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[Updated 6.10] Pantheon Top - YouTube Videos Included!
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Threats & Synergies
This matchup is incredibly tough if the Rumble is even semi-decent. This is a farm lane only. Harass with Q only when it's safe, but pretty much hunker down and farm. Gank other lanes as soon as you hit 6.
Where I attempt to play this guide for you.
Pantheon is a fairly easy champion to master, he's incredibly strong in the early game and his ganking potential, if used properly, can steamroll games. If I am warding well, I would honestly say I win my lane 75-80% of the time. You can too!
I will wait in this bush (assuming my team doesn't need a leash in our jungle, or fear of an invade of our blue/red).
BEST CASE: I am waiting for the enemy champ to face check the bush where I will auto - Q - auto - retreat a little ways. If they follow, I will auto - Q - auto again and retreat a little further, popping a potion if needed during the engage. You will win this trade almost every time if done right. Retreat to the next bush, where they need to face check it again to see you. Works almost every time.
SECOND BEST CASE: They don't face check it, but they wander aimlessly by you along with their minion wave. Chuck a spear at them and run to your minions. Establish that you are about to become their nightmare early.
WORST CASE: They simply don't show. No big deal, ping to your team that they are probably leashing top (so they know gank bottom is probably coming) and just prep the lane.
PREP THE LANE: What do I mean by this. You never want to be behind. You want to hit level 2 first if possible, but you don't want the lane pushing hard towards the turret. You just want it to push softly, so by the time you hit level 4, you are under their turret.
How to do this: Depending on the clearing capabilities of your opponent, and how aggressive they are being, this can be very difficult to describe, but let me try.
Pantheon does not have great wave clear. Once he gets his E (level 4 by my recommendation), he has a decent waveclear, but definitely weaker than a lot of champs. So, knowing that you won't have any significant wave clear until level 4, you need to read your enemy closely.
If they are whacking away at your minions, whack away at his more ferociously. Remember you are tossing spears whenever you can really. If you simply cannot keep up with their clearing speed, harass with auto attacks on them, and back off. There won't be much you can do in this situation.
Most times, you can control the minion wave. There aren't many champs that can control it better than you (mainly because of your spear harass, they will usually back off). So you are hitting each level first hopefully, all while chunking them with spears when you can.
Rule #1) Watch your mana. You will run mana heavy. It's why I tell you to take blue mana runes as well as the mana regen mastery (selectively against matchups that require greater sustain - See the masteries section).
Rule #2) Although Pantheon is a lane bully, you usually don't want to stand toe-to-toe with the enemy champion early. You need to master the auto - Q - auto combo and then back out.
Rule #3) Your passive is your friend. Use it to your advantage. Be aware when it's up and when it's not. A lot of times, if the enemy jumps on you, you want to WAIT until you see the word "blocked" pop up before you W and refresh your shield. Don't be a dumby and waste a free block (if you W when your shield is already up, you've done yourself a great disservice and could have cost yourself a death rather than a kill, HUGE SWING).
Rule #4) Know your power spikes and which levels are better for what. Master the Auto - Q - Auto maneuver and use it wisely in trades. Make sure to lose minion aggro ASAP after.
FIRST AND FOREMOST: Learn to use your corrupting potion. Use it at the beginning of trades that you know you're going to take damage. Don't waste the charges, you will need all 3 if you want to be diamond. You will need to use it efficiently!
Level 1: You want to be focusing on harassing. Auto - Q - Auto then back out and get rid of minion aggro (either in a bush or running far). Your ignite is very weak at level 1, don't be looking for a kill unless it's handed to you.
Level 2: Continue the Auto - Q - Auto harass, use W ONLY if you are sure you can get the kill or if they are engaging on you. Wasting W in any other situation will burn mana and the CD.
Level 3: Your spear just became a nightmare. If they are close, Auto - Q - Auto, but otherwise, just Q. No need to take trade damage at this stage, especially if you are ahead! They will likely be in a very defensive position at this point.
Level 4: HERE IS YOUR SPIKE! Be prepared to all-in if you've been winning lane, especially if they are still level 3. Wait for your opportunity and Q - W - E - Ignite - Q. Don't be afraid to tower dive and flash out. If you can successfully kill your opponent and survive it, you have just won your lane. Congratulations.
Level 5: Your spear just became a horrendous nightmare. It will start to chunk your opponent. Look for the kill if you didn't get it at level 4.
Level 6: If you haven't backed yet, go back and buy. At this point your lane opponent likely just got another combat skill, whereas you've received a "ganking skill". This very likely could turn the power in the lane if you're not careful. Immediately look to either mid or bot lane to gank, whichever is easiest and with the least escapes. Ult a lane before returning top. Take the kill if you can. You're about to carry this game.
Post Level 6: Pantheon is an early game champion. You WILL fall off. The only way to delay the fall off and remain a force is to keep racking up kills, assists and farm. As I said, you can only DELAY the fall off. It will come. Your job is to snowball the game and end it in less than 40 minutes. After 40 minutes will require teamwork and well placed teamfights.
