Given its long existence, it isn’t surprising that League of Legends has changed so much over time. The game started with just 17 champions and a handful of items. Among these 17, Alistar stood proud as one of the first tanks alongside Sion and Nunu.
Over time, Alistar came and went out of the meta. In specific patches, he felt fragile, while he was practically unstoppable in others. What separates this champion from others is his enormous survivability and crowd control resistance. He has a plethora of throws and stuns that will keep the enemies off their feet.
In this Alistar guide, I will analyze the champion, his lore, abilities, and optimal builds.
Key Info Up Front
- Price: 1,350 Blue Essence, 850 Blue Essence, and Champion Shard, 585
- Roles: Tank
- Difficulty: Moderate
Lore and Story
Alistar, “The Minotaur.”
Alistar is a proud minotaur warrior hailing from the Great Barrier mountains. Regarded as the protectors of trade routes, these clans rarely mixed with other races. In fact, most other nations saw minotaurs as nothing more than wild beasts.
When the opportunity to forge an alliance with Noxus came knocking on the door, most minotaurs embraced it with open arms. However, Alistar, who had past dealings with Noxians, was not as excited. As other tribes accepted the offer, the mighty warrior rejected it, which prompted Noxus to turn other clans against Alistar and his minotaurs.
Although the brave champion won the battle, he and his allied minotaurs were eventually beaten and taken to the Noxian capital. They were tossed into the arena and forced to battle other gladiators. After 21 days, Alistar was the only surviving member of his clan.
Becoming feral with each passing day, once proud warrior scared anyone who dared approach him. Alistar’s luck eventually changed when he met a young servant girl Ayelia. Unlike others, she would visit his cage daily and speak to him. Together, they forged a plan to escape the arena cells and return to their land.
One night, Ayelia managed to steal arena cage keys. They fled to the river where a barge was waiting for them. As they approached the boat, Noxians agents sprung from shadows attacking Alistar and Ayelia. While Alistar fought and killed all the Noxians, Ayelia embarked on the boat. When the minotaur’s rage finally subsided, he looked around, realizing the servant girl had already fled.
Now, Alistar roams the land providing assistance to anyone who would resist Noxian dominion. In every city he passes, he asks for the lovely servant girl.
Key Relationships and Quotes
- Arena gladiators: Alistar’s lore is closely connected to Draven, Xin Zhao, and Riven, all associated with Reckoning arenas.
- Swain: The main reason why Alistar was quickly forgotten is that Noxus experienced a political coup in the weeks following the escape. The revolution was led by Swain, who inadvertently helped Alister.
- Sejuani: Although there is no connection between these two characters, Sejuani and Alistar share a familiar quote:
The great thing about Alistar is that you can build him as both tank and support. When you go with a support build, you can rely on an excellent ability kit to initiate and survive regardless of the situation. The champion is independent, and you won’t need too much farm to utilize him properly.
He is excellent in the bottom lane as a support to ADCs. While he doesn’t have a reliable heal to protect the lane ally, he has solid control to dissuade incoming attackers.
No matter the situation, Alistar will always provide something to the team. You can get him as one of the first picks, although his effectiveness can vary from patch to patch. Here are the main reasons why you should give Alistar a chance:
- The champion has an incredible anti-crowd control ability in Unbreakable Will. This ultimate will make you almost impervious to damage while removing any stuns and disables.
- Alistar can be great for initiation and counter-initiation. Headbutt ability is excellent for separating champions from their team and pushing them towards yours. The same spell can be utilized for pushing away champions who are focusing on your carry and squishy mages.
- Although he is not ideal for the early game and can even be detrimental to your laning phase, Alistar shines throughout the mid to late game.
- The champion is very item independent; Flash and Ghost summoner spells are more or less everything that he needs.
