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Sylas Build Guide by Vapora Dark

Top diamond

Play Like The Pros: Sylas Top

By Vapora Dark | Updated on March 6, 2019
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Grasp of the Undying
Bone Plating

Gathering Storm

+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+15-90 HP (lvls 1-18)


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite


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Middle Lane
Ranked #54 in
Middle Lane
Win 49%
Get More Stats

Champion Build Guide

Play Like The Pros: Sylas Top

By Vapora Dark
-Table of Contents-

Hi, I'm Vapora Dark, a veteran player that's been playing since season 1. During that time I've hit Master tier as a mid lane main in season 5, as an ADC main in season 7, and again as a jungle main in season 8. I can play every role to a very high level and have a very good understanding of the general aspects of the game on top of that. I'm also a full time League of Legends streamer and work for Riot Games to write champion guides on the Lolesports site, as well as having accumulated over 100 million views across all my MOBAFire guides, where I've been writing guides since 2011.

My Play Like The Pros guide series is a collaboration between myself and other high Elo experienced guide writers to bring you quality guides for as many different champions as possible. We use the tried and proven best builds used by pro players and elite solo queue players alike to ensure we give you the greatest possible chances of winning your games.
This guide was a collaboration with Vicious Skittle,
who wrote the majority of the guide.
Vapora Dark

Sylas is a Skirmishing Mage similar to champions like Ekko or Fizz. He has a very coherant kit for dominating in close range if he's able to properly use his abilities to keep himself alive. The pièce de résistance of his kit is the ultimate, Hijack, which allows Sylas to take an ultimate from an enemy and use it for himself. Sylas has a lot of potential to carry games as he can counter most team comps with their own ults.

If you like Sylas and would enjoy talking about him, come participate in /r/SylasMains on Reddit.

Resolve & Sorcery

Grasp of the Undying
In stark contrast to mid or jungle Sylas, top lane sylas can go resolve primary. You have 2 options here, Grasp of the Undying is fantastic against slow farming lanes as you can very easily just use Kingslayer and then auto attack if your grasp is ready to go for fantastic harassment. Aftershock is also really powerful as it's easy to trigger from your E and can help you survive against tougher lanes that can dive you or just keep pressure high on you. Grasp specifically enables him to go a more tanky build and become a weaker version of "Tank Ekko" which was one of the strongest champion and item combinations in the history of league of legends.

As tower plates are very strong, being able to almost always get one every time you get under the enemy tower is huge for gold income potential. Demolish scales with your maximum health which has some synergy with the items you buy and Grasp of the Undying if you take that.

Bone Plating
With the combination of Kingslayer, Grasp of the Undying and generally less poke in the top lane Bone Plating becomes the best option as it helps prevent all ins which is the only part of Sylas' kit that he's vulnerable too in top lane.

Gaining increased healing/shielding is fantastic with Sylas as he has both of these in his kit. Not to mention it increases in power when you are below 40% health, which is the same threshhold for your Kingslayer heal increase. The numbers this rune will be able to put out far surpasses the extra health Overgrowth will offer in most games.



Gathering Storm
Transcendence: Sylas becomes incredibly powerful through cooldown reduction but can't always build a lot. Transcendence allows Sylas to get an items worth of cooldown reduction when it matters most which is from the midgame onwards. As a melee champion it's also harder to stay above 70% max health making Absolute Focus not as powerful as it could potentially be.

Gathering Storm: After 20 minutes this rune bomes one of the strongest in the game. Whilst some matches simply don't go on long enough to make much use of this rune, it's consistency and assured power is very hard to give up. Especially noticeable if you're going more tanky than AP as getting a stready stream of ability power is valuable regardless of build.
Offense: 9 Adaptive Force
Flex: 9 Adaptive Force
Defence: 15-90 health or +8 Magic Resistance
This summoner spell is one you should always take and the one you'll always see. Flash has a billion and one uses, from flashing in to get a kill, from flashing away from danger, flashing over walls and flashing over abilities. This is something you should be very familiar with by now and it's something you should ALWAYS have. There is never a situation where you don't take flash.
Ignite: As a mage/skirmisher your job is to kill champions. Ignite the best summoner spell for the job and will always be useful throughout the match. The large amount of true damage and grevious wounds can single handedly kill champions who otherwise would have survived comfortably.
Although I find Ignite to be more powerful in most situations, Teleport is an important spell to understand in top lane. Being able to go across the entire map in 4 seconds will always be powerful, but as it has no direct combat uses it's only good if you know what you're doing. It can also be a crutch if you're new to Sylas letting you get off bad recalls with little punishment.
-Skill Order-
> >
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Petricite Burst
Passive: Petricite Burst
The most simple part of Sylas' kit, after casting an ability your next basic attack instead becomes a large circle around Sylas that deals magic damage instead of any physical damage.

