Alistar is a champion that excels at setting his teammates up through easy-to-follow crowd control, as well as providing tankiness in teamfights and peeling for his carries when necessary. His main form of CC, his signature W-Q combo, is basically a death sentence if he catches a squishy champion out of position either in the lane with the aid of a gank or when he’s roaming around the map. Although Alistar is a strong champion in the hands of a good player, he also has clear weaknesses both in lane and teamfights that’ll be broken down in this guide to aid you in dealing with Alistar!
Contrary to most of the newer champions, Alistar is a pretty old champion and due to that, he’s also a pretty simple champion (even though he got a mini-rework his identity remained the same). An analysis of Alistar’s abilities is a good start in identifying how he works as a champion and how to deal with him.
- Passive – Triumphant Roar: His passive is an AoE heal that occurs every time he gets 7 Triumph stacks or when a champion or Epic Monster (Dragons, Baron, and Rift Herald) dies near him, Alistar gets a Triumph stack for every minion or monster that dies near him. Alistar’s passive helps him and his partner sustain against poke champions in the lane, this heal is not very large and only softens up poke dealt to him.
- Q – Pulverize: Alistar knocks up nearby enemies, it’s an AoE knock-up that lasts for 1 second. Although this is a pretty strong ability on its own, useful for peeling and setting follow-up CC from teammates, what makes Pulverize really strong is the ability to combo it with his W – we’ll expand into his W-Q combo down below and in further sections.
- W – Headbutt: Alistar’s W is a targeted dash that knocks back the targeted enemy. Headbutt is a versatile ability that can be used in various ways – for peeling, knocking an enemy towards an ally or allied turret, and it can also be combined with his Q for a medium-range AoE knock-up, making it a strong engage tool.
- E – Trample: Alistar tramples the ground near him dealing damage to nearby enemies, he gets Trample stacks for every tick of damage he deals to an enemy champion, once he reaches maximum stacks his next basic attack stuns for 1 second. This ability is Alistar’s follow-up for his W-Q combo, making it easier for him to stick to his targets.
- R – Unbreakable Will: His Ultimate cleanses any crowd control that is affecting him when he cast it and greatly reduces the damage taken. It’s most useful when tower diving and engaging into multiple champions in teamfights, making Alistar a great damage-sponge.
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Countering Alistar’s Abilities
From Alistar’s abilities, his most glaringly weakness is that his only form of movement is his Headbutt, which is a targeted dash, this means that champions that can poke and lock him down from ranges further away than his W, or disengage after he manages to get in, are very strong in the lane against him. Another aspect of this weakness is that Alistar relies on Aftershock (rune that makes the user tankier for a few seconds once they CC a champion) for a good portion of his tankiness, champions that can damage and CC Alistar without allowing him to activate Aftershock do well against him in the lane.
To abuse this weakness from Alistar you can pick a ranged support in bot lane that can poke him from early levels and limit his engage ability from afar. Keep Alistar’s health bar low to deter him from engaging onto you and your partner in bot lane but also be mindful of his strong gank setup.
Another aspect of Alistar is his Ultimate, notice that it cleanses CC only when he activates it, meaning he can get CC’d again after he activates Unbreakable Will – a good way to deal with that is to save your CC during extended treads to disable Alistar after he uses his R and create some distance from him until your damage abilities are backup and his damage reduction expires.
Also read: How to Counter Kassadin
Most Common Alistar Combos
Even though Alistar is a very simple champion, he has a variety of ways he can use his abilities.
- W > Q, Alistar’s most common combo allows him to get into range and also sets up his teammates. Bot laners such as Caitlyn and Samira can stack their CC with it and dish out their damage. To deal with it, make sure to keep Alistar low so he puts himself at a huge risk if he dares to engage. Another way to deal with it is to bait it to make Alistar overextend if you have your jungler nearby, once Alistar goes in he doesn’t have an easy time getting out.
