By Petar Vukobrat
January 1, 2020
Let’s do an in-depth Pantheon guide to see what the recently reworked Artisan of War brings to the table. First, there’s one thing that must be said outright: He brings a lot. Not only did Riot hit a home run with the entire rework, but they were also able to re-create Pantheon into a champion that is exciting to play from the moment you spawn.
There’s nothing uninteresting about his ability kit. Whenever you land an ability — be it on an enemy target, creep or neutral monster — you can feel the weight of your actions. And fortunately, most of your actions will have a serious impact if you understand Pantheon’s ability kit as well as his in-game role.
As a champion, design and lore-wise, Pantheon always had a lot going for him. Unfortunately, his outdated design (abilities and visuals included) seriously hindered his overall attractiveness. Those who played him were in love with his straight-forward, early and mid-focused playstyle; his point-and-click stun and spear poke, and the theatrical (albeit mostly underwhelming) ultimate.
He was a strong champion (or obnoxious, depending on the match-up), but as the game progressed, his strengths faded. If you didn’t secure the win by a certain point, your chances of losing skyrocketed immediately.
Once the rework came out, however, all his abilities received a serious face-lift, and it wasn’t merely an aesthetic change either. His entire kit was reworked, but not to the point when you can no longer recognize the champion.
Instead of recreating him from the ground up, Riot took his abilities and modernized them. They remade them by 2019 standards. That, in a way, was all Pantheon needed. The lore, the design and overall aesthetic were all on-point (give or take). But the way it all synced up and the way the champion functioned on the Rift left a lot to be desired.
So, let’s do a somewhat in-depth Pantheon guide and see what’s the best and most optimal way to pilot the Artisan of War! He’s a force to be reckoned with in the right hands and fortunately, learning to play him won’t require too much time!
To start our Pantheon guide off, let’s focus on his ability kit first, before delving deeper into other aspects of play like Runes, Summoner’s Spells, and so on.
Passive: “Mortal Will” — Every time Pantheon lands an ability or throws a basic attack, he gains a stack, up to a maximum of five. Once he reaches five stacks, his next ability will consume it to gain an additional effect.
An interesting passive all things considered, and you should keep an eye on your stack count as empowering a key ability can often be of paramount importance, especially in lane.
Q: “Comet Spear” — Pantheon’s legendary spear throw. This time, however, you can cast it in one of two ways. You can either wind the spear up for up to four seconds, thus increasing its range and making it a long-range ability. You can also quickly press Q to make Pantheon thrust his spear without any wind up, and refund 50% of the overall cooldown. Upon landing, the spear will deal increased damage against enemies who are below 20% of their maximum health.
If combined with Mortal Will, the spear will deal bonus damage and will slow (up to 40%) for 2.5 seconds.
W: “Shield Vault” — Pantheon jumps towards an enemy target, dealing physical damage and stunning them for one second. This ability functions exactly as it did before the rework and will be an integral component of your all-in engage.
If combined with Mortal Will, Pantheon’s next basic attack after stunning a target (within four seconds) will strike three times, dealing bonus damage and applying any on-hit effects and modifiers (critical strike included). These bonus strikes will then refill a good chunk of your passive so that you can have Mortal Will back online in a matter of seconds.
Using an empowered W will also grant you multiple Conqueror stacks, which will then, in turn, make you a lot stronger in the subsequent skirmish/team fight.
E: “Aegis Assault” — Pantheon lifts his shield and faces a set direction while striking in a cone. During the 1.5 second duration, he is invulnerable to any damage coming from the direction his shield is facing. At the end of ability (or upon reactivation), Pantheon will slam his shield and deal bonus physical damage.
If combined with Mortal Will, the ability will last for 2.5 seconds and the three subsequent cone strikes will deal more damage.
A fantastic ability all things considered. It resembles the one Pantheon had before and is key in evading incoming damage and surviving perilous moments. You can also use this ability to block turret shots, so have that in mind when going in for the kill underneath the enemy turret.
R: “Grand Starfall” — After channeling for two seconds, Pantheon leaps into the air and crashes down at the target location 2.7 seconds later. The land itself deals a ton of magic damage (up to 700 + 100% AP at the time of this writing). Targets that are near the edges of the landing spot take up to 50% damage.
