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Neeko champion guide: How to master the Curious Chameleon

What runes to take, how to build her and what skills to max

Riot Games

Neeko joins the battle as the newest addition to the League of Legends roster! She is a cute half-chameleon vastaya trickster mage who is a ton of fun to play and watch. After an six month dry spell, we finally get a brand new champion, and I have to say, I don’t think we could’ve asked for more.

I’ve been playing Neeko non-stop on the Public Beta Environment for the past two weeks and trying out all sorts of builds and roles. While she does have some strong qualities that could allow her to succeed as a jungler or support, I’ve found that she works best in the mid lane. My mission today is to teach you everything you need to know about The Curious Chameleon!.

Let’s take a look at what she can do.

Skills

Passive - Inherent Glamour

While out of Combat, Neeko can choose to disguise herself as one of her allies. While disguised, she will appear as an exact copy of the champion she has chosen including base stats, level, current health and resource levels.

Inherent Glamour is an extremely strong tool in the right hands. It’s a mind trick that really messes with the opponent’s heads. For example, you could disguise yourself as the jungler and show yourself top-side, which would make the enemy bot lane think they can play aggressively and not risk being ganked. This could set up an easy gank from your jungler and leave the enemies wondering how they got to bot lane so fast. You could also pretend to be the marksman overextending alone in a lane. The enemy could try to pick up an easy kill, but seal their own fate by engaging onto you.

There are so many possible ways to use Inherent Glamour, which makes its skill ceiling very high. The possibilities are endless and change depending on the state of the game. There’s also a ton of really fun and cool interactions and I’m sure there’s many that have yet to be discovered.

Q - Blooming Burst

Neeko tosses a seed at a target location. The seed blooms and deals damage in an AoE. If the seed hits an enemy champion, large monster or kills a minion, it will bloom again up to two times.

This is your main poke and waveclear tool. Due to its surprisingly short cooldown, you should look to use this as often as possible to poke down the enemy or to push the wave. You could also try to do both at the same time by hitting the minion wave while also poking the enemy. You will get at least two blooms onto your opponent if you manage to land your E (Tangle-Barbs) onto them beforehand, allowing for a nice chunk of damage.

Due to it being an AoE ability, Blooming Burst can allow you to absolutely decimate a teamfight if you manage to land it onto multiple enemies. This is easily done if the enemies are grouped up and under some form of CC, such as Tangle-Barbs, or a Nami bubble, for example.

W - Shapesplitter

Shapesplitter has a passive and an active component. The former makes every third basic attack deal bonus damage and grants a burst of movement speed for a second. The latter makes you go invisible, granting a burst of movement speed and sending a temporary clone of yourself in the chosen direction.

The passive component of Shapesplitter is strong and scales well with ranks. The movement speed granted also increases with rank, allowing you to be even more slippery. It’s also worth noting that the proc is every third auto attack, not every third attack onto one specific champion or monster (like Gnar’s W). This means that you may, for example, attack minions in lane twice and proceed to use the third attack onto the enemy champion.

It’s important to note that while under the effects of Inherent Glamour, you may use Shapesplitter freely. This will create a clone of your chosen ally allowing for even more stupidly funny situations and will leave your opponents baffled as to which of you is real.

E - Tangle-Barbs

Neeko tosses a magical spiral in a straight line, rooting anything it comes in contact with. The last champion hit will be rooted for longer. If the spiral passes through two enemies, it will grow in size and speed, and the root duration against the last champion hit is further increased.

This will be your main catch tool. The empowered root length on the final champion hit is super long, lasting a similar length to Morgana’s Dark Binding, meaning you’ll have a ton of time to lay down some hurt onto your opponent.

Unlike other root abilities, Tangle-Barbs roots everything it passes through and has no limit to how many units it can hit. You should look to toss Tangle-Barbs through a minion wave as hitting at least two minions will make the spiral empowered and will root the enemy for longer. The only way the enemy can be safe from a Neeko root is to be out of its range, which just isn’t practical most of the time, especially during laning phase. Throwing Tangle-Barbs through the minion wave when your opponent tries to farm will allow you to catch them easily and set up a gank, or simply allow you to get some poke in.

