Pyke is mainly played in the support role, where he fills a completely unique role as a sort of AD utility assassin support, providing CC to help his team similarly to Thresh while also providing a ton of damage for his team while not being able to take down full HP targets on his own, making bot lane the obvious place for him. It’s still sort of up in the air as to whether he could be successful in other roles or not, but for now we’re assuming support is his best role.
Aftershock: Pyke is very squishy since he can’t build extra HP. This rune gives him extra tankiness that won’t just get converted into AD, and makes it so he can go in in lane without just getting immediately burst down.
Bone Plating: This is just an amazing rune that pretty much anyone should take if they’re going into Resolve, and as a melee champion Pyke is one of the best users as he’s more easily harassed in laning phase.
Chrysalis: This is nice on Pyke because you get bonus AD right from the start, and then even more once you stack it.
Unflinching: This is a great on any champion that will frequently want to engage with Flash, as the CC reduction will help prevent him getting locked down.
Celerity: A wonderful rune on any champion since all champions benefit from movement speed.
Waterwalking: Pyke will ideally want to roam a lot in laning phase, making this a great choice as it’ll allow him to walk between lanes faster. Alternatively you could use Gathering Storm if you would rather have a stronger late game.
Flash: As usual, Flash is used on almost every champion in the game and Pyke is no exception. It has a billion and one uses, from Flashing in to get a kill, to Flashing away from danger, to Flashing over walls and Flashing to dodge abilities. As a summoner spell it’s irreplaceable.
Ignite: While Exhaust tends to be a viable choice for supports, as an assassin Ignite is your only option. It greatly increases your kill potential and helps you massively with getting your target below Death From Below’s execute threshold.
Passive: Gift of the Drowned Ones
The HP into AD conversion is essentially to prevent becoming tanky in order to abuse his ult’s true damage. It forces Pyke into building AD– Building health is not the most efficient way of getting AD and, if you want damage, you should just build AD directly. That being said, it makes AD-HP hybrid items good on him since they end up giving him a lot more AD than they do other champions.
The grey health portion of the passive is amazing and actually makes Pyke deceptively tanky in lane. A lot of the HP he loses will be regained so long as he doesn’t die. All you need to do to regain that HP is to be outside of vision, so you can either sit in an unwarded brush, walk backwards outside of the minions’ vision range, or drop into stealth with Ghostwater Dive.
Q: Bone Skewer
A hook on any champion is something to be feared, and Pyke is no exception. Bone Skewer has solid base damage and deals even more damage when tapped rather than using the full hook, which might be useful in duels or when you only need the slow while chasing someone down.
Whether you hit an enemy with the hook or just the short stab, it will slow them by a massive 90% for one second, which is a great setup for Phantom Undertow and makes it pretty much undodgeable except with a blink or dash.
The distance the enemy travels when hooked is always the same so, if you hook someone from close range, it will actually fling them behind you similarly to Singed.
W: Ghostwater Dive
A stealth ability on a support is a very exciting thing; however, the duration is very short at five seconds, and the movement speed boost it gives decays fairly quickly. You’ll be using this ability either to set up ganks, or for ducking out of vision mid-fight to regenerate HP through your grey health. It’s also great for escaping.
E: Phantom Undertow
This is an amazing mobility spell for a support since it’s so quick and has such a great range. Additionally, it will stun enemies in the trajectory path after a short delay. Think of it as a delayed Jarvan IV E-Q combo, but with a stun instead of a knockup. You can also use Flash as the phantom is flying towards you to extend the range or redirect it.
R: Death From Below
The damage before the execution threshold isn’t very impressive, so while this doesn’t allow Pyke to one-shot anyone, it does make him a massive cleanup threat in teamfights when enemies start dropping low. Especially if you can hit multiple targets with each cast, it will end up doing large amounts of AoE damage.
One thing to be careful of is that, when you cast it, you need to be absolutely sure that you’ll land it and get the execute and the reset. If you miss (which is as simple as a champion Flashing out of it) it’s completely devastating to your team fighting power. Try and be certain that your target will not get burst down before your cast even begins, and that they’re not just about to Flash away and ruin your reset.
Another cool thing about this spell is that its damage increases per champion level rather than per spell rank. While you’ll still want to put a point in it whenever possible just to decrease its cooldown, this means that the ability steadily increases in power every level rather than having to reach an important threshold in order to gain coveted higher execution damage.
By the way, remember that Death From Below is a gap closer in addition to everything else. Sometimes you may want to use it just for mobility even if you can’t get a reset from it.
At level 1, you’ll want to start with Bone Skewer (Q) since it’s Pyke’s strongest level 1 ability in all scenarios. At level 2, you’ll want to take Phantom Undertow (E) to combo with Bone Skewer. At level 3, you should level Ghostwater Dive (W) in order to more easily set up kills, roam or regenerate HP mid-fight.
First you’ll want to max Bone Skewer (Q) for the lower cooldown on your hook, as well as the fact that it’s your best scaling ability. Next, you’ll max Phantom Undertow (E) for the increased damage and stun duration, and you’ll max Ghostwater Dive (W) last since as a utility spell it doesn’t gain as much from levels as your other abilities do.
