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Support Raizins' Challenger Alistar Guide Patch 12.1 - Q for ELO!

Support Raizins' Challenger Alistar Guide Patch 12.1 - Q for ELO!

Updated on January 6, 2022
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Raizins Build Guide By Raizins 15 0 12,039 Views 2 Comments
15 0 12,039 Views 2 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Raizins Build Guide By Raizins Updated on January 6, 2022
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Raizins's Featured Video

Runes: Aftershock (Read notes!)

1 2 3
Font of Life
Bone Plating

Hextech Flashtraption
Cosmic Insight

+8 ability haste
+6 Armor
+6 Armor


1 2
Standard Runes
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
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None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None

About me

Hey folks! Welcome to the only Alistar guide you'll ever need made by me, Raizins!

I've been playing League of Legends since Season 2 and started as a jungler before switching to support around season 4. I have had competitive experience playing in the UK League Championship and have been high elo on EUW since around Season 3, both in jungle and support.

I stream relatively regularly so if you want to see my climbing the ladder and learn about how to be a better support feel free to tune in!

The Guide has been updated with new runes + items for Season 12! Phase rush is no longer the best rune page, and there are some items that Ali players should try out.

So why did I choose to play Alistar? Well to be honest I have only been One-Tricking since the start of season 11. Before that I played many different champions, but I wanted to find out just how high I could climb with only 1 champion and I ended up choosing Alistar as my choice of one-trick. I'll get into exactly why I chose him in the next section but the first and main reason is I love the playstyle!

If you enjoy a champion enough then you'll never have to worry about champion select again, and I strongly recommend Alistar to players who want to take control of the game and feel like you are the reason your team is winning.

So strap in and prepare to smash the Q button for Elo.

Let's get started!

+ Very easy to learn kit
+ One of the best roaming champs
+ Exceptionally good engage
+ Decent disengage
+ Can abuse Hexflash
+ Great gank setup for junglers
+ Good sustain in lane
+ You are a second jungler (Perma gank!)

Alistar is a fantastic champion to learn if you want to carry from the support role. He has an amazing mix of both engage, roaming potential and peel mixed into a very tanky angry cow. Dominating on the map and forcing your opponents to play scared is one of the reasons support is a very broken role in high elo and climbing should feel very much in your hands if you learn when and how to punish the enemy for being out of position!

- Not the best laning phase
- Vulnerable to poke champions
- Long CD's
- Squishy when behind or no ultimate
- Struggles against heavy disengage

Alistar Can be deceptively difficult to play, especially as you climb. As you play against better players they will respond to your combo faster and with less hesitation, so keep that in mind as you climb. Early game can also be very tough, as laning against poke champions or ranged matchups can mean you have to give up early laning phase pressure until you hit level 2 or 3 and have your Headbutt + Pulverize combo.

Passive - Triumphant Roar

Alistar's passive allows you to survive in tough lanes by sustaining through some of the poke. It's uses outside of laning phase are quite limited, and it lives up to its name being something you will passively gain benefits from early game rather than actively keeping an eye on it. However in lane you can use it to your advantage by forcing fights as you are about to heal, surprising the enemy with your extra HP.

Q - Pulverize

Your Q is your most important CC ability. It's a very simple spell with a tremendous amount of power and flexibility. Basically, you hit the ground very hard and everything in a small AoE around you is knocked up for 1 second. This doesn't apply to baron or dragon 's and is also stopped by abilities like Spell Shield and Black Shield. Using your Q effectively can be the difference between an "Alistar" player, and an Alistar player!

Pulverize can interrupt a wide range of movement and channeled abilities, so learning when to use it can make or break a fight. Understanding the value of when to use it aggressively or defensively is something that you'll have to practice!

Examples of important abilities you can interrupt with Q!
Death Lotus
Nether Grasp
Rocket Jump

There are a lot of really important interactions so think creatively!

W - Headbutt

Keeping the trend of simple abilities with awesome depth, Alistar's Headbutt is a point and click skill which dashes to the target and then knocks them back a fixed distance. There are some very interesting interactions with this ability, but first it's important to know that during the knockback the enemy is effectively "stunned". The knock back actually counts as a displacement which means tenacity doesn't affect the knockback at all.

