Lee Sin General Guide by SpawnOfHell
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Lee Sin Build
Extra: For Solo Queue
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.
Hi there. I'm SpawnofHell, or also known as Artemius I in game. I'm a long-time league player who played at Gold ranking at Season 2. I specialize mainly in playing top lane champions, some of my main champions being Jarvan IV, Tryndamere and Olaf. I also play tanky mid laners such as Mordekaiser and unconventional junglers such as Pantheon. Lee Sin is one of my strongest top laners and currently highest win ratio and KDR champion in ranked play.
Lee Sin is a bruiser/assassin hybrid who can be a strong laner as well as a jungler. I like to abuse his strength at top lane as he is one of the few top laners who can lane vs any matchup and has means of escaping ganks from almost every jungler. This, along with his ability to take multiple roles, makes him a great choice for solo queue as you can choose him early without worrying about counterpicks. He can be played either as a solo top or a mid lane assassin.
Season 3 added significant itemization for champions such as Lee Sin making him stronger than ever, and one great way to abuse this is to allow him the ability to farm a solo lane and become an early and mid-game terror. He remains relevant to the game for a longer period of time when on even grounds with the opponent and has the power to completely shut down a laner. Though difficult to master, Lee Sin brings power and utility to the team that allows him to indirectly carry a team to victory.
For anyone who cares, I've posted my current ranked stats below for the sake of interest:
My Lee Sin ranked stats (will be updated regularly)
+ Versatile kit containing burst, mobility and utility
+ Powerful early-mid game due to sustain and damage
+ Difficult to directly counter and wins many matchups
+ Runs on an energy allowing him incredible sustain
- Becomes less powerful late-game where his damage falls off
- Ultimate is very easy to get wrong and lose kills
- No hard crowd control or initiation
- Requires micro-management of energy through his passive
Additional Comment: Lee Sin's weaknesses lie more in the workings of his kit than anything else. He is almost impossible to hard counter but there will be a point in games where your power begins to drop off and you're only still relevant because of your utility. The point of Lee Sin is to bring games to an early game through a massive early lead, usually by turning the game into an effective 4v5.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
Looking at Lee Sin's AD ratios should explain this choice. 1.8 total bonus AD ratio on Sonic Wave + Resonating Strike, 1.0 on Tempest and 2.0 AD ratio on Dragon's Rage. That is incredibly scaling, considering every point of AD you invest is practically doubled in effectiveness on two of his abilities. When we add up the AD we get from runes (Marks and Quintessences), we get a total of 15 AD (rounded) This means we get:
- 13.5 physical damage on both Sonic Wave and Resonating Strike, totalling 27 damage
- 15 magical damage on Tempest
- 30 physical damage on Dragon's Rage
- 15 physical damage on autoattacks
That is a ridiculous boost in damage at the very early levels considering we get it for free. Since Lee's early game is so strong, the damage from AD runes makes him an unbeatable monster in lane.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage
Read the above for the same thing.
Greater Seal of Armor
Armor runes are necessary with all the high physical damage bruisers who go top in the current meta. Even mid lane, in fact, is best with armor runes as a melee since many mages take advantage of their ranged autoattacks to try and harass and zone without burning their mana pool. The damage you mitigate from early armor makes a huge difference.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
The reason I get flat magic resist over scaling is because I occasionally go mid lane and not top with Lee Sin, and I like to be prepared. Even top lane sees the occasional AP-based champions such as Vladimir and Singed, and other champions such as Shen and Malphite who aren't necessarily mages also deal significant magic damage. Resistances win early fights, so you should have as much as possible.
I usually favor tank masteries over offense for bruisers, as they scale better as the game goes on and many bruisers like Lee Sin have strong enough base damages that they can usually build full tank and still deal respectable damage. Full offense isn't necessary unless you're going mid lane where you're focusing more on your strengths as an AD assassin. Without the extra resilience from masteries you will be significantly squishier in your laning phase when you haven't built up items yet.
Flash is non-negotiable. It's the most foolproof spell in the game with limitless different uses in a game. You can use it as a gap closer for a Tempest slow, reposition for Dragon's Rage to kick an enemy into your team, etc. True, you have gap closers, but both dashes you have are conditional unlike Flash which can always be used. The extra distance covered by Flash may mean the clutch shield on a teammate or landing your Sonic Wave on the very edge.
