Neeko is a great pocket pick in the mid lane in League of Legends. With players often forgetting how to play against her, she can quickly run over the lane and snowball her teammates.
Her kit is quite telegraphed and shouldn’t prove a hard problem to deal with. But if you don’t know what her abilities do, you’ll be in for a rough ride. Her high AP ratios combined with her crowd control (CC) make her a deadly foe if left uncontrolled.
Here are the best counter picks to stop Neeko from snowballing in the mid lane.
Neeko has a predictable laning pattern that relies on her hitting her Blooming Burst (Q) on low-health creeps to trigger the secondary explosion. If you get caught in the radius, you’ll be taking a hefty amount of damage, so stay away from your creeps. A lot of her power is tied to her Tangle-Barbs (E) ability, which roots you and deals a lot of damage.
The usual trading pattern during the laning phase from Neeko will be to land her E and follow up with her Q for a lot of damage. A couple of these combos can wither your health down quickly.
Once Neeko gets access to Pop Blossom (R), she’ll have a delayed stun and damaging ability, which also gives Neeko a huge shield. During the laning phase, it might not seem that harmful. But once Neeko gets a bit of AP, she will become a huge threat, capable of winning one-vs-five teamfights with her ultimate. Pay attention to her positioning and try to avoid stacking up in teamfights with your allies.
Anivia is one of the best mages to play against Neeko since you can disrupt her tactics with a well-timed Flash Frost (Q). When she tries to go for an E or a Q, you can throw out your own Q and follow up with a Frostbite (E) for a lot of damage. You’ll outtrade her if you hit your stun so plan your movements carefully. If you went for aggressive runes such as Domination alongside a Corrupting Potion, you can set Neeko far behind from two combos and either force her to back or be an easy target for your next combo. Since she won’t have a lot of magic resist, you are a huge threat for her early on with your burst damage.
Set up a blockade with your Crystallize (W) to help your jungler land a kill when they come for a gank. Neeko has no dashes or blinks so she’s a pretty gankable target unlike other mid laners. There are plenty of opportunities to kill her during the laning phase—even if you didn’t go for offensive runes—since your base damage is high and you have the advantage of burst damage from a safe distance. Keep poking her down every time she tries to go for a last hit and force her to stay under tower. While you can control the lane quite well, you don’t have a dash to escape, so try to avoid exposing yourself with your stun or wall on cooldown.
As the game progresses, you should have a good lead. Use it to help your team secure objectives. While you have good scaling, one good teamfight from Neeko can turn the tides of battle easily. Try to use your W in teamfights to stop her from positioning in the middle of your team to land a game-changing ultimate.
Play it safe and avoid going for risky plays. Always remember to ward your flanks when pushing so you don’t get a surprise Neeko ultimate to seal the game.
Kassadin is one of strongest counters due to his ability to survive the laning quite easily. His current base damage is more than enough to keep up in pressure with Neeko.
Look into trading with Neeko with your Null Sphere (Q) and an auto attack via Nether Blade (W) whenever she is in melee range during the laning phase. These two abilities combined with an auto attack can deliver around 200 damage early on. A couple of such trades can give you a significant advantage. The best part of playing Kassadin into Neeko is that you have a magic damage shield on your Q, giving you a lot of resistance early on during your trades. Once you get access to Force Pulse (E), your trades become much stronger and you’ll be able to match Neeko’s Q damage easily.
Rift Walk (R) allows you to take over the game, especially with Neeko not having tools to stop you. Your goal should be to reach Everfrost as soon as possible, which will allow you to root Neeko and set up kills during the mid game. You can start roaming once you have access to your ultimate to snowball your teammates so you can increase your win chances. But remember to push in your wave before you roam so Neeko doesn’t get free gold from tower plates while you’re gone.
During teamfights, look into killing whatever target you can, either Neeko or her teammates. Don’t try to chase her since she can just use invisibility from her Shapesplitter (W) and deceive you, while her team fights your allies. If you get a good angle on her, try killing her in the blink of an eye, but don’t make that a priority. You excel in doing AoE damage with your Rift Walk and Force Pulse, so try to maximize the damage by using on multiple targets.
Kassadin is one of the best split pushers in the game later on, due to how easy it is to take down towers with your kit. You’ll be tough to catch thanks to Rift Walk, which will allow you to cover huge distances in a couple of seconds and you can easily join your allies as well. This will put your opponents in a difficult spot on how to deal with your split pushing and give you an edge needed to win the game. Neeko will most likely be forced to stick around with her team since she won’t be able to match you, giving you an easy win condition.
Zed is one of the best skill matchups against Neeko, but whoever has better movements around the lane will most likely win it. While you both have tools to deal with each other, Zed is easier to play since he doesn’t need to set up like Neeko, nor does he rely on mana.
Once you get to level three and have access to all three basic abilities, you can begin poking the Neeko down and prepare for an all-in with Living Shadow (W) into Ignite followed up by a Flash. Your damage early on is higher so you should be able to easily land kills if you prepare for the all-in beforehand.
When Neeko tries to walk to a dying creep to land her Q, that’s your go time. With her main damaging ability on cooldown, you’ll have an easy way of doing a lot of damage with no repercussions. Examine her movement pattern and use your Living Shadow where she is, Shadow Slash (E) for some damage, and then try to hit a double Razor Shuriken (Q). With this combo you can poke her heavily down early on, before you go in to finish the job.
If you put Neeko on the defensive, it gives you access to roaming to other lanes to snowball your teammates and winning in the mid-game. While you don’t have the best late-game scaling, neither does Neeko, especially if she’s behind. Keep her under control and don’t allow her to farm up too much to get a lot of AP, which will allow her to one-shot your team in teamfights with her ultimate.
By going for aggressive plays early on and controlling the lane, you set yourself up for a clear path to victory. You should have a decent gold lead once the laning phase is over and be a much higher threat compared to Neeko, who will need a lot of AP to be useful in teamfights. If you catch her from a flank, you can easily take her out before she even has the chance to go into your team.
Items to build into Neeko
These boots will help you reduce Neeko’s damage and CC duration. They’re cheap and are a great item to rush if you’re trouble. It has increased effectiveness if the opposing team has multiple AP-focused champions or a composition with a lot of CC.
Neeko doesn’t have magic resist scaling, so by picking up magic penetration boots, you’ll be doing a lot of damage to her. It can be a legitimate first item rush to give you additional movement speed to dodge her abilities on top of being able to do more damage to her.
If you don’t want to get stuck in CC, you can acquire Quicksilver Sash for only 1,300 gold to ensure you’re able to get out of a risky situation whenever necessary with its instant cleanse effect.
A decent early-game rush, especially if the opponents are running multiple AP threats. It’s going to reduce Neeko’s damage a lot during the laning phase, giving you time to farm up for your core items.
Zhonya’s is a decent item against Neeko, especially if multiple members on her team have a lot of physical damage. While the armor won’t lower her damage, the Zhonya’s effect can allow you to stasis yourself instead of getting blown up by her combos.
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