Neeko Build Guide by Vicksay
[10.21] Vicksy's Master Mid AP Neeko guideBy Vicksay | Updated on October 14, 2020
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Runes: Best runes after testing
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Champion Build Guide
My guide will be a work in progress while people start figuring out how Neeko works and sees if other rune or item combinations work on her, this is what I've personally found success with on the PBE. I will be streaming every single day playing Neeko to further expand my guide with new information.
+ Great burst damage
+ Great CC
+ Game-changing ultimate
+ Has high outplay potential
+ Decent waveclear
+ Great roamer/ganker
Neeko ability to be sneaky allows her to be a very effective ganker, confusing and surprising enemies with Inherent Glamour and Shapesplitter. Her ultimate has an extremely high AP ratio allowing her to oneshot most squishies - with a great ult and a perfect Tangle-Barbs, she can CC people for a maximum of almost 5 seconds! She has great waveclear making sure she can consistently pull off ganks.
- Very squishy
- No raw mobility
- Her ultimate can easily be countered
- Hard to hit skill shots
- Falls off when people get more items
- Short ranged
Since Neeko has no mobility and is naturally a very squishy champion, it can be hard to play her, because if you get caught out you're in trouble. Her spells without some set up are quite weak on their own, so she has quite a game-changing ultimate, and if she doesn't get off a good ultimate it'll be really hard. Her ultimate has a cast time, meaning it can easily be countered with summoner spells or items. Since she is a burst champion, she starts falling off the more defensive items people get.
Ignite in my opinion. Take this when the enemy team has very devastating CC that you need to stay safe from, especially from junglers like Elise. Rammus and Sejuani, mid laners such as Twisted Fate and Veigar, supports like Morgana or Braum, tanks such as Shen or Maokai, or marksmen such as Varus or Ashe. It only takes one powerful CC late game to blow you up and completely lose the game.
Keep in mind you do not have to take Cleanse versus only one champion that has CC, but if it's the enemy jungler or mid laner that has it along with it being unavoidable or easy to land, I highly recommend getting used to Cleanse and taking it.
Neeko achieve her goal - to blow up people in team fights with Pop Blossom and unleash devastating CC. She needs the Ignite for kill pressure and to help her get her items fast. Barrier and Heal are great on champions that want to survive laning phase and output fairly long range damage.
Viktor or a Cassiopeia that can use Ghost decently late game as they're mid range mages that have a lot of DPS instead of burst, which Neeko doesn't have either. Even on those champions I think it's a death wish to take a non-combat summoner in lane that isn't Teleport.
Neeko is a great user of Teleport - she can't really gank well with it as Teleporting behind 3 people is certainly a death wish. I also think her lane phase is decent enough to not rely on Teleport for her base timings, and she's also not a very good split pusher because she's too squishy and has unreliable 1v1 damage. She's a champion where combat summoners benefit her greatly to get her damage rolling and start unleashing devastating damage in team fights.
Sorcery (Main tree)
Manaflow Band is your next choice here, but you can honestly swap this out for Nullifying Orb if you feel like you're going to be bursted vs. a really high damage AP mid like LeBlanc. Unfortunately, Neeko does not work well with Nimbus Cloak - she gains the movement speed while her animation lifts her into the air - meaning half of the duration is wasted.
Gathering Storm is the final rune you'll be taking under the Sorcery tree. As Scorch got nerfed and Waterwalking is a lot better for junglers this is the last option you have. It doesn't do anything for the first 10 minutes, but if the game continues to 30 minutes you'll have a decent chunk of extra AP to help you close the game out, and Neeko's AP ratios are extremely high, making it even more worth it.
Domination (Secondary tree)
Ravenous Hunter will be the final rune you will take. A pretty strong rune that helps not only for laning but for late game, great for healing on a wave after being poked out but you need to stick around and not base. Great for combining with Taste of Blood for maximum healing.
