IntroductionStream link: http://www.twitch.tv/jyarbz
I'm aware of the nerfs in the last patch, and they hurt quite a bit actually. With the introduction of s3 I felt like nidalee could compete with most bruisers for being a frontline tank with all the new items and changes to existing items. Now I'm not so sure. She's going to go more back to a niche pick that pressures top lane and splits really hard imo, which is still good, just not incredibly strong like before. I've been trying a lot of different things to really find what I like and feel like I've updated the guide to really reflect that.
I've finished a new post-nerf nidalee commentary that was much requested!
New S3 Commentary: Post-nerf nid
Old S3 Commentary: I'm sorry for the horrible quality! :( I was a noob at xsplit.
- Very strong laning phase vs most melee champions
- Highly mobile, able to get around the map and splitpush with little to no danger of getting caught
- One of the safest top lanes if you abuse your traps
- A neutral top pick, meaning it's very hard to counterpick
- Very strong mid game if you're ahead
- Even if you're behind, you can still always splitpush
- Can be vulnerable pre 6 to strong ganks and/or tough lane matchups
- She gets outscaled by a lot of top laners making her vulnerable to the classic "win lane, lose game"
- Her sustain is very mana hungry
- One of the only champions that completely lacks cc, other tops have better teamfight presence (somewhat fixed by )
Most of you probably don't know my name, but I am currently a Diamond I player who reached high elo by mostly just playing Nidalee. Yes I did other things, but like many before me, I reached 2k by maining one champion. Here's a screenshot of my nidalee stats from this season.
Nidalee is in my opinion one of the strongest top lanes in the game right now, especially in solo queue. To play Nidalee effectively, you need to get ahead. Nidalee has a late game with less utility and overall tankiness/cc/damage compared to top competitive picks like Olaf/Renekton/Malphite/etc. But to make up for it she has an incredible kit for spiltpushing and one of the strongest mid games in terms of map pressure and skirmish power of any champion in the game. Her late game is actually really potent with too.
Although I exclusively played ap nidalee in season 1 and feel I have a good handle on it, I will not be going over that in this guide as I feel that there are plenty of better ap nid players and guides available already. However I don't usually see very many ad nid guides despite the fact that she is such a dominating early-mid game force in top lane. And I feel that the way I play her is a bit unique and I have something to offer that I haven't seen in any other guides as of yet.
The point of Nidalee is to win your lane and snowball into mid game ahead of your opponent. You should be able to pull a lot of pressure top lane making the enemy jungler and possibly mid lane waste a lot of time. This should help relieve pressure around the map allowing your other lanes to do better. With her traps and mobility she has pretty incredible control of top lane. So if you get behind you're REALLY going to feel it if you try to group up and fight as other tops you can beat in lane can outscale you pretty hard.
Runes and Masteries
Ad - Best for really early game. Easiest last hitting and more damage before items against most targets.
Hybrid pen - Probably the most consistently useful considering half of nidalee's damage is magic damage anyways. Scales well with items due to penetration formula as well.
Armor pen - Good, but why not hybrid pen? You don't lose hardly any armor pen and gain some magic pen.
Armor - Pretty much the best option in all cases. Without these you have abysmally low armor and even ap champions would auto you really hard.
Magic resist - Great in lane vs ap matchups
Magic resist/lvl - Preferred runes for me right now after mr/armor nerfs. I just feel like nidalee needs the extra boost in magic resist late game.
Cdr - Can be really useful in combination with certain masteries to grab you an additional 10% cdr or even 15% from runes and masteries.
Ad - Good for early lane - harassing, last hitting.
Movement speed - Really powerful with nidalee's passive and cougar form. I ran these almost exclusively for a very long time.
Armor pen - Good but I'd rather run hybrid pen if I was going for penetration. And most of the time I run hybrid pen in reds so I don't feel like I need them.
So as of 5/4/2013 I'm rewriting this little section, I've been playing with the following information for a while and i should've updated this a long time ago.
I've gone through a lot of iterations of my masteries. While in S2, I heavily favored offense masteries, with S3 defense masteries becames very powerful. Nidalee was just too tanky and you would become unkillable with 21 defense. Through some observation of a lot of asian nidalee players, I realized 21 utility was actually very good in certain matchups to sustain and push endlessly and I started using utility quite a bit. Then the resistance nerfs came. I started experimenting with offense masteries again and liked a lot of the damage it gave me. I slowly started gravitating away from my favored MS quints too after I stopped using utility. Overall, I feel like Offense and Defense are best now, and in the end I started thinking, why not a bit of both?
I really like these masteries a lot, and feel like they give you a decent mix of defense and offense. You can mix a few points if you want, taking a few points out of the extra health or something in defense, and adding some extra ad/armor pen for autos in lane if you want. The important thing is to get the dual penetration (half of nidalee's damage is magic even as bruiser) to scale with your hybrid penetration runes. Then you dump the rest of the points into defense.
Easiest to use and almost neccessary in some hard bruiser matchups. If I'm facing a darius/irelia/wukong/etc it's hard not to go 21 defense. Without it it's just hard to trade and farm in lane without getting far behind and/or dying - especially after the cougar form resistance nerfs.
I really like this setup a lot and I wish I could use it more. After the resistance nerfs I just don't feel like these give you enough tools anymore sadly. However, what these masteries are good at is giving you lots of tools to deal with lanes who don't have the power to all in you from 100% to 0. You get mana, mana regen, cdr, experience gain (if you take it), movement speed. You just get a lot of tools that are much more valuable for splitpushing and applying pressure to your lane by sustaining over time. Pretty much if you're running utility, you always go chalice first and just stay in lane forever.
Do this if it's an easy lane and you want to dominate. These are very powerful masteries but very easily punishable. If you don't win lane and get an advantage you're really in trouble the farther the game goes. I might take these to really punish a singed, malphite, cho, etc really early on in lane. But that doesn't mean you just auto win. You need to know the matchup and play it to it's fullest potential.
- This is just almost always a good choice to have top. It allows you to really surprise low health opponents with a flash into cougar q-e-ignite combo that does really high burst. It's best for escaping early level 2-3 ganks as well.
- This will allow you to effectively duel almost anyone in top lane. With auto attacks and ignite you can finish off almost anything. If you don't take this skill and someone else has it, you can easily lose a lane you otherwise would've won.
- this can be really good and in certain situations be even better than flash. You're not really going to get away from a ghosted nidalee. If you're not afraid of their jungler and ghost is more your flavor of summoner, then by all means go for it.
- This can be a pretty attractive option vs some very aggressive tops. I used to take this a lot on ap nidalee against champions like akali because I could often bait them into a tower dive and exhaust them. If you can bait your oppponent into making a mistake forgetting that you have exhaust this can put you ahead enough in lane to win. Just beware not having ignite for champions that sustain well.
- You lose kill potential in lane but gain a much larger presence in the overall map. This summoner typically becomes better mid-late game if you're trying to execute a splitpushing strategy.
- Not worth it after the season 3 changes.
- I actually really like this summoner in certain situations. It makes some potentially difficult matchups a lot easier like , , , etc. Basically think of any champion who has good burst damage and you can win against them in lane if you can survive their all in and heal up over time. This will allow you to survive that brutal darius flash combo into ult. Sure you'll be at 10% after and he might be at like 40%. But once his ult + ignite are down he's not going to surprise you. At this point you start winning the lane by healing up over time (might want to invest into some mana - I've been running tear against a lot of ad matchups lately. Don't rush tear if you need health first though... get what you need to survive).
Here I'll evaluate different items you can build on Nidalee individually. For a better understanding of how I build these items relative to the stage in the game see my early, mid, and late game sections.
