Vladimir, the Crimson Reaper, is one of the most dominant mid laners in League of Legends. With a 51.39% win rate and a 3.38% pick rate in Solo Queue, he combines strong lane presence with insane AoE damage in the later stages of the game. Let’s see how you can use him to carry in Solo Queue!
Passive: Crimson Pact
Vladimir gains ability power equal to 2.5% of his bonus health and bonus health equal to 140% of his ability power. These bonuses do not stack with themselves.
How to use: While this passive might sound confusing, all you should remember is that you get 1 point of AP for every 40 hit points, and 1.4 points of health for every point of AP. As you can see, stacking ability power is much more efficient. And despite the fact you can’t directly control your passive, Crimson Pact does dictate the way you itemize.
Vladimir deals damage to the target enemy while healing himself in the process. Each cast of Transfusion generates a stack of Bloodthirst. When Bloodthirst reaches 2 stacks, Vladimir gains 10% bonus movement speed, and his next Transfusion deals more damage and heals for a larger amount.
How to Use: Say hello to your main trading spell. The mix of damage and healing is potent enough that you’ll win most short term trades, but your enemies will still outmuscle you if they drag you into a prolonged skirmish. That’s why Vladimir works best in a hit-and-run pattern. Walk up to your lane opponent, throw in an auto attack and a Q, and walk back before they can retaliate.
If you’ve stacked up your Bloodthirst, you should always look to initiate a trade. Keep in mind, though, that your enemies will try to keep their distance, and it’s better to use your empowered Transfusion on creeps than not to use it at all. After all, your stacks will decay eventually.
W: Sanguine Pool
This LoL Champion submerges himself in a pool of blood, getting 37.5% bonus movement speed, which decays over 1 second, and becoming untargetable and gaining the ability to pass through units for 2 seconds. Enemies that are standing in the pool are slowed by 40% and take magic damage every half a second. Vladimir heals himself for 15% of damage dealt.
How to use: Sanguine Pool is your only real defensive ability. The untargetability allows you to dodge deadly skillshots (Fizz’s fish) and devastating effects (Zed’s ultimate). Not only that, but the extra movement speed lets you get out of harm’s way while returning some damage in the process.
But Sanguine Pool has another purpose. Its innate synergy with Tides of Blood [E] turns you into a powerful diver that can seamlessly walk into the middle of the enemy team, and even though you’re untargetable, you can still heal up with Hemoplague [R]. The ability costs a whopping 20% of current health, so only use it if you absolutely have to.
E: Tides of Blood
First Cast: Vladimir gathers life force for up to 1.5 seconds, slowing himself by 20% for the last 0.5 seconds. If Vladimir finishes channeling the spell or gets interrupted, he automatically initiates the second cast. The Crimson Reaper can cast Sanguine Pool [W] during the Tides of Blood animation.
Second Cast: Vladimir unleashes a nova of blood bolts. Each bolt stops at the first enemy hit, dealing magic damage and slowing down affected targets. The damage is increased the longer Tides of Blood was charged, and even though enemies can catch multiple bolts, they can only be damaged once. Minions absorb up to 5 bolts and transfer damage to nearby unaffected minions if hit.
How to use: This spell offers a ton of AoE damage, which makes it perfect for wave clear. Not only that but channeling Tides of Blood before Transfusion [Q] is your main way of increasing your damage output. Remember that minions can block this ability, so be wary of your positioning. In teamfights, you want to combine Tides of Blood with things like Protobelt active, Sanguine Pool, and Hemoplague to ensure you’re dishing as much damage as possible.
On a side note, a quick E channel will make it much easier to CS ranged minions under your turret, so use it if the damage from your auto attacks isn’t enough to last-hit creeps. Just like Sanguine Pool, Tides of Blood cost hit points (8% of maximum health), so don’t spam it if you’re not certain you can life steal back up.
Vladimir infects all enemies in the target area with a blood sickness, increasing the damage they take from all sources for 4 seconds. After the duration, affected enemies take a burst of magic damage, and Vladimir is healed per every champion damaged by the detonation. The healing amount is reduced by 50% for every target excluding the first.
