League of Legends: The Scoop on Sylas

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League of Legends: The Scoop on Sylas

Sylas is League of Legend's newest champion, and has one of the flashiest kits in the game. His ability to steal ultimates is a terrifying mechanic and makes him a true threat. He was released on patch 9.2 and despite seeing a decent amount of play in both solo queue and pro play, his place in the meta isn't so clear.

Sylas' kit gives him a ton of outplay potential and fantastic scaling. His Hijack (R) can change the course of the game, allowing him to steal enemy ultimates and use them. He has definite strengths, but definite weaknesses too. Being a scaling, melee character can be difficult to play against many lanes. His team fighting can be difficult too without stealing decent ultimates.

Pro players from all around the world seem to have an interesting read on him. Teams, players and regions all differ on how strong Sylas really is. This makes it more difficult for viewers and regular players to gauge Sylas' strength too. With so many question marks around “the Unshackled,” its important to examine all aspects of the champion to see how he will affect the meta, now and maybe in the future.

Performance in Solo Queue

sylas skin 1
Lunar Wraith Sylas. Photo via Riot Games.


Sylas, upon release, was one of the worst champions in the game. This usually isn't notable, as it takes time for people to learn new champions' limitations. However, he appeared to be so bad that Riot hotfix-buffed him. This made him slightly better to play, but he still shows big weaknesses.

One of the first indicators on this is that no one really knows where to play him. According to op.gg, people are playing Sylas in the top and middle lanes, as well as the jungle. Having a versatile champion that can play multiple roles isn't a bad thing, but in this case it seems like people are just unsure where he can thrive.

The top lane variant is the best right now, according to op.gg and League of Graphs. They differ slightly on the exact win rate, but they peg him at around a 49% win rate. This is the highest win rate he has in regards to role, with his jungle win rate being as low as 44%. “The Unshackled,” having low win rates in every role, shows that he struggles to find consistency against opponents of said roles.

Sylas depends on scaling from AP ratios and/or by building tanky items to survive in fights. As a result, his early game is rough in many situations. First off, his jungle clear is mediocre and can be abused by stronger junglers who can invade him. In lane, assassins and high damage bruisers can abuse his weak, squishy early game and straight up kill him. Likewise, mages and poke-oriented champions can poke him to zone him from farm. As long as they stay behind minions and don't get hit by his Abduct (E), the lane is pretty free.

Impact on Pro Play

Sylas struggles to be a premier solo queue pick, and its similar in the professional scene. When pro players moved to patch 9.2, there were mixed reactions to Sylas across the world. There were some teams, like J Team from the LMS and SK Telecom T1 from the LCK, who thought he was strong enough to pick early on in their drafts. Both teams found that this isn't the case.

They're not the only offenders, and it's unwise for teams to first pick Sylas because of his weaknesses. As mentioned before, he has a weak laning phase that can be punished by champions like Jayce, while picks like Fiora and Azir can have pressure and the scaling advantage. Also, teams can pick champions with less useful ultimates if they see their opponents pick Sylas early on. Sylas will always be able to find something decent, but if there are no game changing ultimates to steal, he is much weaker.

According Games of Legends, Sylas has a 27.3% win rate in the five major regions. He also has significantly less gold, farm and experience than his lane counterparts. There are only a few teams finding success with him, while most of the time he is a liability. Even with this many teams are choosing to ban him. For example, in the LEC's first day of week five, Sylas was banned in every single game. He has 26 bans throughout the five major regions, making viewers wonder if he has more success in scrims,

There are a lot of negatives for Sylas in pro play, but there are some shining moments that reveal the champion's greatest potential.

Case Study: C9 v TSM

c9 v tsm image
Photo via LoL Esports.


The match between Cloud9 (“C9”) and Team SoloMid (“TSM”). displayed how Sylas can really be a threat. Eric “Licorice” Ritchie debuted and piloted the Sylas to a great victory. In the draft phase, TSM locked in Sion in the first phase. To ensure the Sion was going top, C9 waited and gave Licorice the last pick. Sion, as a tank, is a relatively easy lane for most champions to farm in and scale. This is where the Sylas came in. This was a lane where he wouldn't suffer, and with Kleptomancy he would be able to build a sizable gold advantage.

The Sylas pick was perfect for more than that though. With Lissandra, Sion, Lucian and most importantly Zilean, Licorice had some great ultimates to steal. His utility in team fights was incredible, poking the enemies with The Culling and reviving allies with Chronoshift. Frozen Tomb and Unstoppable Onslaught found great use too in initiating on and chasing down enemies.

Licorice opted to build full AP and had massive damage by the end of the game. His laning phase was uneventful, but his play at the later stages of the game was exemplary. With this build, he had the ability to play on the side lanes, flank for team fights or play for ultimates in the back line. Its hard to say whether the full AP build is the best, but it definitely worked in this situation.

C9's Sylas pick demonstrated how great the champion can be in the right situation. He is designed to be a counter pick, and he can be devastating if used as such. Sylas is sure to see more play in the future, so be sure to keep an eye out for him!

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Featured image via Riot Games.


Avatar of Brandon Sturak
Brandon Sturak
Brandon is a writer and editor for ESTNN with a passion for esports. He writes about League of Legends and esports generally, providing analysis and commentary on both. He is a founding member of Niagara University Esports, while being the previous mid laner and Head Coach for the NU Esports LoL team as well. Twitter @GhandiLoL