Mid Varus Storms the Rift!
BY eSports Team - June 17, 2015

Originally posted on by Grace ''Prestige'' Han

The guilty will know agony. Varus is no stranger to the fissures of the Summoner's Rift, previously seeing competitive play down in the AD carry position. He isn't a regular pick, but don't write him off yet! Just because he’s meant to be a Marksman doesn’t mean you’ll always find him in the bottom lane.


No matter where he is, Varus brings tons of damage to the Rift with his immense ability to poke, thanks to his Piercing Arrow (Q). Blighted Quiver (W) applies additional magic damage and provides percent health shred, giving him the power to cut down enemy tanks. And that's not even mentioning Hail of Arrows (E), a triple threat that provides wave clear, heal reduction, and a slow. With the right team compositions, he provides a lot of utility as well as back line damage.

High damage and poke means that laning against Varus can be suffocating. But, his low mobility is a glaring weakness that enemy teams can exploit. Without escape mechanisms, the only way he can get away from a dangerous situation is through using Flash or by using his ultimate, Chain of Corruption (R). Because the corrupted Ionian warden is naturally squishy, eliminating him early in a fight also means that he will not be able to put down the damage he's expected to provide. 


Recently, Varus has wandered away from the bottom lane to emerge as a viable pick for many pro mid laners. The Unicorns of Love's mid laner Tristan "PowerofEvil" Schrage showcased Varus in the EU LCS Spring Split Playoffs. Going 5/1/7 in the first Finals match against Fnatic, he showed the legions of League of Legends players worldwide that the Arrow of Retribution could be played quite successfully outside his intended role.

It's now a few weeks into the Summer Split and the teams in League Champions Korea (LCK) have wholly embraced Varus in the mid lane as well. CJ Entus, SKTelecom T1, the Jin Air Green Wings, and the KOO Tigers have all incorporated the Ionian archer into their team compositions.

It all started with Lee "Faker" Sang-hyuk in the Week 2 game against Najin e-mFire, where he was able to do more damage than Najin's entire team combined. Since then, Shin "CoCo" Jin-young of CJ Entus, the Jin Air Green Wings' Lee "GBM" Chang-suk, and the KOO Tigers' Lee "KurO" Seo-haeng have also pulled out the unfamiliar champion in the mid lane as a means to throw opponents off their game. 


Varus is strong -- but as showcased in the games below, the success of the pick often heavily depends on the synergy between him and other champions in the team composition. Four different teams chose mid Varus, and that means four different compositions were drafted. What worked and what fell short?

SKT T1's Team Composition:

MaRin - Nunu

T0M - Sejuani

Faker - Varus

Bang - Lucian

Wolf - Janna 

SKT's double AD composition is bolstered by the steroids provided by Janna and Nunu, specifically with Blood Boil and Eye of the Storm. Two buffs and two AD dealers gives SKT the flexibility to split the buffs or to stack them onto a single champion. Sejuani provides a lock-up ult that synergizes well with Varus' Chain of Corruption, providing two forms of CC that is able to lock down the enemy team.

Jin Air Green Wings' Team Composition:

TrAce - Rumble

Chaser - Rek'Sai

GBM - Varus

Pilot - Vayne

Sweet - Alistar 

Jin Air's composition lacks the steroids previously seen in the SKT composition, though we see another top lane AP damage source. Was it just coincidence? Jin Air didn't seem to reap the benefits of the mid lane pick, having no additional buffs and no reliable way to engage.

CJ Entus' Team Composition:

Shy - Rumble

Ambition - Nunu

CoCo - Varus

Space - Sivir

MadLife - Janna 

CJ Entus also picked an AP top laner to mitigate the lack of mid AP damage. Like SKT and unlike the Jin Air Green Wings, CJ was able to incorporate Nunu and Janna boosts for their two AD dealers. Sivir's ult enabled hard engage, coupling well with the Varus ult CC. Because the composition incorporated buffs, peel, and initiation, CJ Entus was able to use their picks successfully.

KOO Tigers' Team Composition:

Smeb - Riven

Wisdom - Gragas

Kur0 - Varus

PraY - Corki

GorillA - Karma 

Kur0 actually saw success with the mid Varus pick in both his Week 4 games against the KT Rolsters, but the Game 2 team composition showcases champion picks that haven't commonly been seen in competitive play for quite some time. The interesting picks to note are Riven and Karma. Riven's Ki Burst (W) provides hard CC that can be used in conjunction with Chain of Corruption, while Karma fulfills AP damage, a root (W), and a team speed boost and shield with Defiance (Mantra'd E). Each champion chosen provided a certain complementary quality that helped Kur0, and Varus, shine.


Take a look at FakerGBM, and CoCo's builds. Seeing triple? Aside from situational item picks for their respective games, each mid laner opted for four core items: Muramana, Last Whisper, Boots of Lucidity, and Youmuu's Ghostblade. The four items complement Varus' ability to shred targets and do so without running out of mana. Using the Youmuu's active means that he's able to make the most out of his %health shred. Boots of Lucidity? Even more cooldown reduction to poke enemies with.

With the exception of Faker -- who was too far ahead in the game to even think about building a defensive item -- the other two mid laners opted to build into a Hexdrinker, an item that provides magic resist and a protective shield.


It's much too early in the summer season to say that Varus will continue to be a contested pick. If the pro players' Solo Queue practice games are of any indication, however, he seems to be here to stay. What lies ahead for mid Varus? Whatever happens, it's clear that his work is not yet done.