Trinity force is still a great item on nidalee despite the fact I don't build it in most of my games anymore. I usually look to build this item when the other team has a lot of ap damage making not that great of an option.
In season 2 I built this item almost every game but I rarely find myself using it now. It's still really powerful on nidalee but a lot of times I find myself prioritizing tankiness and utility over going pure damage nidalee now that options like and are around.
This is a alternative to and gives you a more reliable slow and more health while sacrificing damage and movespeed. Most of the time this is the third best option in terms of items giving you slows and I'd leave this most games.
Do not get this item anymore. After the S3 patch this item was destroyed for laners. I honestly don't see any top laner buying this item and doing well. It's not worth the cost and the madreds is almost completely useless in lane and builds out of hunters machete. Just don't waste your gold here.
While I've always kind of liked this item, I think the changes actually made this item a little worse on nidalee. Before all the gold was funneled into actual stats you could have 100% uptime on as nidalee. But they took some of the raw stats and put into a passive that activates at half health. While it's true that nidalee gets benefits from fighting at low health and this item certainly wouldn't be bad on her, I feel like Nidalee's fighting at low health is more focused on combos rather than getting in a straight up auto attack battle in melee range like this item promotes. I'd much rather see this on someone like jax. It can be good in certain situations. I think most of those are when you're just infinitely splitpushing. You'll have to do some testing on your own and see when you like it.
Get this item if you're a big damage source and you're against heavy armor. Also if you ever want to deal damage with your cougar form against a team then you will need this item.
If you have a heavy ad team and no one is going to build this, it's a great item to get. It's something to build a vamp scepter into if your gold is a lot more focused on your ad carry and others, rather than you.
The only time this item was good was when your only defense item could be a GA. And I'm just not sure that's the best way to build in most games anymore. I'd never really build this as a serious item unless it's your very last item and you're able to get multiple crits off in a fight.
GA is still a great item, but after the nerfs I don't think it's must-buy every single game anymore. This is now strictly a teamfight item if you specifically want the revive. The stats have been significantly nerfed and makes options like , and a lot more attractive.
This item is really good to rush as a first item to fight in an ap lane. Very strong against champion like and .
This item gives more overall magic resist than hexdrinker and synergizes very well with . But most games I just find that I'd rather have either the flat ad from hexdrinker for takedown burst or the cdr and healing from spirit visage. I don't really ever see myself building this item anymore. I'd almost rather get a .
I really love the s3 changes to this item. It gives a lot more health and got rid of health regen which sort of felt like an almost wasted stat on a lot of champions. It builds out of the new which is a fantastic item as well. If someone else on your team has a frozen heart or you want more health, this is a great item to pick up against ad damage.
I build this item pretty much every game that I don't get . The stats are great on nidalee and this brings very good teamfight utility against teams that have champions like and ad carries.
I liked this item before, and I love it now. It now has the most magic resist in the game outside of and is perfect for ad nid making this your go-to magic resist item after the changes. I build this almost every game. Cdr, health, magic resist and bigger heals - Nidalee scales with all of this really well.
Get this if you need it to avoid being instagibbed against champions like . I almost always prefer though. Also in an extremely late game you could build this in to the new .
You can grab this if no one else on your team is getting one and/or you're getting carried and not doing a whole lot for your team. I usually like to see this one the jungler or support instead though.
I really like this change to this item. Nidalee couldn't really afford to get this item as early as other top laners like olaf or rengar for example. She needed other utility to make her character a lot better, so having to stack the old one like 30 minutes into the game was a real pain. But it's a lot cheaper now and you get the whole item's effects immediately. I like to pick up this item along with a if I'm looking to be a tanky front line for my team. Best used against aoe teamfight mages who have longer cd's (not or for instance) so that you can completely ignore magic damage because you have so much health and focus on building armor to face-tank their ad damage.
Don't like this item. Not worth it, and it won't be unless the nerfs to it are reverted. And even then it will be situational on nidalee. Almost every other armor item is better in pretty much every situation.
This is an item my opinion is constantly changing on. Usually I've never really liked this item. I still don't think it's an everygame item on nid but if im not dominating lane and I need this to be able to go toe to toe early-mid game with some bruisers that may be ahead of me in lane, it's not a bad pickup at all. Basically, if you like this item, give it a try. But it's really only good early-mid game and is outshined late game by other armor or hp items.
TPA Stanley showcased to the world the asian-favored nidalee chalice build and I figured there was no reason not to include this. In fact I'm not sure why I didn't before. This is a great option if you're looking to outsustain assholes like /// in lane. In one of his games Stanley actually upgraded this to athenes as his 6th item. While I wouldn't really ever recommend that, and I think he built it in a very specific situation, who am I to tell you it's not good when he did it? However, I personally think lategame you could fit a number of different things into your build to replace a chalice.
Ok, I used to not like this item that much, but honestly it's pretty decent. is a great option to sustain vs primarily attack damage lanes when chalice isn't the smartest buy. And Muramana gives you decent damage on autos as well as some added mixed damage to takedow. This also synergizes pretty well with the mana from .
This item is a trinity force replacement and is pretty great on nidalee. It makes up for nidalee's biggest weakness which is a lack of utility. It's an aoe slow and builds out of two mid tier items that are amazing on nidalee. It does give ap, which feels a bit wierd for a bruiser nidalee build, but it's not like that's the focus of the item or that nidalee doesn't make use of it at all. This is for a tanky nidalee build that relies on base damages and focuses on tankiness and utility.
I was originally turned off to grabbing these at the beginning of the season 3 patch because I was valuing the percent lifesteal from the season 2 version too highly. This would synergize with takedowns giving you quick bursts of healing. But these are still very good for giving you a good presence in lane with the health and ad. Very strong pickup in lane.
Skill OrderR>E>Q>W (getting a point in w at level 1)
I will go more in depth later on exactly what you can do with traps, but there's never a reason to not start traps level 1. After this, max heal. I've seen one other player at a 2.2k elo who always maxes q first. He does very well against more passive lanes. But if things don't go really in his favor he generally does poorly. I wouldn't ever reccomend this. But it is an option if you'd like to try it.
There's something to understand about nidalee though. Her cougar form abilities DO NOT scale up in the 5 ranks you put into her human form abilities. Her cougar abilities all have 3 ranks that scale off her ultimate only. So putting points into q early DOES NOT increase your cougar form burst. E is good overall for sustain and the attack speed for trading. Next max q as your spears with sheen/trinity force will actually do pretty decent damage on squishy targets mid game. Last, max traps as these are a "one point wonder", always taking a point in your ult whenever you can.
Moving through brush increases Nidalee's movement speed by 15% for 2 seconds.
This is by far my favorite passive in the game. I LOVE MOVESPEED. This really allows you to escape a lot of ganks and kite around a lot of top lanes early in the game. This combined with your traps gives you insane bush control in lane. This is a huge reason why Nidalee is so incredibly mobile and can't be chased.
Q: Javelin Toss / Takedown
Human: Nidalee tosses her javelin, dealing 55 / 95 / 140 / 185 / 230 (+65% of ability power) magic damage on impact (deals up to 250% damage the further away the target is).
Cougar: Nidalee's next attack deals additional damage based on how low her opponent's life is.
Cooldown 6 seconds
Cost 50/60/70/80/90 mana
In human form, this ability launches a spear. I'm sure we've all seen nidalees with tons of ap where they chunk someone for HUGE amounts of health with a single spear. However you won't be doing this that often with ad nidalee, so unless it'll help you nab a cs you wouldn't otherwise get, or finish off a kill, most likely you're better off saving the mana.
