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Varus Build Guide by xTheUnlimited

ADC [9.6] Varus ADC - Give me a target

ADC [9.6] Varus ADC - Give me a target

Updated on March 21, 2019
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League of Legends Build Guide Author xTheUnlimited Build Guide By xTheUnlimited 1138 54 2,838,606 Views 31 Comments
1138 54 2,838,606 Views 31 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author xTheUnlimited Varus Build Guide By xTheUnlimited Updated on March 21, 2019
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Lethal Tempo
Legend: Alacrity
Coup de Grace

Absolute Focus
Gathering Storm

+10% Attack Speed
+10 Adaptive (6 AD or 10 AP)
+5 Armor


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Heal


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None

- Table of Contents -

I'm xTheUnlimited (EUW) and I've been playing League of Legends since 2011. I've mained ADC since the end of season 7 and I've developed a special liking for Varus. I'm living in Germany, so as you read you may notice that my English isn't perfect, but I'm working on it! This guide is my collected experience as a S7-S8 Plat ADC main playing against high Plat / low Diamond players.

Varus is a pretty solid ADC since the start of season 8. I did play him a lot and was pretty successful with it. He's still a good ADC after a couple of patches and that's why I want to present him to you.


+ High auto attack range
+ Strong / Bully Lane
+ Good Damage all over in the game
+ Healing reduction
+ Mixed, On-Hit Damage
+ Destroys Tanks

Varus has an auto attack range of 575 what is higher than the range of most of the other ADC's. Through that and through his poke his laning phase isn't bad at all. With his Hail of Arrows you can reduce the healing of the enemy. Throuhg his On-Hit based build he is dealing mixed damage and destroys tanks pretty easy. I also think he is dealing pretty solid damage all over the game.

- Outscaled by Crit in Late
- Susceptible to CC
- Low Mobility
- Lot of skill shots in his kit

Even though he has lot of Pros, he surely has some Cons too. Because of his On-Hit based build he won't build any Crit items (most of the time) and gets outscaled by other Crit ADC's in late game. Also due to his low mobility he is very suspectible to any CC, even more when his summoners are down. Also you might need some practice on him, because almost every spell is a skillshot.


Well, Precision is literally the best rune path for Varus. It provides really good rune options while it supports Varus kit really well. I could not think of another option for a main tree for Varus right now.

Lethal Tempo
This is your keystone rune. Lethal Tempo will provide you with a huge amount of attack speed. Since you are going to build up for On-Hit damage, Press the Attack isnt really needed to shredd tanks. You rather want to get off more auto attacks.

Triumph is always a good option, on actually everybody. The heal you get after you kill somebody can save your life and power you up if you have to continue the fight after killing somebody. Also the other options are not really viable on Varus anymore.

Legend: Alacrity
Out of the other 2 options, Legend: Alacrity is the best choice here. It gives you attack speed per Legend Stack and you want a lot of attack speed. Also you cant use Tenacity or Lifesteal as good as you can use attack speed. You mostly build one lifesteal item and if you are struggling with a lot of CC you can just buy Mercury's Treads.

Coup de Grace
Again, in case of dealing damage this is the best option. Going for Cut Down will not benefit you until late game and you mostly buy Lord Dominik's Regards so this rune wont pay off. Last Stand is not really made for an ADC, because it'll give you more damage when you are low life, but you dont want to lose health at all.


Sorcery is your second tree. This rune path allows you to gain more offensive strength through the runes you can choose here.

Absolute focus
Absolute Focus buffs your AD and AP if you are above 70% Health. I know this seems pretty greedy, but since Celerity got changed (wont buff your AD and AP anymore) it isn't viable anymore. Absolute Focus is the best alternative right now.

Gathering Storm
Gathering Storm gives you bonus AD every 10 minutes. Since you are an ADC that scales pretty well into the game and benefits from a long game, this rune helps you to scale even better into late game.

Row 1 For the first Row I'd choose the extra attack speed to compensate the amount of attack speed you actually got from choosing Precision as your main rune tree.

Row 2 Here I'd choose the Bonus 6 AD to compensate the amount of AD you got from choosing Sorcery as your second tree.

