Pyke, The Bloodharbor Ripper, has been spotted in recent months in almost every lane in pro play, and in every position he has achieved stellar grades. He’s since been nerfed and chained back to bot lane; but he is still as menacing down there as ever. Just what is it that makes him so powerful?
First of all, due to how slippery Pyke is, you can’t easily die while playing him. He can go invisible, and during his invisibility he is a lot faster too. He has a gap closer which also stuns people and can go through walls. Therefore, unless you fumble, it’s essentially impossible for someone to catch you.
"You can't really die if you play Pyke well"
His speed plays a role in making him an incredibly potent roamer. He can easily move up top and mid lane undetected and secure kills for every one of his laners. In the bot lane, he’s got great engage, can follow up on ganks with ease and, finally, he has excellent sustain due to his W.
One of his bigger weaknesses is that you can’t peel well for your ADC. When you’re playing Pyke, the ADC, or your ADC actually, isn’t the focus. This is why Mikyx recommends picking him when your team has an ADC that has their own peel, like Varus or Ashe, or their own escapes, like Lucian or Ezreal. Another issue is that Pyke cannot build health; so you will need to bulk up on resistances and avoid getting into a position where you can get bopped. Due to the aforementioned slipperiness of Pyke, this isn’t all too bad!
Let’s get into the runes. Your keystone is Aftershock, as you can proc it easily with your Q or E in any fight. In tier one you should go for Demolish because, for one, the other two are somewhat useless on Pyke and, two, it’s just really useful to have in order to ensure you get as many turret platings as possible. In tier two, you can pick up either Bone Plating, when you’re laning against an all-iner like Alistar, or you can get Second Wind, to combat poke against the likes of Lulu, Nami or Janna. Finally, in tier three you should pick up Unflinching. Tenacity is a great stat on Pyke since as long as you’re not CC’d, you’re impossible to kill.
Pick up Presence of Mind and Legend: Tenacity in the Precision tree. Presence of Mind has great synergy with Pyke, nullifying any mana issues you might have mid game and allowing you to use your game-changing ultimate more often. Legend: Tenacity just makes you harder to kill.
You can also opt for Inspiration secondary and pick up Stopwatch and Cosmic Insight instead of the Precision runes. Try out both setups and see what suits you best!
"I played him once without Tenacity and I just perma died"
For the runes shards, take one armour, one magic resist and one CDR shard. The CDR shard helps Pyke reach 40% by the end of the game. The resistance shards are very valuable because Pyke can’t build health and get tanky in that way.
Grab Flash and Ignite on Pyke. Ignite will boost your early game kill-potential and is especially effective against healing champions. Flash can be incorporated in some of your combos to make you all the deadlier. It’s also useful as a last-resort escape.
Passive: Gift of the Drowned Ones
Pyke rapidly regenerates health when he’s not visible to the enemies. This means that walking into unwarded brush or retreating into fog of war will also replenish your health – utilise your passive throughout laning phase to keep yourself healthy.
Q: Bone Skewer
Bone Skewer can be used in several ways. Using it without charging will instantly do damage and slow an enemy you’ve hit, but not hook them towards you. Channeling it will increase the range of the ability and also hook them in. If you’re in melee range of the enemy, he will essentially be flipped behind you; kind of like how Singed’s Fling works. If you channel it from longer range, the enemy will simply be dragged closer to you.
A low-range Q will fling an enemy over Pyke
W: Ghostwater Dive
Pyke turns invisible and becomes much faster. This is your bread and butter for roaming and engaging – enemies will not see you unless you’re very close.
E: Phantom Undertow
When you dash forward, a phantom stays behind. The phantom then rushes to you and stuns anyone in his way. This is generally used in conjunction with your other abilities – stunning an enemy makes it easy for you to fling or ult them.
R: Death from Below
Your ultimate is an X-shaped skillshot that, when it hits an enemy, causes Pyke to blink to their location and, since it’s an execute, deal major damage. If you manage to kill an enemy with your ultimate, the cooldown is refreshed and all the allies who helped you secure the kill will get a sack of gold for their trouble.
You can use your E instantly after you Q someone towards you so that they are immediately stunned, after they’ve been flung towards you, by your E phantom.
Mikyx Q E’s Alistar to his death.
You can use your W to deftly position yourself in melee range of an unsuspecting enemy and fling them towards your team with a short-range Q.
R Q E
Because your ultimate causes you to blink to an enemy’s side, you can actually use as a gap-closer in certain situations. An enemy won’t expect you to ult them when they’re not low-health so they’ll definitely be surprised and that’ll give you the opportunity to CC them with Q and E; and hope your team swoop in to secure the kill.
Nine out of ten times you will want to start Relic Shield; it’ll allow you to push the lane and keep your ADC sustained a bit. You can start Ancient Coin if you think you won’t be in lane much and instead plan to roam heavily all game.
"I think going Lethality is best"
Ideally you will want to pick up Boots of Mobility on your very first back. These boots complement Pyke’s roam playstyle – you will be able to easily gank top and mid lane before the enemies notice you’re gone.
After that, finish up your Targon’s Brace then start building up your core. Mikyx recommends getting Duskblade of Draktharr. Stat-wise it’s a great item for Pyke; plus, the active is fantastic for (melee) supports. It allows you to detect and clear wards, which makes de-warding easier and also ensures that you will always stay out of sight. For the second item you can choose between Youmuu’s Ghostblade or Edge of Night. Edge of Night is a great, albeit pricey, item that’s a nice blend of offense and defense. You can also first get a Caulfield’s Hammer, which gives you 10% CDR, and then Edge of Night so you don’t lose out in any way.
After you’ve gotten those three lethality items, you can top your build off with a Guardian Angel.
Pyke is essentially an assassin so you can expect a pretty volatile laning phase. He’s at his best when he’s playing against squishies and with an all-iner like Draven. Be on the lookout to hook the enemy when they misposition or they’ve wasted spells, abilities or when they’re simply out of mana. You should attempt to be threatening to them by taking control of the brush and applying pressure with your W and Q.
"Pyke doesn’t really have any bad matchups."
If you’re against a tank, it’s a little tougher since you have no means to poke, but not hopeless. Very early on it won’t be much different since they will be squishy, but later they will be too tedious to kill. In any case, against a tank you will probably want to focus mostly on the ADC, as well as roam a lot.
It’s really important to capitalise on Pyke’s roaming potential. He can quickly and quietly gank other lanes with the invisibility and movement speed boost from W. If the enemy mid laner has no summoners, ult or is simply immobile like Syndra or Orianna, always look for opportunities to gank there, as it’s the closest lane.
A good time to gank is right after recalling. The enemy will assume that you are still walking bot lane from base, when in fact you are going mid lane. Just make sure your ADC can handle himself alone while you’re having your adventures.
Like we mentioned in the introduction, Pyke isn’t a great peeler. Usually that’s the support’s most important duty in a team fight. Pyke should instead look to pick enemies off and generate chaos in the team fight. In a way, Pyke is somewhat similar to a late game Blitzcrank when it comes to team fighting; both rely on their hooks to catch careless enemies out. You can also try to be cheeky and ult-Q someone into your team for an abrupt engage.
And, of course, always be on the lookout to execute anyone who goes below your threshold. One ultimate opens up the door for another, and you could potentially ult five times in a single fight.
Mikyx secures two kills with two great Bone Skewers
Pyke is one of the strongest supports on the Rift right now and any aspiring support, or autofilled assassin-main, should give him a go! Special thanks to G2’s Mikyx, one of the best Pyke players in the LEC, for answering all of our questions about Pyke.