Sion Build Guide by Nihilo Zero
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
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.
Sion is a pretty simple and straightforward champion. He starts off very strong and becomes a nearly indestructible beast in long games. If you need some tankiness he can fill that role by either soloing the in the top lane or jungling. From either slot he can hold his own from the start against other solo champs and can contribute strongly to any ganks with his reliable stun. He can initiate team fights fairly well and his stun and his life-stealing/healing ultimate provides a great contribution to team fights.
Although he can effectively kill enemy champions at any point in the game, he becomes so much stronger with farm that it's a perfectly viable strategy to play cautiously with him in the early game and focus on getting last hits. It's not always in Sion's best interests to push enemy towers or to try for an early win. If he can sit back and farm he will turn into an nearly unstoppable juggernaut and still continue to grow with each passing minute.
I'd like to reiterate that this build is intended to make Sion an off-tank initiator and ganker. While he will hit fairly hard throughout the game, this build is intended more to make him an anti-carry rather than a carry himself. Also, his selection and role as a solo top-laner can be very situational if the enemy team has picked mostly ranged champions. As a jungler he is not the most typical pick but he does actually have a strong skill set for it and can gank very well from the brush. I'll try to clarify and explain this all more thoroughly in the following sections.
Pros / Cons
Cryptic Gaze provides great CC and Frozen Mallet will add even more.
Enrage allows him to follow up after his stun with strong attacks early on.
He's great in team fights and for ganks.
Sion continues getting stronger and tankier even after his build is complete.
With the right items, runes, and masteries he actually moves pretty fast.
He's an unstoppable ghoul that melts faces.
He is melee and can be somewhat countered in-lane by ranged champions.
His mana reserves are usually pretty tight.
He is pretty susceptible to CC without cleanse and/or Mercury's Treads.
His escape mechanisms are basically limited to his stun and flash.
Sion is a very misunderstood ghoul.
Feel No Pain (Passive)
Unlike many passives, Sion's can be really hard to notice. It doesn't make him move faster, stun anyone, or add any health or mana. But it does add a bit to his early game survivability before you get Fratmas. It simply reduces up to 50 points of incoming damage 40% of the time. This is especially useful in the jungle against creeps who don't really hit that hard.
This is a very straightforward and simple 1.5 second stun. Cryptic Gaze is what makes his ganks very potent from the earliest stages of the game and will be his primary initiation tool in team fights. It does a little bit of damage, but we will be leveling it up last with this build since we are not building AP. It also takes a good portion of his mana so it should be used sparingly for harass unless you have the blue buff.
This is a shield which adds some more survivability, especially early game, and is particularly useful in the jungle. If you can activate it again before it is destroyed it will do damage to surrounding units equal to the full amount of the shield. This will help him farm in lane and in the jungle. Like his stun, this ability does scale off of AP, but it is still useful for AD Sion. I usually put my first skill point into this ability.
This skill, along with Cannibalism, is what this build is all about. With this ability activated Sion will get a good boost in attack damage. Perhaps more importantly is the fact that it will add permanent HP to his pool whenever he kills anything. Even without the Frozen Mallet (or another HP source) this provides a good reason to get Atma's Impaler and will make him very beefy by the end of the game. Although it drains a small bit of health when toggled on, Enrage should always be left on and that drain is completely negated by a tiny amount of life-steal (which we will be getting early on with Wriggle's Lantern).
This is one of the primary reasons I wanted to start playing Sion. This ultimate provides one of the best attack steroids in the game. It increases his attack speed dramatically, increases his life-steal even more dramatically, and causes his attacks upon enemies to heal his nearby allies for up to 50% of the damage dealt. This ultimate makes Sion an absolute terror in team fights and can reverse a bad situation for his team instantly. Sion and his team can all be at one health bar before a couple swings of his axe restores them all. If you've ever seen this happen before you know how epic it can be. Cannibalism... it's what's for dinner.
Sion's skills, to a large degree, allow him to build somewhat tanky while still having a reasonable amount of attack damage from enrage and attack speed from his ultimate. And, since he also get's tankier due to Eenrage, it makes sense to pump up that skill for use with Fratmas. Also, since we are focused on his AD skills rather than his AP scaling, after taking an early point in each we will level up Last Caress and his stun (in that order) last.
Usually I put a point in Death's Caress, a point in Enrage, and a Point in Cryptic Gaze.
After that... Cannibalism > Enrage > Death's Caress > Cryptic Gaze.
Since this build will make Sion pretty fast already, I prefer to give him an escape mechanism with Flash rather than Ghost. Obviously you should get Smite if you are going to be in the jungle. If I'm in lane rather than in the jungle... I like to get Cleanse to help deal with his susceptibility to CC.
