Katarina Build Guide
Katarina - Is it Katurday yet?written by Razzoriel
Table of Contents
|Pros / Cons||5|
|When should I pick Katarina?||6|
|Masteries + Runes||7|
|Working in the team - Synergizing with your team||13|
|Keep your friends close, your enemies closer - Enemy team basic analysis||14|
Hello there. You'll wonder why the hell there's YET ANOTHER guide for Katarina, even though she's a pretty straight-forward champion. The main reason why I made this guide is to explore several gaps most other guides skip, or have information scrambled (Example: while one guide has pretty good in-depth strategies, it lacks good item builds), so you have to waste your time searching for the best, and adapt while doing so.
Even though I encourage that people find whatever suits them best, my point here is to summarize everything in this neat guide I took time and effort to make. Katarina is a lovely champion, one of the funniest to play given her extreme snowball effect.
Well, no more chit-chat, let's get to business!
NOTE: The guide is under heavy construction, being updated constantly. Make sure to come back regularly to check any changes made!
24/3/2011 - Guide was created!
06/5/2011 - Minor additions to the Enemy Team Analysis.
08/11/2011 - Major tweaks and modifications to the guide. With the Tanky DPS Metagame, I've felt like updating the guide should be useful for new Katarina players.
Voracity Reduces all Katarina's cooldowns by 15 seconds everytime she gets an assist or a kill. She also gains extra 25 gold for it.
Great passive. One of the reasons why a fed Katarina is a complete beast. Also allows you to tower-dive low HP champions by using Shunpo to kill, refresh it's Cooldown, and Shunpo'ing a minion to go out of turret range.
Bouncing Blade Damage: 60/95/130/165/200
AP/AD scaling: 0.25 per ability power point + 0.75 per attack damage point NOTE THAT IT'S NOT ONE -OR- ANOTHER, KAT GETS BENEFIT FROM BOTH.
Cooldown: 9/8.75/8.5/8.25/8 seconds
Bounce damage: 10% less damage per bounce.
Kat's main laning harrassing skill. Deals meh damage, but the bouncing factor can make landing it at the enemy champions easier. At level 5, it can hit an entire wave of minions bounce-by-bounce (dealing full damage if you had Killer Instincts on).
A small side note to Bouncing Blade: you need to have all bouncing targets in sight range. Throwing a bouncing blade with 6 bounces at an incoming minion at the edge of sight range won't make it bounce.
[spell=Killer Instincts] Passive Damage Increase: 8/12/16/20/24
Active effect (Bouncing Blades): 50% healing reduction for 10 seconds. Bounces deal full damage to all targets.
Active effect (Shunpo): Reduces incoming damage by 15/20/25/30/35% for 3 seconds.
This skill is the reason why Katarina can survive an overhaul of sh!t people throw at you when you Shunpo with Killer Instincts on. The Damage Reduction is very good, even at level 1. For Bouncing Blade, you only need one skill point to work it all the time with it. The damage increase is pretty good, but won't be too noticeable, even if you max it first (which you shouldn't, since her other skills are so good).
Always keep this active.
Shunpo Damage: 80/120/160/200/240
AP Scaling: 0.75 per ability power point
Ahhh, our Flash-like ability. Pure AP ownage. Note that it doesn't say it in the tooltip, but you will always flash to the back of your target. Considering you're not outnumbered/low on HP, it makes sense to Shunpo a champion attacking your turret and activate your Ultimate, netting in a couple daggers more than if you were in front of him.
Note that you can target ally units. This makes escaping easy, even with wards/summons.
There are many combos Katarina can pull off with this skill. Shunpo'ing an ally to escape ganks, Shunpo a minion + BB at enemy champion, Shunpo + BB + Death Lotus as massive AoE damage.
Death Lotus Damage per dagger: 50/65/80
AP/AD scaling: 0.25 per ability power point + 0.5 per attack damage point
Max amount of targets: 3
Max daggers per target: 10
Duration: 3 seconds
Daggers per second: 3.33 daggers
Cooldown: 45 seconds
OMG IT SPINS!!!! ITS LIKE BEYBLADE BUT WITH KNIVES AND PWNAGE LOL
Yes, the so feared "press R to win" button is deadly. Even at level 1, daggers hurt, and even more when you Shunpo in the fray and press R. Note that it's low cooldown is even lower if you can net assists and kills (Voracity takes 15 secs out of the CD).
The scaling is double the worth in AD, but AD items are generally more expensive, making it moot to buy AD items for better damage.
There's a very nifty trick with this ultimate: casting it while on a bush won't give away your position, but your enemies will be hit until they facecheck it. This makes a very deadly ambush, considering you can plan ahead to make them take the entire duration of it.
"Playing Katarina is like drawing a painting. Any retard can do it, but only a few can truly label it as 'art'"
Katarina is one of the best snow-ballers in League of Legends, meaning the more she wrecks stuff, the more total wreckage is inflicted over the enemy team. It is very common that for this reason Katarina players overextend a lot, getting careless and netting a kill for a death, or even worse, leaping for a death without getting kills. The difference between a good and a bad Katarina player is possibly the biggest gap in the game.
The main complaint about Katarina is how easy she can be shut down during her Ultimate. Crowd-Control (we'll refer this from now on as CC) effects can be deadly if they cancel Katarina's Ult early.
Katarina has glaring weaknesses over other champions, and we'll see them closely, in every section, detail by detail.
I will cover 3 builds for Kat: AP, AD and Hybrid, each with it's section.
Pros / Cons
DISCLAIMER: Pure AD Katarina builds are deemed subpar to AP/Hybrid. Read below to understand why.
+ Arguably one of the best snowballing champions in the game.
+ Potentially devastating Ultimate ( Death Lotus).
+ One of the better passives in the game ( Voracity), being useful all the time, everytime.
+ Good counter versus healing-focused enemies with little to none CC (Mundo, Vladmir, and to a lesser extent, Swain, for example)
+ Great harasser in laning phase. Only buff DPS or some tank champions will be able to withstand her harass, even in a 1v2 lane.
+ Good escape mechanism with her Shunpo. Smart players will know how to use it during fights to target allies/friendly minions around to escape ganks.
- Heavily-centered in her Ultimate to be of real use, even out of teamfights.
- Weak against heavy CC teams. Getting constantly cancelled with her ult will make snowballing very hard.