It's not an absolute, but I don't see why you would ever use anything else. You could use Exhaust to cripple enemy AD champions in conjunction with Tempest, but when you miss out on kills in lane because enemy laners survived your burst with a sliver of health you may regret it in the mid game. Ignite allows you to get kills in lane easily which gives you the potential to snowball and build further damage for power. If you run Exhaust, you're basically forcing yourself into a tank/debuff bruiser which isn't something I like to do. Ignite gives you the ability to snowball hard in lane, which is powerful for one of the strongest early game champions.
This passive is incredibly important to get right if you want to master Lee Sin. Though we don't emphasize attack speed in lane as much as jungle, the fact that this ability is essential for energy control is why it is important to chain auto-attacks between your combo. If you don't take advantage of the resource return that Flurry provides, you will be unable to properly manage your energy costs and be useless in extended fights.
Sonic Wave / Resonating Strike
One of the highest damage, non-ultimate abilities in the game. It is also an amazing gap-closer with huge range and a built-in execute. This makes is the perfect finishing ability on low-health targets. It is highly important to learn how to land this ability as it is your means of reaching ranged opponents. This ability along with his crowd control makes Lee Sin impossible to kite and difficult to escape.
Safeguard / Iron Will
Safeguard is an overpowered ability. When we take it apart by its functions, it provides lifesteal, spell vamp, armor, shield and a dash in a single ability. This is what makes Lee Sin so ridiculous in lane as it allows him to mitigate, escape and heal off enemy harass all in one. What's more is that it is a gap closer that can be used defensively, which makes Lee a very difficult opponent to gank. It also provides support for your ally when necessary. Though not a damage skill, it is the most powerful ability Lee Sin has.
Tempest / Cripple
Tempest is a high ratio AoE which slows both movement and attack speed, and does magic damage. This makes the ability incredibly powerful albeit it is underestimated by most players. Tempest does magic damage, which means it ignores the armor runes that most top laners choose to use making it very strong in lane. In addition, the ability to lower attack speed is a powerful debuff which makes it difficult to outtrade Lee Sin in duels. Though Lee Sin begins to taper late game in most cases his ability to severely cripple AD-based champions allows him to still be an asset to the team.
A complex ability due to its function. There are many uses for Dragon's Rage, ranging from the ability to counter-initiate or peel for a carry to using it as a high damage burst on multiple opponents. The most important thing to know is that despite its damage, the utility is more important. To use Dragon's Rage solely as an execute in teamfights is one of the greatest mistakes of many Lee Sin players. Even when building damage, this ultimate has the ability to do huge burst to an entire enemy team which means using it as a finishing blow is a huge waste of its potential. When playing Lee Sin as a tanky defender the damage is only a supplement to the utility it brings to your team.
Lee Sin can use any skill order according to the situation. Generally, it's up to the player to decide which ability will be more useful according to matchup or build. You need to remember the strengths of each ability.
Sonic Wave / Resonating Strike - Low cooldown gap closer, burst, execute, your best single target damage
Safeguard / Iron Will - Sustain, shield, resistances
Tempest / Cripple - AoE magic damage, slow, attack speed debuff
Generally, an assassin Lee Sin would go for maxing Sonic Wave first, and a tankier Lee would focus on the utility of Tempest. I would always max Safeguard first or second as it is your strongest ability when laning.
Safeguard and Iron Will are overpowered. They give you more bonuses in one ability than your other abilities do. It's the ability which makes you such a strong laner, as you can mitigate damage with the shield and armor buff and sustain with lifesteal. Though this hurts your damage output, you actually trade damage better in lane since you can nullify harass and shield damage taken from the enemy laner.
I feel Tempest is better than Sonic Wave to max out second. Though the Sonic Wave + Resonating Strike combo does a lot of damage, it has a decent enough ratio that it'll do significant damage even at rank one. Tempest provides a strong CC which also hurts enemy damage output, which means you're stronger in extended fights at the cost of your burst. It also does magic damage, which means it'll ignore the armor that top laners usually build. Top lane champions usually use scaling magic resist runes which means Tempest will do more damage in the early game. I prefer Tempest for the utility, but Sonic Wave is also very strong.
A viable alternative if you prefer single target burst over AoE damage and slow. This alternative makes you an incredible duelist as the damage from Sonic Wave + Resonating Strike is very high. A good way to take advantage of early snowball by giving you more power to kill the enemy laner. This is also the better sequence when going mid lane the stronger burst is very strong against AP carries.
