Vel’Koz Guide for Set 5

Vel’Koz Guide

Vel’Koz is one of the staple 4 cost AP carries of set 5. This guide will walk you through the items, positioning and transitions for this composition.

This is what the level 8 comp could look like:

This is one of many end game variations of the composition. The core of the comp is the 3 redeemed synergy with many of the other units able to be pivoted to suit lobby needs.

Leveling Pattern:

A typical game would look something like:

  • Level 4: 2-1 or 2-2 if you are strong and want to winstreak; otherwise, econ naturally level up
  • Level 5: 2-5 with 10 gold or on 3-1 if loss streaking.
  • Level 6: 3-2 with 30 gold, and roll if needed to stabilize from loss streak or to maintain winstreak. 
  • Level 7: 3-5 with 30 gold if winstreaking; otherwise, 4-1 and roll as needed
  • Level 8: 4-2 or 4-5 if still winstreaking or strong board (stay above 30); otherwise, 5-1 and all in again if you rolled down on 4-1 level 7
  • Level 9: If you have your 4 cost carries and frontline upgraded with reasonable hp and econ, (nothing left to roll for beside 5 costs or synergy units) econ and try to go 9.

Strengths

  1. Large variety of transitions and boards
  2. Flexible items because you don’t need perfect items to top 4.

Weaknesses 

  1. Positioning reliant in the late game
  2. Weak to Mystics and Knights
  3. Only one source of damage

Item Guide

Vel’Koz Items

Best in Slot Items:

  • Spear of Shojin [Tear + Sword]: This item helps Vel’Koz to ult in a timely fashion, enabling him to cast his ultimate in time to impact the fight. Also helps him to cast again faster if the first ult wasn’t enough.
  • [S] Sacrificial Gauntlet | Jeweled Gauntlet [Rod + Glove]: Sacrificial Gauntlet gives Vel’Koz a massive increase in damage, at a relatively low hp cost. Be careful of who you use to carry this item early game because frequent casters may kill themselves unless you have a sustain item in hand. While Jeweled Gauntlet is not as powerful as it’s shadow half, this item still packs a punch, serving to multiply all the AP Vel’Koz gets from his traits.
  • Hextech Gunblade: Healing helps Vel’Koz to heal back the damage the sacrificial gauntlet does, as well as helping to sustain through fights with the extra armor and MR from redeemed. If you are running the Abomination variant any of the damage items from the Substitution Category can replace this.

Substitute Items:

  • [S] Hand of Vengeance [Tear + Glove]: The damage and healing from this item are both utilized extremely well by Vel’Koz, and having both enabled help to mitigate the rng aspect of the normal version.
  • [S] Rabadon’s Caustic Deathcap | Rabadon’s Deathcap [Rod + Rod]: High Amounts of AP, not an ideal item but will serve if you cannot get a jeweled gauntlet of either type.
  • Blue Buff [Tear + Tear]: While not as good as Shojin, it still helps Vel’Koz cast faster and fulfil his role of mass destruction.
  • Infinity Edge [Sword + Glove]: Only build this if you have a Jeweled Gauntlet. The Shadow Variant of this item is not worth building at all.
  • Giant Slayer[Sword + Bow]: With more Warmogs being built and Mordekaiser being a popular unit, giant slayer can still be a situationally good pickup as a final item or a use of extra Swords and Bows.

Worst Case Scenario:

  • Guinsoo’s Rageblade [Rod + Bow]: The extra attack speed and mana gain associated with attack speed allows this item to serve as a last resort method to speed up Vel’Koz’s cast time. 
  • [S] Archangel’s Staff of Immortality | Archangel’s Staff [Rod + Tear]: Both of these items aren’t ideal, but both give good item stats and have effects that provide some benefit to Vel’Koz, allowing them to be serviceable as a last resort.

Frontline items:

  • [S] Fallen Guardian Angel | Guardian Angel [Sword + Chain]: This item is the one shadow item that does not use a Tear, Rod, or glove, However, it is extremely powerful on frontline units (especially Garen in the late game), so it is an acceptable pickup if you can immediately make the item.
  • [S] Gargoyle Stoneplate of Immortality | Gargoyle Stoneplate [Cloak + Chain]: The shadow version of stoneplate is a great item to save hp if you can make it from the 2-2 armory or stage 2 carousel and cannot get a Vel’Koz item. The normal Stoneplate is not as strong early but is still a solid use of less desirable components.
  • Redemption [Tear + Belt]: If you have extra Tears, this item is a great use of a Belt and helps to keep your frontline healthy, and the reduced damage from AOE spells is very useful in the mirror matchup.
  • ZZrot Portal [Belt + Bow]: This item helps to use up unwanted components in the comp and helps to provide more frontline for your Vel’Koz. If you build this item, you will likely want to consider the Abomination variant.
  • Titan’s Resolve [Bow + Chain]: This item helps to use up unwanted components in the comp and helps to provide more frontline for your Vel’Koz. Fairly good on Garen later on.
  • Warmog’s Armor [Belt + Belt]: Gives a large chunk of flat hp to a unit, synergizes well with the resists from redeemed.