Combining this ability with your Pulverize is your bread and butter combo. But the complexity increases the more you learn!
For example, a simple W + Q combo seems to be useless against Tristana's Rocket Jump but if timed properly you can interrupt her jump with both Headbutt or Pulverize depending on what angle you are comboing her from.

Additionally, if the enemy is Headbutted against a wall they still get "stunned" for the duration meaning you can extend the time they are CC'ed in place allowing you to stack your Trample much easier.

E - Trample

This is another very simple ability with a lot of depth. When activated Alistar deals damage in an area around him every 0.5 seconds. Every time he hits a champion with his damage tick he gets a stack up to 5 stacks. This is indicated by a buff under alistar. Once at 5 stacks his next attack stuns a target for 1 second and deals bonus damage.

Stacking Trample effectively is something you should always be thinking about as combined with your W + Q combo you have a tremendous amount of CC on a target. The interesting thing to note about your E is that your W + Q combo doesn't give you enough time to stack your E on the target fully, as you need 2.5 seconds. So any filler CC by your teammates often can secure your E stun and allow you to chain CC the target.

Trample is very powerful with Phase Rush, and I'll discuss some uses in the runes section!

R - Unbreakable Will

Alistar's ultimate ability is the reason he becomes a super tank during fights. This is an extremely powerful resource which you can use to absorb enemy cooldowns and continue disrupting the backline.

As soon as you press R, all CC is cleansed from you (That includes Suppressions) and you gain massive physical and magic damage reduction for 7 seconds. Using this ability properly can allow you to facetank some of the most deadly abilities in the game, and force your opponents to use their skills in very sub-optimal ways.

For example, using Unbreakable Will to deny an enemy Skarner's Impale means he can never use it on you. Which in turns means he can never prevent you from standing between him and your carries, this makes teamfights against a good alistar very difficult!

You can also use your ultimate to tank towers during dives, or prevent the enemy from killing you, so you can land a second combo on the enemy backline. A great example of this would be if your backline is struggling to survive against a fed Jinx because she outranges them. Well you can dive into Jinx and keep her from hitting your backline, pop your Unbreakable Will and then stand in between her and your team, giving your team some more time to deal with the enemy frontline.

A few very important notes about your ultimate.
  • It scales very well with levels and tanky items. You will notice a massive increase in tankiness when hitting level 11, and if somehow you get to level 16 as well.
  • Sylas can steal this ultimate and become the strongest champion in the game for 7 seconds, do not give him your ultimate easily
  • Your ultimate does NOTHING against true damage! This means effects like Challenging Smite and other abilities that deal true damage will ignore your damage reduction. Keep this in mind as some champion don't care about your ultimate, e.g. Camille.

When should you pick Alistar?

Your botlane matchup only really matters as far as getting out of laning phase is concerned. The main way you impact the game on Alistar is through roaming and pressuring mid/jungle on tempo. So playing away from lane is generally much more effective than locking yourself into laning phase where you most often get out ranged and out pushed. Understanding this means you should focus your effort on picking Alistar when you have good laners and junglers that can be played to.

Apart from the roaming aspect, when your team needs frontline the cow is your pick. Alistar functions as both engage and disengage so don't feel like you have to dive the enemy backline always!

There are some champions I would be VERY careful picking Alistar into. Take a look at the threats section of the guide for specific matchup details!
Champions such as Sylas will ruin your day by stealing your ultimate and you should take the time to weigh the cost of giving him Unbreakable Will in fights. Consider picking another champion who has a less impactful ultimate for Sylas!

FLASH: Flash Is mandatory on pretty much all champions, but it's especially useful on Alistar. In combination with your Headbutt + Pulverize combo you can also use it with your Q by starting the Q animation and then flashing during it to reposition the area you are knocking people up. There are other ways we can use flash, such as flashing behind someone and using Headbutt, or using Flash after stacking E to stun an unsuspecting target. Using flash in combination with your spells is a really powerful tool on playmaking champions so get creative!
IGNITE: Ignite I would take ignite in almost all matchups as Alistar has quite low damage, and needs the extra burst in lane to pressure. Ignite also allows you to go for more aggressive fights and roams early game with the knowledge that you can finish kills off if your teammates don't have the burst.

