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Alistar Build Guide by very hot

Support Smurfing in Elo Hell - Alistar Pre-S11 Guide

By very hot | Updated on November 22, 2020
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Runes: Standard

1 2
Resolve
Aftershock
Font of Life
Bone Plating
Revitalize

Inspiration
Hextech Flashtraption
Biscuit Delivery
Bonus:

+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor

Spells:

Ignite
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite

Ignite

LeagueSpy Logo
Support Role
Ranked #29 in
Support Role
Win 50%
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Threats & Synergies

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Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Hi guys! I'm very hot, just a normal guy who's played League for the past 6 years or so. Alistar is one of my favorite champions, and I'm here to teach you guys how to play this mad cow. While I generally enjoy a nice Alistar-Blitz in the botlane with Smite/TP, hopefully this guide conveys a more professional build, one that can assist you in your climb or just becoming a better player.

Also just a shoutout to Jovy for the banners. Truly a kind-hearted soul.
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Alistar is an engager and frontliner. With that being said, let's dive into his abilities!
This is your main source of sustain during the laning phase as minions' deaths will add stacks. A neat part of this ability is that CC-ing enemy champions also builds stacks, so make sure to always consider the amount of stacks you're currently at, as the extra health can turn a risky engage or teamfight into a less risky one.
One of Alistar's signature moves. You knock up all enemies within a small radius around you. Overall a great peeling ability and can help chain CC as this is a rather easy spell to land once you are in range. Perfect for wombo comboes involving Orianna, Yasuo, or Malphite.
The other signature move. You knock an enemy in the direction you charge in. Thus, if a champion engages on you, you can position yourself around them and knock them into your turret, for example. Besides being an engage tool, this can also be used as an escape mechanism – you can W to a minion wave to outrun enemy chasers, and you can also dodge skill shots if you time this ability correctly.
Your third CC ability! While this does require you to stick to an enemy champion, you actually deal a solid amount of damage on your next auto. Once again, this really helps you peel for your team.
A free QSS and essentially a busted increase in tankiness. With fast reaction timing, considering it has a channel time, this ability will allow you to escape narrow situations. But, the real killer is the damage reduction – this allows for extremely easy turret dives as you can W-Q in, ult, and just sit under the turret tanking the aggro while your team cleans up the kills.
Ability Sequence
Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

While the build shows a Q-max, it really depends on the matchup. For example, if you're against a Yuumi, you might consider going for a Q-max such that your knockup is on a lower cooldown – after all, it'll be really hard to reach Yuumi if she's attached. If you're against a Leona, maxing W could be really nice as it'll be up whenever Leona tries to E you.

Overall, the consistent patterns that remain is that you want to level up your Ult whenever possible, as the increase damage reduction and lowered cooldown is just way to valuable to pass up, and you want to max your E last, as it is generally the least reliable form of CC.
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Flash

Flash is the bread and butter spell. Flash allows you to engage and close the distance to the enemy, Flash is also an integral part to many Alistar combos/tricks. Flash also can get you out of nasty situations. Flash allows you to take Hexflash. Take Flash. Please.


Ignite

Ignite is generally the second summoner spell you'd take on Alistar. Ignite gives a LOT of kill potential, especially if you get into a 1v1 with an enemy champion. Overall, the true damage and healing reduction is perfect for an aggressive support like Ali, whose kit has a surprising amount of damage.


Exhaust

In situations where you probably can't engage easily, for example against an Ashe or Vayne, exhaust can be a good pickup instead as this makes your allies "tankier" in the sense that the enemy is doing less damage. Additionally, Exhaust can be nice if the enemy team has hyper carries like Kog or Vayne, or assassins like Ekko and Zed.
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Being a frontliner and engager, Resolve makes a lot of sense for Alistar, and Inspiration is especially necessary for hexflash. None of the other secondary choices offer as much utility as Inspiration, so it's not really worth mentioning any of these other paths.

