Author: MMOsite Writer Alexander Hinkley
Azir, the Emperor of the Sands, is the latest champion to be released for League of Legends. He is an Ascended being that uses the swirling sands and legions of sand soldiers to combat enemies of the Shurima Empire. Azir has a rather unique kit and provides a fun challenge to veteran players attempting to master one of the hardest champions to play in the game.
Azir’s passive is called Shurima's Legacy and actually has two sub-functions. The first is a passive ability called Will of the Emperor which grants Azir 1.25% bonus attack speed for every 1% cooldown reduction he has. Keep in mind that the maximum cooldown reduction any champion can have is 40%. The secondary function of his passive ability is actually an activated ability called Disc of the Sun which is pretty unique. Disc of the Sun allows Azir to construct a Sun Disc turret on the ruins any destroy turret with a few exceptions (notably enemy inhibitor and nexus turrets). A Sun Disc turret lasts for a minute and acts just like any normal turret. Any kills the Sun Disc inflicts are credited to Azir. That works both ways, however, and if an enemy destroys the turret they also get a gold bonus. Also, if Azir moves too far away from a Sun Disc turret it will become very easy to kill and fall even to minions. Obviously Disc of the Sun is not at all useful on Dominion since there are no destructible turrets on The Crystal Scar.
Normally I review champion abilities starting with their Q and working my way down but this review needs to start with Azir’s W ability, Arise!, because it is the only spell he can actually learn at level one. When casting Arise!, Azir summons an untargetable, spear-wielding sand soldier to attack his enemies for him. The sand soldier’s attack speed is based on Azir’s own attack speed and its damage is based on Azir’s ability power. The sand soldiers have a visible area of effect attack range but cannot be regularly moved from the spot where they were summoned. Their attacks also pierce through targets and can hit multiple targets in a line.
Also worth noting is that Azir can summon a sand soldier directly onto an enemy turret and the soldier will sacrifice himself to deal some damage to it, but sand soldiers will not normally attack turrets. This was clearly a balance decision since the soldiers can’t be targeted or damaged, it would have been too easy to destroy turrets helpless to otherwise fight back. Although there is apparently no limit to the number of sand soldiers Azir can summon at once, he can only store two sand soldier summons at a time and they disintegrate back to dust after a short time or if he moves too far away.
Arise! is the main tool that Azir uses in lane to harass opponents and farm minions while staying safely out of harm’s way himself. His sand soldiers can be very frustrating for opponents to deal with because they are completely untargetable so there is literally nothing the enemy can do other than try to avoid them until they go away. Constantly spawning invincible sand soldiers combined with the fact he can take over your fallen turrets with Disc of the Sun makes Azir a very powerful lane pusher.
Azir’s other abilities all work off sand soldiers summoned with Arise! which is why they would be useless as level one spells. His Q is called Conquering Sands and will order every soldier currently on the battlefield to lower their spears and charge to a target location. The soldiers damage and slow every enemy they charge through during the attack and if multiple soldiers hit the same enemy, the slowing effect actually stacks.
Azir’s E spell is Shifting Sands and enables Azir to quickly dash to a target sand soldier himself. This can be used as either a gap closing ability by dashing toward a soldier currently next to and attacking an enemy champion, or as an escape by summoning a sand soldier in the area you want to escape to and then dashing toward them. The dash even goes through walls. If you use Shifting Sands as an initiator and you end up colliding with an enemy champion during the dash, it will knock the enemy into the air for a brief moment and also grant Azir a temporary shield which scales with his bonus health.
Azir’s ultimate ability, Emperor’s Divide, summons a wall of sand soldiers with shields instead of spears who dash forward and damage/knock back all enemies in their path. The soldiers cannot be commanded like normal sand soldiers but after the initial cast, they remain on the battlefield for a short time, blocking the path of enemy champions while allowing allied ones to freely move past them (in fact, they get a movement speed boost when they do).
Emperor’s Divide is a very useful ultimate for escaping enemies chasing you down because of its path blocking ability. It is also good for team fights because you can separate one or two of your opponents on the other side of the shield wall and then pick off the ones still left in the fight.
Azir’s abilities all scale with ability power so you obviously want to build AP items first and foremost. That being said, his Shifting Sands shield does get stronger based on how much bonus health you have so health items are also something you might want to target. To get the best of both worlds, just build items that have both! So Rylai’s Crystal Scepter and Liandry’s Torment are pretty standard items for most Azir builds.
Nashor’s Tooth can be a strong item on Azir because it gives ability power, attack speed, and cooldown reduction which thanks to the first function of his passive further increases his attack speed. Cooldown reduction is already something that most mages want to max out but Azir doubly benefits from it due to that passive. Remember, your sand soldiers are affected by your attack speed so you want to increase it not so much for yourself as for them. Void Staff is another good item that will help to increase your damage dealing capabilities.
Repeatedly summoning sand soldiers can quickly drain your mana in early game so it is usually a good idea to start with Doran’s Ring / Prospector’s Ring as your first item for the mana regen effect.
As previously mentioned, Arise! is the only ability you can actually learn at level one so obviously you’ll learn that first. After you learn it, don’t worry about leveling it up again until you’ve already maxed out your other abilities.
Learn Conquering Sands after Arise! as giving your soldiers mobility is very important. Conquering Sands allows you to slow enemies, hindering their escape while your sand soldiers go to town on them and is how you’ll likely end up getting most of your kills. Max out Conquering Sands first then Shifting Sands after that.
Play very cautiously until you have all three of your abilities learned. Without the ability to make your soldiers or yourself dash, the lack of any sort of mobility is your biggest weakness early game and you could fall prey to an early gank.
Azir is a good lane pusher so play him either middle lane or top. Either is fine. If you go top, build him more damage oriented while if you go mid build him more poke oriented since your lane opponent will probably be a poker as well and you want to be able to out-poke them if that makes sense. One tip to remember for building an aggressive Azir (aggressive Azir you should be building more strictly AP items to increase your damage, such as Rabadon’s Deathcap) is to try to hold your ultimate in reserve in case you get in trouble. You won’t have much HP with an aggressive build so your ult might end up being your only chance to survive a gank.
Overall Azir can be a very difficult, and skill intensive champion to play but he is also very fun and not like any other champion in the game. He’s not overpowered by any means but when played correctly he can be incredibly annoying and super hard to deal with. If you’re looking for a skill-intensive champion that you can dominate with and have people not complain about your champion simply being OP, definitely pick up Azir and at least try him out.