The Rune Mage: A Ryze Guide for League of Legends



Thu 6th Jun 2019 - 12:54pm

Ryze is a part of the unique minority that make up the 40 champions released during League of Legends launch. Of those original 40 champions, he is debatably the most prevalent in high-level competition. That prevalence is largely in part due to his extreme versatility towards the mid to late game. And that versatility just so happens to make Ryze one of the most difficult-to-play champions in all of League of Legends. As a quick aside, it's also the reason this champion has proven very difficult to balance, resulting in nothing short of 3 reworks since his release. Hopefully this guide is able to illuminate the different strategies you can and should employ in your own games when playing Ryze. Let’s get down to his abilities.


First, Ryze’s passive is Arcane Mastery. While at first glance it may seem boring, this passive is what gives Ryze so many options when choosing which items to build. In addition, it also allows him to utilize stats better than most champions in the game. This makes his full build is one of the deadliest in LoL.

His Q is Overload, a skill shot that deals damage to the first target it comes in contact with. It’s passive is what gives Ryze his high damage potential and pseudo-tank feel. In as simplified a manner as possible, this passive means when you cast any two of your W, E, or R abilities (even the same one twice) before a Q, Ryze will be shielded and gain a movement speed boost. During a normal teamfight, you can often proc this shield at least once or twice negating large amounts of damage. Furthermore, his W, E, and R abilities all reset the cooldown on his Q, allowing him to cast this high damaging ability four times in a short span at max cooldown reduction. I’ll go into depth about his combos below.

His W is Rune Prison. This ability is quite straightforward and allows for some serious outplay potential during all stages of the game.

To round out his basic abilities, Ryze’s E is Spell Flux. In conjunction with his Q, these two abilities are his main source of power and combo potential. When reading this convoluted description, it is easiest to think of his E simply as a primer. All of his basic abilities will be enhanced appropriately. His Q is empowered to deal serious bonus damage and becomes good wave clear as long as you properly spread the Flux mechanic. The W root is lengthened from 0.75 seconds to 1.5 seconds, allowing for really great gank setups. His E, when cast on a target already afflicted by Flux, spreads Flux to nearby targets. There is also one last way to spread the Flux debuff and that is to have an enemy with Flux die via another one of Ryze’s spells. Which means you can cast Spell Flux on a low health enemy to spread the debuff. When Flux spreads, it deals only half damage as well as adding the debuff. This is important to note because it sets up Ryze really nicely for dealing with caster minions under turret (something you may find yourself dealing with frequently in early levels). When the first caster minion gets hit by a turret shot, E it and the death-by-champion effect will spread 50% of the spell flux damage to all other casters. Then each caster will only need one auto after a turret shot, allowing for easy minion pickings under the turret.

Lastly, Ryze’s R is Realm Warp. This is an ability that allows for tricky plays and quick repositioning. There are many good uses to this ability and it takes a good macro understanding of the game as well as practice to recognize when those moments arise. Below I will list a few scenarios I have found Realm Warp to be quite useful.

If an opponent is running away from you, stick the Realm Warp in front of their escape path. They will see it, react and sometime walk right back into you assuming you’re going to take the portal. That is when you should step off the portal and finish off the enemy. If they do not react, take the portal and finish them off that way.

When Ryze uses Realm Warp, he takes all allies with him, including minions. When you have a large minion wave to take an inhib turret, Realm Warp all of the minions over to an adjacent lane’s tower or simply speed them up. Ryze is usually able to secure two turrets using large waves where other teams may only have taken the one.

Finally, it is an important engage tool for putting your teams most devastating AoE champions right in the middle of the enemy team. Just make sure you don’t also take the portal without the proper defensives first.

Building Ryze

Ryze has two main keystone choices: Phase Rush and Arcane Comet. As Ryze is a short range champion with no mobility, I take Phase Rush 90% of the time. It allows for strong disengage and an escape from junglers after any crowd control has been used. The other option is Arcane Comet and it works simply as an added form of harass to what is a weak early game. I would take this into melee champs where Ryze’s best defense against an all-in is to keep his enemy low on health. Follow both of these keystones with Manaflow Band, Transcendence, and Gathering Storm (Scorch is also an option for the same logic as Arcane Comet). Top our rune page off with Taste of Blood and Ravenous Hunter in the Domination tree. Secondary runes consist of CDR, Adaptive Force and Defense.    

