So, you want to main Teemo? There’s a few things to know before committing yourself to the most notorious champion in League of Legends.
Although it may sound cliché, there’s no other champion in League of Legends that’s quite like Teemo; his unique playstyle and overall gameplay experience allow his skillcap to be quite low, but difficult to master.
Teemo functions as a hybrid of an Attack Damage Carry (ADC), Assassin, and Bruiser.
Your positioning is key when playing Teemo; just like ADCs, you must have reliable Kiting mechanics and the ability Auto Space effectively. Although it was originally a meme, there are distinct differences between Auto Spacing and kiting. Auto Spacing is the ability to effectively keep your distance from enemy champions, whereas Kiting is the ability to move your character between auto-attacks.
Teemo was thematically intended to play as an AP assassin. However, with different items being introduced to League of Legends over the years, people have adopted different playstyles like On-hit Teemo and Bruiser Teemo.
Even with the recent nerf of Frozen Mallet back in Patch 8.4, building Teemo as a Bruiser has been a viable option for years and, in certain matchups, more optimal than AP Teemo.
With these three playstyles intertwined, most of the mechanics and game knowledge you learn while playing Teemo can be carried over to other roles and vice versa.
No other champion in League of Legends has abilities similar to Teemo’s Toxic Shot (E) and Noxious Trap (R); they are the abilities that define Teemo as a champion and allow him to be the most versatile champion in League of Legends.
Hate in General
Be mentally prepared for the outlash that your teammates may exert when choosing Teemo in Champion Select. It’s no secret that Teemo isn’t the best teamfighter, but don’t let your teammates comment discourage or persuade you to stop playing Teemo. Any champion can be one-tricked to high-elo once they’re mastered.
You will generally never escape the flame and blame from your teammates. Even as a high-elo Teemo main myself, I still get the occasional Teemo flame. Brush it off and, no matter what you do, don’t tilt.
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.
If you’re in the unfortunate situation of having fed the enemy top laner, there’s only one way to fix: Split Pushing. If you’re already useless in the current game state, it’s time to make an enemy laner useless.
Let’s look at what Split Pushing does.
Split Pushing allows you to manipulate the map by forcing an enemy champion to respond to the pressure you’re placing; you inherently force the game to become a puzzle and if the enemy team fails to respond correctly, then the consequences can be catastrophic. The beauty of it all is pressure is powerful regardless if the champion you’re playing happens to not be.
As stated before, if you’re already useless, the best thing you can do is force an enemy champion to respond to the pressure. The same logic can apply to dealing with tanks who are great at teamfighting (Ornn, Sion, Maokai, Cho’Gath etc.); don’t let them shine in teamfights and force them to match your split push.
Items and Teleport
So you’re feeding or your team simply isn’t meant to teamfight? Drop everything and immediately start building yourself a Runnan’s Hurricane. Runnan’s is amazing for Teemo as having an item built before Runnan’s isn’t required due to Teemo’s Toxic Shot (E). Also, you’re going to need Teleport for situational purposes like backdooring, getting to Baron or even getting back to lane in the early stages of the game.
Shrooms/Wards Providing Vision
Although you can still build AP, it’s better to go for an on-hit build as you’ll mostly be dueling and taking towers; this is why you’ll be using your Shrooms for vision purposes and not for damage. Shroom and Ward the immediate paths to where your split pushing. When safe, try to get deeper vision and use it to your advantage to bait enemy champions into wasting more time.
The Push Pull
The “Push Pull” relates to how lanes naturally push with minions; “push” is you pushing the lane, whereas the pull is the enemy team responding on the wave bouncing back towards you. Arcsecond gives a great in depth explanation of how it works.
Generally speaking, you don’t want to be pushing a lane if you don’t see 4 other enemy champions on the map. If you’re confident with your abilities, or simply fed, push when there’s 3 on the map. You can also just push if your team is applying a high amount of pressure somewhere else on the map; this is because if you happen to die, your team can get a fortune in objectives for the cost of one Teemo.
