PBE Preview: Azir, the Emperor of the Sands

My goodness, I did not expect this! Gnar is barely hot off the presses and already, we’ve got a new champion coming out next patch! I genuinely thought it was going to be another three months, but Azir has already debuted on PBE in what is shaping up to look like the long-awaited Shurima Patch.

Azir has a really unique minion-based kit that offers a lot of potential complexity. He’s got a bit of a skill cap to him, but making good plays around positioning your minions properly can be very rewarding.


“An oft-repeated legend stirs in the desert of Shurima. The swirling sands carry rumors of the ancient emperor Azir, somehow returned.”


Let’s take a look at the Emperor’s design and see what his kit has to offer!


HEALTH 390 (+80) ATTACK DAMAGE 43 (+2.8)
HEALTH REGEN. 6.0 (+.55) ATTACK SPEED .556 (+1.5%)
MANA 280 (+42) ARMOR 14 (+3)
MANA REGEN  6.5 (+.65) MAGIC RES. 30 (+0)

Azir’s stats are fairly standard as far as mages go. His health is nothing special, but beats out a few of his other mage counterparts. His mana at level 1 is actually quite high, only being beaten by Karma, Janna and Nami, which helps him out, given that he needs to use a lot of spells in order to be effective.

His AD and Attack Speed are both pretty low. As a mage, high AD isn’t really necessary, but the attack speed gating restricts some of his power on his W, which I’ll get into later. He’s pretty squishy too, with very low armour at all points in the game.

Azir is a zone-control mage, which makes him powerful when he gets to decide where he’s fighting, but very vulnerable when caught out of position. His low armour and average movement speed make him especially vulnerable to all-in AD assassins such as Zed or Talon, but if he can keep them at bay with his kit, then he can still come out on top.

His kit is mostly built around his W, which summons a soldier minion on the ground that can auto-attack on Azir’s behalf. The soldiers can be moved around with his Q and dashed to with his E, but a soldier must be up for either of those spells to have any effect. Most of Azir’s damage comes from the auto-attacks from the soldiers, giving him sub-par burst but a lot of sustained damage.


Azir’s passive has two parts to it:

The first is straight-foward: CDR gives you attack speed.

This is pretty great for Azir, as building CDR would already be a good idea to keep up your zone control by spamming soldiers. However, attack speed is also a good stat on Azir, as it enables his AP-scaling soldiers to auto-attack faster.

The second half to Azir’s passive is an active effect.

Every three minutes, Azir can click a floating symbol above the ruins of a destroyed turret to make his own turret appear in its place for one minute (or until the enemy team destroys it). This ability is pretty amazing if used correctly, and heightens Azir’s zone-based gameplay patterns:

  • Can be used to bait the enemy team into a fight that they thought would be even
  • Can cover your a** if you’re in a tough spot
  • Can help defend the base to buy those few extra seconds before your team comes to your aid.
  • Offers potent sieging strength – As it can be used on enemy inner (but not inhibitor) turrets to prevent the enemy team from counter-pushing a siege

All in all, Shurima’s Legacy is a unique and powerful ability, but be wise about using it, because the cooldown is enormous.


Conquering Sands is Azir’s bread-and-butter poke tool. Fans of Orianna will feel some similarity to Command: Attack with this move; it basically moves every soldier you have up to 800 units away from you, slowing any enemy it hits on the way. Similar to Command: Attack, Conquering Sands has a twofold purpose: Poking and harassing your opponent, and repositioning your minions.

Most of Azir’s sustained damage comes from the autoattacks from his sand soldiers, so positioning them correctly is of vital importance. Conquering Sands’ reasonable cooldown and mana cost make shifting your soldiers pretty easy, which is handy, as they can’t be summoned at a very long range.


Arise! is the spell that the rest of Azir’s kit is built around, so much so that the game forces you to take a point in it first. It summons a Shuriman sand soldier at your cursor who has a circle around him to indicate auto-attack range.

If Azir right-clicks anything within the soldier’s range, the soldier will auto-attack it instead of him. The soldiers’ auto-attacks pierce multiple targets, which makes them great for wave-clearing.

Arise! works on a charge system like Vel’Koz’s W or Vi’s E, storing up to two charges, with a cooldown of 1.5 seconds. This makes it pretty simple to drop two soldiers at once and then send them at an enemy with Conquering Sands. Sand soldiers are not able to attack turrets, but casting Arise! on an enemy turret does magic damage to it, heightening Azir’s siege power.

Arise! is looking to me like a one-point wonder, since the damage dealt by the sand soldiers scales based on Azir’s level, not the points put into the spell. The only thing that scales as you put extra points into the W is the time it takes to charge up another soldier.


