Ryze: Fear and Arrogance
Introduction: I have been meaning to make a Ryze guide for quite some time, but all credit to Skryner for making his guide, which has finally roused me from my LoL slumber to write a guide that I feel will help those seeking to play Ryze in the mid-ELO range. Skryner's guide is well and good for the lower-ELO area, but against a competent team Ryze requires much more finesse and a more defensive item build. Hint hint: in 99% of games Ryze MUST get a Banshee's Veil or he will be crushed.
Caveats: Ryze is not Annie, nor Anivia or Fiddlesticks. He gets little/no play in high-ELO games because his team utility is far surpassed by those three casters, so don't think of him in that way. Ryze is a killer, and damage is what he brings to the table. He is a one trick pony, but what a trick! He has the highest burst potential in LoL, but will rarely/if ever reach it in a competitive game. This is why Zhonya's is literally the last item you ever get on Ryze, and in 99.9% of your games you will not get it or need it.
Fear: Ryze is squishy beyond belief. He is basically a melee spellcaster, and this is why he gets away with having the ability to kill an entire team in under a second under the right conditions. Do not complain about his casting range, because if he had the range of Annie he would be OP and nerfed.
Arrogance: From levels 4-11 Ryze is a god, and can single-handedly force the other team to form the 5 man gank squad early just to stop him from picking them off in lanes. Revel in these levels, because few heroes can handle him.
- Great early game damage
- Great lane partner for any hero. Certain heroes combos = auto first blood (Shaco)
- Naturally good against Magic Resist stackers due to Spell Flux.
- Highest burst damage potential in the game. Yes, even more than Twitch. Ryze can pentakill a team in under a second. I personally quaded a 5 man gank squad in river in under a second with my combo. Ryze's burst > everyone else.
- Can solo golem at level 7. Earlier too, just takes more work.
- Slow as hell. You need Treads so you won't be outrunning anyone without Ghost. Sweet sweet Ghost.
- Melee casting range. This is what makes Ryze very difficult to play well at the mid-ELO range. A good team will initiate with Alistar/Amumu/Nunu/Malphite and then will go straight for YOU. This guide is assuming a basic level of team cohesion that Skryner's guide did not. There are strategies and items/summoner spells that will mitigate this handicap, and thus why this guide is being written.
- Cooldowns. Ryze is a one-trick pony, and once the pony has kicked he has a few seconds to kill while not being killed. Against noobs these seconds will tick by uneventfully, but against a good team you will be fighting for your life. This guide will give you skills and strategies to aid in this fight.
Q - Overload: Amazing single target nuke that becomes an AOE monster late game. Low cooldown and mana cost at level 1, which is where you keep it until everything else is maxed. Starting out with a Sapphire Crystal, this spell does 100 damage for 50 mana with an 11 second CD. Farm, harass, at lvl 1 this spell does it all, and the 10% damage bonus from your mana pool doesn't scale with added levels, so there is no reason to get more than one point in it.
W - Rune Prison: Your root ability. Decent damage but it is not a stun!!! A decent player will flash away or stun you back while in the prison, so be ready for this. It also gets badly nerfed by Mercury Treads, which are the boot of choice for any competent player facing Ryze. Initiate with this spell, but do not depend on it. Also good for stopping a charging Rammus.
E - Spell Flux: This spell is ludicrous in conjunction with your ultimate. Fire at a crowd of heroes or bounce it between you and one unlucky bugger. Also good for killing creeps in a pinch, but generally you want to always have this spell up. When I am against a Ryze and see him Flux some creeps, I know the time is ripe to attack him while it is on CD.
R - Desperate Power: Your ultimate. I cannot think of another Ultimate that synergies better with a hero's basic skills than this one. The massive Ap bonus of 60/100/140 is gross on its own, but then add to this the 65% AOE effect to your spells and you have an incredible ability that makes Ryze truly frightening. No mana cost and a low CD make this even more ludicrous.
Passive - Every time you cast a spell your other cooldowns go down a second? Wow. Just, wow.
Rune Prison needs to be at least level 4 to really be effective (2 second root), and then Spell Flux becomes beefed just as you are ganking like a madman. No reason to max Overload. None. Overload has been slightly nerfed so more now than ever it is a farming tool mainly until the late game.
I now am trying out using Spell Flux at level 1 and Overload at level 4, and so far I am liking this way better. Let me know what you think.
