S12 TOP LANE VOLIBEAR CARRY GUIDE BY VERIKUKKO
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Runes: Standard Lethal Tempo
+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Ability Order Max W vs melee champs
Threats & Synergies
If the Aatrox player plays well and doesn't make big mistakes, then Volibear can get poked out of lane and find it very hard to ever reach Aatrox for an all-in. You pretty much just have to hope for Aatrox to make a mistake where we can find an all-in window to kill him and get a lead.
The hardest counter pick for Volibear, Jax's E just absolutely destroys Volibear cause it completely blocks our Q and W. Against Jax, I recommend building VERY tanky, cause our best chance of winning fights is to not take too much free damage during his E. Consider banning Jax or dodging this matchup.
Top lane Vayne isn't a problem for Volibear at all, Volibear is quite good at chasing her down and killing her over and over. However, a bot lane Vayne who survives the laning phase with a good amount of gold into mid game teamfights is a nightmare for Volibear.
Big counter to Volibear, similar to Aatrox in that she can poke us a lot but it's very hard to all-in her. Start with D Shield and Second Wind to try to sustain her poke, not a bad idea to dodge this matchup either.
Volibear is one of the biggest counters to Mordekaiser, no matter what you do you will pretty much always win him in 1v1:s, inside and outside of his R.
Super easy matchup, he wins all-ins levels 1-2 but Volibear is stronger levels 3-18. You can try to time your R to predict and dodge his R, but it doesn't matter much cause the matchup is so good for Voli.
As a rule of thumb, Volibear wins every 1v1 against Garen from level 1 to 18. Try to combo your EQW ability rotation before his silence lands (Garens Q has a bit of cast time) but it doesn't matter much if you fail the combo cause you probably win every trade anyways.
Volibear is one of the strongest counters to Camille. Camilles kit is just poor for trading against Volibears EQW combo. And she can't farm safely from range.
As a rule of thumb, every tank matchup is super easy for Volibear. Volibear is very strong at both trading against Ornn and all-inning him, at every stage of the game.
Volibear beats Trundle in trades past level 3, but play levels 1-2 safe and don't let him chunk you.
Overall a very easy matchup. If you get an EQW combo on him before he uses his stun, you can back off by abusing the slow from our E and the lingering MS boost from our Q and win short trades quite hard. Also, Renekton is very weak in level 1 so try to look for all-ins with a Q start. Don't have to kill him level 1, it's already a win if we chunk a lot of his HP like this.
Generally, you don't have to worry about his R too much in this matchup, you can win 1v2s as long as you hit your R. And pre level 6, nothing can go wrong, you auto-win every trade.
I often get free level 1 First Bloods in this matchup, cause Urgot players often try to all-in with E start level 1, but as long as Voli has Lethal Tempo and Q start, you always win those. In post level 6 all-ins, try to dodge his E with your R, but often it's not a big deal if you don't succeed, cause Volibear is very strong at all-inning Urgot.
Champion Build Guide
Volibear is a tanky high damage bruiser with more mechanical and strategical depth than it might seem like from the outside. As a top laner, he is a very snowbally pick and his single biggest strength is his ability to turret dive the opposing top laner from full HP.
If you enjoy playing for solokills in laning phase and don't mind the snowbally nature of his kit, I recommend trying the bear.
Disclaimer: nothing in this guide applies to Volibear jungle, jungle bear is a completely different pick with different strengths/weaknessess and builds.
However, to compensate for all this, Volibear has all around absolutely nutty scalings. His Q has a staggering 220% AD scaling, his Empowered W has a 150% AD scaling with 9%/16% Health scalings for the damage and healing respectively, while his R is a 250% AD nuclear bomb. To top it all of, Volibear has one of the highest (if not the highest?) base AS ratios in the game, which every source of bonus AS multiplies.
So all in all, Volibear benefits massively from having an item lead over his opponents, he uses every point of Health, AD, AH and AS that you gain from items extremely efficiently. A Volibear with an item lead is a one-man-army with very high damage and very high tankiness.
This is why it's very important to focus on getting an item lead when playing as Volibear, there are two main ways of achieving this:
1. Solokills in lane. Volibear can turn small leads into big leads by turret diving his opponent over and over with his ultimate.
2. Splitfarming. If laning phase doesn't go well, the plan B in mid game is to power farm side lane minion waves and jungle camps until we get that lead. You should generally avoid grouping in mid game if you don't have a lead, it's better to have your team lose fights 4v5 while you are farming, than losing the same fights 5v5 cause you are useless.
This is Volibears most standard trading combo for laning phase. Place E on top of your opponent, then Q them in place. The Q prevents us from taking damage before we get our shield, it stuns them in place so that our E lands and the MS boost from it always remains for the full 4 sec duration, even after we have used the empowered attack. Lastly, use your W before disengaging. For most melee top laners, it's very hard to trade against this.
Standard turret dive combo:
When going for turret dives, we almost always want to mark the opponent with our W first, then drop the turret aggro before committing for an E+Q+R full dive combo. Note that we almost always want to combo our Q and R like this, the stun from Q makes the damage from R undodgeable.
W does not draw minion aggro:
Volibears W is a single target ability, however unlike every other such ability in the game, it does not draw minion aggro at all, ever. Use this to prep free W marks even in the middle of a minion wave.
Excellent items for Voli top
On Volibear, CDR boots have a massively higher WR than other boot options. You should almost never buy any other boots. Only consider Tabis/Mercs if the enemy team truly has an extraordinarily high concentration of autoattack-damage or CC, respectively.
