Sylas is a hybrid mage that relies on his basic attacks and high ability power to dish damage to enemies. The character swings his massive chains around, damaging and debilitating the enemies. What makes Sylas really fun to play is the fact he can steal other champions’ ultimates and utilize them as his own. This gives him enormous versatility allowing him to adapt to various game situations.
In this patch, Sylas is a bit underwhelming, having below a 50%-win rate. However, depending on your skill level, he can be a really strong pick. The champion is highly dependent on magic damage, but as a melee character, he also needs a solid defense to survive on the frontlines.
In this Sylas abilities guide, I will review the champion’s abilities but will also talk about the optimal builds.
Key Info Up Front
- Price: 6,300 Blue Essence, 3,780 Blue Essence, and Champion Shard, 975 RP
- Roles: Mage
- Difficulty: Medium
Lore and Story
Sylas “The Unshackled”
In many ways, Sylas was predestined for failure. His parents were always great supporters of Demacian rule, and as soon as he showed magic affinity, they urged him to turn himself in. Upon researching the boy, the Demacian mageseekers realized that Sylas is particularly good at sensing magic within his environment. As such, they used him to find other individuals with similar potential.
Previously living a poor, aimless life, the boy finally found his purpose. He did his job with great vigor and, like his parents, believed that the Demacian cause was just. However, this life was a life of solitude. The only people he could interact with were his handlers.
One thing that struck him was the fact there was much more magic in the kingdom than he initially thought. There was invisible potential among all classes, including the wealthy. What was even more strange is that some of these people were openly against mages and the exploitation of magic.
As time went by, Sylas noticed that wealthier segments of the society could utilize the power with impunity, while the poor would be punished for the exact same thing. This is something that occupied more and more space in his mind.
One day, Sylas and the mageseekers went to the countryside to find a girl that was accused of using magic. Feeling sorry for her, he tried to protect the girl from his companions. As they brushed each other, a surge of magic enveloped his body. Instead of being consumed by the enormous power, the streams of magic started bursting through his hands. On that day, Sylas unintentionally killed three people, among which his mentor.
The word spread quickly, and he became a wanted man overnight. Search parties were sent looking for him, leading to a fast apprehension. Despite the fact that everything was an accident, he was still given the maximum sentence.
Imprisoned at the mageseekers jail, he had to wear a heavy burden in the form of magic-dampening shackles. The object was made by using petricite, a substance that was debilitating for all the users. As he sat in the dark pit, no longer being able to sense magic around him, Sylas grew furious and resentful. He would spend days without end fantasizing about his revenge.
A glimmer of hope came after 15 long years. Luxanna, one of the Illuminators’ volunteers, took a particular interest in Sylas. The former mageseeker didn’t need his abilities to realize that Luxanna is a very dangerous entity. As time went by, the two created an inseparable bond. Lux would share information from the outside world, while Sylas was put in the role of mentor.
Shrewd Sylas would eventually persuade her to bring a tome with forbidden information. This book would teach Sylas about petricite and its weaknesses. The thing that truly surprised him was the fact that the substance doesn’t actually suppress but instead absorbs magical particles. Sylas realized that all this stored magic could actually be utilized to his advantage.
Now, the only thing he would require is another source such as Lux.
But fate had different plans. Lux’s parents learned about her contact with Sylas and would forbid her from making any future visits. Furthermore, seeing him as a potential threat, the family would urge the lawmakers to execute the former mageseeker.
While preparing for 000the execution, Lux begged for the life of her mentor and friend. Unfortunately, the decision was already made. As Lux stood close to Sylas, the savvy mageseeker managed to touch the young ground prompting a surge of magic through shackles. Empowered by this energy, Sylas started punishing everyone in the vicinity. In the end, the only person spared was Luxanna.
Quickly learning about his escape, people started praising Sylas. He became a new symbol of resilience, and everyone who was wronged by the government would start gravitating towards him. As the outcast started roaming the kingdom, he would accrue the assistance of numerous persecuted mages. Despite having a small army behind him, Sylas still feared that this was not enough for an open revolution.
