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One of the best things about League of Legends is its capability to create a complete story with totally different components. So on one side, we have the cute little Yordles, like Teemo or Tristana, and on the other side, we have fearsome and ruthless tyrants like Swain.
Swain, the Noxus leader, not only as a chief but also on the battlefield, is one of the most iconic LoL characters, a cruel and bloodthirsty dictator of an expansionist nation, not only because of his aesthetic but also because of what he mean lore-wise; the evil incarnate.
Key Info Up Front
- Price: 4800 of Blue Essence, or 2880 of Blue Essence and a Champion Shard. 880 RP.
- Role: Mage.
- Difficulty: High.
Swain, “The Noxian Grand General.”
Jericho Swain was born in Noxus, in a high-lineage gold cradle, being part of one of the numerous families that founded Noxus. As he grew up, he became part of the Noxian aristocracy.
Swain was important in Boram Darkwill’s appointment as the nation’s leader. But others wanted the power of Noxus more than the nation’s health, so some important leaders started to conspire against Darkwill as a secret clique, with no more identification than a black rose. Swain got news about the black rose, and started investigating, hunting, and executing those conspirators.
Swain loved his nation more than their lineage, and a great proof of that was that Swain executed his fathers as they were part of the black rose. His parents’ last words were advice; something bad was about to happen. Thanks to the heroic achievement, Blackwill named Swain part of the noxian army.
He fought “the Ionian wars” when he was only a soldier for his nation, trying to invade Ionia unsuccessfully. Swain lost his left arm, but that didn’t stop him. As he got back to his nation and got excluded from any important place because of his severed arm, he started studying The Inmortal Bastion and discovered its real power.
Thanks to the black magic he discovered and controlled, he got a new magic arm. With the power he got, he overthrew Blackwill and took over Noxus.
“Now, Swain commands from the front lines, marching against a coming darkness that only he can see in glimpses gathered by shadowy ravens from the corpses all around him.”
Key Relationships and Quotes
- Irelia: Irelia was an important part of the Ionian army as she fought against Swain, cutting his left arm.
- Darius: Darius is the strongest soldier of Noxus. As Swain discovered his real power, both parts allied to rule the nation through strength.
This alliance is known as the Trifarix of Noxus, and every part of it represents what the nation has to have to be powerful: Darius is the “Might,” Swain is the “Vision,” and there’s an unknown figure named The Faceless that represents the “Guile.”
- Le Blanc: The founder of the Black Rose; even if she’s under Noxus’ regime, she’s planning Swain’s fall. The Grand General is aware of that and considers Le Blanc his biggest enemy.
“They expect me to play fairly. We aren’t even playing the same game.”
Starting up with Swain’s pros, he’s very versatile. You can build Swain with a variety of runes and objects combination, and he will work perfectly: you have plenty of options: You can go full damage with him, or more of a tanky build and use him purely for engaging fights as a Support, or you can make him off-tank, like your usual magic fighter.
Talking about roles, Swain’s versatility lets him be excel in Mid and Support. So, if you are auto-filled with Support in your ranked match, use Swain!
Let’s talk about Swain’s capacities on the field:
- Swain’s Ultimate lets him be very useful in team fights. He can enter in the middle of the battle, dealing DPS (Damage per Second) to various objectives simultaneously with his big AoE (Area of Effect). Swain’s utility in team fights doesn’t end there as he can use abilities while being in his Ultimate, like using his E to root his objectives.
- Swain also has a great way to check in unwarded bushes or places without vision as he can use his W, which has a big range, to explore the map without any risks.
- Swain’s Passive and Ultimate makes him very tanky regardless of his build so that he can work perfectly as the front guard in a team fight.
Nonetheless, Swain has some issues that can make him hard to use in certain situations:
- Swain is heavily mana-dependant as his mana costs are high. So at least you can create a build that compensates for the mana usage.
- Swain is very tanky, that’s true, but only in the mid and late game. So, in the early game, when Swain hasn’t charged his passive yet, he can be very squishy, and, to make it even worse, his mobility leaves much to be desired, making him an easy target for assassins.
- Grievous Wounds is very effective against Swain, making his Ultimate less effective.
- Swain is dependent on Zhonya’s Hourglass; he needs it to defend himself against almost everything; otherwise, he will have a bad time.
Lastly, some champions can be a nightmare to fight against if you are Swain, so let’s check them out:
- Yasuo: Yasuo’s mobility makes it hard to trade with him, and his windwall can block your E easily, so it’s almost impossible to start a combo against him.
- Fizz: Fizz has the same problem as Yasuo; his mobility is problematic. Fizz also can burst you with a single combo.
- Diana: Again, she has mobility and shields on her W, so it isn’t easy to land a skill on her. She will jump at you as soon as she gets her ult and kills you with ease.
