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Lissandra, SURPRISE, I'm the tank
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This build gives you an edge in winning your lane and carrying late game fights by allowing you to initiate, control the fight, and survive. As opposed to the typical glass canon method that makes you rely on staying back and saving your ability to dive for an escape instead of an initiate.
Also going with this guide gives your team an edge. Most people expect Lyssandra to play like a glass canon or not have a large amount of hp, so when you dive in it is very easy for you to draw their focus because they expect you to die easily. However, with the large amount of hp this build provides and your ability to cc allows you to survive the focus and keep the enemy team in play for your team to pick up an ace.
Since Lissandra is new, most people still rely heavily on championselect to figure out a counter for her, which always works in your favor. The only counter accurately listed on championselect is Kassadin, and even he can be conquered with enough practice. Your primary adversaries mid are as follows: Talon, Fiddlesticks, Nidalee. If you are relatively new to Liss or you have not mastered her play style, do not go mid against these champions. I will elaborate later.
Lissandra builds very well into an early game off tank and a late game main tank. You have tons of cc and the extra cc and early leveling of your w and e allows you to kite any and all enemies. Once you gain enough experience you will not have a counter mid. I always win my lane when I play liss with this build.
The typical approach: Glass canon
MY approach: Surprise Tank
Tons of CC
Built in Zhonyas
Has an escape
Has a snare
Short cooldown on heavy damage
-can get lots of kills for yourself, provided the situation is right
Long cooldowns for cc
Susceptible to poke
Must keep a good distance
Short range (attack and spells)
Can not engage, you need your e to escape
Must rely on cover to hide and jump into a fight from
-can get you caught, or leave you far from the fight
Tons of CC
Built in Zhonyas
Has an escape
Has a snare
Can engage any fight
Can dive for kills
Long cooldowns for cc
Susceptible to poke without items
Must keep a good distance until its time to engage
Short range (attack and spells)
Must rely on team to pick up kills
-relies on using a well timed spell to secure the kill for yourself
After this buy another Amplifying Tome or a Ruby Crystal depending on your difficulty experienced. Do not be afraid to end up with two amplifying tomes and two ruby crystals on your way to your Haunting Guise and Catalyst the Protector which you should have at the same time as your Boots then proceed to build as follows:
Your core items are:
Rod of Ages
(Buy Mercury's Treads if they have lots of ap or cc and buy Ninja Tabi if they have lots of ad).
The Liandry's Torment is great for your ulti and for harassment with your q and don't forget its hp.
Rod of Ages helps you scale up your ap and hp early game and building the catalyst of the protector early helps you sustain in lane.
And tank boots since were building lissandra as the tank.
After that build Rylai's Crystal Scepter(starting with the giants belt) in order to increase the slow you have and add a slow onto the rest of your moves (w and e do not deliver a slow). This item also brings you over 3k hp and if you are performing well enough will make you the champion on your team with the most hp.
Next build your Warmog's Armor (starting with the giants belt) in order to complete becoming tank and break 4k hp.
Next build your Abyssal Mask in order to make your poke more effective and help everyone else secure kills while you cc. I have not found any other good alternatives for final items that make you as effective as this build.
Notes on order:
Early game order is determined by how you are doing. If you are getting kills with >50% hp then buy 2 amplifying tomes and a blasting wand so you can continue to kill them. However if you are not surviving your fights with a lot of hp, buy more hp before you stack more early game ap. Any way you build your first three items should be liandrys, rod of ages, and level 2 boots.
Q: Ice Shard This does reasonable damage and is on a fairly short cooldown. However it is one of your most expensive spells. This is your primary means of harassment. This is a skill shot that does magic damage on impact and does magic damage to all enemies behind the enemy that got hit.
(As far as i can tell there is no limit on the number of shards that come off of your broken shard, but the shards break in the direction that you fired the shard in, so even if the enmy is right behind the creep, if you fired the shard at an angle, he won't be hit.)
