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Why are top laners taking Spellthief’s Edge and Kleptomancy?

Why won’t the top laners farm?!?

If you watched any of the LCS games from week 3, you might have noticed some very strange things going on in the top lane. While top lane has been an island for the better part of four years now, it usually revolves around farming, though that wasn’t true this week. Instead, a new strategy has emerged in the LCS and at the top of solo queue that involves top laners foregoing farm entirely.

The strategy starts out with the top laner picking a mage, then taking Kleptomancy. Next, when they get into game, they buy a Spellthief’s Edge and just harass their lane opponent. No killing minions, unless it’s a cannon minion coming in at a fortunate time, because that would reset the timer on Spellthief’s passive.

The idea behind this plan is for the mage, usually someone like Zilean, to attack their lane opponent enough to get equivalent gold from their Spellthief’s as they would have from actual laning. On top of that, they’ll have the extra gold from Kleptomancy and any items they sell, too. Even better, it means the laner involved can pass off some of their farm to the jungler — who should have easy ganks on the constantly-pushed lane — and the top laner won’t even have to deal with giving over minion shutdown gold if they die.

As far as strange high elo and competitive strategies go, this one is actually one of the weirdest. Farming is such an important part of winning in League of Legends that the idea to skip it entirely can throw some players off their game. In fact, during their match with Clutch Gaming, 100 Thieves’ ADC Bang actually paused the game because he thought he had a visual bug because Clutch’s top laner Huni had 0 farm on the scoreboard. After a brief pause, he realized it wasn’t a bug. It was, in fact, all part of the plan.

Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work so well since Clutch Gaming ended up losing that match. So, while Spellthief’s and Kleptomancy top laners with zero farm may not be a fool-proof strategy, it certainly is viable — at least for now. As with all strategies that take things far away from their original intention, Riot is likely to nerf this one in hopes of taking away the idea of a zero farm champion having competitive gold. Until then though, all you need to try this out in your solo queue games is a mage, Spellthief’s, the Kleptomancy rune, and some very very understanding teammates.

Update: Riot has fixed Spellthief’s Edge, at least for now. The item line’s passive now requires an ally within 1,500 units for it to work. If there isn’t an ally around, the item’s procs are still consumed, but the user doesn’t get the extra gold. Speaking of extra gold, the item’s passive has now been increased to reward more gold — now 11 in the early game, instead of 10, and 22 in the late game instead of 20. The same range requirement has also been added to the Ancient Coin line of support items as well, which also received a pretty large gold increase from 25 to 28 early and from 45 to 50 gold late. The hotfix should go live sometime today.