Nasus is a fairly underrated champion when it comes to high elo. In low elo, this champion is very strong because he does not get punished in the early game and can easily scale with his Q until he comes online. But what about in elo where he can get punished for his weak early game? That is where AP Nasus comes in.
AP Nasus has a strong early game because of his E poke combined with comet/aery and scorch. After finishing Liandry’s Anguish and having 5 points in his E, his damage spikes really hard. In the mid/late game, his damage starts to fall off but he can provide utility for his team.
AP Nasus has completely different strengths and weaknesses compared to AD/Tank Nasus, making his playstyle and lane matchups different as well. We will go over the runes, builds, and playstyle of AP Nasus.
Also check out: Can Nasus Q crit?
Why Build AP?
AP Nasus mainly focuses around poking your enemy with your E. This allows Nasus to farm from a distance, and easily gain priority in the lane. He can also have kill pressure on his lane opponents from a short range. This comes at the expense of farming minions with Q and building tanky items to act as a juggernaut in the mid to late game.
We can conclude that AP Nasus is best suited for situations where you want to have lane pressure over your opponent, or in cases where you fear that your weak early game might prevent you from scaling anyway. It is better to keep your CS number up with your E than to fall behind in hopes of stacking your Q.
AP Nasus usually go two main rune pages. The first one has Arcane Comet/Summon Aery and is the recommended rune page for most situations. Alternatively, he can take Dark Harvest which scales better but offers little to no laning power. First Strike is usually not recommended as Nasus has very short range on his E and can not easily proc First Strike with his E without getting hit beforehand.
Arcane Comet/Summon Aery
- Arcane Comet/Summon Aery
- Manaflow Band
- Perfect Timing
- Approach Velocity
- Dark Harvest
- Taste of Blood
- Eyeball Collection
- Treasure Hunter/Ultimate Hunter
- Manaflow Band
- First Strike
- Perfect Timing/Magical Footwear
- Future’s Market/Minion Dematerializer
- Approach Velocity
- Manaflow Band
AP Nasus mainly focuses on poking the opponent with his E spam. It will also scale much better with his AP ability, making him strong at Level 9. The Skill Order for AP Nasus is always one of the following two:
AP Nasus does not have a wide variety of items, mainly because he has to build AP and play a poke playstyle. His itemization is going to be similar to most poke mages in the game. There are options to build him like a burst mage, but his E does not pack enough punch to one-shot any target, so it is better to opt into Ability Haste and poke damage.
Starting Item: Doran’s Ring
Doran’s Ring can grant you mana regeneration for poking your opponent, which is an important aspect of early laning. The stats gained by this item are great for survival. It is a very solid starting item for all situations but can be replaced with Tear of the Goddess if you plan to get Archangel’s Staff second item.
If you can get Lost Chapter on your first base, then it is the best “First Item” you can get. Your first finished item should ALWAYS be your mythic item.
AP Nasus has multiple Mythic options available. The most popular choice is Liandry’s Anguish. The burn damage provided by this item is great for poking opponents. It also tends to solve your mana issues, allowing you to skip Archangel’s Staff.
The second option is Night Harvester. This item provides slightly more Ability Haste than Liandry’s Anguish but skips over Mana to provide more HP. However, the additional magic damage provided by the item can be applied to all 5 enemies, boosting your damage significantly at 1st Item powerspike.
AP Nasus can build the following items:
- Demonic Embrace
- Zhonya’s Hourglass
- Archangel’s Staff
- Cosmic Drive
- Lich Bane
- Void Staff
- Rylai’s Crystal Scepter
If you are the solo magic damage source on your team, you can build Boots of Sorcery for increased damage. Ionian Boots of Lucidity are the safer choice when it comes to AP Nasus as it allows you to reapply your damage from items/runes frequently and do not get countered as hard by Magic Resistance.
Flash is a common summoner spell for champions without mobility. It can help you finish off a target with a Flash+E combo, or simply allow you to escape life-threatening situations by flashing away from the enemy.
Exhaust can be quite useful when dealing with threats in the lane. It helps you survive tower dives and all-ins. It also scales well into teamfights where it can dampen the impact of an enemy carry.
This is only taken for kill pressure in the lane. If you do not think you will be able to kill your lane opponent, this spell is not recommended as it does not synergize well with the poke playstyle.
Teleport is a safe summoner spell. It can be used to collect waves if you get killed in an unfortunate position. It can also be used to quickly recall for an item advantage and get back to lane. Finally, it is also good for joining teamfights in the mid/late game.
AP Nasus does not have many hard counters as the champion relies on farming from distance and poking the enemy without getting in melee range.
As mentioned before, AP Nasus has a different playstyle that depends on his poking ability instead of stacking Q and playing like a juggernaut. We will discuss his strengths and weaknesses in the early, mid, and late game
AP Nasus is at his strongest in the early game. This is because every champion starts the game with little to no stats. Scorch also deals a lot of damage at this point in the game. Nasus starts with his strongest ability, his E, from Level 1. This allows him to start poking right away and stacking his tear/manaflow band so he comes online faster. He should still try to last hit as many minions with Q as possible.
Eventually, Nasus will have Lost Chapter and 5 points in his E. This point is a large powerspike for Nasus as the base damage on his E is maxed out and your mana problems are more than likely gone by this point. You can quickly clear waves and chunk your opponents with your constant Es.
His first item powerspike is also fairly strong as it amplifies his damage against enemies with little magic resistance. All his mana troubles are gone by this point and Liandry’s Anguish deals a lot of base damage to champions because of their low base HP and MR at this point in the game.
As Nasus approaches the mid game, his enemies might start building Magic Resist. He does not really have any other way of increasing his damage once his E is maxed, so he becomes reliant on the burn damage from Liandry’s Anguish and Demonic Embrace to deal the majority of his damage. Scorch is usually outscaled by enemy Health and Magic Resistance growth, and serves little purpose.
If Nasus has been stacking his Q for a while, he can start to rely on his Q in teamfights a bit more. Keep in mind that he is still a squishy champion even with his ultimate, so you can not run after targets to hit them with your Q. You can also opt into tank items and magic penetration if you feel like you have been outscaled.
In the late game, Nasus will have multiple points in his W and will be able to provide utility for his teammates. Items like Morellonomicon and Rylai’s Crystal Scepter offer utility without sacrificing damage. As Nasus continues to stack his Q, it can serve as a great tool of damage if an enemy gets too close. If you can not rely on your Q in teamfights, you can skip Lich Bane for a defensive option.
AP Nasus can be an extremely strong pick if played into favorable matchups, especially if you can capitalize on your early game strength. His wither will always offer utility even when his damage falls off. If you are lucky enough, you may even be able to stack at a consistent rate to shift into a hybrid build later.
Check out more of our build guides, like this LoL Lucian build guide.