The hunter is many things, brought together under murderous tension. Bloodlust mated tenuously with patience. Stillness and sudden violence, welded into a near-seamless whole. He tracks, through shadows and through rippling streams, mud hiding scent and a shroud of leaves hiding form.
The prey is unawares. The stalker’s eyes gleam through the murky undergrowth.
A flash of white mane and a blood-dripping roar of fierce pride: the Pridestalker cuts through the jugular, claiming his trophy.
His prize: your head — and another tooth upon a grisly chain.
Unseen Predator (Passive) – Rengar’s attack range is increased if he is in a brush or stealthed, and his autoattacks cause him to leap onto his target. The range and gap-closing bonus persists for half a second upon leaving brush or stealth and is indicated by a faint white circle around Rengar only visible to his summoner.
The passive persists even with the presence of Sight and Vision Wards, noting only whether or not he’s stealthed or in a brush, not whether or not the opponent sees him. When equipped with Bonetooth Necklace and sufficiently stacked, Rengar’s leap range is increased.
Rengar is also the first to use the Ferocity mechanism, storing a charge with every ability use, to a maximum of five. Once Ferocity-capped, his spells are replaced by an empowered equivalent. Empowered skills do not share cooldowns with their normal equivalents, allowing him to use the same skill twice in a row.
Savagery (Q) – Rengar’s next basic attack deals bonus damage and increases his attack speed for three seconds, with each rank increasing the base damage dealt and attack speed bonus applied. Savagery also applies to all global objectives, turrets and inhibitors alike.
Thrill of the Hunt (R) – Rengar becomes stealthed, and is able to smell out all enemy champions in a large radius around him. His movement speed increases, and he quickly generates Ferocity. Unseen Predator is active, and will let Rengar leap upon the first enemy he autoattacks. Attacks and abilities will break stealth.
Rengar is the second to have a champion-specific item, after Viktor, the Machine Herald. Bonetooth Necklace is an 800 gold item that grants 10 bonus damage to Rengar, plus an additional two per level, making its maximum damage contribution 46 total at level 18.
Though Bonetooth Necklace’s late-game damage is poor, its unique passive makes up for it, encouraging Rengar to snowball heavily off his success. Every kill or assist grants him a Trophy, while every death costs him one. Additional stats are added to Bonetooth Necklace as Rengar gains Trophy stacks:
- 3 Trophies: +10 Armor Penetration; 5% Cooldown Reduction
- 6 Trophies: +25 Movement Speed
- 9 Trophies: +150 range to Unseen Predator’s leap
- 14 Trophies: +3 seconds to Thrill of the Hunt’s duration; +1 Ferocity to the next ability used after Thrill of the Hunt.
Given that the jungle is almost defined by its lush foliage, it would be tempting to exploit Rengar’s passive as much as possible, using Unseen Predator to both shorten the route between camps and sneak around lanes before pouncing upon unsuspecting victims. At first blush, the idea of leaping into melee range from the brush seems like it’d be a great ganking tool. However, despite everything about how Rengar’s designed and flavored, he is no proper jungler. He is marred by two fundamental issues:
Rengar’s vulnerable to kiting early on. Bola Strike’s painfully short range makes leap attacks from the brush Rengar’s only viable means of closing distance with targets before level six, severely limiting his kill potential. It also severely limits what team comps he can integrate into, as he needs his lanes to have hard crowd control to make up for his deficiency.
He might be able to make up for those shortcomings with an early level-two gank, starting with Doran’s Blade and a leashed red buff to immediately ambush a laner with an empowered Savagery. His non-mana mechanics encourage such a high level of aggressiveness, but note that this tactic does rely upon the laners not dropping an early ward in expectation of exactly this sort of tactic.
His second issue lies in his clear rate. Despite Battle Roar’s AOE damage and tankiness bonus, its high initial cooldown makes it a poor skill for the first clear. Savagery is a contrapositive example of his jungling problem: while the low 6-second cooldown and quick build-up to Empowered status makes it an excellent single-target ability, such spells make for slow clear rates. He’s guaranteed to get outmaneuvered by AOE junglers like Cho’Gath, Dr. Mundo and Shyvana, falling behind by increments while they steal him blind.
No, forget the jungle. Map control isn’t Rengar’s specialty – hunting is, and this hunter prefers his targets one at a time. Like Lee Sin and Riven, both also manaless champions, Rengar is dependent on a strong early game to establish his pace, and this is doubly so if he opts to get Bonetooth Necklace to enhance his passive.
Thus: what better lane to put him in than the infamously snowball-prone top lane?
It is here, at the northern edge of Summoner’s Rift, that Rengar truly comes to his own. His dueling capabilities are tremendous – the brushes lining the lane gives him mobility akin to Irelia’s Bladesurge, allowing him to minion-hop to and away from his opponent. Getting to level three should cause opponents dread: leaping into melee range and hitting them with Bola Strike and Battle Roar sets them up perfectly for a lethal Empowered Savagery burst. He has incredible dueling potential, possibly standing toe-to-toe with even the likes of Jax and Riven, and is well-equipped to exploit any advantages he carves out in lane.