- Long-range champions like Lux, Xerath, and Ziggs: Swain can’t defend himself properly against long-range champions that can poke him out of lane constantly as he lacks long-range abilities. Nonetheless, if you are good at dodging skills, you can handle the situation by farming and waiting for help.
And, if you are wondering what the best synergies that Swain has are, let me tell you that Swain can work perfectly in almost any team thanks to his moveset. Of course, rooting can help a lot; his tankyness is also perfect for team fights as well as his Ultimate, and his W is perfect for giving map awareness to all the team!
Related Perks & Special Abilities
Ravenous Flock (Passive)
Swain can target champions as soon as they get immobilized. Then, right-clicking on the targeted champions will drag them towards Swain, dealing extra damage and giving him a Soul Fragment stack. Dead champions also let Soul Fragments on the ground for 16 seconds, regardless if Swain dealt damage to that champion or not.
The Soul Fragments slightly heals Swain, and Swain gets his max health increased for every Soul Fragment he takes. Swain’s passive is perfect for engaging combats and following ganks, and the Soul Fragments is what makes Swain a tanky champion in the late game.
Death’s Hand (Q)
Swain releases several black magic bolts in a cone shape in front of him. Enemies hit by multiple bolts will get extra damage.
This is Swain’s main weapon when poking and trading, as it can bypass the minions and has a low cooldown. I recommend maxing this ability first, as it will be the one you’ll use the most with Swain.
Vision Of Empire (W)
Swain summons a demonic eye on a targeted location, granting vision in that zone for 2 seconds and exploding after a short delay. The explosion deals damage and slows the enemies in the explosion area. Lastly, Swain will get a Soul Fragment for every champion who got hit by the explosion.
This ability is perfect to have map awareness and check bushes and areas without vision without exposing or risking yourself or your teammates to an ambush. However, the damage it has isn’t impressive, and you’ll not use it during the lane phase, so max it last.
Swain throws a hand-shaped demonic energy wave that deals damage to all the enemies it passes through. Once it reaches the maximum distance, the wave will return to Swain. The first enemy that gets hit by the returning wave will get rooted briefly.
Nevermore is Swain’s most important ability, as it will help you land every combo on your objective thanks to its rooting. The only problem with this is that the wave will only root when it’s getting back to Swain, so it’s quite hard to land it properly; the enemies can avoid it once it is coming back to Swain, or it can hit a minion in his way back, making it miss the combo.
Max this ability after maxing the Q.
Demonic Ascension (R)
Swain frees the demon within him for 12 seconds. At this time, Swain will get the following effects:
- Ghost (Swain will pass through minions and champions and get a small speed buff).
- Some bonus health.
- It doubles the health he gets through Soul Fragments.
During Demonic Ascension, Swain will drain the health of all nearby enemies by dealing damage and healing himself every second. Nonetheless, the heal reduces by 90% if Swain drains the life of minions or monsters. Also, Swain can use the rest of his abilities during Demonic Ascension.
Lastly, Swain can activate Demonflare 0.5 seconds after casting his R, ending with his ultimate. It will automatically activate if you don’t activate Demonflare during the 12 seconds of Swain’s ult.
Demonflare (Second R cast)
Swain releases an explosion of energy around him, damaging everything in the area to a base amount plus 37.5% of the health he drained during Demonic Ascension.
Demonic Ascension is the reason why Swain works perfectly in almost every team and be perfect in team fights as he can deal great amounts of damage in an AOE while staying alive thanks to the health drain and the boosted health stats.
My recommendation is to not use Demonflare too early in a team fight; it’s better to charge it and use it after the 12 seconds of Demonic Ascension. But, if you are about to die, cast Demonflare because it will not automatically cast if you are dead.
Runes and Summoner Spells
Strong Early Game
This rune setup makes Swain’s burst get higher, making Swain’s kill pressure in the early game important and threatening. Thanks to Electrocute, Swain will burst his objective if he lands a combo and will work to get those squishy champions down in the late game if they are low enough.
Cheap Shot gives you an extra True Damage while attacking CC-affected enemies, meaning Nevermore and Cheap Shot have a great synergy. Eyeball Collection is a must for every bursting mage; the more kills you get, the more AP you will gain.
Ultimate Hunter makes Swain being able to have his Ultimate more often. It would help if you had this as Swain’s Ult is his main weapon in team fights. Regarding the secondary runes, Presence of Mind is essential as Swain needs some mana sustaining during the entire game, while Coup de Grace will deal extra damage to champions that are about to die.
- Tip: If you don’t want to use Precision as your secondary tree, you can use the Sorcery tree with Manaflow Band, which will help with the constant mana issues, and Transcendence, giving Swain more ability haste, which means you’ll be able to use Swain’s abilities more often. This is great for team fights!