Pretty much you want always want to be always maxing Blooming Burst > Tangle-Barbs > Shapesplitter, as I think one point in each of her abilities instead of putting 2 early points into Blooming Burst is more important, since Shapesplitter can help you survive from early ganks. And of course, putting a point into your ultimate Pop Blossom whenever possible at levels 6, 11 and 16. We max Tangle-Barbs second for the increased damage and CC duration.
Inherent Glamour is Neeko's passive. Neeko is offered a selection of allied champions to copy their appearance indefinitely. Once chosen, there is a 2.5 second delay before selecting another champion.
This is the ability that makes Neeko so sneaky! When copying a champion, you copy their champion model including any buffs they may have, voice lines, emotes, current health and secondary resource (such as mana, energy etc) - however you have to remember that her disguise breaks when you receive damage, and when casting Blooming Burst or Tangle-Barbs, and this puts it on a longer cooldown. You can combine this ability with Shapesplitter and Pop Blossom however for some crazy combos!
Blooming Burst is Neeko's bread and butter ability. Neeko propels a seed into a target area, which blooms after a delay dealing magic damage to enemies in its area.
If this ability kills an enemy unit, or damages an enemy champion or a large monster, it will bloom again after a short delay, dealing magic damage again, and this cannot happen more than twice per cast, allowing Blooming Burst to damage up to 3 times with reduced damage on the second and third hits. This spell is a great way to waveclear once you prepare the minions so it pops more than once. Another thing to remember is that this ability does break your Inherent Glamour.
Shapesplitter has both a passive and an active effect. For her passive, Neeko's every third auto attack deals bonus magic damage and grants her bonus movement speed for one second. A great thing to remember about this passive is you can stack it on minions before going in for a trade, similar to Twisted Fate's Stacked Deck, and her 3rd auto's animation is a lot faster AND not a projectile, meaning it can pass through Yasuo's Wind Wall - allowing you to surprise enemies.
The active portion of this ability makes Neeko stealth for 0.5 seconds, splitting Neeko into 2 models - one being a clone, which you control by aiming your cursor at the chosen location for the clone just before activating Shapesplitter. This spell works wonders when trying to gank a lane, you can cover multiple angles by splitting yourself in 2 and using the clone to force enemies to take a path right into the real you!
This is also a great defensive ability, especially when being dived on, allowing you to make getaways in scenarios where you otherwise wouldn't, and with enough practice at this champion you can use her clone to block skillshots that stop on the first champion hit, which is incredible!
Tangle-Barbs is Neeko's third ability. She slings a magical spiral in a target direction, dealing magic damage and rooting enemies for 0.5 seconds. It will root for longer vs. the last enemy champion hit, and you can continue to increase the root of Tangle-Barbs if it passes through 2 enemies, which also makes it faster and grows in size, and the root duration against the last enemy champion, when maxed, can go up to a whopping 3 seconds! A pretty amazing CC ability if you plan the set up for it, easily making one of the longest in the game.
Pop Blossom is Neeko's ultimate. Neeko begins charging over 1.25 seconds. She then shields herself, which is increased for each enemy champion nearby, and then leaps into the air for 0.75 seconds, and during that time enemies are slowed by 40%. Once she lands, Neeko unleashes energy, dealing massive magic damage to all enemies hit and stunning them for 1.25 seconds.
And here comes the ability that makes Neeko extremely satisfying! While this ability has a bit of set up to it, it's very worth it with an amazing 130% AP ratio on the damage portion, and a 50% AP ratio on the shield. If Neeko is camouflaged by Inherent Glamour, enemies won't see her initial 1.25 second channel, allowing you to close the cap to land your ultimate a lot easier. Disguising as the weakest champion on your team, or a melee champion that is not a threat until super close range is a great camouflage choice. You can use any ability while you're able to walk around, but she cannot once she descends in the air
Early game items
Refillable Potion is a great pick up when you have gone through the potions you bought when you started the game and you have 150 gold left over, as this makes sure you don't have to buy potions for the rest of the game because of the constant refill every time you base. However I would recommend against buying this past 15 minutes as it's more effective the earlier you buy it and a big problem mid laners have is filling up their item slots too quickly with buying Dark Seal, Doran's Ring, Boots of Speed etc. Also great combined with Dark Seal as the potion amp works on this too, not only singular potions.
The Dark Seal
Dark Seal is an amazing item, you pretty much should build this any game on any mid laner whenever you have 350 gold to spare - I'm honestly surprised that it hasn't been nerfed yet. It is 133% gold efficient without it's passive, the +25% healing from potions, and with no stacks which is INSANELY good. At 10 stacks, this item is worth around 1118 gold - reaching up to 319% gold efficiency! No other item beats this in terms of cost efficiency.
Control Wards win games - I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure you get these on the map early, they stay placed indefinitely, and if you're strong enough to protect them you can an insane amount of vision the entire game through it. Every time you have 75 gold on a base pick one of these up and place it around mid, in conjunction with your Warding Totem you can get a serious amount of vision around mid, which I think Neeko needs as she is very squishy and immobile. Also making sure that vision is cleared makes it so that she can use Inherent Glamour safely.
Luden's Echo will be the first big purchase almost always in your build. This is honestly one of the best items Neeko can have - it gives us a decent amount of AP, 20% cooldown reduction which is great for any mage that relies on spells, and a decent amount of mana to help her mana issues early on. On top of that, it gives you a nice passive that gives you a chunk of extra damage on top of your high laning poke and burst combo.
Sorcerer's Shoes are the best and most universal boots for mages. Neeko has a huge amount of burst damage when unleashing her combo, and these boots only help you amp that damage even further. Combined with these boots and Morellonomicon if you decide to purchase it, you can get 33 flat magic penetration, and that does almost true damage to most squishies that don't buy any magic resist, and helps cut magic resist that people will naturally buy versus you.
Rabadon's Deathcap should be our 2nd or 3rd big purchase. A great item if you're snowballing heavily. This is worth buying before Void Staff as long as the squishy targets don't have any magic resist, which is who you'll be prioritising with Pop Blossom, which has a HUGE 130% AP ratio, making Rabadon's Deathcap a must buy in most games. Definitely should be purchased before Void Staff unless the enemy team has magic resist on their squishier members or you simply cannot pass their frontline.
Morellonomicon is a really good purchase on Neeko. Not only does the spike in damage from completing Oblivion Orb is great early game because people most likely haven't built any magic resistance that early, combined with Sorcerer's Shoes you'll be doing a serious amount of burst damage, and it is also a great counter to healing, which a lot of mid laners have and this also includes bot laners taking Heal, meaning you can gank and cut a huge chunk of their healing which can easily lead to a kill. On top of that, Neeko is very close range when trying to get a good Pop Blossom off and she is naturally very squishy, the extra bit of health this item gives her allows her to play more upfront, and can help in a lot of lane matchups where it's whoever bursts the other first wins.
Void Staff, along with Rabadon's Deathcap, should be built almost every game. After it lost 10 AP and Rabadon's Deathcap got massively buffed, it's not a must have 3rd item if your enemy has small amounts of magic resist. Don't be afraid on skipping out on this altogether if the enemy team literally has ZERO magic resist. Your goal will always be to do more damage, so this should be picked up 100% of games where the enemy team has magic resist without question.
Zhonya's Hourglass is a great defensive item. You don't necessarily have to build this vs. only AD threats, it is a great counter to many AP mid laners because dodging damage is a lot better than just soaking slightly less damage. It completely negates abilities such as Syndra's Unleashed Power, Veigar's Primordial Burst and even Karthus' Requiem. I don't recommend getting this early on instead of your core items unless it's absolutely necessary (vs. Zed, Vi and others) as it doesn't offer much damage. With Neeko's kit, she has a tendency to get close to deal damage and she could be instantly popped without proper defensive items, and this is where Zhonya's comes in. Buying it later on in the game however is a great idea, as you'll already be dishing out tons of damage with a 3+ item build, and you just need something to keep you alive - a Zhonya's Hourglass can never go wrong.
