Of all the champions in League of Legends, Dr. Mundo probably gets the least respect. He’s widely considered underpowered. At least a few times a week, someone on the LoL forums will call for a buff. Could he use one? Damn straight.
Does he need one? No, sir.
I’ve found him viable in Classic and pretty awesome in Dominion.
In the new game mode, a few things have shot up in priority, things that weren’t always important in Classic:
1. Speed. The ability to cap points before the other team can respond, and run away if too many of them come for you.
2. (Usually ranged) deterrence. Either to hack away at point defenders or to make attackers think again before turret diving you.
3. Small skirmish dominance. Five-on-five team fights are incredibly rare in Dominion. So you’ve got to be good in 1v1, 2v2, and, sometimes, 1v2 situations. That could mean a lot of things, so more on that later.
Here in the early days of Dominion, a few champions have emerged as clear contenders for most-rage-worthy dominance: Rammus (Powerballs across the map, keeps you in turret fire and not capping, and just as sustainable here as in Classic), Twisted Fate, Nocturne, Pantheon, Gangplank (for their once-global — and here almost-global — ultimates, adding on to Gangplank’s pre-existing power), and Heimerdinger (his turrets make points very hard to cap), just to name a few.
What, I ask you, do these champs bring to the table that Mundo cannot?
Mundo has speed — his low-cooldown ultimate grants a nice movement boost that can be combined with Ghost to let you ninja that point away from enemy control or rush to the aid of an outnumbered ally. He has ranged deterrence — cleavers can hit like a truck, especially if you take magic penetration marks. And he’s an absolute beast in small skirmishes. His Masochism’s five-second attack damage buff lasts just long enough to cover the heart of most of these fights, giving him a great advantage over most right-click champions. If your opponent’s not packing an Ignite and your ultimate’s off cooldown, you’ll likely be able to heal through most — if not all — of the damage he’s putting out.
Ah, there’s the rub. Ignite. To so many, Ignite seems the perfect counter to Mundo. It takes a huge bite out his ultimate’s combat effectiveness. However, those who argue Ignite shuts Mundo down completely are just not approaching the problem correctly. There are two approaches to dealing with opponents with Ignite.
The first is to just change the way you look at Mundo’s ultimate. Its low cooldown means you needn’t refrain from casting it. Essentially, it’s a Ghost you can throw down more often. Also, if you get into a fight you can’t win — even against multiple enemies — Sadism becomes an excellent escape mechanism, hurling cleavers behind you all the way. Mundo manipulates the speed at which champions move — that is, he goes where he pleases — which is key in this game mode.
The second is to prepare yourself. Buy a Quicksilver Sash, put it in an item slot whose hotkey you can hammer mid-fight, and laugh off their wasted summoner spell. This, however, is expensive.
There is, of course, one more option: Play smart. Know who on the enemy team has Ignite, and, if you can, keep an eye out for when they use it. That last bit is nigh impossible, if you ask me, but if you’ve got the awareness, more power to you. However, simply knowing who has Ignite and who doesn’t gives you the advantage you need when you set out to use Mundo’s ult for its in-combat healing. Know before you engage if your targets have Ignite — or another heal-reducing effect, like Tristana’s Explosive Shot. Don’t forget the game mode itself reduces your healing, so further hindrances can really ruin your day.
So, now that we’ve covered the utility — and, in some cases, non-utility — of Mundo’s ult, let’s get down to how to actually play him in Dominion.
First, let’s talk items. You should open with basic boots and two Rejuvenation Beads, or, if the opposing team is heavy-AD, Ninja Tabbi and two Rejuvenation Beads. The beads not only improve your health regeneration — especially key to the HP-cost-intensive Mundo — but also soon turn into Priscilla’s Blessing (your next item), which grants Mundo health regen, a movement speed boost, and the ability to cap points faster. That is to say it gives him everything he needs to start ninjaing points. Next you’ll want to build a Phage (damage, health, slow, what’s not to like?), followed by a Zeal (movement speed, crit chance, attack speed — adding utility and helping you get the most out of your Masochism), then leveling those up to Frozen Mallet and Phantom Dancer, in that order.