Every time your ult is up, you should be looking to gank mid or bot lane. After you ult return top and push it hard. Take the T1 tower as soon as you can, DON'T DIE, rinse and repeat.
WARDS WARDS WARDS WARDS
You should always have a pink ward on the map. No exception. I don't care. No exception. I usually place my ward in the bushes near mid. I'll put it in the top bush if I'm afraid of getting ganked, but mostly I'll use my trinket wards for that. Wards win games whether you want to believe it or not.
Your job now is to do as much damage as you can in the mid and bot lane. Your laning opponent is likely still in lane, farming and pushing your tower. Keep a watchful eye on it, don't give him a free tower, but don't babysit the lane anymore, your steamrolling presence is required elsewhere. Push the top lane hard to give yourself some time, harass the top laner and knock him out of lane if you can, then roam.
Look for normal bush ganks in the mid and bot. Use your ultimate whenever it is up and gank gank gank. Take all towers in the first tier and maintain solid control over the dragon and map with wards.
Once the enemy's first tier of towers are down, it's now time to group. Force your team to group. Use chat if needed, but get those free-spirited jungle/lane loving bronzies together. PING, IDC get them together in the mid.
Hopefully the chaos you reigned in the other lanes has one or two of the enemy team still farming a lane. That's great. You're prepared to lose a tower at this stage. With your teammates together, watch the minimap non-stop. As SOON as you see one or more of the enemy team in the top or bottom lane, and they have no way of helping the mid lane, it's your time to shine. Place your ultimate slightly behind any mid enemy champs and ping like mad. Get your team in there. You've guaranteed a 4v5 or 3v5 which you will almost certainly win. You can even place your ultimate at the T2 tower if your team is strong enough to siege and wipe the defenders. Use this situationally.
From here, you need to use your game prowess to win. You should have a sizeable lead, and you can 1v1 any champ on the map. Continue to look for favorable matchups and take objectives. Maintain map and dragon control and the Win should come quick. Try your best to end before 40 minutes, but don't play dumb in an attempt to. Even if the game goes the 12-inning distance, you aren't worthless. You can still do damage.
So you've lost. You likely will lose any 1v1 at this point to the top lane opponent. There are 2 situations:
1) The top lane opponent continues to push top lane hard.
2) The top lane opponent starts to roam around the map.
Situation 1) You have to try to defend your T2 tower. Don't give it to him for free. Ping for assistance if you're afraid they can tower dive you and live. If they are pushed all the way to the T2, it should be a pretty easy gank.
Push waves whenever you can safely, keep wards in your tribush and near your red/blue so that you can see if they are trying to kill you. Once you have the lane pushed a little ways, look for a gank mid or bot. Frankly, this is the ONLY way you're getting back into this game. Even though you lost your lane, if you can 2v1 the mid lane or 3v2 the bot lane, you're still going to make a nice impact. If you are able to pickup a kill or two by ganking, feel free to continue to build damage. If you cannot, start building the tanky way.
Situation 2: The top laner is roaming and trying to make an impact all over the map. In this situation, push the top lane as hard as you can. Get the minion wave to crash into the top tower. If you see the top lane and jungle on the minimap, and it's not efficient to run down there to help, push and take the tower.
If you have no vision of the top laner or jungle, and the minion wave is beginning to crash into the tower, back off and look for an ultimate gank. If no gank is present, farm the jungle and try your best to become relevant again.
Rinse and Repeat. Hopefully you can comeback from your poor start.
Sorcery: Most of the damage you will be doing will be through abilities. There aren't many occasions you will rely on your auto-attacks to do much damage. Therefore, take this mastery to add 2% more skill damage.
Double-Edged Sword: The build presented in this tutorial is assassin in nature. Your goal is to kill before being killed. With this strategy, it is effective to take +3% in trade for taking 1.5% more damage.
Natural Talent: I don't have a huge case for taking this mastery, outside of the small damage increase. If you find taking the lifesteal is better for your play-style, I wouldn't fight against that choice.
Bounty Hunter over Oppressor: I like Bounty Hunter with the play style I have described. If you are constantly roaming and ulting other lanes, you can pretty easily rack up a couple kills in the other lanes. Usually, by end game, you will have killed all 5 of the enemy team, thus giving you 5% more damage. This can HELP curb pantheon's fall off, slightly...Additionally, Oppressor only works when your opponent is stunned, slowed, etc. So random spears will gain no additional damage unless the champ is affected. Another reason I like the Bounty Hunter. That damage is applied at all times.
Wanderer: I don't have a huge reason for this, other than to get back to lane quicker (no TP). If you find the other mastery suits your play style more, I wouldn't fight you.
Assassin: You will mostly be on an island up top. The extra 2% damage is nice during the laning phase. It will obviously become worthless once team fighting begins. You can Secret Stash instead which will help with mana issues. It's a tough call on this one, but I lean towards Assassin.