- Has little space for error. A wrong move may bring your snowballing to a halt.
- A tank/initiator is almost always required to take the first CC effects, or the initial strike, making your waiting for the ideal moment to strike wasted time (not appliable sometimes, since good timing can lead to a killing spree).
+ Packs more punch with her Bouncing Blade. A well-placed Bouncing Blade with [spell=Killer Instincts] on can devastate a champion group behind creep waves.
+ Has a mean auto-attack when chasing casters or waiting for cooldowns to end.
+ Can make use of The Bloodthirster Lifesteal effect to stay in the lane in middle/late game longer.
- Shunpo deals less damage. As the spell with the greatest range, this can prove to be fatal if Bouncing Blade is on cooldown.
- Her ultimate does NOT necessarily do more damage; a net improving to her ult sometimes is not worth it if you're facing heavy MR teams.
- Even though her auto-attack will deal some damage, she still won't be able to DPS with it. And it also requires you to be in constant danger in melee range.
- Some of the better items for Katarina are AP-based.
- Even though Katarina's spells (with the exception of Shunpo) scale off AD better than AP, they deal MAGICAL damage, so Armor Penetration items won't work as intended.
- Needs to be WAY more fed than AP to be useful
- The Bloodthirster is a core item, and needs to be "fed" with creeps to properly give it's max damage bonus; Kat is a lousy farmer, and should focus on ganking instead.
Veredict: Use it if you want to deal more AoE damage and not be dependant on your ultimate to do so, and/or if you know the enemy team won't be packing MR, or are mostly squishies. DON'T play AD Katarina if you die easily.
+ Packs more punch with her Shunpo. As her initiating/chasing spell, I find it more valuable then her Bouncing Blade.
+ Synergizes better with items, since most AP items also pack survivability (Example: Zhonya's Hourglass, good utility ( Rylai's Crystal Scepter) and/or Spell Penetration ( Void Staff).
+ Cuts through heavy MR teams better.
+ Rabadon's Deathcap makes AD Katarinas cry in their panties.
+ Less Ultimate-centered than AD Katarina for single-target; Shunpo will most of the time deal more damage and work better than Bouncing Blade.
- Can't kite as well as AD in laning phase (Bouncing Blades deal less damage)
- Ultimates will still hurt, but not as much as AD Katarinas.
- Your auto-attacks will suck (not that much of a deal IMO)
Veredict: Considered by most as the "better" build. Has more space for error, needs less Gold to start kicking behinds, has more utility and can still carry AP-centered items with survivability.
(NOTE: Katarina can be built as a hybrid leaning towards either AP or AD; I won't list the pros and cons since the more you lean her towards one side, the more her intricacies will be revealed. There is no such thing as a "pure" hybrid Katarina, since most hybrid Katarina players will stack a few Hextech Gunblade with assorted items.
When should I pick Katarina?
WHENEVER IT'S KATURDAY!! AND PLAYERS WHO LIKE TO HAVE FUN KNOW THAT 7 DAYS OF THE WEEK IT'S A KATURDAY!!! =D
Well, most people don't like Katurdays, and will hate you for first-picking her. She is a great pubstomper, and literally exterminates in low ELO. Higher ELO matches, however, tend to have at least one CC, and those matches are the ones where people will almost always wait until you ult first to interrupt you. Bloody pros....
It doesn't mean you shouldn't pick her, however! A game is meant to be fun, and what fun will you have if you play a hero you don't like?!? Tell everyone to stfu and grab Katarina if you're confident of winning. Competitive people will hate you forever, but as long as you're having fun, IMO, you're being successful.
If you're the type that loves min/maxing, and can't withstand a loss, well you should always pick Katarina as one of the last champions. Picking her in the middle is fine, though. She is exceptionally good against teams with little to no CC, or with no reasonable means to interrupt channel spells. The more squishy they are, the faster they fall, too.
Katarina does NOT perform well against a team of the so-feared "Offtank DPS" characters. These are made of champions that are buff enough to withstand punishments and deal enough damage to kill most others if focused. Comes to mind in this category -> Olaf, Xin, Jarvan, Udyr, Malphite, and others.
Masteries + Runes
NOTE:(If you're new to Masteries, the model X/X/X refers to Offensive, Defensive and Utility Masteries, respectively. So a 21/0/9 Mastery setup means you spend 21 points in Offensive, 9 in Utility, and none in Defensive Mastery)
Masteries are something that are entirely open for debate, but there are unquestionable points that all Katarina players should spend on: [bold]9 points in Offensive Mastery. The reason we're doing it is to get these babies:
Sorcery -> 0.75% cooldown reduction per point may not seem to be much, but you need to spend 4 points to get Archaic Knowledge. See below.
[mastery=Archaic Knowledge] -> 15% Magic Resistance penetration, even though it is applied after flat Spell Penetration, is very useful. Pick it.
[mastery=Cripple] -> Exhaust is a useful Summoner spell against physical DPS carries, and will be discussed later in the Summoner Abilities part. The extra kick to it, although minor, is pretty good.
The other masteries either do not play as much of a big part as those two, so pick any of your choice until [mastery=Archaic Knowledge] is available.
The rest of the points is open for debate. You can go 21/0/9, 9/21/0 or 9/0/21, it's all a matter of preference. Personally, I like the 9/0/21 setup.
21/0/9 -> Not reccomended. This setup makes use of the Offensive Mastery points to go all the way down the tree. 9 points in Utility brings in most of the Utility Mastery usefulness, if only so. The only useful mastery to invest in this setup is:
[mastery=Burning Embers] -> 10 bonus AP while Ignite is on cooldown is not much, but it adds up, and should always be a welcome addition.
The rest is only barely useful to auto-attack champions. And you won't use too much of your auto-attack, unless you're AD Kat, in one of the rare situations you'll find yourself using auto-attacks rather than chasing your enemy.
Veredict: 2/5. 3/5 if you're AD.
9/21/0 -> Reccomended. This setup is universally known as the "better" for Katarina. She needs all survivability she can get, and this setup brings it to her. Honorable mentions to this setup:
[mastery=Veteran's Scars] -> 48 extra HP off the bat with 3 points invested? That's more than a HP Quintessence!
[mastery=Ardor] -> 3% extra AP is always nice to have. The extra attack speed won't really matter to you.
