IntroductionWelcome to my in-depth guide of Ryze. What I'm going to cover is the following:
- Ryze's Pros and Cons
- Ryze's Builds
- Ryze's Playstyles
- Ryze's Numbers
In Ryze's Pros and Cons I'll explain when Ryze is a good pick, a great pick or a bad pick. In Ryze's Builds, I'll give simple explanations of his two basic builds I listed above, along with explanations for build order and variation. In Ryze's Playstyles, I'll explain how you change Ryze's cast order as the situation demands, and highlight a few particular bits of match-up related playstyle knowledge. In Ryze's Numbers, I'll go over some of the maths behind building Ryze offensively.
I hope that if you read all of these, it should give you a good understanding of how to play and win as Ryze.
Ryze's Pros and ConsRyze is very different from most other magical casters. Unlike Annie, Gragas and Cassiopeia, he lacks initiation and high, frontloaded aoe burst. He doesn't have Kassadin or LeBlanc's mobility and silence, nor does he have Karthus' capability to suicide bomb the enemy team with magical damage, and mapwide damage. For these reasons, he has a history of being overlooked as a mid lane pick. However, Ryze does in fact have a lot to bring to the table.
Ryze's scaling with mana and cooldown reduction presents him with an additional, hybridized item pool that other casters cannot pick without sacrificing their damage output. He can build for defence without sacrificing too much damage output, which is a very powerful trait to have. In addition, the fact that you're building mana on him means that he doesn't have to worry about running out of mana in lane or teamfights; Ryze will regularly have 2k+ mana at 20 minutes, and should end games at around 4.5k. You will never, ever be limited by mana.
In addition to this fact, Ryze's core build includes Frozen Heart, which, together with the 12/0/18 masteries, 2 CDR/lvl Glyphs and 10% from Overload, puts him at 39.9% CDR. This means that in the lategame, you have a free blue buff for your teammates, since Ryze has no need of mana or cooldown reduction.
Ryze also has a strong early laning presence. Overload and Spell Flux both have 675 range, meaning you can harass with them at long range. Your large early mana pool allows you to cast these regularly enough that you can outdamage the healing provided by the standard 3 health potions, and are able to look at forcing some enemy mid characters out of lane.
Ryze's lategame is also a strong point. In addition to being able to build defensively, Ryze's damage output is sustained high damage. For comparison, consider Cassiopeia and Vladimir, both of whom have similar sustained high damage, against Kassadin and Gragas, whose damage comes all at once and, once expended, the champion has to wait for cooldowns before doing more damage. In essence, this means that Ryze should be dealing high magical damage throughout lategame fights.
Finally, Desperate Power's additional of aoe damage to Ryze's spell arsenal provides him with very strong aoe damage output against clustered enemies. A full Ryze rotation on Desperate Power puts out damage that's equivalent to Cassiopeia, Vladimir or Brand's aoe.
Ryze has three major drawbacks which must be considered when picking him.
Firstly, he lacks strong crowd control, which most other casters have in abundance. His root has a shorter range (625) than his other spells, meaning that he has to get in close to the enemy team to use it, putting him in harm's way. He cannot shut out enemy character's damage output with silences or stuns.
Secondly, his early game is fragile. Barring Rune Prison, which only roots for 1 second at rank 1, he has no defensive tools in his kit to prevent himself from being ganked. His HP is low, and the generally accepted opening of Mana Crystal + 2 pots leaves him 1 potion's worth of HP shorter than an enemy mid; he also lacks the additional movement speed granted by boots.
Thirdly, he has almost no capability to safely initiate teamfights. He has nothing like Tibbers or Petrifying Gaze or Wall of Pain. As mentioned above, his Rune Prison only has 625 range, which makes it very dangerous to try and initiate a teamfight with when both teams are fully present and aware.
On any champion, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses at least as well as, but preferably better than, your opponents. If you're trying to do something Ryze is weak at, like initiating a fight, and the enemy knows you're weak at it, they will punish you severely for it. Know your strengths and play to them; know your weaknesses and mitigate them as best you can.
