His kill potential in lane is so very low, and the only thing he really brings to a team is mild tankiness (only mild due to the fact that if he get resistances instead of AP his sub-par damage sinks even deeper) and increased damage for the duration of his ult. Besides that, he's over all very lack luster. He is countered pretty hard top by most everything, and its almost equally as bad middle. He used to be one of my favorite champions but I refunded him after his hard nerfs because his potential just sunk, and when the refund system went down, he was re-unlocked for me. Now I usually find he gathers dust in the back of my Champion tab, and is rarely picked, for when I do, I don't gain much enjoyment from playing him. I've decided to get a little more down and dirty with Vladimir, and do a little math to see why he is such an unfavorable champion.
Please note, that all damage calculations are before resistances.
This passive has been nerfed considerably since his release, and what it does is for every 40 points of bonus health grants Vladimir 1 ability power and every 1 point of ability power grants Vladimir 1.4 bonus health. These bonuses do not stack with themselves, so it prevents some quantum **** happening where he is some unkillable nightmare beast. This passive is pretty useless at level one, due to the fact that it only scales off of bonuses. Once he starts getting a little more gold he starts to become a tad more beefier and hits a little harder, but honestly its not much.
For an example we will use Warmog's. As of S3, it grants a flat 1000 health. 1000/40 is 25 AP. So for 2650 gold, he will receive 1000 extra health, and 25 ability power. However, If for instance, you get a Deathfire Grasp (I realize this is not a particularly viable item on Vlad, it is only used for the similar item cost) it will grant you 80 AP. 80 x 1.4 is 112, so for 2600 gold you receive 80 AP and 112 bonus health. Obviously as you can see, it provides fairly minimal boosts that will continue to add up as you build more items. A nice passive that gets more powerful as the game progresses, as opposed to most passives that provide most power early and fall off late game. This contributes to Vlad's low kill potential in lane however, it gives you more bang for your buck late game.
A targeted spell with a 600 range, and a 10 / 8.5 / 7 / 5.5 / 4 Cooldown with no cost. His bread and butter and main source of damage, and sustain. It deals 90 / 125 / 160 / 195 / 230 base damage, with a 15 / 25 / 35 / 45 / 55 health regain. It's damage has a .6 AP scaling ratio, and its healing lower, coming in at .25 ratio.
There are a few problems with this spell. Firstly, I would like to point out its low range for a Harass/sustain ability, with only 600 range, most champions have spells that can outdamage the low sustain as well as trade successfully. For instance, Katarina's (who mind you, is a melee champion WITH a spammable gapcloser) Bouncing Blades has a higher range, getting in at 675. It has a disappointingly low health refund, partially due to its low scaling ratio. Its damage is on par mostly, but the ratio's just gimp him overall in this ability. With 250 AP at rank 5 this ability deals 380 damage, and heals 112.5. Really what this ability is intended to do is allow Vladimir to be able to trade successfully, and to and extent it does, it softens up the harass the enemies give you and trades back a nice amount of damage, but at the point when this spell starts to hurt, it really doesn't make much of an impact any more because other champions scale better and resistances really dull down the effect of the damage. Overall its a fairly balanced spell, although a little overpowered (imo).
This. This ability is the bane of Vladimir because it is an important part of his "kill combo" (I use the word kill lightly) and unfortunately for him, his escape. At a cooldown of 26 / 23 / 20 / 17 / 14 and the cost of 20% of his current health, he slows the enemy by 40%, gains a 37.5% movement speed increase for one second, and becomes untargetable for two seconds.
Arguably the most clunky part of Vladimir's kit, He deals 20 / 33.75 / 47.5 / 61.25 / 75 magic damage scaling with bonus health and heals himself for a measly 12.5% the damage done. This ability also has a maximum amount of damage it can do, which also scales with bonus health, but the damage isn't really the issue. The problem here is that Vlad must either choose to use this to engage and risk having absolutely no escape (not including that whopping 20% of current health cost that plagues his dueling power after he emerges from the pool) or losing out on a good damage source in order to have a safe get away. Naturally, since this ability costs current health %, it encourages using it for escapes rather than engages, but due to Vlad's lack of damage in his kit, he rather needs it to engage for the damage. This creates a constant war in the back of a Vlad's head on how he should use his W, and ultimately gives a sort of paranoia feel when playing as him. This ability is the definition of "un-fun" in my opinion, and is extremely underpowered, as it normally does not serve the purpose for escaping almost as badly as it serves the purpose for engaging.
Tides of Blood
An AoE with a flat cooldown of 4.5 and an increasing health cost of 30 / 40 / 50 / 60 / 70. This is the most complicated ability on Vlad. Each cast of Tides of Blood gives him an Empowered stack, which increases his healing and regeneration and causing his next Tides of Blood to deal 25% more base damage but cost 25% more health that lasts for 10 seconds, and stacks up to four times. It has a flat .45 AP scaling ratio on the damage.
An ability that requires a ramp-up, but takes a massive toll on your health, and doesn't provide enough regeneration to keep yourself ramped up for the trades that you need to be ramped up for. At max stacks, it deals nice amounts of damage, but takes monstrous amounts of health to maintain the stacks. There isn't really much else to explain here, just an over-complicated ability that doesn't provide enough rewards for what it costs.
Vladimir infects all enemies in the target area with a virulent plague which increases the damage they take from all sources by 12% for 5 seconds. After these 5 seconds, infected enemies take magic damage. Cooldown 150 / 135 / 120, 150 / 250 / 350 Magic damage with a .70% scaling.
Honestly the best part about his ability is the increased damage it grants from all sources for 5 seconds. This means that if you land your ult on all five opposing team members, it will wreak havoc on them, especially in a more AoE oriented team. The magic damage is just a weak throw-in to make it feel like a real ultimate in 1v1 situation. This ability is the only thing that makes Vlad worth having on a team, and even then he is only worth having on your team for 5 seconds and if you don't land it on a majority of their team, or your team doesn't have enough time to capitalize on it, you're just a ragdoll champion thats filling the slot for a much more viable champion, that would bring much more to the team.
Overall, Vladimir is meant to be a tanky, get in your face mage with low cooldowns, short range, and good spammable AoE, and in the right situations with the right team, he can do his role very well, but that is just what that is. Situational. Nerfs to Vlad have slowly made him more and more unviable in competitive play, due to his non-existent lane presence, his "good if babysat by the jungler" mid game, and his less than stellar late game. Riot attempted to make the tanky in your face mage, and they succeeded for awhile, but they forgot something that is well known in the community. Health doesn't make a tank. Health and Resistances make a tank. In his current position, he is just a beefy mage who the enemy can choose to focus down quickly rather than blow the CC on him, and his short range allows them to do so.
TL;DR: Give Vlad some big-man (butt)loving, or just tell people not to buy him at all, because in his current position, he is just dead-weight.