A guide to post-rework Ryze

Ryze is finally getting a full fledged rework? Yes, that Ryze, the problem child of League of Legends, one of the oldest and most changed champions in League history. The Blue Man himself has been on the PBE for the past two weeks and is about to hit live in patch 6.14, so let's have a little chat about Ryze.

If you have played Ryze before you have at least an idea of how he works now. This is a champion update, sure, but it is more in line with the size of Shen’s update than Poppy’s or Sion’s. He is more interesting now, but maintains a lot of his identity as a champion. He is still an up close mage brawler, and yes he still has a targeted stun. Ryze is an expert duelist and unless you get insanely far ahead you are looking at a sustained damage mage that blooms mid way through the game. All of this probably sounds familiar to a Ryze player, but things have gotten more complicated this time around in service of more interesting gameplay

For the longest time Ryze has been a champion that has gone from 0 to 100 in one patch cycle. Sometimes he is an unstoppable monster and other times (after Riot has nerfed him into the dust) he could be considered a troll pick. So the question that lingers around this update is whether or not we will finally be getting a champion that can sit comfortably in balance. Here are some things that I learned after playing Ryze for a few games on the PBE.

THE KIT

Passive - Arcane Mastery

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What it does: Ryze’s spells deal additional damage based on his bonus mana, and his maximum mana is increased by a percentage of his ability power

How it works: Basically this passive is just going to affect how we build Ryze, something that we will dive into pretty deeply later. If you are new to Ryze, it is fairly straightforward. Basically Ryze’s Q, W, and E scale off of his AP like most abilities, but they also pull from his bonus mana (bonus as in, mana that you build). So the more mana you have bought, the more damage those three abilities do. Similarly, the more AP that you build, the more mana you get. This passive might as well just be named "Build Tear of the Goddess."

Q - Overload (recommended to level 1st, max 1st. This ability has 6 levels instead of the usual 5)

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What it does: Ryze fires a projectile in a straight line, damaging the first enemy hit. Passively this ability will reset it’s own cooldown every time Ryze casts either his Rune Prison or his Spell Flux. Casting Overload also activates a rune. Casting either Rune Prison or Spell Flux will charge a rune half way. When a rune has been fully charged (Ryze has cast two abilities in a row that were not his Q) and Ryze casts Overload, the rune is discharged and Ryze gains a temporary shield and a temporary boost to his movement speed. If Ryze casts Overload before he has charged a rune all the way, the rune will be reset without giving him a shield or movement speed.

How it works: This ability seems way more complicated than it actually is. This is Ryze’s main damaging ability and it is very important to order it properly with your other abilities, which we will get to in a second. This is just a straightforward skillshot that hits the first enemy it comes in contact with. It moves fairly slowly so it can be pretty easy to miss if you aren’t paying close enough attention. Positioning is key while you are skirmishing or farming, a stray minion could get in between you and your kill.

W - Rune Prison (recommended to level 3rd, max 3rd)

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What it does: Ryze locks an enemy in place, rooting them and dealing a little bit of damage.

How it works: This ability is very simple, as simple as it gets. You press W on an enemy, Ryze will cast Rune Prison, they will be rooted and take a small amount of damage. It has a fairly long cooldown compared to his other abilities, so it is important to think before you cast.

E - Spull Flux (recommended to level 2nd, max 2nd)

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What it does: Ryze casts Spell Flux at a target, dealing a small amount of damage and marking it with Flux. The next spell that Ryze casts on a target marked with Flux will have additional effects set against them. If Overload strikes a target marked by Flux, they will take bonus damage (the percentage of which will scale off of Spell Flux’s level) and Overload will hit nearby enemies that are also marked by Flux. If Rune Prison strikes a target marked by Flux, the duration of the Rune Prison is doubled. If Spell Flux strikes a target already marked by Flux, Flux will spread to all nearby enemies. When an enemy marked by Flux is killed, Flux will spread to all nearby enemies.

How it works: This is my favorite part of new Ryze’s kit because it feels as though it engages the player in a meaningful way. It is also the reason, along with the rune charging thing in the Overload section, that I am adding a combo section to this guide. This ability is targeted, just like Rune Prison, so it is very simple to use. If you are Brand player, you will recognize that this ability is very similar to his E, Conflagration. Basically think of Spell Flux as a primer. You can use your abilities normally and still do just fine, but when you want some extra effects you can prime your target with Flux.

R - Realm Warp (this ability only has 2 levels instead of the usual 3, level it at level 6 and 11)

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What it does: Ryze channels for a short time before teleporting himself and any allied units near him a short distance away.

How it works: I don’t know why Riot is so insistent on giving their mid laners these weird ultimates, but I like it. The important thing to know about this ability is that everything about it is short. The distance you can travel is short (especially at level 6) and the time it takes to charge is short. Essentially it allows Ryze to move his entire team (as long as they are near him) to a different location relatively nearby with almost no downtime. I struggled to use this ability consistently throughout my testing time, and so it still feels a little up in the air. Frankly, I am not entirely sure how I feel about it at this point. At times it seems like the coolest thing ever, being able to reposition your team and even your minions in the middle of a fight, or jumping your team over the wall into a Baron pit. However, other times it can feel a little strange to use and it almost always feels fairly situational. That being said, it is a welcome change to his old attack steroid of an ultimate. This ability actually reminds me a lot of Taliyah because learning how to use Realm Warp feels similar to learning Weaver’s Wall. It isn’t immediately intuitive, and even though I played several games with Ryze on the PBE, I don’t feel comfortable using Realm Warp yet. However, the small taste that I have gotten has lead my imagination to some interesting possibilities, especially in coordinated play.

