Kennen Build Guide
The Reign of Shuriken Ends (In-Depth AP Guide)written by Solpre
Table of Contents
|Patch Effects on Kennen||4|
|Masteries + Runes||7|
|Alternate Offensive Core Build||12|
|Items Not to Get and Why||15|
|Harassing in Lane Phase||17|
|Killing Tips with Flash / Team Fights||18|
|Not Dying When Using Ult||19|
Argument: Electrical Surge / Lightning Rush > Thundering Shuriken
Glass cannon Kennen is not and never will be a viable build.
This guide's purpose is to hone in on a different mindset of how to build Kennen into an effective AP caster. It is this user's belief that focusing on his Electrical Surge and Lightning Rush over his Thundering Shuriken overall increases your damage output, increases your minion farm count (by a lot), and increases the likelihood of netting kills. This user is also under the conviction that after the core AP build is complete that Kennen builds should focus on items that give BOTH survivability and increased damage as the situation for each game warrants. Finally, this guide will attempt to add a few more techniques and tips on Kennen to the already large toolbox of neat things he can do already.
This is my first guide, and although I'm not a great player (probably just marginally good), I feel that better players will be able to dominate with info in this guide. Please don't rate the guide down without having at least tried it out first, since this guide has put serious time on a valid way to play Kennen.
With thousands of views already, any comments or ratings are much appreciated. Commenting and downrating should go hand-in-hand for it to be constructive, so please do so to help improve the guide. My hope is for the information in this guide to be wider known for all that main Kennen or want to be confident in playing him as an AP caster.
Skill Order Argument Main Points :
1. Increased farm count => more gold => faster item build => more kill/less death
2. Increased team fight damage.
3. Shuriken can mark, scout, last hit, and harass enough to suit its purposes at level 1.
4. Increased chasing and fleeing potential.
5. Increased defenses during ult where its crucial to minimize damage taken.
6. Shuriken spam should be reserved for 1v1 fights anyway. Less spam in team fight = less energy used.
7. AP ratios are poor. Shuriken is .66 ratio for one target. Surge + Rush together is 1.00 for multiple.
Mastery Spec and Runes:
AND (recommended) OR
Core Build Path:
-> (recommended) OR
Alternate Offensive Core Build Path:
OR + 3
-> (recommended) OR
Post-Core Item Options:
Typical Build Examples:
DISCLAIMER: Games are situational. Therefore item purchase order fluctuates. Use with discretion.
Split "Item" Section into "Core Build" and "Post-Core" Sections
Added "Alternate Offensive Core Build" for a stronger early game.
Changed "Quick Section" accordingly.
Changed notes on Oracle's Elixir and Vision Wards.
Added relevant patch info under "Patch Effects on Kennen"
Made a note on using Rylai's slow to escape in "Not Dying..." section.
Added the "Debatable Items" Section
Certain items in "Items Not to Get And Why" section moved to "Debatable Items"
Reworked Mastery and Runes. Changed Quick Section appropriately.
Added relevant patch info under "Patch Effects on Kennen"
Minor change to "Items Section" to remove Health Potion from starting buy.
Added "Quick Reference Section" that was long overdue.
Added relevant patch info under "Patch Effects on Kennen"
Added section "Patch Effects on Kennen"
-changed viewpoint on breakdown of Zhonya Ring's effect on Kennen
Added relevant changes throughout the guide due to patch changes noted as *PATCH EFFECT*
Added more "polish" by using summoner spell/skill icons more frequently in the guide.
-realized that "polish" can be better achieved through less usage of spell icons
Fixed several grammatical errors.
Changed item build to reflect patch changes. Builder not cooperating with me. T-T
Added section "Items Not To Get and Why"
Added section "Not Dying When Using Ult"
Added an optional skill order.
All core guide information written and published. This is my first guide. This probably needs some more polish, grammatical error fixes, and the like. I just really want to get this out into the community and see how it holds under scrutiny.
Patch Effects on Kennen
- Doran's Shield armor up to 10 from 8. HP5 down to 8 from 10.
The HP5 was a little too good. Also, the armor last patched wasn't buffed but said it was. This is now fixed and buffed accordingly. Cost is still the same.
- Doran's Shield price increased to 475. Armor up to 9 from 8. HP5 up to 10 from 8.
The recent change to all three Doran items have made it so that when you purchase the item you are effectively honed into a gameplay style early game. No more will you be able to pick up that extra
health potion. Kennen's mid lane presence is stronger with this item buff. This change rewards the skilled and careful players such that if Kennen deals a good harass early (which is more then likely), his opponent is unable to pot heal themselves if they got a Doran item. This leads to easier pressure and perhaps greater advantage in level and farm count. This is a double edged sword though, because this is also true for yourself. Luckily, HP5 from our shield can accommodate for minor mistakes and enemy harass.
- Rabadon's Deathcap price increased to 3600 from 3400.
This is the second increase in price for this item. I believe that the theory behind this is to prolong the time it takes for people to rush build it. Since this guide doesn't advise a Deathcap as your first big item, this doesn't effect him too much. Gaining the 200 extra gold is a lot easier mid to late game then it is in your early game. You probably won't notice the extra minute it takes to get it now. You probably WILL notice the extra 2-3 minutes it takes your enemy to rush it.
- Greater Quintessence of Fortitude reduced in effectiveness by roughly 20%.
Along with the Doran rework, this nerf also attempts to influence early game play style. Be rewarded for great harass or get punished for being harassed. I'm going to look at other Quint options for you guys to play around with. Though since pots are out on players that get Doran items, the extra health is still valid to aid you in besting your opponent in the harass battle.
- Mark of the Storm duration reduced to 8 seconds from 12
I'm under the impression that Kennen players got a little TOO good at constantly stunning people all of a sudden. A 33% nerf in the MoTS timer is quite huge. The obvious effect this has on Kennen is that in a teamfight, you will need to be actively searching for targets to stun or be highly selective in a couple of targets. No longer will Kennen have the freedom to divert his attention to a group of opponents, then move on to others, because by then their MoTS will be long gone. Although I agree 12 seconds is a bit lengthy, I think 8 seconds is too short. I think a reasonable 10 second duration would have been balanced, which is probably what will happen the next patch.
