League of Legends: Better To Reign In Hell
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG League Reporter
Syndra is a mage with some of the most unusual tools at her disposal. Her burst isn’t great, but her sustained damage can be quite fearsome, provided she lives long enough in a fight to lay down the hurt. Players familiar with other combo reliant mages like Brand may be most at home playing her, though anyone is going to have a tough time taking on the sheer cliff-face that is her learning curve.
Blue buff turns her into a monster
Force of Will allows for some very unusual tricks
Good crowd control (AoE slow, conical pushback, long range stun that can hit multiple targets)
Low cooldowns allow for an active playstyle
Extremely high skill ceiling
Extremely mana hungry
Weak early game
Heavily reliant on blue buff
Slow movement speed, and no escapes
Needs time to set up her most powerful attacks
Underwhelming burst without her ultimate
Unforgiving learning curve
Transcendent [Passive]: Her spells get better when they hit maximum rank. This pretty much forces you to concentrate on maxing out one of her abilities as quickly as possible, with as few dips in her other skills as you can manage. This is what most players do anyway, so it’s not a very important part of her game.
Dark Sphere [Q]: Mid range AoE nuke with a long windup and a small blast radius. After the initial burst, the ability leaves a dark sphere on the ground. The rest of her kit manipulates these spheres in some fashion, so learning to place them correctly is the most important skill for a Syndra player to master.
Force of Will [W]: Grabs a non-champion enemy creature or dark sphere and drags it behind Syndra. When activated a second time, it will throw her captive at a targeted location, slowing and damaging everything in the AoE. Dragging minions back into an incoming wave is a great way to freeze your lane. Another funny trick is to grab hold of enemy buff monsters and drag them to a safe position for your jungler. Any dark sphere being dragged behind Syndra can’t disappear, so you can use this to easily get more spheres out on the field if you’re preparing to use a stun or ultimate follow up. Due to her AP scaling, this ability will actually do more damage than her Dark Sphere in the late game, though it suffers from having a dramatically longer cooldown.
Scatter the Weak [E]: Knocks back all enemies in a cone. If a dark sphere is pushed back, it will stun all enemies it passes through. While the stun is hard to aim, if you can get used to using it, it’s a very long range stun, able to hit at around a screen’s length.
Unleashed Power [R]: Targeted nuke that scales with the number of dark spheres in play. Leaves dark spheres on the ground, which can be interacted with as any other dark sphere.
Combos & Shenanigans
Smartcasting on Syndra is a must. In order to play Syndra effectively, you’re going to have to rely on her many, many ability combinations. Much like in my Jayce article, this is unlikely to be a comprehensive list, but shows some of the numerous things she’s capable of.
Dark Sphere followed by Force of Will will give her ammo for a slow, without the need for minions. This can be an essential trick for kiting enemies when caught out somewhere without any readily available minions, like near the dragon pit.
Dark Sphere followed by Scatter the Weak provides Syndra with a long range stun. This is an exceptionally hard ability to land reliably, because if you’re off centre by even a small amount, you’ll miss your shot. You can increase your chances of hitting your enemy, or hit multiple targets by dropping an Unleashed Power on your nearest target, then firing all of the dark spheres across a wide area. Given this means you will usually be using your ultimate on a tank, and with few dark spheres in play, be aware this trick costs her a lot of damage output, though the amount of crowd control you get in return can often be worth it. It also can bite you in the ass on occasion when the spheres land somewhere you can’t make use of (Like all landing on the wrong side of an enemy), so should be avoided in risky situations.
When combining Dark Sphere, Force of Will and Scatter the Weak in a full combo, you can pump out her full suit of crowd control very quickly. Offensively, this is best used at long range, so you don’t push your intended target away from you with Scatter the Weak, and instead just hit them with the stun and slow. When used defensively, it is best to place a dark sphere in front of your enemy, push your enemy and the sphere back (Stunning them), then grabbing the knocked back sphere and throwing it at the enemy for the slow. If landed correctly, it can be very hard for an enemy to approach through this, but if you don’t land it properly, all of her abilities are now on cooldown and she’s wide open to attack.
Syndra is not a ‘pick up and play’ character. You will get stomped into the floor the first few times you give her a go. She’s a character that lives or dies based on her more advanced tricks. Freezing her own lane with pulled enemy minions, dragging out enemy creep camps, and smacking Yorick with his own ghouls are all effective gimmicks, but if her player isn’t using them, she’s a terrible pick compared to any other mage.
Even with her highly unusual utility, I’m not entirely sure it makes up for her terrible damage output. Perhaps she’s got some really tricky stuff to get her to burst targets down effectively, but as of right now they all rely on far too much of a set up compared to her peers. If she’s spending a whopping 10 seconds getting enough spheres to make her ultimate hit like a truck (Using a grand total of 7 spheres hitting her enemy), the enemy are likely using that same amount of time to kill her.
Right now I’m getting a launch day Cassiopeia vibe from her. She’s got a unique and active play style that we haven’t seen before, but she’s also only worth picking if you enjoy the character, rather than actually want to succeed.
She’s good fun, with a unique style of play, but she feels weak at the moment. She may become stronger as people find tricks with her and begin spreading them around the community, so she’s unlikely to see buffs in the next patch. Unless you want to get in on the ground floor of any Syndra research, I’d advise waiting a while before picking her up.
To discuss Syndra yourselves, post in the massive League of Legends thread in the free to play MMOs section, or post in the comments section below. If you haven't tried League of Legends yet, you're missing out.