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Tristana Build Guide by NoobyPower

AD Carry Tristana: The Little Package of Destruction

AD Carry Tristana: The Little Package of Destruction

Updated on February 7, 2013
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League of Legends Build Guide Author NoobyPower Build Guide By NoobyPower 835 46 4,693,680 Views 343 Comments
835 46 4,693,680 Views 343 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author NoobyPower Tristana Build Guide By NoobyPower Updated on February 7, 2013
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This guide has not been fully updated for the changes of Season 3. If you would like a brief idea of how I play Tristana in S3, refer to the build above.

Welcome to my Tristana guide! ^_^

This is my first guide on MobaFire, I hope you enjoy it ^_^

I am primarily an AD carry player and have over 1000 games of experience with Tristana. Tristana was one of the very first champions I played when I first got into League of Legends. I played her when she was a free champion and soon after received her from Facebook. As my favorite and my main, I played her exclusively from level 1 all the way to level 30, constantly trying different ways of playing her and striving to improve. Ever since, I have thought to myself, saying "Tristana is a champion that suits and complements my playstyle perfectly". Now, I have settled upon a certain build and playstyle that I am willing to share.

Along the way, I met several people who said that Tristana was a "bad" or "under-powered" champion. Do not listen to these people, we are obviously here to prove them wrong and to DOMINATE the Fields of Justice.

In order to do this, this build and guide will be focused on early game domination and heavy emphasis on performing your job well in late game. So what are you waiting for?

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Pros and Cons


  • Excellent late game damage
  • Highest auto-attack range in game at level 18
  • Great escape mechanisms
  • Easy kills early game with her burst
  • Easy farming
  • Awesome solo lane pushing
  • Favorable match-ups (not easily countered)


  • Rather squishy
  • Low mana pool
  • Mana hungry when spamming abilities
  • Needs farm, very item dependent
  • Not a very good trader in lane
  • Hard to utilize abilities correctly
  • Hard to dominate without proper support pick
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Offense Tree:
Fury for the extra bit of attack speed.

Deadliness for more AD throughout the game into Weapon Expertise for added armor penetration.

Havoc for increased damage.

Brute Force for extra early AD to help with last-hitting and trading.

Lethality for the increased critical damage which synergizes directly with Infinity Edge's passive, which will then lead into Frenzy for the increased attack speed after critting.

Sunder is a must-have for extra armor penetration.

Executioner is a great mastery to have. 5% extra damage on targets below 50% health? Easier last-hitting? Yes, please.

Defense Tree:
Durability gives you a nice health boost at level 18. Never underestimate this.

Resistance and Hardiness so you can exchange better in lane as well as stay in lane for longer.

Veteran's Scars gives you a nice 30 extra starting health, 4 more than what you would get from a Greater Quintessence of Health.
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Fleet Footwork
Phase Rush

Main Rune Choices

Greater Mark of Attack Damage

This is the current standard rune choice for AD carries. They will give you a good amount of AD early on, which is highly beneficial for last-hitting as well as for early trades.

Greater Seal of Armor

Tristana is squishy. This will allow you to soak up more physical damage during laning phase, and is a great protection against other AD carries during this phase. It will also allow you to come out on top in poke exchanges.

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Again, we need extra resistances if we want to control the lane. These runes will allow you to soak up more magical damage, and is essential because a majority of champion abilities are based on magic damage (in this case, the enemy support). This will allow you to stay in lane and farm longer, as well as receiving reduced damage from general harassment.

Greater Quintessence of Ataack Damage

These runes will add a nice early game boost to your AD and will make last hitting easier as well as letting your pokes hit considerably harder.

Alternative Rune Choices

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Summoner Spells

Recommended Picks

Ignite: This is an excellent summoner spell for Tristana. It's great for early game laning power, which is what we are focusing on, and it increases the damage of your Burst Combo to the point where it is absolutely insane. The Grievous Wound debuff on this and the true damage is basically a vamped up version of Explosive Shot. This is also useful for finishing off people at low health.