The most important thing to remember about this ability is that it's an auto attack reset. If you basic attack then cast an ability with a short cast time (such as Kingslayer or the first part of Abscond / Abduct) you can very quickly get off some good damage in the early game. Another thing to mention is that is has no innate cooldown. It's very similar to Lucian's Lightslinger in this regard, but instead of a lot of extra single target damage it's a bit of extra damage but can hit everything in a wide area. At its core however, it's very simply just an empowered basic attack that, with proper practice, be used to weave in a large amount of extra damage.

This passive is also what allows Sylas to easily clear waves early. The base damage is just a bit too low to kill waves early on even though the ability power ratios are high (which makes it good after an item or 2). Petricite Burst allows Sylas to Chain Lash the wave then basic attack to wave clear, and as you can easily cast multiple abilities for multiple procs you can very quickly decimate a wave.

Chain Lash
Q: Chain Lash
A dual line skillshot that triggers a small explosion at the point of the chains intersection that also causes a slow. Chain Lash is Sylas's most damaging ability and his wave clear once he gets some ability power. The bulk of the damage comes from being able to reliably hit both one of the chains (as the damage does not stack if you hit a target with both chains) and then hit the follow up detonation.

Chain Lash is like a cross between Winds of War, the old Blades of Torment and Death Ray. It should be noted that although the damage is high, the explosion does a lot less damage to minions and the explosion itself can be walked out of as it's fairly small. This means that to make the most out of the ability you need to cast it when the target has low options of mobility or are crowd controlled hard enough to let the 0.5s window pass without them leaving the small area.

W: Kingslayer
A point and click dash ability that deals moderate damage and heals Sylas for a moderate amount but can be amplified dramatically based on either your current health pool or the targets current health pool (and both at the same time).

When the target is below 40% health the damage is increased by 50%. This makes it useful as a psuedo-execute as the damage goes from moderate to fairly high. with a good ability power ratio and a high base damage, you can secure kills easily at the press of a key. This ability also has great synergy with Petricite Burst as once you dash to the target you'll be in melee range and then attempt to basic attack. However, the real power of this ability comes from the healing potential.

The heal itself is fairly substantial, healing for 190 at rank 5 without any ability power (and it has a pretty good ratio) making it great for sustaining in lane and in fights in general. It should be noted and emphasised that the healing only triggers on targeting an enemy champion. Monsters and minions do not trigger the heal (but they do take extra damage when low). If Sylas is below 40% max health the heal is doubled. Yes, that means the base heal at rank 5 is 380 with a 70% ability power ratio. You can practically heal from below 40% to max health with a single button press if the enemy is close enough (which is easy with your E). Depending on the situation you'll either want to save Kingslayer for the self healing in order to not die, or use it as a lite execute if you're not in threat of death.

Abscond / Abduct
E: Abscond / Abduct
A 2 part spell that gives Sylas both a heavy shield if he has a lot of ability power and some minor crowd control.

The first cast is a very simple dash that upon casting Sylas gains a shield. The dash itself can be used to make plays, and it works over terrain. Dodging skills and then taking less damage due to the shield is powerful in its own right and it perfect in a combo. The shield is fairly weak even with extra levels in this ability as it only gets powerful with ability power.

The second cast works in a very similar fashion to Bandage Toss from amumu. Instead of stunning the target for a second though they're instead mini-stunned and then knocked up for 0.5s. The damage is also super low gaining onl 15 base damage per rank with a low 20% ability powe ratio to boot. This skill, both the dash and the reverse pull, is pure utility.

Casting the dash forwards then casting Kingslayer will let Sylas close a lot of distance, then after triggering a basic attack you can cast the second part to crowd control the enemy whilst you lay down your Chain Lash which lasts long enough to get the detonation off. If the enemy doesn't have much mobility you can slow down the combo in order to get more Petricite Burst's in for more damage, but in the current state of the game you can only reliably get one in during the combo then one at the very end if they survive.