Black Cleaver is always the single best performing item on Volibear, on every patch. CDR, HP and AD are all super valuable stats for the bear.
Sunfire Cape is my personal favorite mythic item for Volibear right now, but Trinity Force and Frostfire Gauntlet are also solid options. Sunfire Cape deals a lot of damage and is definitely the strongest item for winning 1v2 and 1v3 fights. Basically, it's the mythic item for Volibear with the highest solo carry potential.
Titanic Hydra doesn't give any Ability Haste, but other than that it's a fantastic late game item for Volibear. We gain HP from all our items, and on top of that the HP that we gain from our Ultimate is also counted as Bonus HP for Titanic Hydra. Notably this item also has great synergy with Lethal Tempo.
This item doesn't give any HP, however the active has a huge HP scaling so it fits our HP heavy builds very well. The shield in late game is so large that it's basically a Kayle R for teamfights, you can't really die through it.
"For bears, winter is one night."
The Fimbulwinter build listed in the items section is an alternative build to the standard one, it's the strongest scaling build for Volibear. Very strong in lategame but it takes a while to ramp up. Volibear has the 3rd highest level 18 mana pool in the game, only behind Ezreal and Kassadin. So he gets more HP and stronger shields from Fimbulwinter than pretty much any other champions, excluding Kassadin.
If you enjoy late game oriented picks/builds, I recommend doing the Fimbulwinter build. Make sure to combine it with the Fimbulwinter Runepage.
Awful items for Voli top
These are very weak items for Volibear with generally mediocre to awful winrates.
There are AP items that perform decently well on Voli, like Riftmaker, Cosmic Drive and Lich Bane, but stay far away from Nashors and Zhonias. Nashors Tooth is strictly worse than Blade of the Ruined King / Wits End. It literally is just a worse BOTRK, and we don't even buy a BOTRK.
Zhonias Hourglass generally doesn't have THE worst winratio among Volibears commonly bought items, but buying it absolutely ruins Volibears damage output and solo carry potential. You can combine a Zhonias Hourglass with Deaths Dance (Zhonias active can be used to remove DD:s bleed damage in teamfights) and be a squishy teamfight oriented utility champion that loses 1v1 against everything in a sidelane, but that build is not for solo carrying games.
Thornmail manages to be statistically the worst performing item (with a significant sample size) on Volibear, despite people treating it as a situational item against healing. People love buying anti-healing items for psychological reasons, humans can end up feeling helpless if they can't directly "counter" the opponents strategy in video games.
I heavily recommend against ever buying a Thornmail on top lane Volibear, that items winrates on Voli are so bad that you are pretty much intentionally losing at that point. So how do we "counter" enemy comps with a lot of healing? By having our own pro-active gameplan, Volibear is really strong when we stack a lot of HP and buy a Titanic Hydra on top of all that HP for a huge lategame power spike, or a Stoneplate for 2000+HP shields in teamfights. If we skip either one of those items for a Thornmail to "counter" the opponents healing, your brains might end up alleviating the stress level from not being able to counter the opponents strategy, but sadly Volibear will also be much weaker and you will end up losing more games in the long run.
This is not to say that Thornmail is a bad item, it's absolutely not. It performs completely fine on reactive tanks like Malphite, who don't have better proactive items to buy. But on Volibear, it's generally awful.
Basically it means that Volibear gets significantly more Attack speed from Attack speed Runes (and items) than other champs. There aren't really any good AS items for Volibear to abuse this, however we can get a ton of AS from Runes.
For this reason, Unflinching is a better option for Tenacity from Runes than Legend:Tenacity is, because we want to grab Legend:Alacrity for the juicy bonus Attack speed.
Lethal Tempo overall works really well with a tanky build, we live for a long time in fights which means that the uptime on our max stacked Lethal Tempo is high and we can milk a lot of damage out of it.
Lethal Tempo is also by far the strongest Keystone option for level 1, with Lethal Tempo and a Q start, Volibear wins most level 1 all-ins.
No matter which Runes you choose to run, always take the 10% AS Shard.
At level 1 against ranged champs, you should start with E and use the AOE damage+shield to farm as safely as possible. Usually against ranged champs you want start looking for all-ins after level 6 with your R.
Against melee champs, you can start with Q level 1. If the enemy is stronger in level 1 (like Tryndamere with a full rage bar) you can look for quick Auto+Q+Auto trades and disengage. Note that Volibears Q always gives its MS boost for the full 4 sec duration, even though the running animation ends after using up the empowered attack. This means that even in quick AA+Q combos we can still use the full MS steroid for safe disengaging or for chasing the opponent.
Against most melee top laners, Volibear is actually stronger in level 1 as long as you use Lethal Tempo. This means that we can use Q for sticking on the opponent for an all-in/extended trade and really chunk their health bar.
Volibears strongest power spike against melee champs in top lane is his level 3. Always take 1 point in every ability by level 3. His abilities don't get much stronger from leveling them further, however they are all quite strong at rank 1. Very few melee champions can win trades against a level 3 Volibear, try to force trades/allins at this point.
If your laning phase doesn't go well, focus on powerfarming side lane waves and jungle camps. It's always better to let your team 4v5 and have them lose fights, than to group and still lose the same fights 5v5. Volibear is very weak in teamfights without a gold lead. If you are behind in gold in mid game, you can get 3-shot by ADC autoattacks in teamfights without contributing anything to teamfights. So just focus on farming up gold.
Note that in teamfights, Volibear is not a tank, he is a bruiser. Your job is not to absorb damage for your teammates, but rather we build tanky items so that we can survive longer in fights to get more DPS out ourselves.