[box]This is the second entry in Obscurica and OptimusTom‘s Champion Select series. Please click here for their previous review of Sejuani.
A new champion has joined the Field of Justice on February 1, 2012, packing explosive potential in a tiny furball package. Ziggs, the Hexplosives Expert, is a ranged AP carry, specializing in laying down the boom across a significant area. In fact, every one of his four spells does area-of-effect damage at range, making him a high-class zoning champion right from the get-go.
Zigg’s mid-lane play style is most readily compared to Gragas, as both are reliant on a skillshot spell for the majority of their damage, have means of a short-ranged escape, and have a way to buff their auto-attacks. However, despite these seeming similarities, Ziggs is very much a unique, standalone design – careful placement of his Satchel Charge and Hexplosive Minefield allows him to directly control the enemy’s placement, manipulating them into deadly bursts or ganks with an ease commensurate with his summoner’s skill level.
That is not to say, however, that Ziggs is unusually difficult to pilot. With an ultimate that out-ranges Lux’s Finales Funkeln, and spells that combine significant casting range and blast radii, the newest Yordle champion covers for his few weaknesses with sheer distance, blasting down opposition before they can get too close.
Short Fuse (Passive) – Ziggs’ passive applies a magic damage bonus to his autoattack every twelve seconds. Except that it’s almost never going to be the full twelve seconds, as each ability usage reduces the cooldown by over four seconds per use. Not only that, but the bonus damage scales with his total ability power, effectively giving Ziggs an entire additional spell’s worth of damage with every autoattack during a full combo.
Bouncing Bomb (Q) – Ziggs’ skillshot is probably better compared to Ezreal’s than Gragas’, as it’ll explode on the first enemy impacted. However, two things distinguish it – first and foremost is that it’ll easily go past the maximum casting range by bouncing up to twice, with the bounce range and speed increasing by the distance initially cast. Secondly, with an explosive radius of an estimated 250 points, it is quite possible to clear the entire line of caster minions per wave with a single usage.
Bouncing Bomb is, in of itself, the majority of what makes Ziggs so ridiculous, especially during the laning phase. Its AOE damage combined with extensive range allows Ziggs the ability to safely, and easily, farm and harass – often at the exact same time. It almost feels like a misnomer to call it a skillshot, as “skill” would imply that it’d be easy to miss dealing damage with it.
Satchel Charge (W) – As a version of Gragas’s ultimate in miniature, Satchel Charge is the truest test of skill for a Ziggs player – and even then, it isn’t actually all that challenging. It has both the longest base casting distance of Ziggs’ non-ultimate abilities, and can be detonated on command. As Ziggs is also affected by the blast, it makes it an excellent escape mechanism, even allowing Ziggs to bypass thin walls when used carefully – remember that the farther away you are from the center of the spell, the shorter the distance you’ll travel.
However, its true strength isn’t in its usage as an escape mechanism, but for its usage in denying escapes. Putting it just behind an enemy and detonating it immediately will knock the champion back towards Ziggs and any nearby allies – but especially back into range of Ziggs’ passive-boosted autoattack.
Notably, the enemy’s champion animation will be delayed for a moment after their repositioning has ended. While not an outright stun unto itself, it does increase the time for Ziggs to respond.
Hexplosive Minefield (E) – Speaking of denying escapes and ganks: Hexplosive Minefield isn’t just a proximity-triggered AOE effect, but a powerful slow as well. At max rank, it reduces the speed of enemies passing through by over 40%, and has sufficient coverage area to outright deny jungle routes and entrances. Though it lasts only a short while, and has a fairly pitiable damage scaling, catching an enemy in the middle of the minefield leaves them with few options, and all of them bad.
Mega Inferno Bomb (R) – Ziggs’ ridiculously named ultimate is, in itself, a ridiculously powerful spell. With a base scaling of .9/AP within its primary blast zone, and .675/AP for everything around it, it’s hard to avoid having your entire team punished severely by it. Worse, it has a range just as ridiculous as its name and damage. The only saving grace is that its impact is delayed the farther it was launched out from – cold comfort, however, if Ziggs was launching it from right in front of you.
It’s going to be tempting to compare Ziggs to LeBlanc, especially at early levels. A EWQ combo lets him slow an enemy, position them for an immediate knockback, then blitz them repeatedly with Bouncing Bombs and Short Fuses, all without very much difficulty. Certainly, his burst potential is extremely high, and while it does take some skill to position Satchel Charge, it’s not exactly mentally taxing to place and time it correctly.
It’s also going to be tempting to then dismiss Ziggs as an early-game champion that scales horribly – just like LeBlanc. Except that this would be wrong. While even his Q has fairly mediocre scaling, he isn’t fully reliant on spell damage for his burst – mixing in a passive-boosted autoattack into his rotation effectively gives him a fourth, fifth and possibly sixth additional spell’s worth of damage in an engagement. Even into late-game, that is a lot of extra damage being outputted, and most of it AOE – going against a team with Ziggs necessitates across-board investment in magic resistance, as his damage’ll rapidly leak through any weaknesses in your total defense.
Most damning of all, however, is the ease in which he farms. There should simply be no reason to miss creep kills and gold on Ziggs – not only is he extremely safe from harassment, the low cooldown and wide blast radius of his Bouncing Bombs lets him farm almost at-will. By ten minutes in, it should be possible to clear out the entire caster minion line with his Q, and just about the entire wave with both Q and W.
It is likely that Ziggs will see nerfs in near-future patches – specifically to the range of his abilities, as they simply make him far too easy to play at the moment, and far too difficult to harass. That is not to say, however, that he doesn’t have a number of obvious weaknesses and counters. His lack of sustainability is an obvious issue – a low health pool and base mana pool will see him outlasted by other champions if he’s too generous with the bombings, and even for an AP caster champion, he’s especially fragile. With a base speed as low as his, Ziggs is reliant on his ability to zone the enemy out – failing to do so leaves him in a perilous position.
Maokai, in particular, acts as a direct counter to Ziggs. He’s able to bypass Ziggs’ minefields and bombs entirely to root him into place, and has bombs of his own to chase him down. Furthermore, dedicated AOE damage doesn’t seem like a great feature when used while Maokai’s ultimate is activated.
Finally, he has an unusual level of flexibility. Though his most optimal placement is that of the standard AP mid-lane caster, his extremely fast jungle clear time and good ganking tools may see him wander between neutral camps instead. It’s even possible to take a note out of Moscow5’s playbook for Kennen and play him as an AD carry, based on the fact that two of his skills are used more for their utility than damage, his Q lets him farm with great efficiency, and his passive is a built-in steroid for his autoattack.
Riot set out to make Ziggs a highly distinctive champion – more so than Sejuani, at any rate. Off his initial impressions alone, he’s certainly a whole lot of fun to play – knocking people around and laying traps is great fun, so long as you’re the one chucking the bombs. Certainly, as a Mythbusters fan, it’s hard to say no to the boom – and Ziggs brings nothing but boom.
Yet it’s hard to recommend him. At least, not without this caveat: we at ggChronicle lack psychics and oracles on our staff, and are unable to predict how Ziggs’ll look a month down the line – or even two weeks. He is a lot of fun to play – but there’s so little risk to him right now, and his skills offer so much in-game mechanical “reward,” that it’s hard to see how he won’t be nerfed. His ability ranges are almost certainly to be dialed back to be considered fair, as probably should be for his passive’s cooldown reduction component as well.
For the next two weeks, however, the only reason you’ll not see a Ziggs on the field is because he was banned before the game even began.