Of course, the champion also has his fair share of issues. Here are some of the things you should be aware of when picking Alistar:
- Headbutt can be an excellent tool for initiation when utilized with Flash. However, if you miss the spell, you will find yourselves deep in the enemy territory. While you can still break free from disables with Unbreakable Will, the champion will be left prone against enemies.
Alistar suffers from low mobility, so he usually gets Mobility Boots. Unfortunately, having this item in your inventory doesn’t always help your initiation.
- In theory, Alistar’s passive Triumphant Roar is an excellent ability for occasionally healing a nearby lane ally. In practice, you need 7 stacks to utilize the heal, which means it will often be unavailable when you need it the most. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the ability gets better later on during teamfights when enemies start dying around Alistar and when you can use Pulverize on several opponents at once.
Alistar’s main strength is his ultimate. Most players will activate Unbreakable Will as soon as the fight starts, which means the champion will become vulnerable rather quickly. All you need to do is wait for 7 seconds for the effect to wear off in these situations.
Here are some of the most robust counters to Alistar:
Given that the champion struggles with mobility, he will be weak against all enemies that can kite him. Janna is the best example of that, as she can reduce enemies’ movement speed while increasing allies.
Furthermore, this support champion has shield and heal, increasing the survivability of the allies as they wait for Unbreakable Will to expire. Once the buff wears off, she can simply place Eye of The Storm on a nearby ADC, helping him nuke Alistar.
Janna is incredibly potent during the early laning phase, a period of the game when Alistar struggles the most. She can easily outharrass him and his ADC lane partner, allowing opposing carry to snowball into the mid and late games.
After Janna, Brand has the second-best win rate against this champion. Generally speaking, this mage is good against numerous tanks as his Blaze passive deals damage based on the enemy’s health.
Brand relies on his high damage, damage over time, and damage amplification to burn down his victims. However, he doesn’t have an escape mechanism, nor is he known for his disables. Alistar will be continuously affected by the burn, slowly whittling down his health pool.
You can always utilize Unbreakable Will to remove the DOT, but Brand can easily reapply it. Furthermore, if Brand lands a nice Pyroclasm, it can almost stop Alistar in his tracks.
Soraka is another champion that causes headaches to Alistar. At this moment, the minotaur has a 43.6%-win rate against savvy support.
The champion is really troublesome for several reasons. Her Equinox and Starcall provide nice movement control effects to stop Alistar in his tracks. Even if the tank manages to land a nice initiation, Soraka can quickly heal the targeted ally with all the support spells.
Soraka is also excellent in prolonged fights. Her Astral Infusion has a meager 2-second cooldown allowing her to continuously save the focused ally. If that wasn’t enough, she can also remove grievous wounds with her ultimate while restoring everyone in the vicinity. Like Janna, Soraka is also very strong in the early game, giving her a decisive edge over Alistar.
Related Perks and Special Abilities
Triumphant Roar (Passive)
Triumphant Roar is a stacking ability that will heal Alistar and surrounding allies for 25 to 161 health, depending on the character level. It provides the champion an excellent sustain, but it is even better for teammates as it will heal them for twice the value.
To activate Triumphant Roar, you will need to accumulate 7 stacks by applying various crowd control effects to enemies. In other words, these stacks can be accrued when using Trample, Headbutt, and Pulverize.
Alternatively, the effects will be instantly activated when an enemy champion or epic monster dies in the vicinity of Alistar. Keep in mind that you can’t trigger the effect more than once every 3 seconds. To get the most out of the ability, you should get at least one point in each of the Alistar’s crowd-controlling spells.
Pulverize is an ability that affects the area around Alistar. The minotaur slams the ground with his fists, throwing surrounding enemies into the air. Pulverize will cause magic damage and make the units airborne for 1 second.
The spell significantly improves the champion’s teamfight presence. You should use Flash for positioning to get the most out of it. If you jump into several enemies, you can instantly disable several of them. Pulverize synergizes nicely with Trample. While enemies are in the air, you can start gaining Trample stacks, which will ultimately trigger a stunning basic attack.