Bone Skewer (Q) + Flash
This is very basic but it’s important to note that you can Flash while charging Bone Skewer, so if you want to Flash hook someone you should Flash while charging rather than before charging.
Phantom Undertow (E) + Flash
As mentioned earlier, it’s possible to extend the range or even redirect the delayed stun by using Flash. Flashing at the last moment before it hits will allow you to catch enemies by surprise and leave them no time to react.
Death From Below (R) + Bone Skewer (Q) + Phantom Undertow (E)
This is one of the combos where Death From Below is used as a gap closer rather than an execute. You use Death From Below to get you closer to your target, charge Bone Skewer and fling the target behind you towards your team, then Phantom Undertow back to safety while simultaneously stunning your target.
Phantom Undertow (E) + Flash + Death From Below (R)
Another combo where Death From Below is used as a gap closer. Here, you combine Phantom Undertow + Flash with Death From Below (used for gap closing) to create massive distance between Phantom Undertow’s starting point and its finishing point, giving you a huge stun area. The uses for this combo are rare but sometimes, if you can spot a good opportunity to land a huge multi man stun or just a massively long ranged one, you can carry the fight for your team without getting a single execute.
Early Game Core
Relic Shield is definitely the best starting item for Pyke as it works really well with his passive’s HP-to-AD conversion, making it essentially act as an AD support item. Additionally, it provides some very nice sustain to both you and your lane partner in early levels and helps push the wave to gain control of the lane and either fish for easier hooks or go roam.
On your first back, you’ll want to upgrade to Targon’s Brace and build towards Boots of Mobility, which are the best Boots on Pyke since they synergise best with his roaming and pick-oriented playstyle.
I think Black Cleaver is just made for him. AD, HP for even more AD, cooldown reduction, armor reduction… It’s just the perfect first item for him.
As a first item, you’ll want to build The Black Cleaver, which is amazing for Pyke since it gives him 68.58 AD compared to the 40 AD it gives any other champion, on top of giving armor reduction to increase your lane partner’s damage as well.
Basically items that combine HP + AD are really good on him.
Next up you’ll want Duskblade for the increased damage and the vision control, which is amazing on a support despite Pyke being the only support that can actually buy it.
Afterwards you’ll want to build Sterak’s Gage into Edge of Night, two more items that combine AD with HP to give you massive AD. Sterak’s Gage’s passive will also make you a little tankier in fights to avoid being burst down, while Edge of Night’s active is great to use before you pop into stealth with Ghostwater Dive and start looking to make plays.
Don’t forget that if you go in with your E, you’re basically in their base and can get oneshot really easily, so think before you E into them.
Pyke is one of the weaker supports during early laning phase. Wadid advises to wait until level 3 or 4 before you start really going aggressive, and to look for hooks rather than using Phantom Undertow as an engage.
Every time you think about going aggressive with Phantom Undertow, remember that it has a very long range and can take you very deep into enemy lines. You need to be aware of how much damage you can take without dying. Playing too mindlessly aggressive with Phantom Undertow might get you into a situation you can’t get back out of alive.
If you and your bot lane partner can constantly out-shove the enemy bot lane, laning phase becomes a lot easier for you since the enemy won’t have minion cover to protect them from your hooks. Additionally, since Pyke is pretty bad at harassing under tower, once you’ve shoved them under tower you can and should look to roam.
If your carry can push no matter what, it will be easier. But poking under their turret is pretty useless for Pyke so if you can get pressure on bot lane, roaming is really good for him.
A bot lane fight as Pyke will typically play out something like this: hooking one of the opposing laners, using Phantom Undertow to get a stun on them while they’re slowed by 90%, using Ignite to deny their full Heal value, then trying to DPS them down until they die using Death From Below to finish them off. If, on the other hand, it doesn’t look like they will die, you can just disengage or buy time for your cooldowns as well as regenerate some HP with Ghostwater Dive.
While ganking, you’ll want to sneak up with Ghostwater Dive and, depending on the situation, either trying to catch them with Phantom Undertow for a free hook, or reveal yourself early while you charge Bone Skewer to try to land it for a follow-up Phantom Undertow if it hits. The latter works best if the target is too close to tower or simply too far away from you to catch with Phantom Undertow, while the former shines when neither of these are a problem and you can afford to just dash onto them to begin the gank.
Pyke is an assassin! But also a support at the same time.
Out of laning phase, depending on the circumstances Pyke can either stick to his carries and help peel for them, or aggressively look to make picks and be part of the engage by chaining CC with his team mates. You should decide what to do on a case by case basis. If the enemy team has no way of getting onto your carries then they probably don’t need your help staying alive. But, if the enemy team has something like Rengar, your carries will probably be relying on you to stick around and hold your CC to protect them.
Either way, if not using his ultimate to make a play, Pyke should look to execute any enemies that drop below the execution threshold in order to provide as much damage as possible for his team, especially when the resets are being used to deal large amounts of AoE damage. Pyke is a support but he’s also a carry and his contribution to teamfights is to clean up fights where the enemies drop low.
Pyke is a relatively high skillcap support meaning he’s only as good as the player who controls him, but when played well he has the potential to be a great support.
He’s kinda like the Yasuo of bot lane, which means if you are good at him he can be really good.