Support Items

  • Zeke’s Herald [Sword + Belt]: If you have an excess of Swords, Zekes can be a good use of a Belt to help speed up Vel’Koz’s ult.
  • [S] Chalice of Malice | Chalice of power [Tear + Cloak]: This item and its shadow cousin both offer a massive amount of AP to power up your Vel’Koz. However, be wary of using your Tear for this if you do not have a spear of Shojin yet.
  • [S] Statikk Stiletto [Tear + Bow] | Statikk Shiv: This is a great item to save hp if you can make it from the 2-2 armory or stage 2 carousel and cannot get a Vel’Koz item. This item still has relevance later into the game with its magic shred.
  • [S] Sacrificial Redemption [Tear + Belt]: This item heals your whole team at the cost of the holder’s HP current. Since this item cannot kill a unit by itself it is good on backline units such as Lux. 
  • [S] Mor-evil-lonomicon | Morellonomicon [Rod + Belt]: While not a Vel’Koz item, anti-heal is valuable in the late game with users such as Garen and Volibear being great appliers of the item.
  • [S] Trickster’s Gloves | Thieves gloves [Glove + Glove]: This item is good to make when you come across an excess of gloves. Be sure to pay attention to the items you roll and adjust your unit accordingly (especially with Trickster’s gloves).
  • Zephyr [Tear + Cloak]: Disables the unit mirrored from the holder of the item from the fight for 5 seconds. [ignores QSS]
  • Shroud of Stillness [Glove + Chain]: Increases the mana of the first cast by 35% of enemies in a two-hex line from the holder.

Spatula Items

  • Redeemed Spat Spat + Cloak]: Makes running 6 redeemed a more viable end game rather than a mid-game transition, or allows you to hit your mid-game spike earlier. Taric | Garen are good holders.
  • Ironclad Spat [Spat + Chain]: Good tech into AD heavy lobbies. Does not matter who carries.
  • [S] Cavalier Spat [Spat + Chain]: Pairs well with Rell and is really strong on garen.
  • Spellweaver Spat [Spat + Rod]: Allows you to drop Zyra for another legendary unit in the late game or get spellweaver on 8.       

Carousel Priority

Early Game (Stage 1 and 2)

During the early game, we want to play the strongest board we can while making increments of 10 interest gold whenever possible. Here are some lvl 3-5 boards you could play on stage 2 depending on the units you find.

Redeemed opener: Legionnaire Variant

Both Aatrox and Leona can hold any tank items you slam early, and Kalista or Syndra can hold your Vel’Koz items. Adjust positioning so tank item holder is in front and carry item holder is in corner. The level 5 can be any Knight unit.

Redeemed opener: Ranger Variant

Vayne Thresh and Aatrox are swappable for any Ranger, Knight, or Redeemed unit here.

Renewer Opener:

Lissandra is a good item holder for Vel’Koz and can pair well with Vlad. The other units you run are very flexible with Morgana Leblanc for the coven bonus being very strong or two knight units being a viable alternative

Abom Opener:

The Spellweaver and brawler can be any unit. Brand one is really good when his spell has the time to tick down and kill units

Hellion Opener:

This board is very cheap and can either win if upgraded or kill units at 1 star; solid low gold opener. Can add any Knight or Cavalier at lvl 4/5 or play 5 Hellion on lvl 5.

Assassin Opener:

If you high roll, a Katarina during stage 2 this board is insanely strong with 3 Forgotten being addable on lvl 5. Leblanc is a serviceable item holder before then.    


Mid Game (Stage 3 and 4)

During stage 3, you want to be level 6 30 gold at 3-2. You may roll a bit at lvl 6 if you loss streaked your stage 2 or are sitting on a large amount of pairs.

You may level to 7 on either 3-5 (with 30+ gold) or 4-1 depending on winstreak and board strength.

The level to 8 can occur on 4-2 or 4-5 if you are high rolling, or on 5-1 if you rolled down at lvl 7 to stabilize.

If your board is strong (upgraded frontline and item holder) and you are winstreaking with good econ, you can go directly to level 8 with minimal rolling. Otherwise, you will have to roll a bit on level 7 to stabilize before going to level 8.

Since winstreak boards tend to vary heavily, here are some examples of boards you could hit when you rolldown to stabilize.

