LoL Strategy: Nasus - Old Dog, New Tricks

Author: MMOsite Writer DJWest

With the changing of the seasons comes the changing of the meta, and every once in a while, with the right combination of Mastery reworks and new items, a champion that used to be fairly unpopular can become the new “flavor of the week” in a matter of days. Nasus, The Curator of the Sands, is one champion who has taken full advantage of the new items available in Season 3 to make himself into an absolute powerhouse.

The Spirit of Nasus Past

While Nasus has never been an entirely “weak” champion, his ability to dominate only came about a fairly short time ago. As recently as Season 2 he was a very underplayed champion that was often mocked if actually chosen in the first place. He hadn’t been changed in a patch since two years ago, and for the most part, seemed content in obscurity as much as any other champion that shared his place.

Fortunately for the dog-faced champion, relief finally began in February with patch v3.01. Siphoning Strike gained a permanent damage boost when killing large minions or large monsters, for a total of +6 instead of the normal +3. While not a significant change, this made a few more options enticing; suddenly a Jungle Nasus could be earning quite a bit of attack power in his Q without even trying, and Top Lane Nasus was enhanced as every large minion brought in even more power behind his swing.

Then, only two weeks later, Riot gave his ultimate the added benefit of increasing attack range by 50 and cast range by 100, plus lowering the mana cost of both his ultimate and his Siphoning Strike (to a flat 20, for the latter). This made a sustainable lane Nasus – and an even more viable Jungle Nasus – yet more powerful, to the point that in patch 3.6 they actually had to nerf his Wither to keep from becoming overpowered. Especially in teamfights, a Nasus can make life a living hell for anyone that he can get close to.

lol s3 nasus guide
This much damage can easily be dealt with a single Iceborn Gauntlet-enhanced Q, for only 20 mana.

Nasus in Today's Competitive Scene

With the massive increase in viability for Nasus, improving not only his damage and usefulness lategame but his overall potential for damage building, Nasus has seen a huge surge in popularity. Nasus is now in the top-ten most picked champions; he is sitting at a cool 19% overall, across all styles of play, meaning one of every five games has a Nasus in it. His win percentage is also in the top fifteen champions out of the entire league, reaching over 52% many days. While that may not seem like much of an imbalance, remember that the League has had three seasons to balance out their champions, and that the very highest win rate currently is only 54%, while it can dip as low as 41% for champions like Urgot and Olaf.

With a strong anti-carry ability and a spammable ability that only gains power the more often you use it, Nasus has the power to build himself into a powerful Tank while still dishing out massive damage to anyone who doesn't have the armor and health to match his.

lol s3 nasus guide
Despite being caught at the enemy's blue buff by three champions…

lol s3 nasus guide
Nasus' ultimate and Tanky build allow him to survive the assault until his team joins him and kill two of the attacking champions.

And if a champion actually gets more fed than Nasus, his Wither can shut down their attacking and chasing abilities alike. Of course, Nasus doesn't just have the buffs to thank for his sudden rise in popularity and power. Some of the items that were added in Season three almost seem like they were made for him.

Nasus and the Season 3 Build

With websites keeping track of so much information, it isn't hard to see the impact that items are having on how a champion is being built. For example, in his current state, Nasus uses the Iceborn Gauntlet in almost fifty percent of his games – and his win rate using the item is soaring over 60%. Spirit Visage is almost equal, slightly ahead in usage and slightly behind in win rate. The Spirit of the Ancient Golem is only used in about a third of games, but it too has a win rate of over 54%.

Iceborn Gauntlet is by far one of the most promising items. While the added Health and Tenacity from SotAG is great, the added damage to every (or, almost every) Q and the slow that comes with it make Iceborn Gauntlet a must-buy item.

lol s3 nasus guide
The AoE slow is so large it actually can hit an enemy or minions that are next to the enemy tower, if you proc the item on one.

Together these items, along with increased understanding of how best to play him, have created a new powerful Nasus that can either Jungle or play in Top Lane without much difficulty adapting from either. With his ultimate providing innate tankiness and huge damage potential in teamfights, the new Tenacity from Spirit of the Ancient Golem and the Armor, Mana, and slow combination from Iceborn Gauntlet make his Q almost impossible to escape from when combined with Wither, which is undoubtedly one of the most powerful slows in the game.

lol s3 nasus guide
Despite having both a Jarvan IV ultimate and a Morgana ultimate unleashed on them, Nasus and Zac not only survive this gank but actually kill Morgana thanks to a combination of abilities being used.

Nasus' big role in the top lane is as a pusher. Once his Q is leveled up, and if you buy a few cooldown reducers and an Iceborn Gauntlet, Nasus can absolutely destroy a turret. Combining his Q and Iceborn Gauntlet lets him not only get extra attacks on the turret but also damage minions in the area around them, clearing waves without even diverting his attention if properly handled.

lol s3 nasus guide
The extra damage also means that you can bring a tower down long before help arrives.

Thanks to these items and some careful tweaking by Riot, it is safe to say that the dog-faced wizard has, for the time being, secured himself a powerful place in the League.

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