If you’re looking for a new long-range poke champion to take into the mid lane, here’s how to play AP Varus like G2 Esports mid laner Rasmus ‘caPs’ Winther.
AP Varus mid lane is an instantly recognizable pick for some of League of Legends‘ older fans. But if you’re a newer fan, the chances are you won’t have seen this infamous ranged menace in the mid lane in pro play.
That is, until G2 Esports mid laner Rasmus ‘caPs’ Winther picked it in the team’s matchup against Rogue on September 3rd — the first time Varus mid has seen play in a major region since 2020.
In that game, he was picked as an Azir counter. He’s one of the few champions who can lane safely into Azir without sacrificing farm, functioning similarly to picks like Xerath and Vel’Koz. And with Azir’s universal popularity and reliability regardless of meta, Varus mid is a very useful pick to have up your sleeve to whip out as a potential rebuttal in the draft phase.
What does AP Varus do?
AP Varus’s primary function is as an Azir counter.
His old lethality build enabled him to poke Azir out of lane near instantly with a single Piercing Arrow (Q) and was one of the most oppressive poke mid laners in the game back in 2020.
The AP build fulfils a slightly different function to that of the old lethality setup, but it’s no less effective. Piercing Arrow is still a good poke tool even when you’re not building to maximize its damage — but much more importantly, it’s an excellent way to farm from range, out of the way of the oppressive zone control of Azir’s Sand Soldiers.
AP Varus does one thing exceptionally well, and that’s burst damage. His Blighted Quiver (W) applies stacks of Blight, which deals bonus magic damage when consumed (every third auto attack). It also empowers his Piercing Arrow (Q) to do bonus damage based on the target’s missing health, giving him a great way to finish off enemies he’s chunked down with auto attacks.
When should I pick AP Varus mid?
Obviously, Varus is a good counter to Azir – but he also works well into Twisted Fate, who has very few ways to punish Varus’s immobility and struggles to ever get close enough to land a Gold Card (W) stun.
He’s a generically decent ranged mid laner who suffers greatly from a lack of mobility. Any champion with strong long-range engage tools and early one-shot potential in the mid lane can lock him out of the game completely.
And whatever you do, don’t pick him into Yasuo, who can completely nullify every single part of Varus’s damage with his Wind Wall (W). He needs some protection from ganks in the early game, so don’t pick him into mid laners that have a lot of setup for their jungler (essentially anyone with long-range crowd control).
G2 caPs opted to take the picks into Azir, which is arguably where the pick is at its best, but it’s the only circumstance in which AP Varus can shine.
G2 caPs’ AP Varus mid runes
While you can sometimes opt to go Arcane Comet to maximize your poke in lane, caPs chose to go for the Domination rune setup in his matchup versus Rogue.
Hail of Blades is useful in helping Varus stack blight as quickly as possible — and in a build where Blight is his primary source of damage, that’s a pretty perfect combination. Taste of Blood is a universally useful rune that offers survivability in the form of lifesteal, and Ultimate Hunter gives cooldown reduction on Varus’s only real form of utility.
For secondary runes, Minion Dematerializer helps Varus maintain the wave control that’s so essential for surviving the early lane phase.
G2 caPs AP Varus mid items and build
caPs didn’t get a chance to finish out his build in the 40-minute game versus Rogue, but he got a decent way through it. He opted for Doran’s Blade as a starting item — it’s not an AP item, but it does give a little extra boost of AD to help Varus last hit correctly in the early game.
He also (bravely) opted for an early Dark Seal. If you’re not confident you push a lead to its limits, then maybe skip this part of the build — it’s a feat-or-famine item that requires you to get ahead in order to be worth the gold spent on it.
His core item on this AP Varus build was a Nashor’s Tooth. Nashor’s Tooth is a legendary item that provides AP and attack speed, making it pretty much the perfect item to build on an autoattack-based champion with an AP on-hit passive.
After the Nashor’s Tooth, he prioritized Leeching Leer into Riftmaker for his mythic item path. Riftmaker is an AP item designed for champions who have some way of continually applying AP damage — which Varus does simply by auto attacking and stacking his passive.
It maximizes burst within a specific window, making it perfect for the high damage short duration playstyle of AP Varus.