Ever since Riot Games reworked Pantheon, the popularity of his off-meta AP build has been really low. But even so, his AP ratios have remained extremely high and he’s still able to one-shot squishy enemies.
I’ve personally played over 100 games of AP Pantheon just this season and I love everything about it. From the fact that you can assassinate the enemy ADC with a single cast of W to the AoE monster you unleash when you press R in a teamfight.
And so, I’ve made a guide here of the most optimal way to play AP Pantheon in LoL. I talk about the runes and items you need to take as well as all the things you need to be aware of when you first try out this champion.
AP Pantheon – The Fundamentals
The “AP” in Pantheon’s Kit
The whole concept of AP Pantheon boils down to understanding which of his abilities actually do magic damage and scale with ability power items.
Pantheon’s W, Shield Vault, is a target-click stun ability. When activated, Pantheon leaps to his target and stuns them, dealing physical damage that has a 100% AP ratio.
However, when you use Shield Vault when Pantheon’s passive is ready (at 5 stacks), Pantheon’s next basic attack is empowered and applies all on-hit effects you might have from items. And this is super important because you’re going to build AP items with on-hit magic effects.
Besides the W, Pantheon’s ultimate ability, Grand Starfall, is an AoE wave that deals lots of base magic damage that also scales with 100% of Pantheon’s AP. With Grand Starfall, Pantheon can teleport to any lane and one-shot a squishy enemy champion.
What’s really cool is that the passive portion of Pantheon’s R grants bonus armor penetration. This is useful even when you build AP items because the other spells in Pantheon’s kit are physical damage and benefit from armor penetration.
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The Strengths of AP Pantheon
Playing AP Pantheon is actually pretty simple.
The general idea is to run to an enemy champion, press W to stun them and deal lots of instant damage (plus apply all the on-hit magic effects). After level 6, your main engage is your ultimate which you have to hit in order to win the fight.
If you manage to successfully aim Pantheon’s R and follow it up with the W (empowered by the passive) you’ll essentially one-shot an enemy champion. The amount of direct damage these two abilities do with AP items is honestly insane, so the chances that your target will survive are pretty low.
So, the biggest strength of AP Pantheon is assassinating opponents with the R + W combo. But the great thing about Pantheon is that he’s so powerful that even the W + Q combo is sometimes enough to slay an enemy champion.
For example, if you’re laning against Ahri and she’s at 70% HP, a Flash + W could leave her with around 20% HP. Pantheon’s Q, Comet Spear, does extra damage to enemies below 20% health, so you can simply use that to execute her.
AP Pantheon does very well in the mid lane. He counters many champions there, including many mages and even some assassins. The fact that his combo is so quick and cannot be missed allows him to trade favorably with anyone. And his E can block both CC and damage.
Pantheon’s E, despite not being an AP ability, is a key cooldown in his kit. It’s one of his biggest strengths because it makes him literally unkillable. So, use it after your combo to counter the retaliation from your enemy.
Be Aware of AP Pantheon’s Weaknesses
Since Pantheon is primarily an AD champion, the AP build will always be an off-meta playstyle. And that simply means that it’s not the optimal way to play the champion if you want to climb in solo queue.
That said, the first thing that you need to expect is the low amount of damage Pantheon’s Q will do. Normally, this is Pantheon’s best ability. But since you’ll be maxing out your W first and building AP items to increase its damage, the Q won’t be very effective.
Of course, the extra damage against low-HP targets is great for executing enemies, it is simply not enough overall. And you can’t use it to poke effectively later on.
The other most important thing you need to be aware of is that AP Pantheon is squishier than AD Pantheon. Without items like Eclipse or Death’s Dance, you essentially lose lots of damage mitigation. And you need to be extra careful when engaging fights.
Other than that, the playstyle of AP Pantheon isn’t that much different than that of AD Pantheon.
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The Best AP Pantheon Build
This AP Pantheon build is designed to give you huge amounts of direct, upfront damage.
It all revolves around buffing your W through items like Night Harvester, Nashor’s Tooth, and Lich Bane and runes like Dark Harvest, Sudden Impact, and Coup de Grace. And the rest of the focus is on your R which gets insanely powerful with Rabadon’s Deathcap and Horizon Focus, as well as the rune Ultimate Hunter
First of all, your keystone Dark Harvest allows you to scale and gain more damage against low-HP targets. It’s great for assassinating squishy enemies, especially in combination with damage-increase effects like that from Night Harvester.
I really like the synergy between Sudden Impact and Pantheon’s W. Sudden Impact grants bonus armor/magic penetration when you jump or dash, which means it’s immediately activated when you use Shield Vault. And so, it’s a free damage boost available every 4 seconds.
The two core items for AP Pantheon are Nashor’s Tooth and Lich Bane. The first one gives lots of raw AP as well as bonus attack speed and on-hit magic damage. And the second buffs your next basic attack after using an ability. Both items synergize with Pantheon’s W and their on-hit effects are applied immediately after casting the ability.
In the late game, going for Rabadon’s Deathcap and Horizon Focus is always a good strategy because hitting Pantheon’s R becomes so important. With them, the damage of the initial hit could be enough to take even 50% HP from your opponents.
And Coup de Grace can help you secure more kills overall by giving you more damage against enemies on low health which fits very well with Dark Harvest.
The best Summoner’s Spells for AP Pantheon are Flash and Ignite.
Flash is a must-have for doing the simplest of combos such as Flash + W. It’s a necessary gap closer to have on Pantheon, especially with this AP build.
And Ignite gives you lots of pressure during the laning phase and increases your kill potential. You can use it to secure more kills or simply threaten the enemy laner early on.
Read Also: AP Gangplank Build Guide
There are tons of useful YouTube videos I can recommend for learning how to play AP Yasuo. Some of my favorites are this one by Pants are Dragon which I really recommend for getting yourself familiarized with the playstyle.
That said, good luck with your AP Pantheon adventures and I hope my guide here helped you out!