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How to beat Nasus: A guide to countering the big dog

How to not become stacks, in ~800 words.

Everyone hates Nasus at one point or other. Even Nasus players hate playing against Nasus. Why? Because he is pure, high-octane bullshit that can 1v5 your entire team if you let him just do his job. Beating Nasus feels like an accomplishment, especially if the game goes past 30 minutes. So, how do you do it? How do you take League’s top dog from hero to zero? The strategy revolves entirely around something that is far more complicated than it actually sounds: disruption.

If you stop Nasus from farming, you stop him from stacking. If you can stop Nasus from stacking or getting gold, he is worthless and provides absolutely nothing for his team. Gank him. Blind him. Camp him. Poke him. Kill him. Force Nasus out of lanes so many times that his allies think he must have disconnected.

I asked Pete Volk, founding editor of The Rift Herald and our local top laner/Sion god, if he had any thoughts on the matter:

The counter to Nasus is the existence of the jungle position. If you camp Nasus, he will lose. He has no escape tools, extremely limited 1v2 ability in the early game, and a jungler in his lane is going to prevent him from stacking his Q.

Other things that are good against Nasus: blinds and silences, or anything that counters auto-attacks. Shen can be a good pick, as long as you have a jungler that camps you, but Pantheon, Garen and Teemo are all good picks for similar reasons.

But really, the main thing you want against Nasus is a jungler that queues with you. The only guaranteed way to take him down is to camp the everloving shit out of him.

Spoken like a true top laner, blaming the jungler for all of his Nasus losses (I’m kidding, don’t @ me readers/Pete). Seriously, he makes not only a good point, but a crucial one. Killing Nasus, or at least forcing him to stay back is the only way to win. If you give Nasus what he wants, a passive lane, he wins the game for his team. Period. End of story. But, if you push him and push him and push him, he will fail to reach the tipping point, and will be too far behind to ever make up the difference.

Here is a VOD of a recent professional game where Nasus gets picked up. Notice how he gets camped very, very hard? Turns out, it is a great strategy.

Let’s look at his winning/losing match-ups from Patch 7.15, courtesy of champion.gg.

Nasus’ top 5 match-ups (Nasus win):

  • Dr. Mundo
  • Aatrox
  • Galio
  • Nautilus
  • Poppy

Nasus’ worst 5 match-ups (Nasus loss):

  • Singed
  • Akali
  • Pantheon
  • Kled
  • Darius

So, when Nasus wins he plays against tanks that can’t kill him fast enough (keep in mind that his passive gives him a lot of lifesteal/lane sustain). Nasus is a tank buster, so unless you are playing someone like Sion or Garen, stay away from the tanks. Instead, we want to look at champions that — shocker — disrupt him.

Normally, I would never encourage it, but Singed is a great pick here. Nasus can never catch him and it provides a negative farming experience for Nasus no matter what Singed does. If he dirty farms behind tower, Nasus loses stacks to having to farm on tower. If he farms in lane, Nasus has to stack in a cloud of poison, forcing him to back off, losing stacks. Akali, Pantheon and Kled offer different approaches. Burst him down when he is weak and get enough gold that you can keep doing it after he has some defensive items.

Darius fits more into the oppressive juggernaut category, similar to Sion and Garen. All three of these big beefy boys can get up in Nasus’ face and deal punishment while also sustaining themselves. They punish those who want to farm safe by constantly bullying them. They are champs made to win trades and that is where their advantage against Nasus lies.

If Nasus can trade fairly against you in the first 10 minutes of a game, you already know that you have lost, in which case you need to hope that your jungler knows that Nasus needs a solid camp. However, the aforementioned juggernauts provide a presence in lane that scares Nasus off of that stack game, either forcing him to engage a losing fight to get power or keeping him at bay and starving him for farm.

Farm starving someone or camping them makes me feel like a jerk sometimes, and if you are a human being with a soul, you probably feel the same way. But keep in mind that someone who has resorted to playing Nasus deserves ganks. They deserve to have to play against Darius or, dare I even say it, Singed. Press him. Team up with your jungler, talk strategy before the game starts and take his ass out as many times as you can.

If you don’t, god help you, and god help your towers.