Eventually, he would gather the closest allies and set towards Frejlord, looking for new champions to help his cause. Among others, he wanted to find a source of great folktale magic that would give him the power to topple Demacian regime.
Key Relationships and Quotes
- Lux: As mentioned, Sylas and Lux had a long-lasting relationship. Lux was romantically invested in the mage outcast.
- Galio: The book about petricite was written by no other than Galio.
- Jarvan IV: When Sylas escaped the mageseekers compound, he went to the castle looking for King Jarvan III. However, the King was killed by that point, and Jarvan IV would blade Sylas for the assassination. They had a brief conflict that was stopped by Lux.
- Garen: Upon escaping the gallows, Garen and Sylas would have a confrontation where Sylas bested the Demacian champion. The only reason why he didn’t finish him is because of the reinforcement.
- Here is the most popular Sylas quote:
“I am no traitor. I am the true Demacia.”
Sylas’s feasibility often depends on the ultimate he uses. In some cases, the stolen spells can even work to his detriment. It all depends on how this ability would synergize with his own spells and whether he could maximize its effect.
While the champion has a nice sustain, he isn’t particularly tanky and would require some defensive items to survive strong nukers. This is why positioning is crucial for Sylas. In most cases, you don’t want to initiate the fights, but instead, jump in after the first wave of tank(s).
Although the champion is marked as moderately hard, the difficulty level is often affected by the difficulty of the enemy’s ultimate and how you would utilize it with your kit. Often, the champion has to make decisions on the fly and adapt to various magics, which can be both fun and challenging.
Here are some of the main reasons why you should give Sylas a go:
- Enormous versatility due to the fact you can steal ultimates. He is often perceived as a safe pick because he can adapt to things that the enemies are doing. Among others, he is also flexible when it comes to rune and item pickups.
- Can quickly push the lanes.
- Has a solid self-heal, which can become really strong as your total health pool goes up.
- Sylas is awesome in one-on-one situations. As such, he can often work as a carry killer.
Unfortunately, there are also quite a few issues with the champion:
- Sylas is somewhat of a glass cannon. While he can dish high damage, he is not the most resilient character and can easily be nuked. This is why good positioning and timings are so important for maximizing his kit.
- Due to the fact that his ultimate, Hijack, works at such a short range, you need to come close to enemies to properly utilize it. Unfortunately, as opposing carries get lots of items (and especially critical), they can easily one-shot you.
- Attack speed bonus from Petricite Burst often feels counterintuitive and may entice you to purchase basic attacking items even though the champion scales best with AP.
Due to the fact he can easily be nuked, the champion is countered by quite a few enemies:
Talon can cause all sorts of issues for Sylas. The matchup is especially unfavorable during the early game, where Talon can easily outpoke the Unshackled. His W is especially troublesome, and you need to constantly avoid it. After utilizing the ability, you should quickly counterstrike and repeat.
Luckily, you can out carry the champion as the game progresses, but the laning phase is still a problem for most players. The thing that favors Sylas is the fact he has an early restoration spell. So, as long as you avoid the W and the proc, you can shift the game in your favor.
During the early stages of the game, Akshan and Sylas will trade similarly. Keep in mind that Akshan’s Avengerang needs items to have a good wave clear, so this is one thing that Sylas does better.
However, Akshan can gain ground by ganking other lanes. He is very mobile during mid and late game, which might help him kite Sylas. Furthermore, his ultimate is not that strong, so even if Sylas is to steal it (which can be hard as he needs to come close), it won’t be that potent.
In a direct confrontation, Akshan can be very elusive. Both of these are quite squishy, but it is easier for Askhan to keep a distance and slowly chip away Sylas’ health.
Kayle is a hybrid in every sense of the word. She combines magic and physical damage and has various buffs and heals on top of that. As a result, she has a lot of flexibility going against various champions.