Looking at item builds, Ryze is one of those champions who can utilize almost any ability power item and make it work. While it is important to prioritize getting your Tear of the Goddess as quickly as possible, his builds vary quite heavily after his first buy.

If you believe the game is going to stretch further than 30 minutes, Rod of Ages is a great first completed item. In what looks to be a sped up game (i.e. someone has taken a turret or there have been 10+ kills in the first 10 minutes), I would recommend items with a more immediate impact such as possibly rushing to complete your Archangel’s Staff or Morellonomicon. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a Frozen Heart if you’re playing against a team that is primarily AD.

For your second completed item, I would recommend completing your Archangel’s Staff, if you have not already. Generally, you will be closing in on your fully stacked Tear by the 15-minute mark and the item active can frequently save your life and/or catch an opponent off-guard.

The third buy should often be Zhonya’s Hourglass. While I have found Ryze to be more tanky than your average mage, at the end of the day he is still a squishy target. A well timed Zhonya’s can turn the tides of a teamfight. Other notable options are Morellonomicon, Banshee’s Veil, or Spellbinder.

For your fourth and fifth item, I would simply recommend building synergistic items to the ones you previously bought. For example, if you built a Spellbinder -- because you are trying to snowball a lead -- it is important to pair it with Rabadon’s Deathcap and a Void Staff for maximum damage. If you decided to build heavily in favor of armor (Frozen Heart + Zhonya’s Hourglass), ensure you have enough health to increase the defensive stats effectiveness. Morellonomicon, Rylai’s Crystal Scepter, and Liandry’s Torment are all great items which give bonus health.

Defensive boots are always a great option. Especially as a means of cheap defensive stats early in the game. I would only buy Sorcerer’s Boots if you believe your team’s win condition is dependent on you being able to snowball a lead out of the mid lane.

Early Game

On Ryze, you should almost exclusively be starting Sapphire Crystal and 3x Health Potions. Corrupting Potion is one other option against abusive lane bullies, but it will delay your stacking of Tear of the Goddess. You should always take Flash/Teleport and be looking to strike 500g. Go back to base, buy a Tear of the Goddess and either Teleport or walk back to lane. If walking back, look for opportunities to Teleport into another lane as the enemy team will rarely anticipate it. Once you’ve secured your Tear of the Goddess, try to be mana conscious until you have a significant number of stacks.

Mid Game

The versatility of Ryze really begins to show in the mid to late game. When ahead, split pushing is a great option as the enemy team will often need to send more than one champion to counter your push. At that point, it allows your team to take major neutral objectives in 4v3 situations. Ideally, you will have Teleport off cooldown and can always join the teamfight should your team get caught off-guard in a 5v4. In order to push the minion wave most effectively, be sure you E the most central minion in the cluster twice before using your Q to blow them all up.

When it comes to teamfighting with Ryze, there are three main combos (or orders) in which you should be using to throw your spells out.

For the highest single target damage combination, we use:


This is the machine-gun Ryze where you are throwing out Qs in rapid succession. Great for trying to pick a target who is crowd controlled and the rest of their team is unable to return fire. Using this combination, you will be unable to charge runes and gain much needed shielding. Please use with caution.

For the most damage across multiple champions, we use:


This is the core of Ryze’s teamfight. The combination allows him to rival the damage of almost any other mage in the game as well as charge his runes. Of course, this is always best when enemies are grouped up but is never the worst option even against as few as two champions.

And for the best combination to duel just one other champion use:


With this combination you will charge runes, gain shielding, crowd control your target and give you two options. The ability to disengage the fight (especially when running Phase Rush) or continue trying to burn down your opponent.

Don’t forget Ryze is a complex champion, whose gameplay takes plenty of time to master. Be patient and trust the process while trying to learn him. Best of luck!

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