Row 3 The last thing I choose is more armor. This also is a method to gain more sustain in lane and to stay healthier to keep my Absolute Focus buff. The other options in this row aren't really viable at all.

Second tree options

Domination isn't a bad option. The choices here aren't bad either, but I think to go Domination is a bit more offensive than Sorcery. Here I would go for Taste of Blood to get even more sustain in Lane. The other rune I would go for is Zombie Ward to get vision for a longer time. What bothers me a bit is, that except for Taste of Blood I can't seem to use the choices of runes in this tree very well.

Resolve is a really defensive option as your second tree. I would only go for that, if you are seeking a really hard lane or if the enemy team is full with assassins. To prevent them from one-shotting you, I would defenitly choose Bone Plating due to the reduction of damage after you took damage. If you are just thinking about some extra reistance, Conditioning is also a good coice. Now there are 2 "OK" choices you can pick your second rune in this tree from : Demolish for more pushing power or Revitalize if you are having a support, that can heal you up a lot (e.g. Soraka).

Inspiration isn't a solid choice these days anymore, in my opinion. Well, to go with Inspiration gives you some utility. I would decide first for Magical Footwear. That will give you free-enhanced boots at minute 10. With that you are getting a little gold lead, but since Varus needs boots early duo to his low mobiilty you have to play very defensive till minute 10. The other choice would be Biscuit Delivery, just to get more sustain in lane.


Flash is a must have on every ADC. It gives you a good possibility to save yourself from ganks, assassins jumping on to you or just dangerous situations in general. Also you can re-position yourself in Teamfights with it. You can also use it in an offensive way to flash forward to get a kill. 300 seconds is a pretty high cooldown though, so you I would be really patient with the use of it and not try to waste it. But dont be too patient - If you need to use it, you need to use it.

Heal is also core for almost every ADC. Again, you can use it in a defensive way to heal you up to not die from burst damage or other sources. Also you can save your support with it if he gets low, you can prevent him from dying with the use of this summoner spell. I rarely use it in an aggressive way, but you can do this. You simply just want the movement speed you get from it to chase an enemy.

Starting items

You start with Doran's Blade and one Health Potion. If the enemy has high poke you can also start defensive with a Doran's Shield.

First back

Rich back

You actually want to get a Vampiric Scepter and Boots at your first recall. You'll have a lot of early sustain in lane and some bonus AD. You can also buy a Recurve Bow in combination with Boots if you enough cash for it.
Poor back

This can happen against lanes that have a lot of pressure towards your or if you get into a bad spot and get killed early. A wise choice here is a Cull. It will allow you to farm up and get back some gold over time. Also you have a little more sustain with it.


This is the offensive decision out of these 3 Boots. You want to get Berserker's Greaves when you are ahead, wanna DPS a lot or just looking to reach the attack speed cap (2.5) faster. Notice that you dont really need these boots if you have a supporter that buys Ardent Censer. Not my favorite choice on Varus. I do not buy them really often.

That is a defensive option. You want to buy Ninja Tabis when you are having a really hard lane and you need to block some damage from the other ADC or if they are having 2 or more AD assassins (like Zed and Rengar). Even though you are only blocking a little of the amount of damage they deal to you, that amount might keep you alive.

Another defensive option. Varus does not have a high mobility, so a lot of CC is pretty much a nightmare for him. These boots might help you against a lot of CC (like Leona), because of the passive, which is reducing all CC effets towards you by 30%. These boots are a must-have against an enemy team that has a high amount of CC.

Core items

Blade of the Ruined King is your first core item to complete. Even though you wont have the huge Powerspike you would have with Guinsoo's Rageblade as your first item, it's building path is way more comfortable. Also you'll get AD, lifesteal and some attack speed plus the passive, that will allow you to shredd tanks pretty easy. The active of it is pretty useful too.

Guinsoo's Rageblade will allow you to deal a great amount of damage while you are also getting more attack speed with every attack (passive stacks up to 6 times). Since you are doing mixed damage you can use both stats from it, AP, AD, armor and magic penetration, very well. A must-have on him. It's really expensive tho and takes a bit to finish it, that's why you want it as your second item.