How to Use: Hemoplague is amazing for teamfighting as it turns you into a life steal tank. Dive into a 5v5, channel Tides of Blood [E] and cast Hemoplague over it for a massive burst of damage. Then hide in a Sanguine Pool [W] and watch your health jump back to full.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t use Hemoplague on a single target. In fact, your ultimate is essential for executing dives and pulling off solo kills, so don’t hesitate to cast it whenever you see someone in your kill range.
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R > Q > E > W
Transfusion [Q] is invaluable for its combination of damage and sustainability, and you should always max it first. Follow up with Tides of Blood [E] to increase your damage output in the mid game. Save Sanguine Pool [W] for last, as it’s perfectly capable of fulfilling its purpose at rank 1. As always, don’t forget to level up Hemoplague [R] whenever you can.
Vladimir Runes and Summoner Spells
You want to go with Sorcery and Domination for your runes. In theory, Vladimir’s best keystone should be Phase Rush. But it’s far too difficult to proc right now, and the Crimson Reaper will enjoy much more success with Summon Aery. That’s right, the keystone that was originally designed for supports works surprisingly well on a bloodthirsty hemomancer, and your spells will pack quite the punch once you incorporate it into your game.
For your second rune, you can either go with Nullifying Orb (against mages) or with the Ultimate Hat (against everyone else). The third rune choice is equally complex. On one hand, Transcendence is great for scaling into the mid/late stages of the game, but Celerity will be useful from the first minutes of the game, and Vladimir always likes to have more movement speed to get in range for Transfusion [Q]. Finally, get Scorch. The rune is great for increasing your presence in the laning phase and in teamfights.
For the Domination tree, you want to grab Taste of Blood and Ravenous Hunter for the increased healing. Keep in mind, though, that the Resolve tree is equally viable, as you can pick runes like Iron Skin and Second Wind to help you survive tough matchups.
Flash is an essential on Vladimir since it’s your only reliable escape. Not only that, but many Vladimir combos revolve around flashing it to close the distance, so always take this summoner spell. In the mid lane, you can combine it with Ignite or Ghost. The former grants you more kill pressure in good matchups and the latter makes it easier to navigate through teamfights and skirmishes. In the top lane, Teleport is the best summoner because it allows you to make cross-map plays.
1.) Hextech Protobelt-01 > Sorcerer’s Shoes > Zhonya’s Hourglass > Liandry’s Torment > Void Staff > Rabadon’s Deathcap
Vladimir’s core build takes advantage of his unique playstyle and puts the Crimson Reaper in the best possible position to carry teamfights. Hextech Protobelt-01 is crucial for its combination of health, ability power, CDR, and—most importantly—powerful gap closing active. Keep in mind that you can use the active during the Sanguine Pool [W] and Tides of Blood [E] animations.
Sorcerer’s Shoes are great for enhancing your DPS, and Zhonya’s Hourglass is perfect for mitigating damage and waiting for your cooldowns/healing from Hemoplague [R]. Liandry’s Torment is incredible on any champion with AoE spells since you can spread its passive across the enemy team, and Void Staff allows you to pierce enemy magic resistance.
Finally, Rabadon’s Deathcap is the cherry on top of the metaphorical cake that lets you deal absurd amounts of damage in the late game.
Of course, a diverse champion like Vladimir has several situational items to consider. Most importantly, you want to get the right boots upgrade. Despite the fact that Sorcerer’s Shoes provide a lot of burst, Ioanian Boots of Lucidity will grant you extra CDR for abilities and summoner spells, making it much easier to initiate fights. Mercury’s Treads also have their uses against heavy crowd control, and even Ninja Tabi might come in handy versus full AD comps.
If your team has a lot of damage but lacks a frontliner, look into getting Spirit Visage. This item is a perfect fit for Vladimir since it increases your healing and throws in health, MR, and CDR on top of that. Banshee’s Veil is another viable anti-mage purchase. And if you’re looking to increase your burst damage, nothing beats Luden’s Echo.
When to pick Vladimir?
Vladimir is exceptional against short-ranged carries and teamfighting compositions. Whenever the opposing team wants to 5v5, the hemomancer can counter them by unleashing crimson fury upon his enemies. He also thrives in matchups most AP users traditionally struggle with—but more on that below!
Vladimir Matchups and Counters
Vladimir works well into short-ranged carries, and picks like Ryze, Corki, Lucian, and Yasuo will struggle against him. Additionally, Vladimir’s Sanguine Pool [W] is made for countering burst. This gives him an insane advantage versus champions like Zed, Syndra, Karthus, and Kennen.
