We had to split Aphelios' guide in two parts. The first one introduces players to weapons, levelling and abilities while part 2 covers items, builds, behaviour (laning phase and team fights) and champion synergies.
Aphelios does not differ too much from other marksmen when it comes to the bread and butter builds. Aiming for 100 per cent crit chance works great but even 75 per cent works fine in case situation calls for something else. There are, however, some items that Aphelios excels with while others should be avoided.
Items worth getting
Standard marksman build should always contain some of the following:
- AD crit essentials (Infinity Edge / Stormrazor / Essence Reaver)
- Infinity Edge is great overall on Aphelios. Always look to incorporate it as first or second item of your build
- Stormrazor should almost always find its way into your Aphelios build. Having attack speed, damage and critical chance, Stormrazor provides all the essential scaling tools for Aphelios
- Essence Reaver is decent for that extra attack damage later in the game when you are trying to cap critical chance. I wouldn't recommend getting it before IE or Stormrazor though. It is fine if Essence Reaver doesn't have a spot in the finished build in some situations, be it due to more defence or utility.
- Attack Speed crit essentials (Phantom Dancer / Runaan's Hurricane)
- Runaan's Hurricane is easily the go-to attack speed item. It just synergises extremely well with Aphelios' kit. It can cause Gravitum to slow multiple enemies at once, amplify Infernum's wave clear or allow Aphelios to wave clear easily when the flamethrower isn't available and bring about more healing from Severum.
- Phantom Dancer should be your AS / crit item of choice if you are facing numerous dive-happy champions, primarily assassins. It allows you to kite more efficiently due to the movement speed boost and saves your life with the shield. The only situation when you should avoid this item is if you build Hexdrinker / Maw of Malmortius because their shields don't stack.
- Rapid Firecannon and Statikk Shiv are not optimal items for Aphelios. They are good items for those fun builds when you want to make sure your Calibrum ult target is extra dead. Avoid these two otherwise.
- Boots (Berserker's Greaves, Ninja Tabi, Mercury's Treads)
- Berserker Greaves are the best pick if you feel safe enough
- Pick Ninja Tabi if you are having trouble with AD assassins or auto-attack reliant champions, like Master Yi. Just kidding, if Yi gets to you, there is no salvation.
- Pick Mercury's if you want extra protection from AP assassins. Tenacity won't help that much. If you get hard cc'ed you are as good as dead due to Aphelios' lack of mobility
- Armour penetration - Lord Dominik's Regards, Mortal Reminder or none
- Aphelios' levelling allows him to have 53 per cent armour penetration with LDR. Therefore, he can easily shred tanks even though he has no true damage
- Mortal Reminder is a better pick if you're facing the likes of Vladimir, Mundo, Yuumi or Soraka. Aphelios will still have more armour penetration (43 per cent) than other AD carries with LDR (35 per cent)
- No armour penetration is also viable on Aphelios as his levelling will give him 18 per cent. Building this way should work as long as there aren't three or more enemies with 200 or more armour
- Life Steal items (Bloodthirster, Death's Dance, Blade of the Ruined King)
- Bloodthirster is kind of redundant on Aphelios, due to Severum. Shields from the item and the ability stack though so if you like upfront burst prevention, it can be a good pick
- Death's Dance is great when trying to shake off pesky enemies. If it's an AD enemy, pair the item with Phantom Dancer and Ninja Tabi. If you don't mind sacrificing crit chance, go for Maw of Malmortius, Phantom Dancer and Merc boots vs AP enemies.
- Blade of the Ruined King - Gives more attack speed and provides the active that can help Aphelios' poor mobility.
- Defensive items (Maw of Malmortius, Mercurial Scimitar, Guardian Angel, Edge of Night, Sterak's Gauge)
- Maw of Malmortius is great against AP assassins. If your team is not great at peeling them, you will need this to survive. Combining with Mercurial or MR boots is also suggested to improve odds of survival in more extreme cases of APs bullying you. Popping Maw's passive and using Onslaught from Severum can get you from 10 per cent to full HP in no time.
- Mercurial Scimitar - On top of providing MR and escape CC free card, it offers life steal, which is usually something you will forego with Aphelios. With life steal, you will have less downtime because you will not be recalling as much and you will not have to rely on Severum and Conqueror for all the healing.
