League of Legends launch guide: Syndra the Dark Sovereign

Josh Augustine

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Every two weeks, Riot Games adds a new champion to League of Legends roster. The first few days of a champion's release are a crazy, wonderful time of mayhem and mass-deaths. We make sure you have the advantage with our launch guides, tested on the field of battle, that break down strengths and weaknesses and give you our veteran tips for the new champ.

Syndra the Dark Sovereign, releasing this week, is kind of crazy. According to her official lore, she's a magical prodigy that craves power and will do anything to get it. She also murdered her loving mentor who was an old monk, which is pretty messed up. That's only the beginning of her madness.

With the obligatory lore mentiong out of the way, are you ready to get into the real meat? Syndra is a ranged AP mage champion with a lot of damage spells, location manipulation for non-champions, and a hefty utility belt stuffed with four AoE CCs: a slow, knock back, knock up, and stun.

Syndra's clearly got a lot going on, so let's take it piece by piece and see how you can get the most out of her tricks.

She'd be an amazing juggler if she'd just learn to apply herself.

What's she got?

(Passive) Transcendent: Boosts her three core abilities (Q,W,E) when they hit max rank.

  • It's usually a good idea to level one ability to max ASAP, but with Syndra it's absolutely essential.
  • I prefer to level W first, and the passive dramatically increases its slowing effect.
This is the only warning your opponents get before the orb pops 'em.
(Q) Dark Sphere: Summons an orb at target location that damages at creation and last for six seconds

  • There's a one-second activation delay before damage (like Karthus' and Veigar's Q abilities), so be sure to lead your target
  • It's only on a four second cooldown. With cooldown-reduction items, you should be able to keep three orbs on the field at all times. Always keep at least one orb near you.
  • The AP ratio is a bit weak on this ability (0.5 per ability power), meaning that it won't scale as well as most mages' main abilities. Think twice before going toe-to-toe spamming attacks vs. another mage and cycle in W whenever you can for more damage.
Fly, my minions! Flyyyyyyyyyyyy!
(W) Force of Will: First activation will grab a target minion (jungle creeps, super minions, and most champion pets included) and make it follow you around for 6 seconds. A second activation will let you throw the minion at target location, damaging and slowing everyone there.

  • This is the reason to play Syndra. No other champion in LoL can use and abuse minions like this.
  • Anything you grab will be locked in an invulnerable stasis until you release it. It's helpful when trying to manage last hits, and it'll stop the minion from attacking.
  • Your leash only last six seconds, and the minion will break out if you don't throw it.
  • It's not readily apparent what you can and can't pick up with this ability, but the rule of thumb is that if it's a minion, pet, or player-made turret, you can pick it up.
  • The grab radius is incredibly forgiving, even though it doesn't look like it. If you click anywhere near something that you're allowed to pick up, it'll work.
  • No, you can't change where an enemy player will appear by throwing the minion they're teleporting to (they'll appear where the minion was before). But I like your style.
  • Think big-picture when making these pulls. Try to adjust the flow of the lane in your favor. A well-placed tank minion can either push or retract the lane, depending on whichever helps you more at the time.
It's like pinball, and the minion bumpers even light up when you hit 'em!
(E) Scatter the Weak: Knocks all enemies and dark spheres back. If a dark sphere hits an enemy, they are knocked up, damaged, and stunned.

  • This is your catch-all utility spell. It's your one reliable escape tool but also your best aggressive move in teamfights.
  • It should be obvious, but make sure you have the maximum number of orbs on the field before you use this ability in a teamfight, if you can. Ideally, you'll use your ultimate right before and have 3 others placed from Q, for a total of 6 orbs flying out in a huge cone pattern to stun and knock-up their entire team.
  • You can achieve some pretty crazy long range hits by tapping an orb with the edge of this spell and sending it flying forward.
  • This one's on a long cooldown (14-18 seconds), so recognize your vulnerability after using it and keep a safe distance from enemy melee.
Orbs have a sweet peel-out effect as they race towards your target
(R) Unleashed Power: Hurls all available dark orbs at target champion to deal a hefty pile of damage over a short period of time.

  • At the very minimum, Syndra will chuck the three dark orbs always floating around her, but make sure you have at least one or two orbs from Q nearby when activating this.
  • The orbs all fall down around your target, so make sure you're within range to launch your E immediately if you need to lock the group down before they can run out of the way.
There's great joy in sending a potential ganker flying back from your group. Teemo lives another day!

What can she do?

