Sona, the Maven of the Strings, showed up as one of the strongest supports in the current League of Legends meta. With a 53.50% win percentage and a 5.87% pick rate, she’s crushing it in Solo Queue. What makes her even more interesting is that she’s the go-to pick of the former rank 1 North American player—consensual clown.
So let’s see what makes Sona so special and how a champion with a single skill shot can help you reach new highs.
See also: LoL Worlds Betting guide
Passive: Power Chord
Aura: Sona’s basic abilities (i.e. everything except her ultimate) generate empowering auras that affect her and her allied champions for 3 seconds.
Power Chord: After casting 3 basic abilities, Sona’s next auto attack deals bonus magic damage and applies a unique effect to her target, depending on which basic ability was cast last.
How to use: The passive is Sona’s bread and butter. Your auras are a great way to boost combat stats, so be sure to position yourself in a way where most teammates will be affected by your buffs. Most importantly, keep track of your power chords. Not only will these add a lot of bite to your trades, but they can also make or break an entire teamfight. But we’ll get to that later.
Q: Hymn of Valor
Active: Sona throws out two bolts of sound that deal magic damage to closest enemies, prioritizing champions.
Aura: Sona and nearby allied champions deal bonus magic damage on the next auto attack they make within 3 seconds.
Power Chord – Staccato: Your next power chord deals 40% bonus damage.
How to use: This is Sona’s main trading tool. The damage from Hymn of Valor practically unavoidable and it also makes your auto attacks pack quite the punch. The best way to use it is to walk up to the enemy AD carry when he’s about to last-hit a creep and go for an Auto Attack > Q > Auto Attack combo.
Since Hymn of Valor resets your auto attack animation, everything will happen in a split second, and if you do this at 2/3 passive stacks, your final auto attack will turn into a power chord. Just don’t get carried away with Staccato power chords in the late game because these will be better alternatives.
W: Aria of Perseverance
Active: Sona heals herself and the most wounded nearby allied champion.
Aura: Sona and nearby allied champions get a small shield that lasts up to 1.5 seconds.
Power Chord – Diminuendo: Your next power chord reduces its target’s damage output by 25% (+4% per 100 AP) for 3 seconds.
How to use: Use Aria of Perseverance to heal your allies and to proc Ardent Censer. Keep in mind that your aura gives shields to anyone it touches, so move around and spread the love. But the real kicker is the power chord. If you check the numbers, it’s pretty much a mini-exhaust, but on a much lower cooldown. In fact, this power chord is so powerful that you almost always want to default to it in teamfights and all-in scenarios. Just right click an enemy carry and watch their damage drop.
E: Song of Celerity
Active: Sona gets a burst of movement speed for 3 seconds (extends to 7 seconds if she doesn’t take damage).
Aura: Nearby allied champions gain additional movement speed for 3 seconds.
Power Chord – Tempo: Your next power chord will slow its target by 40% (+4% per 100 AP) for 2 seconds.
How to use: Song of Celerity is often overlooked as one of the less impactful abilities, but it actually grants an insane amount of mobility to Sona and her teammates. Always use it on your way to lane or when catching fleeing foes. Also, a 40% slow can be massive when used on stragglers or melee champions with no gap closers.
Passive: Reduces base cooldowns of Sona’s basic abilities.
Active: Sona plays an irresistible tune in the target direction, dealing magic damage and stunning all enemy champions hit.
How to use: Say hello to your only skill shot! Since the hitbox is so big that it can hit an entire team, Crescendo is an absolute game-changer in 5v5s. Don’t be anxious to throw the ability out. Instead, wait for the perfect opportunity to hit as many champions as possible. Needless to say, the passive cooldown reduction doesn’t hurt either.
R > Q > W > E
Sona’s skill order isn’t as straightforward as with most champions. Most of the time, you’ll want to kick off the game by leveling up Hymn of Valor [Q] and stacking up your passive two times to get that Auto > Q > Power chord combo for your first trade. Skill up Aria of Perseverance [W] next for the added sustain and the Diminuendo [W] power chord, put another point into Hymn of Valor, and get Song of Celerity [E] at level 4. You want to level up Hymn of Valor a total of three times and start maxing Aria of Perseverance to take advantage of the shorter cooldown for Ardent Censer.