In cougar form, this ability is one of the best nuking abilities onto enemies with lower health in the whole game. Because it scales off of missing health, the lower health your opponent gets in lane, the more damage you do, which is why it's extremely dangerous to stick around below half health against a nidalee. This is your main damaging skill in cougar form. Make sure you know how much burst you have as you can often out duel low health opponents with really surprising amounts of burst. It can scale up to 300% of your total ad on top of the base damage which is absolutely ridiculous.
W: Bushwhack / Pounce
Human: Nidalee lays a trap that deals 80 / 125 / 170 / 215 / 260 (+40% of ability power) damage over 2 seconds, reveals the target, and reduces their armor and magic resistance by 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40% for 12 seconds. Traps last for 4 minutes.
Cougar: Nidalee lunges forward, dealing damage to surrounding enemies. Pounce is not affected by cooldown reduction.
Cost 60 / 75 / 90 / 105 / 120mana
In human form, the traps you can lay are the best tool you have available to you early game. If used properly you can be one of the safest top lane picks vs jungle ganks in the entire game. These also give you insane bush control as I talk about in other parts of the guide. Get a point in this at 1 and max it last.
In cougar form this ability combined with your passive is what gives you incredible mobility around the map. Whenever you're traveling anywhere, spam this over and over. If you're new to nidalee it may take a while to get used to as you do not hop in the direction of your cursor, but rather the way your model is facing. So if you get creep blocked, you can end up jumping off in random directions. You can also use this to jump over many of the walls in summoners rift.
Video explaining early game traps in the "Early Game" chapter.
E: Primal Surge / Swipe
Human: Nidalee heals an ally champion for 50/85/120/155/190 (+70% of ability power) and grants them a 20 / 30 / 40 / 50 / 60% attack speed for 7 seconds.
Cougar: Nidelee claws at enemies in front of her.
Cooldown 10 seconds
Cost 60/80/100/120/140 mana
In human form, this is your main ability early game. A heal with a good attack speed steroid will keep you healthy and your trades potent as you poke away at your lane opponents health in early laning. This is also good to drop on yourself before you hop into cougar form for that extra damage output. Late game you should be looking to put this on your ad carry whenever possible.
In cougar form this is your main wave clearing ability (though it won't clear waves for long as you have no ap). And it's nice extra damage on your cougar combo. Use this whenever you get the chance too on the end of your combo in cougar form.
R: Aspect Of The Cougar
Passive: Each additional rank increases the effectiveness of Nidalee's cougar abilities.
Nidalee transforms into a vicious cougar, gaining 20 movement speed, 10/20/30 armor and magic resistance and a new set of abilities.
Cooldown 4 seconds
This is obviously the ability that makes nidalee... well nidalee. Each time you transform you gain a new set of abilities and the cooldown is rather short. Each rank of her ultimate scales up all 3 of nidalee's cougar abilities and gives her 10 more mr/armor while in cougar form. Learning when to switch in and out is all something that comes with experience. But as ad nid, you should be spending the majority of your time in cougar form in teamfights as your cougar combo is your main form of burst damage. And the extra resistances and movespeed it gives you is really nice. Don't forget to pop out and throw out a heal when you get the chance though. The heal is nice but the attack speed boost is better. In lane you definitely spend the majority of your time in human form however.
Early GameStarting items:
After the new patch there's so many different viable ways to start, it's hard to really say that one is the best like boots was before. Here are some of the different starts and when I think they're good.
+ + +
This is the strongest start in the most situations imo. I've been building chalice or tear in most of my games lately and this start gives you so much sustain early game that unless you absolutely need cloth armor for a matchup, this start just doesn't feel like it can be outmatched. Also starting with a ward is extremely helpful and I usually put it down by about 3 minutes.
Good vs lanes that have heavy targetable harass (not skillshots) and bruisers with gap closers. Examples of this would be , , , etc.
If you absolutely feel 25 ms will make all the difference in your matchup then go for it I guess. But this is almost always just about the worst start you can go with.
A very powerful start which makes your autos really hurt early and makes you pretty tanky. The weakness is of course no pots and no wards. This is a very risky start.
After the nerf, flask is still good, just not the best in every situation anymore. Feel free to change out 2 of the potions for a ward as well.
Nidalee's most vulnerable period is early game before she hits 6. If you get behind here and give up a kill, it can start a snowball that's really hard to stop. Make sure you utilize traps properly (level 1 traps explained in the video below) and overall be safe against lanes that can punish you. Nidalee is ranged pre 6. If you're letting a bruiser get in melee range of you you're doing something wrong unless you're purposely baiting. You have 550 range and a heal with an attack speed steroid. Abuse your range and poke people down. Ad Nidalee lanes are all about auto attack poke early.
For the first several levels you want to be aware of possible jungler ganks and only harass by moving in and out of the bush. This does several things. It activates your passive making you have a lot higher movespeed than your opponent and it continuously drops vision of you (including dropping minion aggro) making you annoyingly difficult to lane against. Poke, run back to bush, and come out and poke again. Repeat. If you can poke people down and either force a back or just force them to stay in lane with low health to level 6, it's very likely you can land a kill with ignite. Look for opportunities, but don't get greedy. The biggest mistake new nid players make is jumping into cougar form too early and just pouncing into a melee trade they can't win.
This is a video detailing how I've often placed my level 1 traps. This is a very selfish placement and over time I've adopted a strategy where I usually put one down protecting against level 1 invades at blue or red.
Please read "Bushwacks" in the "Advanced Lane Mechanics" chapter.
If extremely fed and have a tanky front line:
+ + +
If ahead or even:
+ + situational or + + situational
Good early-mid game items to win lane
, , etc. Build to survive your lane. Hp and resists.
If VERY behind
You have two options. Continue to splitpush and possibly keep dying but continuing to farm and pressure turrets. The lower elo you are the more aggravated your teammates will be by this. But if you continue dying and became worth no gold and just split the entire game but your team is still in the game then you're doing the most useful thing you could possibly be doing. Make yourself worth less gold than the minions next to you. If you can't do this, then just try to build whatever tankiness and utility you can and group as 5 with your team. This is the easiest to understand for most solo queue players and you can bring back a lot of games by simply grouping up.
If you're very far ahead and can afford to, you can look to build some damage items to really snowball. But it's kinda rare for me to do this since season 3 and the nidalee nerfs. You will be doing some really insane mid game damage though and no one should be able to 1v1 you. If you're more even, start looking to build a defensive item after your early game core like or or even . Cdr is an incredibly strong stat on Nidalee and if at all possible itemize it. If you lost lane and are looking to be useful you either need to just keep splitpushing and drawing pressure while your team groups as 4, or try to get tanky and get a gauntlet and be as useful as you can in a teamfight.
By mid game it's pretty easy to have your tower down as nidalee. Past a certain point one kill or one force out of lane and you can almost take down a tower in one go. Once your tower falls and you have at least a and a you should look to either pressure your second turret (make sure to grab lots of ) or start roaming to other lanes and making plays happen. You can also look to take any jungle from the enemy top side that's available to you. If you're able to land a red buff that could be a free kill when your opponent comes back to top lane to farm with his turret down. Around 20-30 minutes Nidalee is in her element. You should have done well in lane, gotten some global gold from towers and roaming to a dragon. You have your or suitable replacement and you are incredibly strong. Carries don't have yet and no one can really deal with you. Even champions that can all in you can't do that because of your mobility. You should be wreaking havoc in teamfights by kiting in and out of it making yourself a damage threat but never able to be caught and pinned down.
Example of balanced end game build:
+ + + +
Obviously, always build for the game. If the other team has multiple auto attack reliant champions, get a . If you're majorly fed and need to do damage to carry your team pick up a . If the enemy team has an ap top, mid and jungle, you might want to think about a instead of a .