Resistance and Hardiness -> Small, but useful bonuses to MR/Armor.
Veredict: 4.5/5. Don't know why it's not 5/5 even though it's the "better" setup? Check below.
9/0/21 -> Also Reccomended. Unlike the other setups, this has the universally given as the most useful Mastery: [mastery=Utility Mastery]. This enables you to snowball better, given you gain a golem/lizard buff. I know you won't be jungling as Kat, but it's a welcome plus when you manage to kill an enemy with these goodies. Honorable mentions:
[mastery=Awareness] -> Hmmm.. small experience bonus. Always good to any player.
Intelligence -> 9% total cooldown reduction with Sorcery off the bat. Too good to pass.
Whatever points you spend next, please DONT invest a single point in masteries which affect mana (Katarina does NOT use mana, duh!). Yes, I'm looking at you, [mastery=Expanded Mind] and Meditation
Veredict: 5/5. Can't go wrong with this.
(In order of importance; give priority to buy the ones listed first)
Always focus on buying Tier 3 Runes. Tier 2 are okay if you don't have runes, but I wouldn't spend the IP if you're lacking it.
3x Greater Quintessence of Insight
IMO the best quint there is. Can't go wrong with more spell pen. My personal choice.
3x Greater Quintessence of Potency OR 3x Greater Quintessence of Force
Both types of AP quints are also good, but only earlier in the game. Later on they lose usefulness.
3x Greater Quintessence of Vigor
Helps during early laning phase. Staying longer in the lane means you net more experience in the long run.
3x Greater Quintessence of Swiftness
+4.5% running speed can possibly make the difference in chasing, or harassing, but that's it.
3x Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
A 78-HP bonus is not too shabby, but I find there are better quints out there.
9x Greater Mark of Insight
My personal choice. By running all your Marks and Quints with Spell penetration, you'll get approx. 16 Spell Penetration off the bat, meaning that at level 1 you'll get through most enemies' entire MR. With Sorcerer's Shoes, this is a whooping 36 Spell Pen. Most enemies by level 18 with no MR items will barely have 50 MR, meaning your spells will do nearly full damage.
9x Greater Glyph of Warding
Nets you a solid ~14 MR. The other Glyphs aren't worth it, IMO.
Honorable mention -> Greater Glyph of Insight
9 of those give you 5 Spell Pen. Yes, it's useful, but I'd rather get more MR, YMMV.
9x Greater Seal of Evasion
Any combination of
Greater Seal of Resilience with
Greater Seal of Defense
I used to rely on Evasion seals for Kat. However, now there are many champions in the game that have auto-attack resets (Examples: Noxian Diplomacy, Three Talon Strike and Crushing Blow. Those cannot be dodged. Also, with the proliferation of AD casters (Talon and Pantheon, for example). Against those, only additional armor help.
If you still prefer dodge seals, it's fine, they're okay too.
I used to run Ghost and Exhaust.
However, the huge amount of gap-closing champions led me to use Flash with Ignite. Flash is a good crutch to new players, and experienced players may find it also pretty useful when Shunpo isn't available, and/or there are no targets to Shunpo. Ignite is a great kill-securing damage spell, together with those annoying Bloodthirster/Gunblade/Lifesteal baddies. You'll want to use your KI Shunpo, instead of KI Bouncing Blade. Generally, those with Lifesteal are the most damaging guys.
Ghost -> Useful to chase targets through the lane. But Flash is much more useful against other Flash targets.
Exhaust -> Great when you Shunpo/Exhaust/Ult, or against damaging carries, but that's it. I found it pretty lackluster after extensive use, but it's still very good against Yi/Tryndamere/other steroid-user carries.
Heal -> Heal won't save your ass, nor will save your team, most of the time. It's a good "oomph" if you're looking to turn the tide of a team battle, but that's it. The heal amount won't make too much of a difference.
Teleport -> Since the ward-revealing effect on Teleport, it's not that useful to get this spell on Katarina anymore. Sure, it helps, if you need to help on ganks and can coordinate them with your team. Even then, it's pretty lackluster, since the cooldown is pretty heavy.
Cleanse -> Yes, good against CC heavy teams. But on those you already run Mercury's Treads. You can't keep yourself from NOT getting CC'ed unless you purchase Banshee's Veil.
Clairvoyance -> Helps when counter-ganking, ganking jungle enemies and taking a peek at nearby Garens in bushes. Let your support have it. You need more important stuff.
Clear "no way in hell" spells:
Clarity -> If you need an explanation for this, run your uninstall.exe in your LoL folder.
Revive -> Seriously? You expect getting killed while reading a guide that tries to balance firepower with survivability?
Smite -> You're no jungler. You suck at it. Do yourself a favor and let Udyrs/Warwicks take this.
[spell=Fortify] -> Hmmmm.... could be useful if you were a tank or a heavy pusher like Sivir. For you, it's garbage.
[spell=Rally] -> Same as Fortify.
Down to business!
No matter your build, always start with a point in Bouncing Blade. This will be your harass until Level 2, in which you should get Shunpo.
After this point, you should pick either Bouncing Blade or Shunpo as your main spell. AP Kats might find Shunpo more their taste, and AD Kats, BBlade.
You should take Killer Instincts before level 6 only if one of those is true:
- You are laning alone against a pusher champion (Examples: Mordekaiser, Heimerdinger, Renekton/Nasus)
- You are laning 1v2, and one/both of them are pushers.
- You have 3+ points invested in Bouncing Blade.
By level 7, you should have Shunpo/BBlade at level 4, and your Ultimate, Death Lotus. After this point, always max your main skill (AD-BBlade and AP-Shunpo), prioritizing your Ult, obviously.
BUT DUDE, Killer Instincts increase your Ult's damage, too! Wouldn't be good to get it to level 3 before getting Death Lotus? I mean, it's a 16-damage increase per dagger, up to 160 more damage!
Yes, young grasshopper. Theorically, your ultimate can be improved to deal up to 480 more damage (160 per target, can hit up to 3 targets) against your foes if you chose to get Killer Instincts to level 3 first, then Shunpo/BBlade.
But first, picture the scene. You need to make Death Lotus hit 3 enemies, at the same time, for the full duration. 1 out of +99 times this is true. Decrease the odds the better your ELO, and the worst you are as a player. In the worst case scenario (Shunpo'ing a fleeing enemy, then pressing R to land a few daggers), you'll only be able to hit 3-5 times a single enemy. This is a 48-80 damage increase to your damage. Pretty bad, because you could harass more with your other spells.