Frozen Mallet is all the HP I bother to stack on Mundo — unless I really feel a Sunfire Cape is necessary, but that’s actually sort of rare — and it, once again, develops all of our goals. Health for Mundo to soak up damage and cast with, attack damage to pound away with, and a hefty slow for your attacks between cleavers, ensuring your prey never escapes. The Phantom Dancer again gives us mobility and maximum use of our Masochism. From there, if the game’s still going, I’ll build an Atma’s Impaler or, if I’m lucky and they’re magic-damage-heavy, a Force of Nature, which, again, addresses most of Mundo’s needs. Another good thing about facing mage teams as Mundo is the chance to build Mercury’s Treads, helping your Burning Agony to let you shrug off crowd control like no other.
Even against AD-oriented teams with heavy CC, I’d recommend Merc Treads, but if they’re showing a good mix of damage output and you aren’t very worried about their ability to slow you down, Boots of Swiftness enhance your kiting, chasing, and ninjaing abilities.
This kind of Mundo is — though I hate how overused the term is — tanky DPS. He’s hard to keep down, hard to escape from, hard to chase, and hard to kill. Despite what Corporate Mundo will tell you, the secret to success is not to Always Be Cleaving. You cleave to harass turret defenders or potential attackers, to slow chasing or fleeing champs, and to interrupt caps before you can get there with your fists.
Mundo, perhaps more than any champ, must be judicious with his ability usage. While Burning Agony turns you into a wrecking ball, it drains you fast. (Fun fact, by the way: If you flick on Burning Agony and then immediately turn it off, its first second of damage goes through at no cost to you. This can help with minion last hits or, if you can remain conscious of turning it on and off repeatedly, some bonus damage in melee champ fights.)
You’ll want to skill your Q and your E pretty evenly, taking a point in W at level four and not looking back at that ’til you’re forced to.
I usually give slight priority to Q over E, as cleaver harass levels very well. As magic resistance piles up, the cleaver will become slightly less useful for damage, so it’s important to have it maxed early to get the most from it.
Mundo can fulfill a lot of roles in Dominion, so you should feel out what you like to do and what your team needs. He can sprint around the map, capping points and drawing attention, then running away, tongue lolling, cleavers flailing behind him. He can run out to meet the incoming enemy cap-disrupter, slowing him getting to your capturer and often getting the kill. Mundo also proves a pretty decent defender, with his ability to use cleavers to keep enemies at bay. However, this is probably his weakest role, as cleavers are single-target skillshots subject to magic resistance.
In my experience, Mundo does best 1v1ing enemy champs — though this takes some getting used to, as your Masochism increases in effectiveness with lower health, many a Mundo has been lured into overestimating his damage output and dying — and distracting and disrupting. Distractions can be ninja cap attempts you know won’t go through but will pull defenders off of points, or just popping up at inconvenient places. His cleaver harass makes him a great disrupter, as it allows him to poke capturers from outside most champ’s range, provided you’re good with your aim.
I build his masteries 9/21/0, going down into magic penetration in the offense tree.
For runes, I’ve been back and forth between magic penetration and armor penetration marks; I think I favor magic pen for the cleaver damage. The more health you can take away at range, the greater advantage you have when they get up close. Also, chasing champions can quickly become fleeing ones with a few well-landed cleavers to knock them down. I take flat armor seals, which I rather like. Health per five second seals are likely also viable.
For glyphs, I take magic resistance per level, as the only tankiness in my core build comes from Frozen Mallet and masteries. Note the lack of Spirit Visage. Since the nerf, its healing buff hasn’t been worth the cost, if you ask me. This is especially true when building a more attack-oriented Mundo, who needs all of that gold to build damage output. If for some reason you’re not worried about magic damage at all, you could throw in critical strike chance glyphs. If you don’t take my advice and want to use Spirit Visage, you could also consider cooldown reduction per level glyphs, which would, with Spirit Visage, allow you to have Masochism available to cast the second its effect ends. Though if you go the CDR glyph route, I’d recommend trying a Brutalizer instead of Spirit Visage.
I take flat health quintessences, because that’s what Mundo needs. You can try armor penetration quints, but I think you’ll be noticeably easier to kill.
How can you know this build works?
Well, that’s all for this week. Until next time, stay smart, stay safe, and don’t play full tank Mundo.