The League of Legends meta has fluctuated over the years as a result of patches, champion releases, and map changes. However, Lissandra has remained a relative constant in the game’s top flight.
Since her launch, Lissandra has enjoyed a 20% pick-and-ban presence and has enjoyed many resurgences throughout the years. Since her latest reappearance during the 2018 Summer Split, she became a standard pick in the following World Championship and during the 2019 Spring Split.
Should the right conditions emerge, she is one of the most dangerous picks in League of Legends.
“Lissandra has actually been used as a flex pick. She's still hard to play against because she's really strong. It's really hard to play against a really good Lissandra, but I feel like you can play a lot of picks into her.”
Why pick Lissandra?
Lissandra is a control mage with fairly decent damage and extremely strong Crowd Control abilities. Because she can pin down targets in a hurry, she is a menace in 2v2 situations involving damage-heavy junglers, and team fights when there is a need to lock down specific targets or start team fights.
“European midlaners want to play the strongest laners. Lissandra is not the strongest laner. She is really controlled and strong in 2v2, but Europe always liked strong 1v1 matchups at least in the mid lane. She's just become really strong with the current junglers in 2v2s, so I think that's the reason.”
Although she has recently fallen out of favour, she remains one of the strongest options against assassins such as LeBlanc and Akali. Her reemergence during the 2018 Summer Split coincided with the rise of the aforementioned picks, as she effectively nullifies them before they can blast a target, turning team fights into smoother 5v4 encounters. “If you ban Lissandra, you can pick Zed, LeBlanc, or other assassins,” Febiven says. “It opens up assassins for play.”
On the flipside, her 1v1 abilities are relatively lacklustre. That, in turn, turned several players away from favouring her, as she has several weak matchups. As such, she is ideal in the hands of players who prefer solid macro over pure duelling ability. In fact, her strengths are brought to the forefront should teams play properly around her kit.
Besides, a good roam after pushing a wave is often deadly.
“It obviously depends on whether your enemy respects [your ability to roam] or not. But usually, when Lissandra is missing from the map, you try to respect it. But even if you try to respect it, they can dive you under your turret.”
As one of her team’s primary Crowd Control dispensers, Lissandra’s go-to Keystone is Aftershock. Not only does it allow her to soak incredible amounts of damage when she roots a target with W or stuns it with R, it provides her with a neat detonation in the thick of a team fight.
Lissandra’s main purpose is to last long enough in a team fight to control it. The longer she stands, the more effective she can be. In fact, preseason changes to her Passive more than incentivize living long enough to trigger a chain of frozen ghastly detonations across the board.
For the Resolve tree, Demolish is frequently selected for its tower takedown power, with Font of Life as an alternative (which Febiven used). Bone Plating is the default selection for the third row as it amplifies Aftershock’s bonus resistances, making her even tankier when she engages a skirmish or team fight.
As for the last row, Overgrowth is more frequently selected than Unflinching, considering that health bonuses help Lissandra survive further.
As for the secondary tree choices, two choices are available. The most frequent one (by a large margin) is the Inspiration tree, and the rune choices are left to the player’s discretion. Magical Footwear, Perfect Timing, Minion Dematerializer, Biscuit Delivery, Cosmic Insight Time Warp Tonic all have their uses and can change on a matchup basis. Febiven has used Minion Dematerializer and Cosmic Insight during the LEC when using Inspiration.
On the other hand, the alternative tree, Sorcery, offers little wiggle room. Manaflow Band’s mana additions prove extremely valuable, and Transcendence allows the champion to reach 40% Cooldown Reduction much faster.
Flash and Teleport are standard summoner spells on Lissandra with little variance.
Lissandra’s macro-centric focus is best served with Teleport, as it allows her to set up better wave control very early on, as well as join flanks in other lanes in a hurry.
As for Flash, it can come in handy with Lissandra’s primary gap-closing tool, her E – Glacial Path. Indeed, she can converge on an area very quickly and pin down targets with either her W – Ring of Frost or R – Frozen Tomb.
“I like to max E, then I max W. Q>E>W.”
Passive: Iceborn Subjugation
The passive increases Lissandra’s efficiency during team fights. She does not have to kill her targets. All she needs to do is be near a dying enemy, as once they die, they become huge assets to her. Each ghost generated from the passive slows nearby targets and detonates, sometimes to great effect.
