How to Counter Riven: A Comprehensive Guide

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Psyduck21

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05-10-2012

Since there seems to be a lot of confusion about this subject let's set some things straight.

General Strategy:
Level One
Riven is probably the best level 1 duelist in the game. Don't let her trade with you at level 1 unless you have some magic voodoo up your sleeve. This is a pretty easy mistake to make, you get to lane and think "Oh man I'm tough, and I have plenty of health potions too, I should harass Riven and wear her down since I've got this nice back up in these health pots".

Then level 4 rolls around you've lost 4 exchanges (but it didn't seem like that big a deal because health potions were keeping you at high health) and she still has 2 health pots left, meaning she's going to start costing you real health while you can't touch her because of the pots. On top of that, it's about this level that her full combo + ignite can kill you from about half unless you're running a lot of armor.

In short: level ranged harass or sustain/defensive skills at level one. 99% of the time you can't win level 1 trades with Riven because Broken Wings hits 3 times as opposed to the one time of 99% of the other skills in the game. You'll hit level 2 fast enough and get your core damage ability or whatever it is quickly enough. Until than focus on CSing instead of trading, because Riven is REALLY REALLY good at trading.

After Level One:
There are a lot of ways to duke it out and trade with Riven, covering all of them would be virtually impossible but I'll do my best to cover some of the basics. Firstly, if you have CC wait until she's in the middle of Broken Wings to use it. The reason for this is that if enough time passes between uses of Broken Wings, the ability goes on cool down (I believe it's 2 seconds). Robbing her of this will bring her damage and mobility down significantly.

Secondly, watch for her to use her abilities to farm. If you're playing safely (which you should against Riven) and not giving her lots of opportunities to trade with you, she will more than likely end up using her abilities to farm because they make it much easier. Wait for her to use her abilities than move in on her, while her abilities are on cool down she is far, far less dangerous.

Know your champing, know your match up:
This is a question you should constantly be asking yourself no matter what the match up is: "Is my opponent stronger than me?"

If the answer is yes, what do you do in other match ups? Well, you don't stand where they can hurt you of course. At any given time you should know whether you can win a straight fight with your opponent. Riven is mobile, she can get to you faster than a lot of other champions can, so if she is stronger than you stand in a place where she is unable to get to you quickly. If you need to turret hug than hug the turret. Most of the time Riven doesn't become this much stronger than you unless you've let her.

The Ult
When Riven pops her ult she can kill people astonishingly fast. Thankfully Riven has a moment of lag when she pops her ult where she strikes a pose and basically screams out "I'M GOING ALL IN TO TRY AND KILL YOU RIGHT NOW". When she does this, don't fight her. Really, just run away from her and let her waste the cool down. If you miss CS that's fine because her ult will be down for a while after this and you'll be able to push her around more, enabling you to make up for that lost CS and hopefully cost her some CS in turn.

Ganking:
This one is important. Riven is notoriously mobile and as a result is hard to gank. There's a few things you need to remember when thinking about ganking Riven.

The first: Is either of you under half HP? If so, Riven can probably kill you. She's a burst damage character with an execute on her ultimate - this shouldn't surprise you. The thing is, if you both come out and Riven gets a stun off on both of you because you're both targeting her, there's a good chance she can just kill the person at half health and 1v1 the remaining ganker. Don't walk into a gank where you stand to lose more than you gain. Just make sure you've got the HP to deal with it.

Secondly: Riven can only escape if her skills are up. Bait her into it - the laner should initiate a trade and get her to use Broken Wings and Valor if possible - once these are down bust your CC out and let your jungler do his/her thing. Riven's cool downs aren't so short that you can not burst her down in this time. If you can't burst her than she's already snowballing and you may have been counter-picked.

Thirdly: You don't need to kill Riven to beat her in lane. If you burst her down to 20% HP with your jungler and then she gets away, don't turret dive her. She's faster than you and she has a stun. If you catch her she's about to kill you with either the help of her tower or the help of her team. I repeat, you don't need to kill Riven to beat her in lane. When this situation comes up, instead of diving her, push minions into her turret to deny her CS - boom, you have yourself a successful gank. You've pushed Riven out of lane, you've cost her CS and you get some free farm.