In a potential Kayle vs. Sylas matchup, Sylas often struggles over prolonged fights. Even if he engages Kayle aggressively, she has a heal/movement speed buff that would help her escape. The champion also has a debuff that would increase incoming damage to Sylas, potentially helping her land a kill.
At level 6, Kayle becomes a ranged champion which makes it even harder to stay in the lane. Her ultimate makes her invulnerable for a few seconds and rains magic swords upon the surrounding area. It’s not as if Kayle will never die to Sylas, but she is a very hard target nonetheless. During mid-game, she is really good as backline support to allies, or you can utilize her as a semi-carry.
If Kayle remains in the back, she can easily protect Sylas’ targets. On the other hand, Sylas rarely has a chance to steal her ultimate during mid and late-game fights due to the distance between the two (especially noticeable if you’re playing more of a support role).
Related Perks and Special Abilities
Petricite Burst (Passive)
Petricite Burst is a stacking ability that can accumulate up to 3 times. You get a stack upon ability cast, and each subsequent cast refreshes stacks and provides an additional one. A stack can last for up to 4 seconds. As long as you have at least one stack, you will have 125% more attack speed.
Whenever you use a basic hit, you will consume one of these stacks wielding chains in an area. This strike dishes extra damage to the main target (130% attack damage plus 25% ability power as magic damage), while the secondary targets will take 40% attack damage plus 20% ability power as magic damage.
The secondary strike is especially great for nearby minions, potentially killing them in an instant. In that regard, the passive can be combined with some of the active abilities to quickly push the lanes.
The interesting thing about the passive is that it cannot crit, but it will proc on-hit effects on the primary target. On the other hand, the surrounding target will suffer from spell effects.
Chain Lash (Q)
Chain Lash is especially important during the laning phase. Among others, you can use it in conjunction with your passive to kill minion waves.
The champion smashes two chains in the ground in the shape of letter X. After a brief delay, the intersection will cause a minor explosion dealing damage in an area. The ability will dish 60% less damage to nearby monsters and minions.
Besides the magic damage, the spell also causes a 1.5-second slow (15/20/25/30/35 movement speed slow). The ability is spammable and can be utilized to combo with other spells.
Most people prioritize Kingslayer in their builds. It is a lunging ability that deals 70/105/140/175/210 magic damage plus 90% ability power. As such, it is great for initiating onto an opponent, especially if we consider that Sylas is a melee champion.
What’s even better, if Sylas connects with an enemy champion, Kingslayer will also heal him for 25/50/75/100/125 plus 40% ability power. The effect is improved by up to 100% depending on the champion’s current health.
Besides increased the damage and the heal, the additional points in Kingslayer will decrease the cooldown for 13 to 6 seconds, giving the character a lot of mobility. As such, you can utilize it to engage but also escape from a fray. Among others, this ability helps you against some of the more difficult matchups, and you can easily combine it with Petricite Burst and Chain Lash.
Sylas has not one but two dashing abilities. The other movement ability has two parts. First off, you can utilize Abscond to dash in a target direction. After utilizing Abscond, you can activate the secondary portion of the spell called Abduct.
With this ability, you can cast a chain in a target direction. If you manage to connect, you will stun the target for 0.5 seconds and pull yourself towards it. When you reach the opponent, you will knock them up, making them airborne for additional 0.5 seconds.
Abscond/Abduct is the champion’s main crowd control. Bear in mind that the champion can still move around utilizing basic attacks, Hijack and Kingslayer, while the chains are in the air. The first portion of the spell, Abscond, is good for quickly repositioning yourself before you cast chains. Alternatively, it can also serve as an escape mechanism.
In many ways, Hijack spell resembles Abduct (at least in terms of animation and cast). You will throw your chains towards are a target, stealing their spell for 90 seconds and briefly revealing them. The ability can be recast as long as the original spell’s cooldown allows.