There is another pressing effect of this duration nerf which directly effects Electrical Surge. The 12 second cooldown allowed us to add another mark at Level 2 Surge without MoTS disappearing. We will now have to wait for a Level 4 Surge to do this at an 8 second duration. Reasoning behind this is based on purely from points in the mastery spec I recommend, which makes Level 2 Surge 10.92 CD and Level 4 Surge 7.28 CD.
However, this guide has always emphasized on prolonging the timer for maximum stun potential and constant harass at low levels. This tactic has increased in its practicality with this MoTS nerf, especially since additional stuns STILL give diminished returns. So remember to follow my advice and prolong that timer, since we can no longer rely on the marks to stay on our target for very long any more. Quite possibly, prolonging the timer just might be a reason for this change. Still, I believe that either the duration should be upped to 10 seconds or that the diminishing returns should be removed as an incentive to be selective with our stuns.
- Electrical Surge range decreased to 800 from 825
As if the duration of MoTS nerf wasn't enough, our highest priority spell has gotten its active range reduced. Although not a heavy nerf, the loss of 25 range may be that small difference which allows a 2 MoTS target to get away from you and your team. With all the hype LoL character designers are having with super range these days, I'm surprised with this change.
-The decommission of Zhonya's Ring into Zhonya's Hourglass and Rabadon's Deathcap.
Zhonya's Ring was probably THE caster item of LoL. The item provided a huge boost to our AP and gave the pretty sweet active of 2 second invulnerability. Now we must decide which of the two components is more core to our AP Kennen. In all honesty, both are pretty darn important. Zhonya's Ring was considered an necessity to our core build because it covered two weaknesses. The 25% boost to our AP pool helped make up for Kennen's poor ratios, and the active component of the ring greatly added to our survivability when using Slicing Maelstrom due to its risky positioning.
The original Zhonya item gave us BOTH offense and defense and each new item can only cover up one of weaknesses. If we choose Zhonya's Hourglass, we get more survivability and a decent boost to AP. Unfortunately, the boost isn't grand enough to allow us to clear minion waves without pre-hitting. If we choose Rabadon's Deathcap, we are able to farm and deal great damage but we invested our gold completely into offense and gained no defense in return.
Originally, I believed that this change indirectly nerfed Kennen. Fortunately, I have found this to be a half-truth in actual gameplay. Kennen does suffer a loss of AP if we chose Zhonya's Hourglass first. This contributes to a weaker mid-game then before. HOWEVER, once we pick up Rabadon's Deathcap, Kennen's AP pool skyrockets to unimagined heights. The amount of AP Kennen is able to achieve in his late game is ungodly for an energy hero, especially since he is limited with few reasonable item choices. Before this patch, the Kennen build recommended in this guide gave around 400 AP. The new and current build offers around 600! Overall, this patch has indirectly BUFFED Kennen in his late-game, which matters a lot more then any other point of a match.
- Exhaust now reduces attack damage by 70% and skill/item damage by 35% for the duration.
Really bad for casters! The only real problem casters had with Exhaust before was due to the slow duration and not the blind effect. Being an exhausted caster pretty much means you are marked for death. Now we are even easier to kill with the 35% skill/item damage reduction. Previously a summer spell used to shut down a physical dps's damage. The spell is now the official shutdown spell for any champion though more so physical still.
We should also note that exhaust no longer makes that physical dps miss. Even though their damage is being reduced by 70%, they are still able to DO damage. So before an exhausted Tyrandamere ulting would only do skill damage. Now he is able to continue smacking you in the face and doing (reduced) skill damage. Great for those players, but not great for casters. That extra bit of damage that these players can do now may just be enough to turn the tide of a fight, when this wouldn't have been possible before, especially if we are talking about life leeching builds....
However do to this change, I now recommend that players use this spell. Great for shutting down burst damage from any source. Quite possible that this skill may revert. The LoL community is either going to love or hate this change.
-When Pantheon channels Grand Skyfall , his allies will see a green circle.
This allows your team and yourself to more effectively initiate fights to your favor. Even if your Patheon forgets to communicate to you that he is going to ult at some specific point, you will have a visual cue before he is in the air landing onto the enemy. Use this green circle to your advantage and position a nice Slicing Maelstrom to keep the other team inside the Grand Skyfall.
Mark of the Storm Each of Kennen's skills has the ability to place a single mark on a target. When the target gains three marks they are stunned. Kennen is also refunded 25 energy per target stunned.
If you don't appreciate this passive, reread the description. Rarely do passives in LoL literally DEFINE the character rather then being a mere accessory. If you have an unnatural fixation for constantly stunning people, this character will impress you.
Important to note is the energy refund upon stunning. It is another incentive to stun your opponents. This will charge your energy gauge in a team fight quite nicely if you remember to commit to what you were born to do, so DO it! Stun to harass, stun to kill, stun for lulz.
Thundering Shuriken Without exactly looking at every single Kennen guide out there, one can figure out that most of the more popular guides do emphasize this skill as the highest priority in skill order. Surprisingly, I max this one out last. I see it as a one trick pony (albeit a fast one).
Yes, blasphemy! I felt the same way when changing my skill order after prioritizing shuriken in over 100+ games with Kennen. It is a low cooldown nuke that is spammable due to fact you use energy. For those of you that enjoy poking at your opponents from afar, this is definitely a fun skill. Nothing is sweeter then flinging a shuriken at a fleeing enemy only to hear them give a death rattle and collapse to the ground.
However, this skill is bitter sweet BECAUSE it is a single target skill shot. Your chance of hitting someone is entirely dependent on you (hence the name) and any obstacles in your path, which does lend it some unreliability. Even if you are pro at getting skill shots in, circumstances may place minions or other players in the path to your target.
