Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Threats to Azir with this build
|Ahri||Many say this is a hard matchup for Azir, but I have yet to see it. Yes, she has a lot of mobility and that God-awful Charm, but you can absolutely keep up with her sustain with this itemization, and can pretty easily poke her out of lane. It's not really smart to try to all-in her if she has her ult and E available, but if you know she doesn't have recourse to those things, dealing with her isn't difficult. She, along with all the other assassins, is a good reason to go with Exhaust.|
Hello, and welcome! I'm a faithful Azir main, since day one of his release, and have about 350K mastery points with this guy. I must confess outright that I'm not a huge ranked player, but I have a ton of experience with Azir and have a good winrate with him. I've tried pretty much everything, and have researched my behind off pretty rigorously for over a year now. So hopefully something I say will be of use to you!
Azir is a bit tricky to learn, especially if you aren't used to playing ADC. If you aren't, I highly recommend doing some studying up on the ADC role, particularly in regards to teamfighting and positioning. I'll try to talk a little about that in the guide, however. Personally, I think Azir, while difficult to get a good grasp of, is worth learning. It will push you to grow as a player, and force you to learn more about your role playing Azir. My philosophy on Azir is that he is best played as a defensive control mage, focusing on sieging and applying hard lane pressure when needed. Getting him to a point where he can actually do that though can be tough. He has been basically the punchline of a year-long bad joke from Riot (sent to us gamers with love, I'm sure), as he is sometimes devastatingly buggy (despite many bug "fixes"), and has been nerfed hard several times. Riot has done everything to ensure that your early game is generally as difficult as possible, so that you're forced to play for midgame and beyond.
Azir also doesn't have it easy in this meta, so we use a build based on early Rod of Ages and play accordingly. Many people are skeptical of this item because they argue that it hinders Azir's scaling, but I would suggest the contrary. More on this below.
Trust me, when it's right, it's right, and it's totally worth getting to Azir's powerspikes. He can absolutely carry in teamfights by reaching the backline with ease, and by providing crazy amounts of peel/displacement with his ult.
Let's get started!
These are the standard runes, have been for awhile, and are likely to remain the standard in the future, unless major changes to Azir occur (highly unlikely).
The CDR/level blues trump any other options outright strictly because they free up your build path and allow you to not at all worry about accumulating CDR. It also helps with your scaling while building RoA, and this is probably the most important reason for using them. More on this later.
CDR is still way too important on Azir to not build it, and the 20% you'd get with just Nashor's frankly isn't enough, unless you're a master of sand soldier positioning, and can nail/time your Q's perfectly every time. If you're like me though, and are definitely NOT Faker, I suggest just sticking to the CDR/lvl runes :).
Scaling AP is the popular alternative over in Korea and China, now that CDR is not a mandatory stat on Azir (given that it no longer affects his Attack Speed). A couple of people are trying scaling AP blues with Ionian Boots or something. I've tried it, it isn't the worst thing I've ever tried, but it certainly isn't the most effective either.
The new masteries honestly aren't ideal for Azir. Not one of them really fits him perfectly, however, I think Thunderlord's is the overall best option. It gives you a necessary boost to your trading/harass in the early game, and while it may not be the best for teamfights, it still certainly has its worth in those situations as well. With the Rod of Ages we pick up first there's no real need for Meditation, and the base 5% CDR of Intelligence comes in handy while you try to build said RoA.
Deathfire Touch is really the keystone that Azir SHOULD be able to use, being a sustained damage mage, but Rito, in their infinite wisdom, has made it so that Azir, who has no single-target abilities, doesn't benefit much from its effect. You will do more damage per auto, it's true, but you will find that in most situations it isn't relevant damage. It doesn't really help you accomplish anything in lane, and isn't a significant enough boost to your damage to justify taking it into late game teamfights.
Fervor of Battle is an interesting alternative. Sort of confusing information about this mastery currently in regards to Azir. Word on the street is that it works, but isn't supposed to - or something like that. Either way, I wouldn't rely on it. I've tried it a bit, it's decent, definitely gives you some interesting scaling damage, but just not good enough early when you're weakest.
You can also substitute Oppressor for Bounty Hunter if you know you're DEFINITELY going to build a Rylai's. I don't always build it myself, so the generic boost in damage can be more useful.
The days of building Nashor's Tooth first are over, my friends. I'm going to tell it to you straight - Nashor's first is solid, but it isn't the best for Season 6. Rod of Ages, since being buffed, is now, hands down, the most effective first item overall for Azir.
Let me explain:
Azir has several problems that make him naturally unviable in this meta (at least as a glass cannon). Firstly, he lacks sustain. He has a low health/mana pool, and little in the way of regen. This hinders his mobility pretty significantly early game, as one W-E-Q combo will deplete your resources. This is a consistent problem through the rest of the game, now that there are so many options and ways for people to get to you. CC is actually the worst, assassins are basically evil, and even with a Zhonya's and a Rylai's you just aren't tanky enough to survive most ordeals. No matter how good your positioning, you will find yourself dying just because of general BS, not necessarily because you're playing poorly.