I feel like I am giving away my secret recipe here, but Strength of Spirit is simply too good on Ryze. With a Sapphire Crystal at level 1 you will have 12hp/5 regen, and with your Catalyst you will have 25hp/5, again with no regen items. I usually end the game with between 50-75hp/5 regen, again with no regen items. This keeps you in lanes longer, lets you tank Golem earlier, and helps you push better/for longer periods. Also cuts out the need for a regen item/pots. I get a lot of flack from people for using Strength of Spirit until they see me 1v1 mid against a Twisted Fate, Ashe, Heimerdinger or Anivia and not have to blue pill once before level 6. Just trust me on this one, try Strength of Spirit. Once you see how frigging amazing this mastery is you will never go back. The Utility tree is obvious, as with the mana regen/CD skills you won't ever need MP regen items or CD items.
Red - Magic Penetration. Duh, what else would you use here? Flat AP also works, but Magic Pen is better IMO.
Yellow - Health or Dodge. I go health because physical DPS heroes generally don't bug Ryze too much anyways. Experimented recently with 11% dodge from Yellows and Quints and actually this is a solid way to go.
Blue - CD reduction. Either static or @18, either is fine. I use @18 because I find that CD is not an issue for Ryze for the first half of the game anyways. Mp/5 is decent too.
Quints - I run 2 health and 1 CD reduction, but these are basically user's preference. Dodge is good too, as is Magic Penetration. Hell even mp/5 or flat out mana is good too.
UPDATE: Now running all dodge and loving it. The beef to Ryze means that his runes are very flexible now. Experiment and find the ones that work best for you.
Ghost: Helps you kite between spell volleys in a 5v5, and helps you chase in the gank/lane phase. Also makes for a quick getaway with flash. Essential, you must use this spell IMO.
Flash: Helps you survive the CD between spell volleys in a 5v5. Saves your life over and over, and also nets you kills. Essential. You must use this spell period. No exceptions.
Spells not to use
Ignite: No. Might get you a kill or two, but in the 5v5 phase this is vastly inferior to Ghost/Flash. Never use this skill with Ryze against a decent team.
UPDATE: I still stand by this. Every time I mirror match against a Ryze with Flash and Ignite I crush him badly in the mid/late game. Most Ryze's I see running Ignite are also going pure AP, so my Veil means I win in a 1v1 and in a 5v5 my Ghost means he doesn't catch me unless I want him to.
Clarity: No, mana issues generally don't bother Ryze. You have a large mana pool and the Utility tree.
Exhaust: No. Melee DPS heroes do not bother you, and you probably won't be catching Tristana or Ashe unless it is a good gank, in which case they die anyways.
Heal/Teleport: If Ghost isn't working use one of these two, but I highly advise sticking with Ghost. It is just better.
Start - Sapphire Crystal and 2 health potions.
First trip back - Sapphire Crystal -> Catalyst.
Second trip back - Basic boots and Mejai's wonderful wonderful soulstealer
Third trip back (Hopefully with a kill or three under your belt) - Finish Banshee's Veil and Merc Treads.
Everything else: If you find you still need a little more survivability, get Rylai's. The slow effect is awesome with Spell Flux and and Overload, and the HP is great. If you are roflstomping, then grab your Archangel's Staff. Generally my games end with Sorc boots/Mejai's/Banshee's Veil/Rylai's. Oh and blue Elixir running pretty much nonstop from level 9 and on. Very important.
UPDATE: Lichbane is still a bad idea! I know his physical attack is long ranged now, but Ryze BURSTS and runs and BURSTS again, and he needs survivability to do this. Only get Lichbane as item #4-6 if you are really really dominating, and even then I would not recommend it. Rylai's/Archangel's/Zhonya's/Void Staff are all better IMO. Lichbane does not beef your AOE any more than Rylai's; it just beefs your single target damage. News Flash: your single target damage is normally enough to kill people anyways, get some HP! If not HP then get something that really ramps up your AOE like Zhonya's/Archangel's or lowers Magic Res further like Void Staff.
Early game - Work with your partner. If you have Blitz/Shaco/Eve in your lane then rape face. Basically anyone with a stun + you = First blood. At level 4 you will have the combo of Rune Prison -> Spell Flux -> Overload and this usually halfs a hero who catches the full blast. In conjunction with Blitz's Rocket Fist or a Shaco with a page of crit damage runes First blood usually comes to you at level 4. Try to lane with these guys or a Sion if possible. Other heroes just farm and look for your opponent to make a mistake. They will often underestimate Ryze's early game damage potential.
Mid Game - Your time to shine. Gank like crazy. Hit Ghost and then dart in from the bushes to Prison/Flux/Overload. Communicate with your team and just wander around killing. Most heroes cannot handle Ryze's burst from levels 7-11, and you need to get some counters on that Soulstealer ASAP because soon the 5v5 starts.