Team Fighting:
AD carries should never be in a position where the enemy bruisers can get to them. With Riven this may be more difficult because she's mobile but she's not so mobile that you can never escape her ever. Tanks and off-tanks need to peel her and AD carries need to kite. Secondly exhaust can do a great deal to save your carries life if a fed Riven jumps on him/her. Don't be afraid to exhaust Riven, there's rarely more important targets to exhaust.

It's also important to note that Riven often gets a Guardian Angel, which makes her a pain in the ass to kill during team fights. If you kill her and burn her GA don't wait around for her to pop. Kill someone else than switch back to her. When someone pops a GA people seem to just wait around and take free damage from the rest of the team. It should be pretty self evident why this is bad. She's going to pop at the same time regardless, you may as well make yourself useful while you wait.

Itemization, Runes and Masteries:
Build Survive:
Rivens a snowball champion. If you don't let her snowball she wont be nearly as useful later on. This means that in a lot of cases, you should just focus on not feeding her.

Firstly, that means armor. Riven is one of few champions in the game who does ONLY physical damage. Armor effectively multiplies your health against her. Starting cloth+pots and building an early chain vest can do wonders for your survivability. Remember: Riven does a lot of damage. If by the time Riven is getting her first Blood Thirster, you have no or little armor you're probably going to die.

Secondly that means sustain. Riven has zero native sustain but she likes to initiate trades a lot because she does a lot of damage. If you have a bit of armor she wont be able to hurt you as much, and with a bit of sustain even if she out damages you a little bit in each trade over time you can come out ahead by simply regenerating more HP than she does between exchanges. In a lot of cases it's worth it to keep a few health pots on you at all times so that you're not hanging around lane at low HP (if you do this in any match up you're at risk, it should be no surprise that a hyper aggressive kill lane like Riven can do it too).

Be Fast:
Riven is mobile, that means you need to be mobile too to keep up. A lot of people will get tier 1 boots and than put off tier 2 while they build their first core item - a lot of the time this isn't worth it with Riven. She really shines in the early game, so if you need that extra edge buy an early Ninja Tabi - honestly, against Riven it's probably one of the best first purchases you could make.

Masteries and Runes:
Most people seem to have one mastery/rune page for a character and that's it. But honestly, that's just silly. If you fight a Riven and you're not confident that you can beat her outright, focus on surviving the lane and don't be afraid to swap your 21/9/0 masteries for 9/21/0 masteries or even swap to a more armor heavy rune page. You really don't lose that much, especially when you consider that 9/21/0 will make it easier to survive and CS - which may well mean you'll have more gold and more items end game - and items are going to make a hell of a lot more difference than masteries will.

Characters That Outright Counter Riven:
Firstly, let me say that under the right conditions any character can beat any other champion - Riven is no different, although there are certainly some characters who have a much harder time of it.

I also want to say that on these forums I've seen a lot of people throw out some really obviously wrong "counters" for Riven. As an example I've seen people say Wukong counters Riven. Wukong does not counter Riven, despite what some people on this forum may have told you. In fact, the match up is strongly in Riven's favour. That having been said, I can't claim to know EVERY single counter for Riven, so this list may be incomplete. What you can count on from this list however is: Every character listed will genuinely counter Riven. If you don't see a character listed it's because I don't know the match up well enough to comment on it (an example of this is the Yorick vs. Riven match up, I've seen people say that either one counters the other, but I don't know the match up well enough so I wont include it here).

Olaf:
Firstly, Olaf tends to counter most melee champions, Riven is no different. He has ranged harass with a slow attached to it, which means he can fairly easily kite Riven. If she ever catches him she'll have had to use all of her skills to close the gap, which means she has no skills to deal with Olaf while he still have all of his, he should have no problem blowing her out of the water in this situation.