Runaan's Hurricane is your third item to get on Varus. The really nice thing about Runaan's Hurricane is the passive. It allows you to spread your massive On-Hit damage on to a lot of enemies, so it gives you the chance to deal AOE-Damage. Also a great choice to build. You wont really use the Crit chance of it, except you are building Infinity Edge after it.

Good offensive options

Infinity Edge
Infinity Edge is also a pretty offensive option for Varus. Also notice that you only should buy Infinity Edge when you bought Runaan's Hurricane before. Otherwise you will have almost no chance for critical strikes. If you got these 2 items tho, they work really well. This is an item you buy, when you are looking to do alot of damage.

The Bloodthirster
I would buy Bloodthirster if Im really ahead. This item will give you a good amount of AD, lifesteal and also a really nice passive. It is also really really expensive, so you should look to buy this when you are ahead. You get a lot of sustain through it and through the passive it can prevent you from taking damage.

Wit's End
Wit's End used to be a core choice of me on Varus. It is pretty cheap, allows you to shredd tanks with it's passive that decreases the enemies magic resist per hit, and gives you, obviously, some attack speed. Thesedays It's just not fitting in that great anymore so I cant recommend it anymore. It is still and option if you are behind and cant afford one of Varus other Core options.

Mortal Reminder
Mortal Reminder is one of the 2 standard armor penetration items for an ADC. Besides the fact that it gives you a really good amount of armor penetration and some AD, the passive is also really useful. In a combination with Runaan's Hurricane you can counter AOE-Heals for the enemy through champions like Soraka.

Lord Dominik's Regards
Lord Dominik's Regards is the second standard armor penetration item for an ADC. It gives you a really good amount of armor penetration and some AD, 10% more armor penetration as you get from Mortal Reminder. So, it helps you to deal more damage against tanks. I buy this item pretty often.

Good defensive options

Frozen mallet
Frozen Mallet is a really nice choice for you if you struggle to keep tanks away from you. It slows the person being attacked by 20% (Earlier on it was more). It also gives you some AD and a lot of Health. That helps you to be a bit more tanky and stay alive for a longer time.

Mercurial Scimitar
Mercurial Scimitar is one of my favorite items, general for all ADC's. You can use all stats of it, the AD, the lifesteal and the little amount of magic resist. But what makes this item really good compared to other items is, the active: Removes all debuffs from you and grants you some movement speed. That is really great since you have your Flash just every 5 minutes ready to flash away from hard CC like Glacial Prison. With this item and some good reactions you can just clear the CC and run away. Always a pretty nice choice even though the mecanic with the active needs a bit of practice. If you are really struggling with a lot of CC you can just build Quicksilver Sash early on and upgrade it later.

Guardian Angel
Guardian Angel is one another popular defensive choice as an item for an ADC. It will prevent you from getting one-shotted by assassins like Rengar and gives you a ''second life''. It also gives you some AD and a bit of armor you can use. You should also buy a Stopwatch and use the one-time-effect of it before you upgrade it into a Guardian Angel. Good choice against heavy AD damage.

Maw of Malmortius
Maw of Malmortius is a good choice if you are struggling against a lot of incoming magic damage you cant handle. Since the stats, some AD, magic resistance and even CDR, you get a really nice passive, which gives you a shield if you take a lot of magic damage in a short period of time. This passive you can already get by Hexdrinker so if you have early magic damage problem you can go for a Hexdrinker and upgrade it later on. Good choice against heavy AP damage.

Example AD On-Hit build

AP On-Hit Build

As Guinsoo's Rageblade is still his first core item, I won't make some explanations on it, because I already did before. You build that, to stack up a lot of Ap and deal mostly Ap damage with your auto attacks. The Ap On-Hit build supports your Chain of Corruption and Blighted Quiver damage really well since they both scale on AP.

UPDATE Patch 8.18: I am not building the Ap On-Hit build any longer. The main reason for this is, that going for Guinsoo's Rageblade as your first item just takes too long to finally complete the item and to reach your first powerspike of the game. I still want to mention it though.

Sorcerer's Shoes
These boots are almost a must-have for that build. Magic penetration is pretty important for that build since it is made to deal a lot of magic damage per auto attack - So magic penetration helps you to shredd the magic resist of the enemy.