- Guardian Angel - if you simply cannot survive the enemy burst, this is your best bet. Just hope that your team can secure the area by the time you get up.
- Edge of Night is not exactly a conventional pick but it can save you from surprise Fizz fish or LeBlanc burst due to the spell shield. Technically, Mercurial also helps with Fizz ult but it has a much longer cooldown. EoN and Lifeline (doesn't matter if it's from Phantom Dancer, Maw of Malmortius or Sterak's Gauge) should allow you to survive many bursts that would be lethal otherwise
- Sterak's Gauge - In case you didn't get Phantom Dancer and the enemies that bully you are a mix of AD and AP, it could be a safer bet than Maw of Malmortius
Items to avoid
- Statikk Shiv and Rapid Firecannon - these are not bad per se but are inferior to Runaan and Phantom Dancer. As mentioned above, they can be used in a "for fun" build
- Guinsoo's Rageblade - It scales Aphelios' power through AD, AP and attack speed but you might have trouble getting those stacks. Rageblade is a "wind-up" item and Aphelios doesn't have a way to do it quickly since Severum doesn't add the stacks. Even if it did, there are four other weapons that would struggle. More importantly, Aphelios doesn't have on-hit effects he could reaper huge benefit from if those effects became more frequent like in the cases of Masteri Yi, Kai'Sa or Vayne.
- Sheen items. Aphelios doesn't have a way to proc Sheen reliably. While switching between weapons and activating each Q can warrant Sheen procs regularly, it would mean changing playstyle awkwardly. Imagine kiting a bruiser with Chakram in your hand only to switch to Calibrum to proc Sheen. Furthermore, even though Triforce might look appealing, raw stats from other high-end items simply offer more damage potential.
- Frozen Mallet. Buying this would render Gravitum useless and vice versa.
- Manamune. Aphelios isn't good at stacking Tear and he doesn't really need the extra mana.
- Regular marksman build examples:
- Glass cannon - Berserker's Greaves, Infinity Edge, Stormrazor, Essence Reaver, Runaan's Hurricane, Lord Dominik's Regards. Has tons of damage and zero defence. Better hope your Thresh can peel for days. If he can, you will annihilate the enemies.
- Regular build, with some defence in mind - Berserker's Greaves, Infinity Edge, Stormrazor, Essence Reaver, Runaan's Hurricane, defensive item (Maw of Malmortius / Death's Dance / Phantom Dancer / Sterak's Gauge / Guardian Angel). Essence Reaver can be substituted for Lord Dominik's Regards or Mortal Reminder in case there are too many enemies with 150+ armour.
- Higher survivability build- Ninja Tabi / Mercury's Treads, Infinity Edge, Stormrazor, Essence Reaver, Phantom Dancer, defensive item (Death's Dance / Edge of Night / Mercurial Scimitar / Guardian Angel / Sterak's Gauge)
- Runes that are the most useful on Aphelios tend to have a Precision keystone:
- Conqueror is the best keystone. Aphelios has several ways to max it out quickly to proc the healing
- Overheal or Triumph in second slot. Overheal protects from bursts as you can get a beefy shield if you combine it with Bloodthirster and Severum. Triumph is good for getting back into team fights faster if you were dealing with a bruiser or tank first
- Legend: Alacrity or Bloodline in third slot. Alacrity provides better scaling but Bloodline can allow you to bypass a life steal item
- Coup De Grace or Cut Down in fourth slot. Coup De Grace is great for finishing off enemies your ult damages heavily. Cut Down works good against tanks and bruisers. If you see three or more beefy enemies drafted, go for Cut Down.
- Secondary tree picks:
- Resolve: Shield Bash and Bone Plating will give you easier time against burst champions.
- Domination: Zombie Ward provides additional scaling and vision so take it. Ultimate or Ravenous Hunter can be used based on what the situation requires. Ulti is great for having more opportunities for your game-changing ults, especially if you forego Essence Reaver. Pick Ravenous if you want to bypass life steal items in your build.