R: Hijack
A fairly simple point and click ability that has an absurd amount of uses that it requires knowledge of every champion in the game to make the most out of it. Whilst I wouldn't consider Sylas a mechanically difficult champion, Hijack requires a lot of knowledge to use to its full potential, so much so I would need to cover literally every champion in the game to cover this skill.

An important point to note is that the ultimate is based off of Sylas' power, not the target you steal from. This means if you're level 6 and the enemy is level 5 you can still take their ultimate even if they don't have it. It also means that it's based off of your stats instead of theirs, Sylas even converts attack damage ratios into ability power ratios as you'll never be getting any attack damage.

As you can steal every single ultimate in the game, it's eaiser to show the potential by linking a video to it showcasing the current potential (champions released after Sylas will of course not be in the video, but it should be a lot eaiser to understand Hijack after watching it.

The cooldown on this ability goes down dramatically at later levels, but it doesn't mean you can cast Requiem every 10 seconds if the enemy Karthus is infront of you. It has an on-target cooldown similar to Sweeping Blade making it most useful against multiple champions. It should also be mentioned that some abilities are lot worse without the rest of the champions kit to back them up, Pyroclasm and Noxian Guillotine are very powerful ultimates that only become strong when they are effected by their passives. As Sylas doesn't take the passive, they become dramatically weaker. Empowering ultimates lets Sylas use their empowered abilities making this point not true for champions like Heimerdinger and Karma. For every interaction, watch the video.

