Katarina Build Guide
AP & AD Kat: For Casuals, Expertswritten by Damond
Table of Contents
|AD & AP: Play Style||3|
|Runes, Masteries, Leveling Order||6|
|The Mid Metagame||7|
|Top or Bottom Laning||8|
|From Assassin to Caster Carry||9|
|To Avoid Initiating||10|
|After Initiation & "The Cannon Fodder"||11|
|Making Katarina a Competitive Pick||12|
Hellow there, Damond here. I'm not the world's best Katarina player or anything, but I do boast a respectable K/D ratio with her, and have played her enough to write about her. I know her quirks, her weaknesses, how to get around them.
With that in mind, in this guide I discuss both AD and AP Katarina as two viable playstyles. I'll also comprehensively discuss every mid match-up, because mid is Katarina's spotlight. More than just listing the itemization, I also want to impart the theory that I believe is absolutely necessary in understanding how Katarina plays. She's a relentless pubstomper yet practically laughable in high-ELO play, making an understanding of her character design central to a successful Katarina.
Voracity 1. Every KILL or ASSIST will reset all your ability cooldowns except for Death Lotus, whose cooldown is reduced by 15 seconds.
2. Every KILL or ASSIST will net you 25 gold. For an average Katarina player, that's about ~325 free gold in an average game.
The passive is meant to immediately increase Katarina's momentum as a relentless killer, allowing you to ability spam abilities in teamfights. You'll rarely reset Death Lotus in one fell swoop, as that requires killing 4 champions, but resetting Shunpo is enough, because it provides an escape route after successfully towerdiving.
Bouncing Blade 1. Scales 1:1 for Attack Damage (AD), but deals MAGIC DAMAGE.
2. Hits 2/3/4/5/6 targets, each subsequent one taking 10% less damage.
3. Cooldown: 9/8.5/8/7.5/7 seconds
My favorite harassing ability, a safe way to last hit, and the primary force of AD Katarina. It's a low-risk AoE nuke that, when used properly, actually has surprising range. And it isn't even difficult to use effectively: when zoning, most champions tend to hang around the caster creeps. Simply bounce it off them, combining it with [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] to deal full damage. In this scenario, against 4 targets (3 caster creeps + 1 champion), a Level 3 BB can nail a champion within ~400 range of the creeps.
The simple fact that Katarina's abilities require no mana makes her a nearly unrivaled harasser, especially in the laning phase (Levels 1-8). Pre-level 6, when nobody has an ultimate, this notion holds especially true.
[spell=Killer Instincts] 1. You passively deal 8/12/16/20/24 more damage per hit, an arbitrary amount separate from AD or AP.
2. When activated, your next Bouncing Blade deals FULL DAMAGE to every target it strikes. Also, every target struck becomes afflicted with a -50% healing debuff for 10 seconds.
3. When activated, your next Shunpo causes you to take 15/20/25/30/35% reduced damage from all attacks for 3 seconds.
4. Cooldown: 20/18/16/14/12 seconds
It has a dreadful cooldown, but at Level 5 it's short enough that I always use it preemptively. That is, it lasts long enough that I just generally activate it when it's up -- by the time the buff actually runs out, the cooldown timer would've almost reset anyway.
You always want to use this in conjunction with Bouncing Blade to nail someone who uses a Health potion or has an incoming heal (Soraka, Mundo, Tryndamere, Cho'gath, Master Yi). Accordingly, it's incredibly useful against anyone with lifesteal (Warwick) or spell vamp (Morgana, Akali).
Note: even after you've thrown a BB, you can trigger KI. It will affect only the subsequent targets hit by the blade.
Use the following rotation to harass someone:
[spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] --> Shunpo --> Bouncing Blade
If the person has heals, consider this:
Shunpo --> [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] --> Bouncing Blade
Shunpo 1. A single-target nuke that scales +0.75 for Ability Power (AP), and deals MAGIC DAMAGE.
2. Can be used on creeps, enemies, allies, wards, Teemo's mushrooms, Shaco's jack-in-the-boxes.
3. Cooldown: 10/9/8/7/6 seconds
4. Always teleports you BEHIND the target.
The main force of AP Katarina.
At mid against most opponents, you can, with little restraint, spam the Killer Instincts --> Shunpo on them --> Bouncing Blade rotation. I'd use it less if the enemy is extremely dangerous at close-range (like Ryze), but you can otherwise harass with impunity (especially before anyone is Level 6). At top or bot, however, you might actually die for Shunpo-ing into an enemy champion, as it places you in a temporary 2v1 position (and what if both enemy champions have Exhaust? You'd be screwed.)
If directly Shunpo-ing onto an enemy champion will put you in an extremely unfavorable position, you can try this sneaky alternative: Shunpo onto a creep close to the champion, a range close enough that allows you to launch Bouncing Blade. Thus, you change the rotation slightly: Killer Instincts --> Shunpo ONTO CREEP --> Bouncing Blade. This is particularly effective against enemies aware of your tiny BB range, and who back away every time you approach. Most enemies expect you to Shunpo ON THEM, not on a creep.
Aside from harassing, this ability extends your movement options. Besides being an awesome tower-diving ability, it's almost like a free Flash. When retreating, be sure to let allies know that you can Shunpo onto them. In practice, most players in solo queue will actually forget and leave you to your death in a chase. But there's the rare Shaco or Kassadin who might play Katarina on the side that knows. Give them cyber hugs.
Note: The latest patch prevents the use of Shunpo (and all other blink moves) while snared.
