Off Meta: Snakes on top lane

Welcome to Off Meta, where U of T Head Analyst Gabriel Zoltan-Johan shakes loose and shows you a more zany way to play your favorite League of Legends champion. Instead of traditional guides, Gabe gives you ideas that are so crazy, they might just work.

Traditional top lane matchups often involve the holy trinity of the following roles: lane bullies, split pushers and tanks. Broadly, in a “rock, paper, scissors” sense, the lane is balanced around one role beating the other which in turn beats the other.

But the one that everyone forgets about reigns supreme: Snake. Snake beats rock, paper AND scissors, or at least that’s what the gritty playground taught me as I bet the last of my candy on one final match and failed.

Ever since, I’ve had a paralyzing fear of snakes, and to face my fear I’ve been gaining Elo by making everyone else terrified of Cassiopeia top (legitimately terrified, because my opponent has ragequit a game over it before). But don’t think of me as a snake oil salesman, this Cassio top business actually works. Don’t believe me? Well look at happy customer Huni:

Still don’t believe me? Huni and Faker failed to switch at the last minute, you say? No, no, no. Let me explain the way of the snake.

Why is Cassio good top?

The slithering mage has a lot of benefits in top lane matchups, and her skills match up well against tanks and split pushers. The nerfs to some of these champions also put her in a less precarious position. As tanks now have less of an ability to stay in lane spamming spells (Thank Mr. Riot), and split pushers have less of an ability to stay in lane with health sustain, it opens up a window by which Cassiopeia can thrive.

She can bully both parties out of lane as a result, and doesn’t take minion aggro from doing so if she spams her Twin Fangs onto them. It’s even better knowing that your solo queue teammates are probably going to pick some champion that is presumably fun like Zed or Yasuo but is not actually fun because they don’t have the mechanics to do the things they dreamed of doing when they clicked “Lock In.”

Her only major weakness is at the early game, where her aggressive pushing in a long lane has the opportunity to be punished by an astute jungler. Just like your parental figures, her ability to ground you alongside her Petrifying Gaze is enough to stop any potential ganks and aggression.

Safely scaling with Tear of the Goddess, this version of Cassiopeia becomes a great splitpushing threat, and her teleport flanking presence is immense thanks to her W and R. At the right angle, Cassiopeia can disrupt the back line substantially with the grounded effect and the slow/stun of her ultimate.

This functions differently from her mid lane teamfight role, where she is normally considered a member of a grouped up backline. This time around, you’re like a Cassiopeia with the Jackie Chan Adventures Snake Talisman, giving you proverbial invisibility as you pop up out of nowhere to poison your opponents.

The ideal build is the following:

  1. Tear of the Goddess

  2. Rod of Ages

  3. Morellonomicon

  4. Void Staff

  5. Seraph’s Embrace

  6. Banshee’s Veil or Zhonya’s Hourglass

  7. Rabadon’s Deathcap

Even if you’ve never played Cassiopeia before, this is very forgiving and easy to play, as you can mash E onto your opponent until 3 minutes into the game and then ward and watch out for ganks. It doesn’t get easier than that, folks! Even the hyped up Korean prodigies are trying their hand at this, with Khan busting it out and having a great laning phase.

Oh, he lost? Well he just didn’t mash E on his lane opponent hard enough…

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a news editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

Copyright © 2017 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

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