Maxing a damage ability over Safeguard first is a fine move as long as you can handle losing out on some amazing lane sustain. If you get early kills and want to go for a complete lane shutdown, this is the way to go. I still feel Safeguard is important to level up for the amazing utility and sustain which is why I do not advocate leaving it for last even when skilling for damage.
Lee Sin can be played with a heavy AD assassin or a tank build. It is difficult to transition between builds after you've started however, so most of the time you can't change roles through your build and you're stuck following on with what you began with. Because of this, it's wise to plan ahead on whether your value to your team will be greater by your damage or durability.
Since the beginning of Season 3 the popularity of Boots of Speed start has dwindled and there has been an increase in starts such as Crystalline Flask and Long Sword. The problem is that Lee can't really take advantage of a flask start, since he has no mana so you're effectively wasting part of the cost-efficiency. You already have sustain from Iron Will as it is so I prefer an armor start. This is a better start for an aggressive early game as resistances are better for direct fights while Crystalline Flask is more for skirmishes and harass.
The sight ward is personal preference. I lose sustain but minimize the risk of being ganked early on. I tend to be very aggressive in lane and trade damage, and this naturally pushes the lane due to Tempest. While this is usually successful, I commonly face the threat of a gank from the enemy jungler. If you prefer to play passively before your first recall, you may want to do a 5 potion start.
All items here save one have several things in common. They're cheap, powerful, and build into useful items for Lee Sin later into the game. Depending on the situation, any one of these items can make your laning a lot easier. For example, against ranged harass you may need the sustain from Vampiric Scepter or Spirit Visage. Against strong duelists like Jax a Warden's Mail is invaluable. These items are great to have in the laning phase.
The Brutalizer: The only pure damage item in this section, this is the first item to rush when you want damage. Either you're laning against a champion who is hopeless to fight you, or you're trying to press a snowball advantage. It is most effective against light armored enemy champions such as AP carries. Later on in the game, it builds into The Black Cleaver which is by far one of the best items for a damage-oriented Lee Sin.
Vampiric Scepter: It's highly recommended to get this against ranged champions or champions who have a lot of sustain (e.g. Warwick) as these champions will either constantly harass or match your damage through healing. Either way, having extra sustain can really help here. This is also the most versatile item in this section, as it builds into a multitude of great items for Lee.
Phage: Almost essential. I wouldn't ever go without this item in a game. Lee only has one form of crowd control which impairs movement, so after his gap closer does actually have trouble sticking to targets until his cooldowns recover. A refreshing slow is important to have as it allows you to move around targets to position yourself correctly for Dragon's Rage.
Warden's Mail: I think Warden's Mail is one of the best armor items in the game. It is cheap for the amount of armor it gives and the passive effectively makes you even more resistant to physical damage. You get a mini- Cripple which takes into effect as soon as anyone attacks you. This can give you the edge over any AD-based champion who relies on auto-attacks. Jax and Irelia come into mind.
Hexdrinker: Another cost-efficient item which builds into a later item which means there isn't any wasted gold invested into it. Hexdrinker is useful in many situations, mostly when going mid or laning against a top lane AP. It can even help against a champion like Garen who has a powerful magic burst ability. In those close 1v1 situations where both champions are low this item can mean life or death.
Spirit Visage: Believe me or not, when you're having trouble with sustaining damage or enemy AP early on Spirit Visage can be very helpful. I wouldn't recommend holding onto it the whole game, but for laning purposes it can be very strong. Combined with Iron Will and a Vampiric Scepter you can become completely immune to harass because of how strong your sustain becomes.
Ninja Tabi: Usually these are the best boots for top lane, as armor is a valuable stat and they are incredibly cheap. In extended duels the passive can mitigate a lot of damage as 10% is no small number and can turn the tides of a 1v1 fight. Late game it can take off a hundred damage from those AD carry crits which is really significant, and worth keeping the boots for.
Mercury's Treads: Alternatively, if the enemy mages are the main threat or you're being harassed by enemy crowd control in teamfights, you may want to buy Mercury's Treads for the tenacity. While a few good Tenacity items were added in Season 3, none of them really work well with Lee, making these your best counter to crowd control.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity: The only boots which significantly increase your damage, as cooldown reduction lowers downtime on your damage abilities. This also increases your utility to the team as Safeguard, Tempest and Dragon's Rage will be up more often. If you're less concerned about defense, buy these.