Also, it reduces healing by 60% (as of Patch 11.6!) which is pretty much mandatory against certain champions like Yone, Aatrox, Soraka and other spam healing champions.
EXHAUST: Exhaust Is a summoner spell I would only take if you absolutely need to deny an enemy diving your backline, but in most cases your ADC can better use exhaust and you're better off taking Ignite.
Nonetheless some champions really struggle against a well timed exhaust.
Such as, Zed, Tristana, Yone, Irelia.

Primary Tree - 3 Choices!

  • Aftershock Is the Bread and butter rune for Ali. After the Phase Rush nerfs it is back as the de facto best all-round rune for Alistar
  • Provides a tremendous burst of Tankiness that scales as you buy Armour and MR.
  • When Aftershock is available, CCing an enemy champion grants you 2.5 seconds of bonus Armour and MR. After the 2.5 seconds you deal dmg in a small area around you based on your bonus health. You can proc this ability by using Pulverize, Headbutt, or Trample (the stun portion).
  • Phase Rush Is a wonderful mobility tool to allow you to dart in and out of fights and reposition to land your Trample easier. It also allows you to escape in a lot of situations!
  • Phase rush has unfortunately been nerfed quite heavily, so only us this rune if you are 100% confident you can roam and snowball early game. Otherwise use Aftershock or Glacial Augment.
  • Learning how Phase Rush works is extremely important, as a player that doesn't understand how it works is much better off playing Aftershock.
  • Landing 3 separate ABILITIES or 3 auto attacks on a SINGLE champion will proc your phase rush and give you all it's bonuses for 4 seconds. This works with 2 abilities and 1 auto or 2 autos and 1 ability. The easiest way to proc phase rush is using your normal Headbutt + Pulverize combo and either Trample or and Auto attack. You only need 1 tick of Trample and be sure to use them on the same champion, as using 3 abilities on different champions WILL NOT proc phase rush.
  • Nimbus Cloak: This is one of the primary reasons we take the sorcery tree. Using Nimbus cloak in combination with Hexflash, you can surprise enemies from over walls or bushes alongside a huge movespeed bonus.
  • Another extremely important use of Nimbus cloak is using it to chase or run away when in danger. Your Ignite gives you the bonus movement speed when cast, so a great way to use Ignite is to chase enemies down to land your Trample! You can also use it to run away from ganks by Igniting the enemy and sprinting away as fast as possible.
  • Celerity: This rune is a less important part of the sorcery tree, but does pair nicely with all of our movement speed bonuses, namely Phase Rush, Shurelya's Battlesong, Nimbus Cloak and Waterwalking.
  • Some people have asked why I don't take Transcendence and the reason is that it's not a rune that helps during the phase of the game which Support Alistar is most impactful. Having to wait a large portion of the game (As you are a support and are often underleveled) to receive a small amount of Ability Haste is less valuable than having the bonus movement speed up front.
  • Waterwalking: The main strength of Alistar is his roaming potential, and the ability to quickly rotate between lanes will make finding those juicy midlane roams much easier! So don't sleep on this rune, as most of your time early game will be spent fishing for roams around bot river. Additionally it will help you chase or run away while warding river a bit easier.

Secondary Tree

  • Hextech Flashtraption: Welcome to the most broken rune possible on playmaking supports. This run deserves a guide all of its own but I'll try and make this short!
  • Taking Flash with this rune allows you to gain access to Hexflash when Flash is on CD. When cast, this spell channels for a short time, before allowing you to blink to a location, the distance depending on how long you held the channel for.
  • The first thing to note is that it allows you to get over walls and in between bushes. Already an incredibly powerful tool! Keep in mind that there is a minimum time you need to channel before you can blink.
  • Another important part of the spell is that it goes on a 10 second CD if you take or deal damage from champions. However, if you begin the channel BEFORE you enter champion combat you won't get interrupted unless you are CC'ed. Therefore you can actually start Hexflashing and run away if you can blink before they CC you!
  • This is one of the most versatile, and powerful tools in your arsenal as a playmaking support, and using Hexflash well will separate the good Alistar's from the great. I strongly recommend going into a practice tool and messing around with the spell, and seeing which walls you can jump over and whether you can pull of clean Hexflash + Headbutt + Pulverize combos as this will massively increase your roaming threat!
  • Cosmic Insight: This is an optional choice in the secondary tree that you can take to decrease your item/summoner spell CD's and allow you to possibly get more flash combos off during games. The best part of this rune is that it lowers your Flash CD noticeably, allowing you to make more plays!
  • Minion Dematerializer: This is a rune I take in really tough matchups where i can’t kill the cannon minions or help push. Sometimes in really difficult lanes I will only be able to roam when I use this rune on a cannon minion, and this allows me to find an opening in the game.