The newly acquired ability will scale not according to the base ability but instead based on Sylas’ Hijack level. If you wish to maximize this spell, you will need to focus on ability power. Basically, Hijack will turn any AD-based spells into AP-based spells providing 0.6% ability power damage per 1% of total attack damage and 0.4% ability power damage per 1% of bonus attack damage.
As mentioned, this ability is crucial for the champion, and it is the main reason why Sylas is so fun. Depending on what you stole, your optimal combos might be different.
For most combos, you will start with Chain Lash. The slow from the ability makes it easier to land either Kingslayer or Abscond/Abduct.
After connecting with your Q, you can choose which one of the two mobility spells to use. Personally, I prefer utilizing Abscond/Abduct to close the distance. It will disable the enemy for a brief duration, during which you can use empowered basic strike.
The reason why you shouldn’t start with Kingslayer is that you might require its healing if the enemy counterattacks. Keep in mind that, once you get close, you should auto-attack the opponent whenever you get the opportunity (as long as you have stacks of Petricite Burst, that is). Although passive stacks, you should try to utilize every window of opportunity to land basic hits for extra damage.
Depending on the enemy’s ultimate, you can introduce it somewhere during the combo. It really depends on what it does and how to maximize its usefulness.
Champion Playstyle: Runes and Summoner Spells
Due to the nature of the champion, you can experiment a lot with runes and items. However, most players opt for Precision-focused builds. Although this is the most usual rune setup, it isn’t regarded as a “cookie-cutter build.”
Here are the runes I suggest you go with:
Conqueror grants stacks of 2 to 4.5 adaptive force whenever you damage an opponent with a spell or basic hit. Melee champions will gain 2 stacks per damaging action, while ranged will get just one. They last up to 5 seconds, and you can have 12 of them. If you manage to reach max stacks, you will get healed by 9% of the damage you deal.
Presence of Mind
Presence of Mind is one of the better runes in this tree. It is especially great for early game poking and for anyone who struggles with mana. Whenever you damage an opponent, your overall mana regeneration will increase. The ability provides 15% max mana on takedowns. Together with the Conqueror rune, it will give you a great sustain for prolonged engagements.
With this rune, you can get up to 30% tenacity. Initially, you have just 5%, but you will get an extra 2.5% with every stack. These stacks are accumulated through the champion, monster, and minion kills. Given how squishy Sylas is, extra tenacity could help him avoid getting crowd-controlled and nuked down.
With this rune, you get extra 5% damage when you reach the 60% health threshold. The bonus progressively increases with missing health, up to 11% at 30% health. As mentioned, Sylas Kingslayer ability scales with extra health, so this is probably the best defensive stat to get. Having a high health pool will also assist with Last Stand passive as you will get more damage for a prolonged period of time.
Biscuit Delivery will provide one biscuit every 2 minutes for a total of 3 biscuits at 6 minutes. These are great for sustain in the lane as each one of them gives you 10% mana and health.
The rune gives 10 item haste and 18 summoner spell haste. Any ability haste is great on Sylas improving offense while allowing more frequent utilization of escape mechanisms. Summoner haste is also a nice buff, especially when you consider the alternatives.
Offensive shard is a no-brainer; you should always take adaptive force. Although the champion doesn’t benefit as much from attack damage as it does from ability power, both are important for his offense.
Once again, you should go with 9 adaptive force for the same reasons as with the offensive shard.
As for the defensive shard, it is probably the best to go with extra health as it will scale with W.
Nowadays, the combination of Flash and Ignite is popular on many champions. Flash is such a versatile spell that helps you in different situations. Even though Sylas has two escape spells, you can always benefit from some extra mobility. Among others, you can utilize it to instantly steal ultimate from an opponent or escape after using Abscond/Abduct and Kingslayer during a brawl.
Ignite provides some extra damage in one-on-one situations. With it, you can quickly dispose of your main target. Alternatively, Sylas can also consider Teleport as the secondary spell.
