Keep Your Friends Close - An Overview of Champion Synergies in League of Legends
Sun 3rd Jan 2021 - 8:31pm
With over 150 champions in League of Legends and more constantly being added or reworked, the number of possible team compositions grows constantly season-by-season. Within this ever-expanding number of compositions exists an even greater number of synergies between individual champions. These synergies often add depth and excitement to the gameplay of either champion, making playing with your friends even more fun as you try new combos. This guide will recommend some well-known and lesser-known champion combinations, along with explaining how and why they work so well together.
Gnar and Jarvan IV – A Grand Slam
While this is one of the older combinations on this list, it is still quite fun to try when both champions are viable (and even when they aren’t). At first glance it isn’t hard to see how these champions would work well together; Jarvan IV has armour shred on his Q and Gnar does primarily physical damage, along with the attack speed boost that Jarvan IV’s E provides making Gnar’s three-hit passive W even stronger. However, the main draw of combining these champions comes from the teamfight potential that their Rs have when used together. The power of these two ultimates being used in conjunction comes from the fact Jarvan IV creates a circular wall, and Gnar’s ultimate allows him to stun targets by slamming them into walls. In short, an immobile target that gets pinned down by Jarvan IV’s ultimate can do very little once Gnar is added into the mix.
Soraka and Jarvan IV – A Shinier Grand Slam
After the last section, you might be asking yourself, “What if the champion that Jarvan IV uses his ultimate on has Flash up? Can’t they just Flash out of his arena before Gnar stuns them?” If you wondered either of these things, adding Soraka into the equation might be just the solution that you’re looking for. If Soraka uses her E inside of the arena that Jarvan IV creates with his R, the target becomes Silenced and can no longer Flash out the arena without using a form of cleansing in order to do so. Combining Jarvan IV and Soraka has less damage potency than when he is combined with Gnar, but this combination has an undeniable amount of consistency.
Galio and Camille – The Heroic Ultimatum
While Camille’s R is remarkably similar to Jarvan IV’s – both form ‘arenas’ which trap and isolate an enemy champion – Camille’s ultimate offers a much different experience for the enemy champion and their team. Unlike Jarvan IV’s ultimate, wherein teammates and enemies alike cannot enter the arena unless they want to dash or blink in, Camille’s ultimate does not have such restrictions. Instead, it is only Camille’s target that has to stay with the arena, and the arena stays active for a period of time or until Camille leaves it. This is why Galio is more potent when paired with Camille than when paired with Jarvan IV; since enemies can enter Camille’s ultimate and are inclined to if they want to save their teammate, Galio’s R has potential to hit an entire team trying to save their carry. Galio’s R also offers Camille some resistance to magic damage, which means that she can more potently duel a mage that gets trapped inside of her ultimate. Between Galio and Camille, teamfighting becomes as simple as both champions’ ultimates being used at the right time.
Galio and Kindred – A Life or Death Scenario
Kindred’s R has been one of the most interesting in the game since they were added, as the fact that both enemy and ally alike benefit from standing in Kindred’s ultimate means that it can often backfire and save an enemy rather than just protecting an ally. Adding a Galio ultimate can help reduce the chance that Kindred’s ultimate backfires, especially if it is timed so that the knock-up occurs just after Kindred’s ultimate ends. By doing this, although everyone in Kindred’s ultimate is left with some health remaining, members of the enemy team who were relying on this ultimate for safety will find themselves unable to act after Galio uses his ultimate as well. The only other option for enemies is to risk leaving Kindred’s ultimate entirely, meaning that staying and leaving both have associated risks.
Galio and Nocturne – Light and Night
In case you’re not tired of hearing about how well Galio combos with other champions, here’s a slight variation on the previous combinations. Unlike before, where Galio’s ultimate was being used in conjunction with some sort of terrain condition, combining Galio and Nocturne’s ultimates is purely offensive. This also patches up one of Nocturne’s weaknesses: a lack of survivability during teamfights. Once the enemy team starts grouping up, it can become incredibly difficult for Nocturne to find an isolated target to use his ultimate on, and even harder to kill them once he gets there. If Galio’s ultimate is added to the equation, Nocturne can use his ultimate to go right into the core of the enemy team, delivering Galio in for some massive crowd control.
Shen and Nocturne – Twilight Beckons
A minor variant of the above involves using Shen’s R instead of Galio’s. The key difference is that Shen provides less crowd control in exchange for a massive shield onto Nocturne that will increase his survivability. While this combination is less potent than Galio and Nocturne – Galio’s ultimate is certainly better in a teamfighting context – Shen can use his ultimate from anywhere on the map, meaning that he can be splitpushing on one side of the map and then use his ultimate on Nocturne to get into a teamfight quickly. Shen’s ultimate also has less room for error, as unlike how Galio has to use his ultimate at just the right time to ensure that he ends up where Nocturne is going rather than where he started, Shen can use his ultimate on Nocturne before Nocturne uses his ultimate for more immediate results.