Keep in mind that you can make changes here. For example, if you feel like you need to add raw power to your trades, you can skip Song of Celerity [E] altogether and put a second point into Aria of Perseverance [W]. In a similar fashion, if you find yourself in a farming matchup against a sustain-heavy support (like Soraka), consider maxing Aria of Perseverance [W] straight away since you’re unlikely to with the poke war anyway.
Runes, Masteries, and Summoner Spells
Without runes, Sona is a glorified caster minion, so proper customization is paramount. Of course, you can just run a standard mage page with 3x AP Quintessences, 9x Magic Pen Marks, 9x Armor Seals, and 9x MR Glyphs, but that’s hardly optimal.
If you’re looking to rush Ardent Censer, try going for 3x Gold per 10 Quintessences, 9x Armor Marks, 9x Gold per 10 Seals, and 9x AP Glyphs. Gold per 10 runes will give you additional income while AP and armor runes will prevent you from getting smashed in lane.
On the other hand, if you want to max out your combat stats, you can use 3x AP Quintessences, 9x Armor Marks, 9x Scaling Armor Seals, and 9x Scaling AP Glyphs. These will give you plenty of trading power while throwing in some scaling on top of that. Coincidentally, this is also the rune page consensual clown used to get to rank 1 in the NA Solo Queue, so it does provide ample results.
Sona masteries are more straightforward. You’ll want to run a 0/18/12 page with the Windspeaker’s Blessing keystone. You do have a bit of wiggle room, though. For example, you can take Dangerous Game instead of Bandit if you expect to get up close and personal in skirmishes. Also, Siegemaster will give you some defensive stats in case you find yourself next to an allied turret, although Explorer is still a better alternative most of the time.
The most obvious summoner spell combo to run is Exhaust + Flash. But considering the recent Ardent Censer popularity, you can swap out Exhaust for Heal to get another way of proccing the item. Just make sure you tell your AD carry to take Barrier. Also, there are times when you might want to take Ignite. Sona’s trades are nothing to laugh at, so if you find yourself paired with a strong marksman, you can go for kills and lane pressure.
Ardent Censer > Eye of the Watcher > Athene’s Unholy Grail > Seraph’s Embrace > Ionian Boots of Lucidity > Control Ward
You might’ve noticed that Sona’s build doesn’t exactly follow usual support guidelines. The main reason for that is her cooldowns. Sona’s at her best when she’s spamming spells and throwing out power chords left, right, and center, so you need to itemize accordingly.
Start with Ancient Coin and three potions. Upgrade your Coin into Nomad’s Medallion and rush Ardent Censer for the strongest 1-item powerspike in the game. Follow it up with utility items like Eye of the Watcher and Boots of Lucidity (useful as a cheap CDR option). Then, get your Tear of the Goddess. Not only will it expand your mana pool to a ridiculous extent, but you can quickly stack it up by spamming your basic abilities.
Get Athene’s Unholy Grail to add more strength to your Aria of Perseverance [W] and finish your build by upgrading Tear into Seraph’s Embrace. That’s it! You’re now a walking buffing machine with an endless mana pool and a powerful shield to protect you from any surprises!
Of course, you should always consider other itemization options. Many Sonas choose to skip boots altogether and go straight for the Tear/Unholy Grail combo. Since Song of Celerity [E] is on such a short cooldown, Sona can spam it for a permanent movement speed boost, so the absence of boots won’t be as noticeable on her. Of course, you’ll miss out on the CDR from Boots of Lucidity, but you will free up an additional item slot.
Then there’s Mikael’s Crucible, which you’ll want to get instead of Athene’s if the opposing team has powerful CC (Ashe arrow, Varus ultimate). Locket of Iron Solari is always great to protect you from bursty mages or fed assassins, and Redemption can save the day by healing your team to a 100% in a matter of seconds. You can also omit Tear of the Goddess from your build since you’ll still have quite a bit of mana regen from other items. Just be extra mindful of your mana pool if you do so.
When to pick?
