Leona vs. Alistar: which support to pick?
Thu 21st Mar 2013 - 7:38pm
Leona vs. Alistar: Which Support to Pick?
Leona and Alistar both play similar roles in supporting. Along with Thresh, Blitzcrank, and Taric, they are typically picked when a team would like a strong laning presence, tankiness to their team, and additional crowd control for stopping enemies. Leona and Alistar tend to be the tankier of these supports due to their kits. They also jump on top of enemies, rather than using a hook or a projectile. This article will examine the similarities and differences between the two champions and explain when each of them should be selected.
At level one, Alistar is most certainly better than Leona, simply because his Pulverize (Q) can hit multiple targets, while Leona's Shield of Daybreak (Q) can stun one enemy champion. This means that Alistar is more useful at level one in the event of a team fight. This gives Alistar a strong jungle invasion presence that Leona cannot compare.
Once they hit level two, they both can gain access to their crowd control combos. By the time level Leona's range is longer and her damage is marginally higher due to her Sunlight passive, but the difference is not significant. Her Zenith Blade (E) is a skillshot that can hit multiple targets.
Although Alistar's primary initiate is single target, he has the option of using his Headbutt (W) to knock the target backwards; Leona is forced to initiate onto the target and hope that her AD carry will follow up. A displacement is arguably the strongest form of crowd control; the enemy has to walk back to their original location. Alistar's famous Headbutt+Pulverize combo can be difficult to pull off consistenly, but it poses a very dangerous early game threat.
It is important to note that Leona's Shield of Daybreak (Q) is on a much lower cooldown than Alistar's Pulverize (Q). This means that she is more useful in extended skirmishes early on in the game. Additionally, Leona is exceptional at destroying wards that the enemy places. With a basic attack, Shield of Daybreak, and an attack from the AD carry, Leona can easily and instantaneously destroy an enemy ward when it is first placed.
Around levels three to five, the two champions begin to show bigger differences. Leona gains access to Eclipse (W) and Alistar will have Triumphant Roar (E). Eclipse is a huge improvement to Leona's burst; it allows her to deal far more magic damage and gain an additional Sunlight proc. It also gives her free Armor and Magic Resist for several seconds, which becomes increasingly massive as she puts more points into the skill.
Your opponents will be incredibly wary of Leona. Alistar gains an area of effect heal in the from of Triumphant Roar (E). It is not a very powerful heal, but it will make a huge difference if Alistar or his AD carry took a beating. It is important not to use this heal near minions unintentionally, as it indirectly pushes the lane.
At this point in the game, Leona has become more of an aggressive tank, while Alistar's playstyle becomes a bit more passive. The choice between the two at this point may be based on the playstyle of the AD carry: Would he or she rather stay back and farm or attempt to harass and kill the enemy?
Leona and Alistar's similarities split at a fork in the road upon gaining access to their ultimate abilities. Their playstyle at this point may vary depending upon how well they did in the laning phase. In the current metagame, the results of Early Game can dictate the course of the rest of the match. This is why Leona and Alistar can be scary to play; little risks they make can greatly turn the game in the player's favor or make the situation much worse.
Alistar's Unbreakable Will (R) instantly removes all crowd control from him, provides increased attack damage, and allows him to take greatly reduced damage. This is far more potent than Leona's Eclipse (W), making Alistar a far better tank than Leona in the long run. This will allow Alistar to be nearly unkillable in fights during the skill's duration. With Unbreakable Will, Alistar can tower dive and take huge amounts of damage without worrying about dying. However, the skill's usefulness is greatly reduced if Alistar is not focused by enemy champions.
On the other hand, Leona's Solar Flare (R) amplifies her intimidation factor! At mid-game, Leona truly begins to shine brightly like the sun (I apologize; I had to include at least one bad joke in this article)! This skill causes Leona to become much more threatening than Alistar at this point in the game. It adds a massive slow and stun to her already potent crowd control. With Leona's help, her team can easily catch and kill enemy champions. Due to the importance of destroying Turrets and killing Dragon for gold in the middle of the game, Leona will give her team a huge advantage. Solar Flare makes her a phenomenal roamer and initiator.
When Alistar and Leona reach their maximum potential, both are truly incredibly scary. In team fights, they are massive disrupters. Alistar's ability to knock up multiple targets at once is generally considered to be more valuable than anything Leona has. He also serves to be an excellent peeler for the AD carry; his Headbutt (W) can easily knock an enemy champion very far backwards. Due to Leona's additional crowd control in the form of her ultimate, she is better suited to be an initiator late game. They are both very strong champions at this point in the game, but Alistar is arguably more effective in gigantic team fights.
Both the ally and enemy team compositions can determine whether Alistar or Leona is the better choice.
Reasons to choose Leona:
-The ally team needs an initiator (Her long range ultimate is a great way to catch enemies so Leona's team can follow up).
-The ally team AD carry has a powerful early game to capitalize on (Leona's early game presence is a bit better).
- The ally team needs more hard crowd control to interrupt a specific target (such as Katarina when she uses her ultimate).
-The enemy team has a single target that is especially high priority to kill late game (such as a hyper carry like Vayne).
Reasons to choose Alistar:
-The enemy team has many champions that can instantly jump on the ally AD carry.
-The ally team is lacking tankiness in general (Alistar works great in the front lines if the enemies focus him while his ultimate is active)
- The enemy AD carry is likely to take the Summoner Spell Cleanse (Alistar's knock up and knockback cannot be effectively cleansed like Leona's crowd control).
-The ally team is using an AD carry that needs protected and generally does not look for kills early game (such as Kog'Maw).
Ultimately, both Alistar and Leona are great picks. Leona is great if the player is more aggressive and is arguably easier to use. She is possibly a bit more useful in Solo Queue, because the enemy team is prone to mistakes that Leona can punish. Alistar is typically valued more in competitive play, because he is safer and his Pulverize is incredible.
I hope you learned something from this analysis, and wish my fellow Support players (I know there are some of you out there!)the best. Feel free to comment and I will answer any questions!