Nashor's Tooth
Nashor's Tooth is your second item to get after you finished Guinsoo's Rageblade. It gives you some Attack Speed, AP and some Cooldown reduction. The great thing for Varus is the passive. His auto attacks deal bonus magic damage per auto attack. And the more AP you get, the more MAGIC damage your auto attacks deal.

Rabadon's Deathcap
Rabadon's Deathcap is a pretty needed choice for that Ap build. It gives you a lot of AP, what supports your bonus magic On-hit damage from Blighted Quiver and Nashor's Tooth and it supports the damage from your ultimate, Chain of Corruption.

Void Staff
Void Staff is just needed to get even more magic penetration. It also stacks some Ap you can convert into good damage. Pretty solid option, but you can also swap this one out for a more defensive option if needed.

Zhonya's Hourglass
Zhonya's Hourglass rounds up your build pretty well. Some armor, Ap and a brilliant active, which allows you to avoid getting one-shotted by assassins like Rengar. Also a more defensive choice but if you are going an Ap way, you should choose Zhonya's Hourglass defenitly for your build.

Example AP On-Hit build

As for most ADC's, the most important damage factor are their auto attacks, and for Varus they are too. Even though, there is a useful rotation of your spells you should know about. It's pretty much the main thing on how to use his spells, to do the most DPS:

Most DPS Combo

You start of with 3 auto attacks. Then, your Guinsoo's Rageblade is half stacked, but your Blighted Quiver is fully stacked. Then you want to get your Piercing Arrow on to the enemy. Note, that you should not hold your Piercing Arrow for a long time there, because you would lose damage if you are running around for a couple of seconds charging your Piercing Arrow. So just give it a little charge. After that you can quickly follow with your Chain of Corruption to snare the enemy and keep him in his place. Note that Chain of Corruption will instantly give the enemy 3 Blighted Quiver stacks. You should use your Hail of Arrows now. After that you should sneak in 3 more auto attacks to stack your Blighted Quiver again. If you have it at 3 stacks again, you can use your Piercing Arrow again to get the extra damage from your Blighted Quiver stacks.

Another good thing to know about him is, that a pretty nice combo is, to cast your Piercing Arrow at the enemy while your auto attack on to him is flying. So, your Piercing Arrow will arrive almost at the same time as your auto attack. This might needs some practice, but it isn't that hard to learn.

In general Varus is a solid ADC in lane. He is to me kind of a poke-bully matchup towards other ADC's. Even though he has his own playstyle, a lot of how to play him in lane is decided by the support you will get:

Defensive Support

In case you will get a defensive support (example Janna), you will try to mostly farm up and maybe even pressure the enemy a bit through pushing the waves towards their tower and make them lose farm. You should also poke the enemy with your strong auto attacks. Not that it is important to play safe if you have a defensive support, because if you get killed you can fall out of game easy.
Aggressive Support

If you get a more aggressive support, you will try to follow up on his engages. Note that you have no engage move and you can't just jump in like Tristana with her Rocket Jump. So you should just walk up, if you are already 6 you should also ult the enemy you want to catch, and try to DPS as much as possible. There will be more explained in the Combo section down below.
Poke Support

The last case that could appear is, that you will get a poke support. Here as ADC it is mostly the same: You let them do their job. You farm up while they are trying to harrass the enemy ADC with their poke. You can also help them to poke with your Piercing Arrow and your Hail of Arrows. Important here is, that you shouldnt ignore safe CS for just poking the enemy ADC.

More important facts for laning

In Lane, you should make use of your good auto attack range (575) and just bully the enemy ADC and Support with a couple of auto attacks. Your auto attacks deal strong damage from Lvl 2 on, because of your Blighted Quiver passive. You should also make use of your poke damage. So you can bully the enemy even harder if you fire a quick Hail of Arrows or Piercing Arrow after you auto attacked them, because it will use the stacks from Blighted Quiver to deal bonus damage.

If you win the lane really hard keep in mind there is one rotation you can do to snowball a game: If you get your Bot lane tower you swap with Top. There you take the Top tower. Then you get together with your Jungler to kill the Herald. You use the Herald to destroy the Tier 1 Mid Tower.