Aftershock is generally the best and safest rune to go on Alistar. Upon any CC to the enemy, such as your Q or W, you gain armor and MR, making you tankier. As a side bonus, you'll also deal additional damage after some time.
Font of Life is the best rune in general in this row because you don't have a reliable shield for Shield Bash. If you're up against a melee support, you can consider Demolish for quicker snowballing, but against double ranged and if you roam a lot you really won't get a lot out of Demolish. Overall, the extra healing will start getting better once the game progresses and you obtain more health. It also synergizes very well with Knight's Vow.
Bone Plating synergies well with your engages as the enemy will focus immediately on you when you engage, so you'll be able to reduce a decent amount of the damage taken (assuming Bone plating is up when you engage). Conditioning and Second Wind can be chosen in certain circumstances, e.g. when you're against mixed damage or a poke comp respectively.
I generally prefer Revitalize as Alistar will put out a lot of healing over the game with Font of Life and his passive , and this synergizes extremely well with items like Knight's Vow, Locket of the Iron Solari and Redemption. Unflinching is also very viable against heavy CC compositions, but the changes made nerfed its usability on Alistar. Overall, I find the extra sustain is usually just better, considering its synergies with your core items and passive.
Hextech Flashtraption, or hexflash, allows you to make surprise engages basically out of nowhere and helps reducing the distance between you and the enemy. Super necessary rune on Alistar. If you really don't think you'll be engaging often due to your team and enemy team composition, getting a stopwatch for a Gargoyle Stoneplate is also viable or instead taking Cosmic Insight, which is overall just a great rune.
Biscuit Delivery is generally the safest rune to go, although Cosmic Insight is very viable. I like Biscuits because you'll generally be poked down (especially if you're against double ranged) and Alistar is rather mana hungry, so biscuits basically solve both problems in the laning phase, while adding permanent mana so you can engage more often.

You also might notice that there is a Phase Rush rune page. This is generally only for higher elo players, and if you're in high elo, you don't need this guide at all! The main gist is that you can immediately proc Phase Rush with your W-Q-AA or W-Q-E. In laning phase, this lets you get super good trades since you can run away taking little damage. In larger fights, Phase Rush lets you stick to targets to get your E auto off. Nimbus Cloak synchronizes perfectly with hexflash as well. While you sacrifice durability, this gives you more playmaking abilities. (Check out TL vs GG Game 1 of Summer Playoffs 2020 for a pro example).
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Itemization has changed a lot from Season 10! "Meta" itemization will definitely be subject to change as Riot hotfixes throughout the preseason, however support itemization is relatively stable, especially for Alistar.

Starting Items
Relic Shield is really nice on Alistar due to the HP stats and the AP, which help out your damage due to Alistar's decent AP ratios. Furthermore, it allows for even more sustain during the laning phase which is always nice because generally the champions with higher health will win the battle in the early levels. Don't even think about any other support items.

Core Mythic Items - Engage or Peel


Grants an active shield and an aura buff with resistances. If the enemy has a lot of AOE or just burst damage, this shield is basically a middle finger and it can really catch the enemy off guard. Consider this item if you are not getting far ahead in lane or, as mentioned previously, the enemy team has a lot of assassins since raw defensive stats counter lethality and armor pen.
Grants more Movement Speed (MS) along with a MS-buff active. Since this item helps supplement roaming along with engaging the enemy, Shurlya's is a good pickup if you won't be in lane a lot. The only cost is that you sacrifice the defensive stats gained by Locket, so be wary that you will be fairly squishy without your ultimate.

Boots
A bit costly but this is still the most reliable boots to go if you're just going to be roaming. These boots allow you to go basically wherever you want at a much lower time cost due to Alistar's somewhat slow MS. As you transition from the laning phase to the midgame, you want to look for any potential roams Mid and Top, and these boots help you do just that.
A cheaper alternative to Boots of Mobility. If you're a bit short on cash but you still want to roam, then these boots are the way to go. These are also very effective boots against enemies with a lot of slows or skill shots. Very good synergy with Shurleya's as well.
If you're behind or the enemy is full AD, consider immediately buying Ninja Tabi. The unique passive reduces the DPS of ADC's and other AA-based champions significantly, and the extra armor is always helpful against lethality. Finally, if you're at the late stages of the game and you need more tanky stats, just sell your mobility boots or boots of swiftness – roaming is not as effective due to grouping.
A great item against heavy MR or CC compositions. These boots are especially effective against champions like Syndra, Zoe, Morgana, and Cassiopeia due to their kits.

