Here is my favorite League of Legends mid that I've discovered in a long time. As (I think) Sotere on Trinity Force Podcast said once, “She's going to be good, because point to me another champion who has a stun, a slow, and a knockback.” Syndra involves a crazy amount of control, but she has a fantastic laning phase and strong midgame. She's hard to play, but good players can make her conduct an orchestra of pain.
|Great zoning||Mana hungry|
|Fun as hell||Requires a lot of stats|
|Slow, stun, and push||Needs Orbs/objects to throw|
|Hard hitting ult||Hard to aim stun|
|Lots of area damage||Short ult range|
|Fantastic lane clearer|
(Graph above is new thing I'm trying. Take it with a grain of salt!)
Balls In Face
Syndra feels like the definition of a sleeper hit. When she was released, she was pretty much horrible, with some awful stats on just about everything. Her damage was too low on Q, her speed and range on Scatter was too low, her ranges on her fling were too low, and she was riddled with bugs, odd delays, and other such quirks.
For example, if you summoned a Sphere then Scattered, the wave shoves but, because the spell wasn't finished before you cast Scatter, the orb (which was visibly there to be hit by the wave) did not get scattered. Or, alternatively, how Force of Will wouldn't grab a Sphere if you didn't target it just right, or how you had to keep mashing her throw to get it to land if Syndra was still collecting a target. There was just a ton of small annoyances that made her not fun to play.
But a few buffs and fixes and smoothings later, she's great. Damn great. One of my favorite AP mids, actually, with a dynamite laning phase and a strong midgame. With a few items, she can lay down area pressure, pin down a team with nasty slows and stuns, and liquefy a single target. With a Deathfire Grasp, her full combo hits single targets like a mortar. She's better suited as a 1v1 or 2v2 combatant - no orbs means it'll take her a second to start up unprepared - so big teamfights are not her speciality, but she still does amazing damage.
There's a silly gimmick running around with Manamune that lets you power up her ult (which is an assault of orbs), which really is as goofy as it sounds. They do apply on-hit effects, but AP is going to make it hurt far worse. It applies to only her ult, and it's a ton of gold wasted. Neat, but not really 'worth it.'
Biggest Balls of Them All
Above all, I do not recommend her without quite a bit of practice or experience. She is downright hard as hell to play, because she has skillshot nukes and, with her Scatter on her Orbs, she has a skillshot of a skillshot. And that's the only way to land her stun. Sure, you can post-ult Scatter to stun half the team, but the typical skill order I go with is a little different (I'll go into that later).
Early, you want to try and bully your lane as hard as you can with her Q, but be careful – she's mana hungry. Until you get a Chalice, which is damn near core on her, just try to float around and farm. Doran's Ring is preferred if you can stay safe earlygame (IE no Shaco/Lee Sin junglers, no Talon or Pantheon mid, etc), if not, Boots and potions. If your enemy's first item was Doran's – blade or ring – feel free to go nuts with your Q. Boots means they are looking to dodge, so don't go quite so crazy.
The reason I recommend a lot of practice first is because she's got a lot of tricks if you can aim them right. Once you get a Chalice and maybe a Codex, you can go a little more aggressive – harass with an orb, wait a second for the cooldown to almost come back, then grab the orb, throw it at the enemy, and while they're slowed, Scatter it into a stun for another Q. Combined, that's a lot of burst damage. If they're low enough, go for the ult for a surprise kill.
Her flaw in needing so many stats at once really comes into play when you start to fiddle around. You need mana to keep pumping out spells, you need AP to make them hurt, and you need cooldown reduction to get them all out fast enough. The Grail fixes all of these problems by giving pretty much all of them to her, and it works brilliantly in teamfights and ganks, as she can throw out tons of AoE damage and CC and get mana returns for it.
There's a lot of different combos you can spend with her, depending on what kind of output your team needs. You can throw objects around to slow the team, ult someone, then Scatter to unload a truck of stuns during a hectic teamfight. Or, alternatively, her ult does more damage depending on how many orbs she's summoned. With high enough CDR, spam Qs until you get enough to ult someone for over 1k damage, plus one and a half her AP.
Going To The Christmas Ball
This is one of the reasons I really like Deathfire Grasp for her. She has such ridiculously high single-target damage with the ult, you can usually turn them into a wet stain when a teamfight breaks out by popping DFG first, then rolling out everything you have. The problem is, since her range is so low on it, she can't actually reach into the back of the team to hit priority targets, so you end up flinging orbs around a bit until either someone exposes themselves, or until you run out of patience and nuke a tank. That, incidentally, is why you want to get a lot of magic pen.
Her passive feels like it's obvious – the 4 second cooldown on her Q makes it prime to max first, for the bonus champion damage on a very spammable spell. Then get her fling maxed for the slow duration boost. Scatter's cone is not nearly critical enough to bother with until last.
The Orb/Scatter combo is interesting in a lot of ways, and two things are important to remember about it – for one, it does not stop when it hits a target, it keeps going, meaning multiple stuns with one ball is possible. And, secondly, the ball travels from its point of origin to the destination, meaning it starts where the Scatter hits, not where Syndra casts from. This means you can sneak in some max-range stuns if you're far enough away from the orb. It's hard as hell to hit, because this gives you a greater margin of error, but if you can land it that's an easy followup combo, if not a combo-ult-ignite kill.
Core item is always the Grail, but rushing it is not always optimal. Usually, go for the Chalice, then see how the lane is going – if you're already getting the advantage on say, a Katarina, start building some AP, like a Rod for a Deathcap or Hourglass. If not, go instead for the Codex and try to harass more. The AP would hit harder, but Syndra excels at throwing out lots of spells to harass, especially if she hits her fling. She relies on a QW combo, unlike say, Ziggs.
Spellpen does amazing with her, so if you want, snagging an earlygame Guise also helps, and lategame you'll want a Void Staff. There's some strength in getting a Rylai's, but a Liandry's Torment isn't terribly good for her, as you want each of your spells to hit hard now, not later. If you find yourself just in need of liquefying one target – let's say, a Darius or an Ezreal who got a bit too fed – the Deathfire Grasp softens up the squishy ones for you to nuke.
Syndra's lack of escapes and only one reliable anti-peel mechanic – her Scatter, which is also how she stuns – make her a pretty fragile target, so when midgame starts to set up, wards keep her alive. Stay behind your team when moving to engage. Her range is great (except for her ult), but she's vulnerable without flash. Scatter can only do so much, and you need it for that area stun.
The best thing about Syndra is how dominating her early lane is, but she's still beatable. A good Morgana can shield through much of her CC and hit her with the 1-2 combo, then just farm all game. But Morgana is nowhere near as fun as Syndra – nobody else takes blue buff by slamming it into the wall.
Have you played Syndra lately? What do you think of her balls? Let us know in the comments!