This is about everyone's favorite big purple minotaur in the League. Specifically, I want to talk about the Butt-Stomping mechanic of his.
What I'm referring to is the infamous Headbutt-Pulverize combo of Alistar. Basically, by pressing Q instantly after locking onto a target with your Headbutt, Alistar will execute Pulverize right as he finishes travelling to his target, knocking up the target instead of kicking it away. This essentially gives Alistar a 10-second Malphite ult. It is similar to the sacred art of Flash-Stomping.
Here's some person talking about it in an educational video for three minutes: youtube.com/watch
So who are you anyway
I don't know why you're asking, but I've just recently mastered the Butt-Stomp. I've spent hours practising it, and I was pretty euphoric when I finally managed to find a trick that works for me. I find it to be a very reliable way to do so, without requiring any experience with Alistar, but I'll tell you about that later if you really want to know.
The Great Frustration
However, once I played a few games, being able to reliably perform the Butt-Stomp, I found that playing Alistar is still just a frustrating experience. You will still feel weak and ineffective. Yeah, you have a Malphite ult every 10 or so seconds, but whenever you do it, you've spent both of your only damaging and disrupting skills, leaving you with a weak heal and the only slightly-impressive AD boost from your Ult.
Plus, you always have to be completely concentrated and tense, knowing that, if you fail the move, you will just embarass yourself and cause disaster. There is no other comparable mechanic like it in the game. And the pay-off isn't that great either. When you look at statistics on LoLKing, even at Plat and Diamond Elo, Alistar rarely breaks the 45% win rate.
Wavedashing and other exploits
The combo really feels like exploiting a glitch, too. And I have a feeling that's how it started out in the first place: a glitch that they've never bothered to really fix. I've heard that at one point they made it harder to perform the combo, which is just ridiculous if true.
It just feels wonky and not at all like it was programmed purposefully. When I'm practicing against minions, sometimes it just acts completely strange - luckily, that hasn't happened yet in my games against real opponents. Sometimes, when I'm certain I've pressed Q early enough, it doesn't work, and sometimes, when I'm certain I've pressed Q too late, it does work. Sometimes it's, like, I press Q so early that Alistar actually performs it in mid-flight before arriving at the target, stunning everything inbetween, except for the target. Sometimes a Butt-Stomp at point-blank range works, sometimes it doesn't.
And, although the move should probably work at any ping where the game runs without stuttering, it does raise a concern. If you do have a slightly higher ping than usual or occasional lag in a game, the move'd turn into real risky business. Yeah, there's many maneuvers similarly to it which you wouldn't be able to do with high ping (ward + Lee Sin ult, etc), but all of these are really special maneuvers, which you won't have to pull off quite as often in any game. Butt-Stomping on the other hand is really a part of Alistar's standard kit, and you may very well be required to use it every dozen or so seconds in a fight. Experiencing a high ping or lag in a game essentially locks you out of a part of Alistar's kit. If you've ever played with a Butt-Stomping Alistar, you know that is something that completely sets them apart from non-Butt-Stomping Alistar.
Failing it may backfire much more catastrophically than most other comparable moves in the game - but successfully executing it doesn't feel quite as rewarding.
Alistar, the Wavedashing champion and also a Minotaur
But it goes even further than that - it also taints Alistar's picture once you know about the move. To me, the most defining thing about him that sets him apart from other champions will from now on always be that required level of concentration and mastery of one particular mechanic. I miss the scrub days when he was just a big, meaty tank who can throw his opponents around like ragdolls. He was the first champion I've played a lot, but now I don't even want to think about him.
Got any change?
Alistar needs a rework big-time. And I'm not just saying that because he looks silly.
Where to start? Luckily, I do have an idea for that, although I'd be hard-pressed if you'd ask me to design a full rework. Turn Pulverize into an AA modifier, which could also be procced by the Headbutt - similarly to Jax' Empowered Leap Strikes. This would both remove this unnecessarily difficult and out-dated mechanic and also give some use to his Ult's AD boost. There is no synergy at all currently with the AD boost and the rest of his kit. It probably derived from Alistar's old passive which increased his damage against towers, but that's long gone now.
Of course, it would take much more to actually make him fun to play and a viable pick, but it's a start.
Bonus: The reliable way to Butt-Stomp
First off, you gotta be using Smartcast and also turn on Smartcast Range Indicators in the game options. Now, Butt-Stomping a target in range of your Headbutt is fairly easy - you just hover your mouse above your target, press W and Q right afterwards. I advise you to just practise in a game against minions - best map to use is Howling Abyss. The tricky part is learning to lock onto a target that is outside your Headbutt range. Otherwise you'll potentially just waste your Stomp on the ground and look silly. So, this is the trick: You right-click onto the desired target, then keep your finger pressed on W. Thanks to the Smartcast Range Indicator, you'll be able to see the range circle of your Headbutt as you move closer to your target. Once the target touches the range circle, release W and press Q. Just practise this over and over again against minions and you will eventually be able to perform this move reliably against human opponents, as there isn't much else to it.
Though, honestly, it's really not worth learning in the first place. I wouldn't advise you to, unless you really have to play Alistar for some reason.