Sion survival guide

By Riot Preeti

This week, Sion rises from the dead to join the ranks of the free champion rotation! Charge into battle and crush your foes with these tactics from players, pros, and the community:

Pawnce: discusses every facet of top lane Sion, with detailed ability breakdowns and a huge map that lays out potential gank paths

daitch: focuses on a bruiser/damage jungle build path

DatDude: concentrates on top lane and provides a useful itemization discussion for AD Sion

For up-to-date info on how the pros are building Sion, head over here.

Riot Stashu’s Sion tips

Already on your way to mastering the Undead Juggernaut? Check out how Riot Stashu from the live balance team plays Sion!

Is Sion better in top lane or the jungle?

I almost exclusively play Sion in the jungle. In a top lane 1v1 situation, Sion can run into some pretty bad matchups against mobile or cc-heavy champions who can prevent him from consistently landing his abilities, so pick him wisely. In the jungle, neither of these factors are a problem because jungle camps are too manly to cc you or dodge your abilities! I also really like jungle Sion because pure tank junglers are pretty rare nowadays (other than Rammus or Maokai). Sion fills a late-game, pure-scaling jungle-tank-with-cc niche that’s very valuable for almost any team comp. Additionally, Sion’s ult is just insane for ganking.

This doesn’t mean that Sion isn’t a good option for top lane. He’s worthwhile as a toplaner because he’s a safe, tanky champ who can wave clear well and maintain a strong lane presence even with low solo-kill potential. You just have to make sure you’re playing to his strengths. Poke often and take good trades when you can land Decimating Smash, but don’t overcommit to all ins.

Overall, Sion’s a great addition to any team because he absorbs so much aggro and draws so much attention in fights thanks to his cc potential. Keep in mind that Sion’s an offensive tank rather than a defensive peeler like Maokai, so he feels right at home when he’s smack in the middle of the enemy team!

How do you build Sion?

There are two main ways to build Sion: AD or tank. I think the AD build, aka “Zombie Sion,” is kind of suboptimal because building tanky allows him to get the most out of his cc, scaling, and ult’s diving potential. If you want a little extra damage, a Hexdrinker or Brutalizer can be a good pickup, but generally you want to build for survivability. HP, armor, and MR are the keys to an effective Sion; get as beefy as possible as quickly as possible.

The tanky build is also getting a boost with patch 4.19—currently, Sion really benefits only from offensive items when in zombie form, but now defensive stats and items will boost his passive’s duration.

What’s your skill order?

It’s tempting to max W first, but you don’t get much benefit from maxing shield first because it scales better with items (health) than levels. Q is definitely the better option because it gives you a lot of damage, which helps with jungle clear.

For top lane, maxing Q is still good as a clearing tool, but E is also a good fallback. When you’re losing lane or can’t directly fight your opponent, you can still have some impact on the lane from a distance. Against ranged opponents, max E for better reach.

Have any ganking tips?

Although Sion’s mobility is pretty low without his ult, Sion’s pre-6 ganks can be potent because his E delivers a powerful ranged slow. The best way to gank pre-6 is to approach the lane along with the enemy minion wave and flank the enemy from behind (grabbing an early pink ward or Sweeper is key). Throw out your E to slow the enemy and have your ally chain their cc with yours. Your Q covers a lot of terrain, so use it to trap your opponent and force them to choose between four unsavory options: getting hit with your Q, taking a suboptimal path to avoid your Q, suffering high damage from your ally, or burning Flash. None of these are great options, and your opponent won’t be pleased.

Sion’s ult is a very powerful ganking tool. If used correctly, you’re guaranteed to get something out of it, whether it’s an objective, kill, or the enemy’s Flash. The easiest way to use Sion’s ult is to barrel right down the lane because your enemy won’t have vision and the lanes are pretty straight, so you can charge your ult fully. Just remember to ping your ally to warn them that you’re on your way!

Sion’s ult has a pretty long cooldown at early levels, so use it wisely. Without your ult, you lose a lot of map pressure and playmaking ability due to your otherwise low mobility.

Any advanced tips or high-level stuff to know?

Sion is a force to be reckoned with, but he’s not a good duelist; don’t try to pick fights when you’re alone. His real power is forcing the enemy into bad situations for your teammates to capitalize on, so make sure someone is around to follow up!

You are an initiator. For team fights, find covered positions from where you can ult onto the enemy team. It’s your job to cause disruption and chaos, so get behind your opponents when they’re grouped up and charge right into them—you’re almost guaranteed to hit one of them with a devastating blow. Plus, you’re placing your team’s tanky cc machine right in the middle of the enemy, which is exactly where you want to be (as long as your team can follow up).

There are two scenarios that you’ll run into after successfully flanking and ulting the enemy team from behind. Here’s how you’d play them out:

  1. You ult a priority target (one of their carries). Great! Q the target and use your W (you can use W while charging your Q; it won’t break Q’s cast). If you got this far, you’ve done your job.
  2. You ult a low-priority target, like their tank. Don’t Q the tank! E the enemy team’s highest-priority target and then follow up with Q and W simultaneously.

A fully-charged Q is tough to land, but you don’t always have to land it for it to be useful! You can use Q to exert zone control and steer the enemy in a particular direction, like toward your teammates. You might not get the kill (or even the assist), but you’re putting the enemy in an uncomfortable spot and yelling “this is my space, don’t step in it!” It’s sort of a delayed gratification, I suppose.

When you’re trying to land your Q rather than just zone the enemy, think carefully about whether to charge Q all the way or just snap cast it. It’s best fully-charged and saved for a priority target, but don’t hesitate to snap cast Q if it’ll miss otherwise—you can still get the slow off and your team can follow up.

I want to say a little more about Sion’s ult outside of using it in team fights. Although his ult has a long cooldown at early levels, the cooldown scales well with levels. By the third rank, it’ll basically be up whenever you need it, so feel free to use it whenever you can get some good value out of it.

For example, sometimes you’ll want to use it to get out of a tough situation. When ulting, Sion is immune to cc, so you can ult reactively as long as you respond before you’re cc’d. For example, you can ult through a Nami wave if you start ulting before the wave hits you. The other day, I ulted out of a Vayne wall Condemn because I saw the bullet coming. Also, after you ult, you can hit R again to cancel it. It takes a few moments for Sion to decelerate, but you still get the AOE cc the ult provides.

One last little tip: When aiming E, aim at your final target (the enemy), not your first target (the enemy minion).

Who are Sion's main counters?

An enemy Morgana is pretty tough for Sion because his abilities are telegraphed so easily, so all she has to do is use her Black Shield on her allies. You also need to watch out for champions like Azir and Anivia, who can create walls and really screw with your ultimate.

In top lane, Riven is a really bad matchup for Sion because she’s highly mobile and can dodge a lot of your abilities. In general, Sion isn’t going to crush his lane opponent; his ideal situation is one where he doesn’t die in lane and just gets to farm until he becomes a super tank. This means Sion wants to be matched up against opponents who aren’t very good duelists or just aren’t very good at killing him, like other tanks.

4 years ago

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