Katarina Build Guide

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The Playstyle Guide to Katarina - An Extensive Guide

written by rakotka

Katarina Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Well hello and welcome to read my guide where I introduce you to the way I play Katarina, The Sinister Blade

    I have been playing Kat as a main for quite some time now so I decided to . This guide will show the way of playing Kat that I have found the best working for me, that does NOT mean that I'm not open to everyone else's opinions, builds or tactics (allthough I've probably considered every option allready :P).
    After the patch where Kat got her recent rework(not so recent anymore :P), the world of Ability Power was unlocked to her as Riot gave Bouncing Blades AP-ratio, and therefore I changed my build from AD(Attack Damage) to AP(Ability Power). This was a big buff since AP items have a large variety of survivability, instead of going full glasscannon as AD/hybrid. I still think AD Kat is good for trolling around after getting fed early :D.
    I would assume I have played 300-400 games with Kat, in over 1 years time. In normal games (just to brag a little :D) I estimate my win-rate with Katarina to be around 65% or greater.Even though its said that Katarina is not a strong pick for the team (Elementz Tier List), she's loads of fun and I still love to play her. Kat can usually carry games without problems.I used to play Katarina in rankeds and I still see her viable, so go ahead and pwn bobs with these tips ;)

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    EUNE account (main): Ph0sph0r, Solo queue top rating: 1715
    EUW account: Rakotka

    My Goal with this guide is to help all Katarina-players and give an in-depth view on how to play Katarina. Enjoy.

  • Abilities

    "After a kill or assist, Katarina gains 25 gold and her cooldowns are reduced by 15 seconds."

    This passsive is AMAZING! You won't probably notice the tiny amount of extra gold but the instant cooldown reduction is wonderful! This is the reason why Katarina can easily get multikills in every teamfight!

    Bouncing Blade
    "Katarina throws a dagger that hits up to 2/3/4/5/6 enemies, dealing 60/95/130/165/200 (+0.35*AP + 0.8*AD) magic damage. Each subsequent hit deals 10% less damage."

    Katarina's easy harassment and farming tool.

    Notice that the range of the bounces is not (depending) big enough to jump from melee minions to caster minions.

    Those who play at higher ELO should not farm with this too much, to not push too hard but rather farm with Auto-Attacks and Shunpo.

    [spell=Killer Instincts]
    "Passive: Katarina's abilities and melee attacks deal 8-24 additional damage each hit.
    Active: Katarina's next basic ability has a bonus effect.
    Bouncing Blade: Deals full damage to every target it hits and applies 50% healing reduction for 5 seconds.
    Shunpo: Katarina takes 15-35% reduced damage from enemy attacks for 3 seconds."

    The passive part of this is barely noticable, but extra damage is allways nice.

    The active has 2 uses:
    1. When you combo with Bouncing Blade then use it for reducing health regeneration/health potion/healing or use it for dealing more damage on minions. To achieve best harassment activate [spell_text=killer instincts] before throwing Bouncing Blade at caster minions (assuming the enemy champions is near them).
    2. Combo it with Shunpo to reduce damage while committing into a fight. This use of it is strong when you want to harass without taking much damage and when committing against enemy champions.

    "Katarina moves to her target's location. If the target is an enemy, she deals 80/120/160/200/240 (+0.75*AP) magic damage to the target."

    Katarina's second nuke spell and epic escape ability, as Katarina CAN cast this on friendly units. Deals good damage late game and will make tower diving a easy (assuming you get the kill so that your passive removes its cooldown).

    Death Lotus
    "Katarina goes into a state of extreme focus, throwing daggers with unrivaled speed at 3 enemy champions. Each dagger deals 40/45/50 (+0.30*AP + 0.55*AD)."

    This is Katarina's bread and butter. This is what makes enemy champions melt in front of your eyes. It does quite small damage until you get items but in lategame it has a fairly small cooldown and huge damage. Notice that in some big team fights you might even get to use this ability twice thanks to your passive.

    Hextech Gunblade -> ([spell_text=killer instincts]) -> Shunpo -> Death Lotus = Instant kill

    The problem is that Death Lotus is very easy to stop with CC. In a game the enemies have at least 3 different CC spells (usually more in higher ELO) therefore TIMING in fights means everything! You will most probably be CC'd, but make sure you first do as much damage as possible, so that your friends can grant you assists which allows you to deal more damage.

    ALSO because Death Lotus is easy to stop, therefore fights in the jungle favor Katarina. When nobody can see her before she Shunpo's in then she won't be the immediate focus of attention and if possible Death Lotus should be used inside a bush where enemies cannot see her because, unlike auto-attack, Death Lotus won't reveal her inside the bush. This means that enemies who don't know you are in the bush won't immediately understand why their health is dropping down fast.