Merciless: This is another tough choice. I often switch this mastery depending on the matchup. If I am going against a champion that will require a LOT of sustain (Garen, Nasus, etc), I will typically go Meditation. If I'm going against burst champions (Riven, Darius, Renekton, etc) I will go with Merciless to help me get that early kill.
Dangerous Game: This mastery will obviously help with surviving dives and other DoT effects after a fight.
Intelligence: 45% CDR is the goal of this build. Pantheon's damage is almost completely skill based. Getting nearly 50% of your cooldowns reduced is HUGE to tossing more spears. Additionally, your ultimate will be up every team fight, you'll always be ready.
Thunderlords: No matter how many times Riot attempts to equal out the capstone masteries, I still think Thunderlords is the way to go on many champs, and especially Pantheon. I've seen Deathfire on him in some builds, but I like the Intelligence - Thunderlord build better.
Armor Yellows: Continuing with the above strategy, having armor early will help you win trades against the typical AD top laners (Riven, Renekton, Darius, etc).
Flat Mana Blues: This is where I get a bit of criticism for my build, and honestly, I'm not confident this is the absolute best. I have found it helps me sustain a bit more in the early game. After the blue potion removal, I found Pantheon struggled (with my strategy) with mana issues. This was a solution I have used that has helped quite a bit. There have been some comments regarding whether mana regen would be better. I don't think it would, but I'm always open to opinions and personal studies.
Here is my take (This is in response to a comment):
9 Mana Blues = 101 Mana
9 Mana Regen Blues = 2.97/5 sec regen (I won't get into scaling, my build is all about early win)
Therefore, in the regen blues, we are recovering .594 mana per second. It would take 170 seconds, or almost 3 minutes, to generate the 101 mana that I am getting from the mana blues.
3 minutes is a pretty long time in terms of trading with the enemy, etc. I would much rather have the safety of having the mana instantly, than run the risk of needing the mana at the 2 minute mark, but just not regen it yet. If that makes any sense. In other words, I believe the "break even point" isn't advantageous for the regen runes. It would only help trades and interactions lasting longer than 3 minutes, which I suppose could happen with tankier top laners, like Garen or Shen. I would say use regen runes situationally, against tankier top laners...If at all.
Ignite: This is my personal preference. My strategy is to get a kill early and snowball the rest of the game. Ignite is perfect for this. Additionally, my build gets me to 45% CDR, so my ultimate is up almost all of the time post level 11. With Homeguards on everyone at minute 20, I feel that I can get to most battles in time without needed teleport (Obviously I cannot get to a bot lane fight immediately, that is the trade off).
Teleport: I don't typically take teleport, as my strategy is to win my lane and THEN win other people's lanes. The obvious problem with my strategy is that I need competent players that don't get themselves in incredible trouble early. A lot can be avoided, a lot can't...I take the luck of the draw on this one.
Boots of Lucidity: I think these are the best choice for Pantheon. They give 10% CDR which gets us to the 45% cap, plus it reduces the cooldown on flash and ignite which is awesome. Add the blue enhancement and I feel like I can flash every-other teamfight! You can propose to add a different boot to my build, but then you'd have to change something else to get to 45% CDR. I think this is the best.
Death's Dance: The last piece in the 45% CDR puzzle. I typically get this item third, after boots and BC. Sometimes, situationally dependent, I may only get Warhammer for the CDR, and then rush a Maw or Last Whisperer if there is a champ on the field that is ruining my life.
Maw: I love this item on Panth. It gives me the MR to survive (if only 2 seconds longer) in teamfights with the shield and MR. NOTE: My current recommended build does not have MR blue runes. So this comes in handy against heavy AP teams and AP top-laners. Consider rushing this item if you are against a lissandra, lulu, heimer, etc top laner.
Lord D's Last Whisperer: Continuing with the "kill before being killed" strategy, this is the perfect item for Pantheon. The build I have recommended makes you one of the "squishier" champs on the field, playing perfectly into this item's hand. Situationally: Get the other last whisperer for champions that heal a lot (Darius, Nasus, Mundo, etc).
LAST ITEM: Depending on which last whisperer you bought (see above for exceptions to Lord D's), you either go Deadman's Plate or Guardian Angel. If you went with Lord D's, go with Guardian Angel. This item will keep your health "low" to get the full effect of Lord D's, while giving you a second life when you die. Go with Deadman's plate if you went with the opposite Last Whisperer, as health is no longer a concern. The more the better. Either Deadman's Plate or Guardian Angel will give you the armor that the rest of the build lacks.
YOUR GOAL: You are an assassin. You cannot survive long under fire. If you drop into the middle of a 5-man teamfight, and all of the enemy's skills are still up, you will be dead in less than a second. You need your teammates to initiate the fight (or at least be there for your drop). If you get assassinated before doing much damage, you are almost guaranteeing your team to lose that fight.