Sion Build Guide by araithiel
Not Updated For Current Season
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Tank For Life
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.
Hey so welcome to my first guide, I'll be pretty simple with this and see what I can do cause I don't normally make guides, so I'll do my best.
This guide is meant mostly for people who aren't incredibly good at top lane or don't normally play it but would like a really simple champion to use in matches where they're forced to play top, but it also works for those who are just generally looking for an obnoxious lane bully who can provide a buttload of CC.
What's with the boots?
So the boots or the runes or the skill order maybe tipped you off to different things. This build came from playing Sion mid by accident when he was first reworked. Obviously there was old mid Sion who was kind of in a weird position, but the new Sion really can't do much in that regard. I tried to see if AP works, but his scaling is a waste of time and his damage is way too inconsistent. However, if you just take a little magic pen, you have more than enough damage innately to bully opponents out of the lane because it comes at an extremely cheap cost and is very safe. They're the only form of damage the build has (outside of Thornmail) but I find they're more than enough.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Penetration
Greater Quintessence of Cooldown Reduction
Our runes and masteries are fairly aggressive all around because we want to apply early pressure. We don't need any form of AP since, like I said above, our scaling isn't that great but our flats are enough. I like to take Total Biscuit of Rejuvenation, masteries-wise, because of the bonus mana they grant. 10 mana is laughable and all, but it's also 1/3 the cost of Roar of the Slayer, so it only takes 3 of those to get off an extra use of our main damage spell.
Pros / Cons
Our ability choice lies in understanding your E. This is the core skill for this build and for being an obnoxious lane bully. So why does it matter?
Know how to Roar
Roar of the Slayer has way too many bonuses attributed to it. Just it alone is often enough to win most trades with top lane opponents. Here's why your E is your power skill:
- Insane range similar to Scatter the Weak
- Decent slow
- Goes through minions
- 150% damage modifier
- Reduces Armor
- Magic damage
- Low mana cost
- So-so cooldown length
Obviously it's a pretty big list. The fact that you gain poke, slow, and debuff stats for 30 mana is kind of crazy. It means that, assuming you have no mana regen or modifiers on mana, you can fire off Roar of the Slayer 9 times before you're out of mana at level 1, and at 105 flat damage if you hit a minion, you can rip through your lane matchup pretty easily. Now you see why we only care about magic penetration.
Your W and Q can be swapped though based on how you personally use it. They both have weird, situational damage since Decimating Smash needs you to charge it for its flats to exceed Soul Furnace and it can be interrupted, but Soul Furnace can't explode for damage until two seconds pass. Just depends on your personal playstyle and what you find works for you. If you know your channel won't get stopped and your opponent is dumb and close, go Q. If you know you will only be able to walk near them and explode and just chip away at them, or if they poke a lot and you want defence, go for W.
Most of the item builds already have notes attached to them, but I'll just go over the design philosophy of the item build.
Thanks to Soul Furnace granting health passively, you don't really need to build any HP in order to be a powerful tank. This means we instead look towards Armor, MR, and bonus abilities.
This is your only damage item in terms of directly buffing your damage stats. Because Roar of the Slayer and Soul Furnace do magic damage, penetration is enough to push damage through. Since Soul Furnace scales at all times with the enemy's health, the more damage you can push through, the better. AP doesn't do very much for the most part on Sion, but Roar of the Slayer can just do so much damage over time with so few items there's no reason to devote any more item slots to pumping your damage. I like to rush these every time.
Frozen Heart and Banshee's Veil
These two represent everything we want out of our items as Sion: Armor, MR, and bonus abilities. The Heart is better in almost every match-up, and a Glacial Shroud is at least recommended against any AP match-up just for the mana boost and CDR. A complete Frozen Heart makes you damn hard to kill in the mid-game, and the aura is insanely relevant. As Sion, when it comes to teamfights, you're going to be in the middle of everything at all times, so the aura should be touching pretty much everybody. As for Banshee's Veil, yes it gives you amazing MR and a nice chunk of HP, but the spell shield is unbeatable. Even against an AD opponent in top lane, I usually grab it after Frozen Heart simply for the spell shield blocking out an ability. By the time you complete it, you should be moving into mid-game teamfights anyways and you'll need that MR usually.
