Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Making Waves with Nami



blog-0812963001393276158.pngOne of the greatest tool's in any lane's arsenal is the element of surprise; Whether it's from damage, sustain, skill, etc. the best thing you can do to win your lane is to lull your enemy into a sense of false confidence and then knocking them flat on their back. Recently, I have had great success in doing this by experimenting with "unexpected" Nami builds. First lets start off with the basics:

----- Why Nami? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Picture for a moment the strength of Soraka's heal's paired with the CC of leona and the utility of lulu... op right? ... well that's Nami! Due to Nami's kit, Nami player's can give different combinations of enemies in bot lane different looks (aka play styles). In my opinion, Nami has the best kit for support outside of thresh in competitive play. She has the ability to play both offensively and defensively without changing play styles or holding back abilities, the same way thresh does, which makes her a huge threat in team fights. Nami's kit is about control and sustain as she excels at controlling a fight through cc/utility and sustaining the carries. The key to Nami is knowing which look (play style) to show against which combinations as well as landing a high percentage of well timed Aqua prisons.

----- Nami Play Styles ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Peel 'N Heal [Passive]

Peel 'N Heal is what I dubbed Nami's passive game. This is the play style you want to use when you are out matched or out picked in champion select/early game. I use this play style to sustain late game champions and keep them safe from hard engages early on. An example of when this type of play style would be best used is when the enemy team has a high damage threat in the jungle such as elise or kha'zix paired with a strong initiation in the enemy support such as leona or thresh. If you are playing this style you need control of vision in the river and the closest brush to your turret. This will ensure that you can not be caught off guard by a strong initiation.

When Playing this style, I tend to position myself behind my ADC so that the initiation is focused onto them. The reason for this is that Nami is super squishy all game and needs to play safer against heavy agro compositions. By forcing the initiation onto your adc, it guarantee's that Nami will be able to land an Aqua prison on anyone in melee range of your ADC. After your aqua prison is cast, you need to make a snap decision as to use Ebb and Flow or Tide caller's blessing. Typically, I land my aqua prisons before any major damage is output on initiation which means I can hold Ebb and Flow. Since my adc will be focusing on running out, I cast Tidecaller's blessing on myself so that I can apply slow to 3 enemies chasing my adc. Once my adc has a step or two on his pursuers, I then cast Ebb and Flow to top him off and give him a small speed increase. If the enemy team continues to chase and has another way of controlling you or your adc, use Tidal wave to ensure a successful disengage. From this point, you can choose to re-engage if it is in your favor because the enemy team should have chased you quite a bit down the lane.

2. Counter-Engage [Mixed Play]

Counter-Engage play style is all about critical decision making. In order for the Counter-Engage play style to be effective, you need to have full control of vision in bot lane. Typically when I show this look, I have full control of river, the brush closest to the enemy turret and a sweeping lens to keep the brush closest to my turret clean of enemy vision. This play style is extremely effective against short range, high damage combinations such as Graves or Jinx with Annie or Leona. The point of this look is to allow your enemy support to feel like they've caught your ADC in a bad position and then catch theirs in an Aqua prison to stop the dmg from ever engaging. Once aqua prison is applied, I typically cast tidecaller's blessing on myself and apply the slow to the enemy adc as I run to assist my adc. From this point all your adc needs to do is kite and fight the enemy support as I am positioned to continue to apply slow to the enemy ADC and/or the support chasing my adc.

After the counter-engage happens you need to evaluate the risk/reward
for a full counter engagement as Nami will surely die if miscalculated. The positioning you will be in will be between the enemy support who is most likely on your adc closer to your tower and the enemy adc who is trying to catch up to the fight. Either one of two situations will occur, you will be in a position to make them run due to the damage output of your adc on their support or the enemy team will collapse on you as you are positioned between them. Note that the enemy support most likely has used major CD's to initiate on your adc while you have only used Aqua prison which should be coming off cd. As to what happens next, is all up to you. You have to make the decision of committing to a full counter engagement or to back off. I can tell you this though, 9/10 times if no assistance comes to lane, I am able to Tidal Wave the enemy adc into an aqua prison while my adc kills off the enemies support. Then I can Tidecaller's Blessing my adc to speed him up and apply a slow to their adc.

**NOTE: If you are playing this
style, start Doran's Shield for better engagements as you will be purposely placing yourself in a position to be focused**

3. Poke 'N Choke [Aggressive]

The most aggressive look I give the enemy team is called Poke 'N Choke. While Nami has extremely good range, this style is very difficult to master due to Nami's base health being so low and the current meta of high damage threats from the jungle. Even though this style is extremely difficult, it can be the most effective/rewarding and has helped me shut down typical "heavy agro" compositions of Lucian or Jinx and Leona, thresh or Annie. The concept is simple, land a high percentage of aqua prisons on the adc while you poke down the support who moves up to push you off of the enemy in aqua prison. This is "baiting" the counter-engagement from the support, and I can tell you many of them bite on this. This strategy should ONLY be used to insert your lane dominance early game. The point of this style is to bait the enemy support to take "free" damage from me and my adc while their ADC is incapacitated and then to back off before the enemy adc has a chance to counter-engage.

Since this is a high risk strategy, starting Doran's shield is essential which creates a major lack of vision control. You make this trade to establish two things:

1. Lane Choke (force enemy to farm under tower):
By poking your enemy repetitively during levels 1-3 you should be able to burn both pots from your enemy support which makes engagement without assistance a death
sentence. This typically forces the enemy to play safe and farm under tower until help can arrive

2. Lane Brush Control: Most likely your enemy has either 1 ward and a trinket or only a trinket. By forcing the enemy to use their trinket/ward on the brush closest to their turret due to aggression from Nami, you allow multiple avenues for your jungle to slip into lane unnoticed which can create a snowball effect for your lane.

----- Combining Play Styles --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you are a skilled Nami player who know's her like the back of your hand, then the most effective way to win a lane is to switch up play styles. This will keep your opponents guessing and it's something that many supports can not do because they lack either offensive or defensive capabilities. There are few supports I can say can pull this off effectively and those would be Thresh, Nami and Lulu. When you give the enemy a different look every time you return to lane, the adjustments they made to counter the look you were previously giving them will be futile, keeping the edge in your favor. I have listed out below how I play my lane as a Nami:

Setting up lane aggression:
Before you begin doing anything, you need to set up the lane so that you have an advantage. I do this by warding the enemy brush closest to their tower.

Setting up level 2 aggression:
After vision has been established, auto attack the caster minions once or twice each to assist your adc in clearing the wave. This will allow you to get level 2 faster.

Levels 1-3
: Once vision and level 2 has been set up (you should still be level 1), you can now start using the Poke 'N Choke strategy. Watch the movement pattern of the enemy adc, everyone has one, to be able to predict their movements while "safely" poking the enemy support. Once you have a good feel of how the eneny moves for CS, trap them by landing an Aqua Prison as they step up to last hit and then poke the adc unless the support steps up. The reason to poke the support if they step up to will be because you can land 2-3 more auto attacks which will burn a pot. Keep repeating this until you reach level 3. At this point you will want to evaluate changing your play style as you begin to lose strength. If you have burned through all of the pots for one or both of the enemy team, continue using the Poke 'N Choke strategy. If you have been unsuccessful in burning through the pots, switch to the counter-engagement strategy.

**NOTE: If at any point you end up getting outplayed or take too much poke, you can always play a steady game of Peel 'N Heal until help arrives**

Levels 3-6:
Nami's level 3-6 is weak in "output" when compared to almost every support out there. If you have burned all pots from one or both of the enemies, continue being aggressive and have your adc trinket ward river. Do not under any circumstances move past the end of the 2nd brush as it is a long run with minimal movement speed. Typically, this is the point in the game I tend to like to capitalize on enemy engagements which calls for the Counter-Engage play style. Since I forced the enemy to burn their trinket ward early, I should be able to safely position myself in the brush closest to my tower. The enemy now has to make a decision as to use another ward for lane or to save it for river... not a choice you want to make. If they use the 2nd ward in your brush then you are going to want to play safer to keep yourself alive and to make the enemy think you've "backed down". If no ward is used, place yourself in a safe "power" position to be able to instantly counter-engage.

Levels 6 - T1 Turret Down:
By this point in the game my lane typically has a lead and I switch between Peel 'N heal and Counter-Engage play styles. The reason for this is that we already have an edge and now we just want to push our lane so that we can roam and create objective/map pressure. The more effective pressure you create on the map, the harder other lanes will win/catch up.

Team Fighting:
Always play Peel 'N Heal in team fights... Nami is too squishy to take on the bruisers or carries so you just want to keep your carries healthy to do the heavy lifting for you.

----- Runes / Masteries --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I play Nami in a way that many people are afraid to. I play her aggressively and sacrifice defensive stats in my runes for more early game aggression. As Nami, I really want to capitalize on poking power so I run the following:

Ability Power: 25.6 -- Armor: 12.7 -- Magic Pen: 5.5 -- Armor Pen: 8.1

  • 9x Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration
  • 9x Greater Seal of Armor
  • 9x Greater Glyph of Ability Power
    • This could be substituted for Magic Resist, however, since you are bot you do not need the MR unless facing Annie/Morg

    [*]3x Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

I tend to be a bit more conservative with my masteries because of how aggressive I am with my runes. I build a full 21 points into the utility tree for maximum gold and capitalizing on gold income through poking as well as CDR and move speed to keep me safe. I then spend the remaining 9 points in defense as Nami is extremely squishy.

----- Itemization -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Core Item Goals:

  • Doran's Shield
  • Sightstone
  • Talisman of Ascension
  • Boots of Mobility (preference)

Starting Items:

  • Doran's Shield
  • 2x Health Potions

Starting Doran's shield will give you the extra bit of "tankiness" that makes Nami aggression viable. Starting this way, you will be able to take 2 health pots and a trinket of warding. On your first back, try to buy an Ancient Coin, a pink ward, a green ward and 2 health pots for 610g. The pink ward is to be placed in Tri-brush (when Blue) or River (when Purple) to give you vision control.

First Back (Goal 610g):

  • 1x Green Ward
  • 1x Pink Ward
  • Ancient Coin
  • 2x Health Potions

Now this can vary depending on how well your levels 1-4 go. I typically like to push to tower at level 4 and back because by this time I have usually forced a kill or back by the enemy team and they will be returning to lane with an item advantage. In an average game, I find myself buying the above items for complete vision control and increased gold income. If you do well and are rewarded with assists, you can tack on t1 boots or a ruby health stone.

Early Game Goals (by 15 min):

  • Nomad's Medallion
  • Sightstone (switch warding trinket for sweeping lens)
  • T1 Boots

These are my itemization goals for the 15 minute mark. If I have nothing but what is listed above, my lane is probably even or has a slight advantage.

Mid-Game Goals (by 25 min):

  • Doran's Shield
  • Sightstone
  • Talisman of Ascension
  • Boots of Mobility (preference)

Late Game Options (over 30 min):

  • Death Cap: With AP now scaling utility stats, Death cap can be a very effective tool on Nami. Not only does her heal scale ridiculously well with AP, Nami's Passive (Surging Tides) also grants 10% of Nami's AP as movement speed.
  • Zhonya's: If you are getting focused, this item will give you additional suitability and a nice increase to ap.
  • Cruicible: Solid item against HARD cc compositions and an Item I frequent
  • Aegis: Most cost effective item for mixed compositions with heavy burst. If there is little to no mixed damage, I will forgo this item
  • Zeke's: Only if you have heavy heavy AD that revolve around Life steal for sustain. This item is great with vayne/trist when there is also a Khazix, panth, riven, trynd, etc.
  • Tank Items [Omen, Veil, Frozen Heart, Spirit visage, GA, etc]: Tank items are always available for better sustain in fights, however, since Nami should be playing Peel 'N Heal in team fights, I forgo these items to increase my heal/utility power.

----- Closing ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you like to take the road less traveled than I highly suggest you try playing Nami in the manor in which I stated above. Nami has a hidden potential that only few, very skilled players can tap into because of the high skill required. I believe that Nami is a very strong counter to the current power houses of solo queue support (Annie, Thresh and Leona) if used correctly. Hopefully with the advice listed above, you too can make waves with Nami, The Tidecaller!


Recommended Comments

I liked reading this. I would have to say Nami is my favorite champion right now next to teemo.  I don't know why more people don't play her. Her poke is incredible and with her speed boosts and slow downs make her one of the best peels for an adc. I never thought about going tank on her. I will have to try that out sometime. Thanks for a great read. <3

Share this comment

Link to comment

Wow, this is amazing.  So much good information in this guide.  I think you should see if you can get some video footage to help explain some of the concepts and then get some feedback from Diamond players if possible, then submit it as a premium guide somewhere!

Share this comment

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now