Late Game - Here is where most Ryze players get stomped by decent teams, and this is what you have been building for and why you have Ghost and Flash. Some basic tips:
- NEVER instigate with Flash. Ever. The two teams will feel each other out first and they try to entice you by having Ashe zip out oh so close to your team. She has Flash, and they want to draw you out for Malphite/Blitz/Amumu/Rammus to instigate-rape. Stay the hell back no matter how juicy the target looks.
- Don't fire at the tank. When the battle starts their tank with Chalice/Treads/Veil will lumber towards you, hoping that you blow your load on his huge Magic Resistant butt. Don't do it unless he is the last freaking hero alive. Feel free to Rune Prison him to keep him off you - ESPECIALLY RAMMUS - but save your Overload/Flux/Ult for the squishies.
- After you fire off your first volley, GET THE HELL BACK. Flash backwards and hit Ghost and kite like crazy. Don't auto-attack, don't try to distract. But also don't run away!
- Once you survive the initial cooldown period, volley again without your ult. Chances are you will still kill someone, and then the battle is usually over. You have great hp/5 regen from your Strength of Spirit, so you can heal a surprising amount during this time.
Obviously combat is chaotic and a lot of stuff can happen differently each time, but remember to focus purely on personal survival. Your team will benefit more from you staying alive than from you running in, volleying once, and dying. The longer you live, the more likely it is that your team will win the combat. Against 3 half-hp heroes, a wounded Ryze with Ghost activated can have a field day.
An example of Ghost use from a recent game
I went 7-1-9 in this game and all of my kills involved the use of Ghost. Skryner correctly pointed out that proper use of Ghost/kiting is a big part of this guide, so hopefully the following example provides some insight on why I consider Ghost a must on Ryze.
I laned with a decent Singed vs an Ashe and Udyr, both decent players (Ashe had Flash and Cleanse, Udyr had Exhaust and Rally). Singed and I got first blood at level 5 (another sign it is a balanced game with decent players, later first blood) by feinting an attack on Udyr and then killing Ashe despite her Cleanse on my Prison and Flashing back. We killed her because we both had Ghost, and that is also why Udyr couldn't catch us to bear stun us. Early game Ghost gets you kills and keeps you alive.
For the ganking phase Ghost allows you to charge in from the bushes and get that Prison off before the victim can back away. That same game I ganked their Karthas at middle by Ghosting in from the left bush in river, killed him with help from my Veigar, and then narrowly avoided Ashe and Udyr coming to help by flashing to the tower, which also dodged her Ult arrow of death (Not intentional, I am rarely that pro). Karthas had a healthy distance from Veigar (for obvious reasons) and had I my normal movement speed I would not have caught him with prison. Had I Flashed to instigate, I would have got him, but then would have been stomped by Udyr and Ashe, since Veigar's abilities and mine were all on CD.
Late game Ghost increases your team battle persistance in ways I hadn't thought possible before I used it. Same game, we 5v5 middle at their second tower. Veigar and I obliterate their Udyr, who gets caught by Event Horizon which Veigar throws down to instigate. I am now slightly in front of our Singed and they go for me. Their Ashe volleys to remove my Banshee's Veil bubble and then Ult arrows me in the dome. She is smart. Their whole team moves for me, because I have been kicking their butts for 15 minutes. The arrow didn't hurt much because of my Magic Res, and the stun is short because she was close, so as they get to me and start hurting me I Flash backwards and hit Ghost and back even more while my team works them over. I have about a third health but I have 50hp/5 regen and 440 movespeed so they can't catch me and Singed is running screaming poisonous circles around them while our Tristana just auto-attacks like a machine-gun. They drag down Tristana (She sucked, no Flash or Cleanse) but by that time my spells are off CD (except for Ult) and I pick off another one of them and then back away again with my great movespeed. The remaining three are now low health due to my AOE and Singed, and our Veigar caps another one as they retreat.
This is an example of why Ghost is very very good on Ryze in conjunction with a more defensive build, and why my guide is called Fear and Arrogance. Ghost and Flash double as superb defensive AND offensive spells, and this is exactly what Ryze has to be against semi-decent opponents with some team cohesion. Ghost allows you to remain in the vicinity of combat after your first volley while you heal a bit and refresh your spells without being in danger of being caught. Ghost also allows you to reenter combat very quickly and catch people who try to back away from you. The longer Ryze survives in combat, the better your team will do. I had a 900 AP Ryze in one game but only went 12-5 because the other team was good and I had no survivability, just massive massive damage. Ryze is scary when he can kill anyone on your team every combat, but much scarier when he can kill your squishies, get away, and then come back and finish off the rest. This also maximizes your Soulstealer, as you die a lot less and thus power it up a lot faster. Ryze has so much natural damage that Soulstealer + Rylai's/Archangel's is really all the AP you need. After that I would rather go Void Staff than Zhonya's, because the only way the game has lasted that long is if the other team is smart and has stacked Magic Resistance.