  • TL;DR

    Masteries: 9/0/21

    Runes: HPreg/5 AP/5 Mpen HPreg(flat)

    Items to aim for:

  • Masteries and Runes


    For masteries I use 9/0/21, picking cooldown reduction, experience, ability power and summoner spell cooldown reduction.
    With these masteries I will be able deal max damage with spells and have both Teleport and Ignite available as often as possible.

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    Because Katarina is a melee Champion solo laning, therefore early harassment is a problem. Most of the time sololanes are played by Casters and Ranged DPS, this means that ranged auto-attacks will be a pain, hence the best possible early game survivability is required from runes.

    I use this runepage:

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    The flat Health Regeneration Quintessences combined with Hpreg/lvl Seals (per level scaling Seals are equally good as flat already at level 4 and better than flat at level 5) and Doran's Shield will give You amazing early game Health Regeneration, and harassment won't be a problem anymore.

    Magic Penetration Marks makes You hit as hard as possible on Enemies that start stacking Magic Resistance.

    In Glyphs I rather take Ability Power per level than Cooldown Reduction, as I have noticed that AP/lvl are stronger and they stack nicely with Rabadon's Deathcap.

    (Runepage cost:17220 IP Points)

  • Summoner Abilities

    Because Katarina is not dependent of escape mechanisms from summoner spells (thanks to Shunpo), therefore choosing summoner spells is more free as a Katarina.

    I prefer to use:

    Teleport is a very good summoner spell for the entire team. This spell allows to use the "Twisted Fate" tactic: Teleport-ganking. Teleport-ganking is a very effective way to get easy kills and support your teammates when they are ganked by turning a 1vs2 into a 2vs2.
    In early game Teleport should not be used for getting back to lane.
    With my beloved runepage I can usually easily stay at lane until I get a kill at mid or go teleport-ganking. If I'm able to harass the Enemy Champion to Recall from the lane or he just decides to go shopping, then I push the lane as fast as possible to their tower and then Recall myself. Then I RUN back to the lane.
    Because my minions died to the tower when I pushed before I Recalled, therefore then Enemy Champion has lost Exp and the enemy minions should have a bigger push, which means that I lose minimal Exp AND save Teleport for ganking and collecting easy kills.

    (For an explanation how this is done check "Tactics: Teleport-Ganking" below)

    Also thanks to Teleport I can keep pushing lanes in lategame, when otherwise both teams are grouped up for teamfights. When I notice that a team fight has started then I simply Teleport into the fight and deal my damage. Most of the time the enemies will be taken off guard when they notice the easy 5vs4 fight turned into a 5vs5, so they have hopefully used some of that annoying CC on you friends.

    And one more reason is Tower-saving. When you notice that an enemy is collecting a big push or allready hitting the tower, then simply Teleport there and get free Exp and gold AND most importantly, you just saved a tower.

    Ignite simply is an additional source of damage, which is much craved for in early game. Ignite so easily removes earlygame "almost kill"-frustrations. Once you get comfortable with the damage that Katarina can deal with comboing Bouncing Blade with Shunpo, then you can comfortably dominate your lane until the Enemy happens to come too close and explodes to your main spellcombo plus Ignite.

    Because Katarina really needs to get her "snowball" rolling quite early therefore, much focus is in the early game, hence it doesn't matter that Ignite is pretty weak (in my opinion) in lategame.

    IN CASE some circumstances FORCE me to go to a duo-lane then I rather take:


    I change my precious Teleport to Flash because Flash guarantees that I will able to be in range with my damage abilities and pick up easy kills, even under Tower.
    Also Flash helps if you get ganked: Flash + Shunpo = A very long distance traveled in 1 second.

    But anyway it is VERY seldom that I don't go solo mid.

  • Skilling Order

    I maximize Bouncing Blade first for good farming and nice harassing in early game.

    Max Shunpo second to get a decent combo damage.

    Depending on the Opponent I get 1 rank in [spell_text=killer instincts] at level 4 or 8. (8 being the more usual)

    And of course take Death Lotus at levels 6, 11 and 16!

  • Items: Core

    Core build:


    In a nutshell:

    1. Doran's Shield 
    2. Sorcerer's Shoes
    3. Hextech Gunblade
    4. Abyssal Scepter
    6. Rabadon's Deathcap
    5. Rylai's Crystal Scepter
    7. Zhonya's Hourglass
    Elixir of Fortitude
    Elixir of Brilliance

    This is my usual build and order, but every gamehas its own situational variations in both items and the orderin which I buy the items, for example I might buy Negatron Cloak(which obviously builds into Abyssal Scepter) before finishing Hextech Gunblade if I am taking heavymagic damage

    Item Explanations:

    Starting with a Doran's Shield is the best option when playing against Opponents that actually have played the game before and understand that Katarina can be very easily harassed out of the lane. With the extra health regeneration harassment won't be a problem and the extra health adds also nicely to survivability.

