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Hi, my name is Care Level, and I'm a 1200-ELO Silver player that mains Riven. Here's my LoLking, for those of you interested; if you're too lazy to click the link, it'll probably tell you that my Riven, lately, is sitting on a clean 2/1/1.5 KDA and about a 75% win rate, though it does fluctuate a bit.
I emphasize "lately" because I used to be the worst Riven. The. Worst. I used to play Riven a lot just because I wanted so badly to be good at her, but it never seemed to work out. I played some other champs, got a bit better at the game, and then I went back to Riven, and she just kind of... clicked for me. I fell in love with her, and never turned back! Since then, I've picked up a couple of things that have made an enormous difference in my Riven games, and so I'm writing this guide to share them with you.
Success on The Rift starts before you even summon Riven onto it; if you're even going to consider her, you'll need the appropriate runes and masteries, you'll need to pick her in the right team comps, and you'll need to pick her against the right team comps. I'll go over all of those in as much depth as I can, so strap in!
Runes and Masteries
You've got a few decisions to make, the first of which is "AD or AX?" (I use "X" to refer to "penetration"; armor pen is "AX" and magic pen is "MX"), and your laning phase will largely depend on it. AD reds and quints will make you stronger early, while AX reds and quints will make you stronger as your opponent stacks armor, and which to run basically boils down to "how early do I expect to have armor stacked against me?": against an opponent that will stack armor immediately, take AX; otherwise, straight AD will give you more power for long enough to matter. I'll talk more about AD versus AX picks later, though.
The second set of runes on the page are seals, and they're going to be Armor 100% of the time. "But Care Level, what if I'm against an AP champ?!" is the most common response, and to that end: against a ranged AP champ, (1) you're going to get autoattacked, at the very least, every single time you disengage, (2) minions still deal physical damage. People underestimate how much damage actually comes from minions, so I'll tell you: a lot. In early all-ins, it's not uncommon for minions damage to make up 20% or more of the total damage dealt. Moving on, (3), turrets deal physical damage, and any mitigation to turret shots, at any point in the game, is welcome, and finally (4), MR seals suck, anyway. Running Armor seals helps with all of that, and so you're going to use them in every matchup.
Finally, you're going to pick blues, and there are 3 real choices: flat MR, scaling MR, or flat CDR. Against an AP top lane, scaling MR is not an option, and so you can take flat MR or CDR based on personal preference; outside of that rule, scaling MR or flat CDR is entirely up to you. CDR helps you dish out and mitigate more damage, stays relevant through the entire game, and makes you more mobile, and so I run CDR almost exclusively. It's up to you, though: how confident are you?
For the vast majority of your games, you are going to spec 21/9/0, picking up Double-Edged Sword (you are a carry), CDR over AS (you have 5 AA resets), Brute Force, Martial Mastery, Blade Weaving and Spell Weaving, Executioner, Warlord, Devastating Strikes, and Havoc. In the defensive tree, grab Block, Recovery, Unyielding, Veteran's Scars, and Juggernaut.
Alternatively, drop Juggernaut and 2 points of Veteran's Scars to pick up Fleet of Foot in the utility tree; this is especially recommended (1) against ranged opponents and (2) against non-killable lanes because, in those cases, the movement speed will help your roaming ability, which is where you'll have to pick up most of your early kills.
9/21/0 might be viable in season 4 (the defense tree is really strong right now, particularly in the event that you pick into a team comp that will force you out of a melee carry role, but I'm yet to try that mastery setup on Riven.
Your Team and Your Opponents:
Synerzising with your team is a delicate and complex art, but we can water it down into something a bit shorter than the novel I could write on the matter. It comes to this: will being a tank win your team the game? Riven is not a tank; she is an AD Caster carry/assassin; at her tankiest, she struggles to be called a "bruiser". If your team consists of several hard carries, already, they will be less served by the addition of another carry than by a frontline that can initiate well and keep hate off of the already-present carries. That being said, if your jungler already fills this role (e.g. Nautilus, Vi, Hecarim), Riven brings enough survivability and CC to the table to justify a third carry or bruiser.
In addition to your own team, it's also important to respect your opponents. Riven is an amazing duelist, but doesn't always shine in team fights; if your opponents have a comp that will cause them to want to force team fights (e.g. heavy CC, nukes, and hard carries), Riven may not be able to contribute as much to her own team as a champ with stronger CC or safer damage output. However, you will have the ability to split push with the best of them; yet another factor to consider!
What might be most important to you, starting off, though, is whether or not you can deal with your lane opponent as Riven. Riven's harder matchups for people relatively new to her include Olaf, Garen, Xin, Darius, Pantheon, Renekton, Ryze, and Jax; if you're not very confident, I would not recommend picking Riven into those lanes, though they are all winnable if played properly!
Flash and Ignite, for the most part. Riven has shitty initiate without Flash, but flashing into both enemy carries and exploding them will become your favorite play, and you just can't do that with Ghost or whatever. Ignite kills things; you love it.
You can consider Ghost in matchups where you strongly expect your lane opponent will be running Ghost, but it's a handicap: you can kill a Ghosting enemy with Flash if you play it right, and Flash is more useful overall.
Against lane opponents with entirely AA-based damage, you can think about taking Exhaust; alternatively, take Ignite and kill them, anyway.
Lastly, you can run Cleanse when you're up against that team. You know, the one with Galio mid, Nautilus jungle, Fiddle support, AD Leona top, and ADC Varus. THAT team. Your damage means nothing if you can't hit anything, and Cleanse will allow you do do that against comps where you otherwise wouldn't be able to.
On the Rift:
Okay, so you've decided to pick Riven. You've got the proper runes and masteries lain out, the team comp benefits from her presence, and you're not terrified of your lane opponent (you shouldn't be, regardless). It's a beautiful day to lay down some Broken Wings! So you lock in, load up, and... then what? The next few sections should answer those questions!
There are two options: "I want it!" and "I don't want it!", based on who you're up against and how confident you are in the matchup. Whether you want it or you don't want it does not depend on the enemy champion; it depends on you. However, your item choices for each situation will vary depending on who you're playing against.
I Want It!
If you're feeling good and you're out for blood, you can start Red3 (a Red Pot, i.e. Elixir of Fortitude, and 3 health potions; the number after an item indicates how many Health Potions will accompany it), dBlade1 (Doran's Blade and one pot), Longsword3, or Boots4; Red Pot or Doran's is a matter of personal preference, but will impact your playstyle:
- If you start red pot and your opponent doesn't, you're going to actively seek out the all-in, and the earlier, the better!
- If those are reversed, you're going to actively avoid the all-in unless you have already won some trades.
- If mirror items, proceed as usual.
That said, though, Boots4 is largely not a matter of preference: against the vast majority of ranged opponents, you will need boots to reliably trade, and, by virtue of you being Riven, you already heavily outdamage them. You don't need the extra damage in these matchups as much as you need the abilities to (1) get to them to trade and (2) sustain through their unavoidable harass. The Boots4 start accomplishes both of these.
