Recently, Tristana, the Yordle Gunner, claimed her rightful spot as the #1 AD carry in League of Legends. With a staggering 51.60% win percentage and a massive 21.20% pick rate, Tristana is a staple pick that every bot lane main should have in his arsenal. Tristana players tread a dangerous line between long-range damage dealing and clutch playmaking, and those who walk it best can rise to the very top of Solo Queue.
This guide will break down the ins and outs of Tristana’s unique playstyle and will tell you exactly what you need to do to take over the game on the cannon-wielding yordle.
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Passive: Draw a Bead
As Tristana gains experience, the range on her auto attacks, Explosive Charge [E], and Buster Shot [R] increases up to 669 (at max level).
How to use: This passive is one of the things that makes the champion so powerful. As the game goes on, Tristana keeps getting more and more range, which allows here to dish out damage from an increasingly safe distance. And considering she even outranges Caitlyn at level 18, Tristana is the epitome of a late game hypercarry. Keep in mind that Draw a Bead is useless at level 1, so it won’t do you any good in early game trades.
Q: Rapid Fire
Tristana gets bonus attack speed (up to 110% at max rank) for 7 seconds.
How to use: Rapid Fire [Q] is one of the most powerful steroids in the game. The 110% attack speed buff is a massive boost to your DPS in teamfights and skirmishes. Additionally, you can use it to quickly stack up Explosive Charge [E] to acquire a jump reset.
W: Rocket Jump
Tristana jumps to the target location, damaging and slowing nearby enemies upon landing. Whenever she takes down a champion or pulls off a max stack Explosive Charge [E], Rocket Jump’s cooldown is reset.
How to use: Another trademark Tristana spell. This ability is a versatile repositioning tool that doubles down as a great way to start a fight. Not only that, but the fact that you can get multiple resets during a single teamfight opens up countless playmaking possibilities. But remember that you’re still a squishy AD carry and a single mistake can very well cost you the game.
E: Explosive Charge
Passive: Whenever Tristana last-hits a target, it explodes, dealing magic damage to all nearby enemies.
Active: Tristana throws an explosive charge at the enemy minion, champion, or a turret. After 4 seconds, the charge explodes, dealing damage to surrounding enemies. The explosion is two times as big when the charge is used on turrets. Tristana’s auto attacks empower the ability damage by 30%, stacking up to 4 times. Once the maximum amount of stacks is reached, the charge instantly detonates.
How to use: Explosive Charge is your main trading tool. Launching it at your foes and stacking it up with your auto attacks will give you an upper hand against most opponents. And if that doesn’t do the trick, you can always use the Rocket Jump [W] reset to keep the fight going or get out of harm’s way. Also, remember that you can use this ability on minions and turrets. In the first case, this will enable your high pushing potential, and in the second scenario, you’ll get the ability to dismantle enemy turret while—hopefully—cathing a champion or two in the following explosion.
R: Buster Shot
Tristana fires a cannon ball at an enemy, dealing damage and knocking back the target and the nearby foes.
How to use: While Buster Shot does bring some damage to the table, it’s best used for disengage. See a fed Tryndamere trying to get in your face? Or a rampaging Draven attempting to go for an all-in? Fire off your ultimate, and the threat will be pushed half a screen away from you. If you do end up using this ability to finish off stragglers, be extra mindful of its damage. Buster Shot doesn’t scale with AD, so even if you’re ridiculously fed, its burst will be underwhelming, and the knockback will prevent you from reaching your target if things go south.
R > E > Q > W
Start off with a point in Explosive Charge [E]. Its passive will help you get the wave pushing and its active will keep you relevant in level 1 trades. Once you hit level 2, you have two viable options.
First, you can put a skill point into Rapid Fire [Q] to make sure you win most prolonged trades from a safe distance. This a great path to take when you’re laning with a ranged support and don’t have many all-in opportunities. Second, you can invest a point into Rocket Jump [W]. That way, you can follow up on the support’s plays and force a kill or a summoner spell. And if you find yourself at a sizeable advantage, you can even jump in to kick start the fight.