How to make the most out of nidalee mid-late game
One of the reasons Nidalee is so strong is because she's so tough to deal with as a splitpusher. Ideally in most games Nidalee can for the most part 1v1 any champion in the game or at least not die and draw attention to the top lane. If you always carry around 3-ish wards when you go to splitpush and ward properly you can be virtually unstoppable.
Why Splitpush? Nidalee lacks a lot of the utility and teamfight presence that a lot of top lanes can bring with less farm. Malphite, Olaf, Cho, Rengar, Irelia, etc. Think about a top and they probably have more utility than Nidalee. By pushing top, you relieve pressure on the rest of the map and force their jungler to either come up to deal with you, or let you slowly force towers down. And if you're doing it right, most of the time you can force their jungler/mid to come top to try to deal with you and still get away. This indirectly helps all your other lanes and lets your jungler go gank other lanes winning those lanes while you're drawing attention.
When wouldn't you splitpush? It's a lot harder to pull off if your team doesn't know how to not get caught, and is further accentuated if the other team has loads of hard engage. To counteract this you can take teleport a lot in solo queue if you think you can survive without ignite and try to splitpush until a fight happens and teleport to it. Nidalee with teleport is way harder to deal with mid-late game than a nidalee with ignite. You can force 4v5's by teleporting to forced fights after someone comes top to deal with you or you can take towers while your team stalls 4v5.
MatchupsSo I realized a lot of my matchups are really old. Sorry about that. Working to update them asap.
There's so much variety in starting items for season 3 that I don't feel like listing all the possible viable starts for every matchup. Instead I'm going to list all the possible starts that I use at the top and then list the one I usually use for the specific matchup. But feel free to use your brain and try some different starts yourself for different matchups. :) And obviously you can get any combination of hp/mana pots you want or switch some pots out for an extra ward.[/highlight]
This start is still fairly decent. Not the best every game start that it was before, but you still have really good sustain and get the benefit of the recharging flask for a long time into the game.
+ + +
This is probably the start I most often go for. It builds very nicely into an early chalice if you need it against an ap matchup. You could alternatively build this into a as nidalee stacks tears very quickly and you may not want magic resist in your matchup. This start gives you a lot of sustain along with a ward which you can put down to protect you around 3:00-4:00. Also, you could start with a if you don't want to build mana regeneration.
+ + +
This is the safest start against lanes that can't all in you just because you have so many potions and wards. I rarely start this and think it's kinda overkill for a champion that has self sustain.
This is the best start vs targetable ad harass. Start with this vs champions like , , ,. This is also a strong start vs champions where you don't think you'll be able to evade their gap closers. Examples could be , , .
I would only take this if you're absolutely sure you need the extra 25 ms to kite a champion or else you will lose. I think this is rarely the case, even against champions who this used to be true against like . You'll almost always be better off going something else with more sustain.
Before going into champion specific matchups, try to remember the strengths of Nidalee I talked about earlier in the guide. Nidalee is generally known as a "neutral pick" top lane, meaning it's very difficult to hard counter out of the lane. If you remember trap placement, abusing your passive and playing safe at early levels you should be able to do well in most lanes. If you come up against a really tough lane pre-6, then just hold on and farm the best you can. After an item or two and level 6, Nidalee lanes tend to get a lot stronger.
Difficulty - 7
Starting items: + + +
As Nidalee pre 6 you are a squishy champion with no escape, so if you haven't played this matchup before, proceed with extreme caution. Riven's damage in an all out fight is always higher than yours. The difference is even more noticeable at 6 where as Nidalee you should be used to having an advantage. This matchup is winnable but very hard as riven has the turning power and burst potential like nid but noticeably more of it. Also riven has no resource so her only limitation is that she is ranged. Also one of Riven's biggest advantages in most lanes is her mobility, but Nidalee actually excels in this aspect even more so than Riven does at earl levels try to have your passive activated at all times and keep traps in the bushes. If you can keep bush control and play passive at early levels and poke her by dipping in and out of bushes dropping minion aggro, then you can do well early. If you're afraid of their jungler do not harass much at early levels as this will eventually push your lane and set up extremely easy ganks and make csing very dangerous. If Riven goes aggressive on you early just keep backing up with your passive crazy move speed and the moment she turns and/or her cooldowns are gone you can get free harass with auto attacks. At 6 beware of her burst. DO NOT engage in full on completely committed fights. Wait till she uses cooldowns by either baiting them out by being close then pouncing away or her using them to farm. Then jump in for a cougar combo and jump out and get whatever safe autos that you can. Even if she is below 50% and you are full health at 6 she can STILL win an all out 1v1. Her passive and two cc's combined with her short cd ult give her crazy dueling power and burst potential. Do not underestimate the damage her ult combo + ignite can do. Often even when ganked Riven can 2v1, get a kill and walk away. Be mindful of her flash combo and if needed let your jungler finish her off or kite her until she has used cooldowns on your jungler and then go in. Do not trade 1 for 1. Let your jungler have the kill if you have to.
Difficulty - 6
Starting items: Starting items: +
This can be a tough matchup that is really based a lot on player skill. I'd say the less experienced the players the more I give this matchup to lee sin. Lee can primarily be played two ways top. He should either max w or q. If he has something like 76 ad at level 1 and is being aggressive early he is going for a really early kill to snowball the lane and probably maxing q. If you can manage to not get hit by his q's, and punish him with cougar form when he does waste q, then the lane is extremely winnable. Because of all the extra movespeed you should have, dodging q's shouldn't be a problem and you definitely outsustain him overall.
If maxing w, lee become extremely hard to push out of lane. After about 3 ranks in shield it's going to become very hard to do any lasting damage to him. You really have to work for a kill in this lane. The trick to this lane is trying to punish lee when his shield is on cd. This skill shields a lot at max rank and gives him insane amounts of free life steal and spellvamp. To be able to get a kill in this lane you have to go aggressive and force favorable trades so you should always make sure you have wards out at all times. You have to poke him as much as humanly possible and start getting him close to at least half health. When his shield is down punish him. When he does shield try not to let him afk attack creeps. If he's attacking creeps, he's not attacking you. Use that. If you can get a cougar combo in without his shield up, do it. If you can get him below 50% and start to zone him off the creep wave, you can start to win. As long as lee is higher health he will sustain so much that your damage won't really mean anything. You want toget him to the point where he takes more damage than he gains from coming up to last hit. Plus, if he is sustaining from autoing creeps, then he's also pushing the lane, which is in your favor. If you auto relentlessly and poke him down then you really start to do more damage than he can handle at low amounts of health. If you don't get an advantage before he finishes some lifesteal it will be fairly hard to land a kill in this lane.
EDIT: In one of the recent patches, Lee sin's w was nerfed to remove the free armor it gave him. So it's not totally useless to attack him during his shield but you should obviously try to still get damage in when it's off as much as you can. But before if you did any damage in cougar form against his w you would lose the lane.
Difficulty - 4
Starting items: Starting items: +
This lane can be a little tough if you're not used to it but is extremely winnable. Just realize, that like a lot of matchups for Nidalee, he is stronger than you before level 6. If possible to buy, cloth 5 helps a lot. If not, then try to make sure you get a 4th pot for lane. Play passive, farm. You can poke with autos if you see an opportunity, but most of the time you're trading damage with parley. That's a trade you won't win. Hang back and focus on lane control, as being pushed can get you at a pretty huge disadvantage whereas being closer to your tower will give you much more safety. Once you hit 6 though you should win all trades. Run up and cougar combo him, jump out and heal. Then auto with your attack speed buff. Rinse and repeat. His q damage will not be able to trade effectively and/or he will oom quickly at this point in the game. Do not get into long drawn out auto attack battles while in cougar form or melee range in general. His passive does a deceptive amount of damage and will let him win. Abuse your range and mobility and you will have little trouble past 6. Get the dorans and the phage, or a wriggles if you're really struggling just like any other ad lane. Ninja tabi help a lot as well. Fairly straightforward matchup, even if not seen all that much anymore as gangplank became less popular of a pick.
Difficulty - 5
Starting items: + + +
This is a matchup I get lots of questions about. Yorick is such a dominating presence in lane at early levels, and if not jungle camped early when he's vulnerable, can be difficult to deal with. The key to negating as much harass you possibly can in this lane is abusing the bush at every opportunity. Yorick should not be able to abuse the brush too hard because of your traps. Sit in the bush as much as possible and come out only to last hit at early levels. If yorick is looking to be aggressive and harass you, try not to let him throw his slowing ghoul (this one is the only one he can use to check bushes) at you. Come out of the bush to let it aggro you. Then walk back into the bush and the ghouls will de-aggro from you. The other harass he has should be able to be fairly close to fully negated between your pots and heal. Try not to take too much harass early by abusing the bush and this lane should not be as hard as it can seem if you are having lots of trouble with yorick. Once you start getting items you simply start out damaging him. Once you get double dorans into a phage, you shouldn't be at a disadvantage any longer. Your sustain will be better than his. If you really need it, pick up a vamp scepter instead of one of the dorans (to make sure you have spots for wards) and you should have no problems at all. You REALLY start to outrade him once you also pick up your sheen. And if you can get yorick to 50% you can start to even zone him off of creeps and really start to be a bully in lane. And anytime you see yorick oom, punish him extremely hard for staying in lane. This is one of the biggest weaknesses of heavy sustain tops like warwick and yorick. They oom quickly if they have to sustain a lot. Take advantage of that. Also if you have an aggressive jungler, just tell them to camp yorick early. Bait him into trades he would normally win, and your jungler will easily be able to gank him. Yorick has no escapes and is fairly weak at early levels. This is a winnable matchup if played correctly.
Difficulty - 9
Starting items: + + + (with quick or )
The irelia matchup can be pretty difficult and is widely considered to be a counter to Nidalee. While it is true she is one of the best picks versus Nidalee in solo queue you can play this matchup well and have it turn out in your favor. One of the most important things is this matchup is to get early health. , and are what you want to be looking at here. Phage is also extremely important in this matchup just like any other melee champion. Armor does help but the most important stat early on is health.
The main thing you want to watch out for in this matchup is letting irelia initiate a trade by stunning you without having to dash to you first. Try to be aware of any nearby allied minions health as she could jump to it and stun you. After getting a few autos she will dash to you and get another free auto. This is the ideal trade for irelia. To try to trade with irelia you need to kite her and run away when her true damage is activated. After it's down you have precious seconds in which you win all trading. Once her dash is down she's also just another kitable melee champion. As she turns you need to heal up and poke her with as many autos as possible. As soon as you get phage this can be incredibly powerful after a phage proc. And any time her true damage is down you're basically free to jump in and cougar combo her. Just understand the damage she has as Irelia with a few dorans at level 6 can more or less 100% to 0 you with ignite if you let her get a bunch of free autos. If you can build enough health to outlast that, then you can win the lane over time. Another item you want to consider after getting some health is as it slows attack speed by 20%. If you're having a really tough time in this lane just build a .
Difficulty - 5
Starting items: + + +
This is usually a fairly easy lane matchup for me. But you REALLY need to take advantage of him and snowball yourself because if you let the game go to 35-40 minutes even if you raped him in lane, he's going to start being more useful than you. In lane, olaf will either max q or e. If I was playing olaf vs nidalee I would max q. If he maxes e then it slightly changes how you play the matchup but it's even easier. Olaf is a strong top lane, but the only way he's going to kill you is if he can fully all in you at early levels by picking up his axe over and over. Nidalee can be vulnerable early game if you don't dodge his axes. This is why I would stick with my preferred setup for runes and masteries and take all the movespeed you can. With your passive on there should be no reason you can't dodge every axe. And everytime he misses an axe you can poke the hell out of him with auto attacks. Even when his axe is up, poke him by going in and out of the bush dropping minion aggro after you attack him. Do this to make sure not to push the lane too hard at early levels, especially if you're afraid of their jungler. Olaf really isn't that strong against nidalee in lane. After playing it a few times you should find that you can win this lane with little problem. Once you hit 6, the lane gets oh so much easier. Everytime you can run up and cougar combo him if it's safe. If he happens to miss an axe, definitely take advantage of this. He's either going to take cougar damage, or he's going to get zoned.
If he's been maxing e the matchup doesn't change much. Except you can poke the hell out of him even easier. If you want to go in for a cougar combo you will take fairly significant damage, but if you heal after each time you still come out on top fairly easily. The main thing that will screw you in this matchup is jungler ganks. So be careful of any very early gank focused junglers and play passively if you have to. You will end up beating him at 6 anyways. So it's better to be safe at early levels if you need to be. Try to get an advantage in lane as it's not that hard to get olaf's to low health and you start to do really high burst to low health targets. With flash up you should be able to snag a kill unless he's extremely cautious and misses several waves of cs over and over again.
Difficulty - 6
Starting items: + + +
This matchup isn't that difficult as long as you know what to do. Pre 6, do your best to play safe. If you're going to get destroyed for hitting a cs in the back minion line, give up 1 or 2 as you let the wave push to you, it's not that big of a deal if you get the xp. Don't forget that anytime jax jumps on you, he has to take 3-4 autos as he's running away. Don't be scared, kite backwards by attack moving until jax turns around and make him take free autos as he walks away. At early levels his cd's are long and he runs oom easily. Post 6 never jump into jax. Make him jump onto you. If you're sitting there be auto attack harassing him. Make him have to q to you with his e. Do your cougar damage and pounce backwards. Then heal and auto attack him as he walks away. If you do this right and the jax isn't really running in between his autos you can even dodge the stun. Trading like this should make it impossible for jax to win this lane. And nidalee NEEDS to win this lane and pressure him and stop him from free farming. Because Jax outscales you. A standard dorans into gauntlet build would win this lane just fine.
Difficulty - 5
Starting items: + + +
At early levels try to focus a lot on lane control just like any other matchup. Vlad in top lane can either be really strong, or really weak. If you can take advantage of him early, he can end up being really weak. Before 6, and especially around levels 1-3 just focus on last hitting. If you can harass with autos, do it. But make sure you duck back into the bush right after so you don't push your lane super hard. The closer vlad is to his tower the stronger and safer he becomes. If you can keep the minions on your side of the river it's almost a guaranteed win. If your jungler wants to level 2 gank with red buff try to do it quickly before he skills pool. Very good vlads might actually wait to skill anything up at all until they see they're getting ganked just to have the option to get pool level 1. Be aware of what your opponent is doing and try to see what he leveled up first, if anything. Usually against any ap, within my first two backs I have two null magic mantles and two dorans blades. What order you get those in is your own choice but i would reccomend at least one mantle on your first back if not both. If you can get two mantls and a dorans, that's even better. After this, build your hexdrinker. By this point vlad shouldn't be able to do anything to you. And you should beat him in every all in battle as you'll get at least two cd's of q doing a really good amount of his health, especially when's he's already low. There really isn't a point in lane I ever feel vlad is stronger unless I push him to his tower because he can safely spell vamp without much harass. Once you hit 6 just continue to push his shit in. You should have so much magic resist that every trade goes easily in your favor. Zoning him shouldn't be a problem at all. As soon as you hit 6 you should start getting aggressive and forcing fights. Make sure you have wards though and trap around, as every fight could be a bait. If he's pooling at low health, just stand in it and wait for him to come out of it so you can q him. This is how I get most of my vlad kills. With a hexdrinker, unless you really fuck up, you really shouldn't be able to lose this lane. Getting a hexdrinker early does delay your trinity but it's worth it if it helps you win lane.
Difficulty - 5
Starting items: + + +
This can be a tough matchup because kayle has a significant advantage as soon as she hits level 2, but it's definitely winnable. Kayle is stronger than you at level 2, but her ranged auto has a cooldown. You're basically free to do what you want when this is down. So, if Kayle has such strong harass that she can zone you at level 2, why aren't we that concerned about this? And why is this lane easily winnable? I'm glad you asked. If kayle goes super aggressive on you at level 2 at least one of the two following things will happen. With no jungle presence, this will suck for just a little bit, as you might get zoned out of 4-5 cs at most. But if Kayle activates Righteous Fury to harass you, she will have to last hit with it on, which will push the lane since it cleaves and does aoe. So you won't get zoned for too long as the lane will push to you shortly. If she goes aggressive on you, kayle is extremely vulnerable early on to jungle ganks. She won't even get her heal till level 4 and if she uses her slow offensively she has literally nothing to ward off the incoming jungler. She will die or have to blow flash... or both. And because of your heal she really can't outtrade you extremely hard unless you literally auto attack her the entire time her righteous fury is up. So you definitely want to play safe, use the bushes and play back. If you go in close and way far out in the lane on her side of the river before 6 you're very vulnerable. She will slow you and chances are you will take a lot of damage that you can't return at all because you have to run away the whole time. At 6 this lane starts to look a whole lot better for nidalee. As you can jump out do a cougar combo and retreat to the bushes to drop vision. If she chases you that far you're going to get another cougar combo on her as it comes up and her righteous fury i going to wear off making you win the trade way harder than you would have. You sustain more than kayle so use this to your advantage. The lane is still relatively close in power level at this point however if you both have the same items. So be careful. If kayle can bait you into wasting a cougar q on her while she's ulted, she can surprise you and win a really clutch trade and land a kill on you. For this reason do not hit your q until you are ready to use it whereas sometimes I like to hit q before I even pounce in on champions. Or you can hit your q beforehand with the intention of pouncing on top of her and not procing your q by auto attacking. If you can bait her ult this way then that could also land you a kill and snowball the lane in your favor. Whoever lands the first kill in this matchup is likely going to keep the advantage they have barring pretty good jungler intervention. So be careful. However, in my opinion if played properly nidalee can win this lane every time and land a kill after 6.
Difficulty - 7
Starting items: + + +
Rumble is one of those top lanes that really shits on basically any player who doesn't have a lot of experience. I used to think Rumble was a counter to Nidalee myself until I learned how to play against it and got a lot of experience playing against the lane. Take my standard ap setup against this lane just like the vlad matchup. If you think rumble is really difficult to lane against, go try to play him if you haven't before and tell me how much fun you have at levels 1-4. If you have the right amount of magic resist, this guy can't touch you at early levels. Keep lane control as much as possible and don't push to his tower unless you're pretty safe against their jungler and really want to push to tower to make him lose a lot of cs. It's very hard to last hit at tower early as rumble, so this strategy could work fairly effectively even against really good players. Don't be afraid to trade with rumble if he for some reason wants to be aggressive early. Just step back a few steps at a time. Heal yourself and keep auto attacking him. You will get several free autos on him as he walks back to his creeps. If he silences himself by filling up his resource bar, then take advantage of it and auto him for free while he can't answer back.
As he gets a few more levels his belt, beware the damage he does while in the danger zone (when his bar turns yellow) however, as his dps will increase significantly. But if you get an early hexdrinker, merc treads and a dorans or two you should win this lane without too much trouble. If you can hit 6 before him ABUSE it. Go extremely aggressive on and zone him hard. Once he hits 6 his dueling power increases by a lot. Don't be afraid to use flash just to flash out of his ult immediately to take no damage from it. This will greatly decrease the amount of dps he's putting out and let you win duels he might have won. Rumble is also pretty susceptible to early ganks, so don't be afraid to ask for a gank or two early in top lane.
Difficulty - 8
Starting items: +
You need cloth armor for this matchup if you don't want to be in danger of giving up an early kill or missing cs. Just sit back, play like a pussy (see what i did there?) and farm. You will have 5 pots + your heal and lots of armor. You're not going anywhere. Pantheon's spear harass early is pretty gay. It's really tough if you take every spear to the face repeatedly. Try to abuse the brush as much as possible and not let him do it literally every time the cd is up. If you can sustain enough eventually he'll run out of mana and you'll be in decent shape. There's not getting around that he's stronger than you at levels 1-5 by a lot. However at levl 6 you should be able to win, though it will probably be close. Make sure you don't make the mistake of using your q when his passive is up. Take his passive off with an auto attack. If your jungler comes to gank, either bait the stun or make sure your jungler doesn't go all the way around behind him if you're on blue side. Pantheon will just jump away with his stun and be safe while taking relatively no damage. Other than that, Pantheon is a pretty straightforward champion. Early armor helps a lot and you can outsustain him.
Difficulty - 6
Starting items: + + +
This matchup is so hard to write a small part of a guide for, because it's do dependent on the kennen player. If you're facing a pure ap kennen, this lane is pretty winnable at all time. You don't have a range advantage on him like almost every champion top, but if he has 50 ad and you have over 60 then you will win trades as long as you can dodge his shurikens. Rush a or if that's your preference since it does give more magic resist. Your cougar damage will do pretty significant damage to him and if you can somehow bait out his ult and jump away (very possible with nidalee's mobility) then you will easily win this lane. One of the only lanes where are a must on an early pickup though. If you're facing a double pen kennen, the only advantage you have on him is your sustain early game. He will go sorc shoes double dorans and do pretty significant harass as you can't really out trade him with autos unless you back off and don't get hit by his w when it's up. To have an easier time in this lane, back up and get zoned off your creeps any time his w is up and he runs forward. A lot of kennens max w in this matchup and its painful guaranteed damage. The one saving grace about this kennen build is that some of them skip revolver and go straight to zhonyas. It's really hard to fight them once they have it, but it does take a little bit of a buildup and if you outplay him you can pretty easily secure some kills before he gets it. Overall, try to outharass as you will win trades as long as you dodge his q's preventing as many stuns as possible. You have a heal that gives you an attack speed boost, and a higher burst combo if you can get into melee range with him. Anytime his e is down or he is low on energy, you should try to force a trade if possible as you will win.
Difficulty - 6
Starting items: + + +
This matchup shouldn't be that hard unless you mess up and give up an early kill. Q's aren't that easy to dodge but it's no more damage than what you heal for and his knockup combo is pretty easy to dodge if you run boots. Just don't put yourself in a situation where you have very few options of where to run and with a little bit of experience doing this lane you should be dodging most of his knockups without a problem. Those cooldowns are rather long, so anytime he uses anything, he's melee. Abuse it. Auto attack him to death just like any other melee champion. This matchup should be pretty easy unless he snowballs ahead of you early. Try not to blow your flash unless you really need to as using pounce to hop out of his ult is unreliable though is definitely executable. If he's chasing you and you know he wants to ult you, try to save your pounce for exactly when he ults you and you can jump right out of it as if you flashed. You have sustain and range on him. And once you hit 6 he can't keep trading with you. Easy lane.
