How to get to grips with Xayah, The Rebel
© Riot Games

How to play as League of Legends’ Xayah

We run through how to make the most of one of the latest champions added to League of Legends: Xayah, the Rebel.
By Jerome Heath
Published on
One of the latest additions to League of Legends' hefty lineup is Xayah. Added back in April, the AD Carry is yet another unique champion with the ability to shake up the bot lane. She has particular synergy with her husband Rakan, however she’s still a strong and impactful pick, especially when matched with a number of other supports.
Rather than bullets or arrows, she throws feather blades with deadly precision; she’s a high-skilled, fast-paced and versatile AD with the means to carry any given game. Her AOE crowd control and kiting potential make her a strong contender, and a champion well worth mastering. Now that she’s been out in the wild for a while, we run through the best ways of how you can make the most of the Rebel of the Rift, plus some inside info from the pros.


Passive: Clean Cuts
Xayah’s two-part passive is instrumental to her overall kit and play style. Her first innate passive is triggered when she uses any ability. After using an ability, her next three basic attacks will hit all targets along its path and leave a feather for six seconds. The first target that Xayah hits with her passive will be empowered – dealing 100 percent damage, as well as 50 percent increased damage to the secondary enemies that her attack passes through.
Furthermore, she can store up to five empowered attacks. Her Feathers will play an important role for the remainder of her kit, particularly synergising with her E ability. Her passive itself has strong wave clearing potential, working extremely well with attack speed items.
Xayah will have the opportunity to use her Q or W ability to activate her passive, swiftly pushing the wave. This can be used at many moments throughout the game, making her a highly valued champion. The second part of her passive is Lover’s Leap. If Rakan, her partner and support, uses Recall, she’ll be able to use her Recall at any moment before his cast is finished, resulting in the couple both reaching the Nexus together – hand-in-hand. Incredibly useful if you’re well synergised with a team-mate.
Artwork of Xayah from League of Legends
Xayah’s abilities

Q: Double Daggers

Target range: 1100
Cost: 50 mana
Cooldown: 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 6
Xayah throws two feather-blades, dealing physical damage, and leaving two Feathers on the ground. Again, the targets hit after the initial target receive 50 percent damage. Her Q is the source of her poke; in the early game she may want to opt to level her Q – especially if partnered alongside other champions with strong poke potential. Normally, her W, Deadly Plumage, would be the ideal ability to level first, but if she can use her Q to push the wave, resulting in an early level 2, or chunking down her enemy AD Carry, you should exploit it.
Although her Double Daggers work well with her passive, giving her the ability to easily clear waves and harass, you must pick and choose when to use it effectively. The ability will easily drain her mana quickly, especially in the early game, resulting in her severely missing out and having to back in an unfortunate bad timing. Although still strong, the late game damage of Double Daggers will become essentially void. The ability instead will be used as more of a Feather activator.

W: Deadly Plumage

Cost: 60 / 55 / 50 / 45 / 40 mana
Cooldown: 20 / 19 / 18 / 17 / 16
When Deadly Plumage is activated, Xayah creates a storm of blades for four seconds that give her added attack speed, and causes her basic attack to strike an additional time for 20 percent damage. Importantly, when she builds Zeal items, such as Phantom Dancer or Rapid Firecannon, which will typically be used in any standard Xayah build, the ability will give her between 1.5 and 2.0+ attack speed. This will synergise well with her passive rate of Feathers, increasing her overall damage output and crowd control potential.
Additionally, if Deadly Plumage strikes an enemy champion, Xayah gains 30 percent movement speed for 1.5 seconds. These two effects will correspondingly buffer Rakan, when the two champions are close together.
This contributes to making the duo a strong combination in the bot lane; they work extremely well off each other. Xayah may poke with her Q, activate her W, giving Rakan that extra important movement speed – he’ll find an angle, flash and knock up the enemy ADC. Xayah can then move in for the clean up, securing that important first blood and snowballing the lane.