Flash:This is another excellent spell. Flash is an extremely versatile spell. It allows you catch up to fleeing enemies, escape from dangerous situations, you name it. Just be aware of the range and the cooldown, don't go wasting it now. Flash has always been OP, it probably still is, so use it to your advantage.


Barrier: This is a good summoner spell for an aggressive/defensive Tristana. It is great for an offensive early game because you will be able to force exchanges. Although it is nice, it won't help you as much late game as Flash would, since it only lasts two seconds and if you're caught out you will most likely die anyway.


Ghost: A good alternative if you think you don't need a double Flash with Rocket Jump (or you just don't like Flash in general). This spell lasts 10 seconds, and is not an instant getaway. It has a lower cooldown than Flash however, and using this requires some knowledge such as whether or not to use it in a team fight to go through minions, to keep up with someone etc.

NOTE: I would never play a game without Ignite as Tristana ever. Unless you want to play very passively early and skip Ignite, another spell may be an option but 99% of the time you will want Ignite.

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Draw a Bead: This innate ability is what gives Tristana the longest natural auto-attack range in the game (I said natural because Kog'Maw's Bio-Arcane Barrage active can just out-range you at 710 range). Her range goes up by 9 per level, and by Level 18, the range will be 703.

Range Milestones:
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Rapid Fire: This ability is one of the strongest steroids in the game. At max rank, it gives you an extra 90% attack speed for 7 seconds. That's 7 seconds of added destruction! This ability is also the reason why Tristana is more heavily focused on AD rather than attack speed. Just make sure you don't waste those 7 seconds of GOD MODE.

Tips and Tricks:
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Rocket Jump: This is the ability that defines Tristana from other champions. It is an awesome gap closer and an amazing escape ability. Landing it will bring a heavy 60% move-speed slow, and to top that all off, the cooldown refreshes on a kill or assist, making Tristana one of the most potent tower divers in the game. Utilizing Rocket Jump properly is what separates the Good Tristanas from the Bad Tristanas.

Tips and Tricks:
Click to View:

Explosive Shot: This is Tristana's pushing ability and a great lane harassment tool. It's a part of your Burst Combo and it has a very useful Grievous Wound debuff that reduces the opponent's healing by 50%. Also, this ability is an awesome farming tool with its passive, and it allows for some nice indirect harassment :3

Tips and Tricks:
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Buster Shot: Your ultimate. This is your double edged sword. Using it correctly reaps excellent results. Using it incorrectly however, could potentially do harm to you and your team. This is the coup de grĂ¢ce to your Burst Combo. At level 6, it deals 300 magic damage straight off the bat. While laning, in a typical good situation you would want to use this to finish off your opponent. Be aware of the knock-back - it could cost you the kill.

Tips and Tricks:
Click to View:
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Skill Sequence

> > >

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

This is the priority of which skills need to be maxed out first.
  • Buster Shot is maxed whenever we can for that invaluable burst and increased knock-back range.
  • Rocket Jump is second priority, and we max it out for your Burst Combo and the decreased cooldown.
  • Rapid Fire is the next priority as we need that extra attack speed to gun down those towers and whoever is foolish enough to cross paths with you alone.
  • Explosive Shot is maxed out last so we use up those points and get better pushing power.
At level 5, you will want to have 3 points in Rocket Jump and 2 in Explosive Shot, so we can prepare to unleash destruction with the Burst Combo.

Rocket Jump is the ability you will want to max out first because of that precious cooldown reduction per rank and it complements wonderfully into the Burst Combo.

Rapid Fire is our mid game priority as we'll be starting to take down those towers and start building our main damage items.


Click to View:
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Item Overview

Item Sequence

Infinity Edge 3400
Phantom Dancer 2600
Last Whisper 1450
Quicksilver Sash 1300
Bloodthirster 3400

25% Attack Speed. UNIQUE Passive: Enhanced Movement 2. These are the standard boots for any AD carry. They are relatively cheap tier 2 boots. It is up to you whether or not you wish to complete Boots into Berserker's Greaves before you get your Infinity Edge (not upgrading your boots will allow you to get Infinity Edge faster).