Ivern and Caitlyn – Poaching the Enemy
From an outside perspective, Caitlyn’s passive doesn’t seem too difficult to understand; after attacking several times, she gets an even stronger attack where she finally decides to aim for your head. What non-Caitlyn players might not know is that this passive stacks twice as fast when Caitlyn is in a patch of brush. While this is convenient for Caitlyn in lane, where there are plenty of brushes lining the edge of the rift, it’s not typically impactful enough for teams to bother ensuring that fights occur around brushes later in the game. This is where Ivern comes in, as his W allows him to create patches of brush anywhere on the rift. This brush behaves in a mechanically identical way to regular brush, so Caitlyn can hide in it to stack up her passive faster. As a result, Caitlyn is able to attack with an empowered shot every three attacks rather than every six attacks, increasing her damage in a noticeable way.
Ivern and Rengar – Bushwhacking and Attacking
Another champion that interacts with bushes, and this time in a distinctly more obvious way, is Rengar. The fact that being in a brush makes his attacks have significantly longer range and allows him to jump to his target means that Rengar, as an otherwise immobile assassin, benefits massively from being around brushes. Ivern ensures that Rengar can always have a brush to leap out of in teamfights, meaning that this assassin who often struggles to get out once he engages can have more options after using his R to engage. While using this combination does mean placing either Rengar in Top or Ivern in Support, it’s definitely a fun and effective combo when done right.
Skarner and Malzahar – Suppression Obsession
When champions like Skarner or Malzahar are played – otherwise known as champions with abilities that suppress enemies – their enemies are often forced to pay the ‘tax’ of buying a Quicksilver Sash in order to escape their crowd control. While you typically only see one of these champions on any given team, there is something to be said about having more than one on your team; the Quicksilver Sash can only cleanse one suppression per cooldown, meaning that if there are two suppressing champions on your team, you’ll always be able to suppress a hard-to-kill carry. While there are certainly other ways to achieve a successful crowd-control chain, drafting both Skarner and Malzahar is an interesting way to do so.
Taliyah and ‘Hook’ Champions – What a Drag
Since Taliyah sees very little play, many players simply have no understanding of what her abilities do at a nuanced level. This means that when they see her E create a minefield of rocks, they likely won’t know that dashing through it causes the rocks to explode underfoot. It is also noteworthy within the context of this article that being pulled or pushed through this minefield causes the rocks to explode as well. This means that ‘hook’ champions such as Thresh, Blitzcrank, and Nautilus can all do an effective job of increasing Taliyah’s damage output by hooking an enemy and dragging them through Taliyah’s E. Even champions like Skarner, who drag enemies around, can activate Taliyah’s minefield. In short, pairing Taliyah with champions who displace or otherwise control enemy movement is a must for boosting her damage.
Yasuo and Strange Airbornes – Going Up
At first, it might seem obvious that Yasuo synergizes with champions who can apply airborne to enemies since that is the main requirement for his ultimate. However, while there are obvious examples like Malphite and Alistar who knock up champions in a very apparent way, there are also a handful of odd displacements which count as applying airborne that Yasuo can use his R off of. Two key examples of this are Draven and Sylas. The former of these champions applies an incredibly small knock-up when using his E, and a good Yasuo player can time their ultimate just right to use it when this occurs. The latter is perhaps more obvious, as Sylas’ knock-up lasts for half a second and is more noticeable than Draven’s. Both of these champions aren’t ones that you would typically associate with Yasuo, but Yasuo can use their abilities to cast his ultimate all-the-same.
Bard and Traps – Watch your Footing
The last example in this list is one that makes a lot of sense but can be easily overlooked because of how rarely Bard is played effectively. Most of the time when an allied Bard uses his ultimate, many players will worry that it’s going to end up harming them instead of the enemy. However, if Bard casts his ultimate just right and applies stasis to a bunch of enemies, placing traps underneath them is an effective way to apply damage to them just as they exit their stasis. Anywhere from Teemo’s mushrooms to Caitlyn’s Yordle Snap Traps will ensure that the enemy is given no respite after they leave Bard’s ultimate, hopefully also ensuring that an easy teamfight will follow.
From these examples, it should be clear that there are many small interactions between champions that go a long way when used properly. Whether you go out of your way to try these combinations with your friends or if they just happen to come up while you’re playing League, knowing small tidbits of information like this can mean the difference between playing optimally and missing out on key opportunities. If there is one key takeaway from this article, it is that League’s copious number of champions means that there will always be some way for you to engage with your teammates’ set of abilities. There are many, many combinations that didn’t make it on this list, so it is important to remember there are countless ways for champions to intersect in League. Overall, keeping your friends close is the key to keeping your enemies closer (to seeing the DEFEAT screen).