If you want to see these abilities in action, check out the Ryze champion spotlight.

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THE COMBO

In order to talk effectively about what playing Ryze is like we have to talk about combos. You have several ordered combinations of abilities that you use in different situations. Keep in mind that the first Overload in all of these combos are optional and really only exists to pump out a little extra damage and take advantage of the cooldown reset.

Overload-Spell Flux-Rune Prison-Overload

This is the main combo we are going to use when Ryze has all cooldowns available. This is the most optimal dueling combo that there is, because it will also charge your rune fully in order to supply Ryze with a shield and some movement speed. Not to mention that if you shout HADOUKEN in all chat every time you do it, your enemies will probably just quit.

Overload-Spell Flux-Overload-Rune Prison-Overload-Spell Flux-Overload

This is the machine-gun combo, which we are going to default to when we are more interested in maximizing damage rather than building up a rune. You may not get the added shield or the speed but you will hit like a truck in a very short amount of time. Ryze players will probably spend most of their time machine-gunning due to Rune Prison’s relatively long cooldown time.

Overload, Spell Flux, Spell Flux, Overload

This will spread Flux to nearby enemies before hitting them all with your final Overload AND it will also charge your rune to give you your shield and speed boost. Spell Flux is on a very short cooldown so it allows for mistakes and experimentation while you are still learning.

You may notice here that I never really suggest opening with Rune Prison. Well, because of the cooldown and the relationship that it has with Flux, I see almost no reason not to try and double the duration every single time. Especially considering the fact that Spell Flux is up almost instantly after using it. Rune Prison’s default usage really does not root for very long at all and it does very little damage. Because of this I always tried to order it right after a Flux to get as much bang for my buck as possible.

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THE BUILD

Here we are not going to be going down a path of 6 must build items every game. Ryze is a lot more complicated than that. So instead I think we should talk about the big three items for the Rune Mage: Archangel's Staff/Seraph’s Embrace, Rod of Ages, and Morellonomicon. Once you have figured out which combination of these items that you would like to buy, building Ryze gets much more simple.

Tear of the Goddess Items

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Tear (which builds into Archangel’s which evolves into Seraph's Embrace) is as close as we get to a must buy with Ryze. You cast lots of spells which makes stacking very easy, but most importantly, the passive for Seraph’s Embrace (which increases your ability power by 3% based off on your maximum mana) is very efficient when you are building lots of mana. The max mana build also plays really nicely into Seraph's active shield, and will add quite a bit to your survivability.

Rod of Ages

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Rod is probably the most optional part of the big three, and if you like to play really aggressively I would highly recommend that you skip it. That being said, I love Rod on Ryze, partially because I am concerned about his survivability without it. Not only does it add some tank, but it feeds more into your mana and AP, the two things that we need most. Why is it optional? Well, because there are technically stronger and burstier items to build on Ryze and it delays his power spike. Speaking of power spike...

Morellonomicon

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Morellos gives us everything we could ever want as Ryze. Mana. AP. Even cooldown reduction (which is really great when trying to have Rune Prison up more). It is very cheap, it has an awesome build path, and it will spike your damage faster than anything else will. If you buy Tear and then Morellos you are going to ruin your laners time because you are going to be casting fast and hitting hard, all by about 15 minutes. Morellonomicon is a great item right now, and one that I would probably suggest that you build on most mages, but Ryze is lucky because that mana stat doesn't just aid him with resource management.

When looking at what other items to build, we need to keep in mind that Ryze needs lots and lots of AP, so Rabadon's Deathcap is probably going to be your first stop after the big three and your Sorcerer's shoes. After Deathcap, look into a Void Staff to round out your build. If you decided to skip your Rod of Ages and need another suggestion, look into a Zhonya’s Hourglass or even a Hextech Protobelt-01 if you are having trouble getting to the backline. As always, if you are looking for some Magic Resist, grab a Abyssal Scepter and be on your way. It may also be worth mentioning that while Sorc Shoes are probably your go to, Ionian Boots of Lucidity may be a good alternative, but only if you aren't going to hit the cooldown cap later on in your build.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

With Ryze, the goal is still to solo someone out and take them out of the fight, the only differences now are that you can spread that destruction around a little bit more in teamfights, you are less of a CC machine, and you can move your team into some weird places. As you may have noticed, I haven’t really talked about top or tank Ryze, and that is because they seemed to have knocked his ability to build mana heavy tank items and still dish out damage, which I personally think is healthier for the game. Of course we could see this in the future again (or the day the patch comes out, I have limited testing time and I am only one man), but for now I foresee Ryze finding most of his success mid.

Ryze has always been trouble - hard to subdue when he is strong and hard to carry when he is weak. With this rework we are seeing a champion that is not only more interesting to play, but hopefully easier to balance if things get out of whack. Ryze has been around since the beginning of League, he is literally named after one of the founders of Riot Games’ Summoner Name. Hopefully when he hits the rift in 6.14, we will be able to close the book on Ryze reworks once and for all.

SCIENTIFIC RANKING OF RYZE SKINS

Ryze is an old champion and has acquired many skins over the years, so it is clear that we need a ranking of the skins. Keep in mind that this listing is completely scientific and definitive. If you disagree, you simply just don’t have the data, and I am sorry about that. All inquiries about the scientific process should be sent to LeagueOfScience@HeimerLabs.com.

In order from best to worst:

  1. Dark Crystal Ryze

  2. Pirate Ryze

  3. Uncle Ryze

  4. Zombie Ryze

  5. Tribal Ryze

  6. Classic Ryze

  7. Young Ryze

  8. Professor Ryze

  9. Triumphant Ryze

  10. Whitebeard Ryze

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