Boots of Mobility: When going mid lane as an AD assassin I really like these boots. You can travel around the map significantly faster which means you can roam and gank from mid. Everyone knows how deadly Lee's ganks are from the jungle and they are just as strong from a lane. With two champions on your team putting pressure on the side lanes, you can opt for early snowball to win the game.
Maw of Malmortius
These are all options for a damage-focused player. Keep in mind that these aren't always optimal choices, and some are very niche, and aren't often recommended despite me putting them there. I don't want to hear complaints just because I listed Trinity Force and Atma's Impaler as potential options, because they're onlyoptions. If you don't like them, there are five other choices you can choose from instead.
The Black Cleaver: This should be an obvious one. The Black Cleaver provides valuable stats, is cost-efficient, and even gives a small amount of health to make you slightly tankier. Also because of the nature of the item, you could fit this into a tanky build and feel a heavy boost in damage. This makes your builds more versatile and keeps you as a damage threat for a longer period of time.
Ravenous Hydra: You might think that this item is solely for auto-attackers, but that simply isn't the case. The AD it gives is substantial and, unlike The Bloodthirster which surpasses it when stacked, the AD is there to stay. If you're having trouble surviving in teamfights, this is a perfect item. You heal a lot from the lifesteal since you heal from the passive splash and the active ability is more burst on the enemy team. It makes you better at teamfighting and also helps your pushing ability. It is an expensive item but worth it if you have the means to purchase it.
The Bloodthirster: An obvious choice for any AD-heavy champion. 100 AD is unmatched by any item in the game except Sword of the Occult. This of course assumes you can keep it stacked, but since the changes a long time ago you don't lose all of the stacks whenever you die, making death less impactful. The line between this item and Ravenous Hydra is whether you think you can keep the item stacked and if you want more damage on abilities rather than AoE teamfight damage.
Trinity Force: And here comes the controversy. I know a lot of people out there say Trinity Force is terrible for Lee Sin. While it's true that you usually would want Frozen Mallet for the reliable slow and health, In those cases where you only care about damage you can decide to build that Phage into this. The only stat which is completely wasted from Trinity Force is the mana, everything else adds up into at least slightly more power. Since you already chain auto-attacks between abilities due to Flurry, the Sheen portion of Trinity Force does come into use. I don't get Trinity Force often, but it is far from a bad item.
Maw of Malmortius: Some might consider this a survivability item, but I feel the shield is just an extra bit of power to keep you alive in a dire situation. The highlight of this item is actually how much AD it gives at low amounts of health. You can become more of a threat especially if you're playing assassin since you will be focused, and when you're focused you become more of a danger to the enemy team. By all means, if you feel the shield can be helpful then get it for that reason, but I think you should get this primarily for the damage and conundrum it poses for the enemy.
Last Whisper: With this and The Black Cleaver, armor is practically non-existent. Against a team full of tanks, the combo is very devastating. Not a way I would build if you're focusing the squishy targets first, but for a frontline Lee Sin who takes out the enemy bruisers and tanks it is a very viable option.
Atma's Impaler: A shadow of what it used to be, but there are still things going for it. It's still one of the most cost-efficient items in the game, more so if you invested in Avarice Blade. It's still the only item in the game which gives significant AD and armor in one item, which can make it good for when you want both but don't want to dedicate two item slots. Even after the nerfs I occasionally buy this item.
In the late game you will almost definitely want to build some form of defense as you need to be tanky in order to be useful in teamfights where a melee champion will need to survive being focused in the middle of a fight. These are all great tank items to build for different occasions.
Frozen Mallet: This would've been core, if not for Trinity Force. Frozen Mallet is an item I choose to rush often on Lee for the immense health it provides as well as the permaslow passive. In teamfights, your job should be to stick to enemy carries and cripple them with your debuff while your teammates take down the front line. Generally AD carries will choose to run instead of taking on Lee in a melee fight and the slow from Frozen Mallet makes it impossible to escape. With the changes in Season 3 so that resistances no longer have the impact it used to, this has become one of the best tank items in the game due to how foolproof health is as a statistic. Unless you're incredibly fed and can afford Trinity Force and don't need to worry about being tanky, I would always build Frozen Mallet.
