Updated for patch 1.3.
Pearl is an interesting character because she straddles a weird line: she isn’t overpowered and she doesn’t have an incredible win rate, but manages to be one of the most annoying champions to play against due to her high self-sustain and control.
Because of this, I consider Pearl to be one of the best champions for newbies. She does have a learning curve, and she can be confusing when first starting out, but she has a lot of room for making errors and still surviving, making her one of the most forgiving champions in the game.
Volatile Water (M1)
At 15 damage, Pearl has the strongest basic M1 attack of all the supports. It gets even stronger once charged, dealing 22 damage and silencing for 1 second. The burst damage is great, but the silence is key. You must land every charged M1 to get full value out of Pearl because the silence is what turns a round’s momentum in your favor. One of the main differences between a good and a great Pearl comes down to how often you hit your silences.
The Silence duration from a charged Volatile Water is increased to 1.4s from 1s.
Soaking Wet is pretty useful. The base duration of charged M1 silence is already annoying as is, but extending its duration by another 0.4s makes it one of the most frustrating debuffs in the game. Nothing is more satisfying than perma-silencing an enemy with chained M1 charges and locking them down for an insane 6 seconds while dealing 22 x 4 = 88 damage. It synergizes well with Splash Damage.
Firing Volatile Water through a Bubble Barrier increases travel distance by 25% and damage by 5.
Ripping Waters is incredibly good. Most of the time when a Bubble is down, you’re going to be attacking enemies through it. Not only does this battlerite boost the damage of something you’re already doing, but it gives you more range too. It’s perfect for chokepoint maps, allowing you to throw down a Bubble and force enemies even further from mid, making it more difficult for them to regain map control. When you have charged M1s, Rippling Waters lets them hit for a hefty 27 damage.
Empowered Volatile Water deals splash damage and inflicts Silence on all enemies hit.
Splash Damage used to be a must-get battlerite back when it triggered on walls. Now that it only splashes when hitting targets, it’s much harder to get value out of it. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s great on tiny maps like Orman Temple, and it’s great against multi-melee comps. Any time you expect enemies to clump, Splash Damage will work wonders. Combine it with Soaking Wet to really ruin the enemy team’s day.
Healing Wave (M2)
Healing Wave is one of the best heals in the game (but that doesn’t mean Pearl is the best healer in the game). Landing all three waves, which isn’t too difficult, nets a total restoration of 21 HP. One interesting thing about this spell is that you can split the waves if you use the selfcast key in the middle of channeling. For example, the first two waves can hit your teammate and the last wave can hit you. It’s a neat little trick that comes in handy.
Healing Wave projectiles bounce to the nearest ally healing them for 6 health.
One of the weaknesses in Pearl’s base kit is her poor support for teammates. Unless you grab Spring Water or Tasty Fish, Pearl doesn’t really have a way to heal teammates outside of Healing Wave. With Fountain, your projectiles heal for 7+2 each (the 6 HP is divided across projectiles), which can be okay in 3v3 but rarely worth it in 2v2. Note that the bounce radius is bigger than you might expect.
Dive is your most important spell because it serves three critical purposes: it charges your M1, it can instantly dodge any ability with its iframes, and it lets you reposition yourself when you get caught out. The last two are the most important. You should never use it just to charge M1 because it has such a long cooldown of 10 seconds. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you tank a bunch of damage that you could’ve otherwise avoided. Think of it as your last resort get-out-of-jail-free card — the fact that it charges M1 is simply a bonus.
Dive heals self for 6 health and nearby allies for 18 health when emerging from the deep.
I really like Spring Water, particularly in 3v3, but it can be a risky pick. The radius for emerge-healing is pretty big so you can definitely burst-heal teammates without compromising your position much. And the burst heal amount is nothing to sneeze at. But if your teammates are melee, you have a greater risk of ending up in a bad spot (in the middle of a fight) and getting killed, so I’d only recommend Spring Water with ranged allies.
Diving into a Bubble Barrier destroys the bubble and resets the cooldown of Dive.
What’s great about this battlerite is that it allows you to go from aggressive Pearl to ultra-aggressive Pearl. Throw down a Bubble, Dive into it, and now you can put out offensive pressure without worrying about an escape route because you still have Dive. It pairs extremely well with Spring Water, allowing you to Dive-heal without actually wasting Dive.
Combining Ocean Tide with Sea Bubble can also free up the need to grab the Gush battlerite: trigger Tidal Wave, Dive where you’re standing, and now you have a charged M1 with Dive still available, plus all the other utility you get from having both Ocean Tide and Sea Bubble.
Dive deals 8 damage and inflicts a 1s Root at your starting location.
Riptide may just be Pearl’s worst battlerite. It’s obviously meant for when melee attackers are giving you a hard time, but Dive itself is usually enough to get away. The root can help set up combos if you have the right teammate, and it can also force the enemy to burn an out, but is it worth an entire battlerite slot? I have a hard time thinking so. The damage isn’t significant enough to even talk about.
Tidal Wave (Q)
Tidal Wave is a core aspect of Pearl’s self-sustain. Not only does it negate damage (huge when you can counter Jade’s Snipe or Ruh Kaan’s Shadowbolt), but it heals a good chunk of HP when triggered. It also deals AOE damage and knockback, which is super useful against melee champions. Just make sure that you don’t waste it, and if you do waste it, try not to immediately Dive away. Putting both spells on cooldown will lead to disaster against enemies who know what they’re doing.
Tidal Wave spawns a lesser Bubble Barrier around you when triggered.
Sea Bubble is surprisingly good. If a melee enemy triggers your counter, the free Bubble makes it harder for them to approach you again. If a ranged enemy triggers your counter, the free Bubbles gives you just enough space to heal up while avoiding attacks. I like how much it synergizes with Rippling Waters, since you’re essentially getting extra M1 damage and range after counters. It’s a strong option and worth building around.
Tidal Wave recharges your staff when triggered.
In the lower leagues, Gush is insanely good — players have no counter sense and will trigger Tidal Wave every single time, and the instant recharge makes for good punish. But as you rank higher and higher, your counters won’t get triggered as often and Gush stops living up to its potential. You end up getting most of your charged M1s from Dive usage (with some Overflows here and there). But if you feel confident in your ability to get counters triggered, grab it. Gush can turn battles very quickly.
Tidal Wave fires a Volatile Water projectile towards all nearby enemies when triggered.
This battlerite sounds exciting at first, until you realize its projectiles are NOT charged M1s. Even if your weapon is charged, the projectiles are normal Volatile Waters. This makes it pretty useless, and I would never include it in any build. It would be a completely different story if the projectiles matched your actual M1 state. Skip it and don’t look back.
Bubble Barrier (E)
Bubble’s projectile-blocking aspect is great against ranged champions on maps with tiny chokepoints (e.g. Sky Ring Day), but don’t underestimate the snare and pushback. If a melee enemy is slicing away at you, drop a Bubble right in between so it pushes you both in opposite directions. Since the Bubble has an insane snare, he can’t walk back to you unless he burns a gapcloser. Always use Bubble before Dive.
When you aren’t in trouble, Bubble can be a great zoning tool. On maps with chokepoints, you can throw one down and instantly isolate an enemy from his teammates, which is extremely effective if your team can collapse on the same target. Or you can throw down a Bubble between a ranged teammate and their target, allowing for safe aggression.
One last tip for Bubble: use the pushback to dodge AOEs. For example, if Poloma uses her ult under you and you’re so snared that you can’t walk out in time, plop a Bubble down and it’ll push you right out. You can even use it to dodge stuff like Bakko’s ult (if you’re fast enough) without burning Dive.
Bubble Barrier can be recasted within 1.5s to spawn a lesser Bubble Barrier.
Some Pearl players love Ocean Sage, others hate it. Against ranged champions, the second Bubble gives you extra breathing space to heal up or reposition, and against melee champions, the second Bubble gives you a second pushback separator. It’s also highly valuable against ranged enemies because of how much map control it grants.
With Ocean Sage, you can cast a normal Bubble then recast an Unstable Bubble. It also has some synergy with Ocean Tide, allowing you to Dive twice without wasting the cooldown, and that has even more synergy with Spring Water for double Dive-healing.
But is it worth a battlerite slot? Ultimately I consider this a playstyle option. If you don’t like it, don’t feel bad about skipping it.
Bubble Barrier spawns a tasty fish in the center of the bubble that heals 8 health and increases damage output by 20% for 4s when picked up.
Tasty Fish is a powerful pick whether you’re building attack Pearl or support Pearl.
If you intend to play aggressive, don’t skip combining it with Rippling Waters. With Rippling Waters, you’ll already be standing inside Bubbles and firing long-range M1s for 20 damage. Since you’re there, you may as well pick up a Tasty Fish and increase those long-range M1s to 24 damage. If you can land 4 M1s in the span of one Tasty Fish buff, that’s 96 damage — without any charged M1s in the mix.
If you plan to support, the damage boost for teammates can help them put out more pressure than normal, and that strong offense can make up for the defensive support Pearl lacks. It synergizes well with both melee and ranged teammates. And while the extra 8 HP heals aren’t much, they do add up over the round and can help shift momentum over to your team.
Touching a Bubble Barrier grants allies a 30% Haste that fades over 2s after leaving the bubble.
Water Walk offers some great utility, but you have to ask yourself why you’d need haste from Bubble. As a form of escape? The Bubble itself is good enough for that. As a way to approach the enemy? You don’t really walk up to enemies in the first place.
Water Walk shines best in conjunction with other battlerites. For example, it works with the lesser bubble from Sea Bubble, so you get hasted any time your counter is triggered. It also works well with Tasty Fish — drop a Bubble, a teammate can run in, pick up the fish, and sprint towards the enemy to put out pressure.
But I would only take it when playing with a team. It’s hard to get full value from it in solo queue.
I prefer to save my energy for Unstable Bubbles and Bubble Shields, but Overflow can be extremely powerful in two circumstances: when your team is collapsed on one target (perma-silence will make them die quick) and when you’re in a 1v1 fight (perma-silence to gain momentum and control). Starting with a charged M1, you can M1 > Overflow > M1 to deal a ton of burst damage and silence an enemy for 2-3 seconds, especially if you have the Soaking Wet battlerite.
Unstable Bubble (EX-E)
Unstable Bubble is Pearl’s orb control spell. Use the M1 > M1 > Unstable Bubble > M1 combo to secure the orb. You can also place an Unstable Bubble to block projectiles and then knock the orb in your direction with the exploding knockback. Either way, if you time it well, no one should ever be able to steal the orb from you. You can also use Unstable Bubble on enemies, but try to save it for enemies who are incapped, stunned, or rooted. The delay makes it easy to miss, which is just a waste of energy.
Bubble Shield (R)
Bubble Shield is my absolute favorite ability. About half the time I use it as a damage-soaking barrier and the other half I use it to purge big debuffs from teammates: incap, root, petrify, silence, weaken, Lucie’s Deadly Injection, both of Varesh’s Hand debuffs, and even Croak’s Venom. It can purge anything, which is why you should save it for that if you know you’re up against a debuff-heavy comp. When using it to soak damage, try to save it for when you or your teammates are about to lose recovery HP.
Jaws is a powerful spell, but it’s highly situational. The long delay means anyone with even a single out can escape it, so you should only use it when they’re outless. Also note that Jaws isn’t quite worth the energy if you only catch one enemy, so try to reserve it for when two enemies are outless. This doesn’t happen often, of course, unless you’re synergizing with long-duration multi-target incaps like Shifu’s Tendon Swing or Bakko’s War Stomp. Most of the time, you’ll get more value out of your EX abilities.
Terror of the Deep
Jaws maximum spew range increases by 25% and enemies are slowed by 33% for 2.5s when they land.
Terror of the Deep can be a game-changer. The snare is really good at throwing off an enemy team’s rhythm, plus it lets you keep punishing once they’re spewed out. It’s also a guaranteed win in sudden death if you can catch them without outs. But the problem? Since Jaws itself is situational, it’s hard to justify filling a battlerite slot with Terror of the Deep.
Pearl is not a defensive healbot.
Your best defense is map control. Bubble placements should minimize incoming pressure while maximizing your team’s pressure. Dives put you in safe positions while charging your M1s for offensive pressure. Your charged M1s need to be timed well: burst damage on targets with no recovery HP, silence to interrupt big casts, or chain lockdown on disabled enemies.
If you just sit back and throw M2s all day, you’ll get steamrolled. Other than Bubble Shield, Pearl doesn’t have any direct support spells, so the main way to reduce pressure on your teammates is to crank up the pressure on enemies. Don’t just run-heal-run-heal. Play offensively between your heals, keeping your teammates topped up on HP while hitting enemies with M1s (charged or not).
Pearl is excellent at orb control.
First, you can use Bubbles to block ranged enemies from breaking it. Second, you can use Bubbles to separate melee enemies away from the orb. Third, you have an easy combo that’s guaranteed to break the orb: M1 > M1 > Unstable Bubble > M1. And in the right situation, you can even stand next to a damaged orb and use Tidal Wave to break it or push it away.
Pearl has the upper hand against ranged.
Bubble can stop all kinds of ranged pressure, especially when set up in a chokepoint. Tidal Wave can negate all big-damage projectiles like Snipe and Shadowbolt. With Rippling Waters, your M1 out-ranges and out-damages most champions, and you can heal up any damage you take when trading. There’s no reason to lose an M1 trade against a ranged enemy unless your accuracy is bad.
Pearl is susceptible to melee pressure.
Bubble is fantastic for putting distance between you and enemies, but most melee champions have multiple gapclosers. Once they bypass the Bubble, you’re pretty much at their mercy because you only have Tidal Wave (easily baited) and Dive (easily caught if the enemy also has a mobility spell available). Many melee champions can even negate your charged M1s, such as Ruh Kaan’s Consume, Freya’s Electric Shield, and Shifu’s Kunju. Bakko is especially dangerous because he can make you eat your own silences.
To survive, you must spread out your defensive cooldowns while being aggressive. Start with Bubble, attack a few times, use Tidal Wave, attack a few times, Dive away if necessary, rinse and repeat. But of course, don’t be predictable about it. And don’t forget that Bubble Shield can help you come out ahead — if you can’t away, your only hope is to out-trade them or be saved by a teammate.
- Fountain (M2)
- Spring Water (Space)
- Ocean Tide (Space)
- Tasty Fish (E)
- Water Walk (E)
Bounce heals are mandatory for support play, but this build also enables safe use of Dive healing. Throw down a Bubble near an injured teammate, then Dive into it for a big heal that doesn’t burn Dive’s cooldown. Now both of you are hasted and he has a damage boost from Tasty Fish so put out some return pressure. Best when you can communicate with your team.
- Soaking Wet (M1)
- Rippling Waters (M1)
- Sea Bubble (Q)
- Gush (Q)
- Tasty Fish (E) or Water Walk (E)
This build centers on long-range, boosted-damage, extended-silence M1s. Best used on chokepoint maps against ranged comps with ally champions who don’t need much support. It’s a strong solo queue build because you can effortlessly put out tons of pressure. Save Bubble for when you have a charged M1, and pick up the fish before firing — that first hit will pack a punch.
- Soaking Wet (M1)
- Splash Damage (M1)
- Ocean Tide (Space)
- Ocean Sage (E)
- Water Walk (E)
Good for tight maps. The extended AOE splash silence is a huge disrupter, and you can throw down Bubbles then Dive to get yourself into position for crucial charged M1s. Throw the lesser Bubble in a safe spot so you can immediately Dive there afterward. Water Walk is there to give the rest of your team better control over the map.
Pearl walks a line between offense and defense. You can’t play healbot because you don’t offer much support, so in addition to healing you have to put out pressure so enemies think twice about staying engaged with your teammates.
The two keys to being a phenomenal Pearl are Dive placements and Bubble placements. A good Dive does three things: keeps you safe, puts you in healing range, and puts you in M1 range. A good Bubble stops enemy momentum and gives your team time to catch its breath.
Keep those in mind and your Pearl win rate should jump up quite a bit. Good luck!