Exhaust is also viable, but I feel it loses much of it's value after you get the Frozen Mallet. He's so fast with this build, and has so much CC, that he doesn't need to slow his enemies any more. So... I prefer to use summoner spells for defense with Sion. You could take Heal if you wanted to use him as bottom lane support for some reason (not something I'd strongly recommend).
Before I explain the items I get for Sion I'd like to reiterate, once again, that this is a tanky AD build. If you want to build AP items on him... feel free, but I believe his AD skills deserve the most focus and you probably won't get much more out of this guide if you insist that he must be built with AP. Also... I feel that this build can be used both for soloing the top lane and clearing the jungle. This may seem simplistic, and it is a bit unique, but I feel it's perfectly viable for Sion. So, without further ado, let me explain the item build...
Sion is somewhat susceptible to CC, especially with Cleanse on cooldown, and these boots help with that while also providing some MR. Other boots might be viable on him if the enemy team doesn't have much CC. Ninja Tabi are great against AD heavy team comps and Beserker's Greaves can provide a bit more offense if you think you're just going to roll over the opposing team. But I feel that Mercury's Treads are usually the best option for Sion.
This is just a great item for so many champs and Sion is no exception in this regard. Perhaps most importantly is its passive benefit for farming (a 20% chance to do 425 bonus magic damage to minions and monsters). This is a very important item in helping Sion farm his E(nrage). Some people prefer Tiamat for this purpose but Wriggle's Lantern is cheaper (so you can get it sooner) and it provides more rounded utility for Sion. The lifesteal negates the negative effect of Enrage and provides more sustainability as the game proceeds. The armor, the AD, and the free wards are just gravy.
For most champs you might want to get this item a little later to improve upon the damage done by other heavy damage items. But with Sion's damage buff from Enrage... you can get this item early and still dish out a good amount of damage. And, in addition to the AS and increased critical strike chance, this item provides a big movement speed buff. After getting this item, combined with the bonuses from runes and masteries, Sion will have a respectable 407 MS. That's pretty fast for any champion, but it's even more impressive for a tanky bruiser like Sion. It increases the likelihood for successful ganks and makes it very difficult for most champions to escape his axe. Almost all AD Sion guides suggest this item for good reason.
Combined with his Cryptic Gaze, Frozen Mallet gives Sion a good amount of CC. And, because he's so fast with this build, he's gonna be able to get the slow on his enemies and they won't be able to escape. Conversely... with this, and/or his stun, he can usually get away from a fed champ who is bearing down on him. And, of course, this item gives him 700 hp. Combined with the bonuses he's receiving from Enrage, this is the item which really makes Sion very beefy. And then, of course, we'll be getting...
He's already got a lot of HP from the aforementioned Frozen Mallet and Enrage, and this turns those hit points into attack damage while also protecting them with a decent amount of armor (+45). When you get this item Sion will be a great initiator. He'll be fast, tanky, full of CC, and will have a 48% chance to crit.
The Black Cleaver
I choose this item to round out the build because by the time you'll be building it some extra armor penetration (in addition to that provided by runes) will likely be needed. Additionally... the +30% AS & +55 AD will make Sion a champion to truly be feared by the enemy team. One could build more survivability, but this item does add to the effectiveness of his lifesteal and he's already going to have a ton of HP by the time you equip him with this item. The Black Cleaver, simply put, will make his "Chopper" that much more dangerous.
My focus for masteries centers around tankiness and MS. This will help him continue to stay alive and farm while also allowing him to close in on enemies for ganks or team fight initiation. I feel that his unique skills and the items listed above will provide him more than enough firepower without investing any points in the damage tree of masteries.
My key masteries for Sion are Swiftness , Initiator , and Juggernaut .
Greater Mark of Lethality
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
As with the masteries, I generally am getting runes to make Sion faster and tankier. The exception is with the Greater Mark of Desolation runes. These latter runes give him some armor penetration which he won't be getting much more of until his item build is fleshed out with The Black Cleaver. This will help him out in the early game -- whether in lane or in the jungle. Some people prefer to give him some AS or AD runes, but he is getting enough of that early on from his unique skills and from an early Phantom Dancer.
I almost titled this guide "Sion The Farmer." The reason I considered that title is because I love to sit back in a lane and quietly farm his E(nrage). I don't like to push, mind you, because taking down towers actually makes it harder to farm. Rather... I like to last hit all day long and build up my HP pool to absurd proportions. If Sion is allowed to farm without being harassed too much he can have around 4000 hp and a full build by the time anyone on the enemy team is even aware of his existence. At that point... he's basically unstoppable and invaluable in late game team fights.
The technique for farming with Sion is pretty simple. Keep Enrage toggled on always. Use his Death's Caress to weaken or last hit minions before they destroy the shield. Focus on last-hitting near your tower. His passive and his shield allow him to stand alone in the middle of minion waves while still not taking too much damage. The passive from Wriggle's Lantern helps him clear minion waves easily.
