Vi Build Guide by RgKTiamat#50444
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Typical End-Game Build
Overall Tankiness and Sustain
Viable Items vs AD Heavy Teams
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.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
*Disclaimer* THIS IS A LONG, IN-DEPTH GUIDE WITH EXPLANATIONS OF CHOICES AND REASONS! FOR TL;DR - LOOK AT CHEAT SHEET AND BUILD TITLES.
Hello readers, my name and IGN is RgKTiamat, and this is my second guide on Mobafire. Back during Season 1 I wrote an ADC TF guide that reached the top of the charts for a few months (before the tweaks made AP Twist much better than AD). I didn't have as much time to play competitively in Season 2, reaching only 1400 ELO (Before silver tier was changed to 1250) in my spare time outside of school and work. This season has been favorable to me as far as time, and I want to try and push myself to break Plat in top lane. I've been maining a lot of Riven, Jayce, and most recently Vi, who I find to have an awesome kit and playstyle. I wanted to share how I play her and what I've found to be most effective, through both research and testing, with the rest of MobaFire!
PLEASE READ THE NOTES BESIDE THE BUILD TITLES! This is not meant to be a "Just copy his info and go 30/0/5" guide. To play the game competitively and make yourself a better player, you need to be able to realize that the same build isn't going to work EVERY game, and if you understand how to weigh the benefits vs the cost of a certain item or even just the order you build them, you become a MUCH scarier opponent. The idea is to get you to think and decide for yourself which item will be best right now, in these circumstances. As the saying goes, I've led the horse to water but I can't make him drink. I WILL explain my reasoning behind certain items, however, and you just might learn something you didn't know about an item or mechanic that you can use to help decide later. So, without further adieu, let's meet Vi!
Pros / Cons
Great burst and damage output
Not item reliant
Scales well and doesn't fall off as hard (%max hp ability)
2 gap closers
Fantastic initiation and ganks
Excellent diver and farmer
CC immunity while ulting (also locks on, even with flashes, etc.)
Very fun champion
Decent-sized learning curve
Has only single target initiations (i.e. need a competent team to follow you in)
Somewhat vulnerable if Q and ult are cooling down
Long low-level cooldowns
Too many good items to take them all =(
Too butch to be scantily clad T~T
I run with an ADC-style runepage, taking flat AD Marks and Quints, Armor Seals, and scaling MR Glyphs. The Marks and Quints help accentuate her early game (when she lacks her full kit, and thus most of her damage), plus make farming, trading, and jungle clearing that much faster. All of her skills have AD ratios, so there's a bonus, too.
The armor seals help mitigate damage from creeps in jungle, creeps in lane, and most solo top champions. Even AP-based tops ( Rumble, Vladimir, etc.) are keen on getting extra autoattacks in when they harass or commit, and sometimes that extra bit of mitigation helps.
I use scaling MR glyphs over flats because, while yes, AP champions hurt at level one, they hurt MUCH more at key levels later in the game (6 ult, 9 maxed ability, 16 max ult) and since scaling runes pass flat runes around level 7, I typically see much more benefit overall from the scaled runes, plus they're a great bonus in straight up teamfights.
Flat or Scaling Armor Penetration Marks and Quints - Almost on par with flat ADs, but geared towards later in the game. More useful later on, completely viable. I just prefer to bring the ADs because the better my early game, the better my late game (usually). There may be some number-crunched perfect balance of ArPen and AD runes, but I'm too lazy to go look for it, and I'm sure it changes from champion to champion anyway.
Scaling AD Marks - I can see these as a late-game alternative to flats, though I feel late game a whopping 9 AD doesn't make a huge difference. However, since all of her abilities scale with AD ratios, it may pay off over the course of a game.
Flat, % or Scaling Health Seals - Add a little beefiness to either your early or late game. Not a bad choice, though I don't feel they quite match Armors. The exception being, if you're expecting to main- or off-tank(Fratmog's and/or Spirit of Ancient Golem type build), I suspect the % bonus would stack up very nicely in the long run.
Scaling Armor Seals - Lacking the immediate benefit of flats while suffering from DRs (unlike health) puts these on the sideline for myself, but maybe if your enemy team looks really ADish, having these wouldn't be SO bad.
