Skarner Build Guide

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How To Be A Potent Skarner

written by Cytoskeleton

Skarner Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Hello everyone!
    This'll be my guide to Skarner - I've been looking forward to playing him ever since the release of Riot's E3 video of incoming champions, and now I've the privilege to finally play this awesome champ.

    In this guide, I'm going to focus on how I think Skarner should be played. A semi-tanky disrupter that isn't the main tank, but can still be a very potent threat if left to damage. Having your Q to constantly slow and your ultimate to secure a kill is what makes Skarner unique - he attaches to an enemy champ, and sticks to him/her until he/she dies. Learn how to play Skarner and you'll be great for your team.

    Notice that since Skarner still just recently came out, I'm still in the process of trying out builds. But thus far, this is the what I've attained, and I hope it works for you just as well.

    Also, this is going to be a guide for LANING Skarner, not jungle. His jungle is gimped by other champions, so if you're going to have a jungler on your team, let someone else do it with a better champion.

    Feel free to comment and leave suggestions!


    -It is still updating, so it's still being worked on.

    Patch Notes:

    -No new ones so far

  • Abilities

    A very nice passive. Similar to Ryze's, but it's autoattacks instead of skills that trigger the cooldowns. This is what makes Skarner able to attach to a champion and stick to killing that particular one.

    Crystal Slash
    This is Skarner's main skill. It allows him to slow enemies and keep them in line. His bread and butter skill.

    Crystalline Exoskeleton
    Speed up movement and attack speed, along with a shield? Sounds good to me. Use for initiations/gap closing, running away, or catching up.

    Also not a bad skill, but the healing is mediocre unless you build hard AP. It's good for harassing long range when you Q doesn't cut it. Don't forget to use it during teamfights, you'll be surprised at when you can get a last hit kill with this skill.

    His ultimate. What makes Skarner hard to approach to at a teamfight. Drag a hurt enemy towards your team to finish them off. Use it to save an ally from an approaching enemy when they're at low health. Someone harassing you at your turret? Impale him/her around while the turret targets them. The possibilities are many.

  • Pros and Cons

    Very good 1v1 in terms of sticking to a champion until they die.
    Ultimate can be "gamechanging" to an enemy champion, which could really hurt the enemy team.
    Fast attack speed once you have items, leading to lower cooldowns and spamming of his slow.
    Can destroy turrets with ease.

    Can be harassed in the laning stage due to him being melee by ranged.
    Attack speed scaling is meh.
    REALLY needs items to shine and be a prescence.
    If your team isn't working hard, it's difficult for you to get on your feet and try to deal damage.
    Jungling is outshined by other champs.

  • Masteries + Runes


    External Image

    So you're thinking 9/21/0 masteries, huh? What for? Allow me to explain.
    Nowadays in League Riot has created the infamous "Tanky DPS" that has really messed with team compositions of the game. I want to allow Skarner to keep this type of champion that we all know and love (most likely hate), and have decent damage with tankiness to keep his presence in fights as long as possible to CC the enemies for the longest time. Go down offense until [mastery_icon=Archaic Knowledge][mastery_text=Archaic Knowledge] and down defense all the way, making sure you get dodge and [mastery_icon=Nimbleness][mastery_text=Nimbleness]. If you're going to get Exhaust instead of Ghost, get [mastery_icon=Cripple][mastery_text=Cripple].

    I know. Skarner has mana problems. Going 21 down utility can be permissible, but unless you're spamming your skills early game every single time, go down defense. An early Philo stone won't completely quench your mana thirst, but it can keep it at bay until you can get Sheen for mana, and consistent blue buff if you can. This makes Skarner a team player, and with a bad team, it's hard to do things. Mid-late game, your mana problems aren't as bad.


    These can be mixed according to how you want, but these are my recommendations.

    9 Greater Mark of Desolation
    9 Greater Mark of Insight

    (You can do a mix of both if you want)

    9 Greater Seal of Resilience
    9 Greater Seal of Evasion To complement the nimbleness mastery.

    9 Greater Glyph of Warding
    3 Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
    3 Greater Quintessence of Swiftness

    These runes ensure that Skarner can be safe while harassed early game in the laning stage, and also deal some damage.