That isn't my real beef with shuriken though. In team fights throughout all stages of the game, higher levels of surge and rush nets you more damage output. Think about it. Single target damage > multiple target damage in a team fight isn't all that great unless your character is designed to burst down one opponent. Kennen is MADE for doing great amounts of damage to as many opponents he can get his electrified body to molest.
The decommission of Zhonya's Ring may have rendered prioritizing this skill first in the skill order obsolete or more inefficient then it already was. Kennen players have to choose between Zhonya's Hourglass or Rabadon's Deathcap. If shuriken fans choose the hourglass, they are probably postponing the inevitable. With their now lower AP pool, shuriken does less damage and it scaled poorly to begin with. This contributes to much lower teamfight damage then before.
Instead, the player chooses the Rabadon's Deathcap. We now have a great boost to AP with no defensive gain. Without the added padding the active of Zhonya's Ring gave these players, these players may die a lot. Running isn't an option with a low leveled Lightning Rush and spamming Thundering Shuriken in battle is exhaustive to your energy bar.
Seriously, don't place this skill on an altar. For those that prioritize this, its time for a divorce. Yes its great, but it gives the illusion you are doing big damage. Lets be true to ourselves and step into reality.
Electrical Surge I believe that all the other popular Kennen guides out there prioritize this skill instead of shuriken. You were probably expecting me to be a bit crazy after my shuriken hating, but I AGREE with these other guides. Besides your ult, this skill will be the majority of your damage output.
As a character that is built upon stunning, prioritizing the skill that has the potential to net you 2 out of 3 marks seems necessary. The cooldown starts off a bit long, but by simply knowing how to prolong the timer at level 1 you should be able to pop another surge before the marks fade away again, netting you that stun. This is STILL possible even with the MoTS nerf.
This skill has more harassing potential then shuriken, while being 100% reliable in doing its job. The range for surge is fantastic. When an opponent is marked, you are almost guaranteed to be able to get in range to use the active. Surge allows for Kennen to push against a lane in which there is a healer. Marking both opponents and then surging deals damage to both, while the healer can only choose to heal one. With the removal of Innervating Locket, healers will be forced to drain their mana a lot more frequently because of the pressure you inflicted.
Lightning Rush Wow. I can't imagine how under appreciated this skill has been in the skill order of nearly every Kennen guide. Placing this as the second skill to max alongside surge in my set-up is probably going to be one of the defining parts of this Kennen guide being any different from the rest. I'm so sorry Rush. Even I neglected you for most of my Kennen career. T-T
Now don't misunderstand me or make assumptions. We're not going to be using this skill because I am expecting you to go in melee range a lot. Quite the opposite. This skill deserves its place in the skill order, because it indirectly ENHANCES Kennen in all he does. So I've made the statement, so now I got to back it up....
Let's first look at life with the typical set-up of having Lightning Rush at level 1 for a majority of the game. The most identifiable aspect is your poor farm count. Yeah, a lot of guides insist that farming is easy with Kennen. This is true only to an extent. Players are suggested to rush into a wave and then surge. The problem is that your rush is quite weak. Practically every minion is alive but with low health. You can Thundering Shuriken one to death and probably kill two others, but your own minion wave has killed off the other three (more if you are horrible at last hitting). You probably notice that you clear waves with your surge/rush only after you built a lot of AP from items and got Rush around level 3. Why wait until you are level 15 to clear a majority of minions??
I will get into farming tips later in the guide, but even if you are terribad at last hitting, this guide will increase your minion farm by a lot.
More farm => more gold => faster item build => more kills/less deaths
The next major point in defense of this skill comes to teamfights. This skill was reworked to give you increased armor/magic resist for a reason! Before Kennen players would lose a large chunk of health before their ult was halfway through its duration. Not cool. Having a good rush level throughout all stages of the game nullifies your squishiness long enough to stun your opponents and reposition to a safer location.
You are also doing a good chunk of damage to all the opponents you rushed through. The amount of survivability and damage this skill gives in a teamfight already outweighs in benefits then a maxed out shuriken ever could.
I don't even want to remember all the times I was running away from a failed fight and spamming Rush in hopes of getting away. Of course, this was with rush at level 1 so I ended up dying when a shorter cooldown rush could have kept me alive. Happen to you? I bet it has a lot. Now you can even give some of the faster opponents with better boots a nice chase before they fail chasing or kill you half the map later. This scenario also works in reverse for chasing. How many people got away because you weren't fast enough?
So we got survivability, chase/fleeing potential, increased damage in team fights, increased farm count, and also increased harassing. The latter part will be described more under Tips.
Slicing Maelstrom This ult is just plain fun. Great source of damage, adds MoTS at an impressive rate leading to impressive stunnage, and great for ganks. If you've read other guides, then you probably already know the mantra. Lightning Rush in with ult then Electrical Surge. Alternatively, you can Flash into a group, rush around and out of the fight, and then surge.
I will go into more detail in the Tips sections.
I will aim to increase your survival rate in the "Not Dying..." section.
As much as I went into how inefficient this skill is for team fights and damage output, you will pick up Thundering Shuriken first. Useful for scouting, great for marking, nice for last hitting minions at a distance, and the threat of being marked if the opponent isn't paying attention or gets too far away from minions. For all of this, only one level is needed. Also, picking Electrical Surge first may be a waste if your opponent/s out range you early on. Don't ever get Lightning Rush first. Now THAT is crazy talk.
We then expand our combo by getting both Electrical Surge and Lightning Rush, with the emphasis on Electrical Surge. Sometimes if I feel the opponent isn't going to be getting into melee range, I get my Surge up to 2 before I get 1 into Rush. Always get your combo first though otherwise, or if there is a stealth character being sneaky that may try for an early gank at which case you wished you had a flee mechanic.
Naturally, get Slicing Maelstrom at all appropriate levels. Go ahead and change it up on how you prioritize Surge and Rush, but I have found that keeping them around the same level to be most effective. Shuriken comes last in the skill order, for the reasons I stated above. Hopefully, you will have noticed the change in your Kennen game by then.
