Nasus is the late-game king in League of Legends solo queue. If he’s left to farm uncontrolled, he is going to unleash havoc with 500 or more stacks onto the opposing team and carry the game alone.
His kit has outlived the meta, going through insignificant changes compared to its initial iteration. Nasus is a great top laner to pick up if you’re new to the role since he has clearly defined power spikes which will help you understand how to prioritize your actions during the lane and afterwards.
While Nasus is a late-game powerhouse, he can be stopped by various champions during the laning phase to ensure he doesn’t snowball. On top of that, there’s plenty of available items to lower his sustain or help you kite him to death since he doesn’t have any movement abilities in his kit.
Here are the best counter picks to beat Nasus in the top lane.
Nasus has one of the most predictable playstyles in the top lane. He wants to farm stacks for his Siphoning Strike (Q) as much as possible without going for early-game trades. He excels in skirmishes and teamfights once he has stacks, so trading early on for him is counterproductive to that goal.
Look to punish him every time he goes for a last-hit on creeps to ensure he doesn’t get stacks or pays with health for each one. By doing so, you’ll force him on the defensive. Nasus will either retreat to his tower or attempt to fight you, both situations will benefit you. Be careful of getting in close proximity to Nasus since his Wither (W) is a powerful slow, which can give him enough time to reach you and unleash his damage. While early on it won’t be that impactful, once he gets going, that can be a huge problem.
Once Nasus reaches level six, he becomes a huge threat since his ultimate, which is powerful by itself, buffs up his Siphoning Strike, allowing him to spam it on a short cooldown to destroy you in a one-vs-one scenario.
Sylas is one of the toughest matchups to deal with for Nasus. His low cooldowns, sustain, and high base damage make him a huge threat for the scaling top laner.
Look into using your Petricite Burst (P) early on to damage Nasus when he attempts to last-hit any creep. On top of that, look into using your Kingslayer (W) to bait Nasus into trading with you before healing back most of your health back up. Work towards Everfrost, which will boost your power by a lot and will give you an easier access to do your combo due to the slow or root active on the Mythic item.
Once you reach level six, you’ll get access to Hijack (R) to steal Nasus’ ultimate and match his dueling power post-six. You can easily take him down during his ultimate since the lower cooldown on his Siphoning Strike won’t matter against Sylas, who can outtrade him due to his passive. The damage quickly adds up so try to weave in auto attacks between abilities to maximize your damage output.
During the mid game, use your ultimate to steal crucial abilities from the opposing team and create plays. Avoid sticking in lane and matching Nasus. Although you can put a stop to him early on, he can take you down once he has some magic resist to withstand your damage. Keep up a teamfighting playstyle and look towards picking up kills on the opposing team, but don’t forget to also farm up and clear waves so Nasus doesn’t get free time to split push. If he does, he will be able to eventually take down your towers and possibly inhibitor, which will set you far behind.
Kled is one of the best top laners in the current meta that can shut down multiple champions. His movement abilities and healing reduction effect are a great answer to Nasus’ tactics.
Use Jousting (E) to dash through minions to escape melee range if Nasus reaches you. Turn on him later with Bear Trap on a Rope (Q) to do a lot of damage once the slow duration is over to punish his aggression. Use the attack speed steroid in Violent Tendencies (W) for powerful trades early on.
You excel in roams compared to Nasus due to your ultimate Chaaaaaaaarge!!! (R), which allows you to cover huge distances across the map. But before you try to roam, make sure to push your wave so Nasus doesn’t get free tower plates or the ability to even take down your tower. That could easily turn problematic if he is left out of control. While you have a great late game, it’s important to also help your teammates to ensure you have multiple threats during the later teamfights. Look to keep up a roaming playstyle to help them snowball and have a good shot at winning the game.
If you kept Nasus under control early on and he didn’t get many stacks, you should have no issues dealing with his split push or teamfight pressure. He will most likely be relegated to a split-pushing role without stacks since he will be just dead meta during teamfights. Match him and don’t let him get free stacks and punish him every time he tries to get a last hit to prevent him from getting those valuable stacks that can turn the tides of the battle.
Ornn is a tanky counter to Nasus, and he doesn’t need to harass him early on to be effective. Ornn scales just as well as Nasus, but while Nasus is going to deliver a lot of damage, Ornn will be soaking a lot of damage.
Your goal early on is to get two core items: Plated Steelcaps and Bami’s Cinder. This combination of items makes it difficult for Nasus to take you down and gives you the ability to easily farm waves and work towards your items. Due to your high base damage combined with Bami’s Cinder, you can go for early skirmishes against Nasus and outright kill him if he’s not playing carefully.
Once you get your core items, you should look to group up with your team and use your ultimate for initiation and be a frontline for your team. Don’t stick to the lane against Nasus later on, since he’ll become a nuisance for you deal with once he has hundreds of stacks. You should only look to clear waves and join your team for teamfights.
If you played the lane correctly and worked towards your power spikes, you should be even or ahead in gold compared to Nasus. On top of this, you should already have access to your passive to upgrade your teammates. Use it on your most impactful carries to boost their stats and help them carry your team to victory.
Items to build into Nasus
Since Nasus is heavily auto-attack reliant, especially due to his Siphoning Strike, getting early armor and damage reduction against basic attacks is crucial. Plated Steelcaps should be a priority in your build path to lower his damage output.
This is a great anti-sustain item against Nasus if you’re a tank. By purchasing this item, he will damage himself and lower his sustain for each hit done on you.
This is a great anti-sustain item if you’re a bruiser and don’t need the Bramble Vest. For the cost of only 800 gold, you can make Nasus’ life difficult during the laning phase. It has some nice upgrades later on once you have your core items so it won’t be a total waste of gold.
This Mythic tank item allows you to charge down opposing carries, while also slowing nearby enemies. It can be used defensively to stop Nasus from running down your team and give your teammates enough time to wither his health down.
Goredrinker is a great Mythic bruiser item, allowing you to match Nasus’ sustain. If he tries to kill you, you can use this item to regain a huge chunk of health and withstand his ultimate.
This Mythic item should help you escape Nasus if he tries to engage you due to its dash ability. But the dash isn’t the only good thing of this item. The movement speed given by it should help you kite.
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