80 Attack Damage, 25% Critical Strike Chance. UNIQUE Passive: +50% critical strike damage. This is an absolute MUST on any AD Carry. The 80 attack damage and 25% critical strike chance are highly beneficial to your DPS. THIS is the backbone of your build. A good goal to set yourself is to get Infinity Edge by the 20 minute mark.

55% Attack Speed, 30% Critical Strike Chance, 12% Movement Speed. Another standard item for an AD carry. It gives you all the stats you need to continue to wreck the opposition. It gives you the highest attack speed boost in the game, as well as more critical strike chance to synergize with Infinity Edge and that precious extra movement speed.

40 Attack Damage. UNIQUE Passive: +40% Armor Penetration. This is a great item on an AD carry. It will give you a decent amount of damage, but the main reason we buy it is for the armor penetration. This is the item you will want to get once the opposition starts building some armor.

48 Magic Resistance. UNIQUE Active: Removes all debuffs from your champion. 90 second cooldown. One of the best defensive items in the game. It's a very cheap and cost efficient item and it's great for escaping out of sticky situations. I have found this to be more useful than Banshee's Veil because you get to choose which debuffs to remove.

60 Attack Damage, 12% Life Steal. Passive: Gain an additional 1 Physical Damage and 0.2% Lifesteal per kill. Maximum of +40 Damage and 8% Lifesteal. Bonuses are halved upon death. A great item for AD champions. This is a great asset for survivability and a great boost to your attack damage. The only negative thing is that you lose half your stacks upon death >.<
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Items - General

Starting Items

The standard start for any AD Carry. It allows you to be able to play both offensively and defensively and allowing you to have 3 potions for your sustain. In addition, it allows you to duck in and out for last hits and help you to escape ganks better.

First Recall

On your first recall, buy two Doran's Blades for a boost in your early power as well as having extra health to soak damage when using Rocket Jump offensively.

Subsequent Purchases

On subsequent purchases, work towards these items, prioritizing B. F. Sword when you are winning, Vampiric Scepter for sustain and Berserker's Greaves for the extra movement and attack speed.

Big Damage Items

These are your big items that you will need to maximize your DPS in fights as well as being able to survive long enough in team fights through your lifesteal. It is recommended that you at least have your Infinity Edge by the 20 minute mark and your Phantom Dancer at around the 25-28 minute mark. If the enemy has high armor by the time you finish your Phantom Dancer, buy a Last Whisper if not then buy Bloodthirster.

Defense Items

As an AD carry, you may only be allowed one item slot for defensive purposes as your other items are too important to pass up.
Quicksilver Sash is the go-to defensive item option for Tristana by reducing the amount of magic damage taken and by being able to remove all CC on the time of casting (including suppress).
Guardian Angel is the item you want when you are being jumped on by the enemy in every fight or if you're up against heavy physical damage with little CC. The revival passive will help you fulfill your role to the team as the main damage dealer.
Banshee's Veil is a substitute for Quicksilver Sash when the enemy team has mostly magic damage but no "cleanse-able" CC or ability effects.


Grab these when you have finished you build and need those extra boosts without using extra item slots. Also, feel free to get these sometime in the game if you feel like you need those small temporary boosts without having too much of an impact on the completion of your core items. I personally grab an Elixir of Agility when I'm building my Phantom Dancer or after finishing my Phantom Dancer to get an extra boost in fights.

The order of importance should be:

Elixir of Agility > Elixir of Fortitude > Oracle's Elixir (though your other members on your team should have one) > Elixir of Brilliance

Elixir of Agility is 1st priority among the other stat increasing elixirs because it gives you extra attack speed and critical strike chance. The only time where you wouldn't want Elixir of Agility is when you want Elixir of Fortitude. Not only does it give you extra attack damage, it also gives you instant health when you use it, which could potentially save your life.
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Tristana is a champion whose playstyle changes according to the tide of the game and/or the phase of the game. Early game, Tristana is played like a caster, much like AP Tristana, using her abilities to pump out as much damage as possible. Mid game is her weakest point. Here the damage on Rocket Jump and Buster Shot is less noticeable and she probably won't have enough attack damage and attack speed scaling to go with Rapid Fire. Late game is when she can wreak havoc on the entire enemy team, becoming the little package of destruction that the enemy will come to fear >:D

