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Sylas champion guide: Freeing The Unshackled

The possibilities for Sylas are endless

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Sylas has been freed from his cell and is wreaking havoc on the Rift! I’ve been hard at work studying and experimenting with Sylas, and I plan to teach you everything you need to know in order to succeed as or against “The Unshackled”. While he has high potential of being a jungler, I’ve found a ton of success with him in the mid lane, so i’ll be writing this guide from the perspective of mid lane Sylas.

Let’s take a look at his kit.

Passive - Petricite Burst

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Petricite Burst is your main form of waveclear. You’ll want to make full use of this after every single spell cast. Autoing between spell casts will drastically increase your damage per second over the course of just one spell rotation and could easily be the difference maker in a teamfight. Not only does Petricite Burst deal damage in an AoE, it also deals more damage than normal basic attack would, giving you even more of a reason to utilize it to the fullest.

Q - Chain Lash

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This is your main poke and “filler” spell that you’ll use when everything else is on cooldown. It deals a significant amount of damage especially if you manage to catch the enemy with both the initial hit and the detonation. Chain Lash will allow you to chase down fleeing enemies with its potent slow and relatively low cooldown. It’s also a strong team fighting ability due to the AoE damage it provides and the lingering detonation effect, which can really screw over anyone who doesn’t notice it.

W - Kingslayer

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Kingslayer is an incredible dueling tool. It heals you when you’re low health, and it’s an execute. This makes Sylas extremely powerful in one-on-one situations and makes him very hard to kill. Kingslayer can also be clutch in a teamfight if used correctly and could turn the tides of the fight with one click. When going all in, you’ll generally want to hold Kingslayer until either you are low or the enemy is low, maybe even both. This will allow you to take full advantage of Kingslayer and could easily make you emerge as the victor.

E - Abscond / Abduct

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Abscond / Abduct allows you to have a lot of survivability within a fight while also being able to damage and crowd control your opponent. I typically use Abscond to either dodge important skillshots, such as Morgana’s Dark Binding, or to reposition to try and stay close to my opponent, while using Abduct to catch them if they try to flee. One thing to remember is that Abduct hits any enemy, meaning it will not go through minions. Abduct also allows Sylas to have some interesting pathing through the jungle as he can hop over many walls with it as long as the chains hit a jungle monster.

R - Hijack

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Hijack is an always changing ability. You will only ever be able to get the ultimates that the enemy team have available to them, which in some cases could be extremely overpowered and in others, somewhat useless. That being said, it’s quite impossible to give advice on how you should use Hijack as its all situational and depends on the enemy team comp. There are some crazy combinations of ultimates available within League of Legends to the point where many professional teams will choose certain champions just because of how much synergy their ults have together, (like Galio and Camille). Sylas disrupts this by simply existing and brings a whole new way to think about drafting a team comp.

Hijack has many interesting interactions. You can check out all the more bizarre ones here.

Skill Max Order - Q>E>W

Being your main spam and poke ability, Chain Lash should be maxed first. This will lower the cooldown by a significant amount while also increasing the damage and slow strength. It’s also an AoE ability making it strong for wave clearing, which every viable mid laner needs. After that, you have a choice of maxing either of your other abilities. If in a matchup that will require you to reposition to dodge skillshots (such as against Zoe) or where you’ll need the bigger shield, Abscond/Abduct should be maxed second. This will provide you with more mobility and a good amount of survivability in matchups where you won’t be able to take favorable trades. If you’re in a matchup where you will be brawling a lot, go for Kingslayer. The heal and damage increase with skill rank, which also increases the execute and critical healing values making Kingslayer very useful in these sorts of matchups. In my experience, I’ve preferred maxing Q>E>W as most mid laners I’ve faced have been ranged poke type champions.

Runes

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Electrocute is your go-to keystone. Sylas can easily proc electrocute with his Q>basic attack>W combo, which can easily chunk an opponent’s health bar. Sudden Impact procs from both casts of Abscond/Abduct as well as from Kingslayer, making it an easy choice. I like Eyeball Collection for the additional AP provided when you takedown a ward or champion, but it’s not necessary if you’d prefer something else.

Finish off the domination tree with Ravenous Hunter. Being a melee spellcaster, the healing provided from Ravenous Hunter is invaluable. You’ll always have to be deep in the fight due to being melee, so any sort of sustain you can get will be strong. Ravenous Hunter procs from all of your abilities, including whatever ult you steal, and your passive. Spec into sorcery next and grab Manaflow Band for additional mana sustain in lane. Then I tend to go for either Gathering Storm for some more late game insurance, but Absolute Focus can also be a good substitute.

Build Order

After trying numerous different items and builds, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the most optimal build on Sylas.

Start

  • Doran’s Ring
  • 2 Health Potions

Mid Game Core

  • Luden’s Echo
  • Lich Bane

Late Game Core

  • Void Staff
  • Rabadon’s Deathcap

Situational

  • Zhonya’s Hourglass
  • Banshee’s Veil
  • Hextech Protobelt-01
  • Morellonomicon

Boots

Sorcerer’s Shoes or Mercury Treads

Example Full Build

  • Sorcerer’s Shoes
  • Luden’s Echo
  • Lich Bane
  • Zhonya’s Hourglass
  • Void Staff
  • Rabadon’s Deathcap

There’s definitely merit in purchasing Hextech Protobelt-01 over Luden’s Echo, but Sylas’ mana costs are quite high early game and he struggles for mana. I have a feeling that some players will pick up an extra Doran’s Ring to counteract this and go for a first item Protobelt, but I preferred the CDR and mana given from Luden’s.

An alternative rune and build setup I've found to be effective was Aftershock with Shield bash, Bone Plating and Overgrowth. Go for the Sorcery tree as your secondary and grab Transcendence and Gathering Storm. Rush Rod of Ages in place of Luden’s and continue using the above build from there. This provides you with a ton more tankiness and could end up being the go to build once the meta settles around Sylas.

Combos

While it’s hard to tell you the best combo for every situation, since your ult will be changing almost every fight, here are a few combos you can try out with your three basic abilities.

Teamfight combo

Q, auto, E, auto, E, auto, W, auto, Q, auto

This combo will provide you the overall most DPS that you can put out with these three abilities. You want to be sure to auto between every spellcast to make full use of Petricite Burst. Lead with Chain Lash as if you use it initially, it will be back off cooldown by the time you use your other two abilities, allowing you to cast it again within the same combo.

Making a pick

E, E, auto, Q, auto, W auto

This is a strong combo to use in order to make a pick onto the opponent. This will deal a ton of damage and could outright kill some squishy champions.

Best Ults

Instead of champions that synergise with Sylas, I’ve decided to highlight some of the best ultimates you can steal. I’ve chosen a few ranging between utility, sustain and fighting power.

  • Fiddlesticks
  • Pyke
  • Cho’Gath
  • Neeko
  • Malphite
  • Karthus
  • Swain
  • Lissandra

Worst Ults

Here’s some of the worst ults to steal, so you could almost consider these counters to Sylas.

  • Nidalee
  • Elise
  • Zoe
  • Twitch
  • Kog’Maw
  • Illaoi

Conclusion

Riot have outdone themselves again with the design of Sylas, bringing in another unique and incredibly fun mechanic in the form of ult stealing. If you’re the type of player who likes to beat your opponents down with their own weapons, then give Sylas a try. His gameplay is fresh and unique, changing with every game. The possibilities are endless and change with each new champion or rework that gets added to the game. I know for certain that Sylas will be in my top played champions in season 9.

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