1 month ago
5
Patch 3.1
Player Avatar

Free Agent - NA

So you want to play Imani?

I have spent many hours playing Imani and have found her to be a largely misunderstood champion. This guide will assume you are familiar with the base functions of Imani's kit, and as such will focus more on usage, strengths, and weaknesses of the champion. So let's get started.

Overview

Imani is a versatile DPS that provides her team with nice CC utility, great damage, and a devastating ultimate. She has relatively low personal DPS, and as a result should NOT be played aggressively as a duelist unless built to do so (information on that later). Imani is a true mage and is typically at her best when enemy aggression is directed at her teammates. Though every damage/flank champion is more powerful when they aren't being shot at, this is especially true for Imani who lacks burst damage on command, sustain, or built in damage reduction. All of this combined means Imani will struggle to win any 1v1 that she does not initiate or does not see coming. As such, awareness of enemy position as well as team coordination are integral to Imani's success.

It is worth noting that I've gone into a lot of detail on Imani's weaknesses this early in the guide to make you aware: she is never the best pick as main DPS. In fact, I'd even argue that traditional high lethality DPS isn't her intended function. She is my personal favorite champion, a lot of fun to play, and can even be extremely effective; however, it is ill advised to pick Imani blindly on any map and against just any teams. Some strengths/weakness will be addressed in detail later on, but I feel that this is important to note. You may struggle to see success with her in certain situations, regardless of your personal skill level. This can make Imani a lackluster pick in the general metagame. Despite this, when drafted properly and in skilled hands, Imani is an extremely capable and rewarding champion.

Talents

Imani's talents are very bland, and only one of them actually changes the way you play her. Maybe in the future they will see improvement- but as of right now there are only 2 real options, only 1 of which is actually interactive.

Splitting Ice- Easiest talent to make use of. This talent procs only in Ice Stance, which is overall mediocre. This talent is just...fine. It can be really nice to bounce bolts off of Luna, Ying Illusions, Grohk totem, etc., but generally this talent just adds more random damage into the mix that won't often secure a kill for you. All damage is good damage, but this doesn't enhance a playstyle or make Imani much more lethal. It's a fine second choice, though.

Pyromania- As of right now, not worth it. You can do some fun stuff with it if your enemy has shields. Fireballs that hit shields/deployables also add to the explosion counter. Otherwise, it's way too much to keep up with and you do not benefit enough from this talent. I'd say not to use this in its current form. Hopefully it will be changed.

Mana Rift- THE Imani talent if you want to play her at her strongest. Contrary to what some may think, once you pause and set up the rift, you can move a pretty decent distance from it. It is not a braindead talent and requires decent aim and good awareness. You couple this talent with Fire Stance so that you fire two 1k fireballs instantly every ~5 seconds. 2k burst is good. Like really good. This can help you fight off a dive, outsnipe a sniper, (obviously don't just do this recklessly, but if you see a sniper, you can hold behind a corner to charge then peek an instant 2k) and also put immense pressure on the point tanks. It is powerful up close which helps counteract one of Imani's biggest weaknesses: a hard dive from the likes of Androxus, Zhin, or Maeve. This talent vastly improves Imani's DPS/potential to secure a kill, which makes her a much more competent Champion. Learn this talent. Learn to aim it and learn to prep and hold your burst when you see a flank about to come for you. Your positioning and awareness are crucial with this talent.

Abilities

Primary Fire:

Frost Bolt:

Deals 650 damage every .8s seconds. Difficult to aim at range, intended for mid-range fights. The only way to benefit from Splitting Ice. This stance isn't awful, it's just situational. Depending on how strong your aim is, it is the most consistent stance for DPSing. I use this stance when I see an in-range target that I'm confident I can kill. Fire stance has the edge over Ice in a lot of situations, but when you need damage ASAP, Ice stance is still your friend. Even if you're running Mana Rift.

Pyre Ball:

1000 damage every 1.2 seconds. Her most accessible option for DPS at all ranges. Not actually better than Ice stance when it comes to killing a specific target quickly, but when combined with the Mana Rift talent it is far and away your go-to stance.

Frost Bomb- A mediocre skill, but it does have its uses. It deals 800 dmg at max range and roots. It's nice for a little extra damage. If you happen to be fighting a Raum, switching to Ice Stance and holding on to this until he starts his dash can be useful. Also nice for stopping a flank's movement ability so you can either get away or get a shot at them. I typically find myself using this skill for a little extra damage when I'm trying to confirm a kill in Ice stance more than for the short root (it needs a slight buff in my opinion, maybe 1.3 seconds).

Inferno Cannon: This is her strongest ability and it can easily guarantee a kill for you. It deals about ~3667 total damage across the 3 seconds that you're using it, more than enough to deal with most threats in the game. The issue: you're a sitting duck while you channel it. The most common way to use it is to pair it with Frostfire Glide and kill someone from above. It works very well when a team is scattered, but do not rely on this. This is a HIGH RISK move, and using it carelessly will more often than not result in you dying because EVERYONE in the game will see you in the air and immediately just start shooting. Only do that when you identify an easy target, otherwise try to use this ability to apply pressure from behind cover or from behind your off-tank/teammates. Ideally you find an uncontested line of sight to fire it from. Common examples of this being the roof of Brightmarsh and the high up nooks above the point at Serpent Beach.

If you're fighting against a flanker, however, you're gonna want to hold on to this until they're dead. This single cooldown holds a ton of your counterplay to dives. Don't just go and fire this at the first person you see. Holding this until you need to get a flanker to back off is key to playing Imani.

Frostfire Glide: Very good movement ability. As said before, using it offensively with Inferno Cannon is a common theme. Easily tracked by hitscans which is a bit unfortunate, but otherwise it's pretty self explanatory. You can also use this to get to places you aren't expected. Some of these places for me include:

-Flying over the flank route at Serpent Beach and landing on the enemy high ground. You normally have a perfect flank angle on their support/backliners and you likely won't be seen. If their flank does happen to see you, they likely won't be able to get to you before Inferno Cannon kills a target and you fly away.

-Ascension Peak has windows above the point that you can fly into. People rarely look up to notice you flying through one for an Inferno Cannon.

Ultimate: Dragon's Call: Imani's ultimate is either a complete game changer or completely useless. You know what it does. Giant dragon, 6k health, deals a ton of damage. Your body is vulnerable during the ultimate. The real question: how do you use it? Some general rules I've found work for me:

-WATCH IMANI'S HEALTHBAR IN THE BOTTOM CORNER OF THE SCREEN

- Your ult is often more powerful when you use it as a zoning tool rather than a fighting tool. Examples of this being: Once you win the point fight, immediately use your ult to keep the enemy team from coming back from spawn.

-Ult from your backline at the beginning of the point fight. This does several things. Firstly it makes the flankers immediately start looking for you, taking them out of the fight. It makes the enemy point tank reconsider their position. The enemy DPS look away from your teammates and look up at the dragon. You can often times even find and kill the flank as they try to hunt you down or at least secure a kill on someone else before they find you.

-Using your ultimate near the point to secure a quick kill or two can be extremely devastating if you find yourself with enough space to do so. It's risky, but it can definitely work.

Basically, the greatest strength of the dragon is not to get a bunch of kills, it's to make space for your team to make plays. When Imani ults, the enemy team HAS to react, and that is massive. Even if the dragon doesn't get a kill, disrupting the enemy team for even 4-6 seconds while they shoot the dragon (or even longer if they're looking for you) cannot be understated. This is another large reason of why Imani can be extremely team reliant to truly shine.

Items

For items, I tend to see Haven = Cauterize = Chronos for Imani depending on your play style and what you're trying to accomplish. On one hand, Imani's strongest DPS option is a huge 2k burst + she also doesn't benefit from Items on her most powerful abilities. On the other, Cauterize is an extremely powerful item that is always worth consideration. Personally, I make my choice based on what the enemy team is throwing at me.

When playing against a double support composition, Cauterize and Ice stance gain a lot of value. If I see a flank and lots of hitscans I'm going to be fighting, I pick Haven first. If I see that their damages will have a hard time contesting me, I pick Chronos to spam my cooldowns and apply constant pressure. Use your own judgement here, but just know that you aren't locked into Cauterize, you have a few options.

Weaknesses

Imani's kit takes a little while to get a grip on, but it is not inherently complicated. Her strengths are fairly linear, so here we will detail her weaknesses so that you can play a bit better against them when you encounter them.

These weaknesses are:

-Flank champions. Pretty much all of them. They're her biggest counter. Imani is lucky in that no one in the game straight up shuts her entire kit down, but the entire flank class can reliably kill her 1v1 (which is why Mana Rift is so heavily recommended when you play Imani seriously).

-Hit-scan damages. Pretty much all of them. You cannot hope to consistently outshoot a Viktor, Vivian, Tyra, or a Lian. Their ability to pressure you out of the fight simply by looking at you makes them oppressive to fight head on. Your DPS is much too low to beat their sustain/burst unless your Inferno Cannon is available AND you happen to catch them off guard. They simply kill or pressure you/your teammates before you can consistently kill them (consistent being the key word here, it isn't unwinnable, just unfavorable).

There is no way to avoid running into these conditions in competitive play, and this is why Imani can be difficult to find a niche for. You are able to fight in these conditions, but your performance will likely be underwhelming if you are not being adequately enabled by your team. Imani's weakness is that she is high maintenance, needing a lot of space to be effective. A single dive can mess her up if she's not prepared.

Fighting Hit-Scans

The most effective solution to fighting against heavy hitscans as Imani is to simply to avoid playing up the middle or the long lines of sight. Imani often finds herself with more space to function if she plays high ground or the side lanes. If you happen to run face to face into a Viktor, do not hesitate to fly away and reposition. Assuming both of you see each other at the same time, Viktor will win that fight every time. Knowing what fights you can win before you get into them is extremely important.

Ideally, playing behind an off-tank will give Imani time to channel her abilities and apply pressure to the enemy. If you find yourself struggling to get a kill in a match with a lot of hitscan as Imani, it's often because you're poorly choosing what sight lines you contest. Remember your DPS isn't super high- you need lots of space to function. Your movement ability is amazing for getting you where you need to be, so think hard before you start peeking a hit scan DPS- it's rarely worth your time over repositioning and you're liable to be half dead and out of cooldowns when their flank finds you.

Fighting Flanks

Flanks are Imani's biggest issue and if you're alone: you don't want to fight them at all. Mana Rift helps you do so if need be, but it is still not Imani's strong suit. You have one chance to hit your burst with Mana Rift and if you miss, you have to run. If you're running any talent other than Mana Rift, you have to run immediately. Imani really wants her teammates to help keep flanks off of her, because if a flank can even half-way commit to a dive on her, she's going to have to use a precious cooldown to even hope to survive (while likely not getting a kill). This section is short and to the point because a large amount of Imani's learning curve is ensuring that you don't get flanked in the first place. If it happens, you have an answer when you're running Mana Rift, but your susceptibility to dives is the weakness that you have to use your gamesense + teammates to prevent your enemy from exploiting.

Loadouts
Build Section
Notes

Imani's cards only have a handful of truly impactful builds, so often you will see a simple build that tries to keep her alive as long as possible. I would say that doesn't really let Imani tap into her true strength (which I believe to be her cooldowns) but it functions all the same. There are a few cards of hers that some people like but I find to be unneeded: namely Swift Sear (movement speed during your Inferno Cannon) and Pyretic Momentum (increases the speed of your glide). Both of these cards are strong, but I find them to be heavily based on user preference. Imani has the flexibility in her cards to allow you to dip points into them, but over time I've simply found them to be fluff compared to the power of her cooldown reset build.

Cooldown Reset
Draconic Will

Draconic Will

Elemental Shift

Elemental Shift reduces the Cooldown of Frost Bomb and Inferno Cannon by 2.4s.

Level 4

Discipline

Discipline

Elemental Shift

Elemental Shift reduces the Cooldown of Frostfire Glide by 2.4s.

Level 4

Affinity

Affinity

Elemental Shift

Reduce the Cooldown of Elemental Shift by 4s.

Level 4

Ancient Duty

Ancient Duty

Armor

Increase your maximum Health by 100.

Level 2

Elemental Grace

Elemental Grace

Armor

Gain a 100-health Shield for 3s after dropping to or below 50% Health.

Level 1

Mana Rift

Mana Rift

Armor

Remaining still for 1s creates a Mana Rift around you that generates Mana every 1s. Leaving the Mana Rift destroys it.

Level 1

Splitting Ice

Splitting Ice

Frost Bolt

Frost Bolt Chains to a nearby enemy within 30 units, dealing 350 damage.

Level 1

Notes

My preferred Imani build. I believed it to be a gimmick at first, but it's now my go to. My reasoning is simple: Imani's right click cooldowns are the bread and butter of her kit. Every second you spend with them unavailable, Imani is basically playing as a less effective version of many other projectile champions. A lot of times, her primary fire simply cannot compete with burstier or sustain heavy champs, and her only utility is tied to the long cooldown on Frost Bomb.

This build does 2 things: allows you to use your Cannon and your Frost Bomb with way more freedom while also allowing you to quickly reposition to find a better angle with the Frostfire Glide reset. Don't feel pressured to spam your stance swap just to force your cooldowns to reset, rather, develop a pattern that you follow in order to keep your right clicks on rotation. I often enter the point fight in Ice Stance, throw a Frost Bomb for easy damage and to hold off anyone who might be making an early dive. Fire a few a shots, then Glide to a favorable location after determining where your enemies are. After, that switch to Fire Stance and wait for an opportunity to use Inferno Cannon (preferably on their flank or an exposed backliner). This is a good time to set up your rift and charge a 2k burst. After that, flip back into Ice stance and your Frost Bomb as well as your glide should be ready.

Hard switching to reset cooldowns is useful at times- don't hesitate to do it, but too much focus on juggling your cooldowns can kill you if you aren't doing so with purpose.

Survivability
Ancient Duty

Ancient Duty

Armor

Increase your maximum Health by 250.

Level 5

Elemental Grace

Elemental Grace

Armor

Gain a 500-health Shield for 3s after dropping to or below 50% Health.

Level 5

Ice in her Veins

Ice in her Veins

Frostfire Glide

Heal for 150 every 1s while using FrostFire Glide.

Level 3

Arcane Flame

Arcane Flame

Inferno Cannon

Increase the Mana generation of Inferno Cannon by 15%.

Level 1

Affinity

Affinity

Elemental Shift

Reduce the Cooldown of Elemental Shift by 1s.

Level 1

Mana Rift

Mana Rift

Armor

Remaining still for 1s creates a Mana Rift around you that generates Mana every 1s. Leaving the Mana Rift destroys it.

Level 1

Splitting Ice

Splitting Ice

Frost Bolt

Frost Bolt Chains to a nearby enemy within 30 units, dealing 350 damage.

Level 1

Notes

A bit of a boring build that simply tries to keep you alive for as long as possible. An effective loadout that doesn't amplify any of Imani's existing strengths, just lets her do her base kit stuff with more survivability. Max the HP card and the Shield card. 1 point in Arcane Flame allows you to charge a 1k fireball during your Inferno Cannon. Canceling your Inferno Cannon mid-cast when you see your mana is full is a great way to confirm a kill. 1.5 seconds of the cannon followed by an instant 1k to the face will kill any squishy in the game.

Matchups
Champion Section
Strong Against
DrogozWilloDredgeEvie
Notes

Blaster champions struggle to contest Imani consistently, while Imani can fly freely through the air and shoot them down with Inferno Cannon. She can outmaneuver all of these champions. They give her the most freedom in a fight.

Weak Against
AndroxusViktorStrixJenos
Notes

Just the notable ones. Basically all flanks as said before- they don't instantly win against her, but if an Androxus in particular finds you even a little unprepared you're dead. Viktor and Strix are just examples of the high damage mid/long range dps that she struggles to keep up with.

Have to add the Jenos Ult that can snipe you out of your own ultimate if you don't have proper HP investment. If you have the HP card at 1, the 50 extra HP will give you enough HP to survive his Ult as long as you get 1 level of Blast Shields. It's not a super common scenario, but it's something to know.

Loading...