Overlord Forte and his Hextech Syndra
If you’ve ever visited the subreddit dedicated to all things Syndra at www.reddit.com/r/syndramains, or found yourself checking lolskill.net for the best Syndra players, then Overlord Forte requires no introduction. Forte has made a name for himself as one of the premier Syndra mains of NA, currently sitting as the #2 Syndra in North America, and #4 in the world. He’s consistently performed at the highest levels of play, in the last few years topping the charts in Diamond, Master and Challenger tiers. I managed to catch up with him to get his take on his favorite champion and his unique playstyle.
1) So, tell us about yourself; who you are, when you started playing, and how far you've come since you started.
Overlord Forte: Hello, well my name is Forte, and I started playing around ... pre-season 1? Right at the beginning? I wasn't involved with beta, but got in right after the game had started. I caught on toward the end of late high school, while I was still very involved with EVE Online. The game reminded me of DOTA-like clones from Warcraft 3, which I did love playing. DOTA itself always bored me, though.
Once I got through the levels, and over my ranked anxiety, I started doing the ladder. I ended season 1 with, at the time, high Gold MMR. I've coasted steadily upward, reaching Platinum the next season, then Diamond 1 (pre-masters, Season 3), then Masters (Seasons 4 and 5). I've hit Challenger in arranged 5v5 and 3v3, but not Solo Queue yet.
2) So, why did you decide to main Syndra?
Forte: Both her Character/lore and gameplay kit. As a bit of a writer myself, her personality as a character interested me a lot. A rebel in a hyper-conservative society usually has quite the chip on their shoulder. Hers is not so standard, though; personal rights and persecution are very real problems woven into her story.
The complexity of her gameplay caught my competitive attention. At first I wrote her off as unviable, but after listening to the developers talk, I realized I was just bad at her. Practice practice practice, and here I am now. While I am arguably in the top brackets for her playerbase, I'm still learning how to play her.
3) How do you feel she fits into the game, from a casual standpoint, and from a professional one?
Forte: She sits in the realm of 'high skill floor, extreme skill ceiling', being fragile all the while. Newer players might find her difficult to pick up because her strengths are drawn from core player skill. Positioning, cooldown management, mana management, understanding how to engage, what are your strongest/weakest windows, etcetera. Whereas some other champions are ‘I do this one thing as my trick’, Syndra is very ‘I do anything if you know how’. A lot of potential, but no direction, as it were - you can't hesitate or misread situations, or she won't work.
In competition most people capitalize on her long range pick off (Q+E stun combo) and high burst ultimate rotation. You'll see pretty much every pro try to run her like a sniper, then suicide into the enemy with her ultimate. It's a lot harder to kite/edge against enemy teams and do ranged combat since the enemy is much more organized and willing to dive for her.
4) What champions or teams does she struggle against, and when do you feel most comfortable picking her?
Forte: Her greatest core problem is her inability to answer tanks. Most AP carries can either A) ignore them, B) melt them down, or C) some combination thereof. Syndra is squishy and vulnerable, a tank 4 levels under her and 2 MR items can solo her to death. Assassins, like Zed, you can actually deal with if you play the fight correctly. Tanks will walk through her and there's not much she can do to answer them. If she uses her ult to kill them, they did their job, because now their carries have no fear of being deleted.
The teams she's best on are high engage/disengage ones. She's excellent for grabbing targets, but also peeling for her team. If she has a tank or disruptor covering her flanks and working with her, it takes a lot of stress away. Malphite is particularly devastating, since both he and Syndra can engage and disengage with very different and complementary windows. Others would be Vi, Jarvan, Sejuani, Nautilus and Thresh. One goes in, the other follows up; there's a lot of unstoppable combo if pulled off right. So, she works good with the thing she hates fighting - heavy engage/disengage tanks.
5) You've pioneered this interesting Hextech Syndra build. What is that, exactly?
Forte: The Hextech Syndra build is one designed to reinforce a zone control + siege playstyle. Syndra's ultimate is one of the best bursting abilities in the game, but it comes from a strong control basis. The rest of her kit is actually kiting, sneaking damage in, and manipulating the enemy. If you ignore that, you miss one of her core strengths. By having a steady source of self-healing, as well as enough CDR to put her at maximum, you can afford to stay out in combat for a long time.
Syndra can be difficult to dislodge from a lane if multiple people aren't committing to her. She can shrug off one person all day long, two or more are needed before she can be pushed back. At which point, well, she's doing her job. You sent two people to deal with one person.
6) So why Will of the Ancients, and the focus on Magic Penetration?
Forte: WotA was originally Spirit of the Spectral Wraith, a blue jungle item with spell vamp. I discovered she had an extreme amount of available sustain and the spell vamp penalty on AOE wasn't too impactful. Yeah, you can't heal to full off 1 target like an AD carry can, but you can heal off waves just fine. I eventually wove the idea with Athene's absurd mana regen and discovered, so long as I controlled the area right, people couldn't deal with me. This has eventually evolved into the WotA build most everyone knows today.
The Magic Pen focus in my runes came from the new Preseason 6 mastery, Precision. On its own, the Magic Pen quints aren't too impressive, but they're downright scary with the mastery. You’re looking to edge them into the comfort area of around 30-40 MR, unless they’re something like a tank. You will walk to lane with about 15~ magic penetration, and hit around 33~ when you buy Sorcerer's Shoes (depending on level). If your enemy has no MR, you’re doing true damage. If the enemy has some MR(35-55), they get pulled to around 30, and they’re still going to get eaten alive. It doubly helps a lot against Negatron Cloak / Hexdrinker users, since it puts them into the comfort killzone still.
Early game farming is a bit of an issue, but Syndra herself is such an efficient farmer it's only a hiccup problem for a minute or so. The usual 3 ability rotation is W-Q-E, sprinkle in auto attacks to weaken the minions as needed. Q-E by itself can have some issues until you break the 80 AP / level 7 threshold, generally.
If you’re concerned about buying runes, or want to run Syndra on a universal mage page, Flat AP quintessences are still quite good for her. It’s just a minor shift from farming to champion kill power in the changes I made.
7) Are there any other unique tricks or builds which you've played around with?
Forte: Hmm, probably the only 'off meta' trick build I've tested is 'tank' Orianna. You basically run Abyssal, Randuin's, and/or Iceborn Gauntlet with Athene's, then Deathcap/Void Staff. While her overall damage is in the mid-range tier, she becomes such a sticky disruptive problem that teams cannot deal with her quick enough. You are basically an AOE disruption specialist, either wrecking enemy team formations, or making someone pointlessly chase you.
It's a bit fragile with unorganized teams, so keep that in mind. I would run it in a comp with extra damage (a carry jungle or top laner), though you'll still need tanks. Something like Hecarim (top) / Kha'Zix/Diana (jungle) / Orianna (mid) / Braum (support) / ADC of your choice would be absolutely disgusting.
8) Where can people learn more from you?
Forte: I've written a large guide on Syndra, I put a lot of my usable knowledge into it. I designed it so every playstyle can use parts of it, so hopefully everyone gets something from it. Besides that, I have a youtube channel where I post matchups and informative videos, as well as my stream that I usually run in the week. It's best for any questions people have to be sent to my ask.fm (https://ask.fm/lordforte), so there's a nice central repository there.
For more information, visit his