E: Bladecaller

Cost: 40 mana
Cooldown: 12 / 11 / 10 / 9 / 8
Bladecaller is perhaps the most crucial part of Xayah’s kit. It’s what makes her such an impactful team fighting champion, as well as giving her extremely efficient outplay and 1v1 potential. The ability calls of all her Feathers back to her, physically damaging any enemy they pass through. If an enemy is hit with three or more Feathers they will be rooted for one second.
This can be used as a wave clear, although only hitting 50 percent damage to minions. Most importantly though, it should be used to control her enemies, positioning around the team fight, making sure to survive as well as deal as much damage as foreseeably possible. One second can be the difference between life and death, so if she can use Bladecaller accordingly, she will be a highly resourceful part of the team.
One of the fundamental combos that Xayah can perform is by using her Q to activate her passive, quickly basic attacking her enemy and using Bladecaller to get off an unexpected snare. This can be performed in quick motion, making it hard to predict and counter. It can additionally be used to avoid a gank, pick off a squishy in a team fight, or 1v1 an opponent.

R: Featherstorm

Target range: 1100
Cost: 100 mana
Cooldown: 140 / 125 / 110
Xayah’s ultimate ability propels her into the air making her untargetable. She can then move position for a short time, giving her important mobility, as well as the capability to dodge incoming enemy spells. She can avoid Ashe’s arrow, Jhin’s Curtain Call, Zed’s Death Mark, and many other skill shot projectiles. Additionally, Featherstorm, as its name suggests, reigns down daggers dealing 100 / 150 / 200 (+100) physical damage and leaves behind a line of Feathers.
Her ultimate is not typically used to engage in a team fight, but it does have the potential to do so. One of Featherstorm’s strengths is its impact on the enemy team. If Xayah gets caught out, or is in an undesirable position, she can easily use her ultimate to disengage, baiting out several ultimate abilities from the enemy team. This in itself is a useful mechanic, but its damage and crowd control potential will make Xayah’s opponents have to step wisely – in fear of standing too close to her Feathers and instantly being rooted by her Bladecaller.
Artwork of Xayah and Rakan from League of Legends
Xayah works well with her husband, Rakan

Play style

Xayah is an AD Carry who often wants to be deep in the fray. She has a lot of outplay potential with her Feathers, and her ultimate. She’s a low range champion, so close encounter battles will be expected. In the early laning phase, because of her poor ability to trade effectively with her opponent, you should aim to push out of her lane as fast as possible. She'll eventually scale with her levels, giving her more of an option with the use of her abilities.
She should be careful in the early game, but this doesn’t mean she should stay entirely passive, hiding behind her tower. Instead, you may aim to attack her enemy AD, as they go in for a CS, when possible, trading ever so slightly in her favour, until she has the strength to pounce, or her support can find an opening.
Xayah works well with early AD, so it would be ideal if she could afford a B.F. Sword on her first back. When she runs back into lane, her strength will be exceptionally improved. If, on her first back, she cannot afford a B.F. Sword, she should opt to buy Caulfield’s Warhammer. Essence Reaver will almost always be her core item that that she'll build into.
Xayah may likely be focused in a team fight, but thankfully she has a strong kiting ability, when accompanied with peel from her team-mates. If she can weave in and out of the fight, picking at her target, while taking as little damage as possible, the fight will surely drop into her favour. She should try and avoid being totally alone in the late game: she does have good split pushing ability and the potential to 1v1 her opponent, but she works much better alongside a front line. If she does die, there may be big implications.
OpTic Gaming’s Noh ‘Arrow’ Dong-hyeon tells us, “As a Xayah player you want to aim to bait with your ultimate. It has the potential to bait out multiple other abilities, resulting in a shift in power to your team.”
“She has an aggressive playstyle, she’s powerful, so there’s no need be afraid to use your skills, especially if you are equipped with a few of your core items. She also has high 1v1 fight potential, making her a strong ADC.”
In a team fight scenario it may be difficult for her to attack her ideal targets, due to her short range. She should by no means use her ultimate aggressively to make a hero play as it’s often too dangerous and too much of a risk. In some circumstances, it may be necessary, but usually you will want to play safe instead, while simultaneously dealing as much damage as possible. This may involve attacking front line tanks, positioning her way around the fight; and there’s certainly nothing wrong with temporarily ignoring the enemy carry. Once they slip out of place, or one of their tanks is taken down, Xayah can leap back into the action and close off the fight.
“As a useful, but basic tip, you should be very aware of your Q ability when accompanied with your support in a 2v2, or if you’re about to team fight,” Arrow continues. “It shouldn’t be ideally wasted just for pure damage. It’s very important that you save it for the Q E combination to root your enemies. If you waste your Q, it could be the difference between dying and surviving.”
“The same goes for your ult,” he says. “It should never be blindly used, especially in the later stages of the game. It’s your only source of mobility and disengagement, so it should be used wisely.”
“Xayah is at a safe place in competitive League of Legends. The combination of the Fleet Footwork buff and the Arcane Comet nerf make her a very playable champion. There are better choices for the bot lane, but she still has her defined relevance,” Arrow tells us.