Strong Late Game
This rune page focuses more on the late game and the team fighting. Conqueror will get a lot of extra damage, and stacking it is easy. The extra damage will be beneficial when trading with your enemies, and Swain will keep this rune stacked during team fights because of his Ultimate’s constant damage.
Once again, Presence of Mind will help Swain with his mana-management issues.
Legend: Tenacity is very useful on Swain as you don’t want to step back or get late to the team fights while using Demonic Ascension. Thanks to the extra tenacity, it’ll be easier for Swain not to be CC’d for too long. I usually use this rune when I play against heavy-CC threats like Leona, Morgana, or Pantheon.
For Swain’s secondary rune tree, go with Sorcery, using Manaflow Band and Transcendence, which will give you mana management and ability haste. As for the rune shards, I always recommend keeping the two adaptative and changing the third one to Armor or Magic Resist depending on your enemy laner.
Recommended Summoner Spells
- Flash: You will always have to use Flash with Swain. I don’t recommend playing this champion without Flash as it is highly immobile, and Flash will take you out of bad situations. Also, you’ll often get ganked if you don’t use it.
- Ignite: Really good if you are going for an aggressive playstyle. The Ignite will give you kill pressure and enable you to turn around certain fights if you are losing.
- Teleport: Gives Swain a good global pressure. You can use this to get back to your lane or help your team get kills around the map. Also, Teleport perfectly works to counter your enemy’s ganks.
- Ghost: Allows Swain to have more mobility, making him less predictable and allowing you to disengage out of the battle.
Swain is quite versatile so that you can build him depending on your situation. Anyway, I’ll recommend the best items for him:
Crown of the Shattered Queen
Crown of the Shattered Queen has become an increasingly popular defensive item during Season 12 because it will give you enough survivability capacity against any high-burst assassin, whether they are AP or AD, being capable of turning the tables in your favor.
- Tip: If the enemy team lacks assassins, I recommend using Liandry’s Anguish instead of this item.
It offers a great amount of Magic Penetration so Swain can go through AP-resistant enemies. Shadowflame works perfectly alongside Void Staff thanks to both items’ Magic Penetration.
It’s important to have these as you’ll need the Movement Speed and the extra Magic Penetration, mostly against a tanky enemy team composition.
- Tip: If the enemy team has heavy CC threats, I recommend using Mercury Treads instead of this item as the tenacity will help Swain’s mobility.
An essential item, and even more if you are against a heavy AD team. Zhonya gives you extra protection and will save your life in sketchy team fights. It also has good synergy with Demonic Ascension as it can allow you to deal a lot of damage while you’re in stasis.
A great defensive item that also gives Swain some extra damage as it increases your survivability, as you’ll be able to stay in team fights for longer.
- Tips: You can change this item for Rylai’s Crystal Scepter as it is an option that will slow your enemies down.
- Going for Morellonomicon is also a great option as it will reduce the enemies’ healing.
The Magic Penetration this item gives will be useful against tanky teams.
This item will heavily increase Swain’s AP, making you a real threat in the late game. I recommend this to be your last item, don’t buy it at first as you’ll need the effects the other items give you in the early and mid-game.
Swain only has a combo where he chains all his abilities, except for the Ultimate.
It’s easy to land, but it’s hard to start as it starts with rooting someone with Nevermore.
The combo goes like this:
- Root someone with Nevermore (E).
- Use Vision of Empire (W) near your position.
- Pull your objective with Ravenous Flock (Passive) to put them into Vision of Empire.
- Use Death’s Hand (Q) to take advantage of the slow given by Vision of Empire.
This combo will burst even more if you use Electrocute as your main rune.
Question: Which role is best for Swain?
Answer: Here’s when people usually get confused when starting as it is common to see Swain in Support and Mid, but both roles are excellent for Swain. Swain can offer great performance in both roles as he can basically do the same regardless of his position.
Question: Overall, how good is Swain?
Answer: Thanks to what he can offer, Swain is a common pick in both high and low elo matches, so he’s pretty good. Right now is one of the strongest Support champions in the game and a very solid Midlaner.
Question: Which champions is Swain good against?
Answer: Swain is good against champions who have poor mobility like him. Those heavy and tanky supports like Nautilus or Rell have a bad time against him, and other long-range champions with no mobility like Draven or most of the ADCs also have problems against the Grand General.
Swain is one of those champions that are constantly present in the meta thanks to his heavy AP damage and all he can offer during team fights. So, if you are looking for a great Midlaner with capabilities to roam through the map and have global awareness, or you want a funny (and OP) champ to use when you get auto-filled with Support, then Swain has to be your main option!
Good luck with your next games!