Please note that Tristana is meant to be played very aggressively early game, until you hit mid game, where she drops off without her items. Mid game, you have to play passively, since this is the weakest point of the game for you. If you have had a good to excellent early game, expect mid game to come and go like a breeze. Late game is when you shine. During late game, it is crucial that you do not die. Play cautiously during this part of the game, and don't forget that you can easily kill at least three of the champions on the opposing team.

  • Early game: Play aggressively and use abilities for kills like AP Tristana.
  • Mid game: Play passively and farm it out until you get the necessary items.
  • Late game: Play cautiously and destroy the enemy team.

Early Game (lvl 1-9):

The most crucial part of the game. This is when teams will decide a majority of the outcomes in the game. This is why we want early game dominance. Early game, play smart, calculated and aggressively. There are also many things that you have to take into account while laning:
  • DO NOT forget to farm.
  • DO NOT overextend.
  • Try to keep the minions in the middle of the lane.
  • Call MIAs (I can't stress this enough). Ping them if necessary.
  • Attempt to zone out the enemy along with your laning partner.
  • Harass the enemy champions whenever possible, while maintaining the above.
  • If you have money and you absolutely need them, buy sight ward / Vision Ward, though your support should be the one warding most of the time.

Some good tips to take into consideration:

  • Pay attention to your own minions as well, and watch when the enemy AD carry goes to last hit one of them. Since they are "locked" in their attack animation, it is a prime opportunity to attack them once and they won't be able to retaliate.
    This basically gives them three options:
    a) take the last hit and receive harass
    b) avoid harass but miss the last hit
    c) retaliate and miss the last hit
    Make sure that you don't trade last hits for this opportunity, as farming is still your priority.
  • Try do delay destroying the enemy tower as it will let you keep your advantage. When you destroy the enemy tower, you are more accessible to ganks, and you won't be able to farm if the minion waves has pushed to enemy territory. But if both your lane and another lane on your team are winning, then both lanes can destroy their towers to give the enemy jungler a hard time deciding which lane to gank.
  • Don't get greedy! After an engagement, if an enemy gets away with low health, take the victory instead of chasing them and possibly dying to a gank or a towerdive. The experience and gold that they miss out on is almost worth the kill.
Credits to Spellsy for his excellent AD carry guide for this information!

You have two choices of where to lane:

Bottom lane: If you are laning with a partner who does not have heals, start with Boots. If they do have heals, start with Doran's Blade. Once you go back to purchase items, always buy a Doran's Blade, regardless of whether or not you started with Boots or Doran's Blade.

Middle lane: Looking forward to a challenge? Want to change the tide of the game single-handedly? Take mid lane. I feel like middle lane is where Tristana snowballs best. Since you will be solo, you only have to focus on one opponent, and that's what the burst combo excels in: bursting down a single opponent. Middle lane is also the most important lane in the game, so make sure you do not lose it otherwise the game may be turned against you.

For experienced Tristanas ONLY.

As an AD carry, you must know how to last hit minions, as minions will be your main source of income. 15-17 minion kills is equal to getting a champion kill, so get out there and farm like mad!

Here is an excellent video on last-hitting and lane control. Credit goes to the maker of this video.

Tristana is to be played very aggressively early game. Follow this harassment and kill combo section!

General Harassment

This is going to be your basic harass. It's a simple Explosive Shot followed by an auto-attack straight after. ALWAYS auto-attack after your Explosive Shot because it allows time to reset your auto-attack and also to creep in that little extra damage.


Pre-Level 6 Kill Combo

The combo to go for grabbing early kills. It's just a simple Rocket Jump on top of them, Explosive Shot in mid-air and auto-attack until they are low enough to be killed by Ignite


Burst Combo

(This is a video showing how to do the Burst Combo. Credit goes to the maker of this video.)