Sunfire Cape: One of the few items which provides both armor and health, making it a good way to pile multiple tank stats in one item. Its advantage over competitors such as Randuin's Omen and Runic Bulwark is its relatively cheaper costs and the passive, which is useful in split pushing and adding supplemental damage to the enemy team in a teamfight. Sometimes I get Sunfire Cape early for laning and pushing then sell it late game for a stronger item when I have farmed significant gold. Strong early-mid game item.
Runic Bulwark: As with most aura items, it is in your best interest to have one of these per team. This item normally goes on the support, but if you see the opportunity, build it. It has a good spread of stats, giving tank stats across the board, and shares some of those stats with the rest of your team. Keep in mind that it also gives the most magic resist in the game on a single item, due to the aura bonus being added on to the self amount. This makes the item a great counter to build against AP-based champions. This item is one of the best defensive items in the game for its cost efficiency in teamfights and its great balance of resistances.
Randuin's Omen: I love this item. So much health, armor and utility in one. In some games I like to build Lee as a tanky semi-initiator in which I get into the middle of the teamfight to apply debuffs and disrupt with my ultimate. Randuin's Omen active is very powerful and due to Lee's ability to move in teamfights it's not hard to apply the debuff to the entire enemy team or just the important targets such as the AD carry and bruiser. It's a great way to continue your build from a Warden's Mail which you may have built during laning phase so it is easy to buy if you prepared for it. I get this in a lot of my games.
Warmog's Armor: Warmog's had a few changes which I felt were for the better. It no longer needs to build up to full power meaning it can be bought at any stage in the game, and it still holds the title of best health item in the game. With how powerful health has become and how rare counters to it is, it is one of the most reliable items to get in order to get tankier across the board. Though it provides no utility, it boosts your survivabilty by a ton in situations where the enemy focus is on you.
Guardian Angel: I hate Guardian Angel, but that's only because of how powerful and uncounterable it is. It's not something I would recommend on a tank Lee Sin despite being a defensive item as it discourages enemies from focusing you which eliminates the point of building tank. As an assassin though it makes focusing you a risk for the enemy team but your damage means you will need to be disabled or brought down in some way. There's really no way to counter the effect of Guardian Angel except killing you again, making it ridiculously overpowered.
Mercurial Scimitar: For when enemy crowd control is really hurting your mobility in fights or suppression is for some reason an issue for you, Mercurial Scimitar can be great. I would only get this against extremely powerful crowd control such as Amumu or Sona's ultimates as smaller CC isn't a problem for Lee Sin most of the time. Situational item which may be essential under some circumstances.
Strategy and Tactics
As Lee Sin, you want to make as much of an impact as possible during the laning phase. If you can take the enemy laner, whether top or mid, out of the game before mid game and get a level and gold advantage your chances of carrying the game will already be incredibly high. That said, you shouldn't play overly reckless while laning and take unnecessary risky. While it's true that Lee has a lower impact on the game later on when teamfighting and crowd control take over the game, he's not a champion like Pantheon who has a difficult time doing his job due to either being squishy or not doing damage. Lee can still make an impact late game supposing you know what you're doing, but you need to be prepared to change your role in your team.
Now for laning. Generally, you don't want to play too aggressively at the very early levels. Lee's highest power curve comes after a few levels and usually after your first recall after buying one or two laning items. You need to farm well and always return damage when the enemy laner tries to harass or take CS (creep score, i.e. farming)
I personally follow a set of golden rules during the laning phase:
- Always be aware of the adjacent laner and jungler's location, or lack of location, on the map
- Always put creep score as a priority over harassing the enemy laner
- Always last hit and refrain from pushing the lane as much as possible
- Unless the enemy jungler and adjacent laner is clearly at another area or dead, and you are certain you can get the kill without dying, never tower dive
- Don't be hesitant with Flash unless you're sure you can escape a gank or survive a fight without it
- Play much more passively when your summoners are down
- When the enemy jungler shows up in another area, push the lane to the enemy tower to make the enemy lose CS
- After killing the opposing laner and at a reasonable level of health, push to the enemy tower and gank adjacent lanes or counterjungle
- When fed off the enemy laner, begin to roam and put other lanes ahead
- If your laner shows up in another area on the map, push his tower down
- Kill Teemo.