- Sorcery: Absolute Focus and Gathering Storm for additional scaling in glass cannon builds
- Inspiration: Free boots and Approach Velocity are great. Boots are self-explanatory, while Approach Velocity gives you Vayne's capabilities of chasing enemies when you have Gravitum equipped.
- Runes that are the most useful on Aphelios tend to have a Precision keystone:
- Lethality build:
- This is a "for fun" build, rather than a serious attempt to compete
- Full glass cannon build is Ionian Boots of Lucidity, Duskblade of Draktharr, Yoummu's Ghostblade, Sanguine Blade, Edge of Night, Lord Dominik's Regards
- Domination runes: Predator, Taste of Blood, Eyeball Collection, Ultimate Hunter
- Sorcery runes: Transcendence, Gathering Storm
- Shards: +AD or scaling CDR in first slot, +AD in second, +HP in third
- Use Calibrum, pop Predator, ult an enemy, one-shot them. Try hitting them from fog of war, to proc Duskblade
Despite borrowing from several playstyles, Aphelios mostly plays the same as any other marksman, with several key points in behaviour. You can mostly think of him as an Ashe type of champion that has to rely on good positioning and teammates for peeling in order to dish out tons of damage.
During laning phase, Aphelios can easily farm and poke enemies thanks to 650 range when Calibrum (Rifle) is equipped. Make sure you hit auto-attack -> Moonshot (Q) -> auto-attack combos when you're poking enemies or trading damage. This weapon is great during this time.
Other weapons have 550 range, which is the AD carry standard. Severum (Bloodthirster) is extremely useful for sustain and Onslaught can be used to either catch up with enemies that are retreating or escape when they are chasing you. It's invaluable when you are getting ganked. It's also great for bypassing Braum's shield to smack that Kog'Maw behind the bald strongman.
Infernum (Flamethrower) is great for pushing the minions into the enemy turret and forcing them to lose the minion money the turret will take. It is great for poking as well since Duskwave (Q) marks enemies for a free global range auto-attack.
Gravitum (Frozen Mallet) is pretty useless in laning phase unless your mid laner or jungler come for a gank. Then it can be used for setting kills up by either slowing or rooting enemies. Overall, you would do well to get rid of this weapon in laning phase whenever you can. Keep in mind that popping the ability deletes 10 ammo.
Crescendum (Chakram) is not ideal in laning phase. The Sentry (Q) turret is useful if you want to stall a lane shortly but the slow projectile speed before scaling up is a mess to handle. It's useful if you find yourself in a situation where you can turn on melee enemy gankers. Having Braum at your side is ideal as he can set up an easy stun with Q or auto-attack on the ganker while keeping you safe from enemy ADC and support with his shield up. Either keep this weapon on hand for possible ganks or use the ammo up for Sentry's help in farming creeps.
Keep in mind the Sentry uses your off-hand so make sure you have Infernum when you want Sentry to clear minions or Severum / Gravitum when trying to survive a gank.
Do yourself and your team a massive favour and don't play risky with Aphelios. Positioning is key and this cannot be stressed enough. He is not Kai'Sa, Vayne or Xayah. He cannot reliably escape dangerous situations he got himself into.
Calibrum will help you stay at a safe distance and have a great ulti on hand. If you manage to hit an enemy squishy with it, you are highly likely to kill them. This weapon is great to have in a teamfight but it's not the best choice if enemies manage to close the distance between them and yourself.
Severum works extremely well since it offers Aphelios the rare chance to escape dangerous situations. Furthermore, it can build up a shield by overhealing you and can help you fight bruisers toe to toe if you have another life steal item. This weapon pairs well with all other weapons when it comes to team fights but using Moonlight Vigil (R) with Severum is not advised as it doesn't do much damage. The only reason to use it would be if you are going to die and need a quick health refill.
Gravitum is handy if you are facing the likes of Hecarim or Skarner. It works well generally if enemy frontline can be kited with the help of Frozen Mallet-like effect. If you have a wombo combo team composition, using Moonlight Vigil with Gravitum can be worthwhile but these situations are rare. Overall, there are better weapons for team fighting but Gravitum's utility can be useful.
This is especially the case if you are primarily using Crescendum since dropping a Sentry could mean perma slow for some champions. We advise using weapons with more damage potential.
