Early impressions and build for Nilah
In-game look at Nilah with a strong item build option. | Provided by Riot Games.

Early impressions and build for Nilah

League of Legends' newest champion is deceptively difficult to play

Nilah, the Joy Unbound, is the newest champion heading to Summoner’s Rift in League of Legends. On Wednesday, her full abilities were announced as the new ADC hit the Public Beta Environment. Now that there’s been some time to experiment with the champion, players are already forming opinions about Nilah, including her strongest build.

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These are some early impressions of Nilah and thoughts about what a strong build might look like.

Nilah Build

Nilah is a champion that likes to auto attack and scales well with critical strike chance. These two things let us put together early ideas about what items and runes are strong on her.

As a short range ADC who likes to skirmish, Nilah’s best choice for a Mythic item is Immortal Shieldbow. She is incredibly mobile, so she has little need for Galeforce, and her built-in armor penetration makes Kraken Slayer a similarly unappealing option. The extra survivability from Shieldbow, however, is crucial.

After acquiring your Mythic, Nilah’s item build can be a bit more flexible. The Collector is a great option if you are ahead in lane and want to push an advantage. Items like Infinity Edge, Essence Reaver, Phantom Dancer and Bloodthirster are all solid options as well. For boots, you’ll want Berzerker’s Greaves or Plated Steelcaps, depending on the lane matchup.

For runes, your main tree will be precision. Your keystone here is subject to change, but Lethal Tempo and Press the Attack are strong frontrunners at the moment. The options for your next three slots are totally flexible, but Presence of Mind, Legend: Alacrity and Coup De Grace will probably be your best choices in most games.

For your second tree, the options are completely wide open. If you’re finding you need mana and a bit of extra help early, consider going Inspiration. If you’re looking to scale into the late game, sorcery and runes like Gathering Storm are fantastic. For early game power and snowball potential, go Taste of Blood and Treasure Hunter in the Domination tree. Even the Resolve tree is a viable option in certain matchups.

Nilah Playstyle

As a melee character, Riot made an extra effort to ensure that Nilah wouldn’t end up in the mid or top lane rather than bottom, where they intended her to be played as an ADC. To do that, they gave her a passive that grants extra experience when you’re sharing XP with another player (usually, a support). You also benefit massively from heals and shields.

Those two aspects of Nilah’s passive also factor strongly into how she is played in the bot lane. For starters, she is best paired with a sustain/poke support along the lines of Nami and Yuumi. They give her the early game pressure that Nilah lacks from having very short range and help top up her health when she gets poked from afar. Engage supports aren’t a total bust, but you may have a bad time unless you can get some early help from a jungler.

The extra XP helps compensate for Nilah’s weak early game. You’ll want to capitalize on hitting levels before you opponent and keep applying pressure whenever possible. Nilah has strong all-in potential, especially if you take Exhaust or Cleanse as your Summoner Spell in lieu of Heal. Pick your moment wisely, though.


Nilah’s design is simple, but her position as a melee ADC with low range makes her deceptively difficult to play. You’ll need to have good synergy with your support and careful decision-making to capitalize on her level advantages. If Nilah gets kills early, she has the potential to snowball into a monster and take over games.

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Coby Zucker
Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.