Patches have come and gone, but Lee Sin has remained relevant over the years. Bar sudden dips in popularity in top-tier play due to significant meta changes, Lee Sin is here to stay.
We spoke to Fnatic’s jungler, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen about the champion, what makes him click on Summoners’ Rift, and how to maximise his potential.
Strengths and Weaknesses
“The main strength of Lee Sin is flexibility.”
Lee Sin is one of the most flexible junglers in the game. Depending on the team composition and game circumstances, Lee Sin players can either peel for their back line or act as assassins in a best-case scenario. Sometimes, they can also opt into fulfilling a front line role, if the team has enough peeling tools, and trade their lives for the opposing team’s highest priority carry.
However, with great power (and flexibility) comes great responsibility.
“While the champion does offer a lot in terms of playmaking, it's important not to go too far and go for the really big plays. You have to find the middle ground between playing smart and seeing when you have to go for the big plays.”
In the best case scenario, Lee Sin single-handedly wins the game. With powerful ganking tools in the early game and great pathing, he can create opportunities most champions would not. His duelling power is brutal when he has the opportunity to counterjungle from ahead, and his gank-empowered scaling in the early and mid game allows him to assassinate targets no matter their health pool.
On the other hand, should he fall behind, Lee Sin’s role shifts to facilitating his teammates, whether it involves kicking threats away from a carry or providing assistance to a beefy front line. “Lee Sin's role in a team comp can vary a bit, depending on the game,” Broxah cautions.
Either way, Lee Sin’s unenviable scaling into the late game is also a cause for concern. Unlike other junglers with set duties from the early game onward (and fully optimized builds), his flexibility can leave him on the backfoot should he overinvest in the wrong path.
Besides, mastering Lee Sin requires dedication levels akin to Yasuo and Riven one-trick players. Unlike other champions, he requires immense amounts of repetition to pass the basics, let alone master him. “You need to have at least 100 games to be able to play it properly,” Broxah explains.
“Usually, you want to go Conqueror, [and] Domination second. You take Ravenous Hunter [and] Taste of Blood, which gives you a lot of power in skirmishes. You're going to heal a lot over time once you have those five Conqueror stacks, and you're going to be really, really difficult to take down.”
Although Broxah has tinkered with an Inspiration rune page in the past, his go-to setup is the Conqueror-Domination page as displayed in the image. In doing so, he provides self healing to complement Lee Sin’s heavy damage.
The Attack Speed selections ease his jungling and feeds into Conqueror, as he can reach five attacks faster. The ensuing damage boost, true damage amplification and healing is more than worthwhile.
Flash and Smite are Broxah’s Summoner Spells of choice.
Beyond providing an easy escape from tense situations and a window into Baron Nashor smite steals, Flash is an active component of a few Lee Sin combos.
As for Smite, Broxah recommends Chilling Smite (blue) over Challenging Smite (red), but players can opt into either depending on their early game performance and team composition. “For the most part, you want to get the blue Smite,” he said. “It generally helps a lot in fights. It's a really nice gap closer. It can be a really efficient finishing tool.”
How to Play
“One of the combos is a prime example [of my dedication to the champion,] because I have been practicing the same combo almost every warmup starting from Worlds 2017. That's 5-10 minutes before 90% of my stage games when I go to the Practice Tool.”
Broxah has already spoken about Lee Sin’s combos in the above video for LEC Training Grounds. However, he also wished to stress how important smartcasting is on Lee Sin in this guide through the ward hopping example.
“You can't ward-jump properly if you have to put the ward then click on it afterwards,” he says. “If you smartcast, you do the ward jump in one motion, and it's so much easier to play the champion properly.”
Lee Sin clears jungle camps faster and stack his Conqueror quicker should he stick to a target. The energy generation enables him to cast another spell after an autoattack, should he run out of it.
Q: Sonic Wave / Resonating Strike
Lee Sin’s Q is one of his primary damage dealing tools and a gap closer to the target he marks. The target can be either an enemy champion (with or without stealth), an enemy minion, or a neutral camp (including Dragon and Baron Nashor).
It can also serve as an escape tool should Lee Sin be ambushed in lane or in his side of the jungle, as former LCS player Austin “LiNk” Shin demonstrates.
W: Safeguard / Iron Will
Lee Sin’s Safeguard is another mobility tool, this time using an allied target or ward. In casting it, he can also interrupt his Resonating Strike’s dash – good for mind games, to backtrack from a bad decision, or as part of a combo that demands it. He can also cast it upon himself to mitigate otherwise lethal damage (we see you, Karthus players).
The extra shield and Iron Will is a nice bonus should he need extra survivability (for example, the initial jungle clear).
E: Tempest / Cripple
Lee Sin’s Tempest is his go-to Area of Effect skill during jungle clears. In addition, should he land it on a champion, the Cripple follow-up provides great peeling and kiting for his teammates.
Although Lee Sin’s Tempest does not reveal stealthed targets, it does allow him to Cripple them.
R: Dragon’s Rage
Dragon’s Rage is a great displacement tool, and it makes or breaks Lee Sin.
The InSec combo and its derivatives focus on knocking an enemy carry into their demise, but many other combos and uses are possible (like this one from Broxah).
Lee Sin players can also knock a threat away from their primary carry. If the threat collides with other enemies and knocks them up, his teammates could turn the team fight in their favor.
“Usually, you want to get the Warrior Enchant, then you want to go Black Cleaver for the most part.”
Lee Sin relies on the Stalker’s Blade: Warrior (or Skirmisher’s Sabre: Warrior for Challenging Smite) and The Black Cleaver to function. The two items provide Attack Damage and Cooldown Reduction, two vital stats for the champion. The Black Cleaver also provides health and reduces the armor of enemy champions, empowering his duelling abilities.
Upon securing his core and boots befitting the situation, Lee Sin transitions into building Guardian Angel and Sterak’s Gage for a mix of offense and survivability. The player can purchase either item before the other as it is up to personal preference. The sixth item and the boots follow the same rule and are left to the discretion of the player.
However, should the stars align and should Lee Sin secure an enormous advantage early, he can instead purchase a Lethality item after The Black Cleaver. Broxah recommends Duskblade of Draktharr in such situations.
“There are a lot of options depending on how fed you are and what you need to provide your team,” Broxah says.
“Go hard or go home. When you're about to take a team fight and you hit a nice Q, and you see the big play for your eyes, go for it and get that big play off.”
The sky’s the limit for Lee Sin players. Should they put in the effort to master the champion as Broxah did, their feats may be available on montages for all to see. Of course, situational awareness is key; going for the big play is not always the best decision. If your mind is telling you no, please listen to it; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, not even your body.
Then again, should you listen to your body and fail miserably, you would have at least gained valuable experience to use in subsequent games. Experience through trial by error is just as valuable, as it helps discern between a bad decision and a game-winning one.
Should you choose to master Lee Sin, the Practice Tool, live trials, failures and unparalleled excitement await.