Azir Counter: The Best Ways To Counter Azir (2019 Edition)

Azir splash art
A complete guide to counter mid lane Azir

Azir is a powerful mid laner who can give a headache to those not used to fighting him. So, how do we beat him?

The recent adjusts to the Conqueror rune opened space to some AP champions to come back to the meta, and all of a sudden you find yourself facing an Azir in lane. When was the last time it happened? Surprised, you run to your browser and start googling for tips on how to face the golden bird, and maybe pick a counter to make him completely useless.

Welcome to the right place.

Azir is an secretly op AP control mage/marksman who deals ridiculous huge amounts of DPS and can be tricky to face in lane if you don’t know what you’re doing. Fortunately, he is not Yasuo as broken as it might seem, and with a few tricks on your pocket you can completely shut him down, and I’m here to teach you how (under the accusation of being a traitor by my fellow Azir mains). Who better than an Azir main himself with over 500 games played, right? (An Azir main with over 1000 games maybe, but you got the idea.)

Azir’s team fighting potential is incredible, as he has an overloaded kit high area dps, long range, mobility, a shield, an engage/disengage tool and a whole army of sand soldiers to dance beside him when he ctrls+3 on your face. He can also manipulate the terrain before the fight starts by popping an empowered tower on your lane which not only deals immense damage but also collects farm and xp for him when he’s not nearby, and keeps minion waves pushed in his favor. Your best chance against him? Trusting me Shut him down early in the lane.

Champions who counter Azir

As a late game scaling mage, Azir used to be ALSO a lane bully. Thank RIOT for fixing that, for now you can use sound tactics to assure your team’s victory. Just remember: Azir is weak to two types of champions: assassins and artillery mages.

5. Aurelion Sol

Aurelion Sol, shove and roam

  • Early game absurd wave clear with his passive and W;
  • Immense roaming potential thanks to his bonus movespeed and a reliable stun;
  • Good team fight presence later in the game with strong area damage;

Although Aurelion Sol is neither an assassin or an artillery mage, the cosmic dragon has a power that completely denies Azir: early game shoving. By perma shoving the wave and abusing the fact that Azir had his waveclear nerfed on early game stages, Aurelion can keep the opponent stuck under his turret trying to farm while he freely roams the map and impacts every lane and the jungle. Since Azir is weak early in the game, has serious mana issues until he buys Lost Chapter (or gets blue buff) and is a terrible roamer, you basically deny his game before it even begins.

Abuse your early game advantages to invade the enemy jungle, set deep vision everywhere and collaborate with your jungler in ganks. Try 3v1 on top to see that Yasuo ff’ing at 15 and crying for mom to “Report useless Azir”.

Similar picks: if you’re good at Talon, you can try to apply the same strategy and outroam Azir for an easy win in under 25 minutes.

Azir Counter Rating: 70/100

4.  Vladimir

Vladimir, infinite sustain and a good lane phase

  • With his Q, Vladimir heals and wins every short trade;
  • Infinite sustain in lane and doesn’t use mana;
  • His E gives him early lane pressure and waveclear;
  • Safe from ganks and can ignore Azir’s ult with his W;
  • Doesn’t fall behind to Azir’s damage on late game;

The other exception to our lists of assassins and artillery mages, Vladimir is a very difficult lane for Azir due to his higher damage and wave clear, sustain and manaless abilities. You can abuse your strength to deny CS from Azir, zoning him out of the wave. If he tries to poke you with his Q, send him a gift showing how you appreciate his generosity: his mana will be over in no time, while you have infinite resources on the lane. If he uses his E or is out of mana, just all-in him after level 6. And remember that your W can ignore his ult.

In team fights, you have so much potential to consistently destroy the backline that he will never feel really safe. Just be careful in lane not to take free soldier autos, or you might see the game turn against you.