  • Skilling Order

    This order of skills will ensure that your Q is maxed out first, along with your W, to both be aggressive and defensive in lane. Notice that I max E last, as though it's a decent skill, chances are you'll have more success with the others, plus the heal is, as said before, not so great.

  • Summoner Skills


    Skarner, with these skills, is all about mobility. He needs to get away and catch up in order to be efficient, and this ensures that he does well. Plus, Ghost + Shield + Ult can really punish an enemy by dragging them to the heart of your team in a fight.

    Viable Spells:
    Can be used for getting an enemy who got away with low health.
    Definitely can be used for a substitute for Ghost. Remember, though, if you're getting this, get Cripple in your offensive masteries.
    I don't really recommend this, as Skarner is pretty mobile, but to get from place to place quickly, I suppose you could get it.
    I don't like this spell on any champion if I can, but since Skarner is a mana eater, it is semi-viable on him.

    "Don't Get Em!" Spells:
    Cooldown is way too high for it to be exactly useful. Don't depend on this.
    You have your E skill. Again, cooldown is too much for this.
    Let the support get this.
    It's not that this isn't bad, it's just that if you really want a cleanse, get a Quicksilver Sash.
    He's not the greatest jungler.
    Rally = Really?
    Please don't get this.

  • Item Builds

    Here we go with item builds. Like I said before, Skarner is still particularly new, so this is the build I use, and have had good success by being tankish, and keeping enemies on their toes.

    THIS is ongoing research, and this build is NOT set in stone. You look at the items, and get an idea on how to build Skarner. It is not all set in stone (must be redundant to get my point across). ADAPT to your needs. If you're simply getting harassed too much, build more defense before getting offensive items.

    Regrowth Pendant and a Health Potion
    If you get harassed, your health will regen well and the potion for when it gets really low.

    Philosopher's Stone
    Harry Potter has nothing on you! But seriously, the health/mana regen and gold bonus really does help your early game quite a bit.

    Mercury's Treads
    I really recommend these boots. They're just too good in comparison to any other boots for your role. If you really want attack speed (don't recommend), you can get Berserker's Greaves and upgrade your Philo Stone into an [item=Eleisa's Miracle].

    Trinity Force seems weird. But you really need to get the ball rolling while playing Skarner. I don't really like getting the little by little things; if you want to get a presence in teamfights, this is your item. Get it in the order of Sheen -> Phage -> Zeal. The stats and passive of Trinity is just too good to pass up for a hybrid like Skarner.

    Aegis of the Legion
    Very good item, I love it on any tanky champion. Armor, Magic Resist, Health, and an Aura that gives defensive stats and a little damage will help you and your team. You should have over 100 Armor/Magic Resist by this point, which will lead you from semi-squishy (21 in defense doesn't make you a pure squishy) into a semi-tanky character, which is what we're trying to approach. Get it before Trinity Force, but after Sheen if you're getting harassed.

    Nashor's Tooth
    My oh my. Attack speed, ability power, cooldown reduction, mana regen. What more could a Skarner ask for? Once you get this, the enemies will want to kill you because you're simply spamming your Q and have your shield up almost constantly to no end. Your cooldown on Impale will refresh before you know it, and you can seriously consider backdooring with this.


    Frozen Heart
    Armor, cooldown reduction, mana. With enemies that depend on autoattacks, you'll slow them down and you'll speed up with your Q and attacks with cooldown reduction. You can be a big threat with this. If you complete the "in a perfect world" build above, along with blue buff, you can manage to get the cooldown off your shield while your shield is still on while attacking champions, and your Q will be mad.

    Randuin's Omen
    Expensive item, but worth it. Health regen and a good passive that is an aoe slow (like your Q!).

    Guardian Angel
    Don't build this first as your tanky items, but it's good late game when you need it.

    Banshee's Veil
    It can be a lifesaver. A good amount of magic resist, with health and mana, and a passive that blocks a spell. I like it, and you should too.

