By Petar Vukobrat
January 9, 2019
Riot Games kicked off 2019 in the best possible way. Just days after the incredible reveal that stirred the online League of Legends community, we already have our first look at the upcoming champion — Sylas, The Unshackled. What does this Demacian outcast have to offer, and how viable will he be in both solo queue and competitive play once released? Let’s dive deeper into our Sylas breakdown and find out.
Before analyzing Sylas’ kit, we should really take a moment and focus on his exquisite lore.
Sylas is so fascinating primarily because he goes against the Demacian way of life. He’s fighting for a world without leaders or peasants, a world where everyone is equal. Many community members are already declaring him the first communist of Runeterra, and while that’s all in good fun, his mission and unrelenting dedication toward a different ideology is a refreshing change of pace.
“Honor… Justice… Tradition… All shackles for the ignorant.”
Sylas’ potential caught the eye of many. Because of his inborn strength, he was put in chains at a young age after serving Demacian mageseekers. After 15 years, Sylas escaped prison and entered the Summoner’s Rift. Now he terrorizes the lanes, looking for revenge.
That’s a solid, engaging premise if there ever was one.
With that out of the way, let’s continue our Sylas breakdown to see what he brings to the table!
Passive: “Petricite Burst” — After casting any of his spells, Sylas’ next basic attack is empowered. Not only does it deal additional damage, but it’s also AoE (Area of Effect). Overall, this is a pretty basic passive which we’ve seen in numerous champion kits. It’s just another way to dish out additional damage, both in 1 vs. 1 skirmishing and teamfights.
Q: “Chain Lash” — Sylas slams his chains onto the ground, damaging enemies in close proximity. After a short delay, the affected ground erupts, slowing enemies and dealing additional damage. Much like his passive, this ability is as straightforward as possible, and will mostly be used for trading, farming, and chaining (no pun intended) combos. The fact that it has a noticeable slow will also help when chasing opposing players.
When maxed out, his “Chain Lash” has a measly five-second cooldown, so you’ll be throwing them out non-stop.
W: “Kingslayer” — Sylas lunges toward an opponent and deals a massive strike, damaging his target and healing himself in the process. The real kicker here is that the ability deals increased damage if the target is low on health. Likewise, if Sylas himself is low, he’ll get an increased heal.
Again, nothing earth-shattering or complex, but rather a simple component of his kit that’ll be used for trading and replenishing health. The healing portion of the ability is pretty strong. If used correctly, you’ll be able to sustain in lane fairly easily. With a fourteen second cooldown (at the time of this writing), you’ll be able to heal up on a rather frequent basis.
E: “Abscond / Abduct” — Sylas’ third ability has two parts. Casting it once makes Sylas dash in the direction of your choosing, while also providing him with a shield. Cast it again, and Sylas throws out his chains. If the chains hit an opposing player, Sylas will pull himself toward the target, stunning, knocking, and damaging the enemy in the process.
That wasn’t a typo. This one attack has a short stun, a knock, and additional damage. Even though the ability has a somewhat acceptable cooldown (ten seconds when maxed out), I think it’s packed with too much utility and power.
R: “Hijack” — And finally, we have Sylas’ ultimate. This is, without a doubt, his most unique ability and also an ultimate that’ll cause a lot of headache for those playing against him. In short, Sylas can steal an enemy ultimate and use it himself. Fortunately, you can’t hijack the same enemy champion in quick succession, making this ultimate relatively balanced.
That said, seeing just how strong “Hijack” is, perhaps “balanced” isn’t the perfect way to describe it.
Depending on the opposing team, this ultimate could be an incredibly overpowered tool or a pretty acceptable one. Regardless, there will always be at least one champion on the opposing team that’ll have a game-changing ultimate you can hijack.
Overall, Sylas’ kit is strong, and above all, it’s incredibly simple.
The interesting thing about “Hijack” is the fact that it currently has a mere fifteen-second cooldown on the Public Beta Environment. While that’s prone to change, it probably won’t go above twenty or twenty-five seconds maximum. So if you’re part of a prolonged fight, you can potentially snag two or perhaps even three ultimates in a row.
Talk about strong.
The first impression you get when seeing Sylas’ frame and overall design is that he’s a picture-perfect brawler for the top lane, or perhaps a solid jungler seeing how he can clear both with his passive as well as his Q, “Chain Lash.”
But Sylas is, by all accounts, a mage.
Each of his abilities carries a huge AP ratio. The shield ratio on his E (180 + 90%AP when maxed out), and heal ratio on his W (between 270 +40% AP and 500 +80% AP when maxed out) definitely stand out the most. While these numbers will surely decrease after a couple nerfs, it’s obvious that Riot intended for Sylas to have some serious trading prowess. Come late game, and you’ll be able to shield and heal fairly easily, making you a serious threat when teamfights break out.
Make no mistake, even though he’s a mage you’ll still be able to play him in other lanes, especially in the flexible Season 9 meta. While it’s still too early to know for sure, it seems like Sylas will be a rather versatile pick that’ll be viable in multiple lanes and scenarios.
His abilities scale off both AD and AP, so the sky’s the limit when it comes to itemizing and finding the “perfect” build.
Picking your primary and secondary rune paths for Sylas could prove to be difficult, but choice is always better than having just a singular option.
Precision is probably the only rune tree you won’t be taking as your primary path. Domination, on the other hand, offers “Electrocute”, “Predator”, and “Dark Harvest” — all viable options depending on your playstyle. Want to skirmish? “Electrocute”. Want to roam and impact the side lanes? “Predator”. Want some busted late game damage? Then “Dark Harvest” is the way to go.
The Sorcery path is interesting because of “Arcane Comet,” especially seeing how you’ll be throwing out long-range attacks fairly frequently. If maxing Q becomes the norm, you’ll be able to proc the comet on cooldown.
If you’re more into brawling, however, you can take “Grasp of the Undying” from the Resolve tree. While it might seem like a strange choice, you should always try to weave in basic attacks between your abilities to activate your passive. If you manage to do so, you should be able to stack up on bonus health fairly easily.
As for his secondary rune path, everything’s game.
You can go for Precision and take “Presence of Mind” (mana restore and ultimate cooldown reduction), as well as “Legend: Tenacity” to be more elusive in the heat of battle.
You can go for Domination and take “Cheap Shot” or “Sudden Impact” (the former for additional damage on movement impaired targets, and the latter for additional Lethality and Magic Penetration after dashing).
Resolve offers a couple of interesting runes that could help out in unfavorable matchups like “Font of Life,” “Shield Bash,” and“Bone Plating,” whereas Inspiration has a ton of useful utility. If you’re, say, focused on roaming as much as possible, you can go for “Minion Dematerializer” in order to clear out waves more quickly, and “Cosmic Insight” for additional cooldown reduction.
With such a layered ability kit, any rune you go for can actually work out. It all boils down to personal preference, the lane you’re in, and the way you want to play Sylas.
That brings us to the end of our Sylas breakdown. Even though he might not have the highest of skill ceilings, he’ll surely become a force to be reckoned with in both solo queue as well as competitive play.
Whether that’s because of his presumed simplicity or overpowered kit is less important.
If you want to learn more about Sylas, you can head over toRiot’s official reveal page. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the written word, you can check out Sylas’ official lore at thefollowing link.
As with every new champion release, there will be an alternate Sylas skin coming with patch 9.2. In this case, it’s Lunar Wraith Sylas.