Headbutt can be another great way to initiate in teamfights. However, it might be hard to land the skillshot properly. The champion will dash 400 units in the target’s direction. If he connects with one of the units, Alistar will knock them back 700 units. The opponent will be airborne for 0.5 seconds, followed by a 0.75-second stun.
Headbutt has two primary purposes: It can fend off attackers targeting your squishy allies, or it can be utilized to separate an enemy from the team. For example, you can Flash behind enemy lines and Headbutt an opponent into your team.
Alternatively, you can jump into several enemies, use Pulverize to throw them into the air, and while they’re disabled, you can position yourself for a nice Headbutt.
Aside from using Headbutt to separate squishy mages and ADCs from their team, you can sometimes utilize the spell to relocate enemy tanks, thus preventing potential counter initiation. If you use it correctly, the ability can be great, but it is also tricky to land.
Trample is probably the least essential spell in Alistar’s kit. Its damage is rather lackluster, and unlike Pulverize and Headbutt, it doesn’t have a stun (if we disregard stacking, basic attack stun), nor can it be utilized for initiation. However, it is better if you’re surrounded by enemies, which would help you quickly accrue Trample stacks.
Basically, the champion will start trampling the ground with its hoof, dealing damage for 5 seconds. Trample will do a tick of damage every 0.5 seconds, and each time you damage a unique champion, you will gain a stack. Once you reach 5 stacks, your next auto-attack will deal extra magic damage while also stunning the opponent for one second.
Trample is better if you jump into several opponents and initiate with Pulverize. For example, suppose you’re surrounded by 3 enemies. In that case, Trample will empower your basic attack every second (each enemy will take 2 ticks of damage stacking Trample 6 times). In theory, this would allow you to utilize a few stunning, basic attacks in succession.
Unbreakable Will (R)
Unbreakable Will is what makes this champion so unique. Activating the spell will remove all the crowd control effects and provide a 55%/65%/75% damage reduction for 7 seconds.
Alistar’s effectiveness often revolves around this ability. Ideally, you should wait until you’re disabled to activate Unbreakable Will and purge yourself. Sometimes, Alistar players utilize the ability too quickly, leaving them prone to kiting.
Remember that Unbreakable Will can remove existing crowd control effects, but not the subsequent ones. The ability also doesn’t increase your tenacity. So, the thing that sometimes happens is that people jump into enemies, instantly pop Unbreakable Will, and get stun-locked for the duration of the fight.
At the same time, you don’t want to use it too late. Although this ability provides the most significant damage reduction in the game, it cannot save you if you’re close to death. So, my recommendation is that you use it as soon as someone disables you for the first time. However, you should also pop it if you notice that you’re quickly getting nuked without being targeted by CCs.
The coolest way to utilize Alistar is to jump enemy lines, and Headbutt (W) enemy carry into your team. However, this is an unreliable form of initiation. You need to find the suitable target vector to push the opponent in the right direction. For example, suppose you Headbutt them to the side instead of directly into your team. In that case, the ability will be placed on cooldown, and you will get stuck among enemies.
A much more reliable way of initiating is utilizing Pulverize (Q) and Trample (E) combo. As mentioned, this combination is incredibly potent if there are several enemies around you. Pulverize’s (Q) airborne disable will give your allies enough time to position themselves while also allowing you to accrue initial stacks of Trample (E).
The combo is followed by pressing Unbreakable Will (R) at the right time. You can also utilize Headbutt (W) to push the enemy tank back from the fight or to push airborne/stunned mages or ADCs towards your allies.
Champion Playstyle: Runes and Summoner Spells
As a tank/support, you would want to get runes that increase your survivability while providing some perks to the team. Among others, you need to focus on improving your Flash summoner spell as the primary source of mobility for the champion.
