Updated for patch 1.2.
Bakko is a good melee champion for newbies. His playstyle is straightforward and easy to pick up, yet complex enough to allow for sick plays in dire situations. He has a bit of everything (damage, poke, survivability, control) so he has a decent margin for error, which means you can do well even while making mistakes.
But he isn’t just a newbie champion. Bakko is quite strong across all ranks, so if you’re looking for a main who can take you all the way up and stay viable the entire way, Bakko may be for you.
War Axe (M1)
War Axe is one of the weaker melee M1s, only dealing 9 damage when most others inflict 10. It makes up for it in two ways: first, each successful hit increases the damage of your next M2, and second, each successful hit reduces M2 cooldown. This means you can cycle M1 > M1 > M1 > M2 perpetually if you don’t miss.
Axe and Shield: War Axe hits reduce the cooldown of Bulwark by 1s.
Axe and Shield is very good. It makes Bulwark much less risky to use for engaging and entering combat: two or three hits and the cooldown will nearly be reset, allowing you to use it again to escape if necessary. It combines well with Mobile Defense and Shield Bash!
Blood Axe (M2)
With a cooldown of 3.5 seconds, Blood Axe is pretty much spammable. This gives you a way to harass enemies from afar, especially ranged champions who you can’t get close to. Don’t forget that you get 6 energy for every successful hit, and that adds up fast.
If you’re in melee range, prefer to wail on the target with M1s until you have charges before blasting them with Blood Axe. That’s where your real damage comes from, and that’s why the M1 > M1 > M1 > M2 cycle is so important. But against enemies with counters, switch it up with 2-charge or 1-charge Blood Axes, otherwise you may become easy to read.
The Red Axe: Blood Axe heals you for 4 health plus 2 health for each weapon charge.
The Red Axe is the only way Bakko can actually recover health on his own, which is essential if you want to stay in combat and keep offensive pressure on enemies. With it, a baseline M2 heals you for 4 while a fully charged M2 heals you for 10. That adds up very quickly when you’re constantly cycling through 3 M1s > M2, and ultimately keeps your recovery health up.
Howling Axes: Blood Axe cooldown is reduced by 1s if the axe hits.
Howling Axes is arguably one of Bakko’s weakest battlerites. Since Blood Axe gets most of its value with 3 M1 charges, and since 3 M1s is enough to refresh Blood Axe’s cooldown, you don’t need this when meleeing. Howling Axes only comes in handy against range-heavy comps that you just can’t get near, in which case the spam lets you at least do something.
Hamstring: Blood Axe inflicts a 1.2s Fading Snare.
The fading snare helps you engage, helps you stick to targets, helps your accuracy with dashes and stomps, and ultimately disrupts the enemy team’s rhythm. Hamstring is good, but competes with so many other useful Bakko battlerites that are just as good, if not better. It fits best against ranged enemies, allowing you to catch up even as they keep getting away.
Warlord’s Axe: Blood Axe deals 2 bonus damage and an additional 1 bonus damage for each weapon charge.
Warlord’s Axe may not seem like much, but the extra bit of offensive pressure is subtle yet significant. Not only is it useful for the accumulation of +5 damages over the course of a round, but nuking for 33 instead of 28 ends up dealing more permanent damage with every exchange. It also lets you use a single M1 > M1 > M1 > M2 sequence to break the orb, and this alone is huge.
Valiant Leap (Space)
Valiant Leap jumps to the target point and deals damage in an AOE. It’s your ideal ability for closing gaps and engaging targets, but be careful with how you use it. It’s your only guaranteed out, so jumping at a bad time can get you dead.
Wait for an enemy to burn one of their outs before you jump on them so you have a better chance of landing on them. If they end up wasting a second out to dodge your jump, then at least you come out ahead in cooldowns. You can also wait for an enemy to jump on you, then jump on yourself to catch him.
But again, Valiant Leap is your only guaranteed iframe, so try to kill two birds with one stone: if you need to dodge something, you may as well jump at a target.
Adrenaline Rush: Valiant Leap causes your next War Axe attack to deal 8 bonus damage.
I’m not a fan of Adrenaline Rush. Sure, it lets you stomp and M1 for a total of 39 damage, which quickly eats through recovery health and lets you start ripping into targets right as you engage. But because this extra damage is tied to Valiant Leap, you’ll find that there are many times you leap but can’t follow up with an M1, which means no value. (The Adrenaline buff only lasts 4 seconds.) If you want more damage, there are better options, like Adrenaline Slam.
Bravery: Valiant Leap grants 33% damage reduction to self and nearby allies for 2.5s.
Bravery is situationally useful, particularly against bursty comps. With this battlerite, if you Valiant Leap and follow up with War Shout, you can actually think of your 40 health shield as a 53 health shield. This proves helpful when you need to save a teammate (e.g. Lucie) as it instantly relieves them of incoming pressure.
Heroic Leap: Valiant Leap deals 3 bonus damage and leap range increases by 20%.
Heroic Leap’s bonus damage is negligible. If you’re going to get this, get it for the extra range. With it, you can stand further back (outside of most ranged M1 distances) and initiate combat without having to risk getting hit first. Best picked on large maps like Dragon Garden, though I personally never use it. Unfortunately it doesn’t extend the range of War Stomp.
Bulwark is Bakko’s signature ability: he can turn an enemy’s attacks on themself, both ranged and melee attacks. Reflecting ranged projectiles is obviously good, but the stun against melee attacks is arguably better because it completely stops momentum.
To truly succeed with Bulwark, you must learn how to cancelcast. If a melee enemy hits you and gets stunned, you want to immediately put your Bulwark away so you can hit him back. Without cancelcast, you have to wait for the entire duration of Bulwark to fade — and by the time Bulwark goes down, the stun is done.
Shield Bash: Bulwark can be recast to perform a Shield Bash that deals 4 damage and inflicts a 50% Weaken that lasts 2s.
Shield Bash eliminates the need to cancelcast Bulwark, allowing you to immediately attack stunned melee enemies. The damage isn’t much, but the Weaken is insane — since the target’s potency is halved, you will come out way ahead when trading.
But the best part about Shield Bash is its dash component. Not only does it let you initiate from outside melee range, you can actually use it to dodge attacks and escape AOEs (but it isn’t an iframe). This alone makes Shield Bash one of Bakko’s best battlerites.
Mobile Defense: Bulwark increases movement speed by 60%.
Mobile Defense doubles as a gap closer and an escape tool. The fact that you can approach ranged targets without risk of getting hit (thanks to the reflect) makes this a must-take battlerite against champions like Ashka, Jumong, and Iva. In fact, it even makes it easier to save teammates from heavy projectiles like Fire Storm or Steady Shot: run in between and reflect them back to the enemy. Mobile Defense pairs extremely well with Shield Bash.
Shield Dash (E)
Shield Dash serves so many purposes: dodge projectiles, escape AOEs, reposition the middle orb, interrupt enemy casts, or pin enemies to the wall as setup for other abilities. The cast time is fast and the damage isn’t bad either. The hard part is “thinking in walls” since most of its utility comes from wallbangs. You have to play around walls!
Shield Dash can be a great way to engage without wasting Valiant Leap, particularly if you grab the Raging Ram battlerite which reduces its cooldown. You can also tackle enemies away from a teammate to put some distance between.
Wall Slam: Shield Dash deals 2 bonus damage and inflicts a 0.6s Stun when slamming an enemy into a wall.
The stun duration of Wall Slam isn’t long enough to reliably set up Heroic Charge, but it’s still good for something else: interrupting. While Shield Dash does interrupt casting, it doesn’t interrupt spells in progress (such as channels). With Wall Slam, the stun lets you interrupt them. Pairs well with the extra range from Raging Ram. The bonus damage is neglibile.
Adrenaline Slam: Shield Dash causes your next War Axe to deal 8 bonus damage.
Adrenaline Slam is much better than Adrenaline Rush if you need extra damage when engaging. Shield Dash is more reliable than Valiant Leap at getting you onto a target, and you’re more likely to use Shield Dash to get into combat instead of out, and you can cast Shield Dash more often if you pair it with the Raging Ram battlerite.
Of course, you could use Adrenaline Slam and Adrenaline Rush for even more damage, but keep in mind that the two do NOT stack! If you do this, be sure to M1 between Valiant Leap and Shield Dash so you get full value from both battlerites.
Raging Ram: The cooldown of Shield Dash is reduced by 1s and travel distance is increased by 25%.
Raging Ram is extremely good for two reasons. First, it brings Shield Dash’s cooldown down to 7 seconds so it cycles faster than most mobility abilities (which default to 8 seconds), meaning you can chase down fleeing enemies and you’re more likely to have it ready when you need to dodge attacks. Second, the extra range means you can engage from further out and you’re more likely to nail those wallbangs. I consider it a must-take.
War Stomp (EX-Space)
War Stomp is just like Valiant Leap except it gives up a bit of power for more control: it only inflicts 8 damage but Incapacitates enemies for 2.5 seconds. This makes it an excellent choice for peeling, especially when there are two melees clumped on one teammate. It also has a faster travel time than Valiant Leap, so enemies have less time to react.
Use it during 1v1 situations! The disable is long enough to let you steal the middle orb or set you up for a finishing combo.
Shield Slam (EX-E)
Shield Slam is a dash that punts the target away and inflicts a 2.5 second Fading Snare, which is more than enough to peel an enemy off a teammate. But seeing as how the distance makes you unable to attack, you may be better using Shield Dash so you can peel and engage in one move.
Shield Slam is really good during Sudden Death. If the enemy is at the edge, you can bump him out and he’ll either waste an out getting back in or take a few ticks of vortex damage. Either way, you come out ahead. Follow up with an M2 (with the Warlord’s Axe battlerite) to really ruin their day.
War Shout (R)
War Shout temporarily turns you into a mini-boss. The high-value shield is the best in the game, allowing you to tank a bunch of non-permanent damage while simultaneously putting out pressure. It gets even better with the Rampage battlerite.
Use it just as you engage so you can come out ahead in trades. The cast time of War Shout is near-instant, so you can also rely on it to block big-damage nukes when you’re low on recovery health. And don’t forget that it’s AOE, so save your teammates with it!
Rampage: War Shout increases attack speed of War Axe and Blood Axe by 33% as well as movement speed by 15% for 4s.
Rampage is pretty sick. War Shout already puts you at a big advantage when trading, but now you get a big boost to DPS and extra chasing power. With Bakko’s in-your-face design, this one synergizes well with his playstyle and turns you from a mini-boss into an actual boss.
Just be careful against counter champions: since you have to M1 or M2 to get value, smart enemies will know that War Shout = M1 spam and counter accordingly.
Heroic Charge (F)
Heroic Charge is an unstoppable long-range dash that deals damage to anyone you hit, carries them with you, and deals a second burst of AOE damage at the end. This thing goes through pretty much everything, including counters, d-barriers, and other dashes. The only way to escape it is with an iframe. Use it as a finisher on targets with no outs.
But Heroic Charge is risky. The cast time is technically 0.1 seconds, but it has a long charge-up animation and an audio cue that’s extremely easy to read. Missing a Heroic Charge doesn’t just mean burning all your energy — you’ll likely end up on the other side of the map and have to waste valuable time getting back to the action.
Mammoth Stomp: Heroic Charge stun duration increased by 0.75s.
Mammoth Stomp lets you follow up Heroic Charge with an M1, then Shield Dash into a wall to refresh the stun (if you have Wall Slam), and get in a few more M1s. But how many Heroic Charges you actually get in a round? One, maybe two. And when you do, this battlerite doesn’t actually offer much value. If you win with this battlerite, you’d win without it. Get something else instead.
Inspiration: Increases your maximum energy by 25% and energy gained from abilities is increased by 10%.
Inspiration is very good on Bakko because he relies so heavily on War Shout to stay alive and War Stomp to control the flow of rounds. The faster energy gain lets you spam both more often, but perhaps more importantly, the extra energy meter means you can set up your own Heroic Charges using War Stomp. That’s HUGE.
Bakko is pretty straightforward: you’re at your best when you’re right up in the face of a target and putting out tons of pressure. Your defensives are there to make offensive pressure easier.
Often you can start rounds with M2 poking. The fast cooldown means you can get two or three pokes before any real fighting goes down, and it helps build energy and dismount enemies. But with the Mobile Defense battlerite, you might opt to quick-engage enemies who step a little too far away from their team.
A lot of your damage comes from charged M2s, so try to use Shield Dash to engage targets (or wait for them to engage you), build up charges with M1, then pop M2 on targets who don’t have much recovery health. Over the course of a round, the permanent damage adds up fast. The 3 M1 > M2 cycle puts out a lot of pain.
Remember to play around walls. Not only for the extra wallbang damage on Shield Dash, but for the positional advantage. Once Dashed, an enemy has no choice but to walk out from between you and the wall (which gives you time to get in several M1s) or use an out (which you can follow up with Valiant Leap to stay engaged).
If you can build up a fully charged M2 and hold it, Shield Dash a target into a wall and immediately follow with the M2 for a guaranteed hit.
With the Inspiration battlerite, a full energy meter lets you set up Heroic Charge with War Stomp. If you can catch two enemies in the Stomp, try to walk around and line them up so that Heroic Charge hits both of them. Unavoidable and huge.
Valiant Leap is one of your best initiators, but it’s also your only iframe, so there’s a tough balancing act between using it offensively and defensively. Take note of your matchups: if the enemy has big ultimates (e.g. Ashka’s Infernal Scorch) or explosive debuffs (e.g. Croak’s Venom, Lucie’s Deadly Injection), then you may want to reserve it for those moments.
And unless you’re hurting for health, try to use Valiant Leap offensively even when using it to dodge. For example, if you’re trying to iframe Croak’s Venom, you might as well stomp on him while you’re at it.
Consider using Shield Dash for dodging when you can. The distance is long enough to escape most AOEs, and you can dodge quite often if you have the Raging Ram battlerite. Again, unless you’re hurting for health, try to be offensive as you dodge (e.g. escape Pestilus’s Egg AOE and tackle him in one move).
You must learn to cancelcast. Not only because it lets you make full use of Bulwark, but you can also fake M2s to bait counters, d-barriers, and outs.
Use War Shout and War Stomp as often as necessary, even if it means you never have energy for Heroic Charge. These two defensives offer way more utility and will regularly turn rounds for you. War Shout lets you go ham (especially with the Rampage battlerite) and War Stomp gives you time to reset and/or burst one target down.
Bakko is pretty good at orb control.
Shield Dash collides with it, so tackle the orb towards your team and away from enemies. On some maps, you can tackle the orb into a wall for damage and pop it even faster. Try to start zoning enemies out of mid area about eight seconds before the orb spawns, which can be done with M2s and Bulwark. Easier said than done, but Bakko has enough threat for it.
What if you lose mid area? War Stomp. The fast cast time and travel time make it hard to avoid, so use it to isolate anyone trying to kill the orb, then steal the last hit. If you have no energy, use Valiant Leap’s damage to last hit the orb, then turn around and start pounding away on an enemy. Or if you need to play it safe, pop it with a fully charged M2.
- The Red Axe (M2)
- Mobile Defense (Q)
- Shield Bash (Q)
- Raging Ram (E)
- Inspiration (Perk)
There are many variants on Standard Bakko, but they all share the same base: The Red Axe for sustained survivability, Mobile Defense for engaging and escaping without wasting your core outs, and Shield Bash for the weaken and the dash for engaging or dodging. Beyond that, I like to get Raging Ram because it further increases how often you can engage or dodge. Inspiration lets you spam War Stomp and War Shout.
Raid Boss Bakko
- The Red Axe (M2)
- The Warlord’s Axe (M2)
- Bravery (Space)
- Shield Bash (Q)
- Rampage (R)
This one is more aggressive than Standard Bakko, built around dealing as much damage as you can while taking as little as you can and minimizing your need to disengage. When you spot a vulnerable target, engage with Valiant Leap. Every single battlerite exists to increase your trading efficiency: cycle Bravery, Shield Bash, and Rampage while landing every fully charged M2 to keep swinging in your favor.
Bakko has a lot that newbies will like: high mobility, spammable ranged poke, a big shield to absorb damage, and a straightforward ultimate that obliterates targets. He’s versatile and hard to play poorly, plus he’s great fun. All the makings of a great champion.