This is why we build RoA and base our entire build around it. It helps us survive and scale into mid/late game. Building Catalyst does reduce your power output early, but then again your damage early is terrible anyway, and all you really want to do in order to deal damage is use your Thunderlord's proc. RoA will make you MUCH harder to kill at all stages of the game, and gives you time to use your defensive abilities and retaliate if you get caught out or dove. It allows you to FARM safely too, literally the most important thing with Azir (bad farm = bad game, trust). With it you can spam spells, stay in lane forever, and siege the heck out of any lane.
Buying RoA, therefore, is both an incredible defensive AND offensive tool for Azir, as it fills the gaps in his stats, supplying him with sustain, safety, scaling, and siege potential. (The four S's, apparently.)
From here, we build Nashor's Tooth to finish our CDR and get a nice boost to our AP and AS. You can sit on the Stinger component of this for awhile and work on something else if you want, but I personally like to finish it ASAP, as the boost in damage output is definitely noticeable and welcome.
After that, you have a choice: you can either build Rylai's, Zhonya's, or Deathcap. Most matchups you'll want to get the Rylai's, as you'll be tanky as all hell, and will be able to get picks like nobody's business. Zhonya's is certainly the alternative defensive option if the enemy has an assassin or two that keep getting to you. Deathcap is the most aggressive. Only buy it at this point if you're doing really well and anticipate a victory. Otherwise, build it later. Rabadon's is still the item par excellence for carrying, if that's what you need to do for your team. Your damage truly skyrockets with it, and some games you will find its boost absolutely necessary for killing essential targets. Other games you can just forego it and get something with more utility.
I would say about 99.9% of the time leave a slot for Void Staff. Deathcap (though a huge power spike for him) is not a mandatory item (in my opinion), but Void Staff is always worth getting so that you can deal with tanks. As sustained dmg mage tanks are some of your main, primary targets, so you want to be able to do relevant damage to them.
Luden's Echo is a solid item on Azir too. It's a decent alternative to Rylai's if you want more burst to your poke and whatnot. The MS is also a Godsend sometimes, and can occasionally be more effective than the slow from Rylai's. It all depends on matchup. Rylai's AND Luden's is a little overkill, I find, when you could invest that money into a Deathcap or Void Staff, but if you think it would help you survive more, go for it. Survival is key for this guy at all times. Living longer means more damage, and let me tell you, you can definitely still do damage with Azir. All depends on your farm and playing conservatively until you have RoA.
Only buy Abyssal if you're against an AP assassin that can still somehow burst you despite your RoA. Frankly, I think it's more of a necessary item if you're a Nashor's-Rylai's-first kind of player. Otherwise, your RoA should save your butt quite a lot against even the likes of Leblanc and Fizz. The same logic applies for Zhonya's. While it's a great item against Zed and Talon, sometimes you can survive their burst just with your RoA and timing your E/Exhaust/R properly. If your opponent is remotely competent, however, Zhonya's is a great item overall - even if you're not against a Zed or something. Zhonya's gives Azir a lot of safety net and cushion, and makes the game far more forgiving of mistakes. If you're still learning Azir, or are looking to play aggressively with a lot of insec attempts, then consider taking this item after RoA and Nashor's and before Rylai's/Deathcap.
Q is still your early game priority, but it isn't your midgame priority. After putting three points into Q I like to start adding more points to W until I have three points in that too. Then I like to go back and finish up Q, and then obviously finish up the ult and E as able. You can conceivably only put one extra point into W and then continue with Q, especially if your opponent is more mobile than you. I find the AS boost more effective in the interim between lvls 6 and 11, especially since we don't go Nashor's first. This also helps us build our RoA more easily than otherwise. Saves you that awful feeling of Azir being too clunky to use because RoA provides no AS.
I do not recommend upgrading W before Q as some people have started doing, as the cooldown of your Q is awfully high at lvl 1. It's far more tolerable with some points in it, but at the same time, harassing endlessly with Q isn't what you want to do with Azir either - at least not until you build a Catalyst and have some sustain, and even then Q-spamming is never wise.
For this meta I prefer Exhaust over Barrier, even though Barrier is still completely viable for Azir. Exhaust scales better, in my opinion. In late game the shield Barrier provides you with is negligible. Exhaust, on the other hand, is useful from lvl 1 for the rest of the game, and only gets better with time as you build items. Exhaust can flat out castrate the jerk assassin who thinks that just because you recently ulted they can get a free kill on you. Exhaust helps you deal with these threats, as well as cut through and slow tanks, negate some of the burst from the new ADC's, and secure kills - something Azir otherwise has difficulty doing.
Do not even consider taking Ignite. It scales horribly, and provides you with no safety net. Again, unless you're Faker, I wouldn't recommend this spell under any circumstances. Azir already has damage, what he requires is safety and utility. Ignite gives you none of that.
Heal is another viable option, possibly better than Barrier currently, but I haven't tested it enough to really be sure, especially since I've been completely enamored with Exhaust. It's just too effective not to take up if you can.