The only time you will ever use your ultimate for farming is when you've already activated it, can't immediately reach the enemy champs, and are very low on HP and minions or monsters are the only thing nearby. Cryptic Gaze isn't very effective for farming and uses too much mana for that purpose.
Creeping / Jungling
First of all... I'm going to discuss creeping when Sion is not the jungler. This will usually happen when the enemy in his lane has been killed and he's pushed to the enemy tower. At that point it's a good time to counter-jungle a bit. This can involve simple killing a camp on the enemy side or stealing a buff on that side. If he encounter the enemy jungler he will usually be able to dispatch them with ease and/or flash and run away. The main thing is that you don't want to hinder your own jungler or take the blue buff away from your AP carry. The best way to get the blue buff is by ganking an enemy who has already farmed it. If you find an undefended blue buff camp it's usually best to call over your AP teammates and give it to one of them. Red buff is always nice on Sion but it can usually be given to your AD carry after you have Frozen Mallet.
What about jungling as a jungler? Well... that just makes sense, doesn't it? The most important thing for any jungler is probably Smite. You might have heard about it. It's a summoner spell that you should take as a jungler to last hit the larger monsters in various camps.
Beyond Smite, Sion has a pretty good skill set to jungle with. His aforementioned passive gives him some good survivability in this regard -- as does his shield from Death's Caress (which can also be used to damage monsters in camps). His activated enrage gives him some extra firepower early on to dispatch monsters.
Whether in lane or jungling I suggest starting with Cloth Armor and 5 health potions. Then I like to get Madred's Razors which speed up the jungling process and build into Wriggles Lantern.
In the jungle I like to have a teammate pull blue then work towards wolves, small golems, wraiths, and red buff.
Sion can gank very well at level three when he has a point in Cryptic Gaze, Death's Caress, and Enrage. When you hit level 3 you want to look for any lanes which the enemies have pushed too far and then ping which champ you think you'll be targeting for a gank. then sneak up from the side or behind and stun the enemy with Cryptic Gaze and activate Death's Caress (Enrage should always be activated throughout the game). If everyone on the enemy team is fighting under their towers... let your team know that you can't gank if they keep pushing -- and then keep jungling.
Sometimes you will need to cover a tower when a teammate is dead or healing. Think of it as a good opportunity to farm and don't harass the enemy too much until your teammate returns. But don't stay in their lane too long because you don't want to leach gold or XP.
Additionally... it is your responsibility as the jungler to ward the Dragon and kill it whenever possible. That's no problem after you have Wriggle's Lantern but you still might want to ping it when you attack (for extra security in case you are ganked there).
After initially taking the blue buff at the beginning of the game, you usually want to feed it to your AP carry after that. Sion loves to have the blue buff because he is often mana deprived, but it's usually best to only take it from the enemy jungle (which is my primary point of invasion along with the Red Buff camp).
Sion is capable of defending a solo invasion of his jungle and with proper warding he can usually spot and deal with most invasions himself. But it's always good to ping when you spot an invasion of any sort.
As with my other guide (Teemo: The Team Player), I largely right these guides for potential teammates so they can have a better idea of what I will be bringing to the table in terms of strategy and my role. Also, as with my other guide, I can't stress enough the importance of a a good team composition. Having too many tanks, too much AD, or too much AP can really hinder a team. In premade team this won't be much of a problem because you can discuss your roles beforehand. But in a pub game you have to take a closer look at what your teammates are picking before you pick yet another AD tank. For that matter... you don't want to end up with two junglers :/.
In terms of team composition, as stated, I like to use Sion in the top lane alone or in the jungle. If I'm in the jungle I like the top to be a tanky AP champ. If I'm in the top lane I would likewise then prefer the jungler to be a tanky AP champ. Mid and bottom lane compositions can remain static with the meta -- AP carry mid. Ranged AD carry bottom with support. It's all pretty standard really.
Sion's role, whether in lane or the jungle, is to assist ganks with his Cryptic Gaze and then later to help initiate team fights. He's almost a carry in late games but his role is more as anti-carry rather than as a carry himself. However, either way, it's important for Sion to farm his E(nrage) and longer games work to his advantage. I generally prioritize farming, ganking, and taking the Dragon (and buffs) over knocking down towers in the early game. Longer and more defensive games are clear path to victory with Sion. Most pub games have players who like to constantly charge and push but in a premade team it's possible to employ a more patient strategy to increase the likelihood of winning.
I may spruce up this wall of text later but, as stated above, I've largely written this for the benefit of potential teammates. I am not a pro player and their may be more optimal builds for other people, but this build has been working for me and reveals how I believe Sion can be be optimally played. Constructive comments and upvotes are welcome. You might also enjoy reading my Teemo guide and giving it some love as well.