Xayah and Rakan’s Place In The Meta
It’s been an entire patch since the release of Xayah and Rakan. When Xayah and Rakan were announced and players and analysts were able to see the special bonuses you got from playing them together, some questions arose. Would the extra synergy be too much? Will they be viable without each other? For Xayah, at least, it’s become pretty clear that the answer is yes. As a good piece of evidence, you’ll notice in NALCS, LCK, and other regions where Xayah has been played, that teams will ban Xayah, but not Rakan, even if they had trouble with the botlane duo as a whole. Xayah has quickly proven she’s a top ADC.
But you’ll notice that Rakan is unplaced in this tier list. The jury is still out on him, it seems. All that’s certain is that Xayah and Rakan are a strong duo. Many seem to think that Rakan is useless without his bae. Personally, I think Rakan could stand to see some small buffs, but anyone who believes that this champion has no potential aside from this duo lane is underestimating what he’s capable of.
Let’s make sure we understand his stats and abilties completely before we get into it.
I often advise people not to jump on their first impression. My first thought when I saw this champion on the PBE summaries was “Oh he’ll be a good laner.” The reason I thought this was because he has some long range poke in his Q, and he has ranged autos. Ranged laners are generally stronger than the melee ones because they don’t have the pressure to make a play necessarily. The range gives them a distinct trading advantage over their melee support counterparts.
However, after his release, I realized that this was not the case. Rakan is not a strong laner in any sense. His autos are “ranged”, but with less actually attack range than Thresh, who plays much more like a melee support. Rakan’s most often maxed ability actually isn’t his Q. It’s his E. Although the Q provides some poke, it lacks the ability to travel through minions and has no AOE damage. The heal part of the ability scales with his level to encourage players to max his E.
The Doran’s Shield changes definitely favor champions like this though. Doran’s Shield ADCs are less dependent on their supports to equalize the pressure in the lane.
While it is abundantly clear that Rakan’s 2v2 laning is not that good, this champion’s potential comes from his combos and mobility. This is why he’s been compared to Lee Sin. This is a playmaking support, much like Thresh or Bard. This is a big part of why I think people think the champion is a bad. The skill ceiling of this guy is pretty high. As a new champion, most people haven’t had the time to master him. I want to be clear that that’s not the only reason. I do think he needs some buffs, which they are currently testing on the PBE. If anyone remembers the release of Bard, Bard was a champion that was insanely weak on release. His numbers were definitely undertuned, and people had no idea what they were doing. 6 months later, Bard began getting the reputation he has now of this playmaker who can be terrifying in the hands of a master. This is the exact reputation that I think Rakan will gain over time. So, what exactly are these combos?
Gleaming Quill + Battle Dance: Since Rakan will not be maxing his Q, the damage is not that high. All that really matters that is that the ability lands on a champion. This gives Rakan the ability to use the healing aspect of the ability. The catch is that you have to close to targets to heal them. If you touch them, you’ll heal them immediately. This is where Battle Dance comes in. Since it allows Rakan to dash an allied champion, you’ll provide them with the heal and shield simultaneously. Those two together make for a good amount of burst negation. I love this combo. As an ADC/mid flex player, one thing that annoys me about “playmakers” is they often focus too hard on the play and don’t peel for you. So, I like that Riot specifically gave him a defensive combo as well.
Battle Dance + Grand Entrance: Rakan is actually pretty squishy for a champion looking to dive and make all these plays. This forces him to play back until he has that opportunity. He’s not a tank, so he can’t just rush in or flank on his own terms. Another fallout of his engage potential is that the range of Grand Entrance is pretty short as a gap closer. Dashing onto a tankier teammate who can frontline with Battle Dance to get into range for your Grand Entrance can be a very effective tactic. Additional CC can also be very important towards the prospect of making sure Grand Entrance lands. This combo can also be reversed for a nice escape tactic.
The Quickness + Grand Entrance: While Rakan has his ultimate activate, as soon as he touches someone, they will be charmed. This is a very powerful combo with his Grand Entrance. Grand Entrance has a noticeable delay before the knockup. However, if you have The Quickness on when you go in, you’ll charm them as soon as you touch them, guaranteeing that the Grand Entrance lands. This isn’t the most efficient way to chain your CC though, as you lose out on most of the Charm’s duration. The strength of this combo is how difficult it is to react to. The only chance you have to avoid it is to get out of range after seeing him activate The Quickness. In order to attain the optimal the CC duration, The Quickness should be activated after landing a Grand Entrance.