    As boots of course Sorcerer's Shoes are the best option. These give some extra damage to all of Katarina's abilities (as they all deal magic damage).

    Hextech Gunblade. This is the best item to rush as Kat for 3 reasons:
    1. This gives SPELL VAMP which is just WONDERFUL when Death Lotus melts down enememies. Spell Vamp gives huge survivability in teamfights and allows Katarina to keep laning practically forever.2. The Active. Ranged 300 extra damage and 50% slow is exactly what Katarina needs to be able deal as much damage as possible.3. The Attack Damage and Ability Power it gives(even after nerf). Because Katarina has 2 abilities scaling off both AD and AP therefore this is a huge boost to damage from abilities.

    I have recently fallen in love with Abyssal Scepter. This item helps very well in case the enemy Mages have taken as a life purpose to shutdown Katarina. It gives very much survivability and boosts damage through both AP and Unique Aura.

    Rylai's Crystal Scepter does 2 notable things: First of all, it gives NICE Health (500hp), Second it gives a fair amount of Ability Power.Then there is still the (pretty much useless) slow that it gives to Your abilities, but these are no reason to rush for Rylai's Crystal Scepter first.

    Rabadon's Deathcap is a total no-brainer for every AP stacking Mage... Most of the time I choose to build it after Abyssal Scepter because survivability+damage that the Abyssal Scepter has is much more needed than than pure damage Rabadon's Deathcap gives.

    Incase some team would happen to be Attack Damage-dominant (which barely any team is...) then Zhonya's Hourglass will come handy early on, instead of Abyssal Scepter. Otherwise its only veryveryLate-game item to buy only to finish the build. Remember that Zhonya's Hourglass has a very good Unique Active!

  • Items: Situational Builds and Buying Order

    Some items are really good for Katarina but still probably not you would pick to everygame:

    Mejai's Soulstealer: This is a really nice item for pubstomping. Katarina has a big nuking capacity so in most cases you won't have problems filling your stacks, BUT the problem will be maintaining those stacks. Playing Katarina means you will be CC-focused hard by your enemies, having a Mejai's Soulstealer means the enemies have an even better reason to focus you down early in the fights! So be carefull with this item. If you buy this item be sure to gank much and be in every teamfight. Also Mejai's Soulstealer is not an item against people who actually are good, since they will make you work really hard to get stacks.

    [item=Kage's lucky pick]: This is a good item for gold boost. Be sure to buy this if you know that you aren't such a good farmer. Oh, and remember to buy this early!

    Deathfire Grasp: This is a very strong item! If you are sure you remember to use the active, that is. It gives some AP and very helpful Cooldown Reduction which are both stats that help you kill enemies easier and more often. If you have bought a [item_text=Kage's lucky pick] then be sure you upgrade it to this later. But remember to use the actives on all of your items!

    Lich Bane: This is a bit tricky item to use, since Katarina's autoattacks are melee. Shunpo will ofcourse give you an easy Lich Bane proc, but this means the enemy will have time to run further away before you can cast your ultimate. Get this item after Rabadon's Deathcap, since it won't give you much damage before you have a significant amount of AP.

  • Tactics

    There are some nice tactics that can be used with Katarina:

    1. Teleport-Ganking -  When you notice that top or bot lane is either getting ganked or outplayed by enemies, teleport to a minion near the enemies and ping for your teammates to attack aswell. This will very often catch the enemies by surprise as they have clearly overextended in a situation that became 2v3 instead of 2v2. Because Teleport has aThe best possible scenario with teleports timing is that the enemies have walked past friendly minions and therefor
    As mentioned before this is very nice, picking up easy kills and supporting team. With Katarina this is easier than many other Champions, as Shunpo closes the distance to the fleeing enemies efficiently.
    Try to save your teleport spell as much as possible for teleport-ganking.

    2. Harassing - Harassing with Bouncing Blade is easy and efficient, just throw it at minions that are close to the Opponent. If/When the Opponent starts avoiding being to close to his minions, use Shunpo to jump to a minion so that Opponent will be in range for [spell=bouncing blades] = problem solved

    3. GTFO-ing - Running away with Katarina is really easy and fast, just Shunpo to a friendly minion or friendly Champion. (Also use Shunpo to get back to lane faster if the friendly minion wave is in front of You)

    4. Ward-Jumping - This is a very nice tactic but rather difficult to use and get used to. By buying a Sight Ward and keeping it in the Inventory for times when You need extra reachability, then just place the ward in front of You and Shunpo to it. This is very effective when You are running away and do not happen to have minions close by. Ward-jumping can also be used to get over walls.