- Buffer Q > Flash > W after walking behind the enemy, this is a way for Alistar to surprise his enemies and also knock them under his turret. Be aware of this possibility when you’re pushed under his tower or in case his jungler can be coming for a gank, as this combo is basically unavoidable unless you’re out of range from his Q -> Flash.
- W into minion to close down range > Q > E stun, this combo is particularly strong when Alistar has a partner with long-range forms of CC such as Ashe or Varus and you’re in lethal range.
The combos presented here are most of the ways Alistar can start a fight, but also be mindful of the peeling uses for his abilities if you’re playing a short-ranged champion, as Alistar can make it very hard for you to stick onto his carries if he uses his abilities for that purpose.
Generally, supports of the Enchanter class have long-range crowd control, poke, and ways to disengage, which are good tools to deal with Alistar in the lane. If you’re playing an Enchanter, poke Alistar down to limit his opportunities of good engages or even CC him from ranges outside of his W range to get kill pressure on him.
Although be careful, if the Alistar player knows of this weakness in the lane he may try to roam in order to help his other lanes, as he has very strong ganks. If an Alistar recalls after getting low or suddenly leaves your vision, be sure to alert your other lanes and even try to match his roam if possible.
Similarly to the reason Enchanters are strong against Alistar, champions that can kite him either by using their mobility or by displacing Alistar do great against him, as he only has his W as mobility outside of Flash. For example, if an Ezreal blinks out of Alistar’s W-Q combo he’s out of options to and can only walk back, taking a lot of damage in return – the same is true for champions such as Vayne and Draven with their E abilities that can interrupt Alistar’s Headbutt.
This also stems from Alistar’s all-in nature, champions that can poke him from long-range prevent him from engaging without immediately dying after doing so, as he’ll be low from the previous damage
To abuse this weakness some magic damage supports can counter Alistar in the bottom lane as they generally have a lot of damage in the form of long-range abilities, ideal for dealing with him.
4. Reliance on Teammates Damage
Alistar can’t deal a lot of damage on his own, his main strength is making it easy for his teammates to dish out damage. By identifying this weakness it’s sometimes advised to simply ignore Alistar once he goes in and try to kill his partner if he’s vulnerable enough.
Also read: How to Play Against Annie
The Best Alistar Lane Counters in Season 12
Janna has one of the most well-versed kits to deal with Alistar, not only during the laning phase but also in teamfights and matching his roams. She has two disruptions that can disengage any fight Alistar tries to start, a shield to mitigate the power of his all-ins, a slow to prevent him from getting away after he overextends. She’s also one of the supports with the most movement speed in the game and her passive speeds up her teammates, making it that much easier to kite Alistar.
Morgana’s root (her Q ability) is a long-range form of CC that outranges Alistar’s W, not allowing him to proc Aftershock, making him very squishy if he gets caught this way. Her E is a magic shield that prevents CC, taking out Alistar’s most substantial contributions to his team.
Although Brand is not a traditional support, he’s a magic damage support with very strong poke and tank-killing capabilities. Starting from level 1, Brand can pressure Alistar and his partner with his poke as Alistar is one of the weakest champions at level 1 in the game since he doesn’t have access to his combo.
The Best Champions to Counter Alistar in Season 12
Due to his E (true damage ability), Olaf can ignore Alistar’s resistances from Aftershock and his ultimate. His ultimate ability, Ragnarok, also allows Olaf to shrug off Alistar’s attempts to peel Olaf away from his teammates or engage onto him.
Although Sylas can’t abuse Alistar’s traditional weaknesses, he’s a champion that does great against Alistar, especially in teamfights. The reason for that is Sylas’ Ultimate, which allows him to copy Alistar’s Unbreakable Will, making him nearly unkillable in teamfights for its duration.
A lot of dealing with Alistar comes from having a team composition that can abuse his weaknesses mentioned in this guide. Also, knowing his options – either from his combos when you’re near him or from keeping in mind his roaming possibilities – goes a long way in snatching wins when you’re playing against Alistar.