Sion Build Guide by totalimmortal
This build has been archived and is for historical display only.
PLEASE NOTE: This build has been archived by the author. They are no longer supporting nor updating this build and it may have become outdated. As such, voting and commenting have been disabled and it no longer appears in regular search results.
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.
Late Game Items
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.
Pros and Cons
+ High AP ratios on Q and W
+ Counters virtually all harass with Death's Caress
+ Has total lane control early game
+ Becomes pretty tanky thanks to Enrage
+ Easy farming once some AP is built
+ Is forgiving of minor mistakes
- Runs out of mana in a flash early on
- Extremely item dependent
- Enrage and Cannibalism don't do much for an AP build
- Really repetitive play style that gets pretty boring after a while
- Banshee's Veil makes me cry.
- Has what must be the worst model in the game.
Why AP Sion?
While I understand the appeal of AD Sion, I've always felt that AP Sion is more viable in nearly all situations. Here's why:
- Huge burst damage, Q and W have 0.9 AP ratios, meaning 90% of Sion's AP is added as damage to the ability.
- Ignite and Exhaust don't foil his plot to rule the world.
- Doesn't rely on his ultimate to stay alive in a team fight.
- His shield actually does something rather than breaking in half a second.
- Won't die if kited.
Now, I'm not saying AD Sion is BAD, AP Sion is just better in most cases.
To me, masteries are all about personal preference. Whether you want more damage or more armor/MR/health is up to you. What I have in this guide is what I usually use when I play AP Sion, so obviously I'd recommend it.
A 21/0/9 page is, in my opinion, still the best for AP Sion.
(more on this coming Soon™)
As with masteries, runes are mostly about preference. The rune page below is what I've had the most success with, but you might prefer more magic penetration or AP.
- Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: More movement speed is great for AP Sion because of his short range. It's a lot harder to avoid a Q+W combo when Sion comes running out of the jungle with ~450 movement speed (assuming you have Boots of Mobility)
- Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: Pretty standard for any AP build. Magic penetration means more of your magic damage is getting through their magic resist, which is good no matter how you look at it.
- Greater Seal of Ability Power: Flat AP to help you out at level 1-4. You can replace with scaling AP seals if you want, I prefer the early damage. I acknowledge that these aren't the most optimal seals to take, but I feel they're fairly useful.
- Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power: After level 7 these are worth more than flat AP glyphs. At level 18, you're gaining about 27 AP from these runes alone. Definitely worth the wait.
There are other options that you can pick and choose from for your Sion rune page, of course. I'll list some of those and share my thoughts on why they're good, but also why they aren't on my default page.
- Greater Quintessence of Ability Power: These will boost your early game pretty hard, and are very worth taking if you are going to forcefully impose your manhood upon your lane opponent. These don't make my default page because they put so much focus on the early game, and don't help you out too much if you fall behind. Movement speed quints are much more useful as the game plays out. That said, flat AP quints are worth their slots if you get a couple early kills with them.
- Greater Quintessence of Scaling Ability Power: Mostly the same reasoning as the above, except it comes closer to trumping the "movespeed scales better" argument. These obviously scale well into the late game, but it nullifies a bit of your ambush potential when you get Boots of Mobility. Yes, you will hit harder, but it will be more difficult for you to land those hits. I don't usually take these because movement speed is just so valuable all throughout the game.
- Greater Seal of Armor: The infamously most effective seals in the game. Not a lot to say here, pretty much everyone knows why these are so good. For Sion in particular, choosing these runes over AP pretty much just makes your lane phase safer in exchange for some of your early threat potential. Even if you're not up against an AD champion, you can tank a few more minion/tower hits or auto attacks than you would've otherwise. Out of all of the alternative rune choices, these runes come closest to being on the default page.
- Greater Seal of Scaling Health: If you are going to be an off-tank for your team, these will help you fill that role as the game unfolds. I don't have these on the default page because I typically don't play like an off-tank.
- Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power: Since AP seals are suboptimal, it makes sense if you want to choose the scaling variety. You can run these if you're willing to play passively for a bit while you get stronk. I chose the flat AP seals for the default page over these simply because I decided to take the scaling AP glyphs, and wanted the seals to help tide over the first few levels.
- Greater Glyph of Ability Power: Read the above. These flat AP glyphs give you a stronger early game, but don't transition as well into the late game as the scaling alternative (obviously). If you are confident in your snowball potential, these are worth taking. I prefer the scaling glyphs over these because they are the safer choice if you fall a bit behind. You could, however, take scaling seals and flat glyphs if you felt confident.
- Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration: I personally have never used these marks, but I've had enough people tell me that they help with last hitting and making the most of your bonus AD from Sion's E that I felt they were worth mentioning. I don't use these because I enjoy having as much magic penetration as possible.
- Greater Mark of Critical Chance: Take only ONE of these for the 1% crit RNG. This is actually on the default page, but I left it out of the official build because I didn't want some of the more inexperienced players to misinterpret why I use it. If you win even one skirmish because of a crit from this rune, it's worth it. You always take this as a tribute to the based RNG gods.
Flash is a must. Great for escaping, ganking, and gap closing. Watch your enemies' reactions when you appear from the other side of a wall, stun them, and blow up your shield in their face.
Ignite can secure a kill, especially when you're going for first blood. Reducing healing effects is a nice bonus too, as well as the extra AD and AP while it's on cooldown.
Teleport Lets you get around the map pretty quick, and maximizes your farming time. Generally less useful than Ignite, since Boots of Mobility with the Avarice enchantment make you fast enough for most situations. If you do take this spell, make sure your teammates set wards so you can gank easily when needed.
Exhaust is a good summoner spell, reducing the target's movement speed, damage, and armor/magic resist since you have Summoner's Wrath . It also makes ganking a bit easier, since you can stun then exhaust if needed. Still, I feel that Ignite is a better choice overall.
Ghost makes sense if you don't want to buy Boots of Mobility, but I'd rather have Ignite or Teleport.
- Feel No Pain: People tend to overlook this passive. It has a chance to reduce damage taken, and is definitely more useful early game than late game.
- Cryptic Gaze (Q): This is one of AP Sion's two main abilities. It both nukes and stuns, with a 0.9 AP ratio! Avoid using it too much early game, as it takes more mana than Death's Caress up until rank 4. Mid-late game you can use it to initiate if your positioning is right and then use it again to finish them off.
- Death's Caress (W): This is AP Sion's most important ability. It does as much damage as the stun, with the same AP ratio, but also absorbs that much damage until it detonates. Early game it is best used when you're about to be harassed, so you can take the hit then blow up in your enemy's face. Mid game you can use it for easy farming, since you'll be able to take out entire waves of minions in one blow. Mid-late game you'll have the mana pool to raise your shield, then stun, pop shield, and repeat 3 or 4 times.
Something to keep in mind is that you need to STAY BACK until you're ready to detonate. Honestly, if you're just rushing in and giving your enemy 4 seconds to break the shield, you need to rethink how you're playing this game. To clarify: Press W -> Wait 2-4 seconds -> engage. Its that simple.
- Enrage (E): This gives you some AD, and increases Sion's HP a tiny bit after each unit kill. The attack damage bonus is mostly wasted on AP Sion, but the health gained over time adds up nicely. I take it at level 4, then leave it on the rest of the game.
- Cannibalism (R): This doesn't do much for you, since you aren't building AD. You can use it to get blue buff easier, to push, heal up, and to do at least a bit more damage in fights while Q and W are on cooldown. I usually don't take this until level 12 because the points in Q/W are more effective for my style of play. However, you can put a point in it earlier if you need the sustain or like to have it available.
AP Sion's priority is Death's Caress, followed by Cryptic Gaze, since they are the abilities that utilize ability power. Starting with Death's Caress gives you super anti-harass powers, and a fair amount of damage as well. It is the obvious choice to max first, as it allows you to stay in lane longer, without the need to recall for health. Cryptic Gaze comes next, providing yet another nuke as well as a stun. I take Enrage at level 4, but don't touch it again until level 13 because it is far less useful than Sion's other abilities. I don't bother with Cannibalism until level 12. The extra points in Cryptic Gaze at level 6 and 11 can be the difference between a kill and a death.
This is the simplest explanation I've seen for AP Sion's abilities:
(flowchart taken from this thread)
Doran's Ring + 2 Mana Potions is the best way to start with AP Sion, but a Sapphire Crystal and some pots work out as well. I rarely start with Boots of Speed anymore because Sion benefits more from the AP and mana regen than from early mobility.
- - Sion is at his best when he can appear out of nowhere and nuke. These boots do a great job at this.
- - I build these when I'm up against a lane with a lot of CC and/or burst, like Veigar.