Of course, there are plenty of counters to the Crimson Reaper.
Long-ranged mages like Anivia, Orianna, and Azir will have an easy time outdamaging your life steal anz zoning you away from the creep wave. Furthermore, DoTs and tethers persist through Sanguine Pool, so you have no way of mitigating damage from Fiddlesticks, LeBlanc, Malzahar, and Talon.
Laning Phase and Early Game
The best laning item for Vladimir is Doran’s Shield. Your goal for the early game should be keeping your farm up with auto attacks and harassing the opposing laner with as many Transfusions [Q] as possible. Don’t get involved in all-ins because you’ll actually lose these. Instead, aim to chip away at the enemy health pool and slowly squeeze him out of your lane.
One exception to this rule is when you get two Bloodlust stacks since the enhanced damage/healing from Transfusion allows you to play more reckless than usual. Still, don’t get carried away. Vladimir doesn’t have any real escapes or gap closers, so you never want to overextend and leave yourself open to all-ins and jungle ganks.
Speaking of ganks, these will determine which ability you take at level 2. If you’re in a safe spot and don’t see the enemy jungler visiting your lane go with Tides of Blood [E] to improve your lane presence. Otherwise, put a point into Sanguine Pool [W]. Of course, the latter scenario will make it harder to pressure your opponent, but hey, better safe than sorry. This is much more relevant in the top lane than in the mid lane because you’re more likely to get ganked in a longer lane.
Since Vladimir is a scaling champion, your power grows with levels. This means you’ll often be able to set up kill opportunities at level 4-5, although capitalizing on them will usually require tower dives. Fear not, though, because Vladimir is one of the best divers in the game. Sanguine Pool is perfect for resetting aggro, and the healing from Transfusion [Q] will allow you to tank an extra turret shot.
If you’re feeling apprehensive about taking risks, wait for level 6. Hemoplague will provide a huge powerspike thanks to its mix of damage and sustainability, so use it to finish off your target.
In the mid game, Vladimir is a textbook teamfighter. Sure, you can have some splitpushing presence since few champions can match you 1v1, but you don’t deal that much damage to turrets, and you’ll find more success in 5v5s.
Of course, there’s still the challenge of teamfighting as an immobile champion. If you approach teamfights without much thought, you’ll get kited into oblivion, which doesn’t bode well for your chances of victory. That’s why you should focus on using Hextech Protobelt-01 (or even Flash) to catch out unsuspecting foes.
The classic Vladimir combo starts with channeling Tides of Blood [E] and flashing in right into the middle of the enemy team. Follow up with Hemoplague [R] and Sanguine Pool [W] to mitigate incoming damage, and throw in Hextech Protobelt-01 and Transfusion afterward. If you find yourself being focused, activate Zhonya’s Hourglass to stall for cooldowns and healing from your ultimate. Keep in mind that Vladimir isn’t as squishy as most mages, so you’ll be able to tank quite a bit of damage for your team.
Naturally, most players are well aware that the Crimson Reaper is planning to Flash onto them, and they’ll make sure to keep their distance. That’s why you should work on finding flanks. Teleport and Ghost are particularly good for this since they’ll allow you to quickly enter the enemy territory and avoid their vision. Once you manage to get a good angle, blindside your opponents with a swift combo and watch them crumble under tons of AoE damage.
Approach late game 5v5s the same way, but be on the lookout for more teamfighting opportunities. These often come in the form of objectives. Whether it’s setting up traps or catching enemies in Baron pits, Vladimir excels at contesting objectives because it’s one of the few situations where his opponents are forced to walk towards him. This will make it all too easy to land a devastating combo and set your team up with a decisive victory.
Keep in mind, though, that getting into the middle of a teamfight will be more problematic now, and certain champions like Malzahar or Fiddlesticks can completely negate your initiations. To counter that, stick next to your AD carry and peel for him while waiting for the perfect opportunity to ramp up your aggression. Chances are it will come sooner rather than later.
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Vladimir is mid game monster that can tear through entire teams. Of course, you’ll have to work on his combos and perfect your laning phase. But if you devote enough time to mastering his unorthodox playstyle, you’ll swiftly climb to the top of the Solo Queue ladder.