Yes, that is a lot of rules, and no, I'm not always able to follow them entirely every game. I commonly make the mistake of pushing without vision on the bushes or river and tower diving when a kill is not guaranteed. Regardless, these are all important rules to follow in the laning phase to be successful. Being aggressive early game does not mean taking risks you shouldn't. Remember that the objective of the game is to push down towers, get objectives and eventually take out the Nexus. Never lose sight of your main purpose just to get a good KDR.
This is Lee Sin's strongest phase in the game. You should aim to put the game to a swift end after the laning phase ends through early teamfights taking advantage of your power at this stage into the game. By this I don't mean pick fights randomly, but focus on securing objectives, pushing lanes, and punishing enemies for going out of position.
Be aware that the more of an advantage you can make during this phase, the longer you can stay relevant before late-game kicks in and your power takes an incline downwards. In solo queue particularly, it's rare that enemy teams will try to stall even when at a disadvantage and instead resort to making gambles and dangerous plays trying to pull themselves back into the game. While comebacks are certainly possible this way, punishing them when they make the attempt is the last nail in their coffin. If they're attempting to drag the game out for their late game hypercarries (e.g. Vayne, Kog'Maw) to reach their peak in power, you'll need to be the one to press any advantages you make to ensure that they never get to that point. In solo queue, you need to be aggressive and make plays, but never be overly reckless. Keep your main focus on towers and objectives, and keeping the enemy down until you can make the play to win the game.
SOLO QUEUE TIP: Ruby Sightstone
This item isn't something I would get in co-ordinated games simply because it slows down the build and you shouldn't usually need it in a decent team. However, for low elo solo queue games this item has indirectly won me games. This item has many uses for Lee both specifically and generally. You can use it to do 'ward jumps' with Safeguard, but also to ward enemy territory to be aware of opposing buff camps or just to catch out of position opponents. Vision is a very powerful advantage which is undervalued and underestimated in solo queue, so using it when others don't will put you at an automatic advantage.
You won't hard carry late game. That said, your late game isn't bad per se as much as the fact that you're no longer as much of a threat as you were in the early and mid game and what keeps you in the game is the utility you bring with a shield, debuff and counter-initiate ultimate. This is why tanky Lee Sins are more powerful and successful late game as they can remain in fights to spread out debuffs and peel for their carry, therefore taking full advantage of their utility.
If you went for a more offense-oriented build, your life is that much harder. The game shouldn't have gone on for this long, but perhaps you just weren't able to press your advantage or your teammates screwed up real bad. Regardless, all is not lost. If you built damage, you'll have a lot of burst and you need to play entirely as an assassin and make sure any threats on the enemy team are eliminated as soon as possible in teamfights. Make sure that you have good vision on the enemy team at all times in case a champion makes the mistake of going out of position so that you can catch them and take them out. Take any advantage you have to go for turrets, dragon, and Baron. A lot of times I see players make the mistake of not capitalizing on a kill to capture important objectives and waste their time sieging or farming. When you have the advantage, use it.
SOLO QUEUE TIP: Oracle's Elixir + Vision Ward
I shouldn't even have to make a comment on this, but surprisingly teams, especially in solo queue, are dismissing the power of true vision. In my opinion, the ability to remove the enemy team's vision on Baron is still invaluable as well as removing any other vision they might have so you have the advantage of them not knowing where you are at times. Either buy these items or convince your teammates to.
General TipsThis part is rather difficult. The thing is, Lee Sin is a very high skillcap champion. There isn't exactly a way to completely explain every facet of every way Lee can abuse the power of his kit because of just how versatile he is and how much he can do. However, there are several tricks you should learn and master before even considering playing Lee in a competitive setting.
Simple combo. You start with Sonic Wave, knock the target away with Dragon's Rage and follow them with Resonating Strike and slow them with Tempest if necessary. This is generally the combo I use as an execute to finish off an enemy in a duel.
Do a Tempest/Cripple to slow the target, then take advantage of the slow to reposition yourself so that you can kick the target to your side of the battlefield. Good way to initiate a gank.
Should be self-explanatory. Same as above, except using Flash to position yourself in front of the enemy to kick them back.
-> -> -> -> -> -> -> -> -> -> ->
It's not necessarily this exact combo, but the point I'm trying to get across is that you need to get in uses of Flurry in order to maintain your energy so that you can get off a constant chain of abilities. This is just one example of chaining Flurry between abilties.
sight ward -> ->
Once you've gotten the hang of ward jumping and timing it correctly, it can be used as an alternative to Flash to reposition yourself for Dragon's Rage.