Secondly, true damage is especially hard for Riven to deal with. The reason for this is because Riven doesn't build a lot of HP, instead she relies on her shield to protect. The only things this shield scale with are AD, armor and MR. Which is why you see so many Riven's build straight AD into GA or other armor and MR heavy items. Unfortunately for Riven because she doesn't stack a lot of HP the true damage Olaf does has a much smaller pool to take chunks out of before it kills Riven. It's also worth noting that Olaf can outright out sustain her if he wants to by leveling his W first. Remember, even though Olaf counters Riven you should still play safe early - Riven is still one of if not the best duelist in the game at level 1.

Renekton:
The thing about Renekton is, he does a lot of what Riven does only he has sustain too. He's a very strong trader and one of the only top laners who can legitimately straight up out trade Riven. He's got good mobility to chase her if she wants to get away, his ultimate gives him extra HP which can bait her into wasting her ulti. And, maybe the most important thing: His stun lasts longer which means he can lock her up a whole lot longer and pump a lot more damage into her than she can in her stun.

Any time she comes into trade you just stun her in the middle of Broken Wings and lay into her - Renekton does so much damage that you'll force her to retreat because if she doesn't, you will straight up kill her. Play it safe early, Renekton really comes into his own at level 3 when he gets his full tool kit.

Ryze:
This is something I'm cautious about putting here, because it takes a lot more thought and you need to be a lot more careful. The reason Ryze is a counter is for a few reasons. Firstly, Ryze has range on Riven. You can auto attack her all day and be just out of range (for that reason you might consider AD runes just for the in lane harass and then use a standard tanky Ryze build). The second thing that makes Ryze so strong against Riven is that he has a hard disengage, you can walk up and auto-attack her all day. If she walks at you, just walk away, if she dashes / leaps at you, just snare her and walk away. Keeping in mind, ONLY use your snare when she tries to charge you. If you ever use it elsewhere Riven will realize it's on cool down and charge you, which is a trade you will almost certainly lose. Ryze only beats Riven early because she can never get to him to kill him. It's worth taking Rune Prison first.

After your tear of the goddess you should rush Frozen Heart. Once you have your Frozen Heart it's unlikely Riven will even be able to push you out lane. Up until this point you will have had to play very carefully and probably haven't killed her without jungle intervention. Your auto-attack harass will at best push her out of lane, you won't have the fire power to actually kill her until you have your tear and frozen heart. The good news is this: You will eventually straight up kill Riven in a fight. What's more, you're a late game hyper carry and there's nothing at all that Riven can do to stop you from farming as long as you save Rune Prison for when you absolutely need it.

Tryndamere:
If you survive until level 3 you should be pretty much unkillable unless you make a big mistake or get ganked. Here is how: If Riven EVER tries to trade with you, spin toward your tower immediately. Most of the time she'll waste her Q cool down and get no damage out of it. Most of the time after failing to initiate a trade she'll back off, at which point you can use Mocking Shout to slow her down and give her a SERIOUS AD buff (you know, that stat the Riven relies on more than any other character in the game?). At this point her cool downs are down and she's got a nasty move speed slow and AD debuff, you can either get some free damage or zone her out of last hits for a while, and if she does try to trade it out anyway, you always have your Q to straight up heal and damage she did to you. Tryndamere won't out trade her early but his sustain and ability to punish her when she tries to engage is tremendous. Just remember, your job here is to farm and then punish her for trying to stop you, not to initiate trades.

It's also worth noting: Riven's best way to kill people is with Wind Slash at low HP targets. It's her single largest source of burst damage and the most likely way she's going to kill anyone. Tryndamere can pop Endless Rage to get around the problem of being executed in this manner.

Teemo:
Pretty much the most annoying character any melee champion can fight solo top ever. There's a reason they call him the swift scout. Because he's freaking fast. On top of being ranged this makes him an ideal kiting champion. While Riven is less susceptible to being kited than say, Udyr, it's still a flaw of hers that Teemo can exploit. Pointedly, all he has to do is walk into auto-attack ranged and hit her a few times. If she tries to engage Teemo can hit her with blinding dart (shutting down 60% of her damage), drop a mushroom (slowing her), and use move quick to simply stay out of range. It's true that Riven scales better than Teemo into team fights, but Teemo counters Riven (melee in general) so hard that she should be afraid to even enter her jungle to try and catch up.