Shifting Sands is based around repositioning Azir himself rather than his soldiers. It is only castable on an existing soldier, and drags Azir to the soldier in question, knocking up everything he hits on the way. If Azir hits an enemy champion, the dash stops, and Azir gains a shield that scales off bonus health.

This move has interesting applications if used correctly. Azir is a champion who prefers to fight in his own territory, but if you need to chase an enemy, your best bet is summoning a soldier and then dashing to it, following up with a Q in the enemy’s direction. Shifting Sands can also be used as an escape tool if you throw your soldiers behind you and then dash to safety.

Shifting Sands is probably best used to set up for Azir’s ultimate, Emperor’s Divide, which actually isn’t based around the minions at all. It requires Azir to be in the right place to have maximum impact, so using E to dash to a soldier is useful in setting it up.


Emperor’s Divide is the one spell in Azir’s kit that does not interact with his soldiers. It’s a pretty wide wall that surges forward from Azir himself, knocking back enemies and doing decent damage. Emperor’s Divide is a fantastic team-fight disruption tool, as it not only repositions the enemy team with the knockback, but it also sticks around as a solid wall.

Enemies cannot walk or dash through the wall, making it a great tool to limit the movement of dash-reliant champions like Lucian or Riven. However, friendly champions can walk straight through from either direction, gaining a movement speed buff as they do so. This makes Emperor’s Divide a potent tool in teamfights, disengages, and roams to bottom lane.



Azir seems to fit best in mid lane, or possibly in top, and he fits the same sort of zone-control niche as Orianna or Lux.

In lane, his harass is pretty fantastic all across the board. Dropping a sand soldier on your opponent or throwing one at them with Conquering Sands enables you to auto-attack them without getting in range yourself. Sand Soldiers are also great zoning tools and can be used pretty effectively to deny your opponent farm.

Azir's Sand Soldiers provide powerful zone-control

Azir’s Sand Soldiers provide powerful zone-control

Azir is great at roaming as well, especially when he has his Ultimate. Here’s an example of how you can potentially execute a fatal gank:

  1. Drop two soldiers on way to lane
  2. Toss soldiers towards opponents once in range
  3. Dash to soldiers, preferably landing behind enemies
  4. Activate Emperor’s Divide, cutting off escape paths and pushing them towards ally team

The best counters to Azir, so far, seem to be all-in assassins like Talon and Zed. If Azir uses up all of his soldiers at long-range, an assassin can easily close the gap on him. This gets them out of range of his soldiers and in range to put the hurt on him, and Azir is out of luck since he’s out of charges. This forces Azir to keep at least one soldier in reserve pretty much at all times, which puts a damper on his poking potential. With clever positioning, however, Azir can overcome this weakness and poke his enemy enough that going all-in would kill them.


Azir’s teamfight presence is stupendous if the fight can stay in one place. His ultimate can cause huge disruption and his soldiers can dish out hefty damage. By late game with some CDR, the cooldown on Conquering Sands should be pretty low, so repositioning your soldiers should be simple. Azir can prepare for fights by summoning soldiers ahead of time and positioning them correctly with Conquering Sands.


Shuriman Soldiers are good at staying in formation

Azir’s teamfights become a little rougher if the enemy team is actively disengaging. He has a bit of a tough time chasing, though he does have some tools to help him if another teammate can initiate on his behalf.

Azir’s disengage is pretty good. His ultimate is great to push the enemy team away, and his soldiers are potent at discouraging the enemy team from entering an area.


Azir certainly has a unique feel to him. His “Emperor” motif definitely resounds strongly through his entire kit, as every one of his spells involves manipulation of his underlings. His animations are all strongly linked to Shurima, involving a lot of sand and bronze, so he has a strong spell identity. His moves feel responsive and intuitive, his voice-overs are great, and overall, he feels quite polished.

Azir's Passive causes the emblem of Shurima to dominate the battlefield.

The emblem of Shurima dominates the battlefield

His skin looks great as well. Galactic Azir involves blue tendrils and jellyfish-protoss spell effects. Anyone who’s a fan of the more sci-fi inspired skins will want to give this skin a go.


There is No Future Without Shurima…

Azir will hopefully be conquering the Rift soon. The small gap between Gnar and Azir makes me think that Azir has been ready for a while, but Riot has been saving him for the Shurima Patch. It looks like that patch is coming next week, so hopefully the Emperor of the Sands will show his face shortly. Looking forward to it!


Thanks to [email protected] for the excellent pictures and notes, as always! See you next time.

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I'm Hyjacked! I'm a jungle main in League of Legends. I'm an English-born US resident and I write patch coverage articles here at Cloth5. I'm currently in my final year of university, getting a Bachelor's in mathematics.

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