You also should keep the poke-kill-sustain triangle in mind. If you dont know what it is, here is a quick explanation to it. It literally describes the 3 types of a Botlane and tells you, which one counters which one. So remember: Poke beats Kill, Kill beats Sustain and Sustain beats Poke. That's just a little reminder for you for the Champ select.


As the game goes on you will stack items. So, in late game you will have a bunch of items and with that comes a lot of attack speed, since that is mainly what you are building for. You are one of the main damage dealers for your team so you should stay alive as long as possible while DPS-ing a lot. For that you should learn how to kite properly, since that is what you mainly do in Teamfights. In Teamfights you mainly try to kite everybody who wants to kill you. And since youre an ADC, there will allways be someone. Your Chain of Corruption will help you to keep enemies away from you, because it is a good opportunity to snare somebody and re-position.

Farming out of lane

As ADC I think it is pretty important to never stop farming. At the point you will stop to farm the game will go out of your hands. And you dont really want that. So, you should get the feeling for when your team needs you or not. In late game there is a lot of grouping and just shoving lanes in and out while 5 people are mid. You can use these spots to go to a side lane and keep your farm up and generate some gold you would not have gotten, if you stood mid. For that it is important to know when to go back to your team since the enemy can see you on the minimap, take advantage and fight your team in a 4v5 spot.

I might give you a little information of what this section is about. Since Riot is planning to make a big patch and a small one by turns, there will be a lot of changes in the game coming up. This section is here to explain changes on Varus or changes, which directly effect Varus in his playstyle. I will also explain, how they effect Varus and how to react to these specific changes. Some Patches probably wont be mentioned in this section. That means, that this Patch didn't influence Varus playstyle in any (direct) way. This section will also just mention the last 3 important patches for Varus, simply because it would be too long if I would mention every patch.

Patch 8.17

Varus got nerfed directly. Fortunately it wasn't a damage nerf. Due to his long-range poke damage, Riot thought he had to be an easier target to kill. His Base Health got decreased by 50 from 549 to 499. As trade-off they increased his Health growth by 3, so he'll get that Health back with leveling up.

Patch 8.23

Preseason is here aaand Guinsoo's Rageblade got updated again. First of all it's cost got lowered from 3300 gold ⇒ 3100 gold. The On-hit damage is back at flat 15. It no longer grants bonus attack damage and AP per stack BUT now grants 6.5-15% (lv 1-18) total armor and magic penetration.
Since it's cost got lowered and the on-hit damage got switched back to flat 15, you'll reach your powerspike earlier and do more damage once you've completed the item. In my opinion they nerfed the scaling of this item and put it back to base values like armor and mr pen. These stats aren't bad for you, I mean you can use them. But percentage AD and AP per stack lead to more damage on Varus.

Also Celerity got changed. It now only grants a bonus of 8% for movespeed bonuses and the adaptive force got removed. Since that isn't a great choice anymore, because it wont lead to any extra damage, you should go with Absolute Focus instead. Rune trees lost their predeterminded buffs. In exchange to that, you can choose 3 little buffs by yourself. These are named and explained at the Runes section and at the beginning of the guide.

Patch 8.24b

After the Guinsoo's Rageblade change in 8.23 his winrate decreased dramaticly (I think it was -2.1%). Looks like Riot reacted to that: They increased his Chain of Corruption damage on rank 1 and 2. It has still the same damage at rank 3 and the same scaling though.
Also his Blighted Quiver empowered damage got highered at later ranks. Not the best buffs - but buffs for him. I guess this will bring him back a bit.

All in all I would like to thank you first for reading till this point of the guide. I hope you like it ! If you have any questions and / or feedback just let me know in the comment section. I would really like to discuss or share my thoughts on Varus there :). I also wish you the best luck on mastering Varus and I hope I could help you with my guide.

Also I would like to specially thank Jovy for designing the Banners and the dividers and jhoijhoi for designing the Table of Contents and the "Back to the Top" picture.

,,A positive score is good, a positive mindset even better" - xTheUnlimited
League of Legends Build Guide Author xTheUnlimited
xTheUnlimited Varus Guide
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