  • Biscuit Delivery: Taking biscuits is something you should consider if you find yourself struggling to survive matchups where you get poked and pressured very hard. But I would do your best to learn how to position and play the lane more effectively to eventually drop this rune. It is however a good training wheel rune.
  • Intro extreme poke matchups like Caitlyn, Karma lanes you may need to take this if you aren't going to get early jungle ganks!

Aftershock section to come! But remember to try and learn how to use Phase Rush, you'll thank me later.

Before we talk about any of those flashy items, I want to show you something!

What does this tell you? Well the higher the elo, the more people buy Control Wards! If you ever have any doubt as to why I put these 75 gold wonders at the top of this section then hopefully that image can clear some things up! Think of pink wards as an investment into a future play, and good use of wards will allow you to roam more, have more information and make better decisions using that information.

Buy a pink... Save a life!

Mythic Items


This is still a solid Mythic item for Alistar. As I've mentioned we LOVE movement speed and Shurelya's comes with a boatload of it on demand. An item that allows you to engage, disengage and reposition in fights alongside giving these benefits to allies. Be aware that you are giving up a fair emount of tankiness for this item, however if you learn to use the active properly you'll understand why a lot of good Ali players still favour this item. Is the option I would take when I don't need to dive or chase the enemy backline, and would rather stick to my carries and protect them. A great example would be if we had a really fed Jinx and the enemy team didn’t have enough DPS to win teamfights if Jinx is alive. I would prioritize going locket to make sure my fed Jinx can survive whatever they throw at her.


Mobility boots > EARLY ROAMING
I get asked a lot, "Why Mobis? Why not go Boots of Swiftness and always have the movement speed?". And my answer is that Mobility Boots offer what Ali needs more. Which is OUT of combat movement speed. You'll quickly realise that it's very powerful getting to a fight sooner, rather than needing to run around faster in fights. Remember that after you use your combo in a skirmish you have to wait a REALLY long time before you can do it again! This is the main reason why high elo Alistar players currently favour Mobility Boots.

Ninja Tabi (That's their name dammit) > FULL AD TEAMS LMAO
Best boots if you're against a heavy AD team. Especially against autoattackers. You will feel a little slow if you're used to playing with Mobility Boots but remember you can tank for much longer, so alter your playstyle and play to soak as much damage as possible in fights.

Optional Items

I've recently started appreciating the power of picking up a Zhonya's Hourglass in many games where I didn't know what else I needed. I can't count the amount of times I've baited out big abilities on the enemy team, or managed to go in and Hourglass then land one more combo to win the fight. This item is severly underrated in SolOQ and forces the enemy to not waste CD's on you. Just be aware that if you go in an instantly use it the enemy team CAN just ignore you if they aren't being threatened by your team!

This item shines when the enemy has 1 or 2 threats that are the main DPS and need to be shut down ASAP. Not only does this reduce their damage against you heavily but also increases the CC they take from you. This only really affects your Trample stun, as your Pulverise and Headbutt stuns are masked by their displacement effects so the impact isn't really felt there much. Keep in mind you also DO NOT reduce true damage so champions which build Kraken Slayer or have a Cho'Gath Q on their Q ability... ( Camille I['m looking at you) are still quite scary.

Anti-MR baby, just build this when enemies are full magic damage or the AD threat isn't very strong. It's a solid choice when you need a bit of MR, as frankly the other MR items kinda suck.. Ask riot to add some better MR items for support please!