Pantheon’s ultimate was and still is one of his most recognizable trademarks. The ability to traverse a good chunk of the Summoner’s Rift in a split of a second is huge when used correctly. You can use this ability to come back to lane sooner, to gank, to join a team fight, or — even better — to engage for your team.
Pantheon’s core DNA remains the same, but he’s no longer as one-dimensional as he was before the rework. He’s now a slightly more complex champion with more skill expression. A fantastic Pantheon will stand out from the crowd.
Maxing Q first is paramount. Pantheon’s spear is his bread and butter, especially during the laning phase. After Q, you’ll max E and then W last.
Playing Pantheon is a treat in and of itself. You feel like you possess immense power. While that’s certainly true, it can also get you in trouble. It’s easy to get carried away. Once you engage with Pantheon, there will be times when going back isn’t an option. He’s also not the best team fighter in the world nor is he particularly strong when put behind.
That said, he’s a potent pick in lane, he can skirmish to great success, is easy to pick up and can have a huge impact on the game when played correctly (i.e. roaming and ganking other lanes whenever possible).
You can build Pantheon either as a bruiser or as a Lethality-based powerhouse. The former is for the best, but it’s good to know that you can build aggressively as well if the need arises. You’ll want to build Black Cleaver first, then transition into Duskblade of Draktharr, Guardian Angel, Maw of Malmortius, Death’s Dance and round out the build with your boots of choice (either Ninja Tabi or Mercury’s Treads).
If you need more health and armor, you can always go for Dead Man’s Plate or Sterak’s Gage (if you’re not building Maw). Finally, Boots of Mobility is also an option if you’re looking to roam and impact the map constantly
Youmuu’s Ghostblade and Sanguine’s Blade are also perfectly viable (many opt to build Youmuu’s first instead of Black Cleaver) and going for Edge of Night could also be a good idea as it synergizes with your kit (not to mention its stellar passive spell shield).
You can itemize Pantheon in a myriad of ways, and it all boils down to personal preference, playstyle, and the opposing team comp. Regardless, a mix of damage and tankiness is the right way to go.
If you want to see how professional players itemize Pantheon, you can click here.
This is where things get a bit more complicated. Ever since his rework, Pantheon has seen play in four out of five roles — top, jungle, mid and even support. Still, he’s best when played in mid or top lane. His win rate currently fluctuates around 46% as a top laner and 51% as a mid laner (with a much smaller sample size).
But regardless of the role you opt to fill, you’ll mostly pick the following rune set-up:
Primary Tree: Precision (Conqueror, Triumph, Legend: Tenacity, Coup de Grace) — Perfect synergy with Pantheon’s ability kit and playstyle.
Secondary Tree: Domination (Taste of Blood, Ravenous Hunter) — Additional healing upon damaging an enemy champion will allow you to survive longer in team fights but also have an upper hand in lane.
Your rune set-up isn’t exactly set in stone, and you can experiment a fair bit. You can go Domination first and take Electrocute for an even beefier damage output or, conversely, take Resolve as your primary tree if you’re looking to be a bit tankier than usual. You’ll lose a fair bit of your damage, but you’ll be more durable.
At the time of this writing, Pantheon has yet to make a (concrete) appearance in top-tier professional play. The reason why we still haven’t seen him piloted by pros across the globe is that he was disabled as the regular portion of the season came to an end.
In fact, he slipped through the pick and ban phase only once throughout the entire World Championship, and that was in the Play-In Stage. Now, it’s hard to deduce whether this is because of Pantheon’s immense strength and potential, or because teams didn’t want to deal with a completely new champion coming into Worlds. Perhaps it’s a mix of both.
That said, this hasn’t stopped professional players from trying him out in their solo queue adventures.
But with the 2020 competitive season right around the corner, you can expect Pantheon to make a grand appearance sooner rather than later.
That’s it for our in-depth Pantheon guide! By all metrics, Riot’s latest rework is a resounding success. They took an outdated, relatively niche champion and made him completely viable while also retaining his core identity. That’s a hallmark of a successful rework. Veteran players and first-timers enjoy the experience.
How big of an impact he’ll have in competitive play remains to be seen, but his many strengths will surely make him a solid pick in highly coordinated play.
Finally, if you happen to be someone who appreciates top-notch orchestral music, make sure to listen to Pantheon’s official champion theme. It is the perfect soundtrack to get you into the right mindset as you load into the Summoner’s Rift.