Item build

Item builds for AD Carries in League of Legends are usually fairly stagnant, depending on the specific champion. Xayah will typically aim to build a standard path, starting with Essence Reaver, and then opting for a Rapid Firecannon, or Phantom Dancer, depending on the game.
Eventually, a number of Zeal items can be built, including Statikk Shiv, and sometimes Runaan’s Hurricane, synergising with her Feathers. A designated build shouldn’t be blindly copied though. Often, items are bought only to counter specific champions, or potential crowd control. In the case of any ADC, Mercurial Scimitar may be a very strong item to build into, quite often in the later stages of the game. If a specific CC can be cleansed, it could mean the difference between being instantly wiped out, or winning an important team fight, and going onto finishing off the Nexus.
Here’s one standard example of what her build may look like. You’ll start with the predictable Doran’s Blade, as well as a health potion and a lovely little ward. In an ideal situation, she’ll go back to base, with her lane pushing and 1,300 gold in her pocket. She’ll buy a B.F. Sword and stroll back into lane, looking like much more of a threat.
You’ll be trying your best to get to build into that ever so attractive Essence Reaver, but on the way, you’ll opt to buy a pair of boots. The enemy team has an AD composition with a Zed in the mid lane, so you’ll think it’s wise to get that extra +30 armour, rather than attack speed. You’ll then build towards her second core item, Phantom Dancer, giving Xayah that needed attack speed, as well as movement speed.
At this stage, Xayah’s now a sizable threat. Next she will build into heavy AD, where her basic attacks will chunk down her opponents. She can now dance around the enemy tanks, picking and choosing when to strike down a squishy.
Although Xayah does have some protection in her team, with Janna by her side, you’ll think it’s important to buy a Quicksilver Sash – just in case she finds herself being unfortunately picked off unexpectedly and snared in place by the enemy Ryze. It will come in handy for a number of stuns and knocks her opposing team has to offer. At this point you’ll be essentially untouchable, dealing vast amounts of damage, with the help of her strong and versatile build.

Optimal runes

The new rune system is very beneficial to Xayah. A number of the runes work well around her kit and desired play style, making her a strong pick in the meta. Here are a couple of pages that could work well around Xayah.
Typically Xayah will play best around Lethal Tempo, following off from the Precision tree. It gives the highest amount of DPS, sufficiently buffing her attack speed. Alongside that, Triumph will be a smart pick, increasing her clutch and outplay potential. The Legend rune, as well as Coup de grace can also be interchangeable, depending on the scenario.
Often Sorcery will be the second tree to build, with the passive increase of MS and AD throughout the game.
Alternatively Domination could be used as a replacement, where Cheap Shot synergises with Xayah’s E, as well as Ravenous Hunter being a useful asset, yet again contributing to the possibility of a tight situation.