Sona ADC is making a resurgence in League’s bot lane, but this time, things are different. Instead of being paired with Taric or Tahm Kench, she’s been picked with enchanter mage Lux. Here’s why the combo is so powerful, and how you can play it yourself.
You thought the Spellthief’s meta was dead? Think again. Sona is back terrorizing games as a carry, but not in a solo lane. Instead, she’s found herself as a bot lane carry, with a new trusty support by her side.
It’s not a tank support this time like Taric or Tahm Kench, who needed to be there to soak up damage and protect the squishy virtuoso. It’s Demacian counterpart, and mage support Lux.
The combination started popping up on Patch 10.14, and was only helped out by the Spellthief’s buffs on Patch 10.15. Since then, it’s spread around the world, but it has its origins on EU West with Challenger Sona one-trick pony ‘Schuhbart’.
“I had been experimenting with a Season 10 variation of Sona ADC in solo queue previously so I had already figured out the build and general strategy, but I never cared much for thinking of good lane partners to pair it with,” Schuhbart told Dexerto.
“After getting matched with a Taric one trick in soloq and playing Sona-Taric with him, I asked Calmsky [the other half of the duo] if he wanted to play some Sona-Taric for old times sake.
“We got matched against that same Taric player and Calmsky decided to play Lux support with me on Sona ADC, just because he liked playing her and we figured it would have decent synergy. It was a complete coincidence that the strategy was created — if we hadn’t encountered a Taric one trick stealing our champ while we are trying to play Sona-Taric, it would have never existed.”
Why does Sona-Lux work as a bot lane duo?
While Sona was stunted with nerfs to Spellthief’s earlier in Season 10 which saw her rise up in the top lane, as well as mana nerfs on Patch 10.4, she wasn’t completely useless. Schuhbart highlighted two changes that made Sona carry viable again in the bot lane: Guardian buffs and Spellthief’s buffs.
The changes to Guardian on Patch 10.12 made it easier to proc without being in close proximity to your ally. It also only triggered on large bursts of damage rather than small ticks, with the shield lasting for longer.
The Spellthief’s buffs on Patch 10.15, on the other hand, were just a small change, but enough to push the strategy over the line. The increased mana regen means Sona and Lux can both spam their spells, as they both take the support item in the lane.
“The buffs definitely made Spellthief’s more viable, and as result also this strategy which uses it both champions. The 10.12 changes to Guardian…[made it viable] to run at least one or even two Guardians on both Sona and Lux, which increases Sona’s survivability and makes up for the fact that there is no tank support protecting her,” said Schuhbart.
Lux’s shields, in tandem with Sona’s healing, makes the duo nearly unkillable. It’s similar to the way Taric used to work with Sona due to his near-infinite healing. On top of that, they have high damage threat, thanks to Lux’s burst and Sona’s consistent DPS with Q.
How to play Sona-Lux bot lane
Since Schuhbart and Calmsky came up with the combination a few weeks ago, pro players across the world have been taking up the Sona-Lux bot lane in droves.
It first got play in the SuperLiga Orange Spanish League, one of the feeder tournaments into EU Masters. Then it got taken to NA thanks to Cloud9, the LEC with MAD Lions, and even Korea after Sandbox picked it against T1.
Watch MAD Lions' Carzzy and Kaiser use Sona-Lux perfectly to take down Origen in LEC Summer 2020.
Currently, across all leagues, the bot lane duo has a 9-10 win loss record. However, this will only climb — much like how Sona-Taric did — once teams get a handle of how to play the duo.
“I think it's not good as a blind pick, as you can see in the Sandbox vs T1 game [Sandbox lost in convincing fashion], but if the enemy team picks a support that is bad at roaming it’s very powerful. In soloq it’s always good because people wont know how to deal with it,” Calmsky explained.
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He pointed towards German team BIG as an example of how to play the lane properly. While their enemies, Unicorns of Love, picked a dive heavy composition to try and get the Sona in late game fights, they were able to peel away Kassadin, Nocturne, and Sylas thanks to Malphite. They also had AD damage threats — Graves and Renekton — on the topside to negate the heavy AP bot lane.
“My favorite has been BIG vs USE, I really liked their draft and execution. It’s no coincidence — Don Arts [BIG's jungler] got matched with Calmsky and I on Sona-Lux a lot of times, so he had a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the strategy.”
Watch BIG use Sona-Lux to dismantle Unicorns of Love in the Prime League. Game starts at 2:17:50, cast in German.
The strategy works around two things — out-sustaining your opponent’s lane poke, and late-game scaling. The lane doesn’t need to farm heavily, as both Lux and Sona will take Spellthief’s. As long as you don’t hit the three CS per minute cap, you’ll get maximum gold generation.
“The old Relic Shield had no penalty for farming, and receiving creeps from your ally's Relic Shield procs did not halt your Spellthief’s gold generation, so you really wanted to pair Sona AD carry with a relic shield user that would be able to farm while Sona is still completing her Spellthief’s quest,” Schuhbart said.
“This season however the support items are completely different. Spellthief’s Edge and Relic Shield both have a new mechanic to disincentivize farming which reduces the amount of gold you get from excessive minion kills, meaning now the maximum gold generation is pairing two Spellthief’s users.”
Both players will typically take Guardian, but the Sona can choose to take Aery or Comet for more damage if they are safe enough without the defensive rune. They can speed through stacking their Spellthief’s, granting them both vision items for good coverage late game, while also hyperscaling towards Sona’s late game spikes.
You are still relevant in the early game. You can whittle your enemies down with Sona Q, and if you hit a Lux binding, it’s almost certainly a death sentence. Taking Heal on the Guardian user is a must to get the shield, but only take one Heal. The other player can take Teleport, Barrier, Cleanse — whatever is needed.
Sona will build towards items like Seraph’s Embrace, Lich Bane, Zhonya’s Hourglass, and Rabadon’s Deathcap. Lux's build is pure support to help enable her team, with items like Athene's Unholy Grail, Redemption, Ardent Censor, and Mikael's Crucible.
Ultimately, once this combo hits level 16, there’s almost no stopping it if you have the right team comp to go alongside it.
Sona-Lux isn’t the only combo
Sona-Lux isn’t the be-all-end-all for this new strategy though. In fact, while Sona-Lux has been a popular setup, Sona-Taric has also seen play since the Guardian changes.
Schuhbart expects that potentially more enchanter supports could rise up as potential partners with Sona, but none of them will be able to eclipse the raw power of Sona-Lux.
“Sona-Lulu and Sona-Karma are also okay but not nearly as strong as Sona-Lux,” he explained. “I would be surprised if there was another strategy on a similar power level.”
If you want to pick up this strategy for yourself, you should be able to freely for the next few patches. Sona and Lux aren’t getting touched any time soon, and neither is Spellthief’s, so the strategy should be alive for a few weeks yet. Follow the tips above, and you should be well on your way.