Flat MR Glyphs - More immediate of a bonus against base-value burst AP champions, such as Cho'Gath or Diana, sometimes needed against champions who like to abuse their raw early game power. If you're not feeling confident in your laning ability against these champions, feel free to swap to these for a little more stability.
Movement Quints - Bonus move speed is always nice for anybody, anywhere, ever. Certainly a viable option, especially considering they can help to offset the movement slow of charging your Q, or let you get just close enough for that last attack to net the kill.
Flat or % Health Quints - Also viable if you feel like you just need that slight bonus to your early game beefiness or late game tankiness respectively. Again, if you see at champ select that you'll probably wind up tanking to a degree, having these on a backup page might make life a little easier.
Spells and Masteries
I run Ignite and Ghost when laning, and Smite Ghost when jungling. Up until recently I've run flash on Vi, and while it's certainly a viable spell, I just realized that ghost gives Vi exactly what she's lacking in her kit: Sticking power. Not to mention you ignore unit collision, and it can be used as an escape as well. With your Q to get you over walls, you can get away with Ghost and take advantage of Ghost's MUCH shorter CD -AND- benefit from the Offensive mastery at the same time.
Smite for jungle (Obvious)
Other things that may work situationally are spells like Teleport, Heal, Exhaust and the like. Be intelligent about your choices. If your team already has four ignites (and there's not an enemy Dr. Mundo), do you really need ignite or are you okay with sacrificing your own to bring exhaust, JUST in case an enemy carry gets super fed? Conversely, if you see lots of Exhausts, you may want to hold onto that ignite, for the possibility of a secret OP build that involves a buttload of steal and vamp on that Jax or some crazy shenanigans! Heal may also work for baiting a dive or giving your team that extra oomph to survive, but I find it too risky and with too long a cooldown.
You should not be bringing things like Clairvoyance, Revive, or Clarity. Ever. They're bad overall, except maybe Clairvoyance, but you're not support!
I run two mastery pages for Vi, actually. Both pages are 21/9/0, but against Magic-heavy or balanced teams, I end up taking all of the physical masteries minus the 3 crit points, instead maxing Fury and taking 2 points in Sorcery. If I see that I'm likely to go a heavy armor or straight tank build, typically against AD teams (or if you're simply the best option for tank on the team), I swap those 3 points back into the crit points with the expectation of getting Atma's and possibly Tri-force to be a little more well-rounded. Also, you can take the point out of Veteran's Scars and instead put it into Summoner's Insight if you run Flash over Ghost.
I've also seen many people trying 9/21/0, but I've yet to try it, as I have enough success running offensively. However, again, if you see you're going to straight-up tank, it might not be a bad backup page.
Abilities and Skill Order
*NOTE: I include the icons so that I don't need to type out the effects of spells. That saves room on the guide and gives me more of your attention to explain ways to effectively use them.
This is your passive, a shield that activates when any enemy takes damage, INCLUDING CREEPS. It seems like a negligible amount and a short duration, but with a surprisingly short cooldown you'll find you can activate it rather often during fights and soak a few extra hits. Alternatively, if you find yourself disengaging with a sliver of life, and that jerk pops Ignite, if you can quickly turn and pop a spell to damage a nearby creep or jungle camp, you might just be able to save your life with it. Don't underestimate the strength of this passive.
This is your Q, it has great utility and is arguably one of the coolest repositions I've seen so far in League. It charges much like Varus' arrow does, slowing you as it gains an increasing maximum range and damage, then sitting at max charge for a few seconds before deactivating and returning to cooldown. However, instead of shooting an arrow, you shoot yourself, and instead of penetrating with the tip, you ram champions like the butch babe you are! But, puns aside, this is a really cool ability, somewhere between a hard and soft CC. It's harder CC than a silence or slow, but it's not quite on par with a stun. The knockback does interrupt autopath, as well as channel or cast-time spells, such as Crowstorm. If charged enough, this ability also allows you to dash through walls and ramps, allowing for a clean escape from an otherwise sticky situation. This works as a great follow-up to your ultimate, when you can manage it, because after the ult, the enemy is stunned, and you can get an attack, follow immediately with this just as the stun is ending, then press E and proc Denting Blows on the target you just locked for a second and a half. It can be used to reposition to dodge an incoming attack ( Enchanted Crystal Arrow, etc.) or put you in a better spot to engage on an enemy, maybe bringing you within A&B range.
