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[S4] Gangplank - Black Sheep of Bilgewater (Solo Top)
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Introduction: The Saltwater Scourge
This can be good or bad, as he can accomplish a lot with a good summoner, but may also accomplish nothing if the summoner does not know how to properly use him.
However, the style I will be specifically showcasing in this guide is a Bruiser/Fighter play style.
Either way, as the top laner, and the off-tank for your team, you will be in the front line, helping to lead the charge forward in engages with your AOE speed boost. As well as calling in the assault of global cannon-fire to block enemies off from running, or to cover your escape route.
- Free bonus gold income
- Free Heal & Cleanse (that can remove Suppression)
- Free Attack Damage & Movement Speed
- Steroid gives Attack Damage & Movement Speed to nearby allies
- Global AOE Ultimate with soft crowd control
- Lots of slowing effects
- Strong champion if you know what you're doing
- Extremely versatile (you can practically play him wherever and however you want)
- Very limited sources of damage
- No hard crowd control
- Useless champion if you don't know what you're doing
- Extremely versatile (with so many ways to play/build him, and nothing set in stone (like most ADCs), without decent knowledge and good judgement, you may play/build him incorrectly which could result badly)
Flash: Often you'll need this to Flash Q ) Parrrley someone, or get a quick burst of damage off to finish off a kill or to continue to chase them, or use it defensively as an escape tool.
NOTE: There aren't many other viable options, and you may not believe me so I will explain why (excluding the obvious summoner spells):
Barrier: There's nothing this would do for you that your W ( Remove Scurvy) wouldn't do better, especially if you're playing him as a bruiser/fighter.
Cleanse: Your W ( Remove Scurvy) is a Cleanse PLUS a heal.
Exhaust: You'll rarely get out dueled/traded. And if you do, the exhaust isn't going to make much of a difference then.
Ghost: You often won't have a difficult time keeping pace with enemies, as your passive ( Grog Soaked Blade) applies a stacking slow, which should make it easy in combination with your E's Passive ( Raise Morale) for the bonus movement speed to keep up. Only flash would be needed to follow up a chase if your target flashes/blinks/dashes over a wall.
Heal: You already have a heal in W ( Remove Scurvy) which is stronger than this spell.
Teleport: Taken for map presence, but you already have a global ultimate to help.
Seals: Armor - Because you're melee, you're a bruiser in top lane, and there's nothing better.
Glyphs: Flat Magic Resist - Not scaling, because you have scaling magic resist, and you'll be buying some magic resist too.
Quints: There are a few other viable options here (besides the Lifesteal shown), so I will showcase their pros and cons:
- Ability Power: In a difficult match up, this will actually significantly improve your multiple heals over time in lane, most notably early game. (Good against a ranged match up)
- Gold (2nd most viable option): With an innate ability for bonus gold income, and the fact that you'll be building a gold income item as well, this will help you get much more ahead in the early game, and will synergize with your other gold income sources to strengthen your mid to late game as you get stronger and better items quicker.
- Percentage Health: Won't hurt if you're looking to play it safe.
NOTE: Options you might have thought were viable, but really aren't that great:
- Attack Damage: Q ( Parrrley) makes it more than easy to last hit, and With AD boosts on E ( Raise Morale), 3 AD Quints for 6.75 AD becomes less noticeable and significant, so you'd be much better off with 6% lifesteal.
- Movement Speed: Unnecessary with built in movement speed on E ( Raise Morale) and likely that you'll be buying a movement speed enhancing item.
Offensive Tree: 2 Options - AD or AP
- The AD option is shown as to be more "standard", however, if you run AP Quints in your Runes knowing you'll have a hard time in lane, running points in AP here will drastically increase the strength of your heals even more. (Such as against a ranged match up)
- Feast taken to lighten the load ever so slightly on your mana when farming with Q ( Parrrley)
Defensive Tree: Standard defensive points taken.
- However I pick up Oppression because you'll almost always be applying slows to your target, thus you'll always take less damage.
- I also take Swiftness as Gangplank does rely on his movement speed more than champions like Renekton who simply uses two gap closers to get in range.
- Opted for Evasive because as the team's bruiser/fighter, you'll likely be taking a lot of AOE damage even if you're not the main target.
- Lack of points in Armor tree can be substituted by the fact that you'll have many heals in lane to make up for it.
- Tenacious is a unnecessary, but nothing better to take.
1. Max Q ( Parrrley): Increasing the damage for poke/harass, and increased gold gain when using it to farm.
2. Max W ( Remove Scurvy): Increases the amount of heal by a significant amount, helps a lot for lane sustain and survivability.
3. Max E ( Raise Morale): The bonus AD and Move speed for nearby allies is useless unless you have allies around, so it's not needed until later in the game.