Infernum is the best teamfight weapon and you should have access to it for every brawl. To paint a clearer picture, you are looking at damage output rivalling that of Jinx with rocket launcher with a shorter range but your attack speed will not be lowered. Generally means you can do more damage at the cost of more risk. Use this weapon's version of Moonlight Vigil whenever you see clumped up enemies.
Crescendum is the best way of dealing with enemies that are in your face, next to Severum and Gravitum. Pop the ulti and shred anything that's nearby since the spectral chakrams will make your autos extra deadly.
Suggested weapon combos for team fights
Laning phase weapon loadouts can be made on the go since it's not a high-intensity experience that can change the outcome of a match within minutes. Team fights are different though so you should plan ahead and arrive on the scene prepared to dish out major pain.
Calibrum & Infernum - This combo offers the highest Moonlight Vigil damage potential. If you choose to ult with Calibrum, it will offer more reliable damage on the chosen target and doesn't depend on hard cc as much. On the other hand, if your Malphite ults into four enemies, Infernum's ulti is the unprecedented damage dealer that will likely wipe them all out. Choose this if you want a higher chance of game-changer ulti. Also has great auto-attack damage output due to Infernum. Low survivability though. Suggested for glass cannon situations.
Infernum & Crescendum - Infernum's Duskwave ability can quickly dish out a lot of damage and stack up spectral chakrams for use with Crescendum. Switching to the latter and then ulting with it will bring your auto attack power up quickly and you will hit like a truck. Use this combo in situations where you want to focus more on auto attacks and extreme versatility. If you want to blow up a clumped up team, you can still switch to Infernum and ult them. Meanwhile, you will melt anything that comes in close range due to chakrams' traits.
Infernum & Gravitum - In case you are facing enemies that have a lot of sticking potential. You can use Runaan and Gravitum to slow them on each auto-attack or Infernum's Dusk wave to slow them down while dealing full damage to all enemies that are chasing you. With a decent peel, you can delete the entire enemy frontline with no effort.
Severum & Crescendum - Use this if you are willing to forego AoE burst from Moonlight Vigil. Using Severum's Onslaught ability and following up by switching to Crescendum into an ult will usually result in over 10 spectral chakrams at your disposal. You will demolish pretty everything you auto-attack from thereon. In case your team wins the fight and you push for an objective, Severum will be invaluable due to Onslaught.
Hard CC is the name of the game when it comes to synergy with Aphelios. This allows him to survive even without mobility and to obliterate enemy teams with Moonlight Vigil after a successful engagement. While such CC will render Gravitum obsolete, we can live with that. Some examples are:
- Sejuani - Well placed ultimate will result in an Infernum ult that deletes the enemy team. She can also constantly slow and stun enemies that are chasing you.
- Malphite - His ultimate and Moonlight Vigil are an Unstoppable Force that brushes off immovable objects.
- Galio - Both the taunt and Heroic Entrance can be great setups for Moonlight Vigil
- Braum - His stun from passive can easily be procced with chakrams, his shield will reduce the drawbacks of your squishiness and his ultimate can serve as both Moonlight Vigil setup and a way to peel
- Thresh - Hookmaster 3000 with 40 per cent CDR can keep just about any enemy off your back. His cage is another great Moonlight Vigil setup
- Yuumi - She can speed you up, heal you, slow enemies and root large groups of them. In other words, she will keep you safe and sound and set up easy pentakills
- Sona - Read above
- Veigar - When Aphelios sees enemies trapped in Veigar's baby cage
- Diana - If she ults more than one person, either drop a few Infernum autos or Moonlight Vigil. Nothing should survive the combo.
Aphelios has tremendous potential to dish out damage but also requires a lot of babysitting and careful positioning. His complexity comes from memorising all the abilities and behaviours from the weapon kit Alune sends him and really the only way to remember it all is to play the hell out of him.
Once you memorise his kit well enough not to waste too much attention on it, you will be able to utilise the champion to full potential and possibly cause Riot to nerf him several times over. Think of Aphelios as League of Legends' version of Invoker from DotA. He was barely played initially because the learning curve seemed too steep at the time but when more and more people mastered the hero, he became a menace. We have a strong feeling Aphelios will start terrorising both solo queue and pro play at some point in the future.