Hail, Summoners! As you may know, the upcoming 7.8 patch for League of Legends will be bringing us botlaners of the world not one, but two champions to play with. These champions, Rakan and Xayah, are designed to be played together and are both seemingly incredible teamfighters whose spells are more effective when used alongside one another. In this article, we’ll take a look at Xayah the Rebel, a unique marksman in the current roster! We’ll start by examining what she brings to the table and where she falters, and also speculate about what runes, masteries, and builds might be strongest. We prepared articles for each hero of the love-struck duo – you can find analysis and theorycrafting for Rakan at the link here!
Abilities & Analysis
Xayah is a marksman champion designed around dealing area-of-effect damage with her penetrating auto attacks. Her passive, Clean Cuts, makes her a force to be reckoned with, easily able to clear minion waves and deal massive damage to the opposing team! This ability grants her stacks of “feathers” after using abilities, which act as “ammo” for her penetrating attacks. The first target hit by each penetrating attack takes full damage, but subsequent targets take 50% damage and are not affected by any on-hit effects! What’s more, when Xayah’s Clean Cut projectiles reach their range limit, they fall to the ground and leave a feather. This is a key feature for Xayah players to understand, as will become evident when we review the rest of her abilities!
Xayah’s Q, Double Daggers, is a medium-range skillshot that fires two projectiles, dealing 80/120/160/200/240 (+100% bonus AD) to the first target hit, and 50% of the initial damage to subsequent targets. The ability also leaves two feathers at the end of the skill’s range. This ability is a cheap way to activate her passive, but functions mostly as a setup for her E, and as a wave-clearing tool. This ability has a short cooldown, and using it efficiently will be a key component of her kit!
Her W, Deadly Plumage, is a short self-buff that grants additional attack speed (30/35/40/45/50%) and damage (20%) for four seconds. If Xayah hits an enemy champion during this time, she also gains a 30% movement-speed buff for 1.5 seconds. This ability is obviously perfect for kiting, although the numbers aren’t too strong on paper. Still, it could make or break a fight with the additional DPS and mobility! It’s worth noting that if Rakan is nearby, he also benefits from the entire buff!
Xayah’s E, Bladecaller, is what will separate good players from the bad! It retracts every feather on the field to her, dealing a decent chunk of damage on the way back. If you manage to pierce an enemy champion with three or more feathers, you’ll also snare them for one second! This further strengthens her kiting ability when paired with (W) Deadly Plumage. It also adds a lot of utility to her kit, although it’s very setup-reliant. You’re guaranteed to root at least one enemy with (Q) Double Daggers and an autoattack quickly placing 3 feathers behind your target.
Finally, the thing that people have been raving about since her announcement: her ultimate ability, (R) Featherstorm. Upon use of this ability, you turn untargetable for a short time, but are able to move freely during the duration. At the same time, you fire off a fan of 5 feathers, dealing 100/200/300 damage (+100% bonus AD) in a cone. This allows for an easy followup root with (E) Bladecaller on a nearby target!
The ability itself isn’t the flashiest, but when you consider the fact that you can dodge ults and easily reposition unopposed, it becomes evident that it’s a very strong escape ability! Again, paired with the movement speed from (W) Deadly Plumage and the snare from (E) Bladecaller, you become very annoying to deal with.
With all that said, why shouldn’t you play her? Xayah sounds very appealing with her AoE damage, kiting, crowd control and invulnerability. However she can’t use her abilities too frequently in lane, since they are very much limited by cooldowns, setup time, and mana during the early game. Pair this with a low attack range (525 – that’s lower than Vayne!) and poor mobility, and you’ve got a very hard laning phase, which is easy to punish.
Once you get to the mid-game, where your E and Q are maxed out and you’ve got some items, this champion really picks up with her high multi-target damage. I could see her having some issues with tank-heavy teams, given her lower single target damage and bursty playstyle. During the midgame, you’re much less threatening while your E is on cooldown.
Below, I’ve listed a few speculative lane pairings to aim for!