Sylas players usually focus on three things: health, ability haste, and ability power. Although this champion also benefits from attack damage, the boost is not big enough to warrant attack damage items. Instead, it is much better to focus on ability power and anything that would enhance it.
Health is the premium defensive stat. It scales really well with Kingslayer, and if you manage to ramp up enough ability haste, this will allow you not only to jump around the battlefield but also constantly heal yourself. Furthermore, the added ability haste will work wonders for your passive.
Here are the most common items on Sylas:
Everfrost is amazing on Sylas. It gives him just about everything he needs, like 70 ability power, 600 mana, 250 health, and 20 ability haste. The mythic is great for all casters and hybrids as it provides 10 ability haste per legendary.
Its active called Glaciate creates a cone that significantly slows enemies in front of the champion. If they find themselves in the center, they will instead be rooted. This is a great unique active for Sylas as he doesn’t have much crowd control, to begin with.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
If you already took Cosmic Insight rune, this will be a solid addition. Ionian Boots of Lucidity give extra 20 ability haste and 12 summoner spell haste. As mentioned, ability haste is especially valuable as it allows faster casting of abilities and procing of passive.
Given how squishy Sylas is, he needs a strong protective item, and what better than Zhonya’s Hourglass. It will put any user in stasis for 2.5 seconds, which is especially great if you’re being targeted. Alternatively, it can give you enough time to refresh Abscond/Abduct and Kingslayer and escape from the fray.
Once you accumulate enough ability power, it is time to purchase Rabadon’s Deathcap. The item gives 120 ability power while passive increasing your overall ability power by 35%.
Cosmic Drive will increase your movement speed by 5% while also giving 200 health, 65 ability power, and 30 ability haste. Its passive will increase ability power by 40 and movement speed by 15% when you damage an enemy with 3 different abilities or basic attacks.
The item gives you 250 health and 80 ability power. As long as you have it in inventory, you will apply grievous wounds on enemies whenever you damage them with spells. This is especially great against champions with good sustain.
Laning and Teamfighting Tips
- Sylas will have a power spike after getting Everfrost and another ability power item. If you have Teleport spell, you should utilize it to surprise enemies in other lanes. Make sure to check the matchups prior to roaming; certain lanes will be much easier to gank depending on enemies’ ultimates.
- For your ganks to succeed, you will need an Oracle Lens to deny enemies’ vision. Sylas’ Hijack has short-range, forcing you to come really close to the opponents.
- Do not underestimate Petricite Burst range. You don’t necessarily have to use it on a champion, but instead, you can also damage surrounding minions for slightly lower damage. To maximize the massive, make sure to auto-attack once after each ability use.
- If you wish to get the most out of Chain Lash, you should predict where the enemy is moving to, not where they were.
- Hijack is especially cool against transforming enemies. If you manage to steal Nidalee’s or Shyvana’s ultimate, you will also gain access to all their basic spells.
Question: What is Sylas’ full name?
Answer: This champion doesn’t really have the last name because of the family’s low social status. To differentiate between different Sylases, people of Demacia refer to them based on their place of origin (Sylas of Dregbourne, in this particular case).
Question: Is Sylas a villain?
Answer: Despite the fact that Sylas had good intentions, he is officially classified as a villain.
Question: Is Lux in love with Sylas?
Answer: The two of them have created a strong bond during Sylas’ imprisonment. Although it seems that Lux is in love with Sylas, the mageseeker probably doesn’t share the emotion.
Sylas Abilities Guide: Conclusion
Sylas is an interesting hybrid mage who needs to come close to an enemy to be effective. His ultimate, Hijack, is something completely different. It allows you to steal enemies’ abilities and use them as your own. Not only does this make the champion fun, but it gives you a lot of flexibility during teamfights.
Sylas requires items with ability haste, ability power, and health. To make the most out of him, make sure to stay in the back and jump into the fray when you see an opening. The champion is squishy, so positioning is the key for playing him the right way.