Riot Games has decided to release another champion onto the fields of justice, and this time, he’s a yordle. Ziggs the Hexplosives Expert may be small in stature, but don’t let his size fool you as he makes quite the entrance, using bombs and trip mines to subdue his opponents. Thus, Ziggs is classified as a ranged mage. One that does heavy ranged damage over time in the form of area-of-effect, as well as having quite a bit of utility to help secure kills. He’s quite unique and his kit is made up of a set of skills that rewards disciplined players that can capitalize on unseen advantages and make good use of the slightest opening in his opponent’s defenses.
Right now, I’m going to explain Ziggs as thoroughly as possible as well as how to play him and how to counter him. I’ve already done a few games playing as and against the hexplosives expert and in the hands of a good player, he can be quite the tricky rascal as his skill cap is the highest I’ve seen in any champion.
Ziggs’ explosive set of skills
They don’t call him the Hexplosives Expert for nothing. His entire kit is comprised of some sort of explosion and all of it does AoE damage, two of which also have some utility.
Short Fuse (passive) - Short Fuse grants bonus magic damage to Ziggs’ next basic attack every 12 seconds. Every time you use an ability, the timer is reduced by 4 seconds so essentially, you can initiate with the passive, cycle your spells, and end with another short fuse for a minor boost to your damage. This move can be effectively utilized to enhance your harassment power. You don’t need to rely too much on the passive but you can use it to save mana by only harassing when the ability is up.
[Q] Bouncing Bomb (offensive) – This is Ziggs’ primary damage move. It’s exactly how it sounds like, a bouncing bomb. It has good range, damage, and explodes when it impacts champions. You want to max this right away for the harassment. Also note that the further you throw it, the faster it flies, so make note of that, as the move is technically a skill shot and can be easily dodged if your opponent is aware. It will also bounce past the spell’s technical range so use the extra distance to your advantage.
[W] Satchel Charge (Utility/Offense) – This move allows you to place a satchel charge on the ground and detonate it up by reactivating the ability. This move has extremely high cooldown for a basic spell and should be used wisely. It’s you’re ultimate utility spell as it’s free re-positioning as well. You can use it to fling yourself over walls or away as your escape mechanism if you place it behind you and blow it up. You can use it to blow your enemy towards your team as well. This spell is incredibly hard to master as there is a very faint delay before it falls to the ground and explodes. Doesn’t seem like much but it’s still a delay you have to get used to. Also note that you can potentially fling yourself back into your enemy if you’re not careful about positioning.
[E] Hexplosive Minefield (utility/offense) – This is your ability that slows things down. You place a ring of mines and when the enemy trips them, they’re slowed. Use this spell wisely. Predict your opponent’s movements and place it behind you as you’re being chased or in front of the enemy as they try to run away.
[R] Mega Inferno Bomb (Ultimate/Offense) – This is your super mega damaging spell of death. It’s AoE and it melts your opponents with high spike damage. It also has so much range. The best example I can give for its range is being able to hurdle it to the middle of the river from top lane turret. This ultimate is pretty much an AoE nuke. You can initiate with it in a team fight but it’s advisable to save the ultimate for the finale of the battle. On paper, this move seems devastating but it’s really hard to use. The blast radius isn’t that large and from a distance, the opponent’s will see it coming.
Playing the rascal
Ziggs seems like a champion that’s easy to use but that’s not quite right. Yes you can push buttons and do damage, but utilizing him to his full potential is really difficult. It requires extremely fast thinking and the timing and precision to carry out your plan.
His three basic abilities all have relatively similar range, so using smart cast can be beneficial. Also understand that he is also a pretty slow champion, hitting about 375 movement speed with lv.2 boots. This is why two of his abilities grant both escape and chase utility. The first being his satchel charges that can fling you or the enemy away and the second being his land mines, which have a potent slow once they detonate.
Ziggs can perform well in the mid-lane, but I prefer to play him in the side lanes. He’s a viable solo top with his range and utility as well as a decent bottom lane mage if you already have a team composition that justifies not having a true support. I’ll try to be as general about the tactics as possible to aid your ability to lane in multiple situations.
In early game, Ziggs has incredible harassment potential. His basic attacks as well as his kit are all ranged. Any hit will also net you a fair amount of damage as well since AP mages scale well by level not gear. The issue with Ziggs in lane is he’s extremely mana dependent. If you’re aware of this, you’ll need to make a game plan about how you plan to harass the enemy, or enable your continuous farm on creeps. I generally start with a Doran’s Ring for the balance of starting stats (health, mana regen, and ability power). It’s also completely viable to go boots and three health potions if you want fast positioning and a safety buffer for damage you may take.
You want to be able to use your range and utility to your advantage. This can be done by harassment, ranged farming and pushing, or simply controlling the offensive bush. You can also fake over-extension in order to scare your opponent with champion presence since they know you have range spells that pack a punch. Your ‘Q’ is spammable since it has low cooldown and connecting shots can be done quite easily as the bomb detonates on champion impact. So if they’re not dodging, you should be able to land your bombs a fair amount of times, forcing them to recall.
Should they not recall, you can go in for the kill. This needs careful planning depending on your opponent as well as knowledge of their escape tools (commonly flash). You must also understand that your mine field and satchel charges have a long cooldown time, so you will have one chance to make your move count. You can go about the initiation in a multitude of ways but I’ll explain two basic tactics. These tactics can be used for any kill you attempt, early game or not, and are good moves to think about.
The first move is a full attempt at blocking their escape. You can initiate with Q and go straight for your satchel charge. You can place this behind your target and detonate it to knock the opponent back towards your direction. At this point, his immediate reaction is to run away. You can then place the landmines behind him as he attempts to flash or ghost away, slowing him down. With the combination of all your abilities and your passive, you should be able to do enough damage to kill.
The second is a surprise tactic that doesn’t do as much damage since it involves using your satchel to fling yourself behind or onto your opponent. This gives you more hits as well as an easier shot with your Q bombs. You can then slow them down as you see fit and do what you will to secure the kill.
Remember that you can use your satchel to fling yourself over walls as well, thus making it a great escape tool. However, this does require practice as there were certain instances where I actually blew myself back into the enemy team as well as knocking a target away as they tried to escape, so watch your placement and positioning.
For the early game, you have choices with your build. I like to build smaller items that will help me now and build them into bigger items later. With the Doran’s Ring at hand, I like to make the basic boots my next purchase for faster repositioning as well as a mana/regen item such as the Philospher’s Stone. Both are cheap, so you should be able to obtain them right away. Depending on how good you did in lane, you can opt for the Hextech Revolver for spell vamp lane sustain and a Tear of the Goddess to reduce your issues with mana. All these cheap pieces of gear build into useful items later on, but they help me greatly in the early-game laning phase.
Mid-late game is commonly all about the team fights. This is where Ziggs shines because in a standard gaming scenario, he doesn’t always do enough damage to secure a full kill on his own. His kit is perfect for team fights as the total damage you can rack up is tripled since your kit is all AoE. On Ziggs, when you think team fight, you might think “initiate with ultimate”. This is incorrect in most circumstances since your ultimate alone has no utility, like a slow or a stun. You want to wait for the battle to drag out and when players start melting, you can then use your bomb to ensure kills or give your team the edge.
Yes, you can use your bomb early to initiate, but against a good team, they’re likely to not engage and back off, or even fully engage your team, knowing your ultimate is on cooldown.
In the team fight, you want to spam Q and use your passive auto-attack ability. The reason for this is the cooldowns of your satchel charge and mine field generally span a team fight so you might have only once chance at utilizing them to save your teammates or yourself so make it count.
Stopping the Fuse
Ziggs is new so knowledge on how to counter him will be scarce. Honestly, all you have to do is dodge and wait for him to over-extend and counter harass. I know Ziggs is very mana dependant so as soon as he run out of mana, you should unload everything you got in order to force him to back off or even get an early kill.
The biggest thing to think about aside from his Q and ultimate, are his W and E spells. They generally have the same range as far as placement goes. So if you see him approach the line of minions and not use his ranged auto-attack, he’s going to try and plant a satchel or some landmines on top of you. If he does and fails, harass him or coordinate with your teammates to get the easy kill since he won’t have utility for roughly 10 seconds; forcing him to die or burn through Flash/Ghost.
Basically, patience is the key to countering Ziggs. If you try to counter him with aggression, he’s likely to dominate you with his range, damage, and multitude of utility spells. If you catch him out of mana or out of utility spells, it’s pretty much a free kill. A good Ziggs will learn to use their moves wisely so try to be a step ahead of them. Overall, he is an easy target as he’s relatively slow and his escape move is not reliable in the hands of a player who is still trying to get the hang of his abilities.
Overall, Ziggs is a great champion and is really fun to play on top of that. He has a high skill cap and players who grow accustomed to his kit will be able to perform some pretty wicked combos. I wouldn’t say he’s out of the question for newer player, but definitely take the time to practice his set of skills in perhaps a custom game before expecting to tactically dominate actual players. If you’re looking for a fun, tricky champion that has decent utility as well as strong team fight presence, this is the champion for you.