BE WARNED, however, you will quickly find yourself facing a gray screen if you use this ability to get into ult range and dive the enemy team, only to notice your allies taking a leisurely stroll down the lane to the fight. If your team isn't ready for the initiate, don't use this as an opener, save it as an escape or to chain CC a carry.
This is a second passive, it's an On-hit ability that proccs off all auto attacks, as well as any enemy hit by your Vault Breaker. There's not much to it, just punch away and when you've hit any given enemy with 3 attacks within a short time frame, the three stacks activate to deal 6% of the target's maximum HP in physical damage (Mitigatable by armor) and increase your attack speed by a small amount for a few seconds, allowing you to proc the ability faster.
Pretty simple to use, but one major note: The ability says "Hitting an enemy with three consecutive attacks", however I find that misleading as it implies you can't attack a different target without losing those stacks (think Vayne's Truesilver Bolts). I realized one game that you can visually see the number of stacks applied to a given enemy based on the red rings surrounding their model, and you can, in fact, have stacks on more than one opponent. The catch is that the timer is so small that it would be difficult to juggle your attacks between more than two targets and still consistently apply the damage and attack speed bonus. Based on what I've seen, through skillful use of your E and near-godlike unit control, with practice a player can regularly proc it on three different nearby targets, provided their escapes are down and the player isn't cc'ed, etc. But again, not a typical scenario. Try to proc your stacks on one target (CARRIES > TANKS) before moving to the next, and you'll find that the damage you'll pump out is just fine.
This is your bread and butter skill. This is a conal AoE physical attack, cast from an autoattack, but the mechanics of the ability make it awesome. First, you can stack up to two charges, which is a win in and of itself. But, on top of that, each use resets your auto-attack timer, which lets you chain off two attacks nearly instantaneously. Stacking denting blows becomes incredibly easy with the timer reset, and the splash area is decently large, too. It scales fairly well throughout the game, but is a little less scary towards super late game. You can use this as a ranged harass attack, to zone an enemy from CS, as a way to quickly proc Denting Blows, or just as a way to shove the lane and force the creep waves back towards the middle. A side note, blinds ( Blinding Dart, for example) will cause the actual attack to miss, but the splash will still apply, INCLUDING to the target that you attacked, so you can still deal damage. The only thing to remember about this is positioning is important, lest you suddenly find yourself suffering from tower aggro thanks to the splash.
Definitely my new favorite ability in the game. This ability is a lock-on ultimate that will draw a thin, red line between you and the opponent of your choice, at which point you will charge towards them, granting you CC immunity, knocking aside anything else in your way (WHILE dealing 75% damage to each of those targets), and upon catching the main target, you uppercut them and yourself into the air, MOVE TO THEIR OPPOSITE SIDE, and follow up with
TIP: This CAN be used to escape ganks, even if "Oops, I forgot to ward." as long as you have decent map awareness. The moment you see you're being ganked from behind by mid or a jungler, ult the enemy closest to your tower immediately. Remember what I bolded? Congratulations, your enemies are no longer between your turret and you, and you may now freely Q to safety. If they still kill you, well, then I'd just say they must have really wanted it *shrug*
Alright, the general consensus matches up pretty well with what my play has revealed. Though there's still plenty of debate to start E or Q and what to do for the first three levels, by level three you should have all three abilities levelled once. Max order should then be E > Q > W, getting points in your ult when possible. The first few levels can be played largely by personal preference, I suppose, but I'll explain why I enjoy the listed skill order and why I find it so effective.
I start E because it has the shortest cooldown AND can store two charges at once. This allows you to stockpile more harass power, in addition to working beautifully in combination with a point in W at level two. At level one, you can AA and immediately E to reset your attack timer, getting two attacks off when you'd otherwise only get one. This makes you a beast trader. You can either land both attacks on your opponent when they try to come in and last hit, or you can simply use E on a minion you're last hitting to shoot a cone of damage and use that harass your opponent. Note that this WILL shove your lane, which can either be good or bad. As long as you are selective about your harassment and aren't just spamming E like a madman and shoving lane, you shouldn't run into many mana problems at all.