As of 3.14, I haven't run Red3 since dBlade1 became a possibility. I'm yet to try a longsword start, but I don't see any obvious reason to avoid it in most lanes.
I Don't Want It!
If you landed in a matchup that you're not feeling good about, you can consider Cloth5 or Doran's Shield as an alternative to the offensive starts. Most people, here, say, "What? Doran's Shield? Isn't that for tanks?", but the fact of the matter is that it numerically provides better damage reduction and sustain than Cloth5 through the early levels, as long as you don't need the relatively-bursty sustain from chugging pots (e.g. Pantheon is spearing your face off at level 1). Furthermore, investing in early Cloth is, unless it's sold later, locking your build path into that of a bruiser: the only things you want that come from Cloth Armor are Tabi and Warden's Mail, which generally don't have a place in a Carry Riven's inventory; that'll be discussed in more detail with the item builds section.
To Invade or Not to Invade?
Riven, herself, has a strong level 1 for early team fights; Broken Wings is one of the single best abilities in the game. That said, it still depends on what the rest of your team and your opponents bring to the table at level 1. If you do decide to invade, consider starting Boots4.
When leashing for your jungler, ask how much experience you can share: you can take both small lizards and still allow your jungler to leave the camp with level 2 or, if your jungler is generous, they might let you share exp from red or blue; either of these is an enormous benefit, because you have enormous kill potential if you level earlier than your lane opponent. Because of this, if your jungler will not let you share experience, it is imperative that you get to lane without missing any experience.
Another tip for leashing (courtesy of Ange1) is to start charging your passive to max via Q's at around 1:47 (doesn't really matter when as long as it's before ~1:50 and after ~1:43) by holding each Q charge for almost its full duration, then using the next charge before it resets. The buff should spawn in time for you to use the last Q charge on it, then use three passive empowered autos. By doing this, Broken Wings will come off cooldown in time for you to use it to rush to lane. It helps the jungler quite a bit without costing you anything.
Items: What to Build and When to Build It
This is probably where this guide will differ most from what you've seen; my item choices are sometimes unconventional, but always well thought out. In this section, I'll explain the thought process behind every potential item in your kit.
Riven item builds follow a certain very basic formula: your core item set is Last Whisper, a Big Offensive Item (usually Hydra, but occasionally The Bloodthirster), The Black Cleaver, and Boots. The last two items in the build (not necessarily built last, mind you) will depend on the game, but they will generally either be two defensive items or another Big Offensive Item and GA.
I'll do a quick summary of each item you should consider, and then a walkthrough of when to build them, though there'll also be a bit more information on that in the Matchups section. Here goes:
Offense for Riven is pretty straightforward: AD, AX, and CDR are god. A few offensive items, like Maw and Mercurial, add a bit of defense into the mix, but that's not what they're for. AD and AX are mandatory, and so they make up your core items. Generally, Brutalizer and its derivative are the only offensive items that incorporate CDR, but you can and should pick up some more in either your boots (if you plan to carry hard) or your defensive items (if you plan to get beefier).
Your core offensive items are as follows:
- Black Cleaver: This really ought to say "Brutalizer", because you will build Brutalizer first almost always and you will finish it near last. Brutalizer is, for the most part, must-buy. Finish the Cleaver when you're having no problems staying alive in fights, after your team starts to group, and when the other team is just too tanky for Last Whisper to carry your damage through.
- Doran's Blade: Pick these up if you're not winning lane hard enough. As a rule of thumb, if you're not completely dominant in lane, yet, grab a Doran's Blade. I usually sit on one or two, but sometimes I find myself with three of these bad boys in tough games.
- The Bloodthirster: You'll generally pick this up as a second Big Offensive Item after Hydra if you're going full-glass (you're always full-cannon!), but you can pick this up before Hydra if you need to retain the ability to freeze lanes or if you could afford a BF sword on an early back. However, if you're at the point of dominance where you can freeze your lane and deny your opponent, consider that you could, instead, shove it and go roam: freezing wins one lane, but roaming wins multiple. Hydra adds to your ability to win more than one lane.
- Last Whisper: 100% of the time. You will never not need this item; it is your best friend. Grab it early.
- Ravenous Hydra: 99% of the time. This thing gives you a mighty chunk of damage, AoE on your enormous autoattacks, amazing sustain, ridiculous waveclear, health regen (lol), a 5th, instant AoE spell with 100% AD ratio and an effortless animation cancel, and has an awesome build path to boot. If Last Whisper is your best friend, this is your love affair. You will only ever not build this when you rushed a Bloodthirster (either so you could lane freeze or because you had between 1550 and 1900 gold on a back) and when you need 2 defensive items.
Additionally, there are some situational picks that you should also keep in mind for the games that run outside of the norm:
- Infinity Edge: Almost never, and usually as a final item. If you've got a fuckton of gold for whatever reason, this is an acceptable second offensive item. You have a 25% chance of instantly killing a carry. Like, even-more-instant-than-usual. And there's not really a reason not to have that, other than that you've got better things to spend the gold on... unless you don't.
- Maw of Malmortius: Hexdrinker is a great pickup against an AP lane with an AP jungle; this item is pretty much must-buy against triple AP, and it's reasonable enough as compromise between a second defensive item and second big offensive item. If you built a Hexdrinker to lane, there's no reason not to upgrade it. People say that Maw isn't a great lategame item, but you will be using all of the MR, you will be using all of the damage, and you will be using the shield. Every part of this item will love you if you build it in the right game, and you should love it back.
- Mercurial Scimitar: Are you getting CCd to hell and back and (not "or", it'd better be both) playing against a big AP team? Pick this up.
- Youmuu's Ghostblade: Almost never. I have never built this item on Riven, but that's not to say that it should never be built. If I were to pick this up, I would give Infinity Edge a bit more consideration, because 25% chance to delete a carry is okay, but 40% chance to delete a carry is awesome.
- Zephyr: The rarest of buys. This can be your second big offensive item when you find yourself in dire need of Tenacity and swapping boots isn't viable (e.g. all-AD enemy team). The stats it gives aren't bad, by any means: you can weave your AAs even faster (though part of that is wasted with your resets), you become an even better duelist, the movement speed makes you godly, Tenacity speaks for itself, it has CDR in case you somehow haven't maxed that out already (What are you DOING?), and it's even got a bit of AD on there so you don't have to feel too bad about it.
Finally, also keep in mind:
- Elixir of Fortitude: Carrying one of these around can give you a much-needed boost of power in a clutch situation. You don't even have to pop it; even just the knowledge that you can forces the enemy to respect you more, and if they choose to ignore it, you can pop it and show them why they should respect it. Plus, you can't buy anything else with 350g.
Keep the situational picks in mind; they're important, because situational decisions are how you win games that you're "not supposed to win". As someone told me, "If you win the games that you're expected to win and you lose the games that you're expected to lose, your ELO doesn't change. It only goes up if you win the games that you're expected to lose and it only goes down if you lose the games you're expected to win; rising or falling in ELO is about how hard you can carry or throw." Situational items directly relate to that.