The Quickness + Battle Dance: When someone is charmed, they have to follow you. Rakan’s kit allows him to abuse this behavior. Since after landing a charm, he can dash back into his own backline, forcing the charmed target heavily out position.
And of course, Flash adds a lot of potential to his engage power and playmaking.
The Rakan Setup
The most popular rune page for supports at the moment is 9x Magic Penetration (or Hybrid Penetration), 9x Seals of Health, 9x Glyphs of Ability Power, 2x Quintessences of Armor, and 1x Glyph of Ability Power. While this setup can be beneficial to Rakan, I don’t actually think it’s optimal. This is a rune page for harassing and zoning supports like Nami, Karma, Lulu, or Zyra. People have definitely opted for more tankier iterations on Rakan, such as opting out of Magic or Hybrid pen in favor of more armor.
Ignite is definitely what you want to take on Rakan for his all-in power, but if they have a lot of potential dive threats for your ADC that you don’t think you’ll be able to peel off, then consider Exhaust.
The highest playrate and winrate keystone mastery for Rakan is Courage of the Colossus which definitely buys into his playmaking kit. Windspeaker’s Blessing is a noticeable second in both categories. Taking Windspeaker’s will definitely increase your peeling potential, but won’t provide with as much self-tankiness for playmaking as Courage. As an ADC, I’ll tell you, as long as you have the right peeling items (Locket and Redemption), I personally don’t notice the difference between having or not having Windspeaker’s. I don’t think it’s that selfish to go with another choice if there’s a viable one.
Starting items are a bit of a point of contention. A wide margin stats with Ancient Coin, but Spellthief’s Edge is also popular among pros. The downside to Coin is that it provides no combat stats, so it sets you up to be much weak in the all-in. However, since Rakan is weaker in normal trades anyway, your ADC should probably start Doran’s Shield unless you two are up against a melee support. The chance of all-in before your first back is pretty low. I’m not saying I think Spellthief’s is trash on Rakan, but Coin is probably better. Willing to admit I could be wrong though. If you start Coin, I definitely suggest changing up your rune page to something with more defensive stats.
Sightstone is insanely important in general, and should be picked up as early as possible. If you’re going for the Coin build, you want to upgrade it to Nomad’s so that you can complete the quest. Eye of the Oasis is good since it’s so cheap, but getting a Ruby Sighstone, and a Talisman of Ascension has a lot of synergy with Rakan’s kit. The movement speed buff increases his potential to engage and make plays as well as giving him armor. Ruby Sightstone’s lower cooldown for his Oracle Alteration is also very potent, since it allows him to clear more vision. Clearing vision will make his ability to make plays much stronger.
If you go with Spellthief’s, Eye of the Watchers is definitely the best choice. The Spellthief’s Quest is definitely the best one. Frost Queen’s Claim honestly isn’t all that useful after all the nerfs it received, and Eye of the Watchers is a much cheaper route, which allows you to get to your key items faster. Either way you go, Boots of Mobility into Locket and Redemption are your next best options, at least on this patch. The order of Locket and Redemption depends largely on how long the fights will last. If there’s lost of assassins and diver, expect shorter teamfights where Locket will be infinitely better. On the other hand, if there’s more tanks to force extended teamfights, Redemption first will be better.
Once you have those core items, it’s pretty up in the air. A lot of support players like to keep a slot open for a control ward. I definitely recommend this strategy at the very least until you can complete your last item. A Control ward is worth way more than any item component you could buy as a support. A full item is arguably better. If you go with the Eye of the Watchers path, you’ll have two more item slots, whereas with the Talisman one, you’ll only have one more. Some popular options include Ardent Censer, Knight’s Vow, and Mikael’s Crucible.
Although a lot of people have been doing it for awhile on the likes of Bard and Thresh, I think Knight’s Vow is actually not that useful on ranged champions since the healing and damage redirection get halved. In terms of stats however, it’s probably better for what Rakan wants to be doing. Maybe the healing and redirection don’t matter too much.