This isn't exactly a difficult combo, but timing it is tricky. You can actually cancel Lee's Resonating Strike animation at the point of impact with Safeguard if you time it correctly. However, if you use it too early you will end up cancelling the move altogether and do no damage. Good way to harass in a risky situation (say, under a tower)
sight wardWard Jumpsight ward
Ward jumping is tough but an important skill to get right. Basically, it involves dropping a ward and then using Safeguard (which can leap to any friendly unit, including sight ward, Noxious Trap and Jack In The Box) to dash to it as though it were a Flash. This allows you to get another gap closer or escape in clutch situations. Doing this is hard unless you use smartcasting. I would recommending either (or both) smartcasting Safeguard or an item slot and dedicating that slot to ward placement.
Note: Be warned, using Safeguard on a ward temporarily reveals it to the enemy team for a few seconds. This could give away valuable information to the enemy team, so be aware of whether enemy can see you. This obviously doesn't affect ward jumping too much as it's a substitute for Flash, but you should avoid jumping on tactically placed wards unless you need to.
Dragon's Rage is a difficult skill to get the hang of. An experienced Alistar player will probably figure it out due to Headbutt once the lack of range gets familiar but the fact that this ability is also a huge burst gives it some different uses. It also has damage potential on multiple enemies which makes it harder to use and even more important to position correctly.
This ability has many uses, including:
Ganking: You can either initiate a gank from your jungler or start a gank on another lane with Dragon's Rage if you can position yourself properly to kick the target away from their tower and into a dangerous zone. Following up with a Tempest/ Cripple will cause the death of most laners. Be careful with Flash as if you kick a target as he uses Flash you will end up kicking them to safety.
Initiation: Initiating with Dragon's Rage is fun. If you can catch the enemy team from behind where their AD carry will probably stand, you can kick him through his teammates into your team which will result in their death. Hopefully you catch other members of the enemy team with the ultimate as well for extra crowd control.
Counter-initiation: This one is very important to do and one of the most common uses of the ability. If an enemy Amumu, Malphite or Kennen, as an example, decides to initiate on your team, you need to react quickly and knock them back into their team. In the case of Amumu and Kennen, ulting them may cause them to waste their ultimate on nothing, resulting in major lulz and an advantageous teamfight.
Dis-positioning: If you catch an enemy out of position, kick that sucker into your team and watch them die.
Escape: If you or your teammate is being chased by an enemy, you can kick them away to save yourself or your teammate. Best results when you kick the enemy through a thin wall.
Anti-channel: Use Dragon's Rage to interrupt channeled abilities such as Nunu's Absolute Zero, Malzahar's Nether Grasp and Warwick's Infinite Duress.
Burst: Lastly, in the chaos of a teamfight you can just kick a target clustered with his teammates for some really good burst and crowd control. This requires some positioning in the middle of the teamfight but can really pay off if you get multiple members of their team. Kicking a 6- Feast Cho'Gath will usually knock up several people on the enemy team.
Below is an example of a ranked game in which we were slightly behind until we managed to get a Baron - the enemy team had a chance at coming back but I made the perfect initiation to secure our victory. For clarity, we were blue and they were purple. Our team was Lee Sin (me), Lux, Miss Fortune, Lulu and Maokai vs enemy team Pantheon, Xin Zhao, Ahri, Caitlyn and Nunu.
Smartcasting is a very important skill, though it may not be suitable for all players or champions. It basically allows for fastest reactions as it removes the need for clicking on abilities and creates a smoother flow of abilities. For a champion like Lee Sin being able to use his abilities in a fast combination will improve play for many players.
Safeguard / Iron Will - I would highly recommend smartcasting Safeguard, despite how wonky it might feel on occasion. In order to ward jump you need to minimize delay and the removal of clicking is important to do it correctly and quickly. The downside is that in teamfights you may end up shielding to wrong teammates by accident, but it's not a huge problem most of the time in my opinion.
Tempest / Cripple - No difference when smartcasted as it lacks a clicking function.
Dragon's Rage - I smartcast this, but it's mostly my preference. I tend to be terrible with melee range targeted abilities such as this and Feast and smartcasting just feels a lot smoother to me as I find 'melee range' on abilities to be hard to determine based on the indicator. This one works either way to me.
Lee Sin 'Champion Spotlight'
Just for fun, and for people who may not know that this exists. Phreak is such a troll.