The first skill order is default. You are provided with farming and teamfight damage, along with teamfight survivability for your ult. This second skill order is designed for a faster farm at the risk of a lower level Lightning Rush. We keep Electrical Surge two levels above rush throughout, and still max out Thundering Shuriken last. I tend to favor this build when I am 1v2 solo top. Our Electrical Surge decreases in CD 2 seconds per level, while Lightning Rush is 1 second per level. You will be able to harass a lot more effectively and be able to farm efficiently while still being defensive.
Masteries + Runes
The mastery spec I suggest is the 3/6/21 build. We get the typical caster set in the Offense, while getting all the useful non-mana dependent mastery in Utility. Notice that I use Flash in this set-up, so change accordingly to the summoner spells you use.
15% magic penetration just isn't as good as it used to be. Losing 3% CDR isn't anything to worry about either. Placing 6 points into 6 point increase of both our Armor and MR lessens the early game damage a lot. Although .6 AP per level is pretty lame, I take it. Do what you want with those 3 points.
For runes, I switched over to HP/LVL Seals and MPen Quints. This increases our effective health and gives us more early game damage. With the Doran's item change, the one who takes the least damage and deals the most quicker controls mid.
3 Greater Quintessence of Insight
9 Greater Mark of Insight
9 Greater Seal of Vitality
9 Greater Glyph of Shielding
Here are some viable rune options:
Currently, I have my runes set up as follows with the same mastery above:
3 Greater Quintessence of Insight
9 Greater Mark of Insight
8 Greater Seal of Vitality
1 Greater Seal of Resilience
7 Greater Glyph of Shielding
2 Greater Glyph of Warding
This counteracts any and all defense penetration from your opponent's runes/mastery if you get Doran's Shield as your starting item. Mix and match to how you play and what you think is effective.
One of the main foci of this particular Kennen build is to increase his survivability so he can continue to stun and deal damage. By primarily focusing on survivability runes, we increase our defensiveness without having to invest in a 9/21/0 build.
The Offensive tree beyond the 9 points casters usually spend in it benefit physical damage dealing champions. A 21/0/9 build is strictly a waste of our points. The Utility tree offers two vital elements: experience gain and CDR. Being to level faster or at the same pace of your opponent(s) is a key factor in a 1v1 fight. Currently, there are no recommended items in this guide that give CDR. The 6% CDR from the mastery alone will be sufficient for any Kennen player.
When we are shopping for Summoner spells, we are looking for Utility and Mobility. I recommend Ignite or Exhaust and Flash.
Ignite : Kennen is an energy hero. He can not maintain his burst for very long before becoming ooe (out of energy). Having ignite will add to your toolbox of damage dealing abilities. This is also great against opponents that have a large amount of regen like Mundo, Swain, Mordekaiser, etc. Lastly, a majority of players that are effective at fleeing from a fight do so with dangerously low health, which just begs for an Ignite so you get that off screen kill and set them into a rage.
Flash : In my humble opinion is a near must for any burst damage character. Flash allows you to unexpectedly surprise your opponent with a barrage of heavy damage attacks. If for some reason your team isn't the most tanky, Kennen can initiate a team fight with this spell and his ult.
Exhaust : Now a recommended summoner spell, being quite the contender with Ignite. Exhaust will not only slow your enemy, but decrease their damage output by a lot. BOTH auto attack damage and skill damage is effected. This spell should properly be renamed DEATH SENTENCE, since with the new change any character in poor positioning with this cast upon risks a high chance of dying.
Teleport : is nice for maintaining lane presence, which is a strength of energy heroes. Teleport to aid another friend, or to push an unguarded tower. Useful if you find yourself to be constantly going to the fountain.
Ghost : is pretty nice as well. However, I find that using this skill offensively to be sort of a let down unless you are chasing someone with low health. More often, you will be using this to run away or run to a team fight that you aren't present for. I highly recommend getting Flash, but for those that aren't to comfortable using Flash, I recommend using Flash/[spell_texe=Ghost] enough to get the hang of the spell and then switching to Flash + Ignite or Exhaust.
Cleanse : Probably the only other summoner spell I would even think of getting. Usually this isn't enough to save you since you are squishy type of hero.
I feel this section should be prioritized before the Item section. This is where you net your gold that you use to get those Items, so failure here leads to slow completion of your items. So remember that old mantra...again?
Lightning Rush-> Electrical Surge. Last hit the minions after. This is the REVERSE of what you want to do.
If you know that minions are going to be 1-2 hits from dead (namely the caster minions), then hit each twice first. Then wait for that one melee minion being focused by your wave to get about half health before you combo. The result is four dead minions and two dying ones. Then what you do is almost obvious. You last hit one minion and Thundering Shuriken last hit the other. There you have it, 6/6 minions in the wave dead. If there is a cannon minion, finish it off accordingly.
While the other method isn't "wrong", it surely isn't efficient. Why risk your minions dying to your minion wave when you can ensure that you net the kills? When you get your AP items rolling and your surge/rush leveled, you will find that a lot earlier you won't even need to pre-hit caster minions and instead work on the melee only.
High farm count EARLY on -> more gold ->more ap in items -> easier farm -> more gold.... get it?
The new mantra for Kennen farm is Prehit-> Lightning Rush-> Electrical Surge->Last Hit.
And now you know. xD
Kennen is not a jungler. Don't try. Don't even think about it. There are criteria that need to be met for a jungler and Kennen doesn't meet half of them. However, you do want to kill jungle creeps whenever possible, usually when your waves are pushed too far into enemy territory. Thundering Shuriken-> Lightning Rush-> Electrical Surge-> autoattack/shuriken until dead. Simple, yet remember to creep when you can. Kennen is highly item dependent and we need money for items.
We have been leading up to this section of the guide quite a bit. Honestly, the core build is the same as most Kennen guides out there. However, after the core build we invest in durability items that also increase our damage.
Starting: Doran's Shield.
