Finally, a League champion for the hentai fans! I mean… um, the innocent sci-fi tentacle monster fans! Vel'Koz is the newest addition to a very short list of freaky non-humanoid champions in League of Legends. He's an ranged mage AP carry with a ton of burst damage, a desire to deconstruct the entire universe, and so many laser beams.
If you want to see exactly how Vel'Koz plans to dissect the entire organic world, look at its official profile. The TLDR version: giant tentacled alien with a massive eye that likes to make things explode and/or dissolve with laser beams and void magic.
If you're just jumping into League of Legends and want to know what champions to pick, check out our best League of Legends champions for beginners guide.
After a long string of super-complex champions being released, it's kind of relaxing to get back to basics with Vel'Koz, a very straight-forward AP mage. The tentacled monster bucks the recent trend of hyper-mobility in favor of pure, long-range damage assault capabilities.
He's reminiscent of a Karthus or Veigar in mid lane, where he's definitely best suited. He's extremely susceptible to getting jumped on and burst down, but if his allies can keep the enemy at bay, Vel'Koz will have no problem nuking them all into neat dust piles.
His kit is straightforward, with a reliable, easy-to-understand combo across his three main abilities. Set down a delayed damage area effect. Hit them with a knock-up that puts them in position for the delayed damage to hit, and then smack them in the face with a projectile immediately after. It's easy to execute and the burst damage you dish out when all three hit multiple targets is glorious.
Fission physics is fun!
Those beautiful, destructive moments are the best part of playing Vel'Koz. His abilities have fantastic spell effects (not to mention the superb animation on his own body as it moves), and everything about him feels powerful.
His ultimate is the best looking spell in the entire game. Lifeform Disintegration Ray is a hard name to live up to, but the spell effect pulls it off. Bright beams of energy converge from Vel'Koz's eyeballs and tentacles and coalesce into a monster beam like the powerful Death Star laser from Star Wars. The monster beam washes over everything it hits, with brilliant flame-wave-like effects playing on every champion it hits making it look like a summer blockbuster movie.
The other abilities look great too, and are fun to manipulate. His most spammable spell, Plasma Fission, has a fairly interesting mechanic that adds strategy to the skill-shot swapping of the early game. The projectile splits into two parts and explodes outward at 90-degree angles when it hits an enemy or the ability is cast again. It encourages clever manipulation of the minion waves and makes you feel like a genius when you pull off a long-range kill through the fog-of-war.
The other abilities are decent, but forgettable--typical AP carry fodder for a fairly standard mid-lane mage. The few times I attempted to bring Vel'Koz out of the mid lane, I ran into major hurdles. He's slow, he's fragile, and he has very little to offer beyond big damage bursts. Great for the mid lane, but pretty rubbish anywhere else.
OP or QQ?
There's really not much to complain about with Vel'Koz on either side of the fence. It's a classic-style champion, with big potential if able to snowball early, and huge downsides if the enemy focuses them early without protection.
Mid lane assassins like Fizz should have absolutely no problem juking Vel'Koz's slow and predictable damage beams, and even less problem killing them when they leap at them. But the few games where I had a reliable frontline tank and peel support to keep the enemy off of me, I was cackling like a madman while my ultimate melted down their entire team into whimpering plasma goo.
Mid lane is my weakest position as a player, so it's hard for me to authoritatively judge the competitiveness of Vel'Koz. He feels a bit weak to me, but that may just be because hyper-mobile assassin mids are the current trend. This is not the environment you want to roll into with a slow, squishy champion that has forecasted, avoidable attacks.
Shut up and tell me what to do
I think new and still-learning players will really enjoy Vel'Koz. He doesn't demand too much of his controller: just use his abilities in the right order, and try to plan ahead for his positioning. There's no need for hyper-twitch reactions or constant movement in teamfights, which can be very disorienting for many players. And, man, those visual effects are pretty to look at.
If you yearn for the simpler life in mid lane, Vel'Koz is your creepy tentacle monster.
If you do buy him, here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Buy Zhonya's Hourglass: It's not on his recommended item list, but the 2.5 seconds of invulnerability will buy your team, and you, much needed time in teamfights.
2. Level Plasma Fission first: It was really hard for me to tell which ability to level first, based solely on the tooltips. You'll have no problem keeping the waves clear with low ranks of his other abilities, and this gives you plenty of poke damage potential.
3. Don't overextend: If you get caught out at all, you will die. Keep your distance and rely on Q for last hits until you level up a bit.
Josh Augustine is a connoisseur of online games in the MMO, MOBA, and RPG style. He currently works as a game designer at Sony Online Entertainment on EverQuest. He’d love to talk with you on Twitter.