Sometimes, when I'm feeling like a pro, I'll walk around with a Sight Ward -- and when I'm being chased, I'll quickly throw the ward down far ahead of me (or, for extra pro-ness, behind a jungle wall or into a bush) and Shunpo right over to it. It's a wonderful escape tool.
Death Lotus 1. Both AP and AD builds deal around equivalent MAGIC DAMAGE.
2. Hits nearest 3 champions. Will re-target other champions if its original targets die or go out of range.
3. Channels for 2.6 seconds. Anything that forces you to move (i.e., you're knocked into the air), stuns you, or silences you will interrupt your ultimate. The only exception to this rule is Cho'gath's Rupture, which won't interrupt. Yay.
You rape squishies and end teams with this ability. That's actually like the Eleventh Commandment in the Bible (I did my research). At mid, you're guaranteed a kill if you reach Level 6 first. This ability alone accounts for 70% of Katarina's damage output, and will decide the fate of team battles.
But in spite of its killing potential, it's extremely tricky to land this move in its entirety, because you have to sit still for 2.6 seconds (you can still cast Ignite and Exhaust, but not Flash or Zhonya's Ring). Smart players will save a CC ability just for you, making it imperative to murder them first. If, however, that vital CC ability belongs to a tank (i.e., Cho'gath's Feral Scream), then you have to wait for him to burn it. Have a fellow caster on your team selflessly force the CC out by nuking a squishy enemy.
The rotation is:
[spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] --> Shunpo --> Death Lotus --> Bouncing Blade
Things then die, and congratulations, you've just achieved a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. =) The reason you use Bouncing Blade last is because you need to spare every millisecond for Death Lotus. Within those few milliseconds of casting, enemy champions could have moved and ruined your positioning.
As an aside, an extremely situational use of Death Lotus is to save a fleeing ally. Suppose an ally runs past you, an enemy hot on his/her heels; now quickly launch a Death Lotus to scare him off. If the enemy decides to continue the pursuit, he'll have to run past you, which means eating your ult -- and in that position, you can easily turn the situation into a countergank. Just be wary that the enemy might turn around and kill YOU instead.
Last note -- Death Lotus is a pseudo-stealth checker. If you've played Morgana, it's quite similar to her Soul Shackles ability in this respect, because both abilities light up for usage when an enemy (even stealthed) is within range.
AD & AP: Play Style
Rather than viewing AP and AD as two distinct playstyles, consider them as methods of adaptation. Here is a general overview of each:
1) is a low-risk, dagger-spamming AoE poker. By maximizing the damage output of an ability with pseudo-long range (by bouncing it off minions), you can harass the enemy team indefinitely. It's invaluable to safely chip away the enemy's health in those tense, awkward moments before a teamfight.
2) in spite of being low-risk, is a heavy snowballer. Because you stack Bloodthirster upon Bloodthirster to maximize AD, your success is contingent upon staying alive to maintain your charges. It's a hefty 40 minion bounty, or ~7 creep waves.
3) furthermore lacks survivability in general when being focus-fired; you don't have escape options like Zhonya's Ring or a generous HP pool.
4) is a pusher. Eventually at late game, or if you've snowballed insanely, you can one-shot caster creeps with Bouncing Blade and demolish towers with autoattacks. AD Katarina also eats Super Minions for breakfast, granting her a strong base defending capacity.
5) has at least a life-stealing autoattack on AD steroids if all else fails.
6) has no crowd control. Some people suggest buying a Rylai's, but in SR, I honestly don't think it's worth it. In purchasing a Rylai's, you've lost 100 AD (it could've been a Bloodthirster), and Katarina actually has decent item scaling (BB is 1:1). In purchasing a Rylai's, you've relegated her to a role of utility AoE-r, which is honestly much better suited for someone like Fiddlesticks. You want to wipe teams across the pavement, not slow them down.
1) is a high-risk, single-target nuker. Because you maximize AP, you directly increase your Shunpo's single-target burst. Shunpo, however, is an inherently risky spell because you teleport right into the enemy fray. Compounding this risk is Katarina's (and honestly, every caster's) reliance on killing a squishy target to trigger her CD-resetting Voracity passive.
2) in spite of being high-risk, actually has better survivability when being focus fired. You've generous HP from Rylai's Scepter and an invulnerability active thanks to Zhonya's Ring.
3) has smaller building steps. Whereas you can purchase an Amplifying Tome at 435 gold in building a Rylai's, you're forced to buy a hefty B.F. Sword with a 1850 gold price tag.
4) cannot farm even if her life depended on it. Will struggle and die to Super creeps. She's also a poor pusher, as a result.
5) unless you purchase Mejai's Soulstealer, can die without having to worry about replenishing any item stacks.
6) has an awesome slow on BB and Shunpo thanks to Rylai's. This provides much-needed control to a CC-lacking Katarina, who depends entirely on Exhaust to unload Death Lotus.
This in mind, I choose playstyles accordingly: if I face Veigar, I choose AD because his Primordial Burst ultimate is additively based off your own AP. If I face a Blitzcrank, I'll choose AP because I expect myself to die more often (and for the Zhonya's active in case I get grabbed and robo-groped), avoiding the loss of Bloodthirster charges. Or if I face a Galio, I might go AD because his taunt forces me to autoattack him. It really depends.
I find myself gravitating toward AD if I'm run a successful mid lane, because nothing's more devastating than a sudden +50 AD at early game thanks to a B.F. Sword. If I find that I'm losing and need survivability, I'll go the AP route.