Renewer Mid Game:

Sample lvl 6 Stage 3 (3-2 minor rolldown) board:

Sample lvl 7 (4-1 rolldown) board

Redeemed Mid Game:

Sample lvl 6 stage 3 (3-2 minor rolldown) board:

Sample lvl 7 stage (4-1 rolldown) board:

Abomination Mid Game:

Sample lvl 6 stage 3 (3-2 minor rolldown) board:

Sample lvl 7 stage (4 Abomination tech) board:

If you hit Vel’Koz on your rolldown here or at any point, you can drop Warwick for him and move items from your item holder

Late Game (Stage 5 and beyond)

Sample lvl 8 board 4 Spellweaver 3 Abomination

This board plays out differently from the redeemed variant. The Abomination charging into the backline helps Vel’koz finish off any leftover or low units from it’s Ult rather than looking to outsustain with multiple ults like the redeemed variant.

Rather than Gunblade, you would prefer to have another damage item on Vel’koz as this comp has low sustain in comparison, relying on the Abom and ZZ’rot for frontline. After your Vel’koz items, in this build you will look to put one item on each Abom unit rather than stacking a single unit like the Redeemed build would prefer. We frontline Lux in this composition to have three frontline units to die in order to proc the Abomination.

The main advantage of this build is it’s high burst potential and the cheap cost of this board leading to a very large midgame spike. This makes this variant have a higher top 4 potential, but a lower first place potential.

Sample lvl 8 board 6 redeemed:

This board is a relatively cheap board; you can play if you had to roll a lot of gold on 7, Garen can be Taric, and Kindred can be any Mystic. If you have Redeemed spat, you can replace Varus with an Invoker or a Mystic or Leona with a Taric or replace Varus and the Mystic for 4 Knights.

Sample lvl 8 Board:

Add Heimerdinger on lvl 9 here (or play over Zyra/ Volibear). Can substitute Syndra and Zyra for Lux Kindred as well, or you can play Lux Karma over Volibear Syndra. Many variations are possible.

Sample lvl 8 Board:

Can level up for Volibear or Mystic here, this version offers less cc than the prior version but offers more DPS. Zyra can be slotted out for either a Volibear or a Mystic if needed.

Sample lvl 8 Board (matchup specific)

This variant is good if you know you’ll be fighting another Vel’Koz player in the 1v1. Or into an AD-heavy build by replacing Kindred for Jax, giving 3 Ironclad. You can drop Zyra if you’re rolling on lvl 8 or replace with another two-star legendary unit on lvl 9.

Sample lvl 9: Capped board:

If you arrive at level 9 with a lot of HP and econ, you can even sell off your Vel’Koz and pivot into the capped 4 Invoker build and move your Vel’Koz item to Teemo or Heimerdinger, whichever you two star first.

Positioning Considerations

You want to scout and mirror your board, if needed, to position Vel’Koz to be on the opposite side from their carry, enabling you to hit them with his laser.

Position your cc the opposite side your Vel’Koz shoots to make the opponent choose between getting cc’d or eating a Vel’Koz laser.

Counters

  • Zyra | Volibear: can cc and interrupt Vel’Koz ult
  • Thresh | Diana: can cc and drag Vel’Koz out of his ulting angle
  • Shroud of Stillness: increases Vel’Koz’s max mana, delaying his initial cast
  • Wrong side: Vel’Koz is weak to being on the wrong side, meaning his laser will miss the enemy carries and only hit a few units, resulting in a lost fight.
  • Trap Claw: Vel’koz will be interrupted on his first ult into this item.

What to do when heavily contested

You can pivot to Karma very easily if you have a Blue Buff instead of a Shojin. Just be wary of having a sacrificial gauntlet without a Gunblade. If you have a tempo advantage, you can also play for a legendary board revolving around Heimerdinger or Teemo.

Tips

  • Syndra, with one mana item, is a great tech for dealing with assassins or Volibears/Garens on the same side as your Vel’Koz.
  • If you are fighting another Vel’Koz player, try and be on the same side as him and have Zyra across from his Vel’Koz to try and interrupt his cast. Volibear on the same side can have a similar purpose.
  • If you see a lot of thresh players in the lobby you can shift Vel’Koz one hex towards the center and put a bait unit in the corner so that the bait gets hooked instead.
  • Vel’Koz will ult the units closest to the center of the map, so if you’re in a 1v1 and your opponents 2nd rows their carry, you can 2nd your Vel’Koz as well to hit his carry with the laser.

About the Author

Hey, I’m Re;Chaos, a NA player who has played on other servers and has been challenger every set since set 3.

I love to think about builds and the reasoning behind why and how units/comps became/are strong.

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