have a team with strongpoints in team fighting
*when you have an ad mid like zed
*when you have a tanky jungled
Here are a list of champions that I find very easy for a vladimir to lane against:
*shen(out sustain, much more useful to team)
*malphite(pool his ult at 6)
*jax(pre bork is easy, avoid all ins, pool when he jumps with counter strike)
*nasus(harass with q, don't push wave with e early, punish when he farms his q)
*renekton(tough early game, outscale & bully)
*shyvana(keep her low so she doesn't dive, don't push wave early, q them when they cs)
Here are the champions that you should never go against:
---you should take heal or tp against swain and fiddle, take cleanse against malzahar
Common counter picks in ranked, and how to beat them:
*riven: play very passive. Freeze lane at turret until level 9(even if ahead). Start with movement speed quints and boots4 or cloth5, don't let her touch you(I take boots in this matchup because I find the extra movement nice to avoid her lvl 1 q combo.) Build seekers armguard and sorc boots early. Trinket your tri bush and watch out for dives. You can build randuins as your 3rd core item in this matchup, it is extremely useful against riven. Take pool at lvl 2, and watch out for riven going for a play with flash. Take ghost to counter riven's mobility and flash to counter her flash, escape her stun/knock up combo, or flash her ult-it is not that hard, just takes practice. Because your lane will be pushed, your jungler should be able to execute a deadly gank. I have never lost a lane to riven, trust me, it works. If riven is freezing lane, go ward, gank mid, look for opportunities like dragons, enemy buffs, even a bot gank. It is better to do this than to go back to lane against her especially if she is freezing when she is stronger. Eventually, your goal is to force small trades and sustain back up. Most rivens will favor building lifesteal like a hydra when behind. That is very good for you, because she will be constantly pushing to try to lifesteal off of the wave. Once you get out of laning phase, your aoe will be much more useful in team fights which, along with your late-game scaling, will make you a much more useful top laner.
Xin xhao, darius, and irelia are very tough matchups for vlad. Play passive, avoid engaging, freeze your lane early. Make careful, calculated trades at level 9+. Poke with q when their gap closers are down, or they are going to cs while you are safe under your tower. Darius will become very easy after lvl 9, however xin and irelia remain a threat throughout the game. After level 9, you can push your lane and harass them with your e/q combo, but be careful to avoid cc under turret.
I hope this guide helps you improve your Vladimir game-play and understanding of the champion a lot! Please tell me ways to improve my guide--any input at all is welcome. I would love constructive criticism, this is my first guide and I hope to improve upon it and make it a good one!
*I am planning on making a youtube channel explaining how to play different lane matchups with vlad.