Randuin's Omen Locket of the Iron Solari Thornmail Sunfire Cape Guardian Angel
The rest of the items are pretty situational in terms of order, though I usually find Locket of the Iron Solari + Banshee's Veil is more than enough MR, and Thornmail + Frozen Heart is plenty of armor, so the wildcard item is up to you. Guardian Angel is obviously a great choice since it gives you a bit of both stat, but you should be such a tank at this point that it takes you forever to die, and once you die your passive is actually kind of absurd for damage in a crowded teamfight, so delaying that isn't always the best. Randuin's is usually my go-to for the slow and the attack speed reduction. I haven't tried out Zz'Rot Portal but the stats are tough to argue with and it has...an interesting bonus to it.
When you grab Sion for top-lane, your objective is to knock your opponent out of the lane as fast as possible. Your forms of damage are all about sustain, not burst, so it's fairly rare for you to pick up a solo kill through some surprise burst move. More often than not, you're going to get kills because your opponent under-estimates your damage and eats too many skillshots to the face.
Make sure when you're in lane, you're always behind your minions, and lining up Roar of the Slayer. Staying behind minions keeps you safe from any opposing skillshots, for the most part, while letting you poke them anyways. You pretty much never want to hit an enemy champion directly with a roar, since you don't get the bonus damage or range. The speed at which that minion flies is also very deceptive, and even people who totally expect you to fire these skillshots will struggle to dodge the rocket minion.
However, avoid burning through your mana. It can be very tempting to just chain all of your skills together for some satisfying damage, but like I said, you're doing sustained damage, not burst. Your Q and W, especially early, aren't going to be doing so much damage it guarantees a kill, and when your opponent has plenty of pots, you're wasting mana for almost no benefit. Harass with Roar of the Slayer and throw in the odd Soul Furnace every so often to wear them down, but I find that yelling at them is more than enough damage.
While in lane, your goal is just to always farm to increase your health. Roar of the Slayer pushes minions really easily and fast, and if you couple it with any of your other skills, you decimate waves. You're obviously not a normally amazing split pusher, but if your match-up is never in the lane since you're knocking them out, you can actually push really effectively, and then use your ultimate to just sprint out of a gank. Remember that Unstoppable Onslaught is literally unstoppable when it comes to CC so you can push pretty safely and easily post-6.
Early-game into mid, you're going to want to watch the map for potential skirmishes near you. When you see your jungler heading for mid, or you know your mid lane is going for an extended trade, you can use Unstoppable Onslaught to quickly travel from top to mid and deliver excellent CC and damage. This is really relevant early on in the game, where an R + W is often more than enough damage to execute a pair of enemies in an instant, and I've grabbed many kills this way. It's also a big bonus since it swings a fight heavily in your team's favour and can get you 1 for 0s or 2 for 0s pretty quickly. The other option is to recall and then just charge up a lane. This is why we bring teleport, and your ultimate is extremely useful. Just remember that if you're not using your ultimate, you're a useless Sion. Normal top-lane match-ups are just wet noodle fights until they start to group, but Sion's semi-global ultimate lets him have more of an early impact with minimal loss in his lane.
Another trick is to walk to Baron pit and start your ultimate. This will take you straight to the dragon, meaning you're always relevant at the pit. I find this much better than a split-pushing top-laner with Teleport, since Sion travels the same distance about as fast, but also shows up with damage and a group knock-up.
By the later stages of the game, your overall goal as Sion is to disrupt as much as possible and soak up damage. You should never be chasing down solo kills and you won't do much as a split-pusher. You want to group up with your team and initiate on fights, or follow up on an engage, and force the issue if you're ahead, or turn a fight if you're behind. Since your damage will start to fall off later, you're going to have to be devoted to using your ultimate and your Q, with your W serving as damage to everyone. Your E, which was so powerful early, will fall off in most teamfights, but is still ultra-powerful in long stand-offs since it functions as poke through minions, and is great on clean-up for its slow and range.