Now let's figure this scenario: your BBlade/Shunpo is at level 3. You didn't invested in Killer Instincts at all. In a ganking situation (Example: You're mid, ganking top's two pushing champs, joining your solo top), JUST BY SHUNPO'ING ONCE AT A TARGET, you'll beat the worst case scenario if you picked KI as main skill (Level 1 Shunpo damage = 80; Level 3 = 160). Now, you ult, and go spinning in the fray, hitting half of your daggers each of them (5). The difference in damage is 80(16*5 times two champions; your level 3 shunpo has more 80 damage).
So, in a real, possible, plausible situation, the difference won't matter much, and as you'll Shunpo/BBlade WAY more than use your ult, I'd always pick them over Killer Instincts before level 6.
This is where Kat gets fun. The best part about Kat (and most champions out there) is that there is no 100% engraved-in-stone "right" way to build Kat. You adapt to the situation, and make your items according to your enemy team.
The main Items I'll suggest in any Katarina player, however, is below, in order of priority:
Your laning bud. Won't let your behind with regen, armor and extra HP.
Always try to go back to base with at least 420G.
Boots of Speed
Getting boots first is essential to harass/move around faster. I always pick this first over any other item. When you start to get the hang with Katarina, you won't need Doran's Shield. Instead, your Red pots and Boots will be enough.
If you're having some tough time in your lane, buy 2x [item=Red Potion]. If not, go back.
After boots, you must rush to buy either:
Mejai's Soulstealer. This will be your main snowball item, and when stacked, will put a giant neon sign over your head saying "Kill me now or lose your game". This can and will be used in your favour.
Hextech Revolver. Get this if your lane is pretty hard. The sustain it gives is pretty good, but you'll need to upgrade it if you want the Gunblade.
NOTE: AD Kat's can find the AD counterpart, Sword of the Occult more appealing to them, but I find it inferior to Mejai, and strongly advise against it.
So, to summarize:
Boots of Speed
Mejai's Soulstealer or Hextech Revolver
After these are done, your boots are either Sorcerer's Shoes or Mercury's Treads. Build the latter against CC-heavy teams, leaving you with:
Sorcerer's Shoes or Mercury's Treads
Mejai's Soulstealer or Hextech Revolver
Now, before buying your next item you must analyze the situation. Are your enemies dealing mainly Physical or Magical damage? Do they have essentially physical DPS, but it's their Kassadin who is wrecking havoc amongst your allies? Or are they balanced?
In any case, 95% of the time I'll pick a Giant's Belt. This will make you increase your HP by nearly 1/3, giving you such a burst of survivability it's crazy. AD Kats won't find it too useful (see below); a Haunting Guise might suit their taste better.
BUILD SUGGESTION (AP KAT)
Sorcerer's Shoes OR Mercury's Treads
Mejai's Soulstealer or Hextech Revolver
BUILD SUGGESTION (AD KAT)
[item=Sorcerer's Boots] OR Mercury's Treads
Mejai's Soulstealer or Hextech Revolver
So, after Giant's Belt, build towards Rylai's Crystal Scepter if you see your team lacking slows/CC to lock enemies in your ult range. If you're being focused too much, grab a Negatron Cloak or [item=Chain Armor], depending on the enemy's team composition. Physical carries shutting down everyone? Chain armor. AP guys nuking back and forth? Negacloak. Now, if you picked Hextech, rushing Hextech Gunblade might be a better idea, if you're not being focused too much.
By now, your AP will be mainly from your stacks and from Rylai's/Gunblade. If you are fed, it's more than enough; if you aren't, your damage will be lower, but you will be able to Shunpo in, ult, chase/flee and live. The most common mistake of Kat players is to focus too much on firepower. You need to be able to take punishment, or you won't be able to live through killing sprees of Voracity feeding you Shunpos/BBlades to all enemies around, cutting your potential down.
Now, even though survivability is important, your damage will start to fade by level 12-13. This is when you pump your AP/AD up.
AP Kats should then upgrade their Negatron Cloak/Chain Armor to Abyssal Scepter/[item=Zhonya's Houseglass. AD Kats should make Banshee's Veil/ Guardian Angel to compensate their lack of Rylai's.
So, right now our AP kat will be blowing shit up with her AP, while AD Kats will benefit more from their ~60+ spell penetration and AP from Mejai's. None of them will be too much behind each other in effectiveness.
WTF DUDE AD KAT WITH NO AD IS NOT AD STFU GO TO HELL YOU NOOB FFS
I understand your anger, child. You wanna stack [item=BF Sword] to perform that marvellous quadra-kill and then upgrade your babies to The Bloodthirster. I tell you; you can do that. But just try to win from semi-competent players. They will shut you down constantly because you'll need to be close to them to deal damage, and squishy as you are, you'll get focused like a fox surrounded by hunting dogs. And I didn't even mention that you need 1850G to get 50 AD, while you can get 40 AP with 860G.
[intellectual dumbass trying to sound smart]So, if Kat is a snowballing champ, as you say, why not buy Rabadon's Deathcap ASAP?[/end]
Rabadon is a very useful item, and I'd agree with buying it before getting survivability if you're not getting too focused, and you don't need survivability. These rare matches where they'd rather focus other characters but you are the ideal situations for an early Rabadon. If not, it can wait until you can take some hits. Get Rabadon's Cap first if you don't have a gunblade yet.
So, right now, we got mixed items, for both AD and AP Kats. They all not only increase survivability but increase your killing potential.
Right now your path is completely dependant on how the game is going. You probably won't need more survivability than what you already have, but if you're heavily focused, you can never be too careless. Also, if you're taking hits for the team, you're helping them by diverting attention, so they can kill them, so props to you anyway.
IMPORTANT TIP: Don't hesitate to sell your Doran's Shield if you're barely out of gold to buy a core item, or an important one.
Below, I'll rate some of the items which will help you get the ideal item for each situation, as well as a brief description of them:
CORE ITEMS, OR VERY IMPORTANT ITEMS
Always try to get this boots. There's only one reason why you shouldn't: going against heavy CC teams. Then you should get...
Taking away 1/3 of CC time is invaluable. The MR is also a nice touch.