Sona is a scaling support that benefits from a passive laning phase. Look to secure a favorable matchup with a scaling hypercarry. Keep in mind that the carry doesn’t have to be in the bottom lane since you’ll be able to buff several targets in teamfights. Also, the less hard engage your enemies have, the better it is for you. And since Sona is exceptional in prolonged battles, a robust frontline on your side won’t hurt either.
Matchups and Counters
Sona’s great into shielding supports like Janna, Lulu, or even Karma (the last one depends on your positioning) since she can outsustain them with Aria of Perseverance [W]. She’s also decent into mages like Brand, Bard, Vel’Koz, or Zyra, provided she doesn’t get hit by their CC, and she completely dismantles defensive tanks (i.e. Braum, Tahm Kench, Taric).
What she does struggle with are engage-heavy champions like Thresh, Blitzcrank, Rakan, Alistar, or even Nautilus. That’s not to say that Sona will be c shut down by them, but it will be that much harder to play safe against them. As for synergies, Kog’Max, Tristana, Master Yi, Kayle, and other auto attacking damage dealers all benefit from a having a Sona on their team. Hell, even Corki and Gnar will appreciate the Aria of Perseverance [W] buff.
Finally, pay attention to the AD carry matchup. Picks like Tristana or Draven will be able to chase you down if you make a single positioning mistake while Varus, Ashe, or Twitch can catch you off guard with sudden engages.
Laning Phase And Early Game
If you find yourself in a matchup where the enemy duo doesn’t have a healer, look to poke with the Auto > Q > Power Chord combo. The best window of opportunity is when you see the enemy marksman going for a last-hit since he won’t be able to answer your harass. Try to go in for a trade together with your AD carry—after all, both of you can take advantage of your aura.
Your level 2 powerspike is fairly underwhelming, but you can still force an all-in if you have a strong marksman next to you. Just make sure to throw out the Diminuendo [W] power chord if you’re going for a long trade. Also, keep track of your mana pool. Sona is a resource hog, and it’s easy to run out of mana if you’re spamming too hard. Once you unlock your ultimate, you get a surprising amount of kill pressure, and if you manage to stun both enemy laners, you’ll almost certainly win an all-in.
Because you’re going to be rushing Ardent Censer, your vision control will be lacking. To combat this, purchase control wards and don’t push the wave too far. Remember, you’re a hypercarry support. So as long as you’re not giving up kills and keeping your AD carry farmed, you’re winning.
In teamfights, your place is in the backline, next to your carries. Make sure to give Aria of Perseverance [W] buffs to them and cycle through your basic abilities to have the most desired power chord line up with your passive stacks. Ideally, you want to kite back and go for a Crescendo [R] when the enemy team clumps up while chasing you. But the perfect opportunity won’t always present itself, so don’t hesitate to ult a lone champion if you think you can burst him down or save your teammates.
Always keep track of the enemy champions when you’re going to ward. You’re very squishy and immobile, so you can die in a matter of seconds if there’s a wild Kha’Zix sitting in a bush. Again, in an ideal world, you want your team escorting you, but that won’t always happen. So watch closely and make sure to have your Aria of Perseverance [W] power chord ready.
This is where Sona truly unlocks her potential. If you went for the Tear of the Goddess build, you’ll have an endless mana pool and insanely short cooldowns to work with. Cycle through your abilities to give as many buffs as possible and keep throwing those Diminuendo [W] power chords. If your team gets chunked out, you can heal them up through Aria of Perseverance.
It’s important to note that Sona’s not great in Baron/Elder Dragon scenarios since it’s easy to get trapped in the pit and get separated from your teammates. That’s why it’s best to set up sieges or—if you have to rush Baron—establish complete vision control. Finally, always be on the lookout for the Flash + Crescendo opportunity. If you manage to hit 2-3 champions, the teamfight is as good as won, so don’t shy a way for a little bit of playmaking.
Read also: LoL Champions for beginners
Sona is a late game monster, but actually getting there might be problematic. Still, she has a decent laning phase, and—provided you’re careful with your positioning—you can comfortably get through most lanes and hit your powerskipes. And once you get your Tear and Ardent Censer, few supports can match what Sona brings to the table.