The extra health, armor, and health regen all contribute to lane staying power. Since we can no longer buy a Health Potion at start up, we really need to be wise early game. Mistakes are barely affordable without that potion.
Now although we should be harassing, let's not over do it. Sure getting that auto-attack MoTS from Surge's passive is great, but we really shouldn't be taking a dozen minion hits in the process. Until about level 4, avoid unnecessary damage from minions and turrets. Focus mainly on last hitting and gaining gold. Your Rush/Surge combo for farming early game may be dangerous if you gets you too close to your opponents. Also remember that pushing a lane hard just begs for a gank from the team's jungler or stealth assassin.
Oracle's Elixir VS Vision Ward: In previous versions of this guide, I recommended to get either against stealth assassins, especially if they jungle. Over the course of several patches, Vision Wards have gotten a lot more cost effective. Take one for your lane and use your judgment on when to place it so you maximize its usage. Even if you are killed, you do not lose your investment. Since you are squishy, the possibility of this happening is pretty realistic.
First Trip: Giant's Belt + Boots of Speed + (optional) Sight Ward
Use your judgement but make sure that the first time you return to base you at least have enough to get your Giant's Belt. Get Boots of Speed as well if you can afford it and a Sight Ward for your lane if you suspect ganks.
Building Up: Giant's Belt -> Rylai's Crystal Scepter; Boots of Speed -> Sorcerer's Shoes or Mercury's Treads
My general rule of thumb on boots is that if the opposing team has at least 3 stuns/snares grab the treads. Notice also that we don't get Blasting Wand first. Kennen's abilities without AP at this stage of the game are still decent enough to get the job done. Plus, AP ratios on Kennen aren't the greatest. Focus on getting more health and magic penetration before getting that AP.
We make our Rylai's Crystal Scepter first in our core build, because it provides health, AP, and a nice slow/kiting mechanic to our spells. Other players favor rushing a Zhonya ring first, but I argue against it.
The rushing of Zhonya's Ring is not possible anymore thanks to its decommission. Kennen players will most likely be at a disadvantage if they rush a Zhonya's Hourglass simply for the active. I believe the whole concept is to gain a great amount of AP early on, but rushing a Rabadon's Deathcap would provide zero defensive capability. This makes making the Rylai's Crystal Scepter first in our item build even more logical then before.
Big AP Item: Needlessly Large Rod -> Zhonya's Hourglass or Rabadon's Deathcap
Really aim to get that large rod first. From there you have the POWER!! to choose what to build up first. My personal preference is to choose Zhonya's Hourglass every single game regardless if I am legendary or not. Again, I prefer building items that give both offense and defense. Usually mid game, the opponent team's only chance of winning against a fed player is to team focus him. While choosing the deathcap may give you ungodly AP, the hourglass takes the threat off while you ult demolish their HP bars.
If you decide to make Rabadon's Deathcap, your farm capability will probably skyrocket to the point where you don't need to prehit caster minions ever again. The choice on whether or not to pick this item over Zhonya's Hourglass really depends on your playstyle and how your team is fairing.
Alternate Offensive Core Build
I put the guide on hold to test out this alternate core build. I do realize that the original core may be a bit too defensive for some. However, I didn't want this to effect those who are confident enough to gain more damage output at the risk of survivability.
So here is a "squishier" core build that focuses on getting Kennen's damage output high in the order of MPen -> Large AP Pool.
Doran's Shield OR Boots of Speed + 3 Health Potion
Again, we are applying an offensive mindset to the Electrical Surge/Lightning Rush skill order in our item building. For a faster build into this core at the risk of survivability, get the boots first.
Boots of Speed -> Sorcerer's Shoes
Blasting Wand OR Negatron Cloak -> Abyssal Scepter
The next item we wish to get is Abyssal Scepter. Why not rush a Rabadon's Deathcap? Again, its the AP ratios. Until we counteract this weakness of Kennen into our item build first, we are not using our gold efficiently. Buying the Scepter first adds to our magic penetration (in aura form, so that means increased damage for your team too) for a nice total of 54 MPen. Since this is early game, you will be doing full or extremely close to full damage with your W/E skill order against the enemy team. Increasing your damage output by 20% or so is a far better first investment.
The choice on which component to build first is dependent on your opponent(s). Typically if its a caster, it is in your best interest to get Negatron Cloak. That 48 MR will negate the MR penetration from your opponent's items with some leftover. The leftover amount will be enough to reduce their magical damage an additional 13-18%. If your opponent is more AD, then get a Blasting Wand instead.
Big AP Item:
Needlessly Large Rod -> Rabadon's Deathcap OR Zhonya's Hourglass
We have built a pretty stable foundation for our damage unto which we wish to build upon with a large AP pool. You are highly likely to be a threat priority for the enemy team. If you trust in your team or your own abilities, get the Deathcap. If you want the safety of a 2 second invulnerability in your arsenal, get the Hourglass.
I hope this proves to be a good alternative to the more defensive core build. Even against your squishier targets with Mercury's Treads or a Negatron Cloak, you should still be doing at least 65% or so of your full damage. This means, however, they invested less in offense so they have lower damage output as well. You force the enemy team to invest in MR or pay heavily for it. If they invest in MR, they spent less on damage and this increases your team's chance of winning a team fight.
Situational Items / Post-Core:
The next item is entirely dependent on your opposing team. We have a few choices to from, and each is pretty obvious if the situation calls for it or not. Some items listed both here in the core builds mainly for completeness.
Abyssal Scepter : I tend to get this item if I need the magic resist, and the opposing team doesn't have much in CC. Basically, if you chose Sorcerer's Shoes then you get this if you need to survive magic damage. This item gives you AP along with a nice magic penetration aura.
Banshee's Veil : Rarely do I get this item for the magic resist. Mainly you get this for the 30 second bubble to act as a hard counter against heavy CC. Interestingly, this same item is annoying for you on the opposing team. Have your allies help you get rid of the veil before the team fights occur. The enemy will do its best to do the same. The added health with the MR is very nice.