W: Ring of Frost This is your bread and butter for damage and securing kills. It is easier to land than your Q and E since it is an aoe. It also has a root duration that increases with level. Provided you have the enmy to half hp with your Q, you can use your W to secure the kill even if you don't land your E on them.
E: Glacial Path This is what makes you overpowered. This is a skill shot that slides a hand out from you in the direction you chose. It takes time for the hand to slide along the complete path and it damages all enemies that it encounters. It can be difficult to lead this ability into the enemies path, but you are mainly relying on it for transportation and clutch snares. If you cast this ability again before the hand collapses on the other side, you will instantly teleport to the location of the hand. This ability can be used to run from the enemy, dive the enemy, escape a tower, and slide through a wall.
(Always keep this spell ready, you never know when you will need to run from the enemy, and never use this spell for harassment. Either use this to dive the enemy after you have brought them below half hp or use it to run away from them. Try and start an engagement with your W instead of your E.)
if you are ganking, always use your E to slide through a wall or out from a bush as this is the least expected technique and is the most effective for grabbing the enemy focus (which you want as the tank) do not worry about hitting the enemy with your E, instead focus on snaring as many of them as possible with your W and then choose a target for your ulti.
Ulti, R: Frozen Tomb This is a built in Zhonya's Hourglass. If you use this ability on yourself, you become invulnerable for 1.5 seconds (which is enough time to break agro from tower) or yi fyou use this on an enemy they become snared for 1.5 seconds while still being able to receive damage. Any enemies that are in the large aoe that emanates from the frozen tomb take damage per second (plus liandrys dots) and are slowed. This is on a reasonably short cooldown so do not be afraid to use this to save your life or snare one person from running away.
Fiddlesticks is the hardest to deal with since he does not have any skill shots. He will constantly harass you with his crow(silence) and use his fear/life drain combo on you whenever you get close enough. So again make sure you never use your e to dive him as he will just fear you and take all of your hp. Instead maintain a healthy distance from him and friendly creeps. Poke him with your q a lot, save your e for when he fears you, and svae your ulti to counter play his ulti. you will almost never dive in on fiddlesticks and kill him solo since he has a fear and life drain. Get him low enough and ping for a gank.
Nidalee is extremely hard to deal with if she lands he spear. I have played against a nid that landed upwards of 75% of her spears and I lost by a long shot. I played against one nidalee who couldnt land 10% of her spears and I won my lane first. It all depends on her ability to hit you with her spear and your ability to kite her into spearing one of your minions. if she is low on mana or you have picked up some hp and magic resist, you should be able to dive and kill her. Just never dive her when you are below 50% hp as she can maul you as the cat and then finish you off with her spear as you flee. Remember to you can utilize your e to dodge, simply cast it and jump to it at a point that is out of the spears path.
Talon is a pain in the *** to deal with as lissandra. You must get a lot of ganks in order to conquer talon. (I just finished a game vs talon where I went 3/0/8 during a 20 minute game where the talon went 0/10, but i attribute that to my ability to poke talon enough and then kite him right into xin my jungler). It is very hard for you to poke talon since every time you get close to the minions he shoots his blades out at you and slows you. Whenever you see him use this shoot your q at him. Maintain a healthy distance and never stand inside your creep wave. Save your ulti to stop him from fleeing from a gank or to save your life from his ulti. Do not openly engage him as he can easily burst you and prevent you from fleeing with his slow/silence. Handle with extreme caution.
Make sure to constantly harass with your Q. Make sure your passive is up so that you can use your Q to harass without jeopardizing your mana pool. Your Q splinters on enemy impact so the most effective way to harass is to use your q to hit a creep and have one of the shards land on the enemy champion. Remember the shards break in the direction that you shot them with a small coning effect.
Once your enemy is down to half hp (provided you have your ulti or ignite) you can risk diving them for the kill (provided you have more hp than burst damage they can deal) Start by hitting them with another Q, then if they are close enough snare them with your W (remember we don't like to risk wasting the E). If you can't land the W from where you are, use your E to hit them, then telport to it. Snare them with your W and hit them with the Q again.