Pick Ryze when the enemy mid doesn't have a strong early game that can force you out of lane with long-ranged high-damage harassment. Pick Ryze when your team has strong crowd control and initiation without you, and your role will be high magical damage. Don't pick Ryze when this isn't the case!
Ryze's BuildsHow you build Ryze will vary depending on what champion you're facing in mid lane. His standard opening is as follows:
First Base: + as necessary
Second Base: + as necessary
This opening lets you charge your Tear (and in turn, your damage) as soon as possible, and gives you lane sustainability and extra health to survive enemy bursts. However, if the enemy caster is harassing you more than you feel comfortable with, or has very high burst capability in the early game (Hi Tibbers!), it is very much worth it to forego Tear on your first base, and instead pick up Catalyst. Remember, to win a lane you must have more gold and experience than your opponent; dying to their burst so you can get 100 extra mana on your Tear isn't worth that losing your advantage, and your team won't thank you for it.
You now have a pick of four items to choose from:
If there's a lot of roaming or kiting going on, early Sorcerer's Shoes is a good choice. With 9 penetration from Runes, 10% from Masteries, 15 from Spell Flux and 20 more from Sorcerer's Shoes, you should be dealing 'true' magic damage for most of the mid-game, even if the enemy team gets an Aegis and has Soraka.
Getting Rod of Ages early allows it to start charging its stats earlier. If the enemy team has heavy magic damage, or you're worried about a particular piece of initiation (Dark Binding, Crystal Arrow, Explosive Cask), you can pick up Banshee's Veil.
Finally, Glacial Shroud gets you up to 33-5% cooldown reduction, which improves your rotation and thus damage output and sustained damage output significantly. Additionally, it provides you with a nice chunk of armour, which guards you against a strong early AD carry like Caitlyn, or a top lane AD assassin/bruiser like Talon or Wukong.
The next thing to talk about is Archangel's Staff, and when you should upgrade it. The final upgrade to Archangel's Staff from Tear + Blasting Wand costs 1000g. For this to be cost-effective to buying a basic AP item, you must be getting 50 AP from your upgrade (see Ryze's Numbers). This occurs at 1666 mana, so once we've hit that milestone we can upgrade from Tear to Staff. However, this doesn't mean you should upgrade to Archangel's that early all the time. There are three factors to consider:
1) You're upgrading at the cost-effectiveness of a basic item, i.e. you're not getting any extra bang for your buck. A completed item gives you 'free' stats for gold. Upgrading to Archangel's Staff that early will not give you 'free' worth.
2) The passive is slightly worse than Tear's passive. Because Ryze often casts 2-3 casts within a space of 3 seconds, rather than drawing them out over 6, you will often miss the second passive mana gain.
3) Opportunity cost. By buying Archangel's early, you sacrifice other options. Frozen Heart in particular, but also a Rod of Ages (if you've gone Banshee's Veil) or Rabadon's Deathcap can both be worth more to you than getting your Archangel's as soon as possible.
Finally, here are both the end-game builds with annotations on their roles.
The defensive build is for when you're somehow getting focused a lot, or you want to deter being focused simply by being "too tough" to focus. If you're planning on building like this, it is worth far more to run Cleanse than Ignite. You have high magic resist, armour and health which scale together, good magic penetration and mana pool, and both Banshee's Veil and Cleanse mean you should never get picked or CC'd for too long. You can switch out the second Rod of Ages for a Void Staff if the enemy team gets heavy magic resistance and you feel tough enough already with one.
Switching out Banshee's Veil for Rabadon's Deathcap gives you a very hefty wallop to your killing power. Although Ryze loves mana, his damage is greatly augmented by ability power. Deathcap also improves the AP gain you get from Mana with Archangel's Staff by 30%, making all that mana you've got even more useful. The Void Staff is generally necessary since this is a late-game build, and if you're building for offence you need to deal with the enemies' improved late-game magic resistance. This build puts you handily at somewhere around 600 AP before elixirs, passives and Baron, and near 4.5k or so Mana with max CDR. You never run out of mana and you will do damage comparable to that of an AD carry.