Turns into a core part of your build if the enemy team has more than 2 disablers. The recent nerf to it (45 second cooldown from 30 seconds) made it less valuable, but still is very important against CC-heavy teams. Always remember to purchase Negatron Cloak before Catalyst.
Will of the Ancients
I can see this work if your team has lots of AP-based champions, but I'd rather have a support character using it than you. You get Hextech Gunblades for spellvamp, because even though it's much more expensive, the lack of item space will cripple you.
Very useful against heavy HP-stacking teams. The CD reduction is a welcome addition, too. Don't hesitate to grab it if you see the opportunity.
A good addition to any build, but that's it. You're gonna need plenty AP to make this hit like a truck. Otherwise, it's okay to have it around as another mean to add damage. Makes a better item against squishy enemies.
A cheap, good item against ultimate-trigger-happy Karthus players. It quickly downgrades its effectiveness, however, so make sure to buy this early if a Karthus player is giving you trouble.
Very solid counter-pick to heavy MR enemy teams. Don't forget to ditch Haunting Guise, if you got it, for it.
A good alternative to Guardian Angel. The slow effect allows you to keep enemies in your ult range longer.
Solid counterpick against enemy Malzahars/Mordekaisers. It cancels their ult suppressing effect. Also good alternative to Banshee's Veil against CC heavy teams.
NOT SO GOOD CHOICES
Boots of Mobility
Boots of Swiftness
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
These boots are highly situational, and I don't reccomend them over the other 2 boots (Mercury's and Sorcerer). Only in the extreme case of the enemy having 5 auto-attack champions (say, Ashe, Yi, Tristana, Tryndamere and Warwick) you should get Ninja Tabi.
Remember the uninstall.exe in your LoL folder? Run it if you ever buy this for Kat.
Sword of the Occult
The other stacking items are not as powerful as Mejais. The life gain on Leviathan is pathetic, and the AD bonus to SotO isn't worth the trouble. Also put you over greater risk to losing stacks.
[item=Morello's Evil Tome]
I need more time to evaluate this item effectiveness. As for now, I'd skip it. Cooldown Reduction for Kat is highly debatable due to her passive.
Thornmail Warmog's Armor [item=Force of Nature]
They look more useful than they actually are. Let your tank have these.
Infinity Edge Phantom Dancer
Costs a lot of money for something you aren't supposed to do; auto-attack crit. Let this for your physical carries. PD's extra movement is nice, but the item itself is too expensive for this luxury.
Rod of Ages
Seems okay, but you don't need mana. Sadly there are much better choices out there.
Let a support grab this aura.
Aegis of the Legion
Same as above. Tanks are good candidates too.
Just...no. Doesn't fit into Kat, at all.
An inferior Lichbane, since you need AP anyways. Doesn't scale with bonus AD, so even AD kats will find this lacking.
May sound crazy, but the free ward this item comes can be useful sometimes. Still, a jungler item.
Phage Frozen Mallet
The slow sounds useful, but Rylai is the superior choice.
No. You don't auto-attack, so the bonus is pointless. The bonus to both AD/AP may sound appealing, but Hextech Gunblades do it, and much better.
As said before, CDR on Kat is controversial; on team fights you can rely on your passive for it. I understand this while laning, but still, there are superior choices out there.
Only buy it to get Lichbane, and even then, Lichbane shouldn't be bought unless you already have high AP.
I KILL YOU DEAD CHOICES
No. Just no.
[item=Brutaliser] Last Whisper Youmuu's Ghostblade
You're not based on auto-attacks. Armor pen only works on your auto-attacks; all your skills do magic damage.
Did I mention Katarina is not an auto-attack champion? Did I? Ok, just checking. No.
...or mention all her abilities do Magical, not Physical damage?
Oh, no to this one too.
Manamune Archangel's Staff
Unless you're trolling extremely hard, no.
The Black Cleaver
No. YOU DON'T USE AUTO-ATTACK. Jesus...
Use your W+Q for healing reduction. No.
Sword of the Divine
I still don't know why I list such useless items on Kat. Anyway. No.
Tear of the Goddess
Oh wait, there are cheap trolling options out there.
I'll give some end-game builds to help you up (They're listed in order of priority, to help you pick them in order)
Sorcerer's Shoes OR Mercury's Treads
Mejai's Soulstealer (sell if by endgame you don't have 20 stacks (and have spare money) to get a Rylai's Crystal Scepter
Abyssal Scepter (vs caster-centered team) OR Zhonya's Hourglass (vs physical damage-centered team)
Rabadon's Deathcap (get it before the item above if you're just roflestomping the enemy team, and needs that extra pwnt factor to end the game)
Why two Gunblades? Simple: more Spell Vamp and better damage increase to all skills. You don't actually need Rabadon's Deathcap if your Mejai is fully stacked. ALWAYS get Gunblades over a second Rabadon.
Sorcerer's Shoes OR Mercury's Treads
Haunting Guise (sell it after you completed your build for another Bloodthirster)
Abyssal Scepter (vs caster-centered team) OR Guardian Angel (vs physical damage-centered team)
Three Bloodthirsters fully stacked give you +300 AD, which translate into an increase of 150 damage per dagger of Death Lotus. Not too shabby, right?
Katarina doesn't jungle. Her harassing and ganking potential is too good to let it go to waste by doing so. Also, her skills are not very productive for jungling.
Working in the team - Synergizing with your team
This part i'll give you the best laning partners you can have, if you're running a dual-lane. I'll also add below good ganking partners.
EXCELLENT LANE PARTNERS AKA YOUR BROS
These babes will keep you healed while you harass. You harass while they keep you and her alive. Nice trade, isn't it?
Heals with a long duration stun. Awesome combo with your ult.
He grabs an enemy at level 6 + you press R = insta-win. This guy is awesome.
Talon may seem like a dickass, but his slow AND silence, together with his AD burst, complement you so well it may seem ironic both are Noxus assassins. A surprisingly good lane duo, where you spam your spells to harass and Talon can last hit.
GOOD LANE MATCHUPS
May seem tricky, mainly because Cho'Gath is better as a solo. But as duo, a nicely timed Rupture.
Jarvan helps. His ult helps. His knock-up helps. Love him.
His silence + Judgement is pretty good. Combo'ing with you is pretty good. His lane dominance is awesome.
