As it turns out, the only thing more difficult than remembering all of Aphelios’s ability interactions is playing against them. League of Legends players soon found that, unlike other stance-based champions like Jinx, Aphelios didn’t really have a trade-off with his multifarious gun interactions.
Though some of Aphelios’s guns were better than others, they were all pretty good in most situations, and the only real drawback was to not have Infernum ready to use Aphelios’s Ultimate with to potentially kill the entire enemy team in one shot, taking advantage of the overlapping AOE damage to rain misery down near Baron Nashor.
A nerf to the champion seems inevitable, at this time. But it hasn’t landed yet, and even post-nerf it won’t change the fact that Aphelios has a very strong kit. But rather than futilely getting taken apart by a flurry of chakrams and pistol slashes, here’s how to play around Aphelios’s strengths—and even mitigate them outright.
Like with all bot lane carries, Aphelios is ultimately reliant on his items—and a dead Aphelios is one that can’t farm. Supports with high kill potential make a powerful option, as a result: even without casting a spell, the threat of a grab can keep Aphelios players zoned out of farming opportunities. His lack of a dash or blink is hard-felt when a Blitzcrank’s just sitting there between Aphelios and a creep wave, spamming /laugh.
Braum is less of a threat in that regard, but his shield is really annoying for all parts of Aphelios’s kit. He’s a strong deterrence to all ranged champions in general, of course.
Armour-specialised tanks can very quickly shut Aphelios out of a fight, as they do with all physical-damage reliant champions. Malphite is especially dangerous for the Lunari gunner—regardless of how you build the tank, a long-range unstoppable dash and knock up all but guarantees a kill on immobile ADCs in general.
Rammus, on the other hand, can be intercepted. But as Rammus comes equipped with an innate equivalent to Thornmail, Aphelios’s reliance on basic-attack effects is a double-edged blade in the matchup.
Finally, Mordekaiser is yet another punisher against champions with no dash effects outside of Flash. Death’s Grasp is bad enough, ensnaring targets regardless of whether obstacles are in the way, but the Realm of Death’s 10% stats theft makes for a painful seven seconds in hell.
Graves and Nocturne are both specialized picks against Aphelios—useful in most team compositions, of course, but selected here specifically because a blind Lunari can’t hit the broad side of a barn. A well-timed Smoke Screen or Paranoia takes Aphelios temporarily out of the fight.
- Randuin’s Omen
If Rammus is an inherently bad matchup for basic-attack-reliant champions like Aphelios, then what if the whole (or at least most) of the team are mini-Rammuses? That Thornmail also inflicts Grievous Wounds negates Aphelios’s innate lifesteal too, neutralizing Severum.
If Aphelios’s getting ahead, however, then he’s probably prioritizing critical damage items over sustain, meaning your main priority is Randuin’s Omen. Not only is it a bag full of stats in general, with generous quantities of health and armor to deflect Aphelios’s shots, but the critical damage reduction and attack speed reduction badly mitigate Aphelios’s effectiveness – even through Moonlight Vigil, as most of its damage consists of critical-strike capable basic attacks! Activating it to cast an AOE slow is also especially effective, potentially neutralizing the effectiveness of Gravitum’s root effect.
As proven repeatedly in pro play, however, sometimes it doesn’t even matter if you don’t have the right items and champions. Sometimes it’s good enough to just outplay the enemy team on a purely strategic level. And it’s here that Aphelios’s kit limitations are relevant.
Marksmen with inherently long-range auto attacks like Caitlyn, Tristana, or Kog’maw force the enemy team to come to them, or risk losing all of their towers and most of their base from long-range right-clicking alone. But while Aphelios does gain bonus range with Calibrum, the rest of his kit assumes a relatively short engagement distance – if Calibrum is out of ammo, all he has are attacks optimized for close-range engagements. That makes Aphelios most effective with a team that wants to fight frequently – presenting a frontline for him to work with, so that others can make up for his lack of engagement distance.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly the sort of team composition most easily frustrated when the enemy team is split pushing instead, and their own ADC is using their range advantage and wave clear to poke from a cowardly distance. After all, what’s the use of a sad moon boy if he can’t stop Tryndamere from taking currents?
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