After getting through that first minute of farming and grabbing a point in Denting Blows, your level two trade then becomes AA, E, E or AA, E, AA, E if you can squeeze the extra attack in. Congrats, you just rattled off 3-4 attacks, 6%+ of his max health, AND bonus damage from both E's in the time that would normally span about 2-3 enemy attacks. I've bursted a Darius down from 2/3 at level 2 with that combo, and it's very effective against nearly all opponents I've fought top so far. Then, at level 3, grab your Q and now you can just about proc Denting Blows at will. Profit, enjoy spoils. Purchase vacation to Bahama's for 3 months. Etc.
Okay, this is, by far, going to be the most controversial section. There are literally thousands of combinations that work exceedingly well on Vi, and while I certainly feel there are plenty of viable options aside from what I list here, these are just the items I've found most effective in my own experience. I'll break them apart into 4 groups: Core, which you should always try to get if possible; Tanky and Sustain, which is meant to add overall mitigation, health, and ways to regen that health; Armor, which will focus on softening the blows from AD champions without sacrificing AD (and thus, your obscene burst potential); and Magic Resistance, which hold the same function as the armor items, but for AP and magic-damage based champions. Not that you guys don't know that, but I'm sure there's THAT ONE GUY out there. It's k, bro, we were all there once. Also, I will only be listing the Tier-3 items in the order I finish them, with possible passing references to what lower tier items I'd start with.
TL;DR = Pick items intelligently, play smart, ???, profit.
Really the only three Vi-able (hah, punny) starts in my opinion. Doran's Blade may work, but without a 100% ratio ability ( Riven's Ki Burst and Valor) and with no Tier 2 items built out of it later, I find it's less optimal than the speed or bonus armor and regen. Okay, onto the main section.
BOOTS AND ENCHANTMENTS
These are the most optimal choices for your Tier 2 boots and their enhancements. However, don't feel that you need to rush these as your first purchases. If you don't find yourself having trouble keeping up with opponents and you're managing well without the perks of the boots, then by all means use the gold towards other items and pump yourself up faster.
Really, these are the only boots I can see worth getting defensively at top, and I get them fairly consistently. The tenacity is valuable because typically in top, you won't be building anything with tenacity later, and the MR is a nice perk. They are the most expensive boots in the game, though, and so they fit well on top lane, which is usually the one getting the most gold, so it works out. You won't really need Ninja Tabi top because you're not constantly taking damage from creeps (like jungling) and overall the passive is only useful for AA-heavy champions, such as Caitlyn, and you're more likely to see champions like Pantheon or Jayce top, whose damage comes largely from their abilities.
If you're feeling super aggressive or just outright dominating your opponent, these can be used to press your advantage even more. As the offensive boot choice, these don't help you survive, just pump out more damage faster by raising your autoattack speed. Personally, I feel that's a slightly moot point, what with your Excessive Force and all, but if you want to go balls deep aggressive, this is the way to go.
These little gems got a rework that I didn't immediately notice for Season 3, and it makes them much more viable than they were before, if for nothing other than utility. It's a little bit of a situational gimmick, but if you find yourself being slowed off of your targets, or people are paying attention and keep escaping you while you charge your Q, these boots can help mitigate that with their 25% slowing-effect-reduction (including those applied by yourself, such as Vault Breaker), in addition to a higher flat speed than the other Tier 2 boots. Basically, instead of falling off 35% faster, you're only slowed 75% of the normal rate, which may make the difference between getting the killshot off, or wasting your time. If you were to combine these with Enchantment: Furor, you'd likely never fall off a target.
These are the boot enchantments, ordered from most general/useful to most situational. Yes, you'll notice I did not include Alacrity, because I feel there is almost no reason to get it, and that it is overall the least useful enchantment.
Furor will increase your speed by 12% (decaying over 2 seconds) every time you land a single target spell or attack, which includes your Ult, E, all of your attacks, and possibly your Q upon hitting a champion, need to test that one. What does this mean? Once you start hitting something, you move faster, allowing you to hit it again, and stay faster than them, and so on. Best overall, considering you're largely single target.
