If you enjoy MOBAs or any competitive game, then you must be well aware of the term “meta.” It defines a set of strategies that combines flawlessly with the game’s always-changing champions, items, and skills. Because those factors (champions, items, and skills) are being tweaked regularly, the “meta” also adapts.
The League of Legends’ season 11 is live. With it, new metas emerge to help competition thrive. We have all seen the terror that Olaf and Goredrinker cause in solo queues, first-hand. In the past few months, more players are optimizing mythic items’ unique passives with certain champions to make them even more potent than season 10. New builds and playstyles are being discussed every day on Reddit and alike communities.
The arrival of changes also guarantees one idea: off-meta shenanigans are coming back. Tanky Karthus with Randuin and Bramble Vest (I know), jungle Malzahar opt-ing for utility items, these wacky but effective build paths have been destroying solo queue matches lately. On top of them all, there is the Moonstaff build.
The Staff of Moon
To understand why this build makes sense, we must first go over its core.
the Moonstaff build consists of two items: Moonstone Renewer and Staff of Flowing Water. Let’s start with their stats.
Moonstone Renewer is designed and intended for the support role. This role stays behind the frontline and dish outs buffs to allies until fights are over. This item grants you: +40 ability power (AP), +20 ability haste, +200 health, and +100% base mana regeneration (changes may affect these stats). It also provides Starlit Grace, an effect that heals the most wounded nearby player for 70-100HP (based on target’s level). The higher that player’s level is, the more healing he receives. Mind you, this effect is on a two seconds cooldown.
Then, there is the Staff of Flowing Water. +50 AP, +10% heal and shield power, +100% base mana regeneration, and Rapids. This unique passive makes receiving heal or shield also grants increased AP and movement speed.
Okay, but why do we combine them? Here’s why. Two items cost a total of 4800 gold. With that amount of gold, your champion gains 90 AP, 20 ability haste, 200 health, 10% heal and shield strength, and 200% base mana regeneration. That is a ton of stats for such little spending. Also, if allies are nearby during skirmishes, they are healed, granted 20-40 (scaling) AP and 15% bonus movement speed for three seconds.
Advanced and professional players identify this combination as a mid-game power spike. Nick “LS” De Cesare, who gave light to the build, mentions “an enormous amount of power at 15-17 minutes into the game.” He went on to explain:
“If you have the healing ability or shielding ability on your champion, you can get it (Rapids) off on other champions that Moonstone isn’t directly inflicting, and that is just really oppressive in the early stages of the game.”
With Staff of Flowing Water alone, you can apply the passive (Rapids) every time your healing ability comes off cooldown. However, the Moonstone is another healing item of its own. When purchased together, you end up increasing the ability power and movement speed for multiple allies at once.
How Do Solo Queue Players Abuse Moonstaff?
Like other off-meta builds, Moonstaff is experimental. The way you decide to play this build is entirely up to you.
As of 02/11/2021, Dardoch of Dignitas had been spamming Nidalee in solo queue matches with this build, and his KDA was looking very impressive.
Solo queue players are experimenting with new bot lane compositions such as Seraphine + Leona. Utilizing the Moonstone Renewer, Seraphine essentially acts as another healing support, while the other, more tanky support, initiates team fights and absorbs damage.
Sona + Seraphine with double Moonstone. This composition has a lot of healing and crowd controls as well as damage output.
You can even try this build in ARAM. Teamfights are the main gameplay of this map. Therefore, the Moonstaff is at its max potential. Furthermore, recall is not allowed, so receiving heal every two seconds is the game changer. (show healing stats)
How Do Pros Utilize Moonstaff?
Pros take this build even further.
Being a support-focused mythic item, Moonstone Renewer averages 600 gold cheaper than other mythic items meant for fighters. This means a non-support role, which earns money much better than a traditional support role, will have access to the first mythic very early. What ends up happening is the moonstaff becomes online as soon as the match transitions into mid-phase, which is faster in season 11 than it is in season 10. This gives you a huge advantage over opponents that are still working toward their first.
For this reason, this build pops up a few times in the competitive scene. In LEC Spring Split, G2’s Wunder brought Ivern to top with this build. Unfortunately, he was forced to split and unable to showcase the build’s effectiveness until late game. Although, there is one interesting thing. In theory, Ivern solo split with Moonstaff could work because Daisy (Ivern’s ultimate) benefits from the buffs that Ivern gives. Both Ivern and Daisy scale with ability power and movement speed (for crowd controls and gap-closing).
The LCS witnesses this build in the hands of junglers. It is beneficial to the current jungle meta shifting toward AP-focused champions such as Lillia and Nidalee. These two champions also excel in extended fights, so it makes sense to opt for regeneration and healing. Furthermore, junglers tend to set up skirmishes and gank lanes, meaning they will have more uses out of Moonstone Renewer and Staff of Flowing Water.
Is There a Future for Moonstaff?
Upon noticing the emergence of AP junglers building moonstaff, the Riot Games balancing team quickly responds by including a slight AP nerf on Staff of Flowing Water. After patch 11.3, champions such as Gragas, Lillia, and Nidalee have to consider the damage trade-off for utility stats if they choose this build path. Support enchanters, however, continue to enjoy the meta due to a lack of need for AP in their playstyle.
My prediction: Moonstaff will be relevant for a long time, at least for the support role. For the amount of sheer healing and utility the build brings, I don’t think 10 less AP will do much. Unless Riot Games rolls out an update targeting its cost, Moonstaff will continue to be built by AP junglers, if it fits the gameplay. What’s your take? Tell us on Discord: https://discord.gg/zCWz4vt
Without any doubt, meta wins games. When you are armed to the teeth with the well of knowledge and Pantheon’s laning buffs, you will boast through your ranked games like they are your warm-up sets. However, winning is not everything. There is a small percentage of players who enjoy theory-crafting and coming up with the next strange build. For them, it is about doing the unexpected and having fun while doing so, and the Moonstaf build reflects that side of the community.
With the introduction of season 11 in full active mode, League of Legends breathes in a new gust of air. This year’s season encourages meta to be broken. By bringing back outdated champions and creating bizarre playstyles (that works), League of Legends communities are revived and more lively than ever.
A Wild Writer Appears! Bryan enjoys analyzing video games’ mechanics and replay value. He is fascinated by how pro gamers make decisions during tournament matches. When he is not playing Risk of Rain 2, Bryan continues to master his writing on other topics that he finds interesting.