At PAX East, we got to try out Riot Games' two newest champions, Hecarim and Varrus. Find out what we thought!
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At PAX East, Riot Games was out in full force, dominating its corner of the venue with tournament streams, shoutcasted games of Dominion, cosplay celebrations, and even dance-offs for prizes. Also available for play were two new champions, Hecarim and Varrus, who will make their debut in the League within the next two content patches, respectively. Always eager to try new champions, I decided to spend much of my hands-on time experimenting with these new characters and, now, I can share those experiences with you.
Riot's newest tanky "bruiser" centaur, Hecarim, will make his league debut tomorrow, and I think players will have a great time experimenting with his kit to figure out ideal builds. Veterans of DotA or Heroes of Newerth may recognize some aspects of Barathrum the Spiritbreaker or Rampage, respectively, as Hecarim has an ability, Devastating Charge, that grants him bonus movement speed for a brief moment of time. If Hecarim can hit an enemy champion before the charge ends, he will deal bonus damage depending on how far he's traveled, in addition to knocking his opponent back. Hecarim also supplements this powerful charge with his passive, Warpath, which gives Hecarim bonus attack damage equal to a percentage of his movement speed (I believe 15% at level 18), in addition to allowing him to ignore unit collision.
Hecarim's other abilities, Rampage and Spirit of Dread, are both great abilities for supplementing his "shock trooper" play style. Rampage cleaves in a physical AoE around Hecarim and, if he hits an enemy, he reduces the cooldown of Rampage by one second. This can stack twice, which means that Hecarim can potentially use Rampage about once every 2 to 3 seconds. Spirit of Dread is Hecarim's key defensive ability, dealing AoE magic damage over four seconds and healing Hecarim for 20% (at max rank) of all damage dealt to enemies (including damage dealt by teammates). Hecarim's ultimate ability, Onslaught of Shadows, is similar to Malphite's Unstoppable Force ultimate, as Hecarim sends a wave of spectral horses forward while also throwing himself into the fray. The horses travel a set distance; dealing magic damage to everyone they travel through, while Hecarim deals additional damage and fears all enemies for one second when he lands. Since Hecarim can dictate, exactly, where he lands, he can still use his ultimate to deal the initial magic damage while landing closer to teammates to prevent overextending.
Overall, Hecarim is a strong tanky initiator, which makes him an ideal bruiser to take top lane or the jungle. In top lane, Hecarim has decent sustain and survivability, and Warpath means that he can harass enemies easily before melting through his creeps. His lack of a hard stun or slow (aside from his short charge knockback), however, means that Hecarim may have difficulty controlling the lane against mobile champions with a lot of damage and control, like Kennen, Renekton, or Riven. In the jungle, I think Hecarim is a very potent threat, but he'll need a lot of help to keep up with faster junglers like Shyvana, Mundo, or Udyr. Still, a good Hecarim player will be able to surprise enemy teams with his fast speeds and high damage. Think of him as similar to Rammus, but with less control (no taunt) and a lot more damage. Just make sure you don't knock the enemy away when ganking! Loop around when using Devastating Charge, and hit your opponent from behind!
In ideal situations, players who want to use Hecarim will need to ensure they have a strong follow-up to his initiation, or he may end up not recovering enough health through Spirit of Dread. Specifically, strong AoE AP champions like Morgana, Kennen or Cassiopeia, will compliment Hecarim very well, allowing him to be the frontline terror that he wants to be. Hecarim also trades off a lot of disruption for his initiation, so be sure to either build an early Phage / Frozen Mallet on him, or bring a team with strong control abilities to help him out. This will also help Hecarim keep enemies within range of his Rampage cleave, as missing just one Rampage (and the range is fairly short) can really hurt his damage.