Passives are a somewhat-overlooked ability, not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of most champions. Some less popular champions may even have their passives mostly unknown. These are the opposite, however; these are passives who change the game or outright define their champion. They provide powerful offensive, defensive, or utility bonuses that can allow a champion to fight harder, longer, and sometimes even from beyond the grave.
#5. Volibear – Chosen of the Storm
Voli’s combination of high defensive stats and powerful offensive abilities make him quite a threat in teamfights already – but his passive makes him nearly impossible to kill on top of that, except by very coordinated teams. Chosen of the Storm restores 30% of Volibear’s health over 6 seconds when his health dips too low. A lategame Volibear with enough health can be regenerating almost 200 health per second with this ability alone; modify that with a Spirit Visage and add a Warmog’s, and suddenly you have so much regeneration that Volibear can actually out-regen a carry’s DPS.
In lane, Voli’s passive also makes it very easy to survive a tower dive alone; with a bit of armor and health his passive is usually more powerful than the tower’s attacks.
To put it in perspective, Mundo’s ultimate regenerates a maximum of 60% of his health over 12 seconds at third rank. Voli’s passive regenerates for half the time, but the same speed as Mundo’s highest-level ultimate – from the very beginning of the game. Only teams with innate Grievous Wounds effects or multiple Ignites and good teamwork can even hope to kill off Volibear quickly in fair fight.
#4. Karthus – Death Defied
At first glance, Karthus’ passive might not seem appealing – it allows him to stay “alive” for seven seconds after death, not able to move but able to cast spells for no mana. Of course, when you first see it in action, the implications are staggering. As a short- to medium-ranged caster, Karthus needs to get fairly close to the action. This means he’s very likely to be focused, especially with the damage he can deal to opponents who are caught in his W and hit with Qs repeatedly.
This is where his passive punishes what is normally smart gameplay. Instead of dying and being taken out, Karthus gets unlimited mana for seven seconds, allowing him to cast his ultimate – a devastating global if there ever was one – or any of his other spells without worrying. Because most teamfights are often decided with the opening salvos, by the time the enemy team manages to kill Karthus and his passive wears off, there’s a good chance the enemy team has been whittled down, while Karthus’ team has been at a full five members despite the fact that he is technically dead.
Karthus’ W is also automatically switched on when he dies; if he’s in the middle of the battlefield, it’s possible he can catch most or all of the enemy team in this spell’s powerful AoE even if it wasn’t on when he died.
With what is widely regarded as one of the most annoying ultimates in the game, making himself unable to be truly killed for several extra seconds, and dealing incredible damage the whole time, makes Karthus almost as big a troll as Trundle. In the same way as Zac, Aatrox, or anyone with a Zilean ult, suddenly it doesn’t matter how much damage he is dealing, nobody is focusing him, because it wouldn’t amount to anything in most fights. Unless the enemy team has plenty of maneuverability (and the room to do so), Karthus’ passive makes him an incredible nuisance.