Sometimes, the off meta picks that I cover here have found their way into the highest levels of competitive play. Not only that, but those picks normally do very well for themselves, netting positive win rates and praise for innovation.
This time however, while the cat's out of the bag in solo queue, Rengar top has not been picked up in pro play. Yet.
Rengar sits at well above a 50% win rate in the top lane while operating at less than a 1% play rate, meaning picking The Pridestalker gives you the chance to put the fear of the unknown into your opponents. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy leaping through the shrubberies of Summoner's Rift. Players such as Invictus Gaming's The Shy and Red Bull's Thal are frequent abusers of Rengar top, so much so that the latter got to rank 1 in the Europe West server through an 70% win rate on Rengar in the top lane.
Why does this work?
Through a technique that I like to call “bushwhackin’" you too can be a certified Rengar top lane main, and abuse the advantages in dueling that Rengar has. Because of the placements of the bushes on the top side, you can constantly threaten your opponent by dipping in and out of them and either threatening to leap onto them or a minion to collect gold and experience. Either way, you’re able to efficiently zone out most melee champions because your leap grants you a greater level of zone control than most other melee champions in the game.
Rengar also has great synergy with a few masteries for laning. In particular, Bandit allows Rengar to constantly cash in on his leaps. Alternatively, Greenfather’s Gift will give him extra damage as he weaves in and out of the bushes. As a resourceless champion, Rengar can also make full use of points in Merciless. These traits make Rengar a great pick against any tanks looking to scale comfortably.
As you leap in and come out of combat, asserting your hunter kitty dominance, you start to build up ferocity stacks for laning. As you hit 3 stacks, it's imperative that you start to aggressively trade at that point. Doing so will net you free advantages as you overpower your opponent with either burst from two Q spells in a row or a Q followed by a W to mitigate any trading that happened against you. As such, you're able to follow that up with free spells to build up your ferocity once more.
Once you have access to your ultimate, you function as a top laner with a pseudo global, able to push the lane and roam into darkness, frightening your opponents as you could feasibly leap out from anywhere and take out enemies. Roaming to other lanes also builds up your passive stacks which will grant you more damage in your own lane, creating a greater splitpush threat.
Your final build will have you resembling a walking weapons stockpile for the Thundercats, geared up with armor and consistent damage that will help you eviscerate enemies in a flash. Items such as Duskblade synergize incredibly well with Rengar top thanks to his propensity to duck in and out of bushes as if there were catnip nestled in them.
And to those who may say Rengar top is a "dog champion"? No no no, this is the cat champion, ready to splitpush and roam to your heart's desires.
- Doran's Blade or Doran's Shield + one Health Potion
- Phage + Ninja Tabi/Mercury Treads
- Duskblade of Draktharr
- The Black Cleaver
- Youmuu's Ghostblade
- Guardian Angel
- Edge of Night or Maw of Malmortius or Dead Man's Plate
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.