Q: Ice Shard
Lissandra’s bread and butter ability is her Q – Ice Shard. A relatively low-mana spell, it allows her to deal solid damage to a minion wave, harass melee opponents should they take a direct hit, and slow targets affected. Ice Shard deals splash damage to targets behind the initial target, making it a great harassing tool in lane as well as a solid team fight damaging spell.
W: Ring of Frost
The skill is handy in a lot of ways it its first level. Against ranged minions, it allows for more reliable farming under tower as Lissandra can auto attack them once they have taken a subsequent tower hit.
Although it is her weakest damaging spell, the 1.1 second root at level 1 (1.5 at level 5) allows her to pin down targets for subsequent damage in a 2v2 skirmish and team fights. The spell also triggers Aftershock, providing much needed survivability given her close proximity to an enemy when she casts it. This skill and her R – Frozen Tomb are the bane of assassins that come too close, with Akali and Zed as noteworthy examples. Thus, professional players with such plans often ban Lissandra.
“If you ban Lissandra, you can pick Zed, LeBlanc, or other assassins. It opens up assassins for play.”
E: Glacial Path
Glacial Path is Lissandra’s greatest asset. Its first cast projects an ice claw at Lissandra’s desired direction. The claw deals damage to enemies it traverses, making it a potent wave-clearing tool alongside Q – Ice Shard, which explains why Febiven prefers leveling it second.
However, the wonders of Glacial Path start with the opt-in second cast. Should Lissandra cast it again, she will blink where the claw is located. At maximum range, the skill allows her to retreat to safety and/or reach a distant target with ease. She can also bypass terrain in the blink of an eye, when it would take champions not named Talon, Aurelion Sol or Bard far longer to circumvent it.
“Lissandra's E is really long, so you can usually go through really thick walls. You can go through the thick red side bot lane when you're through the river. You can go through every wall in the game.”
However, be careful not to claw yourself into the danger zone (such as Soraka’s E – Equinox silence area), lest you die a miserable death.
R: Frozen Tomb
On self-cast, Frozen Tomb allows Lissandra to slow enemies and deal damage in a wide area around her, be immune to damage, and regenerate a large portion of her health (especially at low health levels). Should she be in deep trouble, the self-cast option can be a lifesaver and buy enough time (2.5 seconds) for reinforcements to arrive.
When cast on an enemy, she misses the damage immunity and self-healing components, but stuns a target for 1.5 seconds at all levels. The duration is so great that targets often die from her allies’ follow-up damage while stunned.
Lissandra has great mobility tools in her E – Glacial Path, Flash, and Hextech Protobelt, allowing her to reliably land her W – Ring of Frost and R on her intended targets. She can also wait for an opponent to overstep (such as a wild Zed, LeBlanc or Akali dashing in for a kill).
Do note: Sylas abides by different rules. He can steal your ultimate, so watch out!
“There's only one path on this champion.”
Lissandra players can purchase a Corrupting Potion as a first item, as the ensuing sustain allows her to control waves more optimally early on. A quick recall with a Dark Seal further improves that.
Lissandra has many boot options. Should she need more Magic Penetration, Sorcerer’s Shoes would be her best choice. Mercury’s Treads are also great for the Tenacity they provide, whereas Ionian Boots of Lucidity allow her to reach the 40% cap faster.
Although the above require flexible thinking, the core build does not. Febiven’s ideal itemization includes Luden’s Echo, Hextech Protobelt-01, Zhonya’s Hourglass and Void Staff. Lissandra players can choose to build either Luden’s Echo or Hextech Protobelt-01 first (and the other item right after).
Lissandra’s sixth item is left at the discretion of the player to help them adapt to the situation they are facing. Should an opponent have abusive amounts of lifesteal, a Morellonomicon always helps. In fact, Febiven built it ahead of some core items in his LEC Spring Split Week 1 matchup against Rogue in a Lissandra vs pre-nerf Akali faceoff.
“If you ever get a roam off and you manage to get behind [your target], then they should always be dead. In team fights, you can engage from the front, Flashing after your E.”
A perfect anti-assassin, Lissandra shines bright when fighting around teammates in 2v2 skirmishes or team fights. Her survivability through Aftershock, Zhonya’s Hourglass and a self-cast ultimate in worst-case scenarios allow her to wreak havoc in a team fight, especially when her intended targets die while she lives.
Although she has somewhat fallen out of favour following the rise of Sylas, she remains a strong pick into LeBlanc and the emerging Camille mid lane flex pick from the LCK. In fact, she is a strong pick in general; no matter the meta, she can emerge at the forefront at a moment’s notice.