A 2.5 second area stun on an anti-AP burst nuker? Couldn't mix in better.
Keep your friends close, your enemies closer - Enemy team basic analysis
Here I'll try to gather as much info as I can about going solo lanes versus common mid champions.
There are several Akali players who like going mid, even though this is not the norm. Lane matchups against Akali are pretty much a stalemate (she will try to harass you with her Mark of the Assassin, which has roughly the same damage and range as your BBlade; if you Shunpo her while marked, she'll attack you and trigger the mark, dealing each other roughly the same damage) until level 6. Then, she'll try to spam her Shadow Dance on you to over-burst you. This is when you punish her with a well-timed Death Lotus on her face. She will try to go invis with Twilight Shroud, but your ult hits through invisible units!!
At start, she'll try to give you a cheap crit shot with her passive ( Focus) with Volley. Stay away from her until she wastes that shot in a minion, and don't get caught by Volley. Standing behind creeps helps a lot. Her range is big, but so is your Shunpo's. It's pretty hard to harass her with direct shots of Bouncing Blade, so try to make it bounce to her, rather than throw directly. Hopefully, her mana is low, so a few Volley shots will drain her pretty quickly. At level 6, Enchanted Crystal Arrow is a pain, and will interrupt your ult. At least at close range the stun duration is small. It is always up when you don't want to, since it has a ridiculous low cooldown.
Dodge her skillshots and you'll be fine. Your Shunpo+BBlade will always deal more damage than a non-doubled Frostbite, so even though she can try pulling those out even when you're not slowed, she won't deal as much damage to you as you'll deal to her. Her egg timer is a PAIN and makes Katarina players go mad. Don't dive turrets if you know she will revive, some Anivia players like to trap cocky players this way and exhaust+ignite in egg form.
I love laning with Annie. First, her main damage spell, Disintegrate, will almost always be used as means for her to farm, since she sucks at this department. Then, when she does, punish her with Shunpo+BBlade. Her Incinerate deals lower damage, and usually requires her to aim manually, so you can always dodge it with a well-timed Shunpo (you'll appear behind her) for some laughs. If she is ready to cast a stun, play more defensively and try to whack her with bounced BBlades.
Her Piltover Peacemaker hurts even when passing through multiple minions, so your best bet is try to dodge it, rather than take less damage. She can't stop you from Shunpo'ing+BBlade, so you can easily outburst her with this combo as soon as she pops her Peacemaker. Traps are visible, so not a great threat. Her net doesn't deal too much damage, and has a short range, so you're safe to go and harass her freely.
God, I hate laning against her. Lore-wise she's Katarina's sister, and damn, isn't she as much a headache as Katarina to lane against! She will try, Karthus-style, to mine you with Noxious Blast, and then follow-up with Twin Fang. This combo hurts a lot, so keep your distance, and let her try to waste her mana. It's a good idea to Shunpo+BBlade as soon as she casts Noxious Blast, since she will try to nuke you back, but won't deal as much damage as you did to her. Her ult is slightly bugged, and during your ult, most times you'll only get slowed.
There are two moments when laning with this bugger; pre-level 6 and post-level 6. First moment you can try to harass him with your BBlade; he will try to punish you with Phosphorus Bomb and Gatling Gun. Those both deal a ton of damage, so your best bet is to harass with BBlade and retreat quickly with Shunpo back to your caster minions. He WILL out-burst you if you're careless, but he is limited by his mana. Post-level 6 his missiles are a PAIN, GOD WHY DOES HE HAVE THESE... You can't stay behind creeps, since it is an AoE, but you can stay the hell out of it's line. Just play carefully and try to coordinate a gank; he's pretty squishy. Don't forget he can Valkyrie to chase/flee.
The lane matchup is quite in your favour, less so if it's an AP Ezreal; his Essence Flux will hit you like a truck... If he's AD, then it's just a matter of dodging his Mystic Shot. Once he shoots his main spell, quickly Shunpo+BBlade. He'll try to attack back with his remaining spells, dealing either pitful damage or not enough comparing to you. Sometimes he'll miss because you'll be behind him. His Arcane Shift hits the closest target, so it's a good idea to be scrambled beside ally minions to avoid taking damage to it. At level 6, there's a very easy way to avoid his ult: Shunpo him as soon as he starts casting it. You'll be behind him, harmless from the shot which goes in front! But beware when going back; he can try to snipe you.
The good part about Gragas is that he rarely is present in mid, more so in solo/dual lanes. This guy is pretty annoying with his barrels. Just stay out from trouble and you'll be fine. If you Shunpo, he'll Body Slam you, and if his Drunken Rage is active, he'll auto-attack you for quite some damage. Just spam your Q and stay away from trouble.
Another annoying matchup. Little bugger will only stay behind his turrets. Don't fall into his trap and always stay behind creeps. Play defensively, trying a BBlade here and then, without overexposing. Don't Shunpo in unless he's out of turret range. If he is, punish him badly; his rockets will deal damage, but not nearly as much as you'll do to him.
Death guy has no defenses whatsoever, so he's an easy kill for you in mid, as long as you try to dance around to dodge his Lay Waste. Shunpo+BBlade basic strategy works like a charm, but watch his Wall of Pain. His Defile can also deal some damage, so if you start to see it's dealing way too much damage, try to spam your Q. If you see he's not a bad player, it might be a good idea to buy Hexdrinker. It will protect you from his ult most of the times, keeping him from feeding from you and giving you a nice magic shield.
Possibly your worst matchup, but only after level 6. Before then, he'll try to harass you back with his Null Sphere. If you're close enough, you'll throw your BBlade before it reaches you, both then receiving damage. His farming pre-level 6 is horrible, so he will try to use his Null Sphere to last-hit as well. Punish him when he does so; common Kass players don't level up Force Pulse first, so it won't hurt you as much as you will hurt him. Post level 6, he WILL come to gank you and stop your ult all the times. There's nothing you can do about it, but try to fight back. Sometimes he'll Riftwalk so close to you that it can trigger your Banshee's Veil, rendering it useless to stop his silence from breaking your ult... If you see him chasing you check his mana. If it's high, you won't escape, so might as well try a kill. If it's low you MIGHT be able to run if you Shunpo away. Either way, try to ult AS SOON as he lands his Riftwalk on you, forcing him to back. Buying MR is ESSENTIAL against Kassadin players.
