Add Vlad to your champion "sanguine" pool
Pre-rework Vladimir’s laning phase was pretty rough due to his high cooldowns and health costs, making his early damage, pushing power and sustain particularly impotent. This would culminate in Vlad being shoved under tower, denied a lot of farm and cause him to struggle to survive lane. With the addition of Crimson Rush, this is no longer the case: by providing additional damage as well as healing, it’s much easier for him to trade in lane and provides him the sustain that he needs to push out the waves with his Tides of Blood. In fact, it’s quite easy to underestimate just how much stronger he is in lane right now. It’s crucial to remember that while Vlad's laning phase is certainly stronger, he still suffers from high cooldowns: using abilities at an inopportune moment can give your opponent a huge advantage. Also consider that, while you may feel tanky, your durability comes from health stacking and a small amount of magic resistance. A 2 item AD carry can do some serious work if you don’t respect them. Check out Fox's build against Unicorns of Love.
Spirit Visage is the standard first item for Vlad: the increased healing passive, magic resistance (making trading with Vlad more difficult for mages), and cooldown reduction are perfect stats for Vlad. Not to mention he gains extra ability power thanks to his passive, just like Doran’s Shield. Building Hextech Protobelt-01 first is also an option: its active dash allows Vlad to get to high-value targets. Combining Ionian Boots with Spirit Visage, Protobelt and Runes/Masteries helps you reach that 40% CDR, enabling Vlad’s monstrous sustained damage. Add a Rylai’s for extra damage, durability and a slowing effect on his abilities and Vlad becomes more than a pest. To cap the build, you can add a Void Staff, Zhonya’s Hourglass or Rabadon’s Deathcap depending on the situation.
Swain: murdering with crows
Swain is not dissimilar to Vladimir; stacking health and resistances enable Swain to deal consistent damage while also being healed through his abilities. While he still cannot match the waveclear of a Viktor or the burst of Ryze, he brings the unique playstyle of the sticky bruiser mage that you struggle to shake off your back. Perhaps most importantly, he does very well into Vladimir. While Vlad's strength is being able to trade and come out ahead due to his sustain, he struggles to do this against Swain. Getting close to a Swain allows the Master Tactician to land all of his crippling abilities, slowing Vlad’s retreat and shoving him under the turret. Betsy demonstrates this beautifully in Roccat's game 2 vs Splyce. It is also important to note that while Swain is very much about sitting on the frontline, he’s not a tank; Swain works best when he can sit close to as many targets as possible while evading the enemy’s focus. He is incredibly susceptible to burst and if you’re too overconfident and try to force plays, it can backfire.
The core of Swain's build is Rod of Ages: it provides the necessary health and mana to consistently deal damage while still providing enough regeneration to sit on the frontlines. Beware though, as Rod of Ages will increase the time needed for Swain to scale. Forcing objectives before you hit peak power on Swain can end in disaster. Zhonya's is another core component of Swain's build path; Swain has an interesting interaction with Zhonya's where he can continue to regenerate health while in his ultimate even under the item's stasis effects.
Follow those up with an Abyssal Scepter for magic resistance and cooldown reduction, add some Sorcerer's Shoes for magic penetration and cap the build off with an item of your choice. I would personally always recommend a Void Staff or Deathcap for extra damage, however a Rylai’s will help you stick to your targets and provide increased durability. Check out Betsy's build against Splyce.
Shot through the heart (with an Ashe arrow)
In previous tank-focused metas, Ashe has always struggled due to her lack of mobility. While changes in 6.4 helped ease the pain, it wasn’t enough to make her a meta pick. That changes in 6.11: the current meta has moved towards off-tanks in the top lane as well as ranged supports that do a better job of providing peel. Not only that, but there’s actually less hard CC available compared to previous metas. Ashe’s ability to offer an engage compensates for this lack of hard CC in other roles while also making it easier for her to survive against threats. However, the biggest reason of her resurgence will likely be the nerfs that hit Lucian on Patch 6.11. Ashe’s ability to trade with the next-best, Caitlyn, in lane will make her all the more popular. Opponents hiding behind minions, making Volley difficult to hit, can make her laning phase rough. However she becomes incredibly potent when Ranger’s Focus is stacked. Aim to have a support that can provide adequate peel, such as Janna or Karma. Positioning is crucial on Ashe to ensure her lack of mobility isn’t a death sentence.
Ashe is an old school AD carry that relies on her basic attacks to deal high DPS in the mid to late game. Essence Reaver is the typical go-to first item on Ashe: the CDR it provides allows her ultimate to be available more often to set up engages. Runaan's Hurricane is a great follow-up, enabling her to hit multiple enemies and stack Focus incredibly quickly. While Boots of Swiftness are the main boots of choice for Ashe, this may change to Berserker’s Greaves on Patch 6.11 due to buffs. If you want mobility, go for Swifties. If you’re focused on increased DPS, grab Berserker’s. To round out your core build, you can add an Infinity Edge for a huge damage boost, a Quicksilver Sash to counter hard crowd control, and a Last Whisper item to shred tanks. Check out Wildturtle's build against Cloud9.
Fizz: the north pole
Fizz is 6.11’s new top lane terror: with nerfs to Maokai and Ekko taking the down a peg, there’s a spot open for a new obnoxious top laner that excels at sticking to the enemy backline and being generally unkillable. The great thing about full-tank top lane Fizz is, while his damage output is not the highest, he can’t be ignored. Fizz can dive into the backline, soak up a huge amount of damage and will often split up the enemy team so that your teammates can capitalise. Fizz is very mobile and people often forget this. While it’s easy for you to dive onto the backline, it is not always easy for your team to follow up. Committing too hard to stick to a target without the appropriate follow up can leave you up a creek without a paddle. It’s also important to remember that your damage is not high. In a drawn out fight with tank Fizz vs an marksman, the tank Fizz will likely win eventually. However, your job is to distract and draw attention, so don't try to hard to commit to getting the kill as it can often backfire.
Fizz’s weak laning phase and inability to effectively clear waves means a Corrupting Potion is necessary to survive. Adding a Dark Seal after that will further aid you, plus it’s easy to pick up and keep your Glory stacks. A Doran's Ring is also great to grab if you have the gold. Iceborn Gauntlet provides the perfect stats for Fizz as well as making him incredibly sticky. Add a Sunfire Cape or Spirit Visage depending on the enemy’s main damage, and your core build is set.
Once completed, you can start to split push, draw pressure and dive onto the backline with little fear. As always, how you complete your build is up to you: Guardian's Angel, Randuin's Omen or Banshee's Veil are great options for maximum durability, while Zhonya's and Abyssal can provide additional tanky stats while adding a bit more kick in your step. Blade of the Ruined King is a great option to act as more of a split-push threat. Check out Ray's build against CLG.
In this article, we’ve only covered a few of the interesting picks that are likely to appear in Patch 6.11. If we were to cover all the picks, you would have nothing to look forward to! Hopefully you found the information interesting and helpful. If there are other champions or pro player picks you want to learn more about, hit us up in the comments and let us know!