Void Staff : I really hate this item on Kennen. This is pure AP and we already discussed how the ratios for Kennen aren't the greatest. However, this is a necessary evil in a sense. If the other team is seriously stacking that magic resist, we are forced to pick this up against our will. Unless the other team isn't tankier then yours and isn't stacking magic resist, you won't need to get this.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter : This item has a beautiful synergy with Kennen's skills. The slowing effect with help contain enemies in your ultimate for a second or two longer, which equates to more strikes from your ultimate. Maintain the slow with your electrical surge active. Great for the health and AP boost as well.
Zhonya's Hourglass : This new incarnation of the Zhonya item will act as our armor item of choice if the situation calls for it. No longer will I advise the Sunfire Cape as your primary armor choice. The active alone is worth more then the passive aoe from the cape. This item also adds to our AP pool.
Sunfire Cape : Only get this on two conditions: you have already built up a Zhonya's Hourglass and the other team is physical dps heavy. The added armor and health will increase your effective health by a large amount with the addition to your magic aoe dps.
Rabadon's Deathcap : This item is placed for completeness. Chances are that if you choose the hourglass over the deathcap for your core build you are still in need of building more defensively. However if you think that a large increase of magic damage in a teamfight would be more beneficial because of their low resists, then claim this.
Lich Bane : Remember all those hybrid Kennen builds? This one item is all you need after the core build to quick change from AP caster to hybrid. With the core build alone, your auto attack will hurt. And lets be honest with ourselves, Kennen does a lot of autoattacking even in team fights. Very rarely will you be playing against a team in which you autoattack very seldomly. Don't get this if that is the case. Also note that tanks that build high magic resist tend to have average armor. This item lets you be a danger to those tanks and makes killing squishy characters even easier.
Those items should be the only items you ever consider for any final build. Notice that most of these items serve a dual purpose: increase our durability and adds to our damage output. Energy heroes NEED to have as many tricks up their sleeve as possible, because time is not in your best interest. And when teammates have died and you are 1v1 or 1v2 or 2v1 but you are also OOE, you want to still be a threat and kill potential.
These are a list of items that I don't entirely recommend, but that are somewhat viable. I give reasons for why I'm not a fan of these, but they may work for you based on your play style.
Boots of Swiftness : Fastest boots in combat. Great for chasing/fleeing as well as dodging skill shots. While these boots do their job well, I really don't think Kennen needs them. Perhaps if we weren't putting points into Lightning Rush, we would be unable to chase that well. However, with a good rush and Rylai's passive slow, Kennen's ability to chase is great with movement speed 2 boots.
Haunting Guise : This item is easily affordable and meets my criteria for its duality of both offense and defense, yet I still don't get this item ever. The spell penetration should have been gotten from Sorcerer's Shoes. If you picked Mercury's Treads instead, this tends to be a good indicator that we need to focus on raising our defenses. This item only raises our health by a small amount. Without a boost to our defenses, this extra health is nothing that would save you. In all honesty, Abyssal Scepter gives you the same magic penetration in aura form, a bigger boost to AP, and some nice magic resistance. Until this item can be built into a higher tier item, I wouldn't recommend this.
Mejai's Soulstealer : If AP ratios on Kennen weren't so horrible, then maybe I would consider this. Be warned that if you do pick this up that dying a lot ruins your investment. Kennen has a dangerously close positioning in a team fight, so chances of living through the experience aren't in your favor. This is especially true if the enemy team notices you got this item. Great on support champions that stay far away from the team fight, but not for our little ninja.
Will of the Ancients : Not a pure AP item. Please no! The spell vamp isn't enough to justify getting this. If you really wanted to boost your AP, get Rabadon's Deathcap. Heck, even Zhonya's Hourglass gives you more AP and greater survivability. Let someone else get this, but don't let that someone be you.
Items Not to Get and Why
I realize that the list of items to choose from is quite small. Honestly, there are three main reasons. 1. The item is a poor choice because Kennen is an energy hero, 2. The item does not provide the added benefit of survivability, or 3. The item boosts a stat that is almost worthless on Kennen.
Let's start with the AP items.
Archangel's Staff : A great item for any caster that uses mana. Unfortunately, this wonderful item revolves around the caster having mana by increasing AP by the % of their mana pool and increasing their mana pool with skill usage. Don't let it ever cross your mind to get this!!
Deathfire Grasp : Another item that increases mana pool while also increasing mana regen. These aren't the only benefits this item brings to the table. 15% cooldown reduction is definitely NOT a necessity for Kennen or any energy hero. More spamming of skills leads to OOE a lot faster. The other downside is that Kennen's skills are quite spammable regardless, so the % CDR from this item isn't much of an impact anyway. The 30% nuke isn't all that great either if the team is stacking magic resistance.
Doran's Ring : Alright. I understand why some Kennen players may find this item appealing. Health and AP for a fair price even taking into account we lose out on the mana regen. However, AP ratios on Kennen aren't the greatest as I have stated over and over again. 15 ability power translates to about 7 extra damage, possibly 8 for all his skills. If you get Doran's Shield, you get MORE health, a nice bit of armor (and any good carry has amazing armor pen early game), and some health regen for lane staying power. Although not a total rip off, this item is inferior to the shield.
Guinsoo's Rageblade : This really is a hybrid build item. Definitely not suitable on a build focusing on an AP Kennen. If you are smashing faces, the same amount of money can get you your Sheen and Blasting Wand towards a Lich Bane. Again, that single item is all you need to give your caster the threat of high physical damage.
Hextech Gunblade : This item is MORE expensive then ANY RECOMMENDED ITEM in this guide. This is probably THE hybrid item for a true hybrid build, but this guide focuses on AP. Also, spell vamp for AOE is much lower then the 20% stated. Kennen's abilities are 3/4 AOE. I seriously believe that having at least 2 single target skills should be a criteria for a champion to effectively use a hybrid build. The gunblade's active would also be more appealing if it did true damage instead of magic.
