There was a time not long ago (over a year ish) where I didn't understand Renekton. Not that he was complicated or confusing, the minute-to-minute decisions just didn't make sense to me, since I like my characters to at least associate with their auto-attack a bit more than just fury, like Gangplank's slow or Xin Zhao's Q. But after running him against kill lanes without sustain, suddenly it made sense – sustain. Burst. CC. An anti-dive ultimate. He's rad as hell, and I'm so glad I finally gave the big lizard another chance.
|Innate sustain||Drops off late|
|Mean stun||Gets outranged|
|Gap closer/armorshred/escape||Q pushes lane|
|Incredible base damages|
Renekton's another like Trundle in that he's barely needed much in the way of balance tweaks. Other than fine tuning, he's been the same champion for forever. Just a big, nasty, sustaining bruiser who completely wrecks anyone vulnerable to burst damage and mana starvation. And it's kind of nice in some ways that a guy like Renekton, who was made just about forever ago, hasn't fallen into stagnation just because he's so good at the things he does.
For the most part, he's an AD caster, but he does well with a lot of items that benefit both them and autoattackers too. There's no point in getting him attack speed, but he does well with sorta-on-hit effects like lifesteal or Doran's Blade, Frozen Mallet, and Black Cleaver. Regardless of which items you end up building, cooldown reduction, attack damage, and armor penetration are core on him.
Which is why Season 3 treated him so nicely with Black Cleaver. The Brutalizer was already incredibly critical for him, and now he has some real teamfight presence aside from ripping through the front lines and stunning the carry. Now, in addition to doing all of that damage, he just did a buttload of armor shred to the rest of the team on the way to the back of the line, plus the armorshred from Slice/Dice, and if he wants to, he can pop a fast Cull the Meek to apply more Black Cleaver around him.
But it's not the only item to go to, because Renekton requires a lot of durability to get the most out of his muscle. His ult gives him surprise durability, which syncs up very well for towerdives and big teamfights. Armor and magic resist do very well for him, and since the S3 rework, everything has treated him all the nicer. Kindlegem into Visage helps the natural sustain of Q and gives him resistances, and since he naturally has a lot of HP, plus ult and a Frozen Mallet, Atma's is great, even if the crit chance is a little wasted.
Like Sands Around our Lizard
I've said it a few times, but the easiest thing to know about Renekton is he's basically a burst AD caster who can kill priority targets before they get any of their strength, but after they lose the level one advantage. Jayce is a good example of this, or more commonly, Teemo. Jayce has absolutely no sustain, but he has both melee and ranged kits, with a really good poke. Jayce is going to pressure you, and pressure you hard earlygame. But he has no sustain, and he will inevitably push the lane while you hang out just in experience range. Just wait till you have enough creeps to collect some health with Q. And once you get level three – before he has any items out of the farm he's collected, you dive in and burst the hell out of him. Even if he disengages by Thundering Blow, you really hurt him, and you will get that health back pretty fast.
There is, of course, the option of 'Any good Jayce wouldn't get outtraded because he'd just harass all game long.' Which is partly true, but Jayce's range isn't very high, his Cannon stance makes him squishier, and he burns through mana pretty fast if he's not Hammer attacking. A smart Renekton will play safe, then just utterly destroy him.
Maximizing this advantage is the most cornerstone part of Renekton, because once you establish dominance, you need to secure it. After that burst damage and hopefully a kill, you need to turn the tables and become the lane bully. Ionian Boots, Merc Treads, or Ninja Tabi, Doran's Blade, and a Brutalizer can give him enough CDR, damage, and sustain to crush, because the faster he can blow his combo, the more he can punish.
Who does counter him, is the next question. And that's pretty simple. Mostly it's anyone who can tank his burst, sustain better, and turn the tables all at once, something Teemo and Jayce lack. I honestly fear Garen. There's ways to deal with him, but even if you make any damage stick he's just going to hide in the brush until either he's full on HP or you get close to it, whichever comes first. And with a silence, you're done. Similarly, Pantheon is a master at deflecting Renekton's burst and turning around with his own.
This, incidentally, ends up being the most significantly fun part of Renekton. There are champs with more power or durability or whatever else, but Renekton excels at getting an advantage and keeping it. He has no resource other than his health, and sustains like crazy. If he had a faster gap closer or more CC or more burst, like Wukong, he'd be straight up broken.
Teamfights is pretty much all about blowing that combo onto a priority target, as I mentioned before, and tanking a lot of damage. Depending on how you're looking – and, more importantly for Renekton, how much higher level you are than the rest of your opponents – you need to build some durability. Right now HP is plenty, but depending on what role you play, you might want to go for more defensive items like I mentioned before. If you have a tougher teammate on your team, become the secondary initiator and assassin, and jump on the carry.
He might not have the delightful thrill of farming all day and coming to lategame with pure tank gear and a one-shot Q like Nasus, but be damned if dunking at level 3 doesn't feel amazing.