Preseason Champion Update: Alistar gets big changes

Alistar splash art, courtesy of Riot Games
Alistar splash art, courtesy of Riot Games /

Alistar is one of the most beloved and consistently played supports, but Riot thought he could be even better.

Alistar is the definition of what a support should be. He brings a mix of engage, peel and sustain — everything an ADC would want. Sure, he can be abused during the first few levels when his lanes can be poked in by ranged supports. But after that? Good night. Nobody roams for vision, sets up picks or teamfights better than the big cow.

But Riot figured he could be even better.

If you watch high-level Alistar play, one thing stands out immediately: he does a lot of walking around. Pacing. Moving in circles. More walking.

Alistar’s current kit

The reason for that passivity is based on the construction of Alistar’s current kit. His primary abities, Q (Pulverize) and W (Headbutt) have such long cooldowns that they should be used sparingly. A flash Q+W combo from Alistar is an almost guaranteed kill on a squishy target — if you hit it. Miss, and you lose control of the lane.

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Of course, the combo also works in reverse, W into Q, for teamfights. Once Ailstar goes into multiple enemy champions, he’ll probably activate R (Unbreakable Will) immediately as well. Pull this combo off, and you CC the whole enemy team while getting out. Miss, and you’re dead.

That’s one problem: Alistar is powerful for his all-ins, but hitting those all-ins can be tricky. However, there are other champions with similar styles, who rely on their all-ins. Leona, for instance, is another support with a similar style.

The other more pressing issue is the fact that after Alistar burns his initiation, he basically makes a beeline to his own back line. With no other abilities to use besides a relatively ineffective heal, he is basically just a rampaging meat shield. That has value, sure, but it isn’t fun to play him after his spells are burned. Or, as explained by Riot:

"He has a really strong presence in a “cast-everything-at-once” moment… followed by substantial downtime. In other words he gets to feel really cool for a split second and then very lacking when he has nothing else to do. We want to add more cool things for him to do (and for us to use as balance levers) than just W+Q."

Switching up his skills

The change that Riot released to the PBE yesterday was basically a switching of his skills. Alistar’s current passive is a trample effect that allows him to go fast after using an ability. Basically, it allows him to get out of a fight after starting it.

Riot switched that passive up with his E (Triumphant Roar), his sustain ability. Triumphant Roar is now a passive that automatically heals himself and his closest ally when it reaches seven stacks. Stacks are gained by applying CC to enemies and by enemy units dying. Critically, if a champion or epic monster dies, the heal is procced instantly (three-second cooldown).

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That’s big. Having that in fights will be really interesting to play round, giving him extra life when an enemy dies. The ally heal might also encourage him to play towards the front line more.

Trample, his old passive, was moved to his E. It’s an AoE damage ability with a caveat: it gains a stack when the damage hits any enemy champion during the five active. At five stacks, Alistar’s next basic attack gains magic damage — and a stun.

This is huge! It encourages Alistar to stay in the fight and do damage in hopes of getting a reset and locking someone down. Combined with his new passive, and Alistar now has much more cause to stay in the fight.

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