The goal of the game above was to take Sion out of teamfighting situations, which is where he thrives. I immediately built Runnan’s Hurricane and forced him to join me in the split push. It’s important to note that this strategy was successfully executed in mid-diamond elo.
When playing this strategy, I like to take Grasp of the Undying as it will helps you duel champions more effectively than the other alternatives. It’s also a much safer option than Press the Attack or Aery.
Starting items are fluid when it comes to Teemo; With Toxic Shot (E) giving him 50 on-hit damage at level 9, Teemo has the pick of the litter. However, starting items are matchup dependent, so it’s important for you to both play to your strengths and counter the enemy laner.
Tier 1: Doran’s Shield and Doran’s Ring
In general, Doran’s Ring and Doran’s Shield are Teemo’s best starting items. For decent matchups that don’t involve a receiving ton of poke, I suggest grabbing yourself a Doran’s Ring. However, if you’re laning against champions that are poke heavy, I highly recommend taking Doran’s Shield as it will allow you to stay in lane for longer periods of time and eventually poke out the enemy laner. It’s important to take into account the trading patterns of the enemy laner when choosing your starting item. For champions that rely less on poking Teemo down and more on all-ins, Doran’s Ring is your best bet; not only will you have the health pool for the all-in, but it also allows you to effectively poke them out. However, for sustaining from poke, Doran’s Shield would be your best choice.
For the brutal Pantheon matchup consider starting Doran’s Ring and maxing Blinding Dart (Q); Teemo’s Blind Dart outranges Pantheon’s Spear Shot (Q). For a more in-depth breakdown of the matchup, watch IcyPhoenix’s video analysis.
Tier 2: Cull
If you’re feeling frisky, then consider taking Cull; it’s extremely gold efficient and gives decent laning stats to help you last-hit effectively. Only opt into taking Cull for matchups where you would take Doran’s Ring. You never want to take Cull into punishing matchups where Doran’s Shield is needed; a Cull start is about safely getting away greed, not getting away with feed.
Tier 3: Null-Magic Mantle and Boots
In very specific matchups it’s sometimes beneficial to start with Null-Magic Mantle or Boots. You can be greedy and start Null-Magic Mantle if you intend on rushing Wit’s End against an AP laner that doesn’t poke you whatsoever (Nautilus, Maokai, Singed etc.) Starting Boots can also be an option versus Darius if you need to avoid getting pulled in, but it isn’t optimal.
With the current meta being focus around diving bot lane, it’s important for a top laner to show some sort of presence on the map. Teleport also allows Teemo to apply pressure and become a real split push threat while Baron is alive. With Teleport, your laning phase is less volatile if you happen to be losing lane. If you make a mistake and lose a 1v1, teleport helps you recover by teleporting back to lane and fixing/catching the wave. Overall, teleport allows you to be more flexible with laning assignments, it helps you be an effective splitpusher, make/match plays bot lane and have a healthier laning phase.
Tier 1.5: Ignite
With the recent buffs to Ignite in Patch 8.6, Ignite is finally a decent choice if you choose to double down on the oppressive Teemo playstyle. The reason Teleport is still better than Ignite is due to the flexibility Teleport brings throughout the game; splitting bot lane without Teleport is a game losing play if your team doesn’t play around your splitpush properly (most elos don’t.) However, splitting isn’t the only viable playstyle Teemo players have; If you enjoy taking the assassin route, then try playing with ignite a few game as it will only enhance your playstyle.
Tier Everything Else
Before Frozen Mallet was nerfed, Ghost was actually a “viable” secondary due to allowing you to chase targets more effectvely, but now it’s simply isn’t good. Every other spell summoner spell is not a viable choice on Teemo.
Overall, take Teleport if you choose to split and Ignite only if you choose to play like an assassin. This does NOT mean you cannot play an assassin playstyle with Teleport and vice versa. Play towards your needs as a player. When in doubt, take Teleport.
Generally speaking you will always want to max E -> Q -> W every single game if you’re playing AP Teemo and max E -> W -> Q when playing On-hit Teemo. You wouldn’t Q max second on On-hit Teemo because there isn’t AP that’s amplfying your Q damage. With On-Hit Teemo, it’s more beneficial to kite with W maxed second than get a minor uptick in damage with Q maxed second. However, there are a few matchups where Q or W max/adjustment can prove to be beneficial.