Banshee's Veil is another great defensive item. Pick this up if you're afraid of an AP mid bursting you down constantly (like Fizz or LeBlanc), not only does this item have magic resistance but it has a spellshield that blocks a single ability, helping to disrupt champions that need to hit all of their spells too correctly kill someone. It's also REALLY good vs. champions that really rely on hitting their crowd control straight up even if they aren't in your lane, such as Sejuani, Elise, Blitzcrank, Zoe and more. A perfect pick up since Neeko has to be close range for her ultimate!
Hextech Protobelt-01 seems like a great item for Neeko as it gives her extra burst damage and an active item which helps her get in range of enemies, as it can be used once she first casts Pop Blossom before she jumps in the air. Offering CDR, AP and HP, it's pretty much every stat Neeko wants apart from mana, though I haven't tested this enough, as Hextech Protobelt-01 is usually a rush item but Neeko has mana problems. WIP!
Spellbinder seems like another great item on her but I have to go more vigorous testing. With a whopping 120 base AP, and gaining up to another 80 AP through the charges, it definitely sounds like it works wonders on her 130% AP ratio Pop Blossom, and it also gives her flat movement speed and up to a 50% movement speed steroid to close the gap!
A standard lane combo you should be aiming for is hitting a Tangle-Barbs through 2 minions before it reaches an enemy champion so you can gain the maximum root possible, followed by Blooming Burst - if you did the combo correctly Blooming Burst will tick 3 times during the root duration for maximum damage. You can also prepare your 3rd passive auto from Shapesplitter on minions before going for a trade with this combo for extra bonus damage. You should definitely be avoiding spamming your spells early before buying Lost Chapter as Neeko tends to run out of mana quickly in early laning.
After getting pieces to items, you can start to look for roams, which is quite easy to do thanks to her great waveclear. Disguise yourself using Inherent Glamour on your jungler to go for invades on the enemy jungler or to gank botlane - ganking botlane is the best lane because Neeko's abilities are AoE and most botlaner champions are squishy, unlike toplane.
Neeko has great waveclear, but is very susceptible to being repeatedly ganked over and over because she gets blown up quite easily, has no mobility, and because most of the time you'll be pushing to look for roams. Make sure to buy Control Wards whenever you have 75g and make sure your early Warding Totems are placed for maximum lane coverage. If you become fed early game, exchanging your trinket into an Oracle Lens can help you deceive people a lot easier as they won't be able to see your casting location of Inherent Glamour.
If you manage to push your laner out or even kill them and you're healthy enough to not base and/or you know where the enemy jungler is, you can do a lot of damage to the enemy mid's tower with Shapesplitters passive to take down some early tower plates for free gold - each plate is worth 160, and a kill with a good wave can lead to two quite easily. Since you're great at ganking you should be keeping an eye on these plates and looking for possible first blood tower/plate opportunities in other lanes too.
You should be standing on the edge of fights while looking for your opportunity to engage, a great 2-man Tangle-Barbs is great for pick offs and dancing around the edge of the fight throwing Blooming Bursts whenever you have the range. Unless you have no other engage or the enemy team can't burst you down first, I think it's very important to let your team mates fight it out first and also engage first, if you're playing with a champion that has great lockdown such as Camille or Vi your ultimate combined with these is a free kill.
Leading on from wanting to group with your team outside of laning phase - Neeko is not much a splitpusher. You want to get as much vision as possible with your team, and buy Control Wards to make your life easier. Denying vision is so important with Neeko to make sure her Inherent Glamour doesn't get discovered, that you should even look to sell your Doran's Ring late game to have a slot to purchase Control Wards, and make sure to use your Oracle Lens off cooldown.
I also have a highly rated Zoe guide which is also thoroughly in-depth, so if you like to play her or want to learn, feel free to check it out!