Whatever you choose, get the other ability at level 3 and keep maxing Explosive Charge [E]. Follow it up with Rapid Fire [Q] while investing skill points into your ultimate whenever you can. Your Rocket Jump [W] doesn’t scale too well with levels, so it’s fine to save it for last. If you follow this skill order, you should have strong trading and sieging with your Explosive Charge [E] and your Rapid Fire [Q] should be potent enough for the mid-game teamfights.
Runes, Masteries, and Summoner Spells
A standard AD carry page with 3x AS Quintessences, 9x AD Marks, 9x Armor Seals, and 9x MR Glyphs will always get the job done, but you can cut a few corners to further enhance your performance.
For example, if you feel you’re in for a rough laning phase, you can swap out one Attack Speed Quintessence in favor of Life Steal. And if you find yourself playing against a full AD team comp, switching to AS Glyphs will make you powerspikes come that much faster.
Hell, even if you’re playing against mages, try running AS Glyphs if you think you can avoid their attacks. After all, your range will make it easy to dodge most spells, and the additional attack speed is definitely noticeable. Finally, you can mix in a few AS Glyphs (usually, 3) alongside your MR runes to have the best of both worlds.
There’s not much wiggle room with your masteries. You will always want to run an 18/0/12 page with Warlord’s Bloodlust. The reason for not picking Fervor of Battle is fairly straightforward: the early game is your weakest point, so you want the additional sustainability and movement speed to cover for it. Fervor is definitely a great late game keystone if you have a solid frontline, but the risks of passing up Warlord’s Bloodlust simply aren’t worth it. As for the Resolve tree, it will make you more durable in case you want to jump in for a play. Plus the Cunning path doesn’t offer much to Tristana players, so it’s not like you have any other places to invest your mastery points.
You won’t be breaking any new ground with your summoner spells either. You want the standard combination of Heal and Flash combo unless your support is taking Heal himself. Then you can take Barrier, but that’s about as flexible as your summoner spells get.
Infinity Edge > Statikk Shyv > Rapid Firecannon > Lord Dominik’s Regards > Mercurial Scimitar > Berserker’s Greaves.
For your starting items, choose Doran’s Blade (if your matchup is good) or Doran’s Shield (if you expect to get pressured). Tristana is a safe AD carry that can weave in a ton of auto attacks in every teamfight, so you want to itemize accordingly. Of course, Infinity Edge is the cornerstone of every AA-heavy build, but you don’t want to rush it. Instead, get a B.F. Sword and build a Statikk Shyv for better damage output.
Then you can finish your Infinity Edge and—most of the time—follow it up with a Rapid Firecannon, an item that’s great for poking out squishy champions with empowered auto attacks and chipping away at turrets. However, if the enemy team has several beefy tanks that are trying to run you down, consider getting Lord Dominik’s Regards as your third item.
Whatever the case, you’ll want to get Lord Dominik’s Regards at some point anyway. The only exception is if the enemy team doesn’t have any armor, but we’ll get to that later. Wrap up your build with a Mercurial Scimitar (great for dodging CC and getting a smidge of life steal) and don’t forget to purchase Berserker’s Greaves along the way. Also, make sure to buy some Control Wards. After all, even AD carries have to play their part in the vision game.
While the standard Tristana build is quite well-rounded, it doesn’t account for all situations. For example, even if Energized items (i.e. Statikk Shyv and Rapid Firecannon) grant you the best possible damage output, you might want to consider getting a Phantom Dancer if you’re facing bruisers that are hard to avoid (think Yasuo or Irelia).
In a similar fashion, Guardian Angel is great against snowballing assassins like Rengar or LeBlanc. Of course, there are times when dying—even for a few seconds—isn’t an option, so you might want to get Sterak’s Gage. And don’t forget about Maw of Malmortius in case you’re facing fed mages.
Another great Tristana item is Blade of the Ruined King. This purchase offers attacks speed, attack damage, life steal, a tank-busting passive, and a powerful active on top of that. It’s not a bad idea to get it third to increase your skirmishing potential. Alternatively, you can sell your boots for it in late game scenarios.
And always consider getting a Mortal Reminder in place of Lord Dominik’s Regards if the enemy team has strong life stealing abusers (Vladimir) or powerful healers (Soraka/Sona).
When to pick?