When playing versus Riven, you actually want to take two points into Q instead of taking your second point in E when you hit level four; the extra .25 seconds, in theory, allows you to cancel 2 auto-attacks when she does her basic Q – AA – Q – AA combo. After taking your second point into Q, you can continue to Max E. Depending on the elo, the second Q point might be pointless if the Riven player is bad. You can also even Q max versus Pantheon and try to outpoke him by taking Doran’s Ring for the Mana Regeneration, which allows you to stay competitive in Q trades. IcyPhoenix has a great guide on how to win the infamous Pantheon matchup if you would like to learn more. With that said, the Pantheon player can definitely go for the all in, so the Q max strategy is not foolproof. Generally speaking, you will want to max Q second.
There are a few matchups where dodging/kiting the enemy laner effectively can win you your lane; this is where a few early points into W can come in handy. I personally like to take two, and sometimes even three, points into W when laning against Sion and Darius because kiting and dodging spells is vital in these matchups. However, this is a just a “safety net” playstyle; you can absolutely still have a successful lane versus Darius and Sion without taking the extra early points into W.
My Personal Ability Sequence
I personally go max E -> W -> Q every game regardless if I’m playing AP or On-hit Teemo; I believe having the extra tempo and presence on the map is more valuable than a bit more damage on your Q. However, this is my personal preference and by no means is maxing W second objectively better than maxing Q second.
Starting items are fluid when it comes to Teemo. Starting items are matchup dependent and allow you to both play to your strengths and counter enemy laners.
Tier 1: Doran’s Shield and Doran’s Ring.
In general, Doran’s Ring and Shield are Teemo’s best starting items. For decent matchups that don’t involve a receiving ton of poke, I suggest grabbing yourself a Doran’s Ring. However, if you’re laning against champions that are poke heavy, I highly recommend taking Doran’s Shield as it will allow you to stay in lane for longer periods of time and eventually poke out the enemy laner. It’s important to take into account the trading patterns of the enemy laner when choosing your starting item; for champions that rely less on poking Teemo down and more on all-ins, Doran’s Ring is your best bet; not only will you have the health pool for the all-in, but it also allows you to effectively poke them out. However, for sustaining from poke, Doran’s Shield would be your best choice.
Some champions are listed twice due to both choices either being good or dependent on your playstyle/build (i.e. Comet Nasus).
Tier 2: Cull
If you’re feeling frisky, then consider taking Cull. Only opt into taking Cull for matchups where you would take Doran’s Ring. You never want to take Cull into punishing matchups that require you to take Doran’s Shield; a Cull start is about safely getting away greed, not getting away with feed.
Tier 3: Null-Magic Mantle and Boots
In very specific matchups it’s sometimes beneficial to start with Null-Magic Mantle or Boots. You can be greedy and start Null-Magic Mantle if you intend on rushing Wit’s End against an AP laner that doesn’t poke you (Nautilus, Maokai, Singed etc.) Starting Boots can also be an option versus Darius if you need to avoid getting pulled in, but it isn’t optimal.
Teemo is especially unique from every other champion in the game; Teemo has more choices in terms of items and build paths than any other champion in League of Legends. In this section I will divide and sort the best items on Teemo when playing both AP and On-hit styles.
Tier 1 AP
Hextech Gunblade: Since the update of Hextech Gunblade back in Patch 5.22, Hextech Gunblade has allowed Teemo to have amazing sustain along with burst in one item. Gunblade also works as indirect tankiness; if you can heal 400hp in a 1v1, then you essentially had 400 extra HP that fight. If you can do without the sustain, then pick up an alternative. Void Staff: Magic Penetration is Teemo’s bread and butter, so it’s no surprise to see Void Staff make an appearance here. Void Staff allows Teemo to hit like a truck. However, Void Staff is not a must have unless the enemy team has heavily stack Magic Resist. Nashor’s Tooth: An item that deals magic on-hit damage along with 20% CDR is Teemo’s wet dream. This item in objectively good on Teemo for obvious reasons. Liandry’s Torment: Another staple in Teemo’s AP loadout; this item is a must have when playing AP Teemo as it enhance s Teemo’s Shrooms. Morellonomicon: With the recent addition of Magic Penetration and health in Morellonomicon, it kicks Deathcap to the curb and forces its way to becoming a Tier 1 item. Why? Magic Penetration on Teemo is far more valuiable than having flat AP.
Tier 1 On-Hit
Frozen Mallet: Gives Teemo a healthpool to work with while allowing him to stick on targets easier. You can’t ask for more in an item. Wit’s End: Wit’s End is great because it’s cheap and synergizes well with Teemo’s kit. It’s hard to find greater item value for 2400 gold as it gives you a quick and early item spike vs AP champions. Guinsoo’s Rageblade: Guinsoo’s Rageblade allows Teemo to become a legitimate threat by ignoring resists the enemy team has built. It’s great for split pushing, dueling, and works amazingly well with Teemo’s overall kit. Runnan’s Hurricane: Runnan’s Hurricane is definitely up for debate when it comes to true Tier 1 items. Runnan’s not only allows you to become a poor man’s Kog’Maw, but it enables you to have insane tempo on the map while applying intense pressure in a split push situation. Tempo is invaluable and allows you to control the flow of the game. However, it get quite difficult to manipulate the game once you get to Diamond 5.
Sorcerer’s Boots: Not a must have item on AP Teemo, but if you can afford to get Sorcerer’s boots, then definitely pick them up. Teemo abuses Magic Penetration too well. However, it is a bit greedy when compared to its defensive alternatives. Ninja Tabi: My personal choice 90% of games. Even with recent nerfs, Ninja Tabi are too cost-efficient to pass up. Mercury’s Treads: If you’re against high amounts of CC or 4 AP champions, then Mercury’s Treads are your best friend. Boots of Swiftness: Definitely a niche choice, especially if you enjoy being annoying and splitpushing; it is viable, but the passive of the alternatives are simply superior.
Secondary Viable AP Items
Lich Bane: Has it’s place versus squishier comps or if you’re looking to play an assassin playstyle. Rabadon’s Deathcap: Although Deathcap is core for traditional AP Champions, Magic Penetration is more valuable than getting more AP. It’s a great last item, but not a core item. Zhonya’s Hourglass: It’s a viable “get out of jail free card” if you choose to go AP Teemo and are against assassins. I’d personally rather have a health item against an assassin as it is consistently more reliable and flat stats don’t have cooldowns. Banshee’s Veil: A great item against AP heavy team comps; highly recommended versus heavy AP comps. Rod of Ages: A debatable Teemo Item. I would only build RoA if you plan on going Grasp of the Undying Teemo. Luden’s Echo: A viable last item if you need to cap to 40% cooldown reduction. Every other Tier 1 AP item is more valuable than Luden’s, so build this as a 4th/5th/6th item if you are in need of cooldown reduction. Spellbinder: A new item that definitely needs some testing. In theory, it’s an amazing assassin item that also gives movement speed; it’s everything Teemo wants. Will update in the future.
Phantom Dancer: A dueler’s wet dream. If you need to beat Fiora at her own splitpush game, consider going the Grasp of the Undying build and rushing Phantom Dancer. Enjoy auto-winning lane. Blade of the Ruined King: Although it is an amazing on-hit item, I don’t believe it is core. There are definitely games where BoRK isn’t needed. Core on-hit items either provide utility or are amazingly cost efficient. BoRK is simply a great damage item that does…. damage? Nashor’s Tooth: I would only build Nashor’s Tooth if you already have Guinsoo’s Rageblade as they synergize very well together. Hextech Gunblade: Hextech Gunblade is viable once you have both Rageblade and Gunblade. I suggest staying away until then as it’s okay decent in this build till then. Mecurial Scimitar: If you’re against hard crowd control and need to deal consistent DPS in order to win fights, then Merc Scim should be in your inventory sooner rather than later.
Viable Tank Items
Frozen Heart: When running the Grasp of the Undying build , Frozen Heart allows you to reach 40% cooldown reduction while being able to face tank heavy attack damage. If you need 40% cooldown reduction versus an AP heavy team, take Nashor’s Tooth and Frozen Heart out of the grasp build and replace them with Bashee’s Veil and Spirit Visage. Spirit Visage: A viable, decent magic resist item. If enhanced healing doesn’t come in handy, consider taking Abyssal Mask or Adaptive Helm Abyssal Mask: A decent magic resist item versus AP champions that like to get a bit too close (Fuck you, Akali) Adaptive Helm: Comes in handy versus AP DPS champions. However, Teemo is weak against AP DPS champions unless you can get your burst off. It’s probably bad. Randuin’s Omen: A great choice against crit-based AD team comps (kindred, yasuo, caitlyn etc.), but I personally enjoy Frozen Heart’s CDR a bit more, especially if you already have a health pool from other AP items. Zz’Rot Portal: A very niche item that is especially good if you plan on split pushing and delaying the game; yes, delaying the game by split pushing with Runnan’s and Zz’rot is a legit strategy that works in high elo.
Shurelya’s Reverie: An amazing cost efficent AP item. Needs more testing and statistics. Will adjust in the future. Dead Man’s Plate: Another niche armor item; I understand the logic behind bulding Dead Man’s Plate, but the stats and movement speed do not justify the cost. You move quick enough with W. Deadman’s is simply overkill. Warmog’s Armor: With the rework of AP items, there isn’t really a need for excessive health. It’s a nice health item, but Spirit Visage or Randuins are far superior tank items. Gaurdian’s Angel: A decent armour item if you’re playing with an On-Hit build and happen to be playing against a lot of AD champions; clearly very situational.
In past blog posts I’ve stated that Teemo is the most versatile champion in League of Legends; this brought up tons of differing opinions as to how Teemo should be played and built. However, due to Teemo’s overall kit, the most efficient way to play him differs from game to game, but why?
The main reason is Teemo can essentially build anything and still be competitive in the early game due to his Toxic Shot (E). When Teemo is level seven he has 40 on-hit magic damage, which is essentially a BF Sword excluding the poison damage over time. There’s no other champion in League of Legends that has the luxury of building Giant’s Belt as a first item while still having the ability to auto-attack the enemy laner to death. Teemo’s versatility in running different builds should be taken advantage of instead of building the same generic items every game.
Teemo is not a “set and forget” champion; he is not like an ADC who builds the same generic items while taking the same generic runes every game. It’s the reason why every high-elo Teemo main takes different runes and has different playstyles and preferences. High-elo Teemo players not only take into account their own playstyle and habits when building Teemo, but also their lane opponent.
A mistake that the majority of players make in low-elo is building the same items regardless of the matchup or the state of the game/lane. Why build the same items every game when the value of those items relating to Teemo differs from game to game?
For example, if you’re laning against Akali should you still build the same items as if you were laning against Swain? The answer is no. Although they both deal magic damage, their kits are different and the way their damage is output is different. Akali has AP burst damage, whereas Swain has AP poke and sustained magic damage; their playstyles and trading patterns are completely different. If you build Wit’s End as a first item versus a Swain, the lane swings in your favor. However, if you did same thing versus Akali, you don’t have the health pool to actually take Akali’s burst (a.k.a. you’re fucked).
I urge all Teemo mains who are trying to climb to play around with different builds and find the style that best fits their needs while still being about to transition and abuse other builds. Not only will you learn to abuse Teemo’s kit more effectively, but you will also learn how to be mindful in-game.
Since the Keystone Rework back in the preseason of Season Eight, Aery has been the core keystone for Teemo, especially with Aery being particularly broken on Patch 7.22. Although Aery is still a great keystone on Teemo, with the new AP item rework a few patches ago, Grasp of the Undying has recently taken the spotlight by giving Teemo the ability to win matchups he would once lose. Top lane is the easiest to gank, camp, and counter-pick making it the most punishing lane. Therefore, the importance of poke, sustain, and survivability becomes magnified. This build gives Teemo, who is already an oppressive laner, more sustain, survivability, and ultimately more opportunities to harass with minuscule punishment from enemy minions.
About the Build
As far as I know, this build originated from xBlotter. However, after talking with him and discussing the pros and cons of the build, I’ve made a few changes that I feel have improved it.
Grasp of the Undying: Grasp grants you insane sustain in lane and gives you a huge advantage when going for all-ins and extended trades.
Bone Plating: Bone Plating is the best rune for fending off assassins; it mitigates any burst the enemy laner can potentially output.
Conditioning: Conditioning is the best option for this row. However, if you’re laning against a high amount of poke, then I’d recommend taking Second Wind.
Overgrowth: Every other option in this row is garbage.
Taste of Blood: Taste of Blood took over Feast’s role; it gives you a chunk of health back that makes a huge difference in the laning phase.
Ravenous Hunter: When fully stacked, Ravenous Hunter is too efficient to pass up. With Teemo’s Toxic Shot (E) technically being ability damage, you’re essentially life stealing off your auto-attack’s on-hit damage.
When to Use This Build
I highly recommend using this build when laning versus champions who can poke you out of lane and force you to back early. This build is essential when playing against champions who rely on winning all-ins. For example, champions like Camille and Jayce become ineffective and this build allows you to auto-win the lane.
Any standard build AP Teemo build can work with this rune setup. However, due to the runes being buffed by health items and AP items now granting a large amount of health, I prefer to build lots of health and damage, while still maintaining 40 percent CDR.
There have been many patches in the past two years that have slowly phased Top Lane into the least queued role.
Top Lane has a much smaller impact on the outcome of games when compared to any other role. The issue has grown over the past few years from three main sources:
Excessive wave clear from Mid Laners
Supports becoming overpowered
Importance of First Tower Gold
Excessive Wave Clear from Mid Laners
It’s no secret that champions like Taliyah, Ryze, Azir etc. have seen tons of priority as of late. Even back in Season Seven, the champions with more than 40 percent presence in competitive play were LeBlanc, Syndra, Orianna, and Taliyah.
Now what does mid lane have to do with top lane? “Four man dives” down bot lane are more common than ever. The reason Mid Laners rarely rotate top is because snowballing bot lane is vastly more advantageous.
Pulling off a four man dive bot lane leads to:
First Tower Gold bonus
First or Second Dragon
An ADC and Support who are now ahead of their counterparts
An ADC and Support who will now rotate top or mid to push their advantage
On the other hand, diving top lane and getting first tower does get your top laner ahead. However, if he continues to push to a tier 2 tower he is now overextended on the map and can very easily lose his lead. He also does not have the luxury to lane swap bot lane.
Supports Becoming Overpowered
Support items have been strong for a very long time, but were not over tuned until Patch 7.9. It’s the reason why you had Junglers taking Spelltheif’s Edge, ADCs starting with Targon’s Brace in the beginning of Season Eight, and Supports who were able to abuse Ancient Coin becoming over powered back in Season Seven (Fuck you Janna).
How do Supports impact Top Lane?
Supports have become Secondary carries. Their gold income per game is near that of actual carries, thus making their impact on the game much greater than before. Junglers and Mid Laners have a much bigger incentive to snowball two high-impact roles rather than just one.
Importance of First Tower Gold
Yes, First Tower Gold is a huge advantage for any player that has the luxury to receive it, but why is it more advantageous on a ADC rather than a Top Laner? Three words. Item. Power. Spikes.
For an ADC to reach their three item power spikes they need 8,800 Gold (Double Zeal Item/Infinity Edge). How much does a Top Laner need? 9,933 Gold. (Trinity Force/Titanic Hydra/Sterak’s Gage)
Giving an ADC first tower gold in much more beneficial because they two/three item power spike much quicker than Top Laners do and are overall much more effective in mid game team fights.
It’s no wonder no one wants to play top lane; even if you were to win top lane, the outcome of the game is in bot lane’s hands, where Jungle and Mid Lane are forced to spoon feed the ADC.