The following build is not the best one in terms of its win rate, but it is definitely the most popular option:
AftershockAftershock is great on any initiator. After utilizing Pulverize or Headbutt, it will instantly boost your magic and physical resistance. It also provides some extra magic damage to boot.
Font of Life
After immobilizing or slowing an opposing champion, you will mark the said champion providing healing to all allied champions (aside from Alistar) when landing primary hits. This is a great utility rune that will definitely help your ADCs. What’s better, it scales really well with Alistar’s health.
Bone Plating increases your defensive prowess by reducing the damage by 30 to 60 from 3 upcoming abilities or auto-attacks. The rune will make Alistar less reliant on his ultimate. In fact, it would allow you to activate Unbreakable Will a bit later, after receiving the initial barrage of attacks.
Unflinching provides a significant boost to your slow resist and tenacity. The numbers go up as you lose health, making it harder to kill Alistar during prolonged fights (especially if your Unbreakable Will buff is still on). The rune is especially important if we consider the champion’s poor mobility.
This particular rune will give you access to Hexflash. Obviously, initiation and blinking are very important for this champion, so anything that could improve it is considered a welcome addition.
Cosmic Insight provides 10 item haste and 18 summoner spell haste. Item haste is very important for Alistar as this champion builds a lot of items with unique actives (for example, Locket of the Iron Solari, Zeke’s Convergence, and Bulwark of the Mountain). On the other hand, summoner spell haste will definitely help with Flash.
Ability haste is incredible on Alistar as he has very long cooldowns. In that sense, he gets more from the stat than some other champions with quick spells.
Flex gives you a nice defensive boost, slightly increasing your armor. The shard is especially important during the early game and when Unbreakable Will is on cooldown
Although your abilities don’t scale with health, the stat is still vital for your survivability.
The most common summon spells are Flash and Ignite. While you can argue that Ignite is not that important and that you can use some other utility spell instead, Flash is a must. If you wish to experiment with summoner spells, you can take Exhaust or Heal instead.
Alistar usually has the lowest farm priority, which is why you need to focus on cheap, cost-efficient items.
Health is probably the most important stat, as you will get enough magic and physical protection from Unbreakable Will. Ability haste is also good as it allows more frequent utilization of crowd control spells. You also benefit from extra mobility, and you would want to focus on items that provide team auras and effects.
Since the earliest League of Legends versions, Mobility Boots were the staple on this champion. Although you will have Flash for positioning, you need to get into the position to use Flash. As mentioned, the champion doesn’t necessarily require armor and damage reduction as some other tanks as he can rely on Unbreakable Will. Instead, finding the right opening for initiation is much more critical.
Bulwark of the Mountain
Like all other supports, Alistar needs a gold/warding item. Bulwark of the Mountain will give both of these, as well as a nice boost to your health pool. The shield will also provide 20 ability power which isn’t an important stat on the champion but can still boost his damage.
This item is good for Alistar on so many levels. First, it provides 20 ability haste, 250 mana, and health, as well as 25 armor. More importantly, it allows you to designate an accomplice. The active unique Conduit will create a tether between you two. Whenever Alistar immobilizes an opponent, your accomplice will deal extra damage through its ability strikes and auto-attacks.
Knight’s Vow works relatively similar to Zeke’s Convergence. It creates a tether with an ally, forcing Alistar to take 10% of the teammate’s damage. Simultaneously, Alistar will get healed by 8% of the damage that the tethered ally does to enemies.
The redirection will go up to 20% if they’re below 30% mag health. On top of the Sacrifice active, Knight’s Vow also provides 400 health, 10 ability haste, and 200% base health regen, all of which are important for the champion.
Thornmail is one of the game’s less popular and less efficient items. If you do decide to purchase it on Alister, you should probably do it later on when you fill other inventory slots. The artifact gives you 350 health and 60 armor and has a unique called Thorns. This passive will return damage to basic strike attackers while also inflicting them with grievous wounds.
Locket of the Iron Solari
Locket of the Iron Solari is an item that provides 200 health, 30 magic resistance, 30 armor, and 20 ability haste. It is a well-rounded artifact that gives Alistar everything that he could ever want. As a mythic, Locket of the Iron Solari should be the focal point of your build.
The item has a unique active that casts a shield buff on your allies, absorbing from 230 to 385 damage. It also has a passive aura that boosts champions with 5 extra magic resistance and 5 armor. Armor and magic resistance increase by 2 for every legendary that you possess.
Laning and Teamfighting Tips
- Pulverize has a short delay that can telegraph the ability to enemies. So, instead of casting it after blinking, you can cast the spell just before that. The animation will continue, and your opponents will be immediately stunned when you Flash close to them.
- As mentioned, Headbutt can be utilized in different ways to displace enemies. Besides pushing them towards your allies, the ability can be utilized to push opponents over the walls. Although this can be even trickier, as it requires excellent map awareness, good Alistar players can pull off this trick, completely removing an enemy from combat.
- Most players are anxious to finish Alistar’s combos, which is why they often launch an enemy in the wrong direction. Once the target is in the air, you have enough time to position yourself behind the opponent to properly finish the combo after using Pulverize.
- Getting Headbutted somehow feels demoralizing. It is simply one of those spells that are really annoying. While in the lane, you can spam this ability to trigger enemies. This is especially good in lower tiers, where people don’t have enough discipline. Still, it can also be a solid strategy against experienced players.
- The timing on your ultimate is sometimes related to the amount of farm you have. If you are a support, you will be squishier, so you will need to activate the spell faster. On the other hand, tank Alistars who have some farm can wait a bit to activate it. Among others, Unbreakable Will is excellent for baiting enemies to overcommit. They might even think that you’re close to dying, only to be surprised by how much damage your ultimate can absorb.
- When trying to Headbutt enemies into your team, you need to blink deep behind the enemy. If you Flash too close to them, there is a chance you will launch them in the wrong direction as they might move a bit to the side while you’re flashing.
Question: Does Alistar stun?
Answer: Alistar has several stuns that can disable and displace enemies. Headbutt will make an enemy airborne for 0.5 seconds, followed by a 0.75-second stun. Pulverize will throw surrounding enemies into the air for 1 second. In comparison, Trample can empower your basic attack so that it does magic damage and stuns for 1 second. Although Alistar has several disables, some of them can be a bit unreliable during teamfights.
Question: Is Alistar a good champion?
Answer: Alistar’s viability changes from patch to patch. He has a 49% win rate in this particular version, which is slightly below the average. Nevertheless, the champion can be very potent if you pick it with the right team composition. Although he isn’t the best lane support, he can provide a lot in terms of the initiation. Furthermore, mid and late-game support Alistar can be a real nightmare because of how long it takes to nuke him.
Question: What is the best Alistar build?
Answer: Given that Alistar is usually played as a support, you won’t have much money for expensive items. So, you will have to be very selective with your builds. The champion usually purchases Mobility Boots, Bulwark of the Mountain, Locket of the Iron Solari, Thornmail, Knight’s Vow, and Zeke’s Convergence.
Question: Who are the best champions against Alistar?
Answer: Janna, Soraka, and Brand are some of the champions who perform the best against Alistar. The character struggles against teams with high sustain. Going against ranged support with a heal can be a real nightmare for Alistar. Even if you get a good initiation, they can turn the fight around. Alternatively, he might have trouble against enemies who can quickly nuke him. This is especially true if the player is reluctant to use Unbreakable Will in teamfights.
Alistar Guide: Conclusion
Alistar is an entertaining champion. Although characterized as a moderately-difficult character, it takes a lot of skill to maximize his potential. Good Headbutt initiation can be devastating for the enemy team, but it can also be embarrassing if you start missing.
Alistar has one of the most vital defensive skills in the game. So, even if you play as a support and have minimal farm, he can still be very durable in teamfights.