Cleanse is another strong pick if you know the enemy has dangerous CC that you'll need to avoid. Take this against Annie, TF, LB (perhaps), Brand, Lux, etc.
Whatever you do, always take Flash :)
You want to play conservatively and safely until you have RoA. That means concentrating primarily on farming, and trying to zone your opponent from their CS. This does not necessarily mean playing aggressively at first. Always be aware of minion wave position in relation to the vision you actually have. Respect the enemy jungler at all times, and try not to push too much unless you have a good idea where they are.
You can let your opponent get close-ish and then set up a soldier to both farm and harass them. If you get an auto off and Thunderlord's is up, go ahead and Q-auto them to proc it whenever possible. Always be aware of your mana pool in relation to how expensive your spells are. The best way to do this is to use W more than Q. You should use Q sparingly until you have an advantage of some kind, as well as the mana to do it. Keep in mind that many champions will try to all-in you if you miss a Q, so know that when it's on cooldown while in lane you are technically in danger.
At this point in the game you can look to get involved in jungle skirmishes near midlane if you have the resources to do so. Obviously don't go in if you're low, or know the chances of your survival are limited for whatever reason. It isn't worth dying early for, whatever the prize may be, especially if your opponent is one that snowballs hard (like Leblanc).
Once you get at least Catalyst you can play a bit more aggressively. Continue to be conscientious about warding your bushes and the river, and be aware of opportunities to roam. Azir is not the strongest roaming champion, but that doesn't mean he can't do it at all. If you see an opportunity and your lane is pushing your opponent into their tower, or your opponent has based, go for it. Even with just a Catalyst you might be able to help turn a fight around with either a well-timed Q or your ultimate/combo. Experience is the best teacher for this.
Once you finally complete RoA (should be around 12-15 minutes, any later and you start to find yourself in hot water), start pressuring your opponent fairly relentlessly. At this point you should have an upper hand against them by taking advantage of your range, sustain, and mobility (E). If you know you can duel them, let them push and then combo them into your turret after harassing them. Otherwise, just shove them in and apply pressure. Either one is a form of pressure. The beauty of Azir is that, being a control mage, he can masterfully manipulate waves to situate themselves wherever he wants, generally speaking. Azir can effectively manipulate the map without even doing anything other than applying a particular kind of pressure. This is definitely a skill you'll want to master if you want to play him effectively and be able to mess with your opponent psychologically.
Throughout the game your priority is farming and getting items that you need, but through the midgame and late game you want to constantly look for opportunities to group with your team and claim objectives. This is where Azir shines brightest. Help your teammates as much as you can at this point and don't be afraid to use your ultimate to peel for them, especially if you're helping them escape a jungle skirmish.
You can dish out a ton of damage from safety, and you are largely free to dictate how any teamfight goes, provided you do not get CC'd and/or bursted from the get-go. Always play from the back line and use your teammates and terrain to create distance between yourself and the enemy. Don't let anything get to close to you; ult away any threats that could kill you. You'll come to figure out what can kill you, and what can just be a pain. Learn to ult away only the things that are life-threatening. Always position your soldiers where you think the battle is going to situate itself. Use them to protect team mates by dropping them defensively on top of them. Use them similarly to kite the enemy by creating no-fly zones behind you. Most players will avoid your soldiers if they can, especially around this point in the game, so use this to your advantage.
A bit on the Shurima Shuffle combo. Yes, it's awesome when you get it right. Unfortunately, getting it right is REALLY EFFING HARD, even with the QoL changes to E and Q's interaction. It isn't just about executing it correctly, which can be hard enough with all Azir's bugginess and the fact that anyone can just dash/flash out of your insec nowadays (thanks, Rito), but also about timing it right. Only use it if you have vision and the resources to kill whatever you insec. If you don't kill them it is highly likely they will just walk around your wall and dumpster you. You can use it to displace someone without killing them if you have the rest of your team there for backup, as well as either Flash or Zhonya's (preferably both).
Late game is much the same. Teamfights and objectives. Focus turrets with your W, and use your passive to siege lanes as needed, or use it to push a lane as a distraction while you and your team take either Baron or Dragon, or a turret in another lane. The goal late game is to not die. If you go, very often your team will lose any teamfight they find themselves in while you're dead, unless they're fed or something. Proceed with extreme caution, unless you or your team have a substantial enough lead to warrant some more risky play.
If you get behind, hunker down and farm as best you can until you get your core. It may be worthwhile considering an earlier Rylai's after buying just Stinger, so that you can get picks sooner rather than later to hopefully get back in the game. Don't try to make plays or be reckless at this point. Azir CAN come back from being behind, but it can be a challenge. Be opportunistic and careful. Farm.
Overall, Azir is not half as flashy and aggressive as he used to be. His most successful playstyle is a conservative and strategic one, where the player must be selective in how they expend their time and resources, while also constantly being attentive to the map and vision, and both cautious/effective in teamfights. Above all things, practice makes perfect.
Thanks so much for reading my guide! I hope it helped a little; best of luck!