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League of Legends 101: How to play Tristana

This ADC staple has been a prevalent pick in the meta for years. Here’s our tips on perfecting Tristana.

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Being the oldest ADC in League of Legends, Tristana is the baseline for her role. For beginners, Tristana may be the best ADC to start off with, but for experienced players she can still make game changing plays. Tristana’s kit, though simple, can be incredibly volatile and consequently gives her a relatively high skill ceiling. Though intuitive, Tristana takes time and skill to master along with a bit of restraint. These are our tips for playing the Yordle cannoneer.  

Tristana in the early game – How to play your weakest stage

Tristana is one of the biggest scaling threats in League of Legends, but to fully unlock her potential you’ll need to learn how to navigate through the early game. Undoubtedly, you are the most vulnerable during your early game. Tristana’s passive (Draw a Bead) gradually increasing your auto attack range as you level up, consequently the early game will see your shortest range. You will most definitely want to play your lane slowly and only go for kills if the opportunity arises, but be wary of forcing anything. 

Your Q (Rapid Fire) will be your primary trading tool with your E (Explosive Charge) being a good tool to finish off low health enemies. Your focus should definitely be on CSing and getting an advantage over your lane opponents. After your first item, you should then look to do some damage.

Tristana’s team fighting – Watch your rocket jump and ultimate

In the late game, you’ll start to see Tristana’s kit start to hit its stride as your range increases and critical strike follows. Your two biggest tools however could be your biggest challenges as well. W (Rocket Jump) is one of Tristana’s most ‘coinflip’ abilities, as it can either be an incredible positioning tool or a pure int ability. This should primarily be used as a gap closer, positioning tool, or final effort to finish off a low health enemy. Under no circumstances should Tristana’s ultimate be treated as an engage tool, as Tristana will instantly be damaged down given her ‘squishy’ nature.

Tristana’s R (Buster Shot) can similarly be just as much as a detriment as it is an asset. The target of your buster shot sends is flown forward, when paired with your rocket jump, you could get ahead of an enemy to send them back into your team’s main force. You should also look to send your opponents head first into terrain. You should always keep in mind that you could be sending an opponent to kill one of your carries, so be careful of who you decide to target.

As a backline carry, you have to do what’s necessary to stay alive and dealing damage. Your kit has useful positioning tools and damage abilities, but your auto attacks will always be your most consistent source of damage. Target selection is your greatest obstacle, but once you get it down, you’ll be able to take control of the mid to late game.

Itemization and Runes

Crits are the name of the game, as you’ll be the team’s primary damage dealer and tank buster. Kraken Slayer is the best first item rush in the game, as the item’s two hit passive will only increase your critical strike damage and aid your ability to quickly down front line tanks. After getting Berserker’s Greavers, to pursue this scaling damage threat you should then turn to Phantom Dancer. This second major item build will once again increase your critical strike percentage but also aid in your movement, make you an even harder target.

After this, pure damage items such as Infinity Blade or Lord Dominik’s Regards are good next choices as they will make you hit much harder as the game goes on. Either Bloodthrister or Guardian’s Angle provide different levels of sustainability if you feels as though the game should warrant it.

As for runes, Hail of Blades is the best keystone to go with. Increasing your attack speed should be your second priority next to critical strikes. The faster you can pump out auto attacks, paired with your rapid fire will allow you to deal massive damage fast. Taste of blood encourages a heavy trade playstyle while providing sustain. Eyeball Collection and Ravenous Hunter should fill out the rest of your primary rune slots.

Final thoughts

Tristana is an ADC that is completely viable for players of all skills levels. There’s a reason that after 11 competitive season, Tristana has made an appearance in nearly every season. Hitting your power spike is your primary obstacle, but after that it should be smooth sailing to the enemy nexus.