Core Support - Buff/Heal your allies
This item synergies particularly well with Alistar as the frost storm allows you to build up your E stacks rather easily. Moreover, since you should be in the enemy's faces, you'll basically insta-ignite your frost storm, so your enemies will be perma-slowed.
Redemption is now a very great item as it is incredibly cheap and though it doesn't offer many tank stats (only health), the active heal really doesn't hurt – unless you're the enemy :) – and quite frankly there aren't that many great cheap items to get as Alistar doesn't have consistent healing/shielding that can bring out the maximum from the other support items.

Defensive Options - Keep you alive
This item actually became a lot more useful for Alistar since your engages will always proc the item's passive, allowing your team to deal extra damage to up to 5 people. If your team is up against 3+ AP, this item is a solid pickup, especially if you are getting a lot more kills than your allies.
Get this item when the enemy has a lot of crit items, such as the ADC, Yasuo, Tryndamere, etc. This will considerably increase both your and your team's tankiness due to the item's active, which simultaneously enhances your peel as well since it slows nearby enemies.
This item is great on Alistar because of its huge armor and mana stats. Coupled with its aura passive, this item will work wonders against ADCs like Vayne and Kalista due to their huge reliance on auto attacking. It's important to note that you shouldn't build Frozen Heart with Randuin's Omen, as the unique passives will not stack.

Situational - Only gold-efficient in certain conditions

I don't think anyone really builds as it's not an item that comes to mind when you think of an engage champion like Alistar, but the MR is rather nice if you're against an 4-5 AP Comp, which is rare but might happen. If you're somehow getting more fed than your ADC or they simply don't want to buy a QSS, this item can be extremely useful as CC is generally the most reliable way to shut down a champion.
Probably the most situational "Situational" item. Only consider this item if a team member is extremely fed and is your sole win condition. The only beneficial part for Alistar is that it directs damage; allies being low is helpful but it's simply not worth the gold. You also don't get any true tank stats i.e. armor or MR from this item.
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Alistar's combos are rather self explanatory. You generally have one of three different combos to take.

W --> Q


This is basically the most standard engage on Alistar, and it is most effective on ranged champions. Your W, being a point and click, allows you to immediately and accurately get into range of the enemy so you can then Q to knock them up. One thing to keep in mind is your timing of your Q. If you Q even a little bit too late, the enemy will be too far for your Q as your W sends them off at a rather fast speed. If you Q too early, then you might just Q nothing and W the enemy, which just ends up as a waste of mana and makes you very vulnerable. If you have trouble with landing your combos, simply go into practice tool.

Flash --> Q --> W


Another great engage tool for Alistar. Essentially, you can flash into range of your enemy, Q them into the air, and then W them "backwards" into your team. This should be a guaranteed kill, or at least blow some summoner spells as long as your team follows up on your engage.

W --> Flash --> Q


This combo depends on what direction you are W'ing in.

If you're already behind the enemy and they will be in turret range after you headbutt them, consider going for this combo. Essentially, after you headbutt them into turret range, you want to Flash-Q so they stay there even longer, and this also gives you time to build up your E-stacks. On another note, if you know the enemy champion you just W'ed doesn't have any escape spells, like flash, then you can just walk up to them and Q, as they should still be in turret range after the stun from the W (unless it's the very edge).

If you're approaching the enemy and there is a minion wave or other target, you can instead W to a minion/target and then Flash-Q on top of the enemy champions. This is usually unexpected as most people don't factor in Flash to Alistar's kill range, and often the support flash isn't as well tracked at least in lower elos.
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Laning phase is the best time to rack up kills. I'll give a general note on lane matchups, as this will loosely determine if you will push or get pushed in.

Double Ranged: If the enemy bot lane has two ranged champions, perhaps Ashe and Morgana, then you will have to just backoff. Play the bush game, that is appearing and disappearing out of the bush until you actually get pushed into the turret. Make sure to juke a bit up and down as well, as ranged supports will usually try to send their skillshots to poke you e.g. Karma Q. Until you're level 3, you are essentially useless, but if you do get pushed into turret this allows you to combo them into turret range.