Such mechanics can stand to benefit tremendously from Trinity Force. While the mana from Sheen is a wasted bonus on Rengar, absolutely everything else is a joy to work with. Savagery with Trinity Force becomes more than a melee-range nuke: its power is magnified by Sheen’s triggered bonus, its attack speed bonus is complemented by Zeal, and Phage lets him stick to the target like a predator taking down its dinner. It’s a necessary component for an anti-carry bruiser looking to rapidly take down the enemy’s primary DPS.
Alternatively, Rengar can choose to maximize Battle Roar over Savagery by stacking cooldown reduction and health, exploiting the 15% scaling health bonus from its Empowered state. With Frozen Mallet, Brutalizer and Randuin’s Omen, fighting Rengar’s team in the jungle or river becomes a terrible mistake: he’s too tanky to take down, too sticky to take off the carry, and there are too many brushes around to avoid getting leaped on.
- Olaf – The Berserker should be able to keep Rengar at bay with the threat of Undertow. If he gets outplayed, he should still slap Rengar with Undertow, and use Ragnarok to break free of Bola Strike’s slow or snare. Given Olaf’s built-in lifesteal, Rengar finds it difficult to win a war of attrition, and the situation worsens once Olaf’s acquired Warden’s Mail, blunting Rengar’s ability to harass.
- Malphite – Ground Slam might mitigate the attack speed bonus from Savagery, but it doesn’t do much to prevent spell damage. Rengar with both Bonetooth Necklace and Brutalizer has the cooldown reduction and armor penetration to turn rock into rubble.
- Darius – Apprehending Rengar may very well be the worst thing Darius could do. Cripple’s damage isn’t comparable to Savagery’s burst, and its attack sped debuff is effectively negated. Against Darius, it would be wise to save up for Empowered Battle Roar, as its armor bonus is extremely relevant against the Noxian commander, and can also save Rengar from Noxian Guillotine.
- Vladimir – Not a great matchup for the Pridestalker. Even if Rengar gets the pounce on him, Sanguine Pool does much to mitigate Rengar’s impact. Should he get Rylai’s Crystal Scepter early on, it becomes incredibly difficult to play against Transfusion.
- Rumble – Fire and harpoons keep Rengar at bay, and he has no easy escapes from Equalizer’s hot-footed hell. The risks to Rumble come from overheating, limiting the yordle to melee-ranged autoattacks and leaving him vulnerable to Rengar’s counter-attack.
- Jayce – Given Mercury Cannon’s short autoattack range, Jayce’s hybrid ranged/melee play style is vulnerable to Rengar’s melee-range burst. Shock Blast acts as Jayce’s primary standoff tool against Rengar, but it is both unreliably slow and the most mana-intensive part of his kit. Thundering Blow can force Rengar, and anybody else, off of Jayce in a hurry, but it too is an autoattack modifier, allowing Rengar to hit Jayce with at least one Savagery before being tossed away.
TONIGHT WE HUNT
Champion designer Xypherous’s recent statements on the poisoned snowball nature of top lane were most definitely not addressed by Rengar’s design. He’s just as reliant on and prone to snowballing as the usual top lane culprits. Bonetooth Necklace only further exemplifies this: the more Rengar kills, the easier it is for Rengar to kill, with the first two tiers unlocked being the most fundamental towards that goal.
Thankfully for Rengar players, the Pridestalker’s single-target damage is way unbalanced upon release. Empowered Savagery is currently one of the best single-target damage spells in the game, and can be loaded up roughly once every half-minute at no cost. If there’s anything that makes Rengar particularly in need of a nerf, it would be his all-but-guaranteed tendency to secure First Blood within the first few minutes of the game, especially if he’s packing Ignite and/or Exhaust.
Outside of solo queue, however, Rengar starts to flounder. He is extremely prone to being kited, and useless in the face of hard crowd control mechanics, especially if laid down on him in the middle of a broad lane. His effectiveness in a teamfight is also detrimentally impacted by the presence of Oracle’s Elixir: true vision alerts his enemy’s carries to when he’s making a move on them.
Because of his niche team synergy, there are really only two team compositions that can utilize him effectively, espoused by CLG.NA and Moscow 5 respectively. As Savagery’s bonus damage and attack speed modifier works against turrets, Rengar should have the same effectiveness as Nidalee in a split-push composition, using Thrill of the Hunt to escape before the enemy team can converge on him. Such a tactic would see him carrying Teleport in the place of Ignite or Exhaust, as a wide map presence is a necessary part of the overall strategy.
Alternatively, he can play to the Russian anti-jungler strategy. Battle Roar’s Empowered double-tap allows him to quickly push and clear the minion line, opening up a window of opportunity for him to sneak around in the enemy jungle. His incredibly dangerous dueling ability, along with the inherently higher gold and experience gain from laning, is a major deterrent to all but a handful of junglers, denying them the buff nearest to his lane, as well as one or two other neutral camps.
Note, however, that both strategies keep him out of direct 5v5 engagements. Given that lions hunt in packs, Rengar’s lone-wolf tendencies are a bit out of character. He is designed to dominate the early game – when enough time has passed, and the hounds are baying for his blood, the hunter becomes the hunted.