My item set is extremely cookie-cutter. We have two aims for Katarina, the first one superseding the other in importance:
1) Maximizing the damage of Death Lotus
We achieve this by stacking Magic Penetration in both builds; and of course, AD uses AD, AP uses AP. Cooldown reduction is convenient, but is rendered lackluster due to Voracity. And we all know that the passive only works when your ultimate does enough damage to actually kill.
2) Surviving the entire 2.6 second channel of Death Lotus
HP items and armor go a long way, but buy them sparingly. We want Kat to blow shit up, not tank.
Core AD Build:
1. Doran's Shield + 1x Health Potion
Simply the best starting item for Kat, proven by many guides.
2. Sorcerer's Shoes
Only choose Mercury's Treads if you're facing an extremely CC-licious team.
3. Haunting Guise
Comes with a little health for survivability and delicious Magic Penetration. Though it comes with AP, it's still extremely useful for AD Kat. You can opt out for if you like.
4. B. F. Sword --> The Bloodthirster
NEVER buy a Vampiric Scepter first; alone, it's a rather useless item on Kat, as her autoattack is naturally crappy. I've noticed that if you're doing well, landing a B. F. Sword in early game boosts you even more significantly, as many characters at an early level (like ~Level 9) can't outcreep or compete with +50 AD. If you're doing well, consider getting this first before Haunting Guise. On the other hand, if you find yourself dying often, you can stall the purchase of The Bloodthirster by buying a second B. F. Sword.
Consider these additional items for AD:
1. Banshee's Veil
Paramount to successfully landing an ult, as it wastes one CC on the enemy.
2. Sword of the Occult
Get this as your #2 or #3 item if you decide to buy one.
3. The Bloodthirster
The best AD item in the game, with delicious lifesteal. Stacking them is the way to go.
4. Guardian Angel
Insurance for your The Bloodthirster charges.
5. Frozen Mallet
Like the AD's version of Rylai's, but much more expensive not necessarily useful since you have to autoattack. It does give you a generous chunk of health, however.
Core AP Build:
1. Doran's Shield + 1x Health Potion
Simply the best starting item for Kat, proven by many guides.
2. Sorcerer's Shoes
3. Haunting Guise
OR (as Ekitchi recommends in his well-rated Kat guide)
2. Mercury's Treads
3. Void Staff
His reasoning is that Void Staff doesn't synergize well with existing Magic Penetration. This is because Void Staff's -40% magic resist reduction occurs AFTER factoring in your Magic Penetration, and not before. This means that if, for example, you've 30 M.Pen and the enemy has 20 M.Res, Void Staff's reduction occurs on 30 - 20 = 10, or 40% of the remaining 10 M.Resist. It's more cost-effective if it occurs on the original 30 M.Resist.
4. [item_icon=Rylai's Scepter][item_text=Rylai's Scepter]
Much-needed survivability and a desperately needed slow. Rush this. Get it as your third item, if you want.
5. [item_icon=Zhonya's Ring][item_text=Zhonya's Ring]
A much-needed invulnerability active, as you're sandwiched between pure chaos when you Shunpo in.
Consider these additional items for AP:
1. Banshee's Veil
The mana bonus goes to waste, but it's absolutely vital in landing your ult. Especially against Blitzcrank, who can interrupt your ultimate three different ways.
2. Mejai's Soulstealer
Considering AP Kat is a much stronger single target killer, this could be a prudent investment. 5 charges make it cost-effective, which isn't much since you can tag the entire enemy team with your AoE, netting you easy assists.
3. Guardian Angel
Decent all around, but less vital if you don't run Mejai's Soulstealer.
4. Abyssal Scepter
5. Lich Bane
An extremely iffy item, but really helps with AP Kat's otherwise crappy creeping. I wouldn't recommend it, especially with the recent 40%-of-your-AP-autoattack against towers; at its price, you could've bought so much more AP.
These are listed in order of personal preference.
An integral component to Katarina's control game -- and if you play AD, the only control spell you have. Also good for the blind; the 3 seconds essentially makes you invulnerable to physical carries, allowing you to unleash the entirety of Death Lotus.
I'm personally partial to this spell because I like early kills, but I do honestly find that it puts me in an unhealthily aggressive mood ("RAAAHHH! I'LL IGNITE YOUR WHOLE TEAM, BITCHES!"). While Ignite is vital for early blood and contributes much to mid-game ganking, it loses much of its shine as you hit late game. By that time, there will be a much more coordinated effort by both teams to target carries (i.e., you, a caster-carry). You'll be lucky if even get a chance to land an Ignite kill, because you'll be shot down by CC from all directions. However, Katarina herself is very dependent on a successful early to mid game to even have a late game presence, justifying (for me) this pick over Cleanse.
Incredibly important for Katarina, the most vulnerable character of the cast to crowd control. If people decide to pre-emptively CC you (for example, silence you before you launch your ult), you can quickly break the CC and promptly destroy them with Death Lotus. Cleanse allows you to quickly Shunpo out and escape by breaking their vital CC, as well as against game-breaking ults like Urgot's Hyper-Kinetic Position Reverser. More experienced players tend to withhold the CC specifically against your ultimate, however. This spell is integral if you play a snowballing Katarina.
Honestly, you should learn to run without this. It's a great get-out-of-jail free card in case you misjudged Death Lotus and need a quick escape -- which'll happen often if you're still learning Kat -- but it's best to replace this with Cleanse or Ignite as you improve.
Really underrated, but can help you survive that one extra vital second while unleashing your ult. It's also a huge amount in early game, which allows you to do surprising tower dives with Shunpo.
Every team should run this, but it's best to leave this spell to a support character.
I can't imagine a use for this on Kat. You're better off using a Flash + Shunpo combination over walls, I feel.
Eh, not important on Katarina. She has a strong laning presence because of Doran's Shield, as well as the fact that she uses no mana. The only time you'd probably need this spell is at mid. I try to take mid against good match-ups (i.e., against people who lack strong CC options, like Kennen). In these match-ups, I usually kill them, which grants me the time to Teleport back. The other use of Teleport is for backdooring, which Kat can't do.
Runes, Masteries, Leveling Order
As with Katarina's itemization, our mission statement is to maximize the damage output of Death Lotus and to survive long enough to do it. This is extremely cookie-cutter, once again:
Greater Quintessence of Fortitude x3
An additional ~100 HP at early game is too good to pass up. To put it in perspective, that's like 20% of your max HP at Level 1.
Greater Mark of Insight x9
Magic Penetration increases your damage output far better than stacking AD or AP.
Greater Glyph of Focus x9 or Greater Glyph of Insight x9
The cooldown reduction runes make Katarina an even better early game harasser, and she's excellent as is. On the other hand, you can opt for Magic Penetration, which is always a good choice.
Greater Seal of Vitality x9 or Greater Seal of Evasion x9
I personally prefer HP simply because I don't like what I feel is a low dodge probability.
Greater Quintessence of Fortitude x3
An additional ~100 HP at early game is too good to pass up. To put it in perspective, that's like 20% of your max HP at Level 1.
Greater Mark of Insight x9
Magic Penetration increases your damage output far better than stacking AD or AP.
Greater Glyph of Shielding x9
As suggested by Mezzo, it really does help mitigate the damage from Shunpo-ing onto champions like Ryze, who spell death for you at close range. This helps overall in playing a more aggressive, in-your-face Katarina (rather than one who spams BB indefinitely).
Greater Seal of Defense x9
Against physical mids like Tristana, better facilitates aggressive Shunpo-ing.
These first nine points are non-negotiable:
As AD Kat, you might consider [spell_icon=Brute Force][spell_text=Brute Force] on the Offense tree. If you're AP, you might consider [spell_icon=Burning Embers][spell_text=Burning Embers], should you use that Summoner spell. Everything else is up to you. Just be wary of the Utility tree, as Katarina has no mana.
As AD, you want to max out BB first.
1: Bouncing Blade
3: Bouncing Blade
4. [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts]
5: Bouncing Blade
6: Death Lotus
7: Bouncing Blade
9: Bouncing Blade [maxed]
11: Death Lotus
13: Shunpo [maxed]
14: [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts]
15: [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts]
16: Death Lotus [maxed]
17: [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts]
18: [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] [maxed]
As AP, you want to focus on Shunpo, but don't neglect BB, as it's a tool for safe harassment. This is especially true against bad match-ups in mid, where it might be completely prudent to level abilities as if you were AD.
1. Bouncing Blade
4. Bouncing Blade
5. [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts]
6. Death Lotus
8. Bouncing Blade
10. Shunpo [maxed]
11. Death Lotus
12. Bouncing Blade
13. Bouncing Blade [maxed]
14. [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts]
15. [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts]
16. Death Lotus [maxed]
17. [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts]
18. [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] [maxed]
The Mid Metagame
In order to qualify for mid, a champion should have a strong lane-staying presence, an ultimate that directly achieves ganks, or be a ranged carry. Though she isn't ranged, Katarina is a formidable candidate for mid -- she can safely zone and harass near indefinitely, and contributes colossal sums of AoE damage.
The point of mid is to simply farm while denying your opponent last-hits (and if well-played, you deny experience, as well). The most obvious way to deny is straight up murdering ownage. In more even matches, though, Katarina chips away at her enemy's health while maintaining her own; this makes them hesitant to approach your minions for last hits. You don't need to kill the enemy to deliver a superior mid game; you can simply outfarm them -- have a significantly greater number of creeps killed.
Remember the following rotations:
All purpose harassment:
[spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] --> Shunpo --> Bouncing Blade
If the person has heals or uses a Health Potion:
Shunpo --> [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] --> Bouncing Blade
One last note, here are my Katarina-specific definitions of 'playing aggressively' or 'playing defensively':
1) Playing aggressively - means to launch rotation after rotation of spells on your opponent. You can even sneak in an autoattack after Shunpo. Eventually you'll definitely want to go for the kill with Death Lotus.
2) Playing defensively - means to safely harass only with Bouncing Blade, because the enemy can severely outdamage and punish you for Shunpo-ing next to them. Safely harass by ricocheting BB off minions and onto the enemy champion, mixing in Killer Instincts for full damage. Your goal is to maintain a health advantage and to outfarm (killing more minions) them. Against this mid champion, you'll probably not obtain a kill without extra help.
With that in mind, here is a list of champions you'll usually face at mid, with a quick reference of which spells interrupt or flash right out of Death Lotus (listed right after their name). Don't hesitate to switch out of mid with someone else against a bad match-up. I never play mid, for example, if I know I'll face Fiddlesticks.
Annie - Pyromania
Play defensively. Ms. Jailbait has surprising autoattack range, allowing her to shove countless coals up your autoattacking ass. I'd be wary of attempting to; though you deal more autoattack damage, you generate too much creep hate (because she'll stun you). Avoid harassing with Shunpo -- you eat her Disintegrate, Incinerate, a stun, and creep hate. She'll outdamage you. Furthermore, your Bouncing Blade has approximately the same range as all her spells. If you're able to hit her directly with BB, you're too close to her -- before Level 6, she outdamages you, and at Level 6, she can drop you from near full HP with Pedobear. It's better to bounce it off minions using [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts]; this way, you effectively outrange her and harass safely. You need to level BB for precisely this reason. Smart BB harassment will put you at a health advantage, giving you a kill opportunity. Your health advantage must be, I stress, significant, because Annie's Pyromania interrupts and trumps Death Lotus. So you can't rely on it to wipe even a third of her health. Note that most Annies also run Flash or Ghost, allowing them to quickly close in distance and stun you for the kill. So if you have it, Cleanse is a great counter. Overall, Annie's actually easy to play against unless you get cocky; she's one of the few characters I would not tower dive.
Akali - Shadow Dance
Play defensively. Outrange her by bouncing Bouncing Blade off minions. Shunpo isn't a safe choice, as her Mark of the Assassin + autoattack + Crescent Slash combo outdamages you. Again, smart BB harassment ensures a health advantage. Her creeping capacity otherwise matches yours, however. She also has a similar lane-staying presence, as she has spell vamp due to Twin Disciplines and self-replenishing energy instead of mana. You can, however, hurt her heals with [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts]. Akali can't interrupt your ult, but she can Shadow Dance to your creeps. You can even ult her when she hides under her Twilight Shroud, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're sure she'll die from it; she can just as easily walk away from it.
Anivia - Flash Frost
THE BITCH HAS EGG. It's her Rebirth passive. I have seen countless, classic Anivias bait champions into towerdiving doom by walking around with 200 HP. As with Annie, be wary of harassing with Shunpo; Anivia outdamages you with her Flash Frost + Frostbite combo. However, as Flash Frost is a skillshot, you can cleverly juke it by running to the side. Never run backwards when you see her shoot that fluffy white cotton ball; it travels faster than you can run. Always run to the side. If you can dodge it, your constant Shunpo and Bouncing Blade combos will out-harass her. You won't kill her at Level 6 without extra help because you simply just don't have the damage to wipe her health bars twice. Alone, the best you can do is waste her egg passive and outfarm her.
Ashe - Enchanted Crystal Arrow
Easy match-up. Play aggressively. Her first shot will always crit you; keep that in mind. While it's not too painful, it's unnecessary to eat it. Just zone her in the beginning and she'll eventually give up and shoot a minion with it. Always stand behind minions, because her Volley arrows will hit the first thing in their path. Overall, your spells simply outdamage her. Be wary of going for the kill when you're both at similar HP. She will launch Enchanted Crystal Arrow and stun you right out of your ult, and promptly right-click you to the grave if you're reckless.
Cho'gath - Feral Scream
Rarely seen, but possible. Play aggressively. The best Godzilla can do is harass you with Rupture, but that's telegraphed much too obviously and you can quickly Shunpo away. You outrange him easily, but a word of caution about going in for the kill -- he has one of the best single-target spikes in the game, Feast -- that also heals himself. If you're below 60% HP, he''ll eat you for breakfast. He can also interrupt your ult with Feral Scream. Try to use [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] on your Bouncing Blade as much as possible, as his laning presence power comes from Carnivore, last-hitting.
Corki - Valkyrie
Also rarely seen, if only because Corki is just such a mediocre character, and an inferior imitation of Tristana. Play aggressively. His harassment is surprisingly mana-intensive but still crappy, so you beat him down rather easily. The best he can do is use Valkyrie to escape your ult. Meh.
Ezreal - Arcane Shift
Entirely reliant on skillshots, so it's easy to avoid getting hit. Just be aware that he can spam them every 3-4 seconds, with the damage adding up. Simply stand behind a minion and you're safe. Most Ezreals try to be clever and Arcane Shift + Mystic Shot; that is, the first move acts as a blink that does damage and repositions him, while the second shot is directly meant to strike you. That's rather mana-intensive, though, so if he misses it sets him back. Other Ezreals will use Essence Flux to hit you, which can penetrate through minions to hit you. That's mana-intensive, however, so you won't see it often. It's best to level Bouncing Blade to harass; use Shunpo with restraint. If you have quick reflexes, you can use Shunpo to dodge his Trueshot Barrage ult, which has a 1 second channel. Be sure to notify everybody if he launches his ult at a side lane.
Fiddlesticks - Terrify + Dark Wind
Bad match-up; play extremely defensively. That he has two CCs on you -- a fear and silence -- ensures that you'll never successfully launch an ult on him. His Dark Wind is a superior imitation of your
Bouncing Blade. Though he can regain health with Drain, your [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] will reduce the amount. Still, he heals for a lot. You'll never kill him, so the best thing to do is to at least match his farming. If he's Level 6 and suddenly disappears from sight while above 25% HP, immediately towerhug and call MIA for your sidelanes. In this scenario, it's best to recall and buy 2x Sight Ward and place them in bushes sandwiching mid. It's the best security against his potent Crowstorm ult, which is kind of a superior rip-off of your own ultimate. Damn, he already stole BB, too. Douchebag.
Galio - Idol of Durand
Rare, but happens. Play aggressively. His ult trumps yours, as it will taunt you out of Death Lotus, but he's otherwise helpless against you. Though he outranges you, his moves have exorbitant mana costs, so you'll outlast him. Easy stuff.
Gangplank - Remove Scurvy
Also pretty rare. Play aggressively. You both outrange and outdamage him, unless he scores several lucky crits. Then you know Captain Crunch is packing crit runes, and you might consider playing more defensively through pure Bouncing Blade harassment. You should win here. Just be aware that his Remove Scurvy will negate your Exhaust.
Gragas - Explosive Cask
Yet another rare Pokemon. Play defensively. Level Bouncing Blade, as using Shunpo puts you within range for him to Body Slam. His Barrel Roll is annoying, but can be evaded. You'll outlast him, as long as you use [spell_icon=Killer Instincts][spell_text=Killer Instincts] for the healing debuff against his Happy Hour passive. I'd recommend just outfarming him, because you might suddenly end up at his tower when he uses Explosive Cask, which also interrupts your ult. Be sure to push him back far enough before leaving the lane, Snorlax with Drunken Rage makes him a strong pusher and tower killer. Play defensively.
Heimerdinger - [spell_icon=CH-1 Concussion Grenade][spell_text=CH-1 Concussion Grenade]
Will need to update as I gain more experience against this match-up. I haven't seen him much since the nerfbat struck him down. Still, it should be tricky to harass him because his turrets will act as extra meatshields that eat you Bouncing Blade. On the flip side, you can ricochet BB off the turrets and into him, as he'll most likely hang out by them. He has to aim his grenade to stun you, but remember that it's easy to aim against a target standing still -- which is you during your ult. He's still a stronger pusher than you are, so call out for a gank.
Le Blanc - [spell_icon=Sigil of Silence][spell_text=Sigil of Silence] + Distortion
Even worse than Fiddlesticks. She can chain-silence you on command, or double-blink out of your ult. Don't even bother playing aggressively; she beats you in every department, though you're a stronger pusher.
Karthus - No interrupts or escapes!
Play aggressively. Notify your teammates when he reaches Level 6, as his Requiem is almost like a free kill. Just avoid his Lay Waste mines, as the damage adds up. Other than that, he poses no real threat; you outdamage and outrange him, so this is an easy match-up. Just remember that he doesn't "truly" die until after 8 seconds, thanks to his passive, Death Defied.
Kassadin - Null Sphere
Bad match-up. Play defensively. He has considerable range with his silence, but if harass him safely by ricocheting Bouncing Blade off minions, you can negate his health advantage. His abilities are extremely mana-intensive, so unless the Kassadin is silly enough to not run Clarity, you'll have an easier time. Just remember that he's a character you can't towerhug against when he reaches Level 6; his Riftwalk is on a 6 second cooldown at rank 1. Before he obtains that ult, however, he's an extremely vulnerable character. Call out for a gank; it's best to shut him down immediately.
Katarina - Shunpo
Ew. I hate mirror matches; they make me feel self-conscious, so I always switch out. You should, too. To be honest, though, most characters can't deal with Kat at mid, though, so you're probably the best option. You've two options: 1) Level Bouncing Blade and outrange her or 2) Level Shunpo and outnuke her. You can make a decent guess as to whether the enemy Kat is AP or AD by Level 3; if she throws a BB and it hits 3 targets, you can reasonably guess AD because she leveled BB. In that case, level Shunpo, play aggressively, and outnuke her. It's a race to level 6, and you better have Ignite. If you don't, hope to hell she doesn't (otherwise you'll need a bigger health advantage). Meanwhile, if you're sure she's leveling Shunpo (because her BB is hitting too few targets), play very defensively. Don't let her Shunpo on you, and harass safely from afar. Again, it's a race to level 6. I hate mirror matches.
Kennen - Mark of the Storm
In your favor, but play very defensively. For those unfamiliar with his character, he stuns you after landing 3 Storm Marks on you. To avoid this, dodge his Thundering Shuriken skillshot, and be sure to stay out of his autoattack range (as every 5th will Mark you). His ult, however, Slicing Maelstrom, will Mark you every 0.5 seconds you sit in it (stunning you after 1.5 seconds if you've 0 Marks), so don't count on Death Lotus. If you get Marked, be sure to stay away from him until it wears off; landing the first Mark is always the hardest part.
Kog'maw - No interrupts or escapes!
Play extremely defensively. His Void Ooze + Bio-Arcane Barrage combo is beastly: he launches a long-ranged slow and gains a crap ton of range and attack speed, discouraging offensive application of Shunpo entirely. Even last-hitting minions with your autoattack should be used with caution, because that's already well within Kog'maw's range. An annoying match-up, as you're both outranged and outdamaged, but focus purely on Bouncing Blade harassment. Maintain a stronger lane-staying presence by chipping away at his health. Use Shunpo liberally to avoid his carpet bombing Living Artillery.
Malzahar - Call of the Void + Nether Grasp
Before Level 6, play very aggressively. Be sure to stay away from a creep afflicted with Malefic Visions, as once it dies the spell will spread like AIDS and infect you. At Levels 2-5, cast your rotation on him after you see him cast Malefic Visions on a creep. You'll surely outdamage him that way. Once he gets Level 6, compare your health bars. If you do not have an extremely significant health advantage, then play defensively. He can drop you very quickly, as his ult, Nether Grasp, breaks yours, and with it, he has a superior spell rotation. As with Annie, he will probably run Ghost or Flash to surprise you with his stun. Unlike Annie, however, he telegraphs his attempt much more clearly: to ensure maximum damage, he'll have to cast his purple abyss of shitkicking doom, Null Zone, first. The idea is that you're stunned under his ult while sitting in it taking damage. While laning, decent Malzahars will never cast Null Zone to harass or farm (it's too mana-inefficient); it's a telegraphed gank attempt, and you should Shunpo away immediately.
Miss Fortune - No interrupts or escapes!
Good match-up. Play it safely until you get to Level 2 (for Shunpo); then go out on full-on harassment. When you first see her, knock her out of Strut immediately to destroy her movement advantage. After that, she shouldn't ever have a chance to load up her passive again. Be wary of hanging out by caster creeps -- her Double Up is an inferior BB, but I think its trajectory priority always favors the secondary target immediately behind the primary one. That means she's practically guaranteed to hit you, as standing at the sides of creeps is a little pointless (then YOU'D become the primary target). But she runs on mana, so you'll easily outharass her. In a 1v1, her Bullet Time is entirely inferior to yours, because you can simply Shunpo behind her and dodge most of it.
Mordekaiser - No interrupts or escapes!
Extremely rare, though he is a strong pusher. He also has a strong laning presence (because he'll often run Regrowth Pendant, so you'll want to play defensively. Ensure that his shield, Iron Man, that gray bar under his health, is depleted by harassing him consistently. He can only charge it up from using his abilities. Also mind that one of his abilities, Siphon of Destruction, is cone-shaped. If you do decide to Shunpo on him (I wouldn't recommend it), you'll want to run to his side, or around him, so that he'll miss with that cone ability. It is imperative that you do not let yourself die while he ults you with Children of the Grave, because with enemy creeps present he will definitely kill your tower. He is an incredible pusher.
Morgana - Soul Shackles
Easy match-up. Play very aggressively. She won't stun you out of Death Lotus with her ult unless she engages you, because the stun comes 4 seconds after her ult (the channel of Death Lotus is 2.6 seconds). As long as you engage, you'll land your Death Lotus in its entirety. Evade her skillshot, Dark Binding, when you see it. She won't spam it (as with Ezreal's Mystic Shot), because all of her abilities are unbelievably mana-intensive. Realize that Dark Binding is not a stun, though you cannot Shunpo out of it. Morgana gains farming status at around Level 5, so you'll want to harass especially strongly before she can kill creeps faster than you. She also has some spell vamp thanks to her passive, Soul Siphon, most of which comes from her casting Tormented Soil. Nail her with Killer Instincts and Bouncing Blade when you see her use it.
Nidalee - Bushwhack / Pounce
Play very aggressively. She can heal using Primal Surge / Swipe, so I suggest spamming Killer Instincts + Bouncing Blade. You outdamage her very easily, especially before Level 6, where much of her damage comes from Javelin Toss / Takedown. That's a skill-shot, however. You can easily Shunpo away when you see it. On the other hand, if you decide to Shunpo onto her, be sure to wade through your creeps when running away so you have meathshields eating the javelin skillshot for you. Nidalee won't launch it point-blank range, as it'll do very little damage; it does more damage the farther it goes. If you go for the kill, do it before she's Level 6; she can quickly jump away in kitty kat form. Note that she's difficult to gank because she'll throw a Bushwhack / Pounce trap in the bushes to catch unsuspecting enemies. It's like an inferior Teemo's mushroom, but still does its job.
Ryze - No interrupts or escapes!
Play defensively, and you'll get the advantage. You must treat him as if he were Annie (i.e., stay the fuck away). You must level up Bouncing Blade. Never Shunpo onto him. His Spell Flux is a much superior Bouncing Blade, as you can get hit by it more than once. He can also use himself as a conduit, letting it bonce between you and him several times -- so never Shunpo onto him. When you're playing defensively, he'll try to land his Spell Flux on any creeps you're near by. Just stay away with Shunpo. You'll probably eat a few hits, but you'll eventually outlast him in mid with Bouncing Blade. Once you reach Level 6, however, and you gain a significant health advantage through safe BB harassment, you can go for the kill. At Level 6, Ryzes are a little cocky -- they will bait you with their low HP, because their Desperate Power makes them a raging killing machine in a split second. If you have a big health advantage, though, you can survive his ult and kill him. It's a close fight, though, and you'll definitely need a good judgment call. You'll need Ignite if you want to even think about trying to win the fight. Note that his Rune Prison is only a snare, not a stun.
Sivir - No interrupts or escapes!
Play very aggressively. Xena doesn't push very hard until Level 6+, and for a support-carry, she's an abysmally horrendous 1v1-er (as you can tell, I don't have a very high opinion of her... I used to play her). She's usually terrible, but I'm not sure whether to blame the players or the character. Prejudice aside, be wary of trying to harass with Bouncing Blade, because she very easily blocks it with Spell Shield. She can't, however, predict your Shunpo at all. So spam your rotation on her. You outdamage her unusually easily, as long as you dodge her mana-intensive Boomerang Blade.
Soraka - [spell_icon=Infuse][spell_text=Infuse]
Incredibly rare to see her here, as she's far better off babysitting in another lane. Your first response against her is to probably laugh, but she's actually unbelievably annoying. You'll never have the fear of dying, but you probably won't kill her, either. Entirely self-sustaining, she'll outheal most everything you throw at her. She'll even outlast you, especially when she obtains farming status with Starcall, which actually hurts when she starts spamming it on you. You must call for a gank. At Level 6 she'll sit right through your ultimate, if not silence you. As far as theory goes, however, she doesn't contribute much to her team as their mid. She just happens to blaze through it with her characteristically unparalleled lane presence.
Teemo - No interrupts or escapes!
Most Teemos will rush ahead to mid and sit there in stealth, thanks to Camouflage, just to surprise you with a quick autoattack. Besides that little gimmick, he doesn't offer much against you. Play aggressively. Eat him for breakfast. He can't defend against your rotations at all, and if he starts littering mid with mushrooms, just purchase a Vision Ward and throw it down. The minions will automatically attack any mushrooms on sight (you have to have a ranged physical attack to kill them). The Vision Ward is vital if the Teemo takes the AP route (he'll purchase an Amplifying Tome, probably a Doran's Ring).
Tristana - Rocket Jump + Buster Shot
As a carry, she needs to last hit. At Level 2 you'll outharass her because you've two spells to burn, but you lose this advantage as the levels progress. Play very aggressively; shut her down early. If you find that she's farmed very well, you'll be put in a helplessly defensive spot against her range -- call for a gank. She will be difficult to kill alone, because she can blast you out of your ult with Buster Shot or jump away.
Twisted Fate - Pick A Card
Play aggressively. Remember to notify everyone when he's about to reach Level 6, Destiny is a powerful ganking tool. You outdamage him easily, but he outranges you with the mana-inefficient Wild Cards, which don't even hurt very much if he's AD. You should be able to kill him with ease, so spam your rotations. Just watch out for when he pulls out a gold card (a stun), or when cards are suddenly surrounding him (that's his Stacked Deck, which makes his autoattacks hurt more). Either way, it's a good match-up.
Twitch - No interrupt or escape!
Play aggressively. All he can do is hope to autoattack you. You both outrange and outdamage him, so spam your rotations heavily. He has a long stealth timer (20/30/40/50/60 seconds), so don't hesitate to spam the chat with MIA calls; you should even remind them with "twitch still MIA" if he's been gone for a while. Note that Death Lotus is a pseudo-stealth checker; it lights up when he's stealthed but within Death Lotus range -- meaning you can actually use it. Accordingly, while he's getting hit by Death Lotus, he simply can't stealth away and hope to not get hit. Consider a Vision Ward.
Urgot - Hyper-Kinetic Position Reverser
Play defensively. Fatass has an incredible early game. He has a very spammable skill-shot, so avoid those. However, if you're struck by his Noxian Corrosive Charge, then his skill-shot will automatically target hit you for a few seconds. In this respect, he outranges and outdamages you, so you always have to be on the move. Use Shunpo as an escape mechanism liberally. Safely harass with Bouncing Blade Be wary of trying to ult him, as he can interrupt it with his position-swapping. Which is a reason why you should not push beyond halfway at mid, for you'll suddenly find yourself right next to his tower.
Veigar - Event Horizon
Play defensively; like other burst casters, treat him as if you were playing Annie or Ryze. You're going to have to rely on a health advantage with smart Bouncing Blade harassment. He has amazing burst damage, contingent upon you getting stunned. If he catches you within his Event Horizon (but you're not stunned), immediately Shunpo out. Don't go AP against him; that'll just make you easier to kill, thanks to his Primordial Burst ult.
Vladimir - Sanguine Pool
You're one of his best counters, but Edward Cullen still outharasses everybody, just like in real life. Accordingly, play defensively with safe Bouncing Blade harassment (charged up with Killer Instincts; vital because he heals). Once you've a health advantage, you can go for the kill, but Ignite is needed in this fight (unless he's just at such low health). Remember to use Death Lotus only after he uses his blood pool, which most Vladimirs do after getting hit by Shunpo. They do it because they think it's the only chance they'll have to hit you with it (if you've been harassing safely with BB), and furthermore, it heals them a ton.
Zilean - Chrono Shift
Play very, very defensively. Don't Shunpo onto him; if he's within Shunpo range, you're way too close. You're not entirely safe with Bouncing Blade harassment, though, as he can use this rotation against you: Time Warp + Time Bomb + Rewind + Time Bomb. In words, he speeds himself up and surprises you with two Time Bombs that deal severe damage. Remember that the bombs do AoE damage, so you want to back off (away from minions and especially allies) when he uses one on you. Note that he can also bomb his own creeps and allies(they won't be hurt, but surrounding enemies will). If you've miraculously achieved a health advantage, remember that he can die twice (a la Anivia) thanks to his ult.
Top or Bottom Laning
Make clear the priorities with your lane partner: full-on harassment or outfarming. I was launching risky rotation after rotation (losing a lot of health, but doing an equivalent amount of damage), hoping to shut down a Pantheon, who is very dependent on a good early game. Suddenly my Nasus partner said to me: "Just last hit by our tower, I'm focusing on farming." Which explained why he didn't even contribute with even a Spirit Fire. If I had tried to go for the kill (which is often hard to announce beforehand; the perfect timing and positioning is rather spontaneous), I might have instead died while my Nasus partner scrambled to clean up my mess. Communicating your objectives is integral in top or bot laning.
From Assassin to Caster Carry
As mentioned briefly under the Summoner Spells section, Katarina's role evolves as the game progresses. In early to mid game, she is an assassin, a top-notch ganker. This is accounted for by two notions: Death Lotus deals immense base damage, and will channel in its entirety under an element of surprise. As laning permeates much of the early to mid game, enemies are too focused on farming and harassing opposing laners to devote any real coordinated effort to stopping Katarina's ganks. She thrives in this environment precisely because a laner wouldn't have enough time to react to Death Lotus's obliterating caliber. This is why I suggested Ignite as a wonderful compliment to the gameplay of this phase.
You have to look at how Riot constructed her ult, however. Its AP/AD ratios and base damage scaling are rather fair for an extremely hit-or-miss ultimate. Unlike Akali, whose single-target burst becomes consistently and reliably amazing as the game progresses, Katarina loses her assassinating capabilities (in terms of damage and the uncoordinated laning environment) to gain AