A while ago I was playing a lot of pre-nerf rework Voli top, doing pretty well in general around gold mmr. This one game though, I faced a Gragas running Phase Rush and just got stomped. I had heard of it but never seen it before. The hit and run playstyle really shuts down aggressive fighters very effectively.
If you're not familiar with the pick, Gragas has a quick 3 hit combo in q-e-w that allows him to pop in for a burst of damage every time Phase Rush is up and then run away hasted with slow resistance. You do that a few times with essentially no opportunity for return damage and then use it aggressively once your health advantage is big enough. With the cooldown being 15 seconds on Phase Rush you can really get the upper hand on a lane fast. So I took it up recently and yep, it's a pretty strong pick. He's essentially impossible to kill in a lot of what should be losing matchups.
The only thing that frustrated me was his huge E hitbox colliding with minions. It makes it kind of hard to aggress on ranged tops or people who just ignore you and decide to hang back and farm it out. So I started experimenting with other champs that have a quick 3 hit combo to abuse the same playstyle, but with a more reliable gap closer.
Maokai was my first try, and it is definitely super strong in lane. Stronger even than aftershock in the 1v1 in many cases. With W auto Q, or W proccing bami's cinder then q, you can abuse safe Phase Rush trades into aggressive champs that would normally just chase you down and kill you through aftershock. The problem with Maokai is that you definitely miss aftershock the later the game goes.
So then I tried Vi because I know she runs Phase in the jungle sometimes, and holy crap does it feel strong. I usually play support or jungle so sometimes I'm not particularly good in really scrappy solo lanes but with Phase Rush Vi it's like I've just had the upper hand in every single matchup I've played. Only done it maybe a dozen times so far, so small sample size, but often it's like it's so strong it just feels unfair. Champs without a ton of hard CC can just literally do nothing.
It's like hit and run Gragas but better. Q goes through minions, travels further and hits a crazy low cooldown at rank 5. Sure, the windup is telegraphed but it is still not an easy thing to dodge. Her Q automatically lines up a follow-up auto on the champ you hit, then you aa reset with e. This combo is super fast, procs denting blows, your passive shield, AND phaserush all within a split second. You knock up, chunk for huge damage and zoom away with a 3 second ghost and a 15% max health shield.
The cooldown of her passive lines up really well with Phase Rush so you basically get to do this every 15 seconds with a big fat shield to mitigate any return trading. And her dps and kill pressure once you have the upper hand is FAR superior to Gragas or Maokai. You might think she lacks sustain compared to those two, but she has the highest health regen in the game at all levels (except gnar I think), and this is doubled when building Titanic first. Also, her shield has a ton of uptime.
I've been building Titanic into Iceborn most games and that two item spike with the stickyness and waveclear just makes her a side lane monster. Follow up with Cleaver for 40% CDR and some tank stuff and she's fantastic in teamfights as well. And unlike Maokai, I don't really feel like I would rather have Aftershock in most scenarios. She's more effective running through the backline destroying carries with dps and Phase makes her really hard to lock down.
Obviously a downside to this pick is if you whiff your q, you're now a sitting duck in a bad position. You can still get in 3 autos really quick with E resets to proc your shield and Phase Rush to run away, but you're probably going to end up taking some trade damage as opposed to almost none if you had landed your Q properly.
The only matchup I can really see maybe being hard is Jax? I think his E and the ability to jump after you with a stun would kind of shut down the whole pick. I'm just guessing on that one, but I have been banning him when I play this so I don't know for sure.
Try it out though, I feel like it's extremely hard to deal with for a lot of meta top champs.
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