Ryze's PlaystylesMostly, this is a list of rotations and when you use those rotations. Ryze's rotations change because as he gains more cooldown reduction, his passive allows adding in Overloads between casts of others spells.
Let's first look at levels 1-3:
Rule 1 of caster: never be at max mana. You're wasting your mana regen, and your opponent is regenerating health. Ryze has great range for harassment, and a large mana pool; you should waste no opportunity when you're not last hitting to poke them with a Q at level 1. Remember, minions do not aggro onto single target casts.
Your harassment should be . This places the 15 magic reduction on the opponent, so they drop from 30 Magic Resistance to around 4. You're dealing near true damage to them. Both E and Q have long range, and if E bounces back to the enemy champion even once, that's better damage output than W.
Our rotation changes depending on what range the enemy caster is at and whether there are minion surrounding them.
At long range with minions:
You don't care about bouncing Spell Flux onto them multiple times, you're just looking for full damage output.
At close range without minions:
You now have 1 second to get into range to ensure your Spell Flux bounces properly.
This combo does heavy damage to any player foolish enough to get close. You can often finish them off with Ignite and another Overload afterwards if they eat one of these.
Cast Desperate Power while your Overload is in mid-air; it will affect it.
Now follow up with either if they're close, or if not. You generally won't have enough CDR at this point to insert a Q in between every other spell.
Remember that you want to be close enough for your E not only to bounce to your opponent 3 times, but also for the bounces that hit you to deal E's aoe damage from Desperate Power to your opponent.
Once you've gotten your Glacial Shroud:
Great, you should be able to stick an Overload in everywhere.
Against solo champions:
Against clustered enemy champions, put your in earlier, since you want to threaten them with aoe damage as quickly as possible. Only use W if you're sure you can get away with it without being focused afterwards, since it's your only method of defense in teamfights if they do dive you. Remember that sometimes, you need to cast a Q and/or E to get your W off cooldown to save yourself.
Also, I mentioned earlier that Ryze doesn't need blue buff late game. Early game, when he has no Glacial Shroud and a smallish mana pool, he benefits from it greatly. It allows him to charge his Tear very quickly, and lets him start doing a decent 3 Q combo once his Overload is level 5.
Finally, let's talk about a couple of mid-lane match-ups and what they mean for you as Ryze.
Morgana: harass her as much as possible early on. The more you can force Morgana to pop her Black Shield, the less mana she has to use for Tormented Soil, meaning she has much worse sustainability in lane.
Kassadin: you will destroy him if you take . Early harassment on him any time he tries to melee a minion is great. Any time he Riftwalks beside you, you can do a full close range rotation on him if you cleanse his silence. Repeated harassment will destroy his laning.
Vladimir: another champion who you want to hurt as badly as possible early game. If you can keep the pressure up, his Q won't be nearly as dangerous at 9, especially if you delay his Revolver. His pool makes getting a full combo off on him very difficult; you can't really bait him into a combo, so rely on steady harassment.
Brand & Orianna: you'll want to get boots early against these two. They're difficult match-ups and you will probably have trouble beating them early on. If they get given an early blue buff, play very carefully indeed. However, you still have decent harassment range if they overextend. Be very wary when trying to combo them.
Annie: difficult. You can go blow for blow with her if you want, but remember she has the extra health potion and boots. Her burst at 6 is capable of destroying you, and you should strongly consider early Catalyst.
LeBlanc: Cleanse is very necessary if you want to beat LeBlanc. You have slightly more harassment power than her, but once she gets her combo going it can be very hard to retaliate because of the silence. One thing to remember is that the return component of LeBlanc's W (her aoe damage blink) cannot be activated if she waits too long; if you're quick with your W, you can prevent her from escaping and catch her in a combo.
Cassiopeia: I would not ever recommend plying Ryze against Cassiopeia. She has better burst damage output, a stronger crowd control, and very strong harassment capabilities.