You're now level 6. You are now licensed to destroy and have Buster Shot ready to go. It is now time to unleash the BURST COMBO. If you execute this combo with precision, then you can unleash up to around 800 damage (includes auto-attacks and Ignite) in three seconds!. To make sure you get the kill, be sure that their health is around 600~700.

The best way to do this is if your support initiates onto their AD carry and locks them down so that you can follow up.
Firstly, land your Rocket Jump, preferably if they're going in to grab a minion. Like heavy harass, pop Explosive Shot in mid-air. Now if they're at 400 health or less, Ignite them and then Buster Shot to finish them off. If they haven't yet died, keep attacking to grab the kill. This is a very effective method of killing off your opponent before they get too low and decide to back off. Be aware though, if they can kill you or CC you before you can land your full combo, don't jump in. Also, if they have Flash up, it might be a better idea to Ignite and Buster Shot before they get away. This in most cases will guarantee you the kill.

Note: NEVER use Rocket Jump to get into a teamfight, even when you can kill someone with your burst. Jumping into the middle of a teamfight almost always guarantees your death.

Know what you are capable of

For those of you who have dedicated time into learning Tristana, formulate a chart of approximately how much damage you will do for the first 7 levels, with and without Ignite. Don't forget to consider magic resist.

Mid Game (lvl 10-14):

The first few towers have been destroyed. This is where team fights start to break out. Though you still need dedicate some time to farming, help out your team here and there whenever a group of enemies appear and your team can't seem to cope with them. I suggest that if you had a ballsy early game that you devote more of your time farming than participating in team fights. Keep in mind that this is Tristana's weakest point in the game, where you will need to play more passively and build up towards your late game goals.

By the 20 minute mark, you should have at least 120 last hits, regardless of how many kills you have or how badly you are doing. Since people are now leaving their lanes, avoid travelling alone.

Mid game priorities:
  • 1. Farming
  • 2. Dragon
  • 3. Team fights
  • 4. Towers

Remember, when pushing a lane, make sure that it is safe to do so. Pushing a tower when the enemy team is not visible is very unsafe. Make sure you have good map awareness, and know how many of the enemy team is visible. If you are pushing when the enemy team is absent, chances are that they are going to gank you.
A good thing to know is when you press Tab you can see whether or not enemies are visible on the map, and you can identify them faster. I've made a lot of good decisions on whether or not to backdoor the enemy team's towers this way.

Grab red buff whenever you can. It's basically a free Frozen Mallet passive with added true damage.

Late Game (lvl 15-18):

This is the part of the game where you will wreak havoc upon the enemy team. Your build by now should almost be complete and most of the towers are down. Continue farming and pushing lanes when you have free time, making sure you are safe. Once again, DO NOT travel alone. You are liable to run into a group and the next thing you know you end up back at base a minute later.

It is now essential to be in every teamfight. In a teamfight, do not forget your positioning. Positioning is one of the key aspects of playing an AD carry. Your ideal place in a teamfight should be behind the tank and other melee champions. Since this is late game, you will be able to snipe down enemies with your now immense range.

Late game is also when you have to make important decisions such as when to engage, when to back out and which enemies to take down. This is what separates good Tristana players from bad Tristana players.

This is the priority of the champions to take down in order of importance:
  • AD or AP carries. Prioritise the larger threat and eliminate them, OR the champion who your team has called to focus upon.
  • Supports. Take them down so that their team will no longer have the benefit of CC heals, shields, auras etc.
  • Off-tanks. Take them down after the others to eliminate the damage threats.
  • Tanks. Last priority. Take them down once their team has been downed.