- - Magic penetration is never a bad thing, especially if your lane opponent is building MR against you. These boots are a cheap source of Magic pen. that won't take up another item slot.
- - With movement speed, mana, a fair amount of ability power, and an extra nuke from the passive, this item makes Sion even scarier. As of a couple patches ago, it deals 75% of total AP as MAGIC damage instead of the former 100% total AP as physical damage. This means it no longer synergizes with Cannibalism, which makes me sad. However, the damage benefits from magic penetration and spell vamp now, and Thornmail won't make you regret attacking. So at least there's that.
- - It's just pure AP that makes your other items worth more AP. You hit so much harder WITH this item than WITHOUT it.
- - It has 120 AP and 1% CDR, and an active ability that helps out a lot whether you're fighting tanks or looking to wipe a squishy off the face of the rift. The active now works very well with Lich Bane's passive
- - Even MORE AP as well as magic penetration, which means more of the damage you're doing will get through to the target. Usually I'll either pick up this or Abyssal Scepter.
- - If the enemy team isn't building a lot of magic resist or has a lot of AP (or both), this item is very efficient. Usually I'll either pick this up or Void Staff.
- - The active isn't as useful on Sion as it is on other champions (like Karthus), but the armor and 120 AP are great. Tip: if you need a couple seconds for your shield to come off of cooldown, this will save you.
- - If your team has enough magic damage to make this viable, it's a decent item to pick up. With the change to Lich Bane's passive, you can get back a good deal of health from a single combo.
- - Now that it has been changed to give more AP instead of armor, I feel that Banner of Command is much more viable in general than it was in Season 3. There are a few situations that I think it's beneficial to build it in.
- - I was very much opposed to this item for a while, as I'm somewhat of an AP purist with Sion. However, due to the amount of AD gained from Enrage, this item makes it much easier to push towers with an AP build. It also benefits Cannibalism. If your team has a lot of AD already I wouldn't buy this item, but if your team is having trouble with turrets I'd consider picking it up. The new passive that it stole from Malady (R.I.P.) is somewhat helpful, I wouldn't say that it's a huge boost in damage.
- - Sometimes you need an extra edge to take down an enemy. Especially a fast enemy like Evelynn. This item is cheap and gets the job done. Not to mention it builds out of Kage's Lucky Pick, which can ease the pain on a ruined early game.
- - It's an OP item that really isn't a necessity, but allows you to make game-changing ballsy plays if you know what you're doing.
This section is ridiculously and unrelentingly redundant, but it could be useful for newer players. I've decided not to include Flash in any of these, since it is used mostly for positioning.
(raise shield) -> -> (detonate)
This is Sion's base combo, as it is the only one he can perform without items or summoner spells. The rest of his combos work around this one.
(raise shield) -> -> (detonate) ->
Most of your early-mid game kills come from this. Really, you should just keep in mind that you can end any combo with Ignite.
(raise shield) -> -> -> (detonate)
If you take Teleport, this is a great combo. [Death's Caress size=40] cooks during the Teleport cast! Make sure your team sets wards for convenient ganks.
(raise shield) -> -> (detonate) ->
Following up the detonation with Lich Bane's active adds a third nuke to the combo. You'll destroy squishies like Ashe in two seconds flat.
(raise shield) -> -> -> (detonate)
Opening with Deathfire Grasp's active ability deals some damage on its own, but then amplifies the huge nukes that follow. Unless your target is tanky, he's gone. If not, [Ignite].
This combo is your best friend when taking out AD carries in team fights.
Obviously you can combine pretty much all of these combos... For example:
(raise shield) -> -> -> (detonate) ->
I want to point out how strong this combo is with the changes to Deathfire Grasp and Lich Bane. Lich Bane now deals magic damage instead of physical damage. The new Deathfire Grasp amplifies magic damage. If you can get your full combo off in the 4 seconds that Deathfire Grasp's active is applied, most targets will either die or be in no position to fight you.
(raise shield) -> -> -> -> (detonate)
You should get the idea by now.
The Laning Phase
In an ideal lane you should be up against a champion that cannot easily use hard CC or burst to stop you from using Death's Caress. Ryze is an example of this kind of champion.
Early game you'll want to refrain from pushing, which can be tricky if you use Death's Caress a lot. My advice is to use Death's Caress more as a shield than a nuke, detonating away from most enemy minions. Killing a few with the burst isn't a bad thing, you still need farm after all. Keep up this no-pushing tactic until you've gotten enough farm for some AP and Boots of Mobility.
