In a pool of so many other League of Legends champions, Vladimir manages to stand out quite a bit. Some know him for his disgusting, late-game, raid-boss mode. Others have painful memories of being one-shot by his Flash combo. For more still, his Sanguine Pool (W) incites frustration and bans in the draft phase.
Regardless, Vladimir is a powerful champion with distinct strengths. He can fit into nearly any team composition and has a legacy of being a reliable late-game carry. He’s playable in the top and mid lanes, but also in the bottom lane for those more adventurous.
As a result, Vladimir can appeal to everyone in some way. His relative safety in lane inevitably transitions to a mighty late-game that a skilled Vladimir player can easily dominate. He’s a champion with a reasonably easy kit at a glance, but requires a good deal of practice to excel at. If you’re ready to put in the time, Vladimir is a truly fantastic champion to learn!
Why play Vladimir?
There are pros and cons to playing Vladimir. Starting with the positives, as mentioned before, Vladimir boasts an incredible late-game. The AP scalings for his abilities are very good, while his Crimson Pact passive gives him a bunch of HP and AP. On top of all of that, his Hemoplague (R) gives a 10% damage amplification to all enemies hit. This perfect storm makes him a menace for the enemy team past the 25 minute mark.
But that isn’t the only reason to give the hemomancer a shot. Though his early game isn’t great by any means, it does offer decent safety. His Transfusion (Q) gives him healing every few seconds, while his W allows him to escape ganks or other life-threatening situations. Because of this, those who aren’t the best laners can smoothly get through that phase to where the champion thrives.
Compared to other League of Legends champions, Vladimir has surprising potential for versatility. But for consistency’s sake, Phase Rush runes with Inspiration as secondary is the best setup. Phase Rush is essential, as it gives you some sort of mobility, something that Vladimir’s kit lacks completely. Nimbus Cloak adds to that mobility somewhat, while the rest of the minor runes give additional scaling elements to the Crimson Reaper. Just to note, Transcendence and the 1-10% scaling CDR runes are crucial to take because they allow you to hit maximum CDR with only two CDR items. This allows you to spam heals and AOE damage when it’s most needed.
Some players may opt to take different runes. Domination with Taste of Blood and Ravenous Hunter is for more healing in the secondary tree, but the majority take Magical Footwear and Cosmic Insight for its stable benefits. Finally, it’s possible to disregard Phase Rush altogether and index fully on the early game with Electrocute. This shouldn’t be the go-to, but is useful for snowballing if you’re willing to risk the late-game tradeoffs, as Phase Rush runes provide much better late-game stats and mobility.
For Summoner Spells, Ignite is the most common choice in the mid lane. Besides giving you damage, it also helps you activate Phase Rush if your Q and/or E is on cooldown. It’s not always the best choice though, as Teleport is needed in the top lane for lane and map pressure. Ghost is another decent option when you’re against a long-range, safe mage or tank where you have little kill pressure. There’s not much reason to deviate from these three choices, though.
Vladimir’s item build is fairly straightforward. You can start out with Doran’s Shield or Doran’s Ring. The former is best for sustain, but the latter gives you better trading. From here, you build Fiendish Codex and Kindlegem, as they give you 20% CDR and set you up for almost 40% by level 10. As mentioned before, this CDR is invaluable.
At this point, you can choose to go either Hextech Protobelt or Spellbinder. It’s more a matter of preference, so be sure to try both. The next item is important, though. In most games, Vladimir should build Rabadon’s Deatchap second. This gives him a massive spike in AP and elevates him to a team fighting beast. The increase in damage and healing is very noticeable and crucial for Vladimir’s mid-game success.
After that, you can feel free to build items like Liandry’s Torment, Zhonya’s Hourglass, and Void Staff or Morellonomicon. Remember that magic penetration items are situational in League of Legends, so check the enemy team before picking them up as Vladimir or any other mage. For Spellbinder builders, the Kindlegem sitting in your inventory can be saved and built into a Spirit Visage 5th or 6th item.
Laning phase is definitely match-up dependant for Vladimir. As a ranged character, he has the ability to harass melee and short-ranged characters, but can be bullied quite hard himself. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t look to make all the flashy plays in the early game, or fight too much. The biggest priority is farming and reaching enough gold to grab your CDR items. Then, since you can’t be pushed out of lane easily, farm more.
Trading with enemy champions should ideally be done with Vladimir’s empowered Q. This negates a lot of damage you’ll take in the trade, and slaps your opponent pretty hard. Again, unless you’re comfortable with the champion, don’t feel pressured to take any unnecessary risks.
Along with this idea, lets talk roaming. Though this is more relevant in the mid lane, it certainly applies to top lane Vladimir as well. Unlike other meta champions, Vladimir is horrible at roaming to other lanes, or fighting in early skirmishes. Because of this, make sure you utilize missing and danger pings effectively. Don’t be afraid to spam ping, because if your lane opponent gets nothing off of roams, that free farm and XP you’re getting goes a long way.
Once in the mid-game, Vladimir comes online and turns into a proper League of Legends champion. Assuming you have your CDR items and a completed first item, the first objective is to get Deathcap ASAP. If you accomplish this before major team fights happen, you’d be a lot larger of a threat.
Though it’s never bad to keep farming as much as you can, you have more leeway to help your team at this point. Whether it’s in a middle lane team fight or Baron contest, a Vladimir with two items can and will do damage. Flanking is a great strategy to use at these times if possible, because Vladimir’s target should always be squishy champions on the backline. Sometimes it’s appropriate to peel, but you almost always want to be getting on their carries and killing them, or at least chunking them out and buying time for your team to do their damage.
The team fights are Vladimir’s favorite, but he is able to split push. It relies on your team being able to control the map pressure, but split pushing allows you more time to farm and get further ahead to unleash devastation when it truly matters.
The most important tip for new Vladimir players in League of Legends is to be patient when learning him. He has a high learning curve because of his weak early game and the importance of specific positioning in team fights.
There are some interesting ways his abilities work together, too. First, you can charge his Crimson Tides (E) then slip into your pool and charge it more, then pop it, but you can’t begin charging in your pool. Similarly, you can use the Hextech Protobelt active while in pool but not when charging E. This seems weird at first, but makes more sense and isn’t too hindering in-game with experience.
Vladimir has one important combo to learn: the Flash combo. It does a ton of burst damage and catches enemies by surprise a lot of the time. To do it, you need to start charging E, then Flash. As soon as you Flash, hit your R, then pop your E and follow it up with Q. Putting the R down before popping E is important, so you get the damage increase on E. After those abilities, use Ignite and/or Protobelt if need be. This isn’t easy to pull off at first, but with some practice, it becomes an essential tool that can single-handedly win games.
And that’s all! There’s a ton you’ll learn about matchups and more from playing, so get out there and make the rivers run red!