Shaco Build Guide

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Shaco, the Ultimate Guide to AD

written by Matth3w

Shaco Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    **UPDATE - 03/24/2011 - I have done lots of updating and rewritten lots of this guide to reflect all of the changes that have been made since it's original writing. Everything should be up to date now, let me know if you see anything that looks funky(such as old shit mixed in with new shit), but I'm pretty sure I got everything at this point. You'll find updated item builds, improved masteries, improved gameplay strategy, etc**

    I've played the majority of my games as Shaco, starting back in about November '09 and have tried just about every build possible with the clown. This guide focuses on the abuse of hallucinate, which most people don't understand just what it does. Before the start of Season One, my normal game stats were somewhere around 3000 kills, 1000 deaths, and 3000 assists with over 75% of games resulting in victory, with 250+ games played as Shaco alone.

    For anyone intersted in my ranked stats with Shaco, I've not been playing him nearly as much since all the massive nerfs, but I've still been maintaining a winning playstyle, with currently 30 games played and a 66.6% win rate with the jester(20W-10L). It's certainly not anything amazing, and I do hope to increase that as I iron out newer builds and tactics to adapt to the changes.**

  • Abilities

    Stacks with Deceive, so you'll always want to open from behind. Also useful in the jungle as you can have a Jack in the Box or your Hallucinate clone tank while you hit them from behind for 20% additional damage.

    The bread and butter of Shaco, this is your initiator, your escape, your nuke, and your juke.

    Jack In The Box
    Much less powerful now that we can't drop it while stealthed, but still worth it to keep at least rank 1 at low levels. This will be your first ability at level 1, because with it you can solo the Golem making you massively more powerful during the lane phase. These can be used to block certain skill shots, such as Bandage Toss, Mystic Shot, Dark Binding. Once you get the timing down it is very annoying and very powerful. They even block them if they are in stealth. They are also great for lane control. It's basically a 90 seconds ward wherever you drop it. with the added benefit of fearing enemies and dealing some damage if they happen to run by. You'll want to place these strategically around the map as often as possible. They'll stop ganks and help you and your allies snipe and chase immensely. I can't count the times an enemy has been on the verge of escape and runs into a JitB giving an ally or myself time to catch up and kill them. You can also stack up multiple boxes in one spot essentially creating a kill zone. I've got quadruple kills before from enemies chasing me into a bush where I have 6 of them, then popping in with Deceive and Hallucinate. Don't underestimate the power of these even on AD. They might not be as good of a gank tool any more, but are still a very valuable tool in your arsenal.

    Two-Shiv Poison
    A built in slow, and a pretty powerful nuke on cast. Very nice. You'll want to generally save this ability as a finisher as the cooldown is long enough for the slow to drop and an enemy to escape while it's on cooldown. You'll want to train this at level 2, as it applies a 20% miss chance to minions passively at rank 1, which makes it massively easier to jungle.

    A highly dynamic, amazing ultimate. You can block skillshots such as Enchanted Crystal Arrow, and if you time it just before it hits you can avoid Karthus' powerful Requiem, saving you from certain doom. The best part about it is that it not only attacks enemys and blocks skill shots, but it also benefits from all on-hit procs from items. This means that with Hallucinate, items like [item=Madred's Bloodrazor] are twice as effective.

  • Summary

    Shaco is still a very powerful champ if you play him properly. Once he gets proper items he is one of the best junglers and gankers in the game. Being unpredictable and having map awareness is crucial. Following this build you will be able to solo baron at level 16 without any trouble at all, and you can take on any champ in a 1v1. There are other viable builds for Shaco, but I guarantee none are as efficient or deadly as this one.

  • How to play

    **UPDATED - 03/24/2011**

    Removed all previous gameplay here, new strategy is as follows.**

    You'll start with Jack in the Box, head to blue golem, have your team protect it, but make sure they aren't taking exp as this will slow your jungle. The trick is to place 4 Jack in the Boxes by the time the golem spawns, you'll want to place them far enough away from the golem to be out of range of the smaller minions, but not far enough away to reset the golem. You'll pull him with smite, and he'll run into the boxes, which will fear and then kill him. Clean up the casters afterwards, and you should be able to place a 5th box before the golem dies to assist you with cleaning them up. After this, head to the wolf camp, again using JitB basically on cooldown to help you kill them.

    At level 2 it is very important that you level Two-Shiv Poison. This will apply a 20% miss chance to all minions(other than baron), which massively increases your jungling ability. You can also use this on cooldown for increased damage, though remember when two-shiv is on cooldown it does not passively apply the miss chance or the slow. Once you're level 2, you can either head to the lizard, or continue to kill the small camps until you hit level 3.