Additionally, key point: CDR is a fucking important part of your offense, defense, and mobility. You cannot get the amount of CDR you want from offense, alone; you will want it from your boots or defensive items.
A solid, balanced defense consists of, of course, Health, Armor, and Magic Resist. Because of Riven's 100% AD scaling on Valor's shield, AD is health for her, in a sense, and that allows Carry Riven to exist with 4 damage items. She has damage for "health", and builds Guardian Angel to cover the Armor and MR components of her balanced defense. When Riven needs to be beefier, she can be built as a bruiser, taking another defensive item over her fluff offensive item (I call it "fluff" because Riven is perfectly capable of achieving Facemelting Damage with three items; four is just because Even More Facemelting damage is not a bad thing), trading some damage for a massive survivability increase. In this case, she generally either gets Armor and MR from GA and Health from Warmog's Armor, or she gets Armor from Randuin's Omen, MR from Spirit Visage, and Health from both.
Your core defensive items are as follows:
- Guardian Angel: When you're building a single defensive item against a team with properly-mixed damage, this is the one. Every time. Carry Riven generally builds this next to her CDR boots and 4 damage items; the exceptions are when Carry Riven is up against a team with heavily-skewed damage, where the more specialized core defensive item will be more helpful.
- Randuin's Omen: The best armor item in the game, period. Once you own this, the other team's ADC(s) will be completely unable to deal with you and you're going to stop giving a fuck about turrets. As Hydra gives you an awesome 5th spell, this gives you an awesome 6th: you remove the enemy team's ability to run away from your disgusting damage. If you're going to bruise it up, you're going to grab this 99% of the time. Against multiple AA-reliant champs, Warden's Mail is too good to pass up, period. Olaf/Aatrox/Trynd/Yi/Jax/ADC? You want it.
- Spirit Visage: This is your favorite MR item, and if you're going double-defense bruiser Riven, this is pretty much standard for you, next to Omen. The whopping 20% CDR increases your damage output and your sustain massively, the passive is pretty much sex with your Hydra, and the health and MR are brilliant. Top it off with a low price point and a sexy build path? Yes, please.
Additionally, the other options for edge cases:
- Banshee's Veil: A rare buy, if you plan properly. Grab this when you build CDR boots (carry boots, for Riven) because you were stomping around like a boss, but then their APC got fed and you grabbed a Cowl to deal with it. Don't waste gold on Spirit Visage's 20% CDR; grab this, instead. Also viable when you need a spell shield, but I haven't played in the game where I needed it, yet.
- Frozen Mallet: Generally better than Warmog's, when you can afford it. A rare buy, but worth considering if you're very ahead and want some survivability. Awkward build path makes it less-than-ideal.
- Sunfire Cape: A rare buy. I only ever buy this when I thought I was building into GA, but ended up needing more defensive stats for whatever reason. Generally, this plays out as "Fuck, Akali just got a quadra, I need my Negatron to be a Cowl right now" (which leaves you sitting on a Chain Vest). Alternatively, if you're going double defense against an all-AD comp, you can pick this up next to your Omen.
- Spirit of the Ancient Golem: Often overlooked, this baby is your only real source of Tenacity outside of Treads and Zephyr. Actually, it's the only source of Tenacity outside of those. It gives a strong chunk of health, welcome CDR (this should allow you to hit the cap, easily, even without CDR blues), and rewards you for screwing the enemy jungle over. Which is basically your part-time job, after "crushing your lane opponent".
- Warmog's Armor: This is for when you need more survivability, but building another armor or MR item isn't ideal. For example, the other team has well-mixed damage and you already have (or plan to have) GA: grabbing an Omen or Visage skews your defense, which gimps you against the other type of damage. Essentially, this is the double-defense item for those games where you didn't plan on being double-defense Riven. Alternatively, if you're against a team that leans heavily toward one type of damage, you might forgo the other resistance and build this next to your big armor or MR item; this makes you more/less unkillable.
One point I want to stress is that if the other team's damage is skewed, your defense should be skewed the same way.
As with the other sections, you have a core selection of boots:
- CDR Boots (Ionian Boots of Lucidity, but no one says that ever): Grab these when you're winning; they will make you win harder. They're extremely valuable when you're roaming mid-game, as they increase your travel speed and your CC potential during ganks and skirmishes. These have the downside of being more/less incompatible with Spirit Visage, and since that's such an amazing buy, consider whether or not you plan on grabbing it before you pick these up. These are essential in pumping your CDR without Visage, so you should grab these when you're running a single defensive item (e.g. carrying hard), and you should almost-counter-intuitively grab these over Tabi against an all-AD team (unless they're heavily AA-reliant), since you can't get your necessary CDR in any armor items.
- Mercury's Treads: Pick them up when you need Tenacity. They're expensive; don't bother with them unless you can put all of their stats to use. Since you're not picking up CDR boots, you should plan on buying Visage next to these, and that generally means you'll need an Armor item: buying these essentially locks you into a bruiser build in order to maximize your effectiveness.
- Ninja Tabi: If the enemy team is heavily AA-reliant, these are a great buy. Like Treads, picking these up essentially pushes you into the bruiser niche if you plan on maxing CDR (which you should).
The only other option to really consider are:
- Boots of Swiftness: An extremely rare buy. Pick these up when you're Bruiser Riven and slows are stopping you from killing things or staying alive more than actual damage is. When you gotta go fast, when you need more map presence or you need a bit of assistance in jumping onto carries through a pool of slows, these can be your friends.
If you're thinking about Mobis:
- Boots of Mobility: Never ever. These are completely useless because the bonus movement speed doesn't mean anything when you're mashing Q and E to travel outside of combat, and Swiftness boots give better stats in combat.
Another factor to consider in your choice of swanky footwear is the enchantment that you'll be adding to your boots:
- Alacrity: These are what winners wear. Alacrity enhances your map presence, your chase and escape potential, and your sticking ability.
- Captain: Riven makes plays; she can start parties with a flash + stun, or she can be the first on the scene with her amazing mobility. What's the best thing to have at a party? Friends. Captain is your way of overnighting your friends' invitation to the party you're throwing, because you want them there in a hurry.
- Homeguard: Are you losing? These are the best ehchantment for turning a loser into a winner.
Footstomping (no pun intended): Carry Riven needs CDR boots unless she's against an extremely AP-heavy team, in which case she can go Treads or Tabi plus Visage. If you do not buy CDR boots, you will not maximize your offensive or defensive potential by building 4 damage items and no CDR (outside of Brutalizer), so sacrifice a bit of AD for the CDR. You want it.
- Against a balanced team: BC, Hydra, LW, BT, GA, CDR Boots.
- Against scary AP damage: BC, Hydra, LW, Maw, GA, CDR Boots.
- Against terrifying AP damage and CC: BC, Hydra, LW, Scimitar, Visage, Treads.
- Against scary AD damage: BC, Hydra, LW, BT, Omen, CDR Boots.
- Note that there is not a hard-carry option for Riven against terrifying AD; the item set does not exist.
- Against a balanced team: BC, Hydra, LW, Omen, Visage, Treads.