    [item=Force of Nature]
    Too much magic resist and health regen! Get it for enemies that hit hard with AP, but aren't much of a threat with CC.

    Quicksilver Sash
    I'm fond of this item. Many times it has saved me over and over with its active when Banshee's doesn't do the trick. It has more magic resist than Banshee's as well, and is much cheaper. Remember to use the active though if you have it.

    Items that "might?" be sort of viable, but not exactly (still in the works):
    Hextech Gunblade
    For some reason, I don't believe that this item is as good on Skarner as it appears. It's expensive. Plus, the role of Skarner, in my opinion, is a tanky disrupter that can still deal healthy damage. You aren't the main carry. If you want lifesteal, you're gonna want more attack speed, and there's no way, unless you're fed, that you're going to have Trinity Force, Nashor's Tooth, AND this item.

    Guinsoo's Rageblade
    This item isn't bad on Skarner at all really. If you want, it's viable. AD, AP, a good passive. Essentially, though, I like Nashor's over it. Even if this item is a less expensive, Nashor's gives immediate attack speed at the cost of no AD. The cooldown reduction from Nashor's will ensure you spam your Q more, making more AP damage, which Guinsoo's doesn't have. All in all, you can choose either/or for your needs.

    I don't believe that this item is worth it. Yes, the mana that it gives each spell will quench a lot of your mana thirst mid-late game, but once you have it. It gives bonus AD. Most of your skills go off of AP. It can be good, just not in all situations.

    Rylai's Crystal Scepter
    Also a viable item, and can be used if you're getting harassed a lot for health while still packing an AP punch along with a slow on top of your slow. You can get it if you need.

    Sunfire Cape
    This tank item has been nerfed time and time again and is simply too expensive for any true mid-late game benefit. I would recommend another armor item instead.

    Sight Ward
    Must I say it again? Always get them. They are life savers; without them, you are blind on the map.

    TL;DR: In a perfect world, this would be your build after selling the Philo stone (Yes, I have gotten all these items in games a couple of times; it is plausible):

  • Early/Mid/Late Game Tips

    So you saw the guides, you have the tools, now how do you use him? Read on, my friend.

    You have to play slightly defensive while going offense in the right moments in the early stage, especially if you're solo'ing. If you're in a dual lane, you have more leeway, and can put hurt on the enemies more. Seize opportunities to get them, especially once you have your ult at level 6. Do not spam your Q too much when you don't need to, or else you'll run out of mana quick, and use your E on minion waves to heal yourself for a good chunk. He is not the greatest ganker, but can keep his ground in a lane as long as you think about what you're doing. Skarner's ganking potential can shine in an overextended lane, however, as using Ghost (or Flash) with your W, and keeping the enemy slowed with your Q, and securing a kill with your ult.

    I hope you maybe have Trinity Force by now. You'll start to put some hurt on the enemies, and the improved attack speed will ensure that you get your Q spammed. The proc from Sheen will also help tremendously and the slow is awesome. Be sure to get blue buff as often as possible, as it gives mana regen and cooldown reduction, which is exactly what Skarner needs. If you can get fed/a lot of assists, you'll start steamrolling and become a real threat. This stage of the game determines how well you're going to do the rest of the game. Really help your teammates and try to be in every single fight. Get dragon constantly if you can, WARD ALWAYS, even if you're the only one.

    By this point, you'll be starting to go tanky after Nashor's tooth/Guinsoo's/whatever item you need. Stick with your team, don't get cocky with your attack speed/slow, and backdoor if you can. Keep getting blue buff and dragon, and baron if it's clear. Basically just stay alive and own face while you slow your enemies to the death.

    Don't be afraid to use it when you need it. Its cooldown is average, but with your passive, it will be up much quicker. Saving a teammate, dragging a hurt enemy, anyway to help your team. However, in a teamfight, DON'T drag a tank if you can, always try to get a squishy carry.

  • Summary

    I hope you enjoyed this guide, and of course it is still updating. Comments are appreciated.

    In conclusion, this build with Skarner hopefully will give you the power you need, with the tankiness you desire, to be a threat to the enemy team. Try out the build before rating suddenly.


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