A Guide to Lissandra, the Ice Witch
Mon 5th Oct 2020 - 7:05pm
This mage has been in League of Legends since 2013 and has been an assassin’s nightmare to play against, but more on that later. Lissandra is a mage that thrives against matchups that are up close and personal. Her kit allows her to deal good chunks of damage against champions that get too close and to chase if they get too far. Her weaknesses may be overlooked, but she must not be underestimated, because having a good Lissandra player on the enemy team could spell doom. Let’s dive in a find out why!
Passive – Iceborn Subjugation
Lissandra’s previous passive was to give her a free ability every few seconds. While that was fine, it was not necessarily reflective of her character and what she can do. Thankfully, a rework to the passive in 2018 made her passive not only more viable, but also more deadly. The passive works like this: When you damage or kill an enemy within a few seconds, a ‘frozen thrall’ spawns in their place. A frozen thrall is untargetable and unkillable but cannot be controlled by her. It goes to an area where enemies are at, prioritizing pursuing champions. Anyone in the range of the thrall is slowed. After a few seconds, the thrall detonates, dealing magic damage in its radius. This helps her in lane as killing the enemy laner gives her a chance to wave clear faster, something she does lack in the early game. This ultimate can also work super well in teamfights, as you do not have to kill an enemy champion to trigger the thrall, just damaging them before they die does the trick.
Q – Ice Shard
This ability is pretty easy to understand and is Lissandra’s primary ability to use in the game. Lissandra hurls a shard of ice at a targeted direction. Enemies hit with the shard are damaged and slows the first enemies hit, minion or champion. It also has a shatter effect that deals damage to everything behind the shard and the best part is, they still take full damage from the shard. This in combination with her E which we’ll get to soon, does wonder for wave clearing in the late game. It is also very useful in teamfights when you need to hit multiple enemy champions.
W – Ring of Frost
This ability is Lissandra’s one of two forms of hard crowd control. She creates a ring of frost around her and anything trapped inside that ring is rooted for a short duration. This ability should be primarily used for chain CC on a champion or to cc a champion for you to either kite away from or to lock down for a good attack. The ability is very short in its range, so always be mindful when you decide to use it, because if you use it too early and your target is out of range, that will give them an opening to attack, since the cooldown on the ability is long.
E – Glacial Path
This ability serve’s a multitude of purposes. She creates a claw that goes in a targeted direction, dealing damage as it goes across the direction you aim it at. She can then recast it to appear where the claw currently is. This ability is Lissandra’s way to close the gap and to get into range for fights, also for needing a quick escape if things begin to go south in a fight. But be careful, as your enemies will know where you be if you decide to recast. Furthermore, any hard form of CC against Lissandra will not allow her to recast her claw, so be careful when trying to use it, making sure you do not get hit by CC before you recast.
R – Frozen Tomb
Lissandra’s ult is what gives assassins nightmares. The ultimate can be casted against any enemy champion, stunning them for 1.5 seconds, giving your team to burst them down, or it can be casted onto yourself, making you untargetable and invulnerable for 2.5 seconds. You also gain some of your health back based on your missing health and how much ability power you have at the time. The ultimate also slows anything in its radius during the duration of the ultimate. That part of the ultimate lasts for 3 seconds and deals magic damage. This ability can do wonders in setting up fights and saving yourself from harm. It is crucial though to know when and who to ult. This can decide the outcome of the fight. Using your ultimate on the wrong person could spell doom for your team, so you must be wise when it comes to how you use your ultimate ability.
Pros and Cons
So, let’s start off with the pros of Lissandra. She excels in teamfights, setting them up with her Ring of Frost and her Frozen Tomb. Her passive too comes in handy during fights, as the threat of extra damage and slow from the Frozen Thralls will likely deter any risky counterattack. Even if she falls behind, she makes up for it in her CC abilities. She is always useful in a fight because of those perks. It’s why she is an excellent teamfight mage. Because of those abilities, is why she is a good counter against assassin’s and other melee champions. She denies them a chance to snowball because of her CC if they get too close and will then be forced to leave the lane to find kills, they need to get ahead, which gives Lissandra free time to push the lane and get turret gold.
However, when placed against her fellow mages is where her weaknesses truly shine their face. Her short range abilities makes it difficult for her to trade among the likes of Orianna, Cassiopeia, Syndra, and other mages. Also, she is not necessarily made to be a snowball champion. She is built to be a primarily teamfighting mage, setting up not only herself, but her teammates for success. That’s why most builds for her are primarily focused around utility and defense instead of pure ability power. She can get ahead, but she can never be a single carry, as her short-range kit makes it to where she has to be in the front of a fight, where she can be quickly burst down.
Best and Worst Matchups
Lissandra is at her best when facing off against melee champions. Assassins in particular, because her kit is made to prevent them from snowballing. They need to get in up close to deal damage with her and her abilities are made to prevent that from happening. She can out poke because they have to be in her close range to farm and therefore, are vulnerable to her short-range abilities most other champions can easily avoid. Furthermore, her ultimate can full on stop all-ins from happening, as they make her invulnerable and unable to target, making life difficult for Talon and Zed players, as they rely heavily on getting ahead early and snowballing in the early to mid game.
She is at her worst against her fellow mages however. When she has to go against poke mages like Lux, Cassiopeia, and Syndra, it can be very difficult for her, since her kit is made to deal with melee champions and short range mages. Because of her short range, it is very difficult for her to trade effectively. So, when you are against these long range champions, it may be best to rush defense first, like Zhonya’s or Banshee’s Veil to avoid getting demolished by them in the lane phase. The best way to deal with this, is to let the wave push to you and hope that your jungle can help you out, because without some help, laning against long range mages can put you back hard.
Laning Phase and Combos
The laning phase for Lissandra is perhaps her weakest point in the game. The range on her abilities is short as previously stated, but also her cooldown’s early on are quite high. The best thing to do with her during the laning phase is to play it safe. Let the wave push to you so your jungle can have an avenue to gank and help better trade with your lane opponent, especially if that lane opponent is a mage. Try to use your abilities only against your lane opponent and not your minions. If you do, that will give your opponent a good chance to trade hard on you and you would have one less ability to defend yourself with. Auto your minions, let the wave push so your jungle can help and fight only when you know you have the clear advantage.
For combos, lets start with her biggest. Start with your ultimate to lock someone down, then follow up with your Ring of Frost and then your other abilities. This will ensure a good CC chain and make it easy for you to land your other abilities. Furthermore, if the opponent is using cleanse as a summoner spell and uses it against Lissandra’s ultimate, the ring of frost will ensure they still stay cc’d, albeit for a shorter time. Another combo goes with her E, Glacial Path. This ability can be used for flanks, escapes, all-ins, etc. Use it as best your can then follow up with your crowd control abilities for that hard lockdown. Also don’t be afraid to use your flash to get all in. Since Lissandra’s abilities aside from her Q are very short range, more often than not you may find yourself using flash to get in close. Use that to your advantage for all-ins and teamfight initiations.
Aftershock with Sorcery
This is my personal favorite rune setup, as the Aftershock rune gives her more survivability when going all in on a teamfight in the mid to late game. The defense when activated, plus the additional damage afterwards fits her playstyle as an AP fight initiator and teamfighter well. For the rest of the rune tree, go Font of Life for the heal not only for yourself, but for your teammates in the area, Bone Platting for the extra defense and Overgrowth for more health, since Lissandra can easily be bursted down, the more hp you have, the better. For the secondary rune tree, go Sorcery with Manaflow Band to add more mana to your pool, as Lissandra can melt through her mana pretty quickly and Transcendence so you can get free cooldown reduction and bonus ap should you go over that 40% threshold.
Electrocute with Sorcery
This rune tree is her more popular one, as this one gives Lissandra extra burst with her combos, while drawing back on her survivability. Despite lacking that, she makes up for it with her burst thanks to electrocute. For the rest of the primary rune tree, go Cheap Shot for the extra damage you get when you CC with her W and her ultimate, Eyeball Collection to gain more and more AP and Ultimate Hunter, so you can get her ultimate faster with the more kills you get. For the secondary rune tree, similar to the earlier rune set up, go Sorcery with Manaflow Band and Transcendence. While not as survivable as with the Resolve rune setup, this rune setup makes up for it with extra damage to her abilities, something that Lissandra can lack.
Arcane Comet with Inspiration
The least popular of rune setups for Lissandra, but by no means bad, Arcane Comet allows her to get some poke in when dealing with more longer-range champions, such as Orianna or Cassiopeia for instance. This rune should be used in those type of situations, where it is difficult to deal damage from your other abilities since they are very short range. For the rest of the tree, Manaflow Band and Transcendence should be added and for the 3rd branch, put in Scorch for some additional damage after activating the comet. For the secondary rune tree, you should run inspiration with Perfect Timing for the free stopwatch, which will come in handy if you need it early and cosmic insight for the free 5% cooldown reduction.
Of course, you should always start with Doran’s Ring, unless you are feeling lucky with your matchup, then try out the Dark Seal for the stacking Ability Power. You could also go for the Corrupting Potion for the mana and health regen, plus the burn its passive provides when active.
For the two primary items, you should go for Luden’s Echo for the extra mana and the echo charges to deal more damage and help clear your wave faster and the Zhonya’s Hourglass for the armor defense and the stopwatch passive. Depending on the matchup you are in, you can either rush for the Hourglass or go for the extra damage and mana with Luden’s. Regardless, these two items should be your first priority.
After buying those two items, the rest is purely based on the matchup against the enemy team and how you are doing in the game If you see the team building Magic Resist, build magic penetration items like the Void Staff. You seem them heavily reliant on life stealing and healing to keep them sustained, build a Morellonomicon, etc. You should also get the Deathcap so you can amp up your ability power, but the key is to set up your build to counter their team comp and you should adapt accordingly every match. No two matches are the same.
For boots, it depends on how you are doing in the game. Most of the time you should go for Sorcerer’s Shoes for the extra magic penetration, but should the case arise that you are struggling in a matchup, look into getting Ninja Tabi or Mercury Treads to make it easier for you in the matchup you are in.
Lissandra is an excellent teamfighting mage that can do wonders to set up herself and her team for success. While she does have her limitations with her short range, low damage and her low carry potential, she more than makes up for it with her forms of crowd control, her ease of play and her ability to be useful to the team even if she falls behind. She’s a champion that a team can rely on to setup and duke out when it comes time to teamfight. Master her strength and weaknesses and soon, you will make your enemies kneel before the Ice Queen.