- Against an AA-heavy, but still balanced, team: BC, Hydra, LW, Omen, Visage, Tabi.
- Against an AP-heavy team: BC, Hydra, LW, GA, Visage, Treads.
- Against terrifying AP damage: BC, Hydra, LW, Veil, Visage, Treads.
- Against all the AP in the world: BC, Maw, LW, Veil, Visage, Treads.
- Against an AD-heavy team: BC, Hydra, LW, GA, Omen, CDR Boots.
- Against terrifying AD damage: BC, Hydra, LW, Omen, Sunfire, CDR Boots.
- Against terrifying AD damage and now they have lots of CC!: BC, Hydra, LW, Omen, SotAG, CDR Boots.
- "I was carrying pretty hard and working on my GA...": Brutalizer, Hydra, LW, CDR Boots, Chain Vest, Negatron Cloak -- "...but then their Lux got a quadra with 2 sutdowns in a teamfight...": BC, Hydra, LW, Sunfire, Veil, CDR Boots -- "...so I finished a Veil, since I already had CDR, and I built a Sunfire to up my overall defense a lot, since their AD was still relevant."
- "I was planning on getting tanky...": Brutalizer, Hydra, Tabi -- "...but I picked up a triple in a 3v1 gank toplane, so I decided to carry, instead...": Brutalizer, Hydra, LW, GA, Tabi -- "...but, when teamfights started, the other team completely shut me out with CC so I couldn't touch their carries; I tried to split push, but their Jax could catch me out and out-duel me every time with his huge DPS and stun...": Ghostblade, Hydra, LW, Zephyr, GA, Tabi -- "...so I grabbed Ghostblade and Zephyr, which made it much easier to assassinate carries in teamfights between Ghostblade's active and Zephyr's Tenacity and movement speed, let me duel Jax on splits with the huge increase in DPS, and made me pretty much uncatchable if the enemy tried to collapse on me while I was split."
The point is, there's an item to help in almost every situation. Identify the problem you're having and build to nullify it. Those situational items, man.
Okay, so you know what items you can build and what they're good at, but when, exactly, should you start picking up which item? I'll lay out the general idea, here, and expand more for some cases in the matchups section.
- Starting items!
- Doran's Blades. If you are not decidedly winning, yet, buy these. They will make you win more than anything else you can buy right now, and because of Riven's nature it's important to establish complete dominance early on. Doran's Blades are the road to that dominance. Having two of these is common, but one or three might be more appropriate, depending on the situation.
- Rejuvenation Bead(s). If you don't have one, and you can't afford anything else, get one. Or two. This reduces your pot dependence and they build into Tiamat (seriously, it has the best build path in the game).
- You want an early Brutalizer. Pre-3.14, I would say "rush this always", but because of the reduced price of long swords, I'll amend that: it's probably okay to sit on two longswords for a bit because of their lower price and Brutalizer's higher combine cost. I would still get Brutalizer before finishing my first big AD item, though.
- Stack AD. Hard. Whenever you back, grab the biggest AD item you can buy. If you can afford a Tiamat, grab it; if not, a BF sword, and if you can't afford that, grab some Tiamat parts (pickaxe or longswords or some combination of them). Buying a BF early means an early BT instead of Hydra, but that's okay because of the power boost you got in the mean time by having the BF sword instead of waiting for Tiamat.
- Wards. Pots. You should have at least one ward and around 3 pots in lane; you can stop buying pots when you have your first big offensive item (since it will have big lifesteal), but that doesn't mean you have to, and you can stop warding for yourself (you will always ward for your team) when you can reliably 1v2 their top and jungler. Potting before a teamfight can be the difference between life and death, or between getting pushed out of lane or not. Keep your cons at appropriate levels before you shop for permanent items; you can buy a longsword later, but you can't buy "not getting killed because I didn't have any health and got dived" after the fact.
- Lifesteal? Generally no. Even against a solid harass lane, you want more AD so you can kill them when you get to them, and a vamp scepter costs as much as 2 longswords and 2 health pots, plus the AD will augment your shield. Get the AD.
- Resistances? Usually not in lane. If top and mid (and maybe jungle) deal the same type of damage, maybe get resistances, since they stay relevant in the event of a lane swap (yours or theirs); damage is always relevant. The exception is if you simply cannot stay alive, but then buying more damage and lane swapping might be a better option.
- Boots? If you didn't start them in the lane, not so much (unless you get swapped into a ranged lane). Pick them up if you can't afford anything else that you need. Alternatively, grab them either when your lane is reliably shoved to the enemy turret (so you have to roam) or as laning phase ends.
- Finish up your big damage item and start working on Last Whisper.
- Boots. If you're ahead, decide to carry, right now. CDR boots make your roam amazing and, if you're ahead, push you so much further ahead. Having that CDR before you get Visage (which would happen significantly later in the game) is fantastic.
- Armor. As the laning phase ends, you're going to want a bit of armor, because now it's time to roam and push down towers, and you'll be (1) dealing with the enemy ADC, (2) clearing jungle camps all day, (3) slaying some dragons, and (4) probably taking a tower shot here and there. If armor and MR are both relevant to the enemy team, prioritize armor because everything that isn't a champion deals physical damage. If you plan to carry, this means a Chain Vest (into GA, later); if you're going to bruise, Warden's Mail (into Randuin's Omen) is a great buy since the ADC is a thing you have to consider, now.
- MR. If the enemy APC got scary during laning (Why didn't you gank mid?), MR might be better than armor. If you're carrying, later, you can sit on a Negatron, but if you plan on going double-defense, Specter's Cowl is an amazing item and you can sit on it for a while before upgrading it. Unlike the mid-tier Armor items, it gives Health, so it does something against all damage.
- Black Cleaver? Lol nope. Nothing in the game at this point should be tanky enough that you can't obliterate it with a big damage item, Last Whisper, and Brutalizer. Staying alive has become a much bigger concern by now, and the 1600-gold upgrade cost is gold well-spent on some defense.
Grouping for Objectives:
- By this point, who's presenting what threats on the enemy team should be pretty clear; augment your inventory as such. Before buying more defense, ask yourself if more offense would solve your problem: if you can blow up a squishy faster, it stops them from running, it stops them from hurting you, it stops... everything. If you still can't afford the offense necessary to get kills (e.g. the other team has a very strong frontline), defense is more cost effective.
In this section, I'll break down, piece by piece, what strategies have best served me in lane. Pick your opponent and read on!
Aatrox is, like you, a melee carry. However, Aatrox's paradigm puts him more in line with the traditional ADC, and he doesn't scale out of control until much later in the game than you do; your early game is amazing. However, because he is a melee carry, he's also a squishy little bitch: if you can get to him, you can burst him hard and he can't go even in this trade until you sustain it for way too long.
- AD is the way to go, here: if Aatrox builds armor early, his damage will fall off fast and he still won't be able to trade with you.
- You should take an offensive start in this lane 100% of the time; it's an easy one. However, if you do choose a defensive start, an early Cloth into Warden's Mail will ruin his day.