Azir Counter Rating: 75/100

3. LeBlanc

LeBlanc, strong lane phase and roams

  • Early game dominance, higher damage and waveclear;
  • Strong kill pressure, can zone Azir out of CS;
  • Powerful roams might end the days of a passive jungler or a mispositioned bot lane;
  • Can easily one shot Azir later in the game if you can get him by surprise;

LeBlanc has some of the strongest kits against Azir: excellent mobility, good waveclear, great roaming potential and high burst damage. The idea behind her is the same as always: dominating lane phase, roaming and winning the game by the side lanes (and snowballing strongly). Until level 6, LeBlanc wins every trade against Azir, and she deals loads of damage. After 6, a single mistake from Azir might result in a dead bird laying on the lane.

Grab some mana sustain items, shove the wave with your W and autos, and go roam. Should he try to contest you, just combo him and he will regret it. But be careful: if you don’t end the game quickly, tides might turn on his favor as late game approaches.

Azir Counter Rating: 85/100

2. Kassadin

Kassadin, monstrous late game assassin

  • High burst damage and pick potential to eliminate Azir on team fights;
  • Excellent roams, might snowball from side lanes;
  • His passive resistance to magic damage makes him a natural counter to any mage;
  • Efficient split pusher, another win condition for his team;
  • His R allows him to get out of soldiers range while closing the gap on Azir;
  • Late game monster, doesn’t need to rush for a victory;

On the forums, while discussing the wonders of playing Azir, there is a name which is whispered with fear and respect. No one dares say his name aloud, or he might pop out of the bush and one shot you before you can spell MISPOSITIONED.

Jokes apart, Kassadin is considered one of the strongest counters to exist against Azir. And, surprisingly, early game pressure is not the secret here. Kassadin simply out trades Azir in most stages of the game, while having more roaming and split pushing potential.

Be careful though: an inexperienced Kassadin, when facing a good Azir, might still suffer from the fact he’s a melee champion. Learn how to survive the lane phase and, once you get 6, make two rotations on Azir and he will be vulnerable. Bait him to overextend and all in. Rotate bot, kill everybody, split push and win. Easy peasy. Later in the game, just set up good vision in the jungle and wait for him. There’s nothing he can do.

Similar picks: although not as good as Kassadin, Zed and Talon can achieve victories through similar methods, focusing on strong roams, pick offs and assassinating Azir with superior vision control.

Azir Counter Rating: 90/100

1. Xerath

Xerath, lord of poking and sniping

  • Official arch enemy to Azir, forcing him to play with hate;
  • Strong poke from safe distance, hard to dodge all the time;
  • Strongest waveclear leads to lane pressure and better map/vision control;
  • Better mana control due to broken passive.
  • Can stop all-in attempts with E (and punish hard after that);
  • After weakening Azir with poke, can easily kill him with ultimate.
  • Doesn’t fall behind in damage later in the game;
  • Has special taunts against Azir, which you can spam to tilt him after his 3rd miserable solo death;

If for many Azir players Kassadin is the worst nightmare to face on the rift, for me personally there’s a much more intense matchup which carries also a great story behind it. Not only Xerath is a strong counter to Azir due to his ridiculous kit, but they are also arch enemies! In case you don’t know, Xerath is the main villain on Azir’s storyline, which makes this champion have a different taste when you fight him.

Xerath’s kit is perfect against Azir: he is the longest range artillery mage on the rift, and has the tools to stop gap closes if needed. In lane, all he has to do is push the wave with his superior waveclear, and then start poking Azir from a safe distance (and with superior vision set due to lane dominance). He might dodge one, or two, or ten of your Qs, but at least one is going to hit, and this hit hurts a lot. Rinse and repeat, and even if you don’t kill him, he’s going to lose so much CS and tower hp that mid game will look like a walk in the park.

Since Azir doesn’t have a lot of mobility, your abilities will force him to be happy feeting, and this can be stressful for an inexperienced player. If Azir tries to come up and fight you upclose, just E to his face, spam Xerath’s taunt and remember him to respect the man who destroyed Shurima.

Azir’s only chance against Xerath is calling for the jungler, dodging the E and all-inning him one or two times during the lane phase (and he’ll need his ult for that). Avoid this by being very aware of the map, set deep vision in the jungle and keep track of the enemy jungler. Should you success in avoid ganks, the game is yours.