Rod of Ages : For less then 100 gold more, we can buy Rylai's Crystal Scepter. Although the player earns more health over time, the AP gained is the same and Kennen doesn't use mana. The slowing effect to our skills is easily worth a lot more then that difference in health. Catalyst the Protector should only be built into a Banshee's Veil anyway.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity : CDR items are not worth the money on Kennen. Yay for .5 second less wait time between repeated usage of skills??
Builder is working improperly for my computer, so I will make a low quality version.
Doran's Shield Sorcerer's Shoes Rylai's Crystal Scepter
OFFENSIVE BUILD WITH SURVIVABILITY
Sorcerer's Shoes Rylai's Crystal Scepter Zhonya's Hourglass
Rabadon's Deathcap Abyssal Scepter Lich Bane
Mercury's Treads Rylai's Crystal Scepter Zhonya's Hourglass
Banshee's Veil Abyssal Scepter Rabadon's Deathcap
DISCLAIMER: Please note that build options showcased are NOT written in the order you should buy the items for every game. All post-core items should be built in the order of necessity. One might get a Banshee's Veil a lot earlier or a Zhonya's Hourglass much later then shown above. This is just the TYPICAL order of building items that I tend to see in MY games. Buy your items, but be smart about it.
Harassing in Lane Phase
Hopefully in the future there will be short videos. Seeing is believing?
Level 1: Thundering Shuriken
We only have our Q. Harassing before you reach level 2 isn't the most efficient. The time and shurikens you spent poking could be spent on last hitting minions and increasing our gold total. Also, your opponents will gain health from leveling quite quickly, so your harass will most probably be "leveled" away.
Level 2: Electrical Surge + PROLONG THE TIMER!!!!!!!(+ infinite exclamations)
Things tend to change once you get your Surge. Build up your auto-attack to gain your passive and see if you can make the opportunity strike. If your opponent(s) are smart, then don't wait around. Last hit a minion and build it up again. More likely though, you have hit someone and they are marked. HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!! I know what you want to do. You want to press W and hit them. Maybe deal some extra damage and be a tough guy? Do you know what you're going to do Mr. Tough? We are going to wait a bit.
Remember, at level 1 Surge the marks will not last long enough to surge again. I even think that most players know this. So just autoattack 3 more times, which is almost the point where the marks are about to fade and THEN Electrical Surge. You will now have 2 marks on your opponent and an almost charged auto-attack. Without too much luck or skill, you should be able to land a stun with either the auto-attack or Thundering Shuriken. In either case, mark AGAIN with what you didn't use. Build up your auto-attack and repeat this harassing process. Remember, at these low levels the trick is to prolong your timer as much as possible for constant harass and stuns.
Get really good at prolonging that timer, because with the Mark of the Storm nerf, this is almost a necessity for netting a nice chain of stuns and constant harass early game.
Level 3: Lightning Rush
Okay, so now lets pretend that your opponent got wiser or has been wise. Even this guy knows that you are prolonging the timer and that they need to back a bit away. Luckily for you, you just hit level 3 and got your Rush. This skill amplifies your harass beautifully. There are two harass techniques I use often enough and with great success once I get Rush.
Lightning Rush FEINT + Thundering Shuriken + Electrical Surge:
This is where you rush through your minion wave toward your opponent, but you are just PRETENDING to fully commit to your target. I do not ever recommend getting in melee range with dangerous heroes who excel at melee or kiting. The normal reaction for your opponent is to back off and run away. During rush you are able to Thundering Shuriken in the direction they are running and then follow up with the Electrical Surge active.
So the player was like,"Oh crap he's going to try to combo stun me with rush....RETREAT!" You hit them with shuriken and surge even though they backed off. "Oh that little bastard! Stupid flippin ninja!!" Now they have two MoTS on them, the damage from your attacks, and pushed away from the lane a bit. Build up your passive auto-attack charge and since they were wise before, they will stay away until the marks wear off. So in addition to our harass, we now just denied them exp and gold.
Electrical Surge + Lightning Rush FLEE:
So you have been prolonging your timer and harassing like an annoying little sibling, now lets harass even when they are at their turret! Normally the opponent has a mark on them when being next to the tower, but if they don't try to Thundering Shuriken a mark on them. Once they have a mark on them get into tower range. What you want to do is Electrical Surge and then immediately Lightning Rush away. You will be too fast and far away for the tower to even lock on you.
By level 3 you will be able to harass effectively from your tower all the way to their tower with little risk. I don't recommend using the tower harass if the opponent has an on-demand stun/snare/taunt. Harass but be smart about it.
Killing Tips with Flash / Team Fights
Kennen's Killing Range with Slicing Maelstrom and Flash:
Hopefully in the future I will add a picture illustrating your effective "kill range."
The first thing I want you to do is visualize in your mind your hero Kennen. He has Flash, so imagine how far he can travel with that spell. Now pretend he has used Slicing Maelstrom. Imagine the added range (the radius) of his ult from his position. Compare the distance from the tip of his ult to his place he originally started from. That is a lot of room my friends!
I'm not sure that most of the wisest players expect the killing range of Kennen with flash. It is quite spectacular. Combined with Lightning Rush, you have a great chance of stunning opponents from afar by bridging the distance quite quickly. Many people trying to take down one of your turrents will die from thinking they had that extra distance before being in danger of you. Take advantage of the underestimation of your abilities, and you will net kills.
Repositioning with Flash:
Kennen players should take note that ulting causes our little ninja to move slow, and sometimes even the best of us don't manage to trap our enemies by a slight margin. Well if you mess up, flash lets you redeem yourself. The duration of your ult is long enough for you to reposition again with Flash.
This is also a valid tactic to do ON PURPOSE against enemy champions that can knock you back when you ult. Imagine how pissed off Janna would to see your ult storm of stuns AGAIN by simply flashing back to her after she used Monsoon.
Slicing Maelstrom Stun then Flash:
Besides using Flash to position yourself for an ult, there are times where the enemy understands how much of a threat you are, regardless if you are the one killing or just assisting. In these cases, I recommend to Lightning Rush into a fight with your ult and then after stunning, flashing to the perimeter of the team fight and continuing to burst at a safe distance.