Difficulty - 4
Starting items: + + +
This lane really shouldn't be too hard for you. Don't stand in his poison damage for a long period of time is the only thing I can really say. And watch out for early jungler ganks if he's going extremely aggressive on you. Other than that Singed is very weak early. Nidalee is considered a "counter" to singed lane and you really shouldn't have trouble winning this one. Your ranged harass with your attack speed boost from your heal will poke him down over time significantly. And once you hit 6 this lane should be over. Your cougar damage will be well above anything he can dish out. Be smartly aggressive and just push him out of lane and get kills. The only way you can throw this lane is by chasing a singed into tower without ignite up and barely missing a kill.
Difficulty - 7
Starting items: + + + (with quick or )
I've had a lot of people ask me about this matchup saying they have trouble with it. I'd say the main thing is to play very cautious pre-6 and try to have really good lane control. If he doesn't snowball before you hit 6, then he's probably not going to. His biggest weakness is that he's a top lane with absolutely 0 escape. So your jungler should be able to gank this lane without many problems. Just be careful of getting into all out 100 to 0 trades with him and the damage he wields is a bit stronger in this scenario. Nidalee's strength comes in trading over time. Heal and abuse your range. Most of the time I can destroy Darius lanes by hanging out on the edge of their ability range, and baiting out q's and e's from them. Once his e (his pull) is on cooldown, then this guy literally has nothing. Go in, do your damage, back out and heal. Or keep chasing if you know it's an easy kill. Overall this lane shouldn't be that hard unless you trade too much and let his bleeds stack up really high. Watch out for his damage at 6 as well. If you're getting chunked and he hasn't used his pull yet, you could be in for a world of hurt.
Difficulty - 5
Starting items: +
This matchup can be a little bit difficult at early levels if you're not used to renekton's damage. But overall, if you utilize the lane control techniques I talked about earlier in the guide then this matchup shouldn't be that hard. Renekton does have a pretty strong combo approaching levels 3-5 compared to nidalee who hasn't hit 6 yet. So be careful. Farm, use traps in the bush. All that good stuff. But overall your mobility and sustain is just to high for a melee champion to deal with you. Be careful about his double dash, as he gets to if he hits a target with his first. But once again, a should make this matchup fairly easy. Don't get baited into diving a renekton at low health on tower past 6 though. His ultimate is not effected by ignite as it is maximum health, not healing or regeneration. It's a lot like a riven matchup. You could be at 80% and they could be at 30%, but a lot of the time you still can't dive them. Just try to keep poking them and force out their ultimate. Renekton has a lot of turning power. You do have the advantage, just be careful not to throw it by diving into a 20% renekton under tower who still has ult and/or summoners.
Difficulty - 4
Starting items: + + +
This matchup shouldn't be that hard. You just want to make sure that you win your lane as best as possible because malphite is a monster later in the game. And if you can keep him down he will be less of a problem later. Malphite is not there to win lane, he's there to farm up the best he can and be a beast in teamfights. If he's maxing e, this matchup is pretty incredibly simple. You are ranged with a heal. He shouldn't ever be able to get in range of you to e you. And even if he does, you have more sustain than he has harass and he ooms pretty easily early game. If he's maxing q, then his harass might be a little more significant as he's probably going for a early-mid game damage build revolving around an . His q will hurt more, but he will oom even quicker and more often. And your cougar damage will still be able to outrade him. Play this matchup like most melees but beware sticking around below half health with a malphite with ult up in the lane. His burst can be pretty high even if building just armor and no ap. And he's an incredibly easy lane to gank for once he's 6. So after your first back make sure you're always warded. Pay attention to malphite's passive as well early game. Poke the shield off of him and try to make it stay off as much as possible. It takes 10 seconds to recharge, so just 1 auto attack every several seconds is more than worth it. If he constantly backs up and has his passive up you won't be able to do too much in lane - especially before 6.
Difficulty - 9
Starting items: + + +
Ah Teemo. This lane can be one of the most frustrating matchups you will be up against if the other player is good. Its like everything I taught in this guide about nidalee kiting except imagine that your traps are a massive slow and you deal extra poison damage everytime you auto attack someone. Your only saving grace in this matchup can come if you outplay the teemo at 6 when you get cougar form and he doesn't have bush control yet because he hasn't had time to shroom the top lane bushes. The one other advantage you do have in this matchup is the fact that your range is slightly longer and you have built in sustain. Most teemo players are ap now and his damage in the current patch is kind of broken. I've been starting a lot and building into a and . It's really annoying to deal with but this build will allow you to outsustain him. Also, if the game allows get and the difference it makes on his shroom slows might surprise you. Other things to know when playing the matchup are that his blinding dart will block your q damage. If you use your takedown while blinded you will lose the trade horribly.
Difficulty - 3
Starting items: + + +
This matchup is pretty easy in the first stages of the game. He's a melee who has to rely heavily on mana for sustain, even more so than nidalee. And he has literally 0 lane presence until level 6. I've often got first blood against warwick lanes before level 6 just through autos and ignite. This lane may be one I would even forsake my movespeed quints for some more ad just because warwick is so easily harassable. Make sure to still use all your mechanics from before. If you don't get far ahead of warwick early he will start to be relatively unkillable once he finishes as this will decrease your dps by a fairly large amount and enable him to spam his ultimate every time it's up to start to force you out of lane. Even so, he really shouldn't be able to kill you without jungler help. Try to get several kills on him early if possible and snowball from there. Even if he becomes unkillable later 1v1 you should always come out pretty ahead in that lane and be able to have a huge presence in mid game fights.
Difficulty - 4
Starting items: + + + or +
This matchup can be tough at early levels as my setup usually allows about 4 bars of hp at level 1 and as soon as garen hits level 2 his burst starts to get pretty high. Like many matchups, from level 2ish to 5 you need to play more passive most of the time and try to execute proper lane control until level 6. Even if you don't take the movespeed setup I prefer most of the time I would highly recommend it for this specific matchup. When garen activates his silence he gains lots of movespeed and you need the movespeed + your passive to get away from him and kite him back properly. As much as possible try to trap the bush, gain bush control and kite garen back everytime he goes to silence you. And if you never take a silence>spin combo from garen you have nothing to fear in this lane. Once you hit 6 if his silence is down he has nothing. Go aggressive on him and trade. You have better sustain in lane and abuse your range auto attack poke against a melee champion without a good gap closer. Once you hit 6 he should never catch you again and this should be a relatively easy lane. If you mess up try not to get surprised by the amount of damage a full combo can do against him. Once you pickup a though, this lane should be very easy.
Difficulty - 8
Starting items: +
I'm still in the process of totally figuring out this matchup. So this analysis won't be super in depth about trading and stuff. But here's what I've figured out so far. Against a good fiora, you almost just have to rush frozen heart. I basically just try to get phage and rush frozen heart if it's a pretty even lane. Fiora gets so much free ad from her w, while being able to run a full armor pen page, she just does so much more damage in all out fights. Things to exploit are the fact that she is very vulnerable to ganks. Her q has a very long cooldown. And she doesn't get the movement speed boost from her e unless she's hitting you. So while her q is on cd she's very kitable and harassable. Overall, I would try to have great ward coverage and push into her tower as fiora does not have great ward clear. Don't be surprised by her burst at level 6 as it is very high and she in untargetable for the duration of her ult making dives possible if you let yourself get to about 30% hp. The easiest way to screw fiora though is just to gank her. It's a pretty tough lane 1v1, but fiora has no escape. So she's pretty vulnerable.
Difficulty - 5
Starting items: + + + or +
Talon is a pretty weak top laner, especially early. His only real role imo is as an anti mage assassin in mid. And there are champions that do that better. You should outtrade him at all points in lane even pre 6 through auto attack harass. Be careful for jungler ganks and this lane should be extremely easy. Try not to take every rake to the face. Zone him by using the bush control techniques I've talked about in the guide. Once you hit 6 he shouldn't be able to lane against you anymore at all. You have way more sustain, more damage, more range, etc. Very easy lane.