    At level 3, it's time to level up deceive and start looking for ganks. If you haven't killed the lizard yet, it's also time to do that. The lizard can drop like a fly as soon as you hit level 2, just place boxes outside the camp in the same manner you did the golem. Again, pull with smite and he'll run into your boxes, which will fear and kill him. Once you hit level 2, you should only need 3 boxes to take down the lizard, and combined with smite/two-shiv spam he'll be down in seconds. Again, clean up the small minions for the exp/gold.

    Once you have lizard, GANK. If you don't gank with lizard, it's basically a waste and would have been better on one of your ranged carries. Work with your team, find a way to gank. If there is no way to get a gank, look at the health of your team and see if they need help. Especially look to top lane and offer to solo it while they go back to fountain if they need it. Most importantly, don't die with lizard buff. When you gank, make sure there is good communication between you and your team so you can coordinate it properly to make sure the enemy dies and not you. Mistakes do happen, but you should have successful ganks quite a bit more often than unsuccessful.

    As far as how to gank goes. With shaco, it's normally best to sneak around and wait for your team to initiate, then go in and clean up. This doesn't mean just kill steal with deceive, but don't be the first to go in. You're too squishy. Wait until you see a couple cooldowns popped, particularly enemy disables, and when they commit to killing your buddies, that's when you pop in and shank em. Again, don't wait TOO long to go in, if your team is already at 1/3 health by the time you've deceived, you're too late. You should be going in immediately after you see your team go. The goal is basically to make sure their attention is on your team, and then coming in unexpectedly.

    With this in mind, it IS okay to initiate in some situations, particularly in 2v1, such as when going for a top, mid, or jungle gank. Again, good judgement is key. Know how much damage your opponents are doing, and know how to escape if you need to.

  • Masteries + Runes

    **UPDATE - 03/24/2011 - Updated masteries, runes remain the same as they seem to still be the most effective. I do, however, think there is a potential benefit to using Move Speed Quintessences, and think they are a viable alternative to armor pen. The reasoning is simple: Deceive nerfs make it much harder to position yourself properly before the stealth fades, and move speed makes it that much easier. This is the same reason we use Boots of Mobility. If you have move speed quints, give it a shot, it makes jungling a little faster and makes deceive just a little easier to use. **

    You should have Armor Penetration Marks and Quintessences, Dodge Seals, and scaling Magic Resist Glyphs. The reason for this is simple. The Armor Pen gives him all the damage output he needs, and is a good counter to tanks in the early - mid game which is where you really need to get some ganking done. However, He is one of the squishiest champs in the game. Magic resist helps him survive on AoE heavy teams, such as Anivias, Annies, etc, and the Dodge helps him out immensely in 1v1 situations and against any physical champ really. When Tristana pops her Q and sees "Dodge, Dodge, Dodge" you'll thank me since if you didn't dodge you would have just been 3-shot. If you want, you could use cooldown reduction glyphs, but I don't recommend them as I usually run around with blue buff anyways which is plenty of CDR.

    Debateable mastery points in this build: defensive mastery. You could also put 9 points into utility, favoring 5% increased exp, and 15% increased neutral buff duration. Utility has the obvious advantage in the early game, and would give you level 2 just from killing the golem camp alone. However, giving up defensive masteries is a big hit to his survival, especially when you consider the dodge masteries, which also add to his chasing, fighting, and escaping ability.

    As for defensive masteries themselves, you could favor 3/3 points in Hardiness over 3/3 in resistance. This makes jungling easier, and should definitely be used if you're facing a dps heavy team. Again, use your own judgement.

    Armor pen and scaling magic resist runes have been nerfed since I originally wrote this section, I believe the proper numbers now are 31 Armor Penetration, 8.8% dodge, and 24 Magic Resist when following this rune/mastery setup. Note: This does not account for armor/magic resist masteries, which can account for 2-6 additional magic resist and 2-6 additional armor. If you decide to use move speed quints, a little armor pen is subtracted and you should have somewhere around 25 armor pen.

  • Items

    **UPDATE - 03/24/2011 - Fully updated this section**

    The item build will focus on the abuse of Hallucinate, as stated before. The reason being is that with this build, Shaco's damage output is split almost 50/50 between magic and physical, making it very hard to counter him as a tank, and also giving him extremely high dps. Late game you can start building up the raw nuking power of Deceive, but your games shouldn't be lasting long enough to make it past 3-4 items in the first place. Another great thing about this build is it makes it extremely easy to solo the baron starting at level 16.

    Start: Cloth Armor Health Potion x5
    Laning is really not viable with Shaco any longer, so we now use a standard jungling starter build. This gives you the ability to survive minion hits, and keep your health up so you can gank after getting neutral buffs.

    If you do everything properly, your first back should be timed almost exactly the same time as when you run out of health potions. Do not go back until you are either out of health potions or legitimately have taken too much damage to continue jungling, which should never happen unless you simply failed a gank, or somehow got ganked while jungling. As a general rule of thumb: if you have at least two health potions, keep going. If you have one health potion left, check your health, if its extremely low, consider going back early.

    First back: Madred's Razors Vampiric Scepter You can also get Boots of Speed on your first back, particularly if you've had a successful gank by this point, you should be able to get them. If you are up to enough gold to buy the razors and scepter but can't get a gank, just go ahead and port back to fountain, continue jungling, looking for ganks, maybe help a lane out(such as taking over for the solo top temporarily).

    NEW CORE BUILD: Wriggle's Lantern Boots of Mobility Wriggles lantern has proven invaluable as a tool for jungling. You get a free ward every few minutes, allowing you to keep track of Dragon kills, or to do a bit of counter-jungling and counter-ganking. It provides life steal, and an improved proc rate from madred's razors(15% -> 20%). If you haven't tried this item on Shaco yet, I urge you to as it really is an awesome item, and is built for very little money, meaning you can get it very early on. As with before, against a particularly disable-heavy team, it is okay to substitute Mercury's Treads but keep in mind the type of map control you're losing. Again, use good judgement with that decision. You should still have Mobility in most of your games.

    Mid-Late: Here you have some choices to make. There are a couple of options. First of all, by this point the enemy should be dealing enough damage to force you into building a survival item. There are 3 good choices for this, all dependent upon enemy comp, your team comp, and your confidence in your ability to continue getting kills.

    NEW MID-LATE BUILD: I find it especially effective to combined Madred's Bloodrazor with Wriggle's Lantern. Wriggle's is a unique effect, and the proc does NOT stack with Madred's Razors from my testing so far, however, it does proc simultaneously with the [item=Madred's Bloodrazor]. So, here's you're new options after the new core build:

    [item=Madred's Bloodrazor] OR Infinity Edge

    I prefer to build Bloodrazor, just because of how ridiculously well it stacks with Hallucinate, and also because with that combination, it makes baron quite literally a joke to solo once you get rank 3 in Hallucinate. It is also good to combine them in DPS heavy games, having wriggles + bloodrazor gives about the same amount of armor as a chain vest, which is a pretty big deal.

    And, continuing the same as before, once you have built your first true dps item, it's time to start thinking about survival. These are items that have proven time and time again their value on Shaco.

    1. Guardian Angel It no longer works for your clone, but nonetheless it is a very powerful item on shaco. While you're sitting there reviving your deceive cooldown continues ticking, and your boots of mobility too. This means you can either reinitiate or make a clean escape easily. It'll save you more times than you think, and the added armor / MR makes you much tougher.

    2. Banshee's Veil This item works both for you and your clone, and they proc separately and on separate cooldowns. This can cause huge confusion amongst your enemies in figuring out which one is real or fake and is great at countering teams with stuns, especially once someone has an oracles. Can't stun you, can't stop you. Especially effective against Annie.

    3. Leviathan This is the more difficult route, but if you do it correctly it will pay off. Adding a lot of health and flat 15% damage reduction from all sources makes shaco very tough to kill. However, keep in mind that the longer a game goes on the tougher it will be for you to start snowballing, and without the help of GA/Banshee's it may be near impossible to stay alive in a team fight before you start racking up stacks.

    Once you've built one of those survival items, it's time to start thinking about your damage again. The obvious no brainer is your best choice here. Infinity Edge this will increase your nuking power by leaps and bounds, while also increasing your dps through massively increased crit chance. The 50% increased crit damage means your Deceive will hit for 170% attack damage rather than 120%.

    Since the update, if you've already built infinity edge, build Madred's Bloodrazor. It's a crucial dps item for Shaco and should not be passed up in any game. For DPS items on Shaco, the build order is as follows:

    Madred's Bloodrazor = Infinity Edge > All others

    Last, but not least, DO NOT build critical chance items on shaco. The only critical chance item you should have is infinity edge, and we only build infinity edge because of how it stacks with deceive, not for the crit chance.

    Late-Late Game: After you build infinity edge, it's up to you to decide whether you need more survival or more damage. Keep in mind that a dead shaco does no damage, and hes a very squishy champ. If you're going for damage, your best choice from here is The Black Cleaver, as it stacks up ridiculously fast with Hallucinate. If you need more survival, tailor your item choice to the enemy team. Lots of Physical? You might consider Sunfire. Lots of Magic? Banshee's. Etc. There are many items you can choose. Stay away from Warmog's, Aegis, Visage, Quicksilver. Trash items for you.


    Sunfire Cape / Stark's Fervor / Aegis of the Legion / all other Aura type items - These items have not stacked with hallucinate for a long, long time. I'm not sure why some people still think they do, but they don't. If you buy a sunfire cape on Shaco, you're wasting money, end of story. Again, clones do NOT apply a second aura any longer. Actually, there is an acceptable use for Sunfire on Shaco, but only against particularly physical heavy teams where you are getting focused a lot, and it is generally only built after a Guardian Angel. But again, if you consistently find yourself building a Sunfire Cape on Shaco, you're probably doing it wrong.

  • Skilling Order

    Levels 1-6:

    Jack in the Box
    Two-Shiv Poison
    Two-Shiv Poison
    Two-Shiv Poison

    Levels 7-18:

    Hallucinate > Deceive > Two-Shiv Poison > Jack in the Box

    From levels 7-18 basically prioritize Deceive, level up Hallucinate every time it's available, and finish up with Two-shiv poison, level out Jack in the Box last.

    Levels 1-6 is optimized specifically for jungling in the early game, while still allowing easy ganks from level 3 onward.

  • Summoner Abilities

    **UPDATE - 03/24/2011 - Fully updated this section**

    Now that Shaco is a full time jungling champion, the acceptable summoner spells are as follows:

    Smite Ignite
    Smite Ghost
    Smite Cleanse

    Smite/Ignite is my favorite combo, though the others are certainly viable and effective, again, use good judgement. If you go Utility mastery, it's probably better to get Ghost over Ignite, though not always. Some people prefer to run Ghost on Shaco for the majority of games, which is perfectly fine, but don't pick ghost if no one on your team has picked up Ignite, it's a very valuable tool in killing enemies that can heal or regen health quickly.

  • Build Example

    **UPDATE - 03/24/2011 - Fully updated this section**

    A standard build should look fairly similar to this.
    [item_icon=madred's bloodrazor]

    As stated, once you've built Boots, Madred's Bloodrazor, and Wriggles, the choice of whether using more damage items or more survival items is entirely dependent on your situation. Every game is unique and will require some thought on your part.

    The following are optional choices you will have to decide for yourself depending on your game:
    Both these items can work exceptionally well with Shaco.

    The CORE Items which you should ALWAYS build are:
    and [item_icon=Madred's Bloodrazor] OR
    and most of the time the best choice for your first fully defensive item is Guardian Angel but against particularly magic / stun heavy teams it is often a good idea to get a Banshee's Veil first.


    Sometimes you'll be on the type of team that doesn't pick any tanks, and for those teams you need to adapt your build, because you WILL become the tank very quickly, whether you want to or not. You can either choose to build the standard, or adapt and become Tanko. In this case, I find the following build style to be extremely effective.

    [item_icon=Madred's Bloodrazor]

    Explanation: Madred's Bloodrazor + vamp scepter gives you both enough survival and enough damage to last through the early game, and through the earlier mid game up to the mid-mid game. Madred's Bloodrazor also scales in damage output as your enemies level up and get more health, thus keeping you doing a respectable amount of damage while building defensively.

    After this, you'll be building purely defensive items. Things like Banshee's Veil, Guardian Angel, Leviathan, Sunfire Cape, etc. I usually focus on trying to get my resistances up, while also looking for ways to increase my health. That in mind, it is cheaper, more effective, and faster to build resistances, so always start there. This is sort of a Warwick-styled build, as you can see we skip the wriggle's and go straight for the bloodrazor while keeping a vamp scepter to allow minion tanking in the jungle. Basically once you have built those 3 core items, build pure defensive, and build to COUNTER defensively.

    As far as the boots go, it is your choice after Speed. Ninja Tabi work great since you already have 6.8% dodge from runes + your defensive masteries(you should be 9 in defensive if your team didn't pick any tanks, not in utility) stack really well with it. You can also build Mercury's Treads. It's about a 50/50 choice between the two, use good judgement and remember to BUILD TO COUNTER. You want to be able to soak up as much damage as possible without dieing. Boots of Mobility is still a viable option in this build, but should no longer be your priority choice. Again, good judgement.


    This all being said, keep in mind that for any Shaco build, defensive items are now much more important on him. You probably will not have a game where you build him glass-cannon style with only one defensive item any more. If you try to build him this way, you will start getting shut down late game, it doesn't matter what your score is, you'll eventually become ineffective if you don't build defenses.

  • Good Lane Partners, and Counters

    **UPDATE - 03/24/2011 - This section doesn't really need updating, everything here still applies. You no longer will ever have a lane partner due to jungling, but these champs are still the most supportive to a Shaco, and thus should be given careful consideration at champ select. For example: having a Janna solo top while you jungle, then pop in for ganks periodically, is absolutely devastating.**

    **UPDATE - 02/20/2011 - The game has changed quite a bit, Janna has been gutted compared to before, but I think this list is still valid. Janna still brings the most to the table simply because of her shield, unfortunately it only lasts 5 seconds now, but proper coordination and timing makes it almost unnoticeable most of the time. The basic principles still apply - champions that can increase your survival and help you stay on targets / increase your damage output, are good teammates for shaco. Laning is no longer viable, but having someone pick a good support to keep you strong in team fights is still the best way to win. Shaco's biggest downfall is his low survivability, so a support is always a good thing to have. As far as counters, any champ that can take Shaco out of a fight for a few seconds remains a very big counter. Shaco is still very sensitive to AOE type teams, such as teams that combo Amumu and Sion, etc.**

    Your best lane partner by far is Janna. With Eye Of The Storm she adds a few hundred extra health to you via a shield, while increasing your attack damage massively. She can also stun, slow, and heal. Her passive is also amazing as it makes initiating and chasing just that little bit easier, and escaping too. She will have no trouble whatsoever soloing your lane by the time you reach the jungle/gank stage around level 4 or 5. By the time true team fights start, you should have outscaled the enemy quite a bit just from having 3 solo champs and several ganks under your belt. Shaco combined with AP Janna is by far the most powerful combination in the game. Early game, mid game, and late game. Play with a Janna and watch people rage, then go to the forums and watch them cry about how OP you are.

    My next favorite lane partner is Morgana. With her Black Shield you become immune to crowd controls, and you can generally absorb the damage of any one spell. Her Dark Binding keeps targets from moving, which can both help you survive a gank and just straight up kill somebody. Like Janna, she will have no trouble soloing the lane once you reach your jungle/gank stage, leaving you both to out scale the enemy before heavy team fights start.

    Third is Zilean. He can place a Time Bomb on you while you stealth, then speed your movement with Time Warp ensuring you connect your dagger to your enemies back, and you've got yourself a Deceive and double Time Bomb combo. A guaranteed kill at almost any level. Mid-late game his Chrono Shift will save you time and time again. Good Zileans can be on par with the strength of Janna or Morgana in combination with Shaco. Once again, he will have no trouble soloing the lane once you reach the jungle / gank stage.

    Shaco's hardest counter is Rammus. Be weary of any team running with a Rammus. If you mess up he can single handedly kill you, and in team fights his taunt will have you dead before you realize you just got gang banged by 5 people. He can also Powerball into you while you're stealthed, which is absolutely devastating. Be very careful around an enemy Rammus.

    Kog'maw and Nidalee are just about tied, but Nidalee has a slight one up on Kog'maw just for being a better champion in general. Both of them have abilities that can reveal your location on the map even while stealthed. Be very careful when jungling and ganking if a Nidalee is on the enemy team, if you run on a trap your gank is almost certain to result in disaster. Try to stay hidden in the fog of war around Kog'maw as he will abuse his Living Artillery to keep you from being sneaky like Shaco should.

    Amumu, Annie, Anivia. They all have AOE stuns capable of stopping you in your tracks for the duration of your stealth, and then taking all your health away before you can move an inch. They generally won't pose a huge threat early-mid game, but later game it's absolutely essential for you to pay attention to their buffs and which cooldowns they have available. If you see Annie with a stun ready and she hasn't used Summon: Tibbers in a while, it's a good idea to wait a few seconds before jumping into a group fight. You get hit with a Tibbers stun while you're attempting to open with Deceive, and you're dead. End of story. Same with Anivia. Wait til you see her use Flash Frost, then go in. You get hit, you're dead. The same hold true for Amumu. He can stun you out of Deceive using Curse of the Sad Mummy and then you're dead. Also watch for Bandage Toss as it can hit you in stealth. You get hit, you're dead. It's a good idea not to be in front of Amumu while stealthed. Timing is key, don't be stupid.

    Pantheon: He might not be a great champ, but he was almost designed to counter Shaco. He can completely negate the damage of your Deceive with Aegis of Zeonia then stun you and deal massive damage, and also put you in a spot where his team can stomp all over you. It's usually best to simply NOT open on Pantheon and choose a different target. If you must open on him, try to have a ranged on your team hit him first, then go for the Deceive.

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Submitted by Matth3w

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