Similar picks: Ziggs and Vel’Koz can play very similar to Xerath, and Jayce has some of the same strengths. Just don’t feel tempted to go for Lux, since that is a trap.

Azir Counter Rating: 92/100

Champions Azir is Strong Against

If you don’t know what to play against him, and don’t want or just can’t play the optimal champions listed above, at least try to avoid these ones. They have a hard time facing Azir both in lane and on the map.

Before I start with the hard counters, let me make an honorable mention: Fizz and Ekko. Both of them have a similar playstyle. They get severely punished by Azir in the lane, but have an opportunity of counterplay on the side lanes. I’ve often lost to a good Ekko or Fizz even after demolishing them early, just because my teammates couldn’t stop feeding them (damn, Vayne!).

5. Heimerdinger

Immobiledinger and his immobileturrets. Easy like fishing.

  • Azir can destroy his turrets from safe distance without counterplay;
  • Azir’s E allow him do dodge a critical R+E/W from Heimerdinger;
  • Heimerdinger’s lack of mobility makes him an easy target to initiation (the infamous Shurima Shuffle) during a gank;
  • Heimerdinger constantly pushes the wave, being more vulnerable to the tactic above;
  • Later in the game, Azir’s damage and team fighting are more reliable than Heimerdinger’s;

Heimerdinger is a strange champion: he has a strong lane dominance and zoning, pressing the enemy laner with hist turrets back to his own tower and constantly pushing for a turret. He controls and dominates territory. Azir comes and conquers all of this territory for himself with ease.

Comes mid/late game and team fighting, and Heimerdinger’s situation becomes more bizarre: without proper preparation or anticipation, his role in team fights is very uncertain, and he is strongly dependent on skillshots and his turrets, which Azir can easily destroy. A true headache for Heimer, except for specialists.

4.  Lux

The flashless Lux, and all time favourite target for Azir

  • If Lux tries to poke, Azir can return basically the same damage;
  • Lux’s mana costs are too punishing for her to try to outshove Azir;
  • Farming under tower is not easy for Lux, and Azir can pressure her most of the time;
  • Better wave control gives Azir minion advantage, making it easier to avoid Lux’s Q - Light Binding;
  • Azir’s E help him avoid critical skillshots when necessary (Q and R);
  • Her lack of mobility makes her an easy target for an insec;

There’s a joke on the brazilian server which speaks of Azir being obsessive about insec’ing flashless Luxes. It just looks like an easy and all-time favorite target for Azir. I have rarely faced a decent Lux in game who made me sweat for a moment or two. Sure: if the Azir is bad and you can land your Es and Qs consistently, he’s dead, but you must be an expert or you’ll find a really hard time against the emperor.

One of the biggest difficulties is that a non-fed Lux doesn’t have enough damage with one rotation of spells to entirely clear the wave, which forces her to go for autos or spam mana-costly spells, either weakening her or putting her in a dangerous position, which Azir can easily abuse.

3. Annie

Annie: short range, immobile, predictable and lovely.

  • In early game, doesn’t have waveclear and lane dominance;
  • Her combo is deadly, but the range is too short against Azir;
  • Her trading patterns are predictable, and she can’t zone Azir without minion advantage;
  • Short range + immobility make her an easy target for the insec (seeing a pattern here?);
  • Banshee’s Veil makes Azir almost immortal against Annie;
  • Later in the game, Azir has better team fighting;

Don’t get me wrong, Annie is strong. But her kit is almost entirely countered by Azir. Early in the game, he has better waveclear, getting lane dominance, vision control and access to the river. Trying to gank him is also not easy: Annie lacks a reliable initiation without flash, and Azir has a good escape tool. He can keep shoving and poking without much response from the girl.

Comes mid/late game, a fed Azir is a monster you don’t want to face. Annie’s best hope is to get a good flash+Tibbers combo from an unwarded bush, together with at least one teammate to deal some damage, or to get a lucky Tibbers to stun 3+ enemies during a team fight. Two items kill this strategy though: Banshee’s Veil and Mercurial Scimitar. Since Annie is short ranged, she can’t reliably dismiss the Banshee’s shield, which will block the stun and the damage from one of her abilities during the combo, severely reducing her damage. This, plus the magic resistance you get, makes it easy for Azir to counterplay.