Captain gives your allies a movespeed bonus when they are moving towards you, and speed up nearby minions. What does this mean, if I got these in lane phase? I'm now REALLY good at shoving lane to tower and making my opponent miss CS, albeit I'm less good at freezing lane. In team fights? When you initiate, whether by Q or ult, your team now runs into the initiation faster, meaning you're set up to capitalize on the initiation quicker, making the fight more favorable. If your team gets jumped, and you escape by Q dashing away from the enemy, any teammates behind you run away faster. Overall, good for the team.
Distortion is a unique enchantment. Rather than increasing someone's move speed, it reduces the cooldown on Ghost, Teleport, and Flash by 20%, so if you find yourself Ghosting or Flashing a lot, and it's on cooldown a lot, these may be worth looking into. This is interesting because, the new Elesia's Miracle aside, this is the only non-mastery way to reduce the cooldown of summoner spells. If you're running a teleport-push style for whatever reason, 20% is a big difference. Situational based on how often you're using your spells, but could be beneficial, certainly.
Homeguard is basically a way to reduce travel time. I haven't used it myself on any champion, but I've heard that it works wonders if you find yourself losing a lane just enough to be consistently forced back, but not killed. Because the recall time is 8 seconds (because NOBODY has Improved Recall <.< ), the moment you touch fountain, you're given full health, mana, and a massive speed boost to go wherever, which is lost on combat. So, if you're going back a lot, whether in lane phase or team fights, grab these to return faster and not miss as much of the action. If you minimize your losses, you've got less catching up to do later.
TOP LANE CORE
I feel that you should try to squeeze both of these items into just about any game you can. Sure, you can get by without them, but I feel they're both too good with Vi's kit to pass up except in the most extreme circumstances (i.e. Straight tank e_e)
A.K.A. The Broken Cleaver, this item serves several purposes. With it's Season 3 rework, it now gives a nice chunk of health and a ton of damage, its cost is low enough to rush if you want, and getting it super early can definitely snowball you through the game. Aside from it's plain stats, it has an amazing passive, especially with Vi's kit. Each attack will shred 6.25% (a quarter of a quarter) of the targets armor for a short time, stacking up to 4 times. Between your E, Denting Blows, and the way your kit works, getting 4 stacks onto whichever target you choose should be a piece of cake. And, since all of your attacks deal physical damage, that means EVERYTHING you do is going up, your damage, the amount of health stolen (I think? Confirm on Steal/Vamp applied after armor/MR calculations?), your team fight presence. Combined with the Armor debuff from your Denting Blows, even people building early armor ( Ninja Tabi, Wriggle's Lantern, etc.) won't be doing much to stop you, and your damage will be absolutely absurd.
However as a bruiser, before building this outright, my recommendation is to start with a Vampiric Scepter and/or Phage to give you some cheap early damage, a soft CC for some sticking power, and lifesteal, so that you have them come the first team fight. Follow one or both of those with The Brutalizer, and now you're an absolute terror, thanks to the ArPen and the CDR. My usual order is Phage, then Vampiric Scepter, then getting The Brutalizer and The Black Cleaver whenever I have the gold, modifying as needed (i.e. Vamp first vs Darius's Bleed). The reason I don't outright rush TBC is that I feel too Glass Cannon-ish with just that. Bruisers usually want to get their damage early, sure, but a squishy bruiser is a little bit of an oxymoron. All three of those early game items are easy, cheap options to boost your damage while rounding you out with a bunch of other helpful stats as well, and they all build into multiple late game items, allowing you to be flexible with your build.
Okay, I've yet to see anybody include this item, and I can't for the life of me figure out why! IT'S SO GOOD! This is the Season Three form of Madred's Bloodrazors, and it's just wonderful. Aside from the flat damage and lifesteal this item gives (which aren't too shabby on Vi), it's passive just matches her kit so well. Dealing 4% of your opponents health in physical damage on every autoattack, and healing you for half of the damage dealt, this item will work wonders for a number of reasons. 1) As physical damage, it benefits from any and all armor penetration and shred you have (*Cough The Black Cleaver Denting Blows cough*) 2) As an on-hit item, it works awesome with your attack timer reset in Excessive Force and 3) The active on the item is a damage dealing, health returning slow. Altogether, this item gives you a ton of damage and regen while you're punching faces in, AND gives you an extra chunk of damage and a slow to stick to the target.
So, ideally at this point in Top Lane, you have boots of some kind, The Black Cleaver, Phage, and Blade of the Ruined King, and you should pretty much be able to completely decimate anyone that's not a tank that you catch out of position. For your other slots, choose from the three secions listed below based on the present situation.
So your boots and jungle item are mostly dependent on the enemy team comp, your team comp, and your early game. If you're doing fantastic, or you're going to focus on being a bruiser instead of a tank, you can pick up Merc's and Elder Lizard Spirit, which will give you the tenacity and then follow up with some raw damage to keep your bruiser mentality. If you're a little behind, or you're going tankier, grab ninja tabi to help you in your jungle sustain then nab the Ancient Golem Spirit for the health and tenacity. From there, as anything other than straight tank, follow up with either The Black Cleaver or Blade of the Ruined King, then round out your build to help counter the strengths of the enemy team and cover the weaknesses of your own. An example, if your team lacks some soft CC and the enemy ADC is a little fed, picking up an Iceborn Gauntlet may pay off more than an Atma's Impaler. Your remaining four items should be chosen from the other three sections below, based on what fits the current situation.
HEALTH AND SUSTAIN
That Phage you bought earlier can turn into one of two things. Trinity Force or this wonderful piece. I usually get Trinity when I'm going more tank or utility than damage, because having one item round out all my stats gives me more room in my other slots to worry about whatever it is I need to get. When I'm going bruiser, I use this (And for you Phreaks out there, jump to Iceborn Gauntlet to see my alternative) because it's a massive health boost and a ton of sticking power, with a huge 40% slow on every autoattack and some extra damage as a perk. It's a beautiful synergy item for Vi, and if you decide to get Atma's Impaler later on, this contributes even more. If you get this, aim for Iceborn Gauntlet as well.
If you're going a tankier build instead of a 250 AD bruiser, turn your Phage into this. All of the stats help to round out Vi, and she can make use of everything it offers. Crit, attack and movement speed from the Zeal, Mana and the Sheen proc on ability use (Which should be quite often), health damage and a slow from Phage, then the actual Trinity condensing it all to one item while adding a smidge more to everything. Keeps your damage nice and high mid game while giving you more room to fiddle around with other stuff.
This is one of the best items to make you harder to kill, if you find yourself blown up before doing much, and it works very well in conjunction with Atma's Impaler. Although it lacks any sort of offensive stat or mitigation, the regeneration passive makes you surprisingly resilient. 1.5% of a bruiser's max hp every 5 seconds is nothing to sneer at. Some math, my build with mogs has usually resulted in somewhere around 3300 hp, 1.5% of that is 48 or so, so that's 9 hp per second from the Armor alone, not including heals I may get from allies, my natural regen, baron, etc. Very potent item for survivability.
These two items are here if you decide that, for some reason, Blade of the Ruined King just won't quite fit into this match, and you still have that Vampiric Scepter. Each of these items serves a purpose and fills a different function in team fights. If your team is lacking the AoE to create good kill opportunities before the focus target realizes they're the focus and escapes, Hydra may resolve this. Between the AoE splash around you on each autoattack and its short-cooldown active, suddenly a whole lot of damage is happening very fast to a clumped up team, especially in combination with Excessive Force.
If you feel that you don't quite have the damage to burst down your initiation target, then the Thirster may be your answer. After farming 30 creeps (which should take all of 5 seconds in a clumped wave for you), you have an obscenely large amount of single target damage and lifesteal off of a single item. I strongly advise AGAINST multiple lifesteal items though, barring perhaps Zeke's Herald as a 6th slot if your team is mostly physical and your support is otherwise filled out. I'd REALLY try to leave that one for support, though.
Okay, yes, technically this item isn't a health item, but it gives both Armor and MR, so I don't feel right tossing it into one or other. And it's effect is awesome on a bruiser, as well. As hard as you (hopefully) were to kill the first time, you spend five seconds untargetable while (again, hopefully) your team is continuing to fight, distracting the enemies and allowing you to resurrect, meaning you have to be killed AGAIN by a team that is now likely short members and below optimum, with abilities on cooldown and low health/mana. A good item overall if you're feeling okay on health but feel like you're being focused a little hard. Or if you just want to be a nightmare in a game where you're steamrolling.
Usually a jungle only item, but it can give you a little more presence over objective monsters and it's especially useful if you have non-tenacity boots. It's got a lot of generally good defensive stats, but if I were top lane, I'd only get it in very specific (and unusual) situations.
Okay, if you're getting this item, this is a wierd match. But, it's not really a -bad- choice, per se. If your team is largely physical damage, let's say Ashe- Janna bot, a tanky mid like Ryze (Yes, Ryze is tanky) or Galio, and maybe Tiger Udyr jungling, and Janna has Runic Bulwark, Locket of the Iron Solari, Shard of True Ice, and Shurelya's Reverie, then picking this up may help your team more than getting an item that impacts just you. VERY situational, though, again I'd REALLY try to have a support get it instead.
AGAINST AD - ARMOR
Okay, I recently realized that this is the answer to all the prayers from ability-based brusiers. Built out of Sheen and Glacial Shroud, it's base stats include a substantial amount of Armor, Mana, CDR, and some AP, which is meh on Vi but useful for other bruisers. But, what makes this item fit so well into Vi's kit is the modified sheen proc. Now, after activating an ability (which should be happening quite often), your next auto attack deals 125% of your base AD to all surrounding enemies and creates a zone that lasts for 3 seconds and slows enemies inside by 35%, with a 2 second internal cooldown. So, it's got mana to use more abilities, CDR to let you use them (and charge Excessive Force) faster, armor to survive, splash damage AND an AoE slow. I feel like they designed this item with Vi in mind, considering it being a glove and all. But, jokes aside, it's a great item and should be looked at first as an answer to AD.
This item got a slight nerf a while back to balance it out, but I find it's still pretty beneficial in certain builds. With a decent bit of crit and a lot of armor, it's a good idea to take this with the crit masteries instead of the bonus CDR, but the difference certainly isn't gamebreaking. With its passive, this works best on a fairly tanky Vi, Triforce + TBC + Atmog's or TBC + Fratmog's instead of the higher-burst build I have outlined above. A good item to keep in mind if you find yourself tanking more than bursting and disrupting.
Here's where we start getting into the more tank-only items, but they still have their uses from time to time. With a lot of armor, health, a slowing passive AND AoE slow active, this is a great item if, right as your ult ends, the enemies all turn to focus you down. Each time they autoattack you, they get an AS and MS reduction, and if you activate the item, a much heavier slow is applied in a radius around you, lasting longer for every 100 armor and MR you have. Works exponentially better in a straight tank build, but has its place on Vi in some games.
More of a counter to ADC's than anything else, the odds of you getting this in conjunction with either Iceborn Gauntlet or Randuin's Omen is small. It has some Mana, CDR, and a bunch of armor, which are all good on Vi, but they're also on the other items built with those components. It's unique passive is that all enemies within 1000 range has their AS slowed 20%, which is applied after all of their internal and item bonuses. ADCs hurt a LOT less with this, but otherwise this is best left for an outright tank.
This isn't seen terribly often on most champions (Barring Amumu, Renekton, etc.) but if you'd like a little more health and some more armor and you're down to one last slot, this might be what you'd like. I'd probably still go Randuin's, but the passive damage aura is nice for Vi, considering she's an initiator and likes to stick to her kill target.
Hah. Ha ha. If you have this, either your bot lane was a pair of turds, or you're straight tank Vi, not that the latter is a bad thing. Like Zeke's, if the game is REALLY wierd, like you have a Galio with FroHeart and a jungler with Randuins, this might be useful to follow initiations with, because then if someone (with this item, hopefully the ADC) is wailing on you, they're slowly chipping away at their own health too. It's nothing but a massive armor boost and partial damage reflect, but once in a blue moon it may help.
