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Get to grips with League of Legends' reworked Irelia, the Blade Dancer

© Riot Games
By Jerome Heath
Patch 8.7 has landed and, with it, Irelia has been given a substantial rework. We jumped into the Rift to get to grips with the new-look Blade Dancer – here’s how you can dominate with her.
Another League of Legends patch, another reworked champion. This time, Irelia, the Blade Dancer, has been given a much-needed makeover and her blades have been sharpened. Following the release of Kai’Sa and the rework of Swain earlier in the year, Irelia’s new setup is the latest addition to the Rift. The blade-wielding laner is back with added oomph, focusing on her blades as her method of destruction.
Riot Games laid out the foundations of her new playstyle at the beginning of the year with their champion roadmap. They said, “our main goal was to transform her into the master of levitating blades that her theme implies. She should be surging into the thick of battle, where she can pierce the shields of her enemies before cutting them down in a flurry of dancing blades.”
Watch her champion teaser video:
To fit with that description, the new-look Irelia has been completely redefined as a character. She’s now designed to be a high-damage skirmisher, or alternatively a bruiser. Alongside her fresh new looks and animations comes a fiercely strong kit, combined with well-tuned and powerful numbers. She’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the top lane. She, like Kai’Sa, also scales exceptionally well with AP: it’ll be no surprise to see an assortment of different builds and runes used to make her a slippery opponent. With patch 8.7 having been out for a few days now, we jumped into the Rift to take a closer look at the new Irelia to see how she compares to her former self – and how you can master her in-game.

Abilities

Passive: Ionian Fervor
Irelia’s passive is a stacking effect that's activated through hitting enemies with spells. Each hit grants a stack of Ionian Fervor for a couple of seconds. Additionally, hitting multiple enemies with an ability grants multiple stacks, and basic attacks extend the duration of the passive. The more stacks you have up at any one time, the more damage you will dish out. When Ionian Fervor is fully stacked, you will gain extra attack speed as well as dealing 300 percent damage to shields, making Irelia a real AD Carry killer, completely nullifying any shields granted through their support. The passive works exceptionally with Bladesurge, combined with resets, giving you an easy way to stack it.
Riot have done a good job at defining champions through their passive abilities. Previously, Irelia gained tenacity based on if she was outnumbered in a fight. This gave her a level of advantage in unfair fights, but it was quite ineffective and left much to the imagination.
Q: Bladesurge
Similar to her old Bladesurge, Irelia dashes to a target enemy, dealing physical damage and applying on-hit effects. If Bladesurge kills its target, it’s reset. It now deals 60 percent bonus damage to minions, as well as healing herself. Furthermore, she’s given the option to Mark targets, even in team fights, giving her reset potential and making her very mobile and dynamic.
The new Bladesurge is a beefed up version of its predecessor. Her dash and reset are an integral part of her kit – and her personality as a champion – making it yet another exciting ability to see in the hands of Irelia.
W: Defiant Dance
Irelia’s W is a two-part ability. Her first cast aligns her blades into a defensive formation, gaining a good chunk of damage reduction, as well as a stack of her passive, but she's unable to attack, or move. The second part of Defiant Dance damages after a short charge-up timer. Irelia swipes her blades, dealing +60 percent Attack Damage and +40 percent Ability Power.
In terms of damage, the ability is rather lacking, due to its charge period, but it has the possibility to be impactful due to its defensive capabilities. The ability cannot be interrupted by crowd control, providing her a 45 percent damage reduction, in any scenario. It also has the ability to nullify short lasting crowd control abilities, as well as blocking a surge of incoming spells, giving her the opportunity to clench a fight, if timed correctly.
In lane, the spell will most likely be used as a tool for farming from range, or finishing off an opponent, just out of attack range. Its defensive capabilities may not always be as impactful in lane – it just all depends on the specific matchup.
Irelia’s previous W, Hiten Style, was much less dynamic, giving her attacks an on hit heal, as well as bonus true damage.
E: Flawless Duet
Similar to Irelia’s original Equilibrium Strike, Flawless Duet is her means of crowd control. Instead of slowing on duration, or stunning when her target’s health is equal or less than hers, her new E is much more dynamic. Irelia sends out two blades which converge on each other, and enemies caught in-between are damaged, stunned and marked. It synergises with her Bladesurge ability, giving her the option to reset her dash, letting her manoeuvre effectively around a team fight.
What makes Irelia’s new E such an improvement over her former is the ability to AoE stun. If used correctly, it has the potential to change the tides of a team fight drastically.
R (Ult): Vanguard’s Edge
Compared to her original and very clunky Transcendent Blades, Vanguard’s Edge is a vast improvement. Previously, Irelia summoned four spirit blades, having the option to fire them off separately in a line, dealing physical damage to all enemies who pass through the blades.
Vanguard’s Edge, however, is a big step forward, giving her a real edge in one-vs-one situations, as well as team fights, platforming her as an AD Carry killer.
Irelia unleashes the full force of her blades in a line, exploding upon hitting an enemy champion. Enemies hit by the blades are damaged, as well as marked, and the blades form a wall around the target or targets, that will damage, slow – and importantly – disarm enemies that walk through it.
The blades deal 150/275/400 (70 percent Ability Power) magic damage and mark champions as well as large monsters for six seconds, giving her the option to utilise her mobility. Enemies that pass through her wall of blades are dealt 125/200/275 (+70 percent Ability Power) magic damage, and are slowed by 60 percent and disarmed for two seconds. Disarmed enemies cannot basic attack, and an AD Carry will find themselves extremely vulnerable when targeted by an Irelia with her ultimate available.
Vanguard’s Edge has a fair range, making it a great engaging tool. The enemy is forced to fight or flee when Vanguard’s Edge is used, giving it high impact capability.