Besides all that, Azir can still protect his team from Tibbers with the Emperor’s Divide, or reliably initiate a mispositioned Annie with the Shurima Shuffle combo. Not the best of days for Annie, I’d say.

2. Katarina

Katarina, the agressive fool. The soldiers LOVE daggers.

  • Can be zoned out of daggers by soldiers;
  • Can have her ultimate denied by the Emperor’s Divide;
  • Needs to snowball in order to be significant;
  • Falls off in the late game compared to Azir;
  • Early in the game doesn’t have reliable waveclear to roam pre-6. After 6, Azir can push fast and follow her roams or take the tower;
  • Her aggressive style can be a trap: one bad mistake and the insec into tower combo is too much for her to tank;

Katarina is a melee assassin with strong lane and roaming potentials, who relies in snowballing her team to victory. The has a good set of tools, and can even be significant in the late game team fights. Unless there’s an Azir on the other side.

Lane phase is somewhat of a nightmare for Katarina: being a melee champion forces you to be shoved under tower or take a lot of poke damage, which she can’t sustain. Her daggers can be tricky and do miracles, but Azir’s range is a huge advantage on this moment. More immobile mages might suffer from some flashy combos, but Azir is reliable: he has his E and his R to protect himself. Ganking is not so easy too, since Katarina lacks a good initiation.

Comes the late game, and Katarina needs to wait for the perfect moment to enter the team fight. Anything sooner and she dies uselessly. But until the right time comes, Azir is melting her team with his absurd damage. The hope? One shotting a priority target, right? Good luck trying to combo into Azir with his ult still available. It will look like you’re playing Dark Souls: you died.

So, unless you are a Katarina main with good experience in the game, don’t take her against Azir, ever.

1. Veigar

  • Has all of the weaknesses mentioned before: short range, lack of mobility, squishiness and lack of early game pressure;
  • Besides scaling extremely well into late game, he’s not as dangerous as Azir in team fights an objectives control;
  • Same as Annie, can be countered by a few items;
  • Is not as shiny and glorious as an emperor;

That Veigar is weak in the early game, everybody knows. He’s often forced to take teleport just to survive the laning phase. Veigar’s ace in the hole is his scaling to late game, where his damage is second to none. But by then, it’ll be too late.

When Azir has a free laning phase, he scales fast and efficiently into mid game. His territory control and strong team fight presence are absolutely devastating. Veigar scales better in damage, but Azir is overall much more useful to the entire team. Being a long range mage, it’s even harder to prioritize him in the fights.

Veigar’s best hope is his E: one slight misposition from Azir or the ADC can easily turn the tides of the game into Veigar’s favor. That’s why Banshee’s Veil play an important role in Azir’s itemization (and Cleanse in the spells).

If the Azir is bad and the Veigar is experienced, he can set a trap in the lane to make for an easy gank. But since Azir has lane priority, his control of the river will make it very difficult in higher ELOs.

How to outsmart an Azir player

Azir mains will usually have mastery level 7, a fancy skin and over 100k mastery points

There are two types of Azir players: the mains, who passionately spam him even when he is sitting at a shitty win rate, and the casuals, who don’t have enough experience to play the champion properly, and often have NO idea of what they’re doing. Based on Azir’s constantly low win rate, you can safely bet your opponent is the latter. Test your ground, see how he plays: if you notice he’s not so good with the champion, abuse it and be more aggressive than usual. Otherwise, be extremely careful, since Azir is a very strong champion on the right hands. Here are some tips to abuse Azir’s weaknesses.

  • If you’re a dominant laner, shove and roam. Take advantage of your stronger early game damage or waveclear, shove the minions against Azir’s tower, and set deep vision to keep track of the enemy jungler. Shove again and roam a lot, creating opportunities to outnumber enemies around the map. Collaborate with your jungler and deny the enemy jungler from playing. Remember: Azir is VERY weak before level 6, and can’t do much to help on jungle skirmishes.
  • If you’re not a strong laner, ask for jungler help. It’s not just a gank, you must be smarter than that. If Azir has priority, he will have one side of the lane well warded: take note on that side and ping vision. Set a control ward on the opposite side, and call the jungler from there. Even if the gank is unsuccessful, Azir will be forced to blow his E, which weakens him and drain much of his mana. Just repeat the tactic in a few seconds, and he will be forced to base. Then you can farm freely. If you’re lucky, you can even get a kill or assistance.
  • Do NOT fight in the jungle. I repeat, DO NOT fight in the jungle, unless your team is extremely reliant on strong combos. Azir has such a strong control of the battlefield that even a weak feeder Azir can have a strong impact on the fight. His ultimate not only deals good area damage, but serves as an important engage or disengage, and can nullify some of your team efforts when well used. A good insec into 3+ members (or a priority target) can turn the entire game on Azir’s favor. If you absolutely have to fight in the jungle, make sure to have vision domain and abuse bushes: Azir uses auto-attacks to deal damage, if he can’t target you, he can do nothing. Besides, he can fight from behind the walls, super safely,  but not if he doesn’t have vision on your team. Having vision on him, however, allows for some pickoffs by your assassins.
  • Attack his mana pool. Azir does not have a strong mana pool. This can be solved by a few methods: buying Lost Chapter (usually followed by a Luden’s Echo), getting the blue buff, saving mana on the lane and buying multiple Doran’s Rings. An inexperienced player might feel tempted to abuse his range, spamming Q all the time to poke you, meanwhile buying Nashor’s Tooth as a first item, which further hinders his mana management. Bait his poke by positioning carefully and pretending you will step forward, ask for ganks to force his WEQ combo defensely, and, if you’re winning lane, invade his jungle and steal his blue buff.
  • Go aggressive if you notice he’s newbie. If you can easily see this Azir has no idea of what he is doing, or you know he has little experience with the champion, let him push into you and jump on his neck. Azir is a difficult champion to control, especially in a close range combat, and he needs to kite properly or he’ll heavily lose the trade. Use the champion’s difficulty on your favor!
  • Punish him if he uses E and R. Azir is very reliant on his E and R to defend himself. He can only be aggressive if he knows he has defensive tools available. If he uses his E (which has a very long cooldown) and his ultimate, be ready to punish aggressiveness from him. He will soon regret his choices.
  • If you manage to shut him down, end the game quickly. Azir has a hard time coming back if he’s behind (even farming gets harder for him). If you stomp him in the lane, it is utmostly important not to give him time to breath. Azir can’t recover easily, but if you give him space, he will stall the game while waiting for his scaling, and turn the table with one good team fight or an insec pickoff. Pressure hard and focus on pushing lanes, taking turrets and getting baron, and try your best to end the game. It’s not always on your control, but do what you can, or you might regret any lost minute later.
  • Force team fights without him. Azir is very strong on team fights, and his team is very dependent on him for winning contests. If you see that Azir is far from his team (be it split pushing, defending base against superminions, dueling someone or just dicking around in the jungle), immediately try to force a fight. This is even more effective if the Azir is fed, since his team will be VERY reliant on his damage. Sometimes you can even win a 3v4, which will certainly make a strong impact in your game.

So, this is it. Next time you face an Azir in the game, you will know how to exploit his weaknesses and turn the odds on your favor. Remember that Azir is a very difficult champion to play, with a very low win rate, and that most probably your enemy has no idea of what he’s doing with the champion (especially on lower ELOs). And if you want to make his life a hell, just pick Kassadin or Xerath and go ram on him.

Enjoy your free LP, and good luck on your next games!

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With all his expertise and knowledge on how to hack dragons with spells and swords, Gustavo never imagined adventuring could be ever funnier from behind a PC's screen.
Gamer Since: 1996
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: AC Odyssey, The Witcher 3, League of Legends
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, League of Legends, Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & Kings

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