Kayle:
Kayle (build as an AD Carry) is a Riven counter for a lot of the same reasons Teemo is. Kayle has an ENORMOUSLY powerful ranged slow. Very powerful ranged harass. The fact that she has a heal for sustain that also comes with a move speed buff (for kiting) is icing on the cake. Also worth noting that Kayle's ultimate can cheat Riven's Wind Slash in the same way that Tryndamere's ultimate can (except that, like Teemo if you're playing Kayle Riven should literally never be close enough to actually fight you).

Tanks in general:
When I say tanks I don't necessarily mean pure tanks. I mean characters like Warwick, Malphite, Cho'gath. These characters will lose lane early but can afford to straight up build a ton of armor early and very quickly become essentially invulnerable to Riven's damage. Once they're immovable walls of armor (often with crazy sustain) they can proceed to zone Riven out of experience entirely. Warwicks Q spam and the threat of his ult killing you at any time is enough to keep Riven at bay. Malphite can slow her indefinitely and kite her to death once he has the armor. Cho'gath, on top of being super tanky, having vicious sustain, a knock up, a massive true damage execute (we mentioned in the Olaf section why this is so good against Riven) he also has an AoE silence, which if you time it in the middle of broken wings shuts down most of Riven's mobility and damage.

There are more counters but honestly this thread took me long enough to write already and I'm getting tired. I may update with more detailed character counter picks later.


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Psyduck21

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05-11-2012

Bump.


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Wulfestopheles

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05-11-2012

tl;dr


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Cae vida loka

Member

05-11-2012

tldr why should one lose time reading this just hoping to counter an op champ? better wait her nerfs

and Lold @OP

trying to not get her nerfed?


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Psyduck21

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05-11-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cae vida loka View Post
tldr why should one lose time reading this just hoping to counter an op champ? better wait her nerfs

and Lold @OP

trying to not get her nerfed?
Trying to educate the people walking around saying "Riven can't be countered".

If she gets nerfed it will be because Riot thinks she needs to be nerfed, not because I said or did anything either which way.

Also, if you don't want to understand how to counter champions than this probably isn't the game for you. Even if Riven does get nerfed there will just be a new "OP" champion for you to rage about and refuse to learn how to play against.


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Ibuki Suika

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Senior Member

05-11-2012

I play a lot of Riven and have to say this guide hits the nail on the head. I hate all those match ups you listed as counters.

The thing about her counters though, is with some good jungle ganks she can get ahead early so even at the disadvantage she can stomp. Thats why you need to be careful. People are just way too careless against her.


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Busy Dreamer

Senior Member

05-11-2012

Very informative, thanks.


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Psyduck21

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05-11-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Remuko View Post
I play a lot of Riven and have to say this guide hits the nail on the head. I hate all those match ups you listed as counters.

The thing about her counters though, is with some good jungle ganks she can get ahead early so even at the disadvantage she can stomp. Thats why you need to be careful. People are just way too careless against her.
This is true of most match ups though. An early gank can turn the tide in literally anyones favour even if there was some harsh counter picking involved.

If you don't have wards play like you don't have wards no matter what the match up is.


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Fawksbox

Junior Member

05-11-2012

Just counter with top hecarim


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HughMyronbrough

Member

05-11-2012

Quote:
Kayle:
Kayle (build as an AD Carry) is a Riven counter for a lot of the same reasons Teemo is. Kayle has an ENORMOUSLY powerful ranged slow. Very powerful ranged harass. The fact that she has a heal for sustain that also comes with a move speed buff (for kiting) is icing on the cake. Also worth noting that Kayle's ultimate can cheat Riven's Wind Slash in the same way that Tryndamere's ultimate can (except that, like Teemo if you're playing Kayle Riven should literally never be close enough to actually fight you
Yeah, if you play Kayle intelligently, it's pretty hard to lose to Riven unless you get jungle camped, or Riven is a better player. If she jumps at you, use Q to get away and beat her up with E. Hell, just use Q/E harass in laning anyways, if you get good at kiting with Kayle it's really hard to lose. And if, for some reason, you lose badly, just ult and you don't die huehuehue.