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Irelia guide: learning a new dance

Blade dancing through life.

Irelia has been infamous since she released. But while many cried to “better nerf Irelia” based on her extremely rare balance changes, others felt like she would rarely show up in games. Because of her feast or famine nature, Irelia has spent most of her time sitting on the sidelines, never really finding her way into the “most played champions” listing.

Well, her rework aims to change some of that. Let’s take a look at the brand new Irelia: The Blade Dancer.

The Kit

Passive - Ionian Fervor

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Riot’s Tooltip:

Surrender@20

What it does:

Every time Irelia damages a champion with an ability, she gains a stack of her passive. Her basic attacks do additional bonus magic damage (scaling with her AD) per stack and each stack only lasts six seconds unless refreshed. If Irelia reaches four stacks, she becomes capped and cannot gain anymore. However, she also gains 20 percent attack speed and does three times extra damage to shielded opponents.

When you first play new Irelia, you may struggle to find a use for this passive. Her base cooldowns are long, which can leave you wondering how the hell you’re ever supposed to proc all four stacks. This is where the blade dancing aspect comes in. Irelia is a melee champ that’s all about being sticky.

You don’t want to just slam all your abilities at once like Yorick. Instead, you want to pace your abilities by flowing autos in between them, almost like you would with Lucian. By doing this, you’ll gain the max bonus of each stack while also allowing your other abilities to cooldown in the process.

Q - Bladesurge

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Riot’s Tooltip:

Surrender@20

What it does:

Irelia dashes to a target and deals damage to them. This attack also applies on hit and causes Irelia to heal herself. The cooldown of Bladesurge is instantly reset if Irelia kills her target with her dash or if the target was marked (which we’ll get to in a second).

This ability is almost identical to how it is on the current live servers. Essentially, you want to use this ability to dash into a fight or stick on a target that’s heading away from you. If the target is marked, then you can dash in and still have your dash for their escape. It’s crucial not to simply spam this ability, otherwise you risk spending any resets you get and wasting potential chase. Be patient and look for opportunities to reset Bladesurge.

W - Defiant Dance

Riot Games

Riot’s Tooltip:

Surrender@20

What it does:

Irelia creates somewhat of a shield around herself on the first cast, instantly gaining a Ionian Fervor stack. The shield blocks 45 percent of incoming damage while it is being charged. However, she is unable to do anything. When she releases the ability, her blades will fly forward and deal scaling damage based on how long she charged.

This ability is a pretty interesting addition to her kit. Irelia has always been the kind of champion that is sticky and stays by your side as you run from her. This ability forces you to trade your mobility fo damage and defense.

When looking for opportunities to use Defiant Dance, you want to be sure that you are either mid-duel or are ahead of a champion you’re chasing/within dash range. What you don’t want is to charge up, hit your W, and then lose the kill to being out of range.

While Irelia is a powerful duelist, she also excels in group fights. Use this ability to deal major damage in a line, hitting multiple champs (and gaining stacks for each) at once. Because you are guaranteed two stacks if you only hit one champion, it’s also a great way to start a fight that your opponent can’t necessarily run away from.

E - Flawless Duet

Riot Games

Riot’s Tooltip:

Surrender@20

What it does:

Irelia throws two blades to two locations on the ground. Once they both land, they fly toward each other, dealing damage, stunning, and marking any champions or large monsters hit.

This is Irelia’s new stun and it takes quite a bit of work to pull off. However, it’s also a ranged ability, allowing for a lot of flexibility. This is your opener. Throw two blades, stun your target, dash in to consume the mark, Defiant Dance, and dash again to chase the target. You wanna get some autos in there too, but that’s the overall casting situation.

Flawless Duet is about catching your enemies at weird angles. Once your opponents have learned the cast range, it’s something they’ll be able to prep for. So move a blade to the side or behind you and then dash up to a dying minion to place the second blade perfectly behind your target. Then you can simply start with an auto and your W and still have two dashes to chase.

R - Vanguard’s Edge

Riot Games

Riot’s Tooltip:

Surrender@20

What it does:

Irelia throws an arena of blades onto the field, dealing magic damage to and marking anyone in the area. The arena remains for 2.5 seconds and traps players. Anyone brave (or foolish) enough to walk through the wall will take massive damage, be slowed, and be unable to basic attack for two seconds.

This is an interesting ability, especially for a champion that wants to stay close to her enemies like Irelia. You want to use this Fiora-style, meaning that this is your big finishing move. Once you’ve chased down your prey and are ready to get the kill, drop the arena and finish them off. They either have to face you or damage themselves by running through your wall.

The other big use here is team fights. In a group setting, this becomes a more mobile version or The Box or a more useful version of Cataclysm. Because you’re able to simply drop it away from you, you can create a perfect situation to group your enemies for that Orianna ball or Malphite wombo-combo.

Like with The Box, you create an impossible decision for your enemies trapped inside. Keeping them on their toes and forcing bad decisions is how you win the Irelia mind game.

The Runes

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Keystone: Conqueror

Conqueror should be an obvious pick up for Irelia. You aren’t really going to just blow someone up unless you’re so far ahead that nothing matters. So instead, you’re gonna rely on being sticky. Because you’ll be in longer fights, you can also refresh the rune and keep it up for a long time.

Triumph

Triumph is just stupidly powerful right and makes sense for the kind of champion that wants to fight multiple foes in a row.

Legend: Bloodline

Bloodline is great here for Irelia, but Alacrity isn’t bad either. However, Bloodline allows you to keep going as you fight, becoming obnoxiously tanky as you roll into the enemy squad.

Coup De Grace

Why wouldn’t you take this rune? The only thing Irelia’s kit isn’t great at is finishing kills. Knowing that, we take Coup De Grace.

Secondary tree: Domination

Domination allows us to take Sudden Impact, which is a obvious choice on Irelia.

Sudden Impact

Irelia is maybe the dash-iest champion in the game, so Sudden Impact will see a lot of use over a single match.

Ravenous Hunter

Similar to Bloodlines, Ravenous Hunter allows us to roll into a fight and shrug off the damage that we end up taking.

Riot Games

The Build

Lane Start:

  • Corrupting Potion

Boots:

  • Mercury’s Treads

Build:

  • Trinity Force
  • Titanic Hydra
  • Sterak’s Gage
  • Randuin’s Omen
  • Guardian Angel

Conclusion

This Irelia rework keeps her as she was while also allowing you to play her like you always felt like you should. New Irelia thrives against groups and is unrivaled when it comes to sticking to enemies. But she also now rewards skillful setup, allowing you to really easily dash over and over again in a fight, especially as you get used to your damage.

Ultimately, Irelia is leaving this update much improved and more complicated. Her old kit felt like the first real step into the modern era of League of Legends, high mobility and macro. But this new version keeps that spirit while reintroducing her into a world that she helped build.

Whether you love Irelia or hate Irelia will depend on what team you’re on. Just beware that the infamous Tri-Force user has a whole new set of blades up her sleeve now.