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Soraka, Guardian of the Top Lane [Updated for v7.24]
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Threats & Synergies
In my opinion, this is one of your easiest matchups. Your silence prevents his ability to combo, and healing from your Q negates most of his poke.
Darius is very susceptible to being kited. Even if he pulls you, you can still E + Q and walk away.
Provided you can hit him with Q, he shouldn't be able to do much until he gets a few items.
Jayce is a skill matchup that just keeps getting harder and harder. It's winnable, but you need to be good.
I don't have much experience in this matchup, but he just heals through your poke and can all in you relatively safely once he hits level 3.
Very winnable matchup, but very unforgiving of mistakes. You need to hit your Q every single time.
You win until she buys a Sheen. After that, she does too much damage for you to manage.
The matchup is highly dependent on how competent the Riven player is. A mediocre Riven is fairly easy to beat if you predict their play patterns. Good Rivens will stomp you.
Same as Riven, but Fiora is much easier to play.
You always need to be careful when playing against Illaoi, regardless of what champ you play. Soraka tends to win most all-ins pre 6. Post 6, just stay out of her ult.
He's slow, immobile, and somewhat item dependent. Unless he gets an advantage, just keep poking him off of the minions. Just do not push in against him, and don't let him freeze.
You need to heavily change your build, but you can easily beat him. Rush Executioner's Calling, then Bramble Vest.
The answer to that question is that there's a good chance that multiple people on the enemy team would also ask that question. Soraka's been a healer for most of her existence in league, and as such she's very prone to being underestimated. She can hold her own against many meta top laners, and she even easily beats a few.
That's not why you're playing Soraka, though. You play Soraka top lane to keep the enemy top laner from being relevant in the game. As a ranged champion, you can easily poke the enemy laner and deny CS.
Arcane Comet is also a viable option, as Starcall's slow will generally allow the comet to hit as well, increasing your poke damage. I still think Summon Aery is generally better, in that it provides more constant damage and can't miss.
The Ultimate Hat: Come on, why choose anything else? Wish is tilting as is, and having an even lower cooldown makes it even worse.
Celerity and Transcendence are both very viable options, but I tend to favor Celerity. Salvation's bonus movement speed can mean a massive burst of bonus AP if manipulated well. Transcendence is alright if you plan to overcap on CDR.
Scorch seems to be the most useful in the 4th row when it comes to Sorcery. The extra burn damage is fairly strong on bullies, and Soraka doesn't roam enough to make Waterwalking useful. Gathering Storm may also be useful, considering Soraka's good scaling.
As for the secondary path, Resolve is a good choice, considering that Revitalize is basically the new version of Windspeaker's Blessing . Demolish also seems good, since you'll tend to be either pushing in or forcing the enemy laner to recall a lot of the time.
The domination tree is also quite good, as it offers Zombie Ward and Ghost Poro for additional vision, and Ingenious Hunter which provides a considerable amount of CDR for active-dependent builds.
In the Inspiration tree, we have a few options: Perfect Timing is alright if you plan to be using a Stopwatch item, and it can come in handy in questionable situations. Future's Market can be useful if you want to speed up your early item power spikes, and Approach Velocity is useful for chasing to get the last few hits for an early kill.
On your first back, you'll want to get Chalice of Harmony, as you'll more often than not be rushing Athene's Unholy Grail. Most of the time, getting an item to help with your matchup isn't worth delaying Grail. The reason you're rushing Grail is that its Blood Charge passive makes it the single best early game healing buff.
Situationally, such as against burst champions, Rod of Ages is a considerable option for survivability, plus it gives a considerable amount of AP for your abilities. RoA can also be useful if you end up against a tank, since you won't be able to kill them most of the time, and you'll just want to focus on your mid to late game healing. It also allows for the activation of Warmog's Armor much earlier in the game.
After Grail, I generally go for Redemption or Locket of the Iron Solari. I tend to favor Redemption due to the heal/shield power.
After that, your build options become much more situational:
Banshee's Veil/ Zhonya's Hourglass is good if you need to avoid being picked off. Banshee's is good against CC and burst; Zhonya's is better against divers
Spirit Visage for when you need MR, and Banshee's Veil's passive isn't particularly useful
Warmog's Armor is a great late game item for when you just need to be a healbot
Stopwatch items other than Zhonya's are occasionally useful against divers. Guardian Angel against assassins; Gargoyle Stoneplate if you're just desperate to stay alive
Swap Athene's Unholy Grail for Mikael's Blessing late game. Athene's becomes much less useful as Soraka loses her ability to poke safely.
As for boots, Sorcerer's Shoes are good if you're ahead. Otherwise, I generally prefer Ninja Tabi or Mercury's Treads, depending on the enemy team.
You'll want to level up Equinox second, and generally max it last. Equinox does a considerable amount of damage at good range with a nearly instantaneous cast.
Max Astral Infusion second, but don't level it up until you actually need to heal someone. In lane, this skill is 100% useless.
As always, level up Wish whenever possible.
Ignite will generally be your second summoner spell. Soraka is a strong lane bully, and Ignite can help to secure an early first blood.
Exhaust I normally take against some of the more questionable matchups, notably Tryndamere, Garen, Riven, Fiora, etc. If you know you can't 1v1, Exhaust is a good choice.
Cleanse is a niche spell against champions whose CC will most likely mean your death ( Nasus, for example.)
I never take Teleport. It's never useful for getting back to lane, your gank potential is very limited, and Ignite is more useful most of the time.
✔️ Starcall's consistent damage, healing, and CC on a 5 second base CD are very strong in a solo lane, and if your opponent is melee, it's downright oppressive early on
✔️ Soraka's build is very inexpensive, so she can purchase her core items relatively fast
✔️ Soraka is very good at preventing carry laners and juggernauts from being relevant in the mid game
✔️ Level 2 is a very strong power spike for Soraka, and it can easily get you an early kill if you can snare your lane opponent
✔️ Due to constant poking from Q, you have a very good chance of winning a 1v2 if the enemy jungler ganks early on
✔️ Many people, even good players, have a tendency to underestimate Soraka's base damage, and it adds up fast if you consistently hit with Starcall
❌ CONS ❌
❌ Soraka is very vulnerable to hard CC due to her lack of mobility and low base health
❌ Soraka isn't a tank, and if you don't have a tank elsewhere, your team may suffer
❌ Soraka's strengths are nullified against hard tanks; they'll still be tanky mid and late game
❌ Soraka is very weak against most strong early game junglers unless you have an advantage
❌ Soraka can't deal with high mobility champs very well due to her skill shot reliance
❌ At the end of the day, Soraka is a support and needs to group with her team to be useful, leaving your team lacking a split pusher
Overall, this guide isn't made for competitive players. It's meant to share one of my more favorite ways to break up the monotony of playing top lane all the time.