Doran's Ring
Extra health, ability power and mana sustain is almost mandatory for mid lane mages. The ability to buy 2 Health Potion's as well is super important for a melee champion as in the early game you will be forced off of minions and take poke damage. You can also buy Corrupting Potion if you're able to trade a lot (such as against another melee) or a Doran's Shield against a very dangerous lane (such as Jayce) but overall you'll want to stick with Doran's Ring.
Ninja Tabi
As a mage, flat penetration is supremely powerful. However, in top lane you're unlikely to be able to burst your lane opponent. This means defence boots like Ninja Tabi or Mercury's Treads are going to be your better options. The former against physical damage and the latter against crowd control and magical damage. You can still buy Sorcerer's Shoes if you're doing well and not doing a tanky build, but in top lane it's unlikely to be a wise choice.
Hextech Protobelt-01
As your first item, protobelt is going to be your best bet. Whilst it has only average ability power and only 10% Cooldown reduction compared to an item like Luden's Echo it has flat health and is very cheap. Not to mention the Hextech Revolver component has great synergy with Petricite Burst giving you some lane pressure once you get it. The most important part of this item though is the active fire bolt. It lets you close the distance even further but also be used as another burst of damage as the bolts it shoots out can shotgun for good damage. It also helps with waveclear as minions take full damage from multiple bolts, enabling you to easily clear waves throughout the game.
Rod of Ages
If you're doing a more tanky build, then the best first item can be a rod of ages instead of a protobelt. 100 ability power and 500 health with a good bit of mana is fantastic for an AP bruiser. You although Catalyst of Aeons is somewhat weak as a first item, it hasn't stopped champions like Maokai or Swain from beiong bad in the past.
Lich Bane
After your protobelt, Lich Bane is going to be your best item second. As you'll want to be weaving in as many basic attacks as possible to make the most use of Petricite Burst and you have fairly low cooldowns you can make great use of the on-hit magic damage this item offers. Offering every stat Sylas wants with a very good build path makes it a fantastic second item.
Iceborn Gauntlet
If you plan on going into a tanky build, Iceborn Gauntlet offers Sylas a lot of physical resistance, mana and cooldown reduction. The AoE slow is also fantastic as it lets you stick on enemies very easily. Together with your Chain Lash and Petricite Burst you can also clear waves easily as well.
Oblivion Orb
The next few items are for the damage/mage style of Sylas that his mid and jungle counterparts go. Before or after you finish your Lich Bane, if you're snowballing you can buy an Oblivion Orb and later a Morellonomicon for extra flat magic penetration. As you don't always need the healing reduction the full item offers, it's fine to just sit on the orb for the penetration until you finish more important items.
Rabadon's Deathcap
After Lich Bane your remaning 3 items are situational. Starting with Rabadon's Deathcap you gain a huge amount of ability and a large ability power multiplier which is perfect for every mage-like character in the game. Whilst it's very expensive and only offers raw ability power, Sylas has a lot of high ratios and with just the first 2 items and the runes above you'll hit 40% cooldown reduction without any more from items at level 18.
Zhonya's Hourglass
Although you have a large heal and lots of mobility with a shield, some champions can still melt you before you do anything. Zed, Rengar and Talon can all be shut down fairly reliably if you're able to properly use this item. Offering good armour ability power and some cooldown reduction this is a must buy against physical damage heavy teams or matchups where you need the stasis.
Void Staff
Whilst the Void Staff will allow you to penetrate all kinds of magic resistance which is very powerful, it's important to know it's not very cost efficient. The target must have over 80 magic resistance for it to even be considered. As most people buy flat penetration from Oblivion Orb and Sorcerer's Shoes you must check the enemy teams items before comitting to buying this.
Banshee's Veil
Sometimes you need a lot of magic resistance and the ability to negate an ability. Sylas is unique in the fact he's a melee champion with very low magic resistance per level. This means champions like Kassadin, LeBlanc and Fizz can really destroy him if you don't play carefully. This item acts like a magic resistance version of Zhonya's Hourglass with a different passive instead of an active, again to be considered against matchups you where you need MR or the ability to stop an ability.
Mejai's Soulstealer
If you're snowballing hard and simply not dying, then you can buy Dark Seal and upgrade it into Mejai's Soulstealer. To make the purchase worthwhile you'll want to always have at least 8 stacks or so but really you'll want all 25 stacks for the huge amount of ability power an extra movement speed this item offers. I really should emphasise that this is a pure snowball item and should not be bought every game.
Spirit Visage
The next few items are for if you're going a more tanky AP bruiser style of Sylas. Spirit Visage is a fantastic item on Sylas if you need any magic resistance. Offering health CDR and a lot of MR it works incredibly well to make up for his biggest short coming, no MR. Most importantly though is that it increases your healing by 30%. Together with the rune Revitalize, your Kingslayer without any ability power can heal for over 700 health.
Dead Man's Plate
This item is perfect if you need to close the distance against kiting enemy champions. Although it's fairly weak as a stand alone tank item it does offer extra damage that other tank items don't. Great for roaming around the map as well.
Randuin's Omen
You should only buy this item against teams who have high critical strike damage output. Yasuo, Twitch, Caitlyn and Tristana are just a few examples where this item is good but Lucian, Jax and Ezreal are a few in where they deal high physical damage but not as much critical strike based. Always read the enemy teams item purchases before making your own.
Liandry's Torment
Although an ability power item, this item is fantastic as a stand alone item for damage without needing other investment. Together with your slows you can consistently burn the enemy team for their max health which can be great against super tanky opponents that also hurt a lot such as Sion, Cho'Gath and Dr. Mundo.
Against teams with auto attack based healing you'll want Bramble Vest and then the fully upgraded Thornmail. Fiora is the biggest example of wanting this item, but champions like Irelia, Darius and Renekton also get countered pretty hard by this too.
Abyssal Mask
This item is great for AP tanks and AP bruisers as it gives you a 15% more multiplier when you're close to the target. As Sylas is fairly short ranged you can reliably get the bonus damage when it counts. It does share the same eternity passive as Rod of Ages but it's fairly minor and isn't particularly wasted by stacking it as it's not super powerful innately.

Laning Phase
As Sylas you'll most likely be forced under tower often and be eating a lot of poke until you get some levels. Your weakest point is without a doubt the early laning phase as not only do you have fairly low base damage without comitting hard with your passive, you also do not gain a reliable ultimate at level 6. Even if the enemies ultimate is good for you, the cooldown is still going to be most likely double theirs. For example, if you're against a Zed, at level 6 Death Mark has a 120 second cooldown. With Hijack you can potentially duel the zed as you'll have access to the detonation and swap of the shadow clone. You even gain the attack damage permenently which is nice, however the cooldown before you can steal it again is most likely going to be well over 200 seconds. That is a huge window of vulnerability.