Syndra is a strong AP mid, although the AP ratio problems I mentioned above slightly limit her carrying potential. She's capable of working her dark mojo in any lane, but there's not much hope of jungling with her. I personally prefer playing her in mid lane, as her long-range harass and location control allowed me to force rival players to move where I wanted them to, much like Lux. Her ability to control the flow of the lane by picking up and moving minions is also incredibly useful and fun.

I've seen some theorycrafting about playing her as a support on bottom lane, focused on grabbing minions to set up last-hits for your partner and throwing out stuns like they're month-old tuna salad. It's a tempting idea, but I've yet to see it executed well and you'd lose so much damage potential by letting sideline like that. Syndra is definitely a headline kinda gal, and she'll pick you up and toss you off a cliff if you say otherwise.

That said, I would love to see someone with incredible micro skills and awareness focus on constantly making those odd-angling stun shots to keep an enemy shut down from range.

Next page: Build advice, combos for every situation, counters to watch out for, a secret perk, and our screw-with-the-other-team achievement list

Everything's better when it's hitting Renekton.

How do I build her?

Pretty standard AP build here. A lot of the specific items you buy will depend on the lineup you're facing and who your teammates are, but the general idea is this: get a mana regen item like Chalice of Harmony early, grab some boots, and stack AP like a crazy person.

The short cooldown on your Q is great, but it costs enough mana that you'll quickly deplete your blue line if you don't bolster it with at least one item. When in doubt about AP items, go with Rabadon's Deathcap—it's a whole heap o' hurt.

How do I play her?

A few of my favorite combos:

Q > W > W > E > Q

The classic chasing combo. Summon an orb on top of enemy, grab it and hurl it back at him to slow him down, then (since they're running away from you) ping it with E to send it forward, stunning him. Unleash hell as you close in.

Q > Q > E

On the flip side, this is for when you're the one being chased. You can toss down Q behind you all day long without slowing your escape. You can toss in a double W to slow the chaser if there's something in front of you to grab—don't stop to grab the orbs you're dropping behind you. Save your E as long as you can—a few exploding orbs to the face will deter most chasers, but you may need if they have a leap or teleport.

It's like leaving tiny explosive dark-matter droppings behind you wherever you go.

Q > E > W > W > Q

When you're tired of running from the enemy, here's how to deal with an over-zealous aggressor. Toss down an orb before the knockback to make sure you proc the stun with E and then bash the jerk good while they can't move.

Q > Q > Ult > Q > E

This is how you enter teamfights. Use the first two orb drops to deal damage on the DPS target as both teams are poking each other before committing. Then use your ult to toss five orbs in their face. The reason I save the sixth orb for after the Ult is so I can place it exactly where I want it before kicking off the huge AoE stun with E.

W > W > E

Just like the wrestling organization with the same initials, I hope you never use this combo. However, if you mess up and place your orb in the wrong position for a stun, you can always use W to relocate it and line up the perfect shot.

Orbs shot by our E will travel through minions, so don't be afraid to toss it into into a pack if it'll hit a champion too.

Any particularly champion counters to watch out for?

I didn't feel too overwhelmed in any of my games, but there was a Talon who gave me a lot of trouble. His combination of teleporting on top of me and dropping into stealth made it really tough for me to land my delayed-explosion orbs or minion throws on him.

Any top secret information?

Many jungle creeps died to bring you this information. Throwing the jungle creeps that give buffs cause some bonus effects to proc. When Syndra tosses the blue buff golem, she regens 10 mana and the cooldown on W will refresh one second faster. Chucking the red buff lizard will light everyone it hits on fire for a brief period, just like its buff does.

PC Gamer's official screw-with-the-other-team Syndra achievements:

When the enemy jungler is trying to kill the blue buff Golem NPC, use a ward to grab it from across the wall. Kill it if you can or just toss it far away so that it heals itself as it leashes back to spawn.

Grab Annie's bear Tibbers and hold it in statis. Watch the little girl cry. Don't feel bad, she's a pyromaniac.

Run straight into Heimerdinger's turret gauntlet, grab the furthest one, hurl it as far as you can, and escape alive. For bonus points, /dance before running away.

Kill Shaco with his own jack in the box. Let the irony sink in naturally—don't force it.

I hope this hands-on report helps you succeed with Syndra when she hits live servers this week. If you decide to pick her up, be sure to let everyone know in the comments what other strategies and tips you found worked well. It's alright—we're all on the same side here.

Josh Augustine spends more time playing MMOs and MOBAs than most people spend sleeping. He's written about them for PC Gamer as an intern, editor, and freelancer. He's currently a game designer at Sony Online Entertainment and would love to talk with you on Twitter .

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