R - Pop Blossom

Neeko begins charging spiritual essence in a large area around her. After a short delay, Neeko leaps into the air, slowing enemies in the area and gaining a shield that increases in size based on the number of enemies within the area. Upon landing, Neeko bursts with spiritual energy, dealing a large amount of damage to to all enemies in the area stunning for 1.25 seconds.

Pop Blossom is an extremely strong ultimate ability and one of the best team fighting ultimates we’ve seen in a while. It has an incredibly high base damage and scales with 130 percent of your AP making it quite possibly the strongest AoE ultimate in the game. It’s like a mix between a full AP Nunu ult with the stun of an Amumu ult. And I haven’t even touched on the most interesting thing about this ability — if cast while disguised by Inherent Glamour, the giant AoE around Neeko won’t be visible to the enemy team until you leap into the air, and at that point, it’s probably too late to run.

Comboing an Empowered Tangle-Barb into Pop Blossom will leave someone unable to move for quite some time, making Neeko an extremely strong utility champion that also deals tons of damage.

Skill max order - Q>E>W

I found that prioritizing points into Q first was best as it’s your main waveclear, poke and damage tool. This one is kind of a no-brainer as you’ll need it to actually function properly as a mid laner and stop yourself from being pushed into tower all game. Maxing E next to scale your root duration is pretty important as that extra bit of CC will be vital to your success in a fight. W draws the short straw on this one and should be prioritized last. The benefits from points into W, while they are still really good, just don’t outweigh the benefits from either of the other two spells, and thus should be left to last.

Runes

Dark harvest is just too good right now not to take, it’s just a straight up better Electrocute in almost every situation. Sudden Impact for the additional magic damage after emerging from stealth, Eyeball Collection for the free AP, and Ravenous Hunter for more survivability and healing. As my secondary tree, I’ve found Sorcery with Manaflow Band and Transcendence to be quite strong. I take double adaptive force for an additional 20 AP right at level one, and swap out my defensive option depending on the opposing team comp.

Build order

After trying many different builds ranging from attack speed on hit to a Glacial Augment perma slow build, I’ve found that the general mage build is the best all-round build for Neeko. Here’s what i would recommend building on Neeko.

Start

  • Doran’s Ring + 2 Health Potions

Or

  • Corrupting Potion

Mid Game Core

  • Luden’s Echo
  • Morellonomicon

Late Game Core

  • Rabadon’s Deathcap
  • Void Staff

Situational

  • Zhonya’s Hourglass
  • Banshee’s veil
  • Lich Bane

Boots

  • Sorcerer’s Shoes

Example Full Build

  • Sorcerer’s Shoes
  • Luden’s Echo
  • Morellonomicon
  • Zhonya’s Hourglass
  • Rabadon’s Deathcap
  • Void Staff

I’d like to also give an honorable mention to the “Permaslow” build that you may see some Ahri players running at the moment. I found this build to also be strong on Neeko, but I think it’s better utilized when playing support. If you want to give it a shot, grab Glacial Augment as your keystone and build a Hextech GLP-800 and Twin Shadows as your core items. You’ll leave the enemies CC’d for centuries with this build!

Synergies

Neeko tends to synergizes well with champions that can make use of her ability to lock down opponents. She also works extremely well with champions who can keep opponents grouped in a fight. Here’s a list of champions that I've found to work well with Neeko.

  • Camille
  • Galio
  • Irelia
  • Jarvan IV
  • Pyke
  • Rakan
  • Sion

Counters

Neeko lacks a gap closer, meaning that she is rather immobile and prone to getting pounced on. She has her stealth from Shapesplitter, but that won’t be enough to get away from many champions. She also struggles to deal with anyone who can burst her down while also being mobile. Here are a few champions that Neeko struggles against that you might want to try and avoid.

  • Ahri
  • Akali
  • Irelia
  • Kassadin
  • Leblanc
  • Malzahar

Conclusion

Neeko is an extremely fun to play trickster mage who can become very annoying for your opponents to deal with. If you get pleasure out of watching others get frustrated, then Neeko is definitely the champion for you. While she does have a relatively low skill floor, her skill ceiling has yet to be seen. I cannot wait to see some of the wild plays that pro players are able to make with this champion and can already picture the Reddit threads begging for her removal from the game. If you enjoyed Zoe, then I’d highly recommend giving Neeko a shot!

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