This is even more noticeable against champions who either stack their ultimate with the rest of their kit of simply don't have a powerful ultimate. Kassadin gains his power through using his ultimate multiple times, as you can only use it once it's basically just a single use blink for you. Orianna can manipulate the place where her ultimate goes thanks to her ball, but as you don't have the ball you need to be in melee range to use it. Pantheon simply doesn't have a combat ultimate so it's practically useless in lane against him, as is Galio or Ryze. You really need to understand your lane opponents potential and your potential with their ultimate, as you can't reliably just leave lane to take a different ultimate from a different lane.

However, Grasp of the Undying or Aftershock can greatly assist with countering your early lane weakness as it's very hard to trade onto someone who can dash in with a heal then can dash out with a shield. Your waveclear is also a lot harder to punish in top lane as usually you're against melee champions who can't poke you under tower. This allows you to make liberal use of your passive Petricite Burst to clear waves quickly. This also works if the enemy laner recalls poorly or roams somewherer as Demolish can very quickly work down their tower giving you a good gold advantage and map pressure.

Mid Game
Once you have an item or 2, Sylas really starts to become a threat. Being able to burst down squishy characters whilst also being very hard to kill from his shield ( Abscond / Abduct), his heal ( Kingslayer) and pretty good health pool ( Hextech Protobelt-01). You'll mostly be looking for skirmishes with 2-3 enemies or one sided fights through assassinating or outnumbering the enemy team.

Most importantly though is that you can mirror an enemy very easily which is immeasureably powerful. Having trouble surviving dive? Steal the enemy supports ultimate for disengage or counter engage. Keep getting bursted? Steal a survivability ult often found on tanks and some carries. Need massive damage? Steal a carries ult or a mages one. You will always have options as Sylas enabling you play how you need to rather than be locked into a specific thing that might not go well.

Your biggest weakness is siegeing/splitting however, as usually compositions based on these strategy's have solid disengage (which really can counter Sylas) or they have a super potent duelist that requires multiple people to deal with allowing the rest of the enemy team time to scale or get objectives.

If you're going a more tanky build, splitting is a lot less dangerous for you but you're then a lot worse at bursting someone down. You're unlikely to be able to consistently kill an enemy bruiser in a split off but they can't get any tower damage off of you. Not to mention if they're a global pressure split pusher you can match them easily. Shen for example will be completly countered by Sylas as Sylas pushes faster than shen can, won't ever die to Shen and can steal Stand United to follow him around the map.

Late Game
In the late game your win condition is usually going to be stealing multiple ultimates from the enemy team to swing teamfights into your favour. Your biggest strength is being able to get in deep easily and deal large amounts of damage but instead of being able to disengage you'll have multiple classes of champions ultimates at your disposal. Need to engage? Steal the Leona ult. Need to burst someone as quick as possible? Steal that Evelynn execute. Dying too quickly? Janna, Zilean, Lulu or Jax can help you there. Every single game can be totally different based on the enemy teams composition, but no matter what that is you excel in picking fights or full on teamfighting.

It should also be mentioned that although you deal a lot of damage and have a pretty large health pool, you have practically no disengage naturally and enemy teams won't always have disengage ultimates to help you with that. This means your best bet is to have a team built around teamfighting or play around objectives like Baron or Elder to force a chaotic fight that you can manipulate with Hijack. This weakness is a lot less pronounced if you're tanky but so is your strength of high damage. You'll go from a skirmishing assassin into a skirmishing diver (kind of like Kayn's Rhaast, but less damage and way more utility potentially).
Hopper is Bae
Sylas is an AP skirmishing mage that excels in fights with and against multiple champions. He starts off fairly weak as his laning phase has a fair few weaknesses but his innate sustain and mobility can help him stall long enough to get an item and become very powerful. Hijack allows him to steal enemy ultimates for his own teams benefit and in the late game is able to do so multiple times in a single fight which has incredible power as being able to use multiple fight winning ultimates on a single champion if incredibly strong. He can also change his build up to become pretty tanky which can enable him to match split push threats and be very obnoxious to be similar to a tank ekko lite.

Special thanks to Hopper for banners and coding. This guide was a collaboration with Vicious Skittle, who wrote the majority of the guide.
Check out my Jungle and Top lane Sylas guides here:
League of Legends Build Guide Author Vapora Dark
Vapora Dark Sylas Guide
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