Now that you're fast, you can begin ganking with force. There are two ways that you can make yourself available for ganking.
Preferred method: Start nuking your enemy until they either return to base or die. Obviously you want a kill but don't over-extend yourself, you're trying to prepare for a gank. If this isn't working out, move on to the next method.
Alternative method: Start pushing your lane almost all the way to the tower. When a ganking opportunity presents itself (if you're top, you're pretty much stuck with ganking mid), give your lane that final push to the enemy turret, then go for the gank right away. This is most effective when you know your lane opponent hasn't been warding, since you can get closer to the lane you're ganking before he realizes you're gone.
Of course, if you have Teleport you don't have to use either of those methods, just teleport to an allied ward in a bush and come out with guns blazing.
In a team fight, Sion has a few roles that are pretty basic. Take out the AD carry as fast as possible, then prioritize based on what's going on in the fight. If someone is messing with your ADC, nuke him. Secure kills if needed, just exercise some healthy common sense.
Don't think that playing AP Sion excuses you from auto-attacking. You (eventually) have Lich Bane, and you should activate Cannibalism so that you're doing as much damage as possible while your abilities are on cooldown.
Tips for Low Level or New Summoners
Before you have access to runes (well, runes that MATTER), full mastery pages, and Flash, playing AP Sion can be annoying. Here's a section dedicated to the new guys.
First off, prioritize the Utility Tree over the Offense Tree. What is the point of having lower cooldowns if you don't have the mana to back them up?
Up until you get Flash (level 12) you should take Clarity and Teleport. Most new players tend to spam abilities too much, which is bad for Sion. These two spells accommodate for that by providing quick mana (Clarity by being Clarity and Teleport by making a quick trip back to fountain more of an option).
Stacking more than 2 Doran's Rings is ok at low levels, but never get more than 4.
Play passively until you have around 70 cs. This way you can't put yourself in a risky position before having a manly shield to protect you.
Credits and Thanks
Credit to jhoijhoi for the template (even though I've obviously deviated from it), which you can find here.
Totallynotn00b for pointing out serious errors in the guide that I would have continually overlooked if not for his input.
Han for being glorious <3
And, of course, thanks to everyone who comments, votes, or (especially) messages me. You guys make it so much easier for me to consider new options or fix errors and misinformation throughout the guide.
2/16/14 - 9/21/14 - I'm terrible at updating the changelog. Lots of updates based on patches when relevant throughout these 7 months, and some rune choice explanation added in.
2/15/14 - Tweaked a bit for Season 4.
11/24/13 - Updated for Preseason 4.
8/15/13 - Updated item and combo sections.
4/23/13 - Minor changes, added some items to the items list.
4/2/13 - Did some aesthetic stuff that I'd been meaning to get around to. Changed the items section to appear more adaptable than it was before, but it's really exactly the same in practice.
3/19/13 - Changes where needed.
2/07/13 - Minor changes, added some pics to the Success! section.
11/30/12 - 1/29/13 - Rewrote parts of the guide as needed for Preseason 3.
11/30/12 - Added a section about Season 3 Changes.
9/16/12 - 11/8/12 - Misc. edits, typos mostly. Moved the changelog to the bottom since it's pretty big.
9/16/12 - Removed ranked play section and made the rest of the guide ranked friendly instead. Added some info on ganking and ganking paths.
8/25/12 - 9/15/12 - Various edits, removed champion match-ups section.
8/24/12 - Minor edits. Added more about summoner spells. Renamed the guide to be more to-the-point.
8/18/12 - Changed glyphs, expanded a bit on rune choices.
8/12/12 - Broke up a text wall.
8/12/12 - Minor edits.
8/03/12 - Fixed a couple typos and broken image.
7/19/12 - Explained item choices, reconsidered runes, modified purchase order slightly, changed parts in the Team Fights section, wrote about consumables in Items section
7/18/12 - Finally explained mastery choices, added some more to Champion Match-Ups.
7/17/12 - Added to the Champion Match-Ups section, expanded on ability use.
7/17/12 - Added Items to Avoid and Champion Match-Ups sections, re-worded certain sentences, added alternative items, made things clearer in the Laning and Farming section.
7/16/12 - Spell check, new introduction.
7/11/12 - Re-prioritized rune and item choices, added more item alternatives, revamped noobish explanations and added Sion flowchart.
7/7/12 - Guide created.