Difficulty - 7
Starting items: +
If you don't have experience with wukong, don't be taken off guard by how much burst he does at level 6. With a brutalizer and ultimate wukong actually does a surprising amount of damage. But overall, he's a bruiser that once his cd's are down, is extremely kitable, outsustainable and ultimately beatable at all stages of the lane. He does get a bunch of free armor pen and attack speed from jumping on you and hitting you with his q. So try to move backward and then kite him using the mechanics I've talked about in other parts of this guide. Nothing to special. Just make sure you understand what he does. His decoy ability shouldn't fool you too hard. The stealth duration isn't that long. Don't be afraid to flash his ult if you need to. It's a lot of damage. Ultimately with a phage you should be able to kite him and win lane as long as you don't let him get a free kill pre 6.
Difficulty - 8
Starting items: + + +
This matchup is one that can be pretty difficult. Unelss elise makes a mistake you probably won't be winning this one early on in the lane. I usually find this matchup very difficult to win until level 11. You pretty much need a to just be able to sustain to keep up with her harass. And this should be just about the only way you can win early on, is if you outsustain her over time. Don't be baited into a tower dive with her e up. Be patient. You may also wish to grab a at some point as well. Nidalee beats elise around level 11 if the lane has gone even imo. So if you're facing a good elise, just hold on and outsustain her. Don't be too afraid to never trade with her though. If she trades with you for free then the lane will get pretty tough. As with any other lane if she misses an important cd like human form e (her stun) then punish her for that.
Difficulty - 6
Starting items: + + +
This matchup can be a little tough, but since the jayce e nerfs and mana cost nerfs it's not incredibly difficult like it used to be. Jayce will pretty much always max q now and this simply takes practice to learn how to dodge. Hopefully you can dodge them, if not then work on it. Nidalee has a few advantages over Jayce, one of which is 50 more range. Jayce's range is only 500. If you hang out on the edge of auto attack range you can often get free autos without taking any harass in return. Also you have sustain and jayce doesn't without heavily investing into lifesteal making his trades themselves worse. Just try not to take damage without returning any. If he jumps on you make sure you do your combo before he's e's you away. Heal up and start poking with autos. Be careful of taking his first auto attack when switching into ranged form as well as this attack reduces armor and magic resist and might make him do more damage than you're expecting. I would probably purchase an early .
Difficulty - 6
Starting items: + + +
Early on this matchup isn't that difficult. Khazix doesn't have evolved w before 6 and while yes he can jump on you, you'd end up winning the trade in the end by healing and poking as he ran back, not to mention the creep damage he would take. As he gets a few levels in w and he picks up evolved w at 6, his harass starts to add up. But through your sustain and cougar form damage trades should go in your favor over time. Don't be afraid to pick up items like and early on to make sure you can trade effectively. The easiest way to win this lane is just to make sure you ward and shove to tower repeatedly as soon as you hit 6. You should be able to auto attack harass him as he is concerned with last hitting at tower and you will quickly get his health bar lower and lower. Be careful not to get baited into flashing into a tower dive with his ult up though. His ult makes him invisible and untargetable without true sight for a few seconds while you're tanking tower and is a good way to throw the lane. Another last thing to note is khazix should have to play fairly back to not be within auto attack range of nidalee, especially when his cd's are down and if he's using his w to harass from range he is getting no healing from it. And he also has a cd now not available for about 6-8 seconds. Take advantage of this.
Starting items: + + +
This matchup can be a pretty tough matchup if you don't know what to expect at every moment. If you can't make a play right at 6 before akali hits 6 herself or gets ult stacks this lane is relatively difficult. The reason the akali matchup is so different from most matchups is because you can't just auto win the matchup by constantly pushing to her tower and poking her under tower unless you're far enough ahead to win all-ins against akali. Akali works very well in open spaces and in a lane as long as top akali will chase you down easily and outdamage you if you're pushed to her tower. Build to 1v1 her and survive. You'll want to look into items like , , , . If you can get enough magic resist and survivability to outlast her damage and not get all inned (might want to build a semi-early giants belt regardless of build) then you should be able to do ok. Just make sure not to take free trades and make sure you know when akali comes back to lane with a finished , as this might give her the potential to all-in and chase you down right away.
More matchups - let me know in the comments or in a pm which specific ones you would like to see!
Advanced lane mechanicsI felt it was important to add this section as learning to control the lane and be safe before level 6 as nidalee is an extremely important skill to master.
Even after the s3 changes, we still see junglers going for early ganks top a lot of the time, even if it is slightly less. Being able to control your lane and not let it push beyond the river is more important than any trading or harass you can get on your enemy laner at early levels if you feel you can get ganked. Top lane at early levels is a battle against their jungler, not your laning opponent, especially as Nidalee. Nidalee is a fairly neutral pick and has great sustain while being ranged. So not too many lanes can straight up beat you.
Think about say, a kennen vs a renekton. The kennen has an advantage over renekton because of his range. But kennen can never facecheck that bush, because if he does he's going to facetank a HUGE amount of damage almost for free and end up losing his lane. And he can't abuse his auto attack range because he doesn't have vision. Nidalee's makes it to where anytime a melee champion enters a bush you can still gain vision of them. Thus, a melee champion can't trade with you and dash away into a bush dropping vision before they take a whole bunch of ranged harass on their way out. THIS is why is one of the most powerful skills in the game for early laning. Also, at just rank 1 it shreds 20% of the enemy's armor and magic resist. 20%! That's crazy. If it still revealed wards and teemo shrooms it would be probably the most broken skill in the game.
Early laning, ABUSE your traps, and don't go crazy with your mana. Traps aren't meant for damage. They're utility. Being oom on nidalee means you're making yourself more vulnerable than you have to be. Don't be throwing random rank 1 spears all the time or trapping minions for last hitting or extra damage unless it'll net you a last hit you would have otherwise been zoned from.
This is a technique which basically means you let the enemy get free harass on you with the sole purpose of letting your lane push to you. This works very well with nidalee since she has such high sustain that doesn't rely on being in creep range and auto attacking to sustain health back. When an enemy attacks you, your creeps switch targets and start attacking the enemy champion. Meanwhile, his creeps are still attacking yours. This small action, will push your lane and keep you on your side of the river, making you a lot safer from jungler ganks. Most games I can keep creeps outside of tower range on my side of the river at early levels.
The counter strategy to this tactic is to lane gank. But with nidalee traps, you should never actually be able to be lane ganked when your opponent is pushed. This is another reason Nidalee is such a safe top laner.
Dropping minion aggro
This is quite simple. If you have the opportunity to harass an enemy champion with an auto or two, duck back into your bush immediately after. This will drop the minion aggro as soon as they lose sight of you and will almost completely delay your minions pushing the lane for quite a long time. Use this at early levels and abuse the hell out of it. Nidalee gets tons of movespeed from her passive and makes this even easier than it is for any other champion. Nidalee's kit always gives her bush control in top lane. This is extremely powerful.
Final CommentsThanks for reading the guide! Please leave comments, good or bad telling me what was good, and what wasn't so good. I hope this guide can help you improve at nidalee and perhaps carry some of your solo que journey.
Thank you to anyone who helped me work on the guide! You proofread, helped me find typos and gave me tons of advice on restructuring parts of my guide to make it easier to use and read.
Special thanks to summoners Delphyr and Bailiff specifically for putting in effort beyond what i asked for to read through the whole guide and really help me improve it as much as I possibly could.