How to play

Artwork of Irelia in her Infiltrator skin from League of Legends.
One of Irelia’s alternate skins
Irelia, unlike many of the previously reworked champions, was still being played at a high level for a considerable amount of time. It’s been a while since she was used effectively in a competitive environment, however, but it wasn’t unheard of that she was used by the pros. She has never been the strongest champion, but she has always had a niche, and had been used amongst a selection of high-level players.
The new Irelia is a perfect replacement for the original. It feels like she’s been fully ironed out, making her a strong pick all across the board. She’s both lane dominant, as well as a strong ally in a team fight. Her ultimate, and her Q, make her incredibly mobile and deadly, especially to an enemy AD Carry. This dynamic will surely make her an impactful and sought-after champion, someone who will no doubt be ban-worthy in a competitive setting.
In the early game, Irelia may utilise her Bladesurge ability, using it aggressively to dash in and out, stacking up her passive and chunking away at her enemy. Equally, she may level her Flawless Duet early to counter any such aggression. A well timed E will drastically decrease the impact of an eager Jax or Riven in the early game, giving her the time to scale and out-trade.
When her ultimate is available, she’s an extremely valuable target to gank for. The combination of her ultimate and her stun, with another champion’s CC is deadly. She has a lot of one-vs-one potential with her use of mobility, but she does have the option to sit back and wait for assistance.
When the laning phase is over, Irelia is an extremely effective split pusher. She was always good in that role, but now it could be said that she’s even stronger. She should aim to split while her teleport is available and aim to join a team fight, collapsing on her enemy, particularly an AD Carry or a squishy, removing them from the field. In a fight, Irelia will aim to either peel for her carries, or attempt to assassinate a vulnerable champion. Often, she will use her ultimate as an engage tool, then utilise her mobility gained through her Q, weaving in and out of the fight, playing off her marked targets. She’ll want to AoE stun as many targets as possible, while sticking on her original squishy.

Item build

Irelia has several effective ways to build, depending on what’s required of her. She can be played as either damage-focused, or more tanky with sustain. Ideally she’ll be played with a damage-concentrated build, but in some situations, tank items will be much more imperative to her carrying a game.
Standard build
Irelia’s standard build will typically start with a Corrupting Potion, giving her early sustain in the laning phase, allowing her the room to ramp. If she gets a well-timed early back, it’s possible for her to build a Doran’s Blade, but if not, she can start to build into her core item, Trinity Force. After it’s built, she’ll have a huge damage spike. Next, she’ll aim to build Titanic, or Ravenous Hydra, as well as boots, into a Sterak’s Gage. Lastly, she can decide to build into Randuin’s Omen, a tanky option, or opt into something more aggressive, like a Blade of the Ruined King, or a Guardian Angel
Optimal runes
A rune page breakdown for Irelia from League of Legends.
This rune page is ideal for Irelia
We think this is the ideal rune page for the new Irelia. It’s likely there are other viable pages, but this one synergises extremely well with her skillset. Press the Attack increases the damage of her passive, and Triumph works well with assassin capabilities. Alacrity is the obvious option, giving her sought-after attack speed, and Coup de Grace gives her some much-needed extra damage. Additionally, Bone Plating helps her survive after going all in, primarily with her ultimate. It'll save her from instantly dying, giving her the option to weave around with her Q. Finally, Second Wind will bolster her laning phase, giving her sustain. Armed with this knowledge, you should be able to dominate with the new-look Irelia on the Rift – GL, HF.