AGAINST AP - MAGIC RESIST
This thing does SO much, and all of it is good to Vi. First off, it's base stats include a whopping 55 AD and 36 Magic Resist, which isn't bad considering its components. However, it's two passives are what make it a standout item for bruisers. First, you gain 1 AD for every 2.5% health your missing. On the verge of death, it's granting 40 extra AD on top of the 55 it already gives you, but, more realistically, let's use 25% health. It's currently granting 30 AD from this passive. Now, consider that a bruiser at 25% health is going to see a lot more benefit than a glass cannon at 25% health, because on a straight AD build, 25% may be around 400-500. On a bruiser with, let's say a flat 3000 hp, though, 25% is 750, in addition to the fact that they likely have much higher resistances than a glass cannon. And then, as if that isn't good enough, magic damage that would bring you below 30% activates a 400 magic damage shield, which factors in MR, before dealing that damage (90s CD). So much awesome. First pick for magic-heavy teams in my opinion. Plus as a bonus, Hexdrinker is also built out of cheap Tier 1 pieces, so it's entirely feasible to grab that super early for lane, and save Maw until later.
This is a fun, new item designed to give an upgrade to Quicksilver Sash and make the item see more use. By itself, it gives 60 AD and 45 MR, but the active makes it invaluable against CC, Debuff or DoT based teams. Usable under any circumstance (minus being on CD), it immediately removes all negative effects on your character (including Ignite and Exhaust, if I'm not mistaken), which is good in and of itself, but if you are melee, you also receive a 1 second, 50% speed boost to help close the gap. Another really good pick that I'm going to do a little more testing with.
A pretty standard item since Season One, it's seen many reworks, but always been the same general concept. It gives a little hp and mana, some MR, and a shield that stops one ability from doing anything at all. This can absolutely demolish combo based champions, like Brand, Ryze or Malzahar, but if they're smart they also know how to modify their combo to compensate. The newest version's shield does not reset until you have not received champion damage for 25 seconds, so know that it won't reappear during a team fight. Still, it's not a bad item to take in certain situations.
This item is... gimmicky. I've seen it on a lot of other builds (along with Zephyr, though I'm less fond of that style) so I'll throw it in as a possible alternative on mine as well. It's very powerful on bruisers with on-hit abilities, like Vi or Irelia, as it grants a lot of attack speed and a decent bit of MR. It is also an on-hit effect itself, dealing 32 magic damage and adding a stacking buff of 5 MR up to 4 times, so in a team fight it can really make a noticable difference on both your damage and survivability. Still, I think I'd rather take another item over it. It gets an honorable mention, though.
Tips and Tricks
Vault Breaker applies Denting Blows to all units hit, including the champion that stops you. Use this to set up a quick proc to get an immediate attack speed bonus.
Vault Breaker can be used to for more than just attacking. You can dash through almost any wall on the map, escape with it, or reposition to either dodge a gank/ability or better position yourself for your own, however, it has a considerably large cooldown at lower levels. Keep this in mind as you decide the best course of action.
Excessive Force resets your autoattack timer, and thus on-hit abilities as well. Use it immediately after an attack for maximum effectiveness by squeezing two attacks into a tiny window.
During fights around Baron or Dragon, try to aim Excessive Force's cone at the monster if your opponents are closer to them than your teammates. Early on especially, they can pump out quite a bit of extra damage if the other team doesn't notice, and it may just help you win the fight and secure their own demise. Just be attentive that the other team doesn't try to turn and burst it down to spite you.
Your ult Assault and Battery CAN be used defensively if you find yourself caught out of position, or ganked during lane. Try to find the safest route away from where you are now, then ult the enemy closest to that area, using the farthest if there are multiple enemies in that direction. Your immunity to CC and reposition to their opposite side open up a chance to use a quick, partially charged Q to escape harm's way.
That was a freaking long guide. But hopefully, you either got whatever information you came here looking for, or learned something you didn't know you didn't know while reading! I really enjoyed writing this guide and actually learned a lot myself from the database. If anyone has questions, comments, typos, information, tips, etc. drop a comment or a PM and I'll answer or add it in and credit you! I don't claim to know everything about the game, and I want the community to help me as much as I'd like to help the community. Please though I'm sure this is in vain no trollvotes just because I don't use your item build, or it's a long guide. If you don't like something I posted or the guide as a whole, that's fine and it's your right to downvote, but I'd really appreciate it if you at least told me why in a comment or message. I can't fix something if I don't know what's wrong! D:
That's it for the guide though! Now, get back onto the Fields of Justice and start pounding away!