- Rakan – With their innate spell synergies, these two get serious boons from being on the same team!
- Bard – While a roaming support could be risky, Bard can lock targets down long enough for Xayah to set up her combos and reposition. He also gives extra mobility with his Magical Journeys and Caretaker’s Shrine. If you want to get really fancy, you could set up cheeky saves with Bard’s Tempered Fate while Xayah is untargetable!
- Tahm Kench – While weak in lane, Tahm Kench will be incredibly useful in pulling Xayah out of harm’s way with his Devour! He can keep her safe from crowd control and damage alike.
- Karma – If you want to shore up her weak lane phase, look no further than Karma. Karma is a very strong laner, plus her speed boosts and shields will keep Xayah mobile and safe for the whole game!
Builds, Runes and Masteries
For masteries, I believe a standard 18/12/0 setup is best on Xayah. This allows for both Feast and Warlord’s Bloodlust to ensure she can last through her weak early laning phase and start scaling. Since Xayah is very reliant on spells, Sorcery seems like the better choice for the first row in the Ferocity tree. Of course, this is mostly down to taste: Fury allows for an easier setup for her E snare. If you find yourself running low on mana in lane, a few points could be shifted from Merciless in the Cunning-tree to Meditation, but given what I am about to suggest for builds, only a few points should be needed. Lastly, instead of Bounty Hunter you could go for Battle Trance, which is a more reliable mastery (I personally have a preference for the former).
For basic runes, I would run a standard ADC page, opting for:
- 9 Magic Resist Glyphs,
- 9 Attack Damage Marks,
- 9 Armor Seals
- and 3 Attack Speed Quintessences.
Alternatively, if the opposing lane has very little magic damage, you could run:
- 3 Magic Resist Glyphs, 3 Attack Speed Glyphs and 3 Scaling Magic Resist Glyphs,
- 9 Attack Damage Marks,
- 9 Armor Seals
- and 3 Attack Speed Quintessences.
There are definitely more variants you could try, but these two are safe bets. Feel free to experiment!
With regards to items, the safest final build I’ve seen theorycrafted is as follows:
- Berserker’s Greaves / Boots of Lucidity / Ninja Tabi – This is mostly down to personal preference and necessity.
- Essence Reaver – To ensure that you have Cooldown Reduction enough to spam spells, as well as the mana sustain to keep it up.
- Infinity Edge, Bloodthirster / Mercurial Scimitar, Rapid Firecannon – To round out your damage and mobility options.
- and either Lord Dominik’s Regards versus enemy teams with low healing or Mortal Reminder against lots of healing.
In my opinion, Xayah really wants to max out Cooldown Reduction, so a build where you swap out the Bloodthirster or Mercurial Scimitar for Death’s Dance could also be viable! The reasoning is that your AoE autoattacks will only heal from the first target struck with normal lifesteal. With Death’s Dance your AoE autoattacks as well as spells heal you for every target struck, allowing for massive healing with your (E) Bladecaller! Bear in mind, with Death’s Dance, you would not need to build Boots of Lucidity.
I would personally opt for Phantom Dancer rather than Rapid Firecannon for higher movement and attack speed, since the above build doesn’t yield much in that department. This puts you at risk with the lower range, no doubt, but you should easily be able to make up for it with better positioning and kiting!
Xayah looks to be a strong champion in the later stages of the game. Her short range will no doubt be a liability in the earlier stages of the game, where she will be bullied by most other marksmen. This same issue will also mean putting her in harm’s way during teamfights, but hopefully her massive damage output and strong kiting skillset will allow her to shine. The feather mechanic will take a bit to get used to, much like Jhin’s ammo, but this champion will be very strong in the right hands!
I would not recommend Xayah to newer players, given her glaring weaknesses, but players who have mastered positioning and timing in and outside lanes will surely find success with this unique marksman. I, for one, am very excited about this release – Xayah and her playstyle seem to be straight up my alley. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go rack up some virtual points! Toodles!