I build this when the game is very spread out and I need to cross the map fast. Stacks well with Mobility Boots and allows me to get to side-lanes very quickly, for example I have 2 splitpushers and they are not grouping. I don't need as much in the way of combat stats, my main role will be running around making sure things are warded and everyone is safe to push.

A solid choice if you have a hyper carry who pumps out damage and desperately needs help staying alive. Pairs very well with Locket of the Iron Solari.

I pick up item up in situations where my team needs Grevious Wounds and doesn't have a good application of it on our carries, or in the event that the enemy team has a ridiculous amount of healing. Which for some reason feels like it's a lot these last few seasons! So I tend to grab this item to apply anti-heal on targets I combo instantly, it usually helps burst targets down.

A lot of people ask me why I don't build Watchful Wardstone in my games. And the answer is suprisingly simple. The higher elo you go, the quicker the games are. People don't generally let you scale when they are ahead. And if I'm ahead I would want more useful items, and when I'm behind... Well I'm a support so I am not getting much gold either way. If you find yourself super late game and need an item it's very gold efficient but don't stress about reaching this. You're a support so you shouldn't be soaking up gold until every else on your team has reached full build.

Most of your games will finish before you complete your second item if you roam properly on Alistar. Keep in mind your gold income is severely reduced after you finish your Relic Shield quest so don't bank on getting 3 or 4 items before the game ends!
Having a clear plan of how you want to play the laning phase and which lanes to roam towards is extremely important on Alistar! Try your best to assess whether you should be ganking mid, trying to win lane, or helping your jungler! If you want more info on how a Challenger support thinks about roams check out this video.

Focus on getting to lvl 3, as that is when you have the most kill threat against most squishy bot lane champions. Don't take too much poke early on, and learn how to manage the minions, so you aren't pushing too close to the enemy tower, leaving yourself vulnerable to ganks. Focus on finding windows to help your jungler secure bottom crab, and prevent your adc from being pressured off the wave. Remember that in certain matchups you can actually take short trades, but keep in mind that you will run out of mana incredibly quickly if you spam your combo!

This is where Alistar comes online. After you get Boots, you should start looking to be constantly moving on the map, in between waves botlane. Don't abandon your ADC completely, but keep in mind that if you stay botlane forever, you are much less useful than if you're roaming in most cases. Look for Hex Flashes over walls and between brushes in botlane, as well as ganking the enemy jungler with your jungler whenever possible. Essentially you are a second jungler, move around on the map and annoy the enemy as often as possible.
Even just dipping into fog of war can be extremely threatening to the enemy jungle/mid and make them second guess whether you are about to gank them! Use this to your advantage and put the fear of the cow in them.

When you do find yourself in a fight, remember you have huge CD's so never waste your combo on a target if there is no follow up. The number one issue I see with beginner Alistar players, is blowing their combo when there is no way that their teammates can DPS. This is a massive mistake and often leads to you forcing fights that are unwinnable. Play around your teammates CD's and make sure that you know the most important targets to combo. Don't waste your CC on someone useless if that means the enemy Yasuo can ult your backline for free!

Try to trade when your Keystone rune ( Aftershock, Glacial Augment) is up, and use your ultimate only when you are about to take burst damage and need to wait for a second combo. Think of your ultimate Unbreakable Will as a panic button you can press when you put yourself in a situation that you have no way out of. Otherwise, save it for when you are about to take the most burst damage if possible after you blow your combo, to allow you to reach your second combo if the fight goes on that long.

This is where Alistar's can show off their mechanics. Often in late-game team fights there are a few extremely important abilities that can win or lose a fight based on team-comps. Examples include Katarina's Death Lotus, or Orianna's Command: Shockwave. If you play around certain abilities and identify which abilities you can either deny outright (such as interrupting a Katarina R), or enable your team to use, then you will have a better understanding of how to play fights. Almost all of late-game teamfighting revolves around CD management and situational awareness, so make sure you have an eye on the big players in fights and track their big abilities!
That's the end of the guide, thanks for reading and I hope you find as much fun playing Alistar as I do!

Remember to check out my videos for educational league content and Pulverize that upvote button if you found this guide helpful.

As a reminder, I stream regularly in the evenings (GMT) and would love to hang out and answer any questions you have so drop by and say hi.

Thanks, and good luck in soloQ!

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