Just always remember, if you're not with your team, you're not doing much of anything else as Sion. You're no , and you're not heavy damage in the form of . You can't pull people away from your carries like or but you can disrupt teams through AoE knock-ups, and you can serve as a damage focus. Thanks to your engage, you can dictate when and where fights happen as well, so make sure you take advantage of this!
Based on the general strategy we've gone over, and the build, hopefully you already have an idea of when to take Sion and when not to, but we'll look at three situations where you will or won't want to pick Sion.
If you know who is going to be in the top lane, you can decide whether or not you need to grab Sion. As mentioned in the introduction, this guide is primarily for people who want an easy top lane where they don't have to calculate too much or think about trades a lot, or someone who isn't comfortable with top. So if that's the case, you can always just default to Sion in all situations and bite the bullet on your match-up. But for the most part, these are the favourable and unfavourable things to look for.
Any champion who is squishy is pretty much a golden match-up for Sion. He has no difficulty with , or , and anyone who isn't immediately building tanky right off the bat. Thanks to his E doing huge damage, champions with low health are going to get smashed. An early Sorcerer's Shoes and a few levels into Roar of the Slayer is often taking a third of the health from these squishies.
These are the kind of big, fat opponents who will want to farm and just generally be big and fat. They're pretty easy opposition, typically because they are squishy to start and don't usually do much to you. Champions like or are going to be farming and pushing but they can't really hit you with rough CC and your Soul Furnace will match their scaling health anyways.
Anyone with strong burst can be a real problem for Sion. is my big example of the kind of champion who can destroy you. Since Sion doesn't build health and needs to scale over time, champions with an early burst can shut you down faster than you can do anything since you have little escape or dodge. Now, some squishies also have burst but usually you can pressure them too much with the damage in your harass, but some will always be a challenge. would be a high burst champion who is also squishy but he's a major threat. Don't pick Sion into champions who have the ability to execute you because they will (looking at you ).
Champions with innate sustain that costs them very little are going to be troublesome. or are good examples of guys with sustain and a tank nature who will basically ignore your constant damage. Manaless champions are even worse, like , since you'll just be banging your head against a wall.
You're going to want to make sure that your team has a few things if you're going to be picking Sion into it. Here are some example comps that work and some that don't.
Hilariously, thanks to his E, Sion is actually kind of useful in a poke comp, but you have to make sure you're using him properly. Poking is very difficult to do with any champion because your entire team needs to know when to go and in Solo Q that's not really going to happen much. But if you know what you're doing, Sion's Unstoppable Onslaught will help transition from poking to executing. Just be aware that if you take him into this comp, you can't play him as an initiator and engager at any time.
Hard Engage Comp
This is also the number one comp for Solo Q, and the fastest way to up your elo, but if you see your team has Leona in bot and Vi in the jungle, with a Morg mid, you're going to be engaging like crazy. The more CC on your team, particularly if basically everyone has it, the better for Sion. That way you can just lock the team forever while your carries wipe the floor. In disorganized solo Q, this is super easy as a win strategy where you simply deny your enemy the ability to respond. Sion fits perfectly in this composition and should be picked everytime.
Duo Engage Partner
Even without an overall engage composition, having just one other member of your team who can follow you or who can start is pretty much all Sion needs. , , , or are all good examples of helpful champions who can partner up with you. All of them can dive alongside you or can start the dive so the rest of your team can be filled with squishy APCs and assassins without too much fear. Two of you engaging is distracting enough for the rest of your team to clean up.
If you do notice the rest of your team doesn't have a whole lot of CC but they do have plenty of area damage, Sion will still work pretty well. If you can maintain skirmishes, then Sion's CC will become pretty oppressive. So long as you can keep everyone clustered around you (not very hard to do), then the rest of your team can blow them up. Simultaneously, if the rest of your team likes to be in clustered situations, Sion does too and will help out a lot by providing shield damage, and two AoE knock-ups.
Sion doesn't do very much to help out in a pick comp. He doesn't have the ability to pick out enemies at range, and his CC is kind of wasted against a single target. While it's not impossible, it's not really helpful, and someone like or is going to pull people the wrong way. Sion also loves to run through lanes, not the jungle. While his ultimate is definitely useful in tight corridors where the enemy is forced to group, it doesn't let you build up any damage and you won't have any AD to buff the damage.
Now usually a split-pusher is the top-laner, but it's possible your team, for whatever reason, would like to split-push a lot. When this is the case, look forward to being kind of useless. While your ultimate would let you push and run away safely, or run back to a lane fast, you're not going to do anything to a turret, and you have no escape if they stand in front of your ultimate and force the knock-up. The rest of your team also won't probably be bringing much in terms of CC to chain with you so you'll be on your own if you try to engage in a teamfight, and Sion alone is just soaking up damage for no reason and doing nothing else.
The enemy team can do a few things in their composition that will mess you up as Sion. Also, any opponent who is half-decent at dodging skillshots in general may just be able to outplay you, but you can't exactly tell that from champion select. But there will also be compositions that you'll definitely want to pick Sion against!
Sion hits very hard and very fast. His initial engagement is a nightmare for a moment against any team if it's done well. That single moment when 3-4 enemies are bumped into the air, followed by an exploding Soul Furnace, is just enough time for a follow-up, maybe a Collateral Damage, that will wipe out the enemy team when they're all squishy. Doing this right lets you basically win fights with no loss and feels pretty satisfying. It does run the risk of falling behind, because most squishies are obviously going to do a lot of damage, so if you're all behind, they can simply kill you faster than you can respond, but Sion's constant tank stats, plus CC makes him counter all these squishies at once, provided he can just keep farming and building and doesn't get pulled away from building HP.
When your opponent wants to cluster up and fight you, Sion can smile for once (I don't know if the dead guy has that ability). When they group, just imagine some bowling pins for you to knock down. Sion's ultimate can really shift a fight if he comes in late. Make sure you use him as counter-engage a lot to mess up your clustering enemies. If you're ahead, you'll have to use Sion's ultimate to pick the time of engagements, rushing into 5v4s or any other off-numbered battle you can find.
High mobility Comps
Mobility is Sion's downfall. Because he is entirely skillshot reliant, champions that can move around a lot, very easily, will pretty much dance past you. Your job is to hit a cluster, and keep them in place. You will never do that against or or even champions like . If they're good at moving around you, or through you, then you're neutered. Not only that, but the further apart a fight gets, the worse it is for Sion, which leads into the next comp.
Usually a mobile comp is also a disengage one, but champions like Zed or Irelia are very good at going in but can't always go out (other than well-placed Zed shadows or low-HP minions), so it isn't always true. A disengage composition can scatter a team, and that's your biggest problem. is the obvious go to for this, since she is the queen of the disengage, but can certainly cause havoc. Anyone who can cause your team to split apart, separating you from them, is bad. and can put walls between you and your team and other champions have various ways of separating you from your team. Remember, a lone Sion soaks up damage for nobody. What's worse is when they can simply knock you back out, especially post-ultimate. If you dive in and Janna boots you back out, you have no other way of engaging, period. You'll have to slowly saunter up to them and you'll probably be dead before that happens.
Stages of the Game
Time to put everything discussed into action! Assuming that we've got a decent match-up, and that we're not picking into or against a bad composition, we're ready to go!
I like to start with Doran's Shield and a potion, simply because I do better with that extra HP early on, but the flask works just as well. Whichever you pick, your early goal is to be as aggressive as possible without being aggressive. You're not going to be engaging in extended trades or skirmishes. Your job is to yell at minions and launch them at your opponent. Through this method, you can do damage safely, with very little chance for retaliation. Any other skillshot champion, for the most part, can't send their poke through minions, and any melee champion can't do anything period.
Just remember that you outrange everybody and can outsustain anyone when it comes to mana. 30 mana per skillshot is super cheap, and any other mana based opponent you're up against will be in trouble soon whenever they use skills, especially if you can force the miss. There's just no reason for you to walk up and get in range of your enemy when you can harass forever, other than to CS. Just poke and frustrate. I told you this wasn't about calculations or trading.