Akali is a squishy melee-mage, which means that she has to come into melee range to CS or be zoned completely. If she decides that coming near you is a good idea at any point in time, you outdamage her unless she's very ahead, especially pre-6; you should remind her of this fact at every opportunity. If she tries to escape in her Shroud, disregard it: all of your abilities can still damage her while she's in stealth, and you should remind her of this, also. This lane is a nightmare for Akali.
Because of this, she will roam for kills in an effort to stay relevant; if you even suspect that she's left lane, go after her immediately. If she hasn't left, you can clear creeps faster than she can, and if she has, she's written you a ticket to Doublekill City.
- AD and AX are both viable; AP champs can easily start Cloth5 due to Armguard.
- You could take MR... or you could take CDR and kick her punk ninja ass all over that pink cloud even harder.
- You should take an offensive start in this lane 100% of the time.
Darius is one of your harder lanes, but this match becomes significantly easier once you stop being afraid of it. Yes, he does monstrous damage, but so do you: show him why you are the vision of a pure Noxus. Take Q at level 1 and look to draw out your trades until you've burned 3 Qs and 3 passive charges; you will take a lot of damage in return but so will he; if you don't actively trade with him, he will spin on you when you go to CS and you will take free damage and your wave will get pushed to turret. Don't take free harass; have a lane presence and show it off early.
You can take your shield or your stun at level 2; I recommend the shield, though, since it will allow you to get to him much easier. This is important: by gapclosing on him, you can avoid a lot of damage from his spin if he tries to use it as you engage. If he saves it until you disengage, your shield will eat an auto and some bleed when you engage, so it's still being used to full effect.
You should be able to win trades with Darius pre-6, but be very careful: your damage is not higher than his by much (or at all; your shield is probably the only thing that allows you to win trades), and you will lose trades if you take too much minion damage. Post-6, be very mindful of the amount of bleed stacks on you. If you do want to all-in him, do so only when you have no bleed stacks on you unless you are 100% sure you can finish him immediately; you will get dunked, otherwise. If you engage with no bleed stacks, you should be able to get your execute off before his, provided that you've gone relatively even before this point.
Whoever gets the first kill in this lane will snowball: Darius will build armor, and you won't win trades once he's got a Chain Vest until you've got a Brutalizer; your item costs 600g more.
- Darius likes to get tanky fast, but you may need flat AD to establish your early presence in lane.
- If you can't beat him in lane, roam. You're much stronger in this role than he is. Be warned, though, that your turret will suffer for it; Darius is a quite-capable pusher.
- If you go for a defensive start, don't bother with cloth; his scary damage is his bleed and his ult, neither of which are helped by cloth. Most of his physical damage is from AAs, and, you guessed it, Doran's Shield helps more with that.
Fiora is one of the few champions that can out-trade you in Top Lane, and that can make laning against her a pain. As with most matchups, you outdamage her at level 1 with Broken Wings, regardless of what ability she starts with. After level 2, however, she can mitigate one of your enormous autoattacks with Riposte and deal respectable damage to you with her two Lunges into autoattacks. Starting at 4, she is fully capable of coming out ahead in trades if you extend them too long: her passive AD steroid and Burst of Speed will deal more damage over time than you can compete with.
Key things to do in this matchup are:
- Fight near your minions; this will prevent her from putting free damage on via Lunge to you, Lunge to a distant minion. If she does lunge onto you, punish her with your Ki Burst and Broken Wings into autoattacks, but don't trade non-empowered AAs with her.
- Bully her with your shorter cooldowns. All of your abilities come up faster than hers; trade frequently and she can't always retaliate.
- If she is even a little bit competent, your health will run out before her mana. Do not count on being able to outlast her harass.
- If she's in Burst of Speed, she will hit you unless she's CCd; autoattack her while you kite her, or you're taking free damage.
Ideally, your trades will go like this: Fiora will pop Burst of Speed and Lunge at you; you'll stun her immediately and then time out her Burst of Speed either by (1) CCing her again with Broken Wings, or (2) Valoring away, taking her second Lunge with your shield, then re-engaging her with Broken Wings while she can't retaliate. Your CDs will come up before hers; engage on her as soon as possible to put down free damage, then try to avoid her until your CDs are back up and you can rinse and repeat.
Like Aatrox, Fiora doesn't outscale you until late game, but your goal is to utterly dominate her before that so that she never reaches that point. That being said, she does have snowball potential if she gets ahead.
- Fiora will not get tanky; take flat AD to poop on her in lane.
- If Fiora roams, roam with her. You're leagues stronger in a 2v2 than she is.
- An offensive or defensive start is up to preference; like Aatrox, Warden's Mail makes Fiora the saddest of pandas.
Shield Parrrrrrrrrrrrley and engage him with Broken Wings and Ki Burst; he will eat oranges, but that's okay, because every orange is a couple of gunshots that you won't be taking to the face. This is one of the few lanes where taking Valor at level 1 is a viable strategy, because you'll have to use up so many Broken Wings charges to get to him that you won't be able to chunk him when you reach him; you'll take a gunshot to start the trade, an AA or two when you get there, and another gunshot when you want to walk away. After you have your full kit, though, you don't have to blow as much of your damage gapclosing, and you can punish him hard when you get to him. Post-6, you completely dominate him; his ult is a global slow and yours actually does damage.
- GP might get tanky, but it won't be until after he builds some damage; early AX won't benefit you as much, and you'll be able to afford it by the time you need it.
- Gangplank has shitty waveclear, so if he's playing too safely to kill, feel free to shove the lane to turret and spend some time showing off your kit to their mid and jungle.
- Damage, boots, and defensive starts are all viable, here (Guess what! Doran's Shield affects Parrrrrrrrrrrrrley!); if you're not fluid with your combos, you might find it hard to close the gap to him, so boots will work for you. Even if you are fluid, boots only make it easier.
This matchup is arguably the reason why I wrote this entire guide, because I see it executed poorly almost without fail.
You're going to be playing this lane a lot if you main Riven, because he's commonly regarded as Riven's hardest counter. People will tell the story of BoxBox straight-up dodging when a Garen picks into his Riven, and that's for a good reason: this lane will not be fun or easy. It will be gritty and frustrating and you're going to wonder why this is happening to you, but when you win it, you're going to feel like a boss. And you will win this lane.
Some people will tell you that "your goal in this lane is to not die and you'll outscale him later", and that's about as true as it is for any other Riven lane: complete bullshit. Your goal is to get fed and dominate the game with your ridiculous, overbearing damage, just like in every other game. And that means you need blood.
There are two ways to go about that: as with Darius, you can roam and show off your damage to other lanes and their jungle, but, as with Darius, your turret will suffer for it. A lot. Garen can push harder than Darius, for longer than Darius, and when you get back to lane, his health will be full. Roam when you cannot win your lane, but not before that has been established. The second way to get fed is by meeting an almost-immovable object with a completely-unstoppable force, and I'll tell you how to do that, here.
You outdamage Garen at most stages of the game, notably early on. This is the crux of the matter. Garen is scary because you're silenced and he's spinning and what do you do oh god this is happening and you can't stop it. And that's right: you cannot stop it, you cannot run out of it, and it hurts. Man the fuck up, because all is not lost: his silence is 1.5 seconds at level 1 (and it will be level 1 for a good while because he needs to level Judgment if he ever hopes to trade with you) and you get a generous four seconds of do-whatever-the-hell-you-want time before Broken Wings decides to go on cooldown. If he silences you, keep hitting him and mash that Q button, because you'll have your Broken Wings for a bit before it goes on cooldown. If he's spinning on you, that's it; you're not avoiding the damage, ever. Keep hitting him, because Garen doesn't win by putting down massive damage: he wins by putting down massive free damage, and you're not going to let him do that, ever.
When possible, engage on him with Valor: he will either have to eat your shield or kite you until it burns, which means, you guessed it, free damage on Garen. He will silence, he will spin, but you still outdamage him. Stun him when he tries to disengage (not while he's spinning; that doesn't actually do anything) and put down that free damage; he doesn't want it, at that point, but you are still out for blood.
You do outdamage Garen, and this is how you're going to show him that fact.
But there's another aspect to his laning that you need to watch out for, and that's his passive. If you don't fight him, if you allow him to stay disengaged, he will recover from all of your damage. This is reason #2 why you will fight him as much as possible (reason #1 being that you will win those fights if you play them right), but, more than that, a reason why you, right now, must learn creep control. If you cannot freeze your lane and zone him away from it, all of your damage means nothing: he will recover and you will not, and you can't do that forever. After you have demonstrated your ability to win trades, you need to press this advantage by using it to keep Garen from CSing and, moreover, from even gaining experience.
The essence of freezing a lane is ensuring that his minions are pushing harder than yours at any given point, so that the damage you add to your minions' by last-hitting is evened out by the additional damage that his minions are doing to yours; you accomplish this by ensuring that he has more minions alive than you at any given point; this simply means letting him do more damage to your minion wave than you do to his; once this happens, the lane will naturally push toward the minions that took more damage; you just need to keep it there. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be great at last-hitting to freeze a wave; if you're last-hitting early, you'll just need more enemy minions built up to mitigate that extra damage you're putting down. Careful, though; if you don't tend to the frozen wave and keep it in place, it will push toward your turret and, if it reaches that point, the lane will reset with the damage your tower will add to your minions' damage.
In practice, Garen will spin on you, and he will hurt your minions in the process; that's all it takes. Once the lane is frozen, your next goal is to zone him from it, which means chasing him the fuck down and putting a hurting on him well away from both your minions: since this will be happening behind his creeps, they can aggro on you if you're too close, and that will un-freeze the lane (your minions will be hitting them but they will not be hitting your minions back), so your goal is to do this outside of his creep aggro range. Keep that passive down!
If you don't dominate Garen early, he will be able to walk all over you once he buys a Chain Vest; from that point, you can't compete with him until you've finished either your Hydra or Last Whisper. Since it's damn-near impossible for the owner of a Tiamat or Hydra to freeze a lane, I recommend rushing Last Whisper. Yes, you read that correctly: you can and, frequently, should, rush Last Whisper against Garen.
This is one of your hardest matchups, again, but you'll have to get used to playing it for just that reason. The other team knows it's horrible for you and that's exactly what they want it to be.
Key points (again):
- Fight Garen as much as possible. You are stronger than him early and you can snowball that advantage.
- Fight Garen as much as possible. If you do not, his passive will win him the lane.
- Fight Garen as much as possible. Proactive shield eats more damage than reactive shield.
- His silence feels a lot scarier than it actually is. Mash Q, because you will get it back.
- If he silences and spins on you, just man up and take it. You no longer have the option to avoid damage; dish some out in return. See the first three bullet points.
- Don't get dunked; you will not survive it. You will not get dunked by forcing him out of lane before he can even consider ulting you.
- Garen will build armor immediately and he will keep building armor. Forever. AX runes are 1337% mandatory. CDR is also the way to go, for sure; while flat MR will make his level 6 hurt a bit less, you need to win the lane before it gets to that point, and CDR is how that happens.
- Roaming will lose you your tower, but, as always, do it if you can pick up blood away from top lane. If lane is pushed to his tower because you screwed up freezing and he doesn't clear it (e.g. he freezes the lane on you), you will need to roam to stay relevant. Don't turret dive Garen. It's not smart.
- You can start offense or defense; I strongly, strongly recommend offense. While it might seem like a good idea to go Long Sword into early Brutalizer/LW, you will not win before first back if you take this start (unless he does the same thing?). If you do start defense, Cloth5 will actually mitigate more damage than Doran's Shield in this matchup.
- You can outplay Garen hard by stunning him before he can actually get into range to Q you, letting it time out, and then effortlessly winning trades while it's down.
- This is not easy and you should not rely on it.
Jax is a difficult lane for a couple of reasons:
- If you engage on him, he will win the trade. If he engages on you, you can go even or win it. This is probably the only lane you will not win playing aggressively.
- If you engage on him, he's going to Counter Strike, and you can't juke it because your mobility is on CD and he can still Leap. But if he Leaps onto you, you can juke the counterstrike, and then engage while it's down.
- In addition to being able to win trades against you, he also scales with items better than you do. Going even in this lane is not winning.
So, essentially, you have to beat him to keep up, but you can't beat an equally-skilled, equally-built Jax if he doesn't initiate trades! That's it, I said it: a player equal to you will not lose to you if you are Riven and they are Jax. So what to do?
You're going to have to adopt a more-mobile playstyle, first of all: your skill order changes to Q W E Q W R -> Max W and E (keep the cooldowns the same); while you do less overall damage this way than by maxing Broken Wings, you gain much-enhanced mobility, sticking ability, defense, and overall utility. 2 points in Q and the AD you will be buying will be enough to keep your damage relevant; the vast majority of Riven's damage comes from her AD ratios and not base damages. The increased utility allows you to put down more consistent, more painful harass on Jax. Furthermore, this skill order greatly enhances your roam and gank potential, though it does slow down your clear times a bit if you're roaming to jungle. Your goal is to engage in micro-trades as much as possible (Valor, Stun, and an auto is plenty) while Jax's all-in potential with Counter Strike and Leap is on cooldown; save Broken Wings for those big trades. If managed correctly, you should be able to put down most of your small harass for free, which will give you an edge in your all-ins.
However, more importantly, adopting more mobility and CC allows you to win other places more than top lane, and that becomes your goal. Jax doesn't have the best waveclear (though it's not the worst, let's be honest), so go ahead, shove and leave to accomplish other things.
This isn't the easiest lane, and, again, Jax can only lose in top lane if he misplays. But Jax can't do much to stop you winning at other things, so make that a priority.
- Jax can build armor; he might rush a Triforce or BotRK, but his ult will give him armor to make up for it even in that case. AX is your friend.
- Roam. Jax isn't as good a skirmisher as you; force him into skirmishes. Jax may or may not roam, himself; if both of you head out of lane, you gain the upper hand with your superior skirmishing.
- Offensive or defensive start is preference. Neither cloth nor Doran's help against his magic damage, but more Riven damage is always more Riven damage.
Just like Akali, you outdamage him at every stage in the game, and he doesn't even get a feeble effort to stealth away until 6. Put a hurting on the bug.
Also like Akali, he will roam for kills; when he leaves lane, go pick up your double.
- Squishy melee mage; take AD and wreck him forever.
- Roam when he does and collect your free gold.
- Easy lane; start offense.
You will win this lane for one of two reasons:
- Malphite will try to poke you out of lane with Seismic Shard.
- Malphite will try to trade with you with Ground Slam.
In either of these cases, he will not be able to keep this up because the mana costs of his abilities are not for their damage: he's either paying for a MS slow on Shard or an AS slow on Slam, but you don't care about either of those things. An MS slow won't impair your dash-based mobility and an AS slow can't deal with your resets. He will run out of mana long before you run out of health.
Jump on him with Valor as much as possible and chunk him with Broken Wings and AAs. This is a straightforward lane and you will win every trade easily until he builds armor; go for early armor pen and make him cry.
- You're gonna want the early armor pen. It's Malphite, come on.
- He will not roam, but his passive waveclear isn't bad. You'll come back to lane to find a shield. If he waveclears with Slam, he will OOM and you will win the lane for it.
- Start offense; while this lane might not look it, you'll find it easy.
Enjoy your free win. Lanemaster Yi depends on Meditate, and you're going to deny it every time he tries.
As with other melee carries, you're stronger early and you should assert that dominance while you have it so that you can keep it. He has no escape.
- AD is the way to go; he will not build armor.
- He may roam, but this is not likely before 6. His waveclear can match yours, so be careful about leaving lane; it can cost you a turret.
- Offense or defense are both viable. As an almost-totally AA-reliant champ, you guessed it, Doran's Shield.
Nasus wants to farm, and so it is your job to deny him at every stage of the game. When he goes to CS, show off your damage. Laugh at his Wither.
You will eventually push the lane to his turret like this, and Nasus is okay with that; he's very competent at farming under turret. You'll likely have to roam for kills, and you need kills, so roam it up. Give Nasus a chance to push the lane out; he'll regain a lot of health, but he still can't touch you pre-6.
Post-6, be careful, because he can kill you if you misplay.
Nasus has snowball potential if he kills you early; you have more, but you'll never be able to completely take him out of the game. Go win the rest of the map while Nasus farms top lane.
- Guess what Nasus builds! Armor! What do we do?! Armor pen!
- Nasus will never, ever roam. Not even once. You, on the other hand, will need to, since Nasus can and will farm under turret.
- Offense and defense are both viable, but I encourage offensive starts. Early boots and pots may help with the roaming that you will need to do, and you don't need starting damage to beat him early.
- Quick note: if you're playing against an AP Nid, that matchup is in the Mid section; this is about AD Nid.
- Fun fact: Olaf is the matchup I dread most and, if I'm honest, I have no idea how to beat him in lane. Stay tuned; I'll share when I figure it out.
Pantheon is a pain because he blocks your attacks if you choose to fight and he spears you to death if you choose not to, so the path to victory in this lane is not always clear. This isn't exclusive to Pantheon, but I'll say it here, because it's relevant: if you're not sure what to do in a matchup, kill their face off. That should be your go-to as Riven, and it holds true, here. By fighting Pantheon as much as possible, blowing autoattacks into his passive, you're going to force him to stun you; he will follow this up with Heartseeker Strike almost every time, and that's mana that he won't spend spearing you. There's nothing you can do about spearing, but, in melee, you can fight him.
That being said, at level 1, he will take spear 100% of the time and, like Gangplank, if you use your Broken Wings to gapclose to him, you may not have enough damage to win you the trade, so I advise taking Valor at level 1, using that to eat his spears, and fighting him from level 2 on.
Post-6, provided he hasn't snowballed (why?), you should be able to dominate him. There's little you can do to stop him from roaming with his ult, but you can and should punish his turret for it every time. Additionally, since you get an ult that kills things here and he gets an ult that kills things elsewhere, you should be able to dominate the lane.
- There are two kinds of Pantheons: beefy beasts and hurty beasts. I advise going with AX in a Panth matchup, because, at the very least, he'll pick up Cloth into Tabi or something, and, worst case, you'll be fighting a full-on tank in lane.
- Panth will want to leave lane post-6; you can't keep pace, but you can either to get in and clean up or you can punish his turret. One is risky and one has guaranteed benefits; what's it gonna be?
- Cloth5 is the easiest way to start this lane; it will help you live through his early spear harass until you come into your own in the lane. Offensive starts are possible, but I would not recommend them unless you are very comfortable with the matchup.
While he is a little pain in the ass, this lane is quite winnable and you should not be afraid of it.
You won't be able to fight him at level one, so take your shield to help you deal with his bullshit. At level 2, grab Broken Wings, though don't plan on using it just yet unless he steps far out of position. Once you have Ki Burst, you can hard engage on him and kill him; he's extremely squishy and you have a lot of damage. Before three, however, just let him push: he can harass you hard and you can't really do anything about it, and taking a bunch of damage before you can pay it back only puts you behind when you get to that point.
Overall, though, the matchup is straightforward: avoid his damage until you can lay your own down and, once you gain the ability to do so (level 3), wreck him mercilessly at every opportunity. I strongly advise practicing a fluid E Q W combo (cancelling the animation on Q for an instant W); that skill is almost vital for ranged matchups, and this one even more so due to Teemo's natural quickness.
- Teemo won't get tanky and you want to kill him as early as possible: AD reds. The easier last-hiting will also be welcome.
- This lane is very winnable: stick around and get fed before you worry about carrying other lanes.
- Boots4, 100% of the time. You'll have to be aggressive to win this lane, and neither defensive start is particularly useful against this filthy little badger.
I've found Thresh to actually be one of Riven's toughest lanes; he has ranged poke that you can do very little about (you can't even effectively shield it; you don't know WHEN he's going to AA you, or the minion next to you, and he can cancel AAs), he doesn't care about your all-in attempt (his Flay will stop your Broken Wings mid-cast) and, because it wasn't bad enough, he passively gains armor. Yeah.
Shove the lane and roam; you can't win this unless Thresh misplays. As with Jax, building more mobile than bursty will help you both in-lane and while roaming.
- He passively gains armor. Guess what reds you should take!
- Roam lots; Thresh likely will not, but he is very strong in skirmishes if he chooses to leave lane.
- As with most ranged matchups, Boots4 is the way to go.