    5. Kill-Comboing - When You get a kill or an assist, then you will get your cooldowns reduced by 15 seconds. This means that after killing, You will be able to directly jump to the next target unleashing your damage. Thanks to Katarina's passive you'll end up getting multikills in teamfights <3.

    6. Bush-Fighting - When you are being chased by one or many enemy champions, you should estimate your damage potential and enemy health. In case you feel like you could kill someone or you notice that you won't get away, then look for the nearest bush and do Death Lotus in the bush. This very often takes enemies by surprise and they can not stop you before they are in the bush, suddenly you score a triple kill. Cheers. Always try to do Death Lotus from bushes or over walls (out of sight) if possible, this will make it much more difficult to stop.

  • Playing: Early-game

    Basics of Early-game:

    1. Last-Hitting

    2. Zoning

    The Early-game is all about getting levels and farming gold, this is also the most tricky part of the game for Katarina. As mentioned before, Katarina is a melee champion sololaning while most other Champions played in sololanes are ranged, hence comes problems with getting harassed too much.
    When the first minion waves meet, try just to run around your own minions and throw Bouncing Blade to last-hit. Once You get comfortable with how much damage you can take from the Opponent, then try to easy harass while taking one or to hits, this will not be any problem as you will regenerate Health faster than your Opponent. If you successfully bring your Opponent down to about half Health, then he will start being much more careful around you. This means that You will get lane control and therefore might be able to Experience-Loss your Opponent by Out-Zoning (see tutorial above).

    1. Early-game domination is the key to a successful Katarina game. Katarina doesn't use mana and has a "Flash" ability which are two main reasons why she can easily get kills really early. No mana means unlimited ability spamming, Shunpo means unexpected range. Use these facts to dominate your lane and hopefully score a kill on your Opponent.

    2. Exp-Lossing your Opponent is a very strong tactic and leads to you being much stronger than Him by getting levels faster, and when coming to mid-game you will have better Ganking potential. Exp-lossing is not very easy. To begin with, use the hit-and-run method until enemy notices your damage dealing potential. Then start running around your enemy minions while only taking last-hits, your goal is to make the enemy Minion-wave to Push itself, while out-zoning the Opponent. This is very difficult and against most players doesn't work, unless you already have 1 or 2 level advantage.

    3a. Katarina's lane survivability is amazing with the Health Regeneration-runepage, hence try to stay at the lane for a long time before going back the first time to buy items. The best timing to go back is when you Opponent has gone to base and you have pushed your minion wave. First of all, when you have a pushed lane, then you are open for Ganks which isn't very nice. Second of all, when you have pushed your lane, then you will lose minimal amount of experience in running back to lane (remember to save Teleport for ganking).
    3b. Incase you have been killed, then using Teleport for going back to lane is not a bad idea. Remember that Early-Game is about getting Exp, so Teleport fast back to lane INCASE the Opponent has pushed minion-wave to your tower. Otherwise save your Teleport for a bad day.
    4a. Katarina has strong Ganking-Potential already in early game, thanks to Her Shunpo which allows to close distances fastly and to Tower-Dive already at early levels (thanks to passive). Best case scenario is that the Enemy team is pushing at Bottom or Top-lane AND have fairly low Health. Run there and do your job in helping team to victory.4b. Teleport-Ganking. Yes I have mentioned this before. It is amazingly efficient, but a bit difficult to learn. It takes pretty much Map-Awareness to successfully Teleport-Gank, so hold your eyes open for the Sidelanes incase you feel like your lane opponent won't grant you any kills.

    Check Tactics for infomation about harassing and tele-ganking

  • Playing: Mid-game

    Will be added later

  • Playing: Late-game

    Will be added later

  • Notes

    Been way too long since I updated this guide :( sorry for that.
    Long time has gone and no major changes that would impact Kat has come. Keep playing her and keep pwning.

  • Still to be added

    Playstyle guide...
    Gameplay videos...
    Champions that are good allies...
    Champions you don't want in enemy team...

  • Last Words

    I'm trying to make this guide as thorough as I can, describing both gameplay and playstyle precisely. It is a painfully slow process but I keep filling in missing parts as often as I can.
    I am aware of this guide not being finished yet but I published it allready because it contains enough information and tips to be helpful.

    Thank You for reading this Guide. I hope it has been helpful.

    Comment if you find things you do different in Your Katarina Builds and why, I'm allways up for some debate over Kat ;)
    Or if you happen to have questions, then I'm more than happy to answer.

    Please rate if you liked this Guide.

    - Signing out,

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