At this point you should have a good feeling about how the engagement is going to go. If it seems like they will run once the snare is up, ulti them. If it seems like you are going to die, ulti yourself. Either way you will be able to shoot your Q again at them and then if you still need help securing your kill ignite them and line up for another E/W combo.
When Team Fighting:
Hopefully you have broken 3k HP by the time tha lane phase is over. At this point you can use you E to dive into the enemy team and start a fight. Just make sure your team is nearby and is aware of what you are doing. Once you have jumped in snare shoot your Q and snare as many of them as possible with your W. At this point evaluate whether they are going to run or try and kill you. If you think they will risk killing you, then ulti yourself and use your E to jump out and W to snare them as you flee. If they are going to run, use your ulti on the person that is closest to you, but most likely to escape, That way your team can catch up to them and anyone who is trying to run past will be slowed down.
Once it is late game you can use your e to clear half of the wave, jump to the middle, and use your w to finish them off. You can clear entire lanes like this. Be careful doing so though because you wont have your e so try and do this in the direction of your base.
Best Creep Clear
The most effective way to clear creep waves is to fire your Q at all of them, hit them all with your W, and then finish them with your Q so that your E is ready to help you flee if needed.
Ice Shard combined with Iceborn
Do not follow the other guides that tell you to buy a tear or a chalice, you do not need the mana that badly. These items jeopardize your ability to build enough ap and hp and prevent you from doing enough early damage. Instead focus on doing all of your harass with your Q while your passive is up, the cooldown on your passive is only 15 seconds so just be patient.
Tons of CC!
Ring of Frost and Frozen Tomb
This can not be emphasized enough, you have 2 slows, a snare, and a dive, and then rylais makes you even more potent. With enough hp you can engage any champion and slow/snare them enough to get one of your teammates over for the kill. You can also turret dive and if it looks bad, ulti yourself for aoe damage and to break the focus of the turret and make them waste their ultis. Never be afraid to use your ulti, it is only castable on enemy champions/yourself and it is on a decently short cooldown.
YOUR Q SLOWS THE ENEMY. If you need to run or if you think they are going to run, remember to blast them with your q.
Get familiar with the range on your W, this allows you to snare enemies as you run or as they run. Also remember you can use your W in the middle of your E.
Do not underestimate your ability to secure a kill or escape with your E. Try to keep your w on cooldown for when you use your E. Either dive in with your E and snare them shortly thereafter with your W, or cast your E to escape, cast your W to snare them, and then recast your E to jump.
When you engage this way to not blow your ulti too soon. Your w and e should be halfway off cooldown before you use your ulti. This is so that the enemy does not instantly assume you are trapping them, they think they are going to get a free kill. Then they see your team and they try to run away on a giant patch of ice while the strongest among them is frozen solid by your ulti. Then your w and e will be up again and you can slide in with your e and use your w to clean up the stragglers that slipped away.
You will also be completely surprised how many times in a row you will dive in and initiate them and they will still focus you with all they have just to die while you slip away. People barely know how to fight liss, almost no one knows how to counter her, and under 5% of the players epect you to be the tank. Also surprisingly 95% of players don't check the item builds before choosing focus, or else none of them would focus me since I end the game with 5k hp and they still chase me around while my team beats on them.
If you are not vs a champion with a large amount of poke or one of the 3 I have listed as Liss counters (fiddlesticks, nidalee, or talon) or kassadin, then you can go with the masteries listed. These allow you to poke early on and then you can build your tank ability from your items.
Otherwise, if you are vs a strong counter to lissandra, you will want the extra sustain that going with tank masteries provide. Make sure you get up to the +8% magic penetration in offense, and then focus on the crowd control masteries in defense.
The runes are not negotiable, you need a fair balance of resists, ap, and penetration for you to be effective in your lane early game without items.