Ranged and Melee: This scenario is completely match-up based on the ADC usually, as melee champions generally need level 2-3 to be truly effective. The ADC matchup at level 1 usually just boils down to their range since they will poke better; the only two champions with absurd range is Caitlyn and Senna.

So, you'll either be pushed in to your turret or you'll end up shoving to their turret. Before any of this happens, one team will hit Level 2 first. Hitting level 2 right now means one full wave and one melee minion, so you can count the minions you need to level up as well as the number the opponent needs. If you don't get level 2 first, especially against melee champions, just back off immediately. Likewise, if you hit level 2 first, you can push forward to make the enemy bot lane back off, which can sometimes even make them miss XP and CS.

Regardless, safely try to last-hit a melee minion with your relic shield, and back off – this is to ensure that you keep generating more relic stacks.

Suppose the enemy is pushing you in. Then, you can actually look to Flash-Q-W an enemy into your turret. Since they are basically guaranteed to take at least one turret shot, this should be an easy fight and lead to a kill. But, if you don't see an angle or if the enemy is just pushing up, try to set up a freeze, as this will put the enemy in a rather dangerous situation as they are in the perfect place for a gank.

Now, suppose you are the one pushing. This is where I generally try to assist my jungler, either by placing a deep ward in the enemy jungle or physically showing up by Scuttle so that they can take it without needing to contest. But, if the enemy has serious engage threat, like a Leona, then consider just staying in lane so you don't get question mark pinged by your ADC when he or she gets flashed upon. Further information on roams and warding will be covered in later sections.

General Tips:
  • NEVER coward out of using your Flash. Worst case you burn the enemy ADC Flash and/or Heal/ Cleanse, but it is still worth because you still have hexflash, which allows for really sneaky engages.
  • Try to match your ADC aggression. If you see an opening, ping them to let them know you want to go in, but if your ADC is super passive or they are a scaling champion, then see how they react to the 'go in arrow' and either back off or go in.
  • Don't be afraid about taking too much damage from an engage. Your passive gives really good sustain that often isn't expected from a melee champion, and if you took
    biscuits then you can just sit in lane and heal up while the enemy will generally remain at the same health unless they have health pots.
  • If you can safely do so, always stand past the enemy's minion wave. This basically forces the enemy ADC away from the minions due to your engage threat, denying CS and potentially even experience. And by "safely," this means that either you're already ahead or you know the enemy jungler isn't around for a gank.
  • Just because you're a support doesn't mean you can't manage the wave! If your ADC set up a freeze, then only use your relic stacks at the last possible moment so you deal the least amount of damage you can while sharing gold. On the other hand, if you want to shove the wave, auto the minions at around half-health to get the most value.
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Playing Support means that you must learn how to manage vision properly. Let's break down the perfect times to wards and warding locations.
Laning Phase

During the laning phase, you generally have around two general places to ward. Suppose you're on blue side. If you're being pushed in by the enemy laners, then it might help to either ward around tri-brush, blast cone, or over the wall into the dragon pit so you can be on the lookout for potential dives.

If you're the one pushing into the enemies' turrets, however, then it's a perfect time to look for aggressive wards deep into the enemy jungle. One sweet spot is either at the intersection of the jungle camps, or just over the wall such that you gain vision of the enemy blue buff and gromp. But, if you know the enemy jungler isn't going to be bot side e.g. a top fight is breaking out, it might be better to instead ward around midlane so you can set up a potential roam.

These warding areas are generally mirrored if you're on red-side, but there are notable differences. For one, it is rather risky to go ward outside the dragon pit and by the red buff, since there is a bush that could conceal the enemy jungler. The area outside the raptors is also rather far away. Thus, I generally ward up the river in the center of the dragon pit as it helps look out for potential ganks and also ensures that the dragon won't be sneakily taken.

One final remark on this topic is lane wards. Sometimes, supports will ward the bushes so that they can track where you are so you don't have easy access for engaging. If you want to set up a lane gank from your jungler, place a control ward down at the bush closest to your turret.