Notes on specific heroes
Rammus - This guy is baaaaad news. If he Taunts you you die without getting your spells off. He also is a really bad target for your spells, so prison him and back away. Only target him if he is the last man standing or if he is at 50% hp and you KNOW that his Guardian Angel is on CD.
Fiddlesticks - Flash away and Ghost. If he follows you with his Flash/Ghost then you should be able to stay ahead of him, and if not your Veil will keep you barely alive. Then kill him if you can. Like Twisted Fate, dealing with a good Fiddlesticks is more about a team strategy than an individual one. Ward the bushes and use clairvoyance (one of your team members should have it, always). Make no mistake though, Fiddle rapes spellcasters badly and you are no exception.
Veigar - Your worst frigging enemy. His ultimate is the reason you go Veil/Rylai's, and even then he can put you down in a big hurry. His range is far superior to yours and he has a big stun, but your Veil/Flash will help you stay away from him. That is your strategy for Veigar btw, stay the hell away. Ganking him is acceptable, but even then be careful. In a 5v5 his ultimate makes a horrifically distinctive noise, so if you hear that and it is hitting someone else, then relax and murder him. Until you hear that noise though, try to not be close to him.
Shaco - He is your best friend, regardless of what team he is on. If you lane with him as a partner and he has a page full of crit damage runes, then get ready to kill a lot of people. If he is against you, then laugh and murder him over and over. It only gets better when he has his clone, as then your Flux has something to bounce off of besides you and he takes even more damage. Don't bother trying to figure out which one is real, just kill them both.
Twitch - Early/Mid game this guy is your *****. I have soloed mid against Twitch so many times and usually get first blood. A good Twitch will have cleanse and flash, and you won't kill him. A mediocre/bad Twitch will have garbage like Teleport/Ignite/Exhaust/Ghost and you can murder him at will. If he pops up behind you and ults, flash into his face and watch him melt. Late game he is more of a problem, but Flash and Ghost usually mean you won't die to him often. If he pops up 1000 distance away, flash out of range. If he pops closer than that, Flash into his face and blow his head off. Your burst will usually be much higher than his. In 5v5 battles he will usually pop a fair distance back and you can simply back up. I don't usually have any issues with Twitch at all, and never did even back in the pre-nerf days.
My personal build is 12% CD @18 from runes, 10% from Elixir, 6% from Utility Masteries, and 23% from Golem buff (which I almost always try to have). The cap is 40% but with an Elixir and Utility and Golem you have 39%, so even the runes are not necessary to reach the cap. You do not need CD items ever on Ryze if you know how to use Elixir/Runes/Masteries/Golem.
With the new buff to his attack range/damage, Ryze has a MUCH easier time farming now, and can solo mid with pretty ridiculous ease (assuming you have Strength of Spirit). The new lower lvl 1 damage to Overload really just crystallizes this spell as a one-pointer that last hits every ten seconds and harasses decently, and now his auto-attack can also harass nicely. Farming used to be a huge issue for Ryze players but now honestly I don't think anyone is having an issue anymore. Let me know if anyone needs additional help on farming, because I honestly don't see a need at the moment to write a big chunk of the guide on how to harass/last hit.
Protip: Golem Buff = mad mad cash. Spam like freaking crazy, non-stop casting of QWE.
Ryze is so strong in the early-mid game that he does not need items to bolster that. Ryze should always be thinking and preparing for the 5v5 battles that will come later, and that ultimately determine the game. With your Veil and Rylai's, your level 18 Ryze will be 2700 hp of pure kickass, and tough enough to have a chance of surviving the focus fire that a good team will always target you with. This is why Ghost/Flash is not optional, and why Veil isn't either. I know that many parts of this guide might seem odd, but just trust me and try it. At low ELO Ryze can rape face with all AP gear, but at higher levels he simply gets CCed into the ground as soon as he makes a move in a 5v5 team battle, and your skills and items must go a long way to counter this otherwise you really are a one-trick pony that only gets one kick at the can.
Thanks again to Skryner for posting his guide and for giving me constructive feedback on mine, and I mean no disrespect by way of this guide. I just really feel that your guide was geared towards noobs, as evidenced by mentioning that Master Yi appears in 9 out of 10 games. In the ELO range that I play, Yi is rarely seen, and Ryze has to work his butt off to stay alive in the 5v5 battles that decide the game. I am almost always the #1 priority of the enemy team, which is why I had to switch from Rod of Ages as my first major item to Banshee's Veil. The difference was remarkable, and that coupled with Flash/Ghost and Strength of Spirit really gives Ryze a new lease on life in more competitive games.