You counter him like a boss. Watch his Thundering Shuriken, it goes a straight, narrow line. If you get a mark, back away, wait until it's gone, then go back to the lane. Stay away when he dashes at you with Lightning Rush, and punish him with Q. Watch his energy closely; his Rush needs high amounts of it, and if it doesn't hit you or any minions, it doesn't recover, leaving him open for attacks. At level 6, his ult WILL break yours most of the time, unless you Shunpo inside it with 2+ other teammates.
There are good, and there are bad Kog'Maws in mid, just like every other champion. But the gap between both is much bigger than usual, so it can be either good or bad for you. Good Kog'Maws will stand back and avoid direct contact with you, trying to land one or another hit with Bio-Arcane Barrage, followed, or not, by his Void Ooze. Each of his attacks WILL hurt you, no matter what. Also, his Arcane Barrage can outrange your ult, sadly. So get prepared to cancel if you're being focused. AP Kogs are rare, but are as devilish lethal as Attack Speed kogs; his Living Artillery will eat you alive, so you gotta think ahead of his aiming. All in all, a hard, but manageable match-up if you're careful.
Think Kassadin, but with more burst and less escape mechanisms. Use the same strategy as you would for him. You are much better fighting her at higher levels than not, since good LeBlancs will find an opening when you're recalling at tower, then and BAM dead with Flash+ Sigil of Silence+ Mimic+Ignite+ Distortion. This combo can nuke you at 50% health, possibly higher, if she's fed. In a lane she isn't too aggressive, but still deceitfully weak. Watch an opening, wait until she has used all her spells, then move in for the kill. More often than not, you'll kill her.
Christ, this annoying girl. You'll see what I mean after you face her on mid. Her auto-attack range is 2 inches higher than your Q, her Light Binding is easily dodged, but still has huge range, and her [spell=Singularity] also has huge range, and allows her to troll you to endless limits. Her CHARGIN MAH LAZOR ult, [spell=Finales Funkln], is another troll move, with ridiculous range, allowing her to finish stragglers off with ease. All in all, play safe, and Shunpo in after her spells are in cooldown. If she misses her immobilize, you can also trade in with Shunpo+Q, which will damage her more than she will with her Singularity.
Pretty tricky. His spells can deal huge amounts of damage, or just the same as you do. Harass safely with your Q, Shunpo back to safety. Don't get ult'ed, or you'll get nuked from full health if he flashes towards you, just like Annie. A QSS denies him pretty hard. If you know he already ult'ed, he's dangerous, but not as much.
Neither easy nor hard. She will try to harass you with Double Up and Make It Rain. If her cooldowns are not up, harass her back. Ult her back only after her ult is on cd; a ult-brawl can make you get the worst side.
She launched her ball? Dodge it and shunpo+BBlade her. Simple. You are her hard counter.
Overload. Overload. Overload. Low CD, high damage. He comboes you if you shunpo him. Your BBlade range is like half of his Overload. Once you get your ult, you can take him off the lane by ulting, but he can burst you silly. A hard, but manageable match.
Easy. AP Teemos are a bit harder most of the time, but AD (on-hit) Teemos later on are a pain. Just harass with Shunpo+BBlade, and stay away from shrooms.
I had more champions listed, but my browser fucking failed on me by going "Back" before I could save. Had many more information there, so will take a while before I update this part. Sorry guys =S
Last hit. Last hit. Last hit.
Katarina is a nice tower-hugging champion. Shunpo is excellent to remanuver yourself. The repositioning capabilities of Kat are awesome. Make sure to stay back at tower, and advance only when you're sure you can last hit.
There ain't much specific advice for Kat to farm. She ain't the worst farmer/laner, but also ain't got nothing special.
- Hextech Gunblade has a pretty neat Active effect; it "shoots" at a target at a range greater than your BBlade, but lower than your Shunpo. A deadly single-target assassination consists in E>Gunblade>R>Q. This is enough to kill most squishies at 70% HP or lower. The slow will last enough for you to hit at very least 7-8 daggers to him. Similar effect can be archieved with Randuin's Omen, switching sheer damage output of the Gunblade for increased survivability and an AoE slow. As this guide focuses enough on survivability, Randuin becomes pretty redundant, even with it's activated effect. Some players swear by it, YMMV.
- If your target has a CC spell, and is chasing a teammate, if he doesn't see you, wait until he pops his CC, then proceed to punish him with your skills. This is more useful in Kat as other champions, since you can then join your friend in killing him by Ult'ing and chasing.
- Activating Death Lotus when in a bush does NOT reveal you until they enter the bush. VERY effective when securing a teammate's escape, or ambushing charging enemies.
- You can activate Death Lotus if an stealthed champion is nearby. Just make sure they're close enough to whack them with it!
- You should always Shunpo with Killer Instincts up if you think you'll take some hits during your ult. The damage reduction makes you exceptionally tanky.
- One single assist or kill will refresh all your skills by 15 seconds, don't forget it! Even though you didn't kill that straggler, it means you can insta-nuke again the other friend, probably netting you another kill (AND ANOTHER CHANCE TO NUKE OTHER GUY)
- Three kills (or assists) refresh your Death Lotus cooldown. Never forget this.
- Using Flash or any item with an Active effect will cancel your Death Lotus. Exhaust and Ignite won't.
- It is smart to dive into a group of enemies with Flash, ult, and retreat with Shunpo, if you know what you're doing.
- Against heavy healing/lifesteal champions (Mundo, Vlad, Taric, Soraka, etc) it can be wise to use a Bouncing Blade with Killer Instincts active before Shunpo'ing, if you want a kill. The reduced healing effect can be deadly for them, specially against a ult'ed Mundo charging against your teammates.
- This is useful for all champions: if you plan on using Ghost to chase overextended enemies, it is wise to use it in a bush, wait a little less than a second and charge in. The reason is that even though you activate the spell in the bush, a "residual" effect from your summoner enpowering your champion still persists for a little more than a second. It is easily seen by others, and they will flee if they know you activated it (they'll also activate their Ghost, or Flash away). Ghost's activated effect is minimal, and only more experienced players will notice it. This is gold when you chase low-ish HP champions hitting top/bot towers.
- Shunpo'ing to kill low-HP champs without minions nearby is risky. Only do it if you know you can survive a potential Ignite+nuke+tower shots. So tower dive only if you manage to take the tower shots. You can do it from a lower health than most champs if you Shunpo, kill, then Shunpo out.
