In 2019, League of Legends players around the world were introduced to one particularly strange champion pick: Nautilus in the mid lane. It was first played in the LPL by FunPlus Phoenix’s mid laner and resident mad genius Kim "Doinb" Tae-sang, who then pulled it out at the World Championship.
Doinb played three games on Nautilus in the semifinals against Invictus Gaming. He played the pick one more time in the finals against G2 Esports. FunPlus ended up winning the tournament, proving that even the most unorthodox picks can get the job done. After the tournament, Doinb warned other players against this pick, calling it unreliable and overall bad, while also admitting that no one would listen to the warning.
In the spring, Nautilus mid lane has been played seven times in the LCK, four times in the LPL, and one time in the LEC. Nautilus has a 67% win rate worldwide, so it’s fair to say that it’s not that bad of a pick.
The role of the mid laner has evolved through the years with tanks finding their way into this lane. Players like Doinb and T1’s Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok are playing a more team-oriented style, meaning that they prioritize their roams to the side lines over their own lanes. Nautilus fits exactly into this style.
The main responsibilities of Nautilus are to set up plays and support the jungler. This champion becomes a front liner and an enabler for the side laners. This isn’t an aggressive pick that can bully enemies in lane. Nautilus can stand his ground with the proper farm, but he isn’t a carry.
Nautilus in the mid lane takes similar runes to the ones he uses as a support. Keep in mind that Nautilus is acting as a tank in this situation, so he needs to set up plays and survive the incoming damage that comes with initiation.
In his runes, Nautilus goes for Resolve with Aftershock as the main and Font of Life, Bone Plating, and Overgrowth. Nautilus is getting extra magic resistance and armor, damage reduction, and additional max health. Nautilus takes Inspiration with Perfect Timing and Biscuit Delivery. The runes are complete with attack speed, adaptive force, and armor.
This combination of runes allows Nautilus to survive the laning phase and grow tankier as the game goes on. Nautilus can hit and have some decent damage, but this is not the priority.
The core build for Nautilus mid lane includes Hextech Protobelt-01, Zhonya’s Hourglass, and a pair of boots. The boots will depend on the enemy team, as it could be either Ninja Tabi for more armor or Mercury Treads for additional magic resistance. The third item can be a Gargoyle Stoneplate or a Sunfire Cape, but again, it depends on what type of damage the enemy team is building.
The last piece for Nautilus mid lane is Teleport, this spell will take him where he needs to be around the map in no time.