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Ramble (I'll clean this up later)
Your Q does so much damage. It's fucking retarded. 90 + 210% bonus AD (which is a fuckton because you're going to start dBlade like a boss) at level 1? Who thought that was okay? Because your Q is goddamn broken, you're going to do it whenever you want (read: as much as possible) and you're going to come out ahead in every trade where you land Qs. Seriously. It does all the damage. Just be confident in it. Trust me. It hurts so much. I used to play Riven a lot more conservatively, but just going recklessly balls-to-the-wall aggressive wins games: I shit you not, in my last match, I 1v2d a Singed and Trundle and came out with 1-for-0 in my favor. Match before that, I got 4-man ganked and got a double kill against an 8/1 Ezreal (and someone else) while I was 0/0 (he goddamn melted). Seriously. You kill everything. YOU are the scariest motherfucker on the map. Have faith in that. Your passive also does insane damage; use it. It's 20-50% extra AD on hit, and since you're going to be building nothing but AD items for a good while, you're going to wreck face. Oh, what's that, they moved away from you a bit while you were AAing? If only you had four gapclosers! Okay, listen up because this one will change your Riven life: your main gapclose is not Q, nor is it E. It's both. At the same time. Your Q can immediately follow your E, so you can gapclose a lot harder and a lot faster than you might've thought (it was way better than I thought, at least). Look at this shit: ; this Riven is a beast. That could be you. You could be catching Scarra off guard. Don't E. Don't Q. Do both. If you want to be a monster, the very best like no one ever was, get down a perfectly-executed E -> Q -> W combo. If you do it right, it will seriously look like one move. The E -> Q part is easy; it's almost effortless to combo out of Valor, since it has no aftercast delay. However, in the same way that autoattacks have some unnecessary baggage on their attack animations (which is the foundation of orb walking), Riven's Broken Wings and Ki Burst have some extra animation, too, and you can skip it by issuing more orders before the animations finish. However, whereas Broken Wings cancels the previous animation to do its thing, Ki Burst doesn't, so it is absolutely fucking imperative that you cancel it manually. Click on something ffs. This is extremely important for laning against ranged tops like Vlad or pussy Zed, but 100% necessary for playing Riven mid. She's a very viable mid and I play her there about as often as I play her top; I even prefer it because it's so much easier to roam from mid once you've (1) shoved your opponent under tower because they're afraid of you or (2) won your lane (which you will). The new-ish Specter's Cowl is an enormous boon for melee mids; pick one up early and, between health regen and your shield, you'll be able to completely shrug off most harass. Because mids tend to be squishier, naturally, you won't miss The Brutalizer as much as you would buying early resistances in top lane; you can likely 100-0 them at level 6 with nothing but Ignite and a Doran's Blade (that is, if you don't 100-0 them before 6). For mid matchups, I often run armor pen runes because, thanks to Seeker's Armguard, mids are not at all unlikely to start early armor. Do what you want, though. Build damage. During laning phase, build damage. Build damage build damage build damage. Don't spend 400g on lifesteal; you could have MORE DAMAGE. Hell, you don't even need boots for a good while. If your final build is Boots LW (you need this) BC (and this) BT (THIS IS OPTIONAL) Hydra (this is NOT optional) Defense (and by "defense" I mean "Zephyr" or "Maw" or "Merc Scimitar"; tenacity and MR are defensive stats!), there are 6 longswords (7 with Maw), 2 pickaxes (or 3 if you actually went for Zephyr/Maw like a boss), and a BF Sword (2 with MS) in that shit. You can ALWAYS get more AD when you back. Do it. I haven't done the math, but I'm pretty sure Hydra gives you more burst than a fully-stacked BT (I feel like it does when I play, anyway). Let's do the math, then: you lose... 77.5 damage on Broken Wings and Ki Burst combined (assuming your BT was fully stacked), and another 37.5 on each of 5 autoattacks, assuming you can land them all (unrealistic, let's be honest); that's 265 extra damage, total. If you have more than 265 AD (you goddamn should; that's nothing but BC, LW, and Hydra at level 18), Cleave gives you (1) more total damage (it's 100% of your AD), (2) more of your damage in a much smaller timeframe, (3) more damage even if you miss an AA in your combo, and (4) you never have to B and just not buy anything because you can't afford a BF. You also get passive health regen, (even more) awesome waveclear, and you get to look like a fucking badass weaving item actives into your combo. Also your team will never have to hear you say "be there in a minute; farming my BT". Buy a fucking Hydra. If you get ganked, you can seriously kill at least one of them. Try it. If you're even a little bit ahead, you're so much stronger than your laning opponent. 2v1 double kill outplayed. Riven is not a strong teamfighter if she is there when the fight starts. You can't jump over a wall of tanks like Kha'Zix, you can't kill them unless you've snowballed out of control (which is very possible) and you're not tanky enough to just run through them. Go push an objective; no one can deal with you 1v1. If they send 1 person back, kill them. If they send 2, kill one/all of them or leave; your team has a numbers advantage now and, let's face it, they won't catch you because you have 4 dashes, a shield, an AoE stun, and can jump over walls. If they don't send anyone back, either take the objective (you're good at towers because you have 900 AD or something stupid, right?) or hit the teamfight from a direction they don't want you to be in and blow up all of their squishies. You can probably kill at least one person in a single burst. It's not okay. Alternatively, if you have Flash up, just flash into the middle of their shit and go ham. Like anyone else with weak initiate, it can be compensated for by especially strong initiate on someone else. If you have a Hecarim or Sej or something, that's all the initiation your team needs. Roam. If you do not roam, you are wasting your time. Riven naturally pushes her lane and, because you're going to be a beast, your opponent will likely be afraid of you (or they'll not learn proper respect and will feed you, instead). They're quite likely to hug tower, and waiting around outside of their tower range isn't really productive, is it? Go clear their jungle, maybe pick up a kill on their jungler. Go clear your jungle if your jungler's on the other side of the map (don't be a dick). Gank another lane. Hold a lane for a bit while a mate bluepills or picks up a blue buff. If your lane opponent wants to waste all your kill power in a boring farm lane, go win other places, instead. Just be sure to get home before tower starts stealing your CS; you need that shit. You can First Blood with a 100-0 at level 1 if your lane opponent doesn't feel like Flashing. Let's do some math: Ignite (70) = 70 true damage; you gain +5 bonus AD from the mastery. 3 Q hits: (30 + 0.7*[32+5])*3 = 167.7 physical damage; you gain 3 charges of Runic Blade. 3 empowered AAs ([86+5]*1.2)*3 = 327.6 physical damage. Total raw damage: 495.3 physical damage + 70 true damage = 555.3 damage. You deal 2% more damage on that, an an additional 5% more when they're below 50%; we'll be conservative and suggest that that averages to a total of 5% additional damage from 100-0; this adjusts your physical damage to about 520. Worst-case realistic scenario, your opponent has 55 Armor at level 1 (cloth-armor Darius with a full defense tree); after armor pen and all that, you're looking at 346 physical damage and 70 true damage for a full burst of about 415. That kills most things at level 1 outright. One more autoattack ought to finish it; better still if you AA them before you start your combo. Also, I'm assuming that cloth is the best thing against this damage; Doran's Shield might be better. Obviously, this assumes you land all of your damage; it ain't easy, and the early Ignite either (1) gives away your all-in intent or (b) baits them by making them think you're terrible ("ignite is for securing kills, noob!" "Oh, but I DID secure a kill!").