- You can Shunpo wards. jungle minions, static summons (Teemo's Mushrooms, Shaco's Jack in the Box and Heimer's Turrets) or even your own allies. VERY useful; not only it gives you their position ahead of time but it also gives you a quick way to approach them/escape ganks!
- Make your allies remember that to escape chasing enemies they can run close to you, so you can Shunpo on them to escape. Just make sure they don't die by doing so.
- Extreme slows (Nasus' Wither, Kog'maw's goo path, Heimer's Upgraded turrets, Nunu's Ice block, Ashe's arrows...) can be deadly. Make sure to Shunpo out of range as soon as they pop these crap on you.
- Immobilizations (Ryze's Rune Prison, Swain's Nevermove, Maokai's diving spell...) hinder you from casting Shunpo, but do not keep you from ult'ing nor interrupt it.
- If you're being chased by a low-ish health champion, you're isolated and you know you can stand a few hits/ability combos, it's not a bad idea to cast Death Lotus in the open when you're in range. It might be enough to drop his HP fast enough and punish him for trying to auto-attack, and can even net you a surprise kill if you finish with Shunpo! Most times, however, they'll notice that if they stay close long enough, they can get killed by you/your teammate, turning around and fleeing.
- There are champions which are simply impossible to escape from in some situations. Comes to mind Kassadin at level 6+ with full mana/golem buff, a skilled LeBlanc, Nunu with Frozen Mallet or Rylai's, a few other melee champions with Frozen Mallet and who can slow (Olaf or Xin, for example). Sometimes it's better to waste all your cooldowns in reducing his health as much as possible before being killed than to try a fail escape. This will lead to a lot of "WTF?!?"'s from your teammates, but just tell them that it's better die trying than be an easy prey trying to get off them.
- Don't harass your enemy by directly pressing Q and targeting them. Deceive them by zig-zagging near minions, then when they're close your Q range, use it.
- You can use a risky manuever to harass; Shunpo a minion, then BBlade your enemy. This leaves you open for a gank, but when used with caution, can net you a few extra hits.
- If you're side-laning, bushes are your friend. Always use your skills from it, when possible.
- Some ranged champions can counter-harass you heavily, punishing you for using your Q next to them. If this is the case, don't hesitate to Shunpo first, and BBlade next. They'll hit you anyways, might as well try to nuke them harder! (remember to use Killer Instincts before Shunpo'ing; the Damage Reduction makes you walk away with less pain.
- You are only limited by your cooldowns in your abilities. Last hitting is stupidly easy if you focus on it, and even though you can't farm well, your last hits can make you farm as well as pushers. Remember to balance harassing and last hitting, so you can get the best from both.
- The main reason why Katarinas go mid is that they keep enemy carries from farming, such is her harassing potential. Read over the "Enemy team basic analysis" for specific strategies against mid enemies.
Q: What the f(*& is a Katurday?
A: It's a special day in the world where players of the League of Legends game decide that they want to wreck sh!t all over the place and have a good time, while laughing with their quadra/pentakills. So they pick Katarina, the best champion to have fun with in this game, and just kill others at their own risk for laughs. Since free Katarina weeks, Katurdays have been created as a tribute to Katarina, the champion that makes League of Legends -fun-.
Q: Why didn't you went more in-depth with Hybrid Katarina?
A: Simple; every Katarina should make a clear hybrid item; Gunblade. So it's pretty hard to tell a "pure" hybrid from others. The other "hybrid" item, Guinsoo's Rageblade, is clearly inferior to Gunblade, and should not in any way be used, even though it's pretty cheap.
Q: Is there a clear difference between AP Kat and AD Kat?
A: No. Your playstyle should only change slightly, prioritizing using Bouncing Blade over Shunpo for damage. Shunpo still gets priority if you need to chase more than deal more damage.
Q: Why is you guide so clearly based on Mejai's Soulstealer effectiveness?
A: A Mejai only needs 5 stacks to be cost-effective. Any more stacks won are a bonus to your already great snowballing. This means that you only need something like, 1 kill and 3 assists, 2 kills and an assist, or something like that, to make it worth your bucks. The most difficult part is staying alive, and this is where you should read my guide; it makes surviving easier, allowing you to keep snowballing, and still having enough firepower.
Also, if you don't have full stacks, and it needs to go for a better AP/AD item, by all means do it. By that time, you'll be so late in the game that pure AP on Mejai won't cut it.
Q: I don't find the trade-off AP/AD over survivability worth it on Katarina.
A: Technically not a question, but something that should pop-up by some dudes sooner or later. Yes, it is possible that you can play a Katarina with no survival items AT ALL. You'll hit like a truck, and your ult will decimate anyone foolish enough to stand near your channel.
However, if you're focused, you're dead. Yes, dead. See your Mejai stacks? Boom, 1/3 of them cross the Mexican frontier, and you kiss them goodbye. You'll have to work for more, getting instantly gimped for losing them while you work for a recovery. See? One death makes your steamrolling halt it's advance. My builds is very tolerant to mistakes and/or full focusing on you, so you're less likely to lose stacks. Your firepower is lower, true, but only until you start building stacks. Once you do, you'll still hit hard.
Q: Your guide is exactly like Choo's (Katarina - The Bladegirl Girl)!
A: Again, not a question...
Just because we agree in building for survivability with Kat it doesn't mean we have equal guides. Perhaps the main difference is that I make extensive use of Kat's steamrolling ability with Mejai's, while he/she doesn't explore the window of opportunity the increased survivability gives. It's all a matter of preference.
Q: What do you think of choden's guide $$$ Ricing with AP Kat The root of all evil. $$$to net money?
A: It's good, I've tested it several times before. He explores the steamrolling effect with money rather than stack items, which is a safer, yet slightly inferior approach. It has the same downside of most other Katarina guides; it lacks survivability (Banshee's Veil is only bought after a Rylai's, DFG and Rabadon). Rylai's Scepter alone does not grant enough survivability for Katarina, so more than often you'll get shut down. At least you won't lose stacks, but the time you're spent dead you won't farm, so you theorically lose money.
If you want a different approach to Katarina, I'd definately suggest it; it's very fun and will astonish you with how effective it is.
Submitted by Razzoriel
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