Anivia: Ryze does well against Anivia. The standard approach of early game harassment applies; early boots help avoid her skillshots. Once she hits 6, you'll have more trouble harassing her and stopping her farming, so try and put the pressure on in 1-5.
Fiddlesticks: this is rare, but is an effective counter-pick to Ryze in mid. Cleanse helps a bit but not enough to give you a real advantage, and he will drain tank a lot of your damage in the early game. You have no CC to stop him draining you, and you'll get CC'd a lot. Never pick Ryze against a Fiddlesticks.
Karthus: An offensively positioned Karthus is someone you can often harass effectively with standard rotations. His E's toggle can make going in for a combo risky, especially if there are no minions around to soak the damage from his Q. If he plays defensively, last hitting at long range with Q, be very wary because Karthus' wall and a jungler can punish attempts to harass him.
Zilean: time your W well and this match-up should be yours with standard tactics. You can try and zone him at levels 1-3.
Veigar: this is your fight. Build only mana and he gets no additional damage against you. His harassment is pitiful and you can harass his creep farming attempts enough that his combo won't hurt so badly once he hits 6. Watch out for junglers when he catches you in his cradle, and keep your harassment at long range, as you don't need to risk close range burst damage to win this engagement.
Enemy Ryze: be the better Ryze! Catalyst is generally the better second pick than Frozen Heart. If you've got mana runes and he doesn't, you'll edge him out in damage.
Ryze's NumbersArchangel's Staff cost-efficiency:
Final upgrade costs 1000g
Needless Large Rod provides 80 AP for 1600g.
1600/80 = 20, so 1 AP costs 20 gold.
To get cost efficiency for 1000g:
1000/20 = 50 AP.
To work out the mana required for this cost-efficiency
50 = 0.03 x X so X = 50/0.03 = 1666.7 mana.
Mana vs AP cost-efficiency on single targets:
Caveat: this is before Archangel's and Rabadon's are taken into account
1 AP = 20g (see above)
1 Mana = 2g (Sapphire Crystal)
i.e. 1 AP = 10 Mana in cost
Rotation 1 - QEWQ
2 x Q = 2(0.2 AP + 0.08 Mana) = 0.4 AP + 0.16 Mana
E = 0.35 AP per bounce (max bounces: 3) = 0.35 <-> 1.05 AP
W = 0.6 AP + 0.05 Mana
Total: 1.35 <-> 2.05 AP + 0.21 Mana
For gold efficiency, this is 0.205 for AP and 0.21 for Mana; so in the favour of mana unless you get the full 3 bounces from E, which puts them roughly equal.
Rotation 2 - QRQEWQ
3 x Q = 3(0.2 AP + 0.08 Mana) = 0.6 AP + 0.24 Mana
W = 0.6 AP + 0.05 Mana
Full E with R = 1.05 AP + 1.5(0.7 AP) = 2.1 AP
This is full damage from the 3 bounces that hit the champion, plus the aoe damage from the two bounces that bounce off Ryze.
Total: 3.3 AP + 0.29 Mana
For gold efficiency, this is 0.33 for AP and 0.29 for Mana; again, in mana's favour until E gets full bounces, where AP now slightly edges out mana for gold efficiency.
Rotation 3 - QRQWQEQ
4 x Q = 4(0.2 AP + 0.08 Mana) = 0.8 AP + 0.32 Mana
W = 0.6 AP + 0.05 Mana
Full E with R = 1.05 AP + 1.5(0.7 AP) = 2.1 AP
Total: 3.5 AP + 0.37 Mana
For gold efficiency, this is 0.35 for AP and 0.37 for Mana; the same result as above.
Once we take into account that Archangel's Staff provides us with good AP for Mana, and that most Mana items also provide defensive stats, it is clear that Mana is mathematically the best choice for cost on Ryze. AP should only be given equal rating if you're looking for pure damage output with no survivability, and are certain you can consistently bounce your E off enemies.