Use your teleports to get back to lane quickly as well. Save up enough for boots and a Glacial Shroud or Spectre's Cowl, then TP back to lane and continue to harass forever. You're going to naturally push the lane a lot too, since you knock minions away from doing damage, and you're probably going to send a melee minion through a caster minion or two, so keep it in mind.
If you want to guarantee landing your harass, fire off the poke whenever your opponent goes to last hit. Typically, especially for melee minions, when they go to hit one of your minions, they stand behind one of their own right before and right after, leaving you a nice window to guarantee hitting them with the 150% bonus that's basically impossible to dodge. They might start to fake you out or stand way out wide or in the brushes. This is fine. That minion is wider than you think!
Once you have your W or Q, use it as a follow-up if they're close. Once I've hit them with a bark or two, I usually saunter up to them and detonate my shield in their face, then go back to more poke. E + W is a good combo, but it eats up mana super fast, so don't use it every time. Often if they come in to engage you, they will already be at a disadvantage because they've eaten a minion or two, and you saving your shield and throwing it up to further nullify damage (and dish some back out) makes you the most obnoxious bully there is.
If you can control your waves properly and match their pushing, you can also set up ganks really well. Since your Roar of the Slayer does a nice chunk of damage plus slows, and your Q can at least slow, you help out your jungler a lot. Early game, Sion creates a free target for his allies with his combination of sustained damage and CC. Unlike a gank-assisting top laner like or a damage dealer like , a roaring Sion with this build will poke like a mofo and still support a jungle gank. If you do manage to really chip away at your lane opponent, and they maybe stick around for one too many shots to the face, use your R as an instant gap-closer to push through the minion wave and detonate your shield. That's usually more than enough in the early game. This lets you convert sustained damage into a solo kill, but it really shouldn't be your goal. If the enemy gets low and just runs off to recall, that's just as good as killing them with Unstoppable Onslaught.
Mid Game-Poke and Siege
The mid game is where you will find yourself fighting over key objectives, like outer turrets and dragons. Sion is extremely useful in both, provided you had a strong early game. If you were successfully knocking your opponent out of lane, top turret should have fallen or is close to falling, and you should be up 10-20 CS on your match-up.
It's good to get ahead, but it's meaningless if you don't press your advantage. Your job as Sion is to help push the rest of your team forward. Once you get good at being a bully, you're basically always going to win your early lane, and you need to convert that victory into powering up the rest of your team, because Sion alone doesn't have the damage, or sustained CC to carry a game. So once you have some of your items finished up, take your flats and CC to the rest of the map.
In the mid-game, tanks become a very real problem because most carries won't have ways to get through your defensive stats. Void Staff and Last Whisper are third or fourth items, and Frozen Heart and Banshee's Veil should be enough for you to wreak havoc. Use your Roar of the Slayer in the extended stand-offs and sieges that happen in Solo Q at this stage of the game. Often, the opposing team won't be able to handle your damage or range because they haven't been facing you this whole time. This means you can bully others out of their lanes pretty well too, or can at least wear them down.
The other way Sion is a major help in the mid-game is with his ability to swing teamfights around objectives. Sprinting down from top lane to dragon is an easy way for your team to guarantee the drake's bonus or at least some kills, and it leaves your match-up in the dust. Even if the enemy top-laner comes down to these objective fights, they should be behind from your constant harass and can't match what you bring to your team. Force bad fights all over the map by simply charging into them. The mantra should always be that if your ultimate is up, use it!
Just be careful if you get ahead in your lane, but the rest of your team is behind. Your damage is still quite powerful at this stage, especially a fully-charged Unstoppable Onslaught, but you don't do as much damage as you think. For example, if your bot lane has died a couple times, and you charge up the lane to help them with an engagement, if you don't kill at least one of the enemies within the first second of your arrival, you may come out still losing. Just make sure you aren't forcing bad fights. If bot lane is struggling, get mid fed so that all of you can then collapse on the bottom lane later. At the end of the day, it's a team game, like it or not, and Sion is not able to single-handedly carry his team when they fall behind. You'll always be ahead, but make sure you don't get greedy with that and simply blame the rest of your team for sucking. Use your advantage to poke the enemy away, pick up objectives, and assist lanes.
