League of Legends is rich with a diversity of champion for every conceivable play-style – minus one. The game had not offered the simple, visceral delight of punching the living crap out of people. That is no longer a problem.
Vi stands for many things – vicious, violent and very fun. The Piltover Enforcer is the distilled essence of shonen anime and ‘90s-era western comics: She’s hot-blooded, in-your-face aggressive, and even has impossible anime hair to complete the look.
But fun is only one variable. How viable is she?
VI STANDS FOR VIOLENCE
Vi combines Malphite’s hard engages and area of effect damage with Vayne’s ridiculous late-game damage. Assault and Battery’s crowd control immunity, combined with Blast Shield, gives her a rock-hard defense in team fights. Vault Breaker’s a backup closer, letting her chase right over thin walls.
Denting Blows guarantees her effectiveness after she closes in: it is a trifold damage amplification ability made to punish her opponents even if Vi only builds tanky items. The first application of Denting Blows also makes subsequent triggers easier by increasing her attack speed.
Of course, Blast Shield only takes so much punishment, leaving Vi open to ranged harassment – not that anything can actually stop the beatdown. Excessive Force deals conical damage behind her target, allowing her to clear the caster minion line from way back, and incidentally damage nearby champions from the melee minion line.
The combination of Excessive Force and Blast Shield becomes especially important as 2v1 side lanes increase on the international competitive level. By having ranged damage that also triggers a shield, Vi has a much easier time farming and surviving harassment than most melee champions, like Shen, Irelia or Singed. Unlike her peers, Vi has hands big enough to push back, and is blessed with a straightforward attack animation to help her farming.
An all-in kit like Vi’s has inherent disadvantages. Excepting her ultimate, her only form of crowd control is Vault Breaker, which knocks away her target, much like Poppy or Hecarim. While she can close in on a target just fine, sticking to them long enough to maximize Denting Blows can be difficult.
Vault Breaker is also Vi’s only form of escape, and it’s an awkward tool for that at best. Its initial activation slows her movement speed by 15 percent, and it has a long charge time before she’s able to accelerate away. She’s a prime target for Cho’gath ganks and roaming mid laners, and her attempts to escape can be interrupted readily by common top laners like Jax, Irelia and Renekton.
Much of that can be solved with the right itemization:
VI STANDS FOR VICIOUS
Trinity Force seems the ideal choice for her. Excessive Force benefits from both attack damage and ability power ratios, making both Phage and Sheen extremely effective. She gets a spike to her burst with Sheen, and Phage keeps her targets close for Denting Blows. The attack speed and critical damage bonuses from the Zeal component does the same as Phage.
Season 3 does offer her an alternative build that should prove more effective in certain situations. With only a Ruby Crystal in its build path, Trinity Force is a poor item if Vi’s team needs a beefier initiator as it offers no endurance in a fight. For that, instead of Trinity Force, Phage and Sheen should be upgraded respectively into Frozen Mallet and Iceborn Gauntlets. The armor, cooldown reduction and enormous chunk of bonus health keep her in the fight a lot longer than if the two items were squashed together into Trinity Force.
Other great items for her include Blade of the Ruined King – due to its targeted slow as well as lifesteal and burst – and Randuin’s Omen for the tankiness. Finally, even after its nerf, Black Cleaver greatly amplifies Denting Blows.
Either way, her core kit is going to be relatively expensive, tying her effectiveness into how well she farms and/or ganks into late game:
VI STANDS FOR VICTORIOUS
Even if Vi’s opposition can neutralize her aggression, she’s fine if she can keep pace on farm, exploiting Denting Blows’ late-game damage for superior presence. Her most difficult top lane matchups are versus ranged champions, like Jayce and Vladimir, who can zone her out of farm. But Excessive Force’s AOE cone prevents her from absolutely losing the lane against them. Only Jax offers a truly hard time against Piltover’s Enforcer: Counter Strike is the perfect counter-play against Vi’s kit, neutralizing Denting Blows’ impact in trades while Jax’s own attack speed passive kicks into gear.
Vi also has a respectable presence in the jungle: Denting Blows and Excessive Force work together to clear out camps quickly, and Vault Breaker can pass over thin walls, allowing quick-in, quick-out invasions and harassment. However, Vi’s ganking is severely red buff dependent until level six, as she lacks any form of hard crowd control until then.
Vi is a carry-oriented jungler, lacking the wide range of utility that support junglers like Maokai and Cho’gath offer. While her pre-six game is fairly dismal, she’s able to dominate the rest of the game after sufficient farm.
ONE GIRL WRECKING CREW
Assault and Battery is the perfect addition to any “dive” composition, especially the Diana-centric ones that dominated IPL5. Assault and Battery will knock aside any tanks that try to intercept her, and Denting Blows punches the tanks down too. As it’s armor reduction, as opposed to penetration, it amplifies her AD carry’s damage against the same target, quickly eating through even the toughest defenses.
Vi rewards tenacity and patience, playing well with top laners whose personal styles encourage mid- and late-game pressure rather than early-game stomps. Pro players like TPA’s Stanley and CLG.EU’s Wickd should find her a natural addition to their roster, especially as she plays well with CLG.EU’s late-game sieges.
To answer the question at the beginning: Vi is as viable as a punch to the face is painful. Teams relying on aggressive close-range fighting will find her to be an exceptional addition.
Vi players should, however, remember that a punch only hurts if it connects. Her natural adversary would be TPA’s anti-M5 poke comp, using Caitlyn, Nidalee and Jayce to provide punishing, long-range objective control. Such a team is the antithesis to Vi’s entire play- style, preventing her from getting close enough to be of any impact.