Synergies and Counters
General: Synergy with Lee Sin is interesting. Truth be told, there isn't actually a lot of unique synergy between Lee and other champions, so this is more general than most. Champions who have abilities that supplement Lee Sin's as well as locking down individual targets are great for Lee Sin since they allow him to focus down an enemy easily.
Malphite can hard initiate with Unstoppable Force, tank a lot of damage, and has an AoE attack speed debuff that, in combination with Tempest, can make AD carries completely useless for a few valuable seconds. All this works out well, as Lee can take advantage of Malphite's initiate to get close to the enemy AD carry with Safeguard and use his debuffs and burst. This also puts two tanky debuffers right in the middle of the enemy team which will put your team at an immediate advantage.
Skarner is cool to have with Lee Sin. During the laning phase his ganks are ungodly powerful due to a permaslow and Impale and, coupled with Lee's ridiculous burst, will almost always result in a kill. Skarner is also tanky and provides DPS to the team which allows him to carry late game. If you and him co-ordinate properly, you can easily get him fed in his ganks to make up for the fact that your late game becomes weaker. His ability to pull targets is great for you since you generally will have the power to take out any squishy champions he manages to pull.
I find that Ashe and Lee Sin have synergy in that Lee has the tools to protect Ashe from anti-carries with gap closers while Ashe provides a hard initiate and the ability to stick to enemies with a permaslow to make it easier for Lee to catch enemies down. While this synergy relies on a much more defensive playstyle, you can make up for Ashe's weaknesses as a carry with your own kit.
--Honorable Mentions: Blitzcrank, Malzahar, Orianna, Amumu, Zilean
General: Lee Sin doesn't really have hard counters in the form of champions but rather certain mechanics (such as silence) which makes his job a lot more difficult. Since Lee relies on being able to combo and flow properly, interrupting him with disabling crowd control will hurt more than you might think.
Cho'Gath is a threat to Lee Sin outside of laning phase. If you screw up in a teamfight and he catches you in a Rupture you're almost certainly dead since he can silence you for a very long duration and then burst you with true damage Feast. He is so disruptive in teamfights he might be the only hard counter you have since you really have to be aware of his cooldowns and focus if you want to get to his carries. The fact that he becomes enormous doesn't help either since he becomes a literal wall for your Sonic Wave and makes it really hard to focus the right targets. Manageable in lane, really dangerous in teamfights.
Healing is annoying, but Soraka's main threat to you is her ability to silence on a targeted ability and the ridiculous armor buff on Astral Blessing. These two skills she has makes it much more difficult for you to play as an assassin as she can make anyone you focus too tanky to kill and stop your abilities if you jump into the fight prematurely. Then when you manage to combo the carry she gets a Wish off just in time and you're screwed. If the enemy team has Soraka, you need to make sure that she uses her disruption and heals on someone else before you decide to go gung-ho on the enemy squishies.
Warwick is a pushover in lane. If you can screw him over and secure an strong enough early lead, you should be fine. That being said, he recovers very well as the game goes on and gets really tanky late game to the point where it becomes irrelevant. This becomes a problem because if the enemy turtles then they can completely reverse whatever lead you made in lane as long as Warwick plays safe and tries to recover. Infinite Duress is a pain. It basically makes your mobility useless and you're easy to kill when unable to use any abilities. The reason I put Warwick here lastly is because he is very hard to itemize against since he can build attack damage or magic DPS to counter whatever you build, which means the only reliable way to counter his damage is with attack speed slows. He forces a lot of items on such as Randuin's Omen and Mercurial Scimitar which leads to wonky builds. He forces an early aggressive playstyle and specific build onto you, which makes you a lot more predictable.
--Honorable Mentions: Shen, Sivir, Galio, Alistar, Irelia
Lee Sin is a very powerful champion, excelling in both the lane and the jungle. He can be played in many ways and has a very high skillcap. Difficult to play, but very rewarding and effective. He is a great champion to learn if you want to play someone who has a massive impact on the early game as well as a champion with high mobility and burst. He is one of my favorite champions in the game (albeit I never play him in the jungle) and the champion I carried myself to my elo with. I feel a skilled Lee Sin can carry any game by the sheer power he brings from the early game.
Have fun, and hopefully this guide has given you some helpful tips on how to build and play Lee Sin more effectively.
Extend your senses.