Sylas, the Unchained – new champion breakdown

League of Legends.
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A mage chained in the dungeons of Demacia has escaped. He has terrain-scaling and the ability to steal your ultimate. What does Sylas, the Unchained bring to the Rift?

Riot has finally given us a look at our first champion of 2019, and hoo boy is he a doozy. Sylas looks like a pretty standard diving fighter at first, but his unique ability to steal and employ enemy ultimates helps him stand out from the crowd and gives him an interesting niche.

Ability Breakdown

Sylas’s kit is almost exactly what you’d expect from a top lane or jungling bruiser. Petricite Burst (Passive) and Chain Lash (Q) give him the means to push out a wave or clear large jungle camps, while Kingslayer (W) keeps him topped up. Kingslayer can also pull double-duty as a finisher, since its damage increases against low-health enemy champions.

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Meanwhile, Abscond/Abduct (E) is a two-part ability that helps Sylas get into fights. The initial dash is fairly short, but comes with a shield to bolster Sylas’s durability, while the second cast lets him pull himself to distant enemies in a similar manner to Amumu’s Q. This lets Sylas get to the backline squishies he wants to be burning down, or simply allows him to set up ganks in the early game.

So far, this is all pretty standard stuff. However, where Sylas differentiates himself from the pack is with his ultimate, Hijack. He can literally steal the ultimate from a targeted enemy, allowing him to use it against them – and this is where things get interesting. Need a frontline tank? Steal a Malphite or Leona ult and suddenly Sylas can be your initiation. How about an assassin? All Sylas needs is a Zed or Evelynn ult and he can do that too. Hijack opens Sylas up to some pretty interesting combos, and his inclusion on a team will certainly make enemies rethink their picks.


Pre-level six, Sylas is a pretty basic fighter. He can poke down foes with Chain Lash before looking to set up for an all-in or gank with Abscond/Abduct and Kingslayer. So long as he’s auto attacking in between each spell cast to proc Petricite Burst, Sylas should be able to hold his own against many top lane picks.

Hijack is an interesting ability, but its effectiveness will be entirely based on what the enemy team picks. Being able to take an Unstoppable Force or Emperor’s Divide can make Sylas quite good, but he may not always have access to the kinds of ultimates he’d prefer. It’s also unclear as of yet how Hijack will work against form-swapping champions, or champions with no ultimate at all such as Udyr.

Esports Viability

As a result of the above, it’s hard to tell if Sylas will be able to see play professionally. It’s highly likely that his base kit will be strong to compensate for the fact that his ult is so weird, but once that gets nerfed it’ll be anyone’s guess as to whether or not the Unchained will show up in LCS or LEC. Depending on the meta that takes shape in the Spring Split, Sylas could be either a god or a no-show, though my money’s on the latter.

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All in all, Sylas is certainly a unique addition to League of Legends, and will no doubt have plenty of highlight-reel plays involving purloined enemy abilities.

Are you excited to see Sylas enter the Rift? What other champion’s ultimate are you most excited to steal as the Unchained?