You don't do much in the late game. A Thornmail, Frozen Heart, and 250 CS is definitely enough to challenge an average ADC, but that is assuming they do nothing but auto-attack you and it's pretty much a one on one. You have to be careful in the late game as Sion and there are a few paths you can take.
First, you can force a lead with your ultimate. If you're ahead, and you know you're ahead, charge straight into the opposition (let your team know first) and force them to duel you. Hopefully you're tanky enough that you can won't die while you fight alone. You're going to want wards deep in the lanes so that you can see when the opposing team steps out of their base. Forcing a fight under a turret only works if you're very ahead or you have great co-ordination, and this is Solo Q so there's no co-ordination when it comes to tower dives. This means you'll want to charge in when you see them in the lane. It could be pretty deep in the lane, doesn't matter. Sion's ultimate is just that fast. Make sure the rest of your team is at least somewhat close to where the fight will happen so they can follow you in quickly. This is a great way to end a game and prevent the turtle.
Second, you can counter engage a lot. Let your team start fights, then barrel into the middle with your ultimate. This tactic reduces the risk of dodges because the focus will be on the fight. You instead take on the risk of your team engaging poorly, getting killed quickly in a pick, or generally getting stuck in a 4 v 5. You don't have to be a mile away for this to work though. Sion can poke from the back of your team, and the rest can run past him to start the fight. Then, a second later, Sion charges forward and grabs at least a couple of them in an ultimate. Make sure you never use your ultimate to chase an ADC or APC though. Use it to crash into as many people as possible, often the frontline. Knocking up just one person you chased doesn't do much. Yes, you took them out of the fight, but now they can probably kill you, and the rest of your team just lost their AoE CC + damage machine and you left your own carries wide open.
Third, you can slowly siege as Sion using your E. The roar will do just about nothing to most tanks, though the debuff and slow is still relevant, but since it will travel right through them, you can fire minions through entire teams. This makes Sion very good at sieging towers, where there are minions swarming and narrow corridors. If you end up dancing around the fourth Dragon or a Baron, you're not using Sion's abilities well. Don't dance around Baron or Dragon; do as above and either initiate when ahead, or counter-engage them, but force something. Standing around doesn't do much for Sion. Around towers is a whole other story. Even in the late game, Roar of the Slayer hits squishy carries fairly hard, and the lowered armor means any other poke that gets through will probably hurt even more (plus a slow that helps land the poke). Chaining Sion's E with an AA from your ADC is a pretty easy way to wear down your opponent, forcing them to either start a fight with half health, or leave and concede the turret. Make sure your team is aware of the plan though! If your APC just clears the enemy minion wave every time they appear, you won't do much. Make them wait for you to launch a minion or two, then continue your siege. You can do this forever, and if they engage, they know they are running head on into an ultimate and a Q.
Make sure with Sion, at all points of any game, that you're aware of your health and your stats. It can be very misleading when you play a game and become a monstrous tank that can't be killed, and then you play like you are untouchable in your next game when you barely have health.
Sion is always scaling with his passive, but it means he starts small to balance it. Play safe and poke in the early game and transition yourself into being an obnoxious tank by the end. It's quite easy to be virtually unkillable very fast, and your bonus passive in Glory in Death means that if you do finally die, you basically get a GA. There will be times where you're caught out alone and die and your passive feels wasted, but if you fall in the middle of a teamfight, like a Karthus, you'll feel like a boss who got a ton of revenge.
Just keep in mind that you took aggressive wards and masteries so you could poke like crazy. You'll turn into a tank later through items, and your gameplay will shift throughout. But have some fun up top, not worrying about proper trades and damage output and instead opting to just shoot minions all day and be a constant pest. This is the Sion way!