NOTE: (Refer back to skill order at the beginning of this guide)
- I take a point in Q ( Parrrley) at Level 1 for poke/harass and to start farming up an advantage early.
- I then take a point in W ( Remove Scurvy), and place my Level 3 point here too, because you can usually expect a gank around level 2 or 3. By putting a second point here, it ensures your safety and survival should they get a good gank off, as it increases the heal amount by 70 HP. Much more useful than putting your Level 3 point in Q, which gives a damage increase of 25. This will also improve your chances of survival should an Ignite be thrown down on you during the gank, as the Level 2 Heal almost nullifies the Ignite damage.
- Stealth Ward to ward around the 2:35 mark, around when everyone hits level 2 or 3, and the jungler might plan to gank you. A real ward initially isn't needed as Gangplank can escape early ganks pretty easily, though it's recommended you buy wards after you recall and return to lane.
- Crystalline Flask is useful for the short run if you continually trade, and as you'll likely use Q ( Parrrley) a lot to farm and harass. As well, you won't have to worry about buying potions after your recall, and can still cast Q ( Parrrley) more freely.
- Mana Potion is more useful for Gangplank, because you have a built in heal, that by Rank 2 can match the healing from 1x Health Potion instantly plus additional effects. At 65 mana cost per heal, 1x Mana Potion will effectively serve as the equivalent of 2x Health Potion.
Optional Starts: (none of which I recommend because it brings down your health/mana potion count, which is what Gangplank heavily relies on early game)
- Cloth Armor: Decent start if you think you'll really be taking that much damage. (Plus 2x Health Potion and 3x Mana Potion)
- Elixir of Fortitude: Not the best, but not the worst start. It may work if you can pull off early aggressive play to get a kill or force summoner spells. (Plus 1x Health Potion and 2x Mana Potion)
- Long Sword: You trade lane sustain/survivability for offense/damage. Sacrificing a lot of defensive power, but if you think you can poke often and play it right, not a bad investment as it builds into items later for you. (Plus 1x Health Potion and 2x Mana Potion)
- Doran's Blade or Doran's Shield: Viable but risky. You'll only be able to afford 1x Mana Potion limiting your options and play incredibly, and might do more harm than good, forcing you to recall etc.
Main Core Items:
- Ninja Tabi: Probably the best choice, enhancing your armor and tankiness, especially since Mercury's Treads aren't as needed with your Remove Scurvy ability and Tenacious Mastery point.
- Avarice Blade: Your gold income item, to synergize with your innate bonus gold income. Builds into 1 of 2 items of your choosing in the future.
- Sheen applies onto your Q ( Parrrley) enhancing it's damage, providing more mana for you to spend, a bit of Ability Power for your Heal/Ultimate, and will further build into 1 of 2 items of your choosing.
- Spirit Visage greatly improves the strength of your heal. It is your only source of magic resist, and gives HP and 20% cooldown reduction which make it a solid item so you can cast more spells.
- Ravenous Hydra: This will enhance your poor wave clear, give you some AOE damage that you lack, some lifesteal is nice so you don't always have to use mana on heals, plus this item activates on your Q. More notably, when using the Active on Ravenous Hydra, remember to activate Raise Morale before you do, in order to obtain bonus AD for yourself, which amplifies the damage and effect of Ravenous Hydra
Situational Core Items:
Sheen builds into either:
- Trinity Force: Offensive option - Meant for dealing damage, keeping up with the enemy team, being more mobile yourself, and dealing more damage
- Iceborn Gauntlet: Defensive option - Meant for providing more slows (if your team is lacking in crowd control)
Avarice Blade builds into either:
- Atma's Impaler: Defensive option
- Statikk Shiv: Offensive option
Giant's Belt builds into either:
- Sunfire Aegis: Offensive option - Great item on Gangplank. With your Grog Soaked Blade passive slowing the enemy, it should allow you to constantly stay beside them and burn them with Sunfire Aegis damage, and the damage from your Grog Soaked Blade passive will further enhance your DPS, stacking with Sunfire Aegis. Also gives you very solid and much needed defensive stats too.
- Randuin's Omen: Defensive option - Prevents you from being chased down or kited easily (not that you'll need it with all your bonus movement speed), but it does provide extra durability over Sunfire Aegis if you really have to take on that tank role for your team.
Still viable, but would not recommend:
- Blade of the Ruined King: An uncommon choice over Ravenous Hydra but when facing a tanky team or looking to dive/assassinate their carries quicker, it can be permitted.
- Infinity Edge: Very uncommon for Bruiser/Fighter Gangplank, though still possible and viable. Brings immense damage at the downfall of being really expensive.