Generally, lane ganks are infrequent in lower elos, but for counterplay against lane ganks, I'd say just be extremely careful if the enemy has shoved into your turret and the wave is bouncing back to around the center of the lane. Don't push up unnecessarily far, especially if you don't know where the enemy jungler is. Another prevention method is getting your ADC to freeze the wave just by your turret.
Midgame

By now, you should be roaming all over the map. Vision control starts to become super important around this time as a single pick on the enemy can decide a dragon and/or baron fight. One important tip to always keep in mind is your Oracle's cooldown in respect to the Dragon and Baron timers. Essentially, if Dragon is up in 50 seconds and your Oracle's is up, consider saving it so when your team reaches the dragon pit you can sweep out vision outside or inside the pit depending on where your team is, as the enemy is 99% guaranteed to ward the area.
Roaming Back to Top
Roaming is probably the most fun part of Alistar as you can instantly crush the enemy's morale and watch them they spam "supp diff" in all chat. We're first going to go over roam timings during the laning phase.

Laning Phase: In the laning phase, you should only be roaming under two instances.

The first is when you have pushed all the way to the enemy turret (refer to laning phase). Now, if you're on blue side, you should just wade up the river and see if you can make anything happen midlane or in the jungle. If you're on red side, you should be able to go to the left or the right from the tribrush, or instead go up the river from the lane. Tribrush is a bit risky since it's usually warded, so the enemy can fire some missing pings, but the river pathway takes a bit longer.

So now you know when to roam, but you actually need to make the roams successful. After all, if you don't want to waste time roaming when you could potentially set up a 2v2 botlane. First pro-tip is tracking the enemy's summoner spell cooldowns. Especially in lower elos, players don't often respect the enemy when their Flash is down, and this means that you can easily capitalize on even the slightest aggression from them. Something else to keep in mind is who you are ganking. It might not be worth it to gank a Fizz or LeBlanc as they have easy escape tools.

Here's a real example from a ranked game, putting . I (as Alistar of course) ganked mid, and the enemy Lux burned Flash and Barrier. Great. Over the course of the next ~5 minutes, I returned mid 3 times, each time setting up a kill against the Lux since she is an immobile mage without true escape mechanisms.

Ganking top lane can also be quite beneficial as they generally will not expect the support to show up, but you should do so at your own discretion. Not only is it very time consuming, many top lane champions are powerful duelists, such as Mordekaiser or Aatrox, and you might just be another source of healing for them as Alistar simply doesn't have enough damage to match the damage and healing of bruisers and juggernauts.
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This is where you shine as Alistar! Being one of the tankiest supports, coupled with a devastating engage, Alistar is perfect for this role.

Teamfights:

In teamfights, either the enemy engages on you or you engage on the enemy. Let's tackle the first scenario.

If the enemy engages on your team, your role is to peel for the most valuable player on your team. The "value" of a player can be decided based on their damage output and bounty, though the bounty doesn't factor as much as damage output. Generally, the most valuable player on your team will be your ADC as ADCs deal the most reliable and consistent damage.

Peeling for your ADC will generally involve W'ing back enemy champions and Q'ing enemy champions that get near, while building up stacks of your E simultaneously. Additionally, try to position yourself so that enemy champions don't have easy access to your ADC , and attempt to block single-target spells, for example Ashe ult .

If you have certain actives like Locket or Redemption , time them so you get the most value.

Now, suppose your team is engaging on the enemy .

Similarly, just as if you'd want to protect your most valuable player, as the engager you generally want to go for the enemy's most valuable player. As Alistar, you should be the first one in the battle, unless you have e.g. a Wukong on your team; in this case, where you have two really good divers, you can afford to stay a bit back and look to layer CC on the Wukong's engage instead of just diving in.

But, due to the nature of League, it's not always going to be a set decision of just aiming for the most valuable player. If you know the enemy midlaner doesn't have flash but the enemy ADC definitely does, even if the enemy ADC deals more damage, you might have better luck instead just trying to burst down the enemy midlaner since you should be guaranteed a kill.

This also brings in the topic of tracking cooldowns in general. You should generally be aware of the cooldowns of enemy summoner spells and CC spells, such as Syndra E or Tristana R , as these types of spells will completely negate your engage.
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Now, armed with these facts and logic, hopefully your climb up in league will be much faster.
League of Legends Build Guide Author very hot
very hot Alistar Guide
Smurfing in Elo Hell - Alistar Pre-S11 Guide

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