Tristana’s versatile kit makes her incredibly hard to counter, so always look to blind pick her if she’s open. Ideally, you want an Ardent Censer champion to enhance your hypercarry potential, but the Yordle Gunner can make do with other supports, too. In fact, Tristana is one of the few self-sufficient hypercarries that don’t require their team to draft around them.
Matchups and Counters
Tristana works best into AD carries like Caitlyn, Ashe, or Jhin since she can ignore their long range and always bring the fight to them. As for supports, Tristana is great at dodging abilities and getting out of fights, so she tends to do well against picks like Blitzcrank and Thresh. Keep in mind, though, that knock-ups can—and will—interrupt your jump, so a competent Thresh can easily turn the tables on you.
The hardest matchups for Tristana come in the form of fellow hypercarries that are backed up by Ardent Censer supports. Picks like Jinx or Kog’Maw can be devastating if they’re paired with a Janna or a Lulu. Even Sona can be deceptively strong if she uses her defensive power chord after your jump.
Also, Tristana doesn’t do well against champions that can run her down before she makes full use of her Explosive Charge [E] and Rapid Fire [Q]. Fortunately, there aren’t many of these left after the recent marksman nerfs. Unfortunately, the one that remains—Draven—is at his strongest. This champion has the raw firepower to outgun Tristana and his Stand Aside [E] can interrupt your jump, making it difficult to avoid an all-in.
Whenever you find yourself in a tough matchup, your best bet is to farm and push to discourage your opponents from taking trades. Eventually, you’ll outscale most opposing AD carries, so the pressure’s on them to do something about it.
Laning Phase And Early Game
The passive on your Explosive Charge [E] is great for pushing, so use that to your advantage. Keep in mind that you can throw the active at ranged minions to make sure you hit the level 2 timing first and get the jump on your opponents. Tristana doesn’t have a real way of controlling the wave, so most of the time you’ll be pushing into the enemy duo. Once again, Explosive Charge is great for chipping away at their turret.
Of course, this kind of playstyle will also make you susceptible to ganks. Make sure to have the surrounding brushes warded and—if you’re uncertain about where the enemy jungler is—save your Rocket Jump [W] for an escape. Also, don’t feel like you have to force anything in the laning phase. There’s nothing worse than jumping in only to have your opponents turn the tables on you and score a double kill. So unless you’re certain a trade will go your way, keep farming for the late game.
This is where Tristana really starts ramping up. You should already have your Infinity Edge and Statikk Shyv finished. Use them to push in minion waves and tear through turrets. Your passive will also be kicking in, so it will be easy to stay away from skill shots and CC spells. And keep track keep track of your Statikk Shyv charge—after all, using it on a squishy target can be devastating.
Once the teamfights start, don’t try to be a hero by overusing your Rocket Jump [W]. Instead, save it for the times you need an escape. Kite back while dismantling their frontline, use your ultimate to knock back the biggest threat, and—once the opportunity presents itself—jump in to finish off the runners. Remember that every time you jump at the start of the fight, you’re gambling with your life. Oftentimes, a safer playstyle will be just as effective.
In the late game, Tristana turns into a one-man army. Once you hit a 3-item powerspike, you’ll seamlessly dismantle tanks and squishies alike. Once again, focus on staying alive. As long as you’re in the fight and actively throwing out auto attacks, your team has the upper hand.
That being said, there are situations where you might have to do more. For example, if the rest of your team is behind, you might have to do some magic with jumps and resets. In this case, aim for the enemy carries. A charged auto attack will instantly take away a huge chunk of their health and a follow-up crit will finish the job. Afterward, it’s all too easy to reposition yourself for more teamfighting.
Also, Tristana is surprisingly good at making picks. As long as you have the vision to make the judgment call that an enemy carry is out of position, jumping in for a quick hit-and-run can be the difference between winning and losing. Finally, Tristana is proficient at securing objectives, so don’t hesitate to call for a Baron rush if an opportunity presents itself.
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There are many areas where Tristana excels, but her real forte is teamfigting. Hitting a 3-item powerspike will make you nigh unstoppable, so you have to do anything in your power to get to that point. Also, keep in mind that you can peel for yourself and make plays of your own accord. And once you master that part of Tristana’s kit, you’ll find yourself swiftly taking over your League of Legends games.
See you on the Rift!