NOTE: You can see your set of core items are meant to each be built into a new item, each with two different builds path for offensive or defensive purposes. Also note the items are meant to be paired 1 Offensive item choice with 1 Defensive item choice. (As a Bruiser/Fighter, you never want to be going straight damage or straight tank, always a mix)
Set 1: Trinity Force (Offensive). Atma's Impaler (Defensive) - Overall a more offensive set
Set 2: Iceborn Gauntlet (Defensive), Statikk Shiv (Offensive) - Overall a more defensive set
- Each set should then be completed with either a Sunfire Aegis or Randuin's Omen for an Offensive or Defensive choice. Sunfire Aegis is recommended for obvious reasons, but should the bonus defense be needed, don't hesitate in picking Randuin's Omen instead.
What NOT to do:
- Pairing Trinity Force with Statikk Shiv would give you an abundance of movement speed you don't need, and too heavy a focus on damage for you to tank damage properly for your team.
- Pairing Iceborn Gauntlet with Atma's Impaler would give you great defensive stats, but lacking in damage and with no bonus movement speed aside from your Raise Morale Passive, makes it difficult for you to stick onto targets.
- Use Crystalline Flask charges before consumable potions
- Stay healthy, but it's better to have your heal ready to use for a fight/gank if you think one is coming soon (for the cleanse/crowd control removal effect). Don't hesitate to use health potions.
- When your heal is used, play a bit more cautiously until it is back up, as you will be vulnerable to ganks
With a heal, passive damage over time, and Q as an auto attack reset, it should be easy for you to win trades against the majority of champions. It is up to you whether you want to play the poke game, or the continual brawl game.
- It's safer to poke your opponent repeatedly and be annoying to try to push them out of lane, or get a kill on them.
- It's less safe to brawl with your opponent repeatedly (as you lose health and mana too, more than the poke strategy) However, this method is faster to push an opponent out of lane than just poking.
PAY ATTENTION TO WHEN YOUR TEAM MATES SPAM PINGS FOR YOU TO USE YOUR ULTIMATE WHERE THEY NEED YOU.
Your ultimate is a great engage or disengage tool. Use that to your advantage. Your ultimate is also great if the enemy team is doing dragon, you can drop your ultimate over them to slow them down, deal damage, and maybe steal dragon.
Remember to also use your E Raise Morale when engaging or disengaging to give your team that speed boost to catch up or get away.
Continually be aware of where kill opportunities may show up. You can always drop your ultimate on a guaranteed kill in another lane either to try and steal it, or to get a free assist. (E.g. Your bot lane is about to win a fight, drop your ultimate anyways, and you can earn 2 assists)
Your job is to tank damage and try to focus the enemy ADC, but sometimes there's too much damage to run through and you just need to target the tanks in front, that's not a problem, as you still provide protection for your team by slowing the enemy tanks and dealing damage. Melee the enemy tanks to slow them, but try to use your Q on the enemy back line carries if you can't reach them (as opposed to straight up running at them and dying). But in the end, you are better off attacking the enemy carries than attacking their tanks.
Always play the poke game first in late game, never the all-in hard engage unless your team is very ready for it and built around that playstyle. Poke down the enemy, and when they're low enough go for the kill.
If the enemy attemps Baron or Dragon and you want to challenge them, don't forget to use that ultimate as it grants vision and you can try to steal or slow down the enemy with that.
Your main objective should be to apply your slows onto the enemy carries, so your team can chase and catch up to them. Once again, if they have too much damage for you to run through, just hit the tanks and wear them down until your carries can take them apart. Gangplank can still peel efficiently with all his slows.
So when poking with Q, it is beneficial to make sure you have 100 charges for your Statikk Shiv so the next attack will activate the shock Passive for bonus damage, then use your Q on the enemy team, and the Statikk Shiv should chain through the enemy team.
Your poke should always be doing pretty good damage, so use that to your advantage to wither down your opponent before the fight starts. (While keeping yourself healthy with your heals).
This will also let you life steal from a safer range with Ravenous Hydra as you will be treated like a ranged ADC.
In the late game, you can always push side lanes by using your ultimate on a lane where no one is, to help get that lane pushing as you push others.
Example: Your whole team is pushing mid, but the bottom lane is pushing towards your side. You can drop your ultimate to farm those minions, and help push it back towards the enemy.
It's a lot to take in and learn, only because that's how he is. Even though he is an easy champion to learn, he's a much harder champion to do good with and play well. He requires decent knowledge of the game and good mastery of his kit. That being said, this guide is pretty long, even though I tried to keep it as concise as possible for the main points.
Learn to build/play according to the situation, and pick build paths to fit your needs.
GLHF PLAYING GANGPLANK :)