One VERY COMMON mistake I see when people play AD carry is that they go straight for the intended focus targets instead of attacking whatever they can see. This is a very bad thing to do as a) you will likely give up some of your positioning and b) deal less damage in the long run. An AD carry that attacks whatever they see and values the focus targets when they can will carry harder than an AD carry that focuses solely on the priority targets. Remember, you are the sustained damage on the team and your team needs you to fulfill that role in order to succeed.
All in all, late game you just activate Rapid Fire and destroy!
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Lane Partners


Top Picks

Leona is my personal favorite support for Tristana. This is a high damage burst lane due to Leona's Sunlight passive. On top of that, she can initiate onto and stun the enemy carry so that you can easily follow up with your combo. As mentioned before, Leona's Sunlight will make your burst even stronger and this will most likely make your opponents play passively. The only downsides to this lane are the lack of heals and a tendency to push the lane more than Tristana's Explosive Shot would normally do (due to Sunlight and Eclipse).

Taric is another good support to have in lane. He has a strong heal, but the deal breaker here is that he has a really nice 1.5 second stun, enough to open a window for you to jump on the enemy and wreak havoc. His Shatter aura is an excellent aura because that armor can go a long way to saving you from other rampant AD carries with physical damage skills, namely Caitlyn and Graves. His ultimate Radiance is a nice ultimate which buffs attack damage and ability power. Not to mention that upon activation, Radiance deals rather good AoE damage.

Alistar is another top pick for a support to lane with. He is an excellent candidate to share a lane with Tristana because of his devastating CC, knock-ups and surprising durability. Not to mention a great spammable AoE heal that can keep Tristana in lane for as long as possible. When hitting level 6, his ultimate Unbreakable Will can be key to netting a few kills at the tower, where your opponents will be cowering in fear of your domination.

Good Picks

Nunu & Willump is a nice to support to have with Tristana. His Blood Boil will help one of Tristana's weak points, which is her auto attack trading, as well as giving her a great late game attack speed and movement speed buff to assist you in destroying the enemy team. Nunu & Willump's Ice Blast will also assist with shutting down the enemy AD carry as well as giving you an opportunity to jump in for the kill.

Janna is a support who specializes in anti-aggression, which will allow Tristana to farm more safely. Despite her anti-aggression qualities, she has the potential to net you a few kills due to her slow and knock-up. Her shield Eye Of The Storm is a large shield which also boosts your AD, so make the most of it if she casts it on you. Once the both of you reach level 6, you will have powerful displacement capabilities, allowing you to receive ganks very well and take kills.

Sona is a nice pick for Tristana as she has a kit that will compensate for Tristana's weak points, most noticeably trading. She has a nice spammable heal and a decent slow which will allow you to grab kills. Sona's harassment hurts, letting you focus more on last-hitting, and allowing you to jump onto your enemies to bring out the burst combo. Her ultimate Crescendo at level 6 is an absolute stunner (no pun intended lol), and it has a very large AoE, allowing your jungler to gank, for you to take a kill or to aid in an escape. Some downsides to Sona is that she is extremely squishy and that you don't have much kill potential pre-6.

Blitzcrank is that notorious robot that drags his helpless victim (namely, the enemy AD carry or support) to their supposed deaths. But he can't do it alone... that's why you're here! Blitzcrank is naturally disruptive, and this will wreak havoc upon your opposition. As soon as he pulls in an enemy, jump in on them and burst them as fast as you can. The only disadvantage to laning with a Blitzcrank is that he isn't very good at peeling for you after his Static Field and Power Fist are used to escape.

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Tristana is a relatively uncommon AD carry, and it's not everyday that you get to see her in-game. She is an easy champion to pick up and play for the first time, and is extremely fun to play and is easy to learn.

Using Tristana to her maximum potential allows her to wreck her opponents and easily secure a game. Also, if used correctly, she can become one of the most dangerous champions in the game, easily being able to swing a match heavily in her team's favor.

But in order to achieve this, no build guide will be able to help in succeeding with Tristana, as it requires dedication and experience to learn and to eventually master a champion. Hopefully this guide that I have written will point new Tristanas and aspiring Tristanas alike in the right direction.

If you liked this guide, I would appreciate it if you left a comment saying why it was good and possible improvements. Likewise, if you disliked this guide, please give a comment as to why you thought it was bad and tell me what you think would make it better.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this guide and I look forward to seeing the influence this guide has on its readers.

Thanks to jhoijhoi for the banners!
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Oops! Chapter went missing! D: Will fix ASAP

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide