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Leviathan is actually an interesting alternative to RoA. RoA slows down Ryze's build so much. Tear is a must and he needs CDR with his passive, so glacial is important. And mr if he's taking a lot of magic damage. Plus he doesn't farm well until he at least has tear. And it is an extra 10 minutes til RoA even maxes out. Sometimes I don't max out RoA even in a 40 minute game.
At the same time, Ryze gets so much armor and mr that even a little life really improves his survivability. Hence leviathan.
Exactly. It's not expensive to build, even moderately stacked the health boost makes his EH go pretty high, and those games that you roll deep and get 20 stacked, that huge health and flat 15% damage reduction is AMAZING at keeping you in a fight. Grab blue buff for the CDR and mana regen and Ryze becomes a machine gun that's really hard to focus yet impossible to ignore.