Things to Remember:
Do remember that you can pop your Zhonya's Hourglass while you ult. Again, remember that your five man stun places you in a very dangerous position in a team fight. This takes threat off of you while allowing you to do that one thing you do best. If you didn't use your Flash before and you think you'll be killed after the invincibility wears off, Flash the hell out of there!
Remember that we have a large incentive to stun, especially in a team fight. Leaving an opponent with 2 marks to run about without stunning them is a crime. Don't lose your life over it, but just make the judgement call.
After the initial opening with your ult, your focus goes from stunning the enemy team to stunning /killing the enemy damage dealers or support. Personally, I go for supports first unless another target is low health. Again, size up the situation but make the right choice. You are an energy hero and don't have much room for wasted skill usage.
Not Dying When Using Ult
There are two underlying factors that I consider are important in surviving a team fight after Kennen uses his Slicing Maelstrom. There are Pre-Fight conditions and Ult Commitment.
Pre-Fight Considerations (Common Sense!!!):
1. Do you have suitable health to endure the initiation of a team fight?
- I have seen a lot of players using different heroes that join a team fight with about 60% health. While at times this is unavoidable, most times it isn't, especially since we are talking about team fights here and not ganks. Team fights require preparation, good coordination, and great timing. If your teammates exchanging pokes for more then 15 seconds, odds are that both sides are awaiting an initiation. Don't stand there with low health. Tell your team you are going to heal and to post-pone fighting until you get back.
2. Are you current with your item build?
- Apart from lingering around with low health, there are also players that haven't bought items in a long while. That extra amount of offensive/defensive capability from your items WILL influence if you die or if you net kills, which influences whether or not your team wins or loses the fight. Be prepared!
3. Is your ult off cooldown?
- Kennen's worth to a teamfight plummets quite heavily when he doesn't use his ultimate in a team fight. Your team might as well lose a tower then to have you fight without it. Kennen's ult is designed to mangle superior coordination and positioning of the enemy team. You lower your team's chances of winning considerably with this on cooldown.
4. Are any of enemies MIA and Alive?
- Surprises in battle are never good if coming from the enemy team. A pincered (surrounded) team is usually the disadvantaged one. Take note of who is MIA and their possible motives in surprising your team. If the champion is a stealth assassin, stay near the rear of your team until the fight begins. Personally, I get frustrated when a squishy ally wanders beyond our tank and gets picked off by the MIA stealth assassin.
Ult Commitment and Positioning:
1. Which team initiated the fight? -> Determines if you engage.
- This is very important! Unless your tank wasn't prepared along the guidelines above, back him up when he starts the fight. The opportunity goes to waste if your team doesn't follow up. On the other hand, if the opposing team engaged the fight, see how this effects your chance at winning the teamfight. If your ally that got engaged is dead or near death, then this tends to be an indicator that this team fight will be a failure for your team. Unless your entire team commits, you do NOT. There are stupid players that die needlessly, and there are players that try to save those stupid people. Nine times out of ten, trying to save this person results in death.
2. How high on their priority kill list are you? -> Determines how to engage.
- This ultimately determines how you approach the enemy team with your ult. If you are low priority (there is a bigger badass on your team then you), then you will mostly Flash into the fight with your ult, using lightning rush to escape to the perimeter. If you are high priority, you will do the opposite so you have maximum escape tools at your disposal. Lightning rush yourself into the team with your ult. Pop your Zhonya's Hourglass and then flash to the perimeter.
3. What is the CC differential in both teams? -> Determines how far you extend with your ult.
- Kennen's ult not only places him bursting range, but also places him in the CC hot zone. I understand that the 5 man stun Kennen is famous for brings with it the desire to perform it. However, an alive Kennen is vastly more useful. If your team has the enemy on a sufficient lockdown with CC, then feel free to attempt your 5 man stun.
If the opposing team has the upper hand, then only PARTIALLY stun their team. Yes, I know it may seem a waste, but it really isn't. For the onset of the fight, you stunned/marked the frontline and some of the unlucky backline. By retreating while you still have your ult, you are keeping yourself alive longer AND you are protecting your team's backline. There are players that dive right into the heart of your team in hopes of killing the squishy targets. The range of your ult should be able to encompass those teammates as you continue to burst from a safe point.
4. Are you winning or losing? -> Determines if you flee or stay to the death!
-Sometimes its very close and its hard to tell who is winning this fight. Most times its pretty obvious. Now I'm not recommending to flee as soon as you are done with your ult. Don't be chicken, cause Tyrndamere eats chickens. Try to be as much benefit to your team from a reasonably safe distance. Even if you are at 20% health, your ability to stun opponents may save the life of a fleeing teammate, may assist in a kill, or might even net you a kill.
5. Are you being chased and do they have marks on them already?
Unfortunately, we all come across team fights that have ended poorly. We must now retreat. Obviously if you got away without being noticed, then find a safe place to port back. Most times, people have a thirst for ninja flesh. If they are marked, do your best to Thundering Shuriken stun them while you run. I do not recommend using Electrical Surge unless they are one mark from a stun. That spell halts Kennen, and we need to be always on the move. If your hunter isn't marked, invest ALL your energy into Lightning Rush. The moment your start to use energy to stun an unmarked target is when you lose your advantage in escaping.
Do remember that if you have Rylai's Crystal Scepter, then you can use your Thundering Shuriken to slow down an opponent even if they have no marks on them. However, I don't advise doing this unless there is only one opponent that can realistically chase you down.
I am pretty sure I got all the things I wanted to off my skinny gamer chest. I really would like to applaud all the hard work by Kennen guide writers before me. All my argument against some of the advice presented in some of these guides is just that....an argument. I appreciate all effort such people place into their guides. I only hope that readers will get a sense of serious thought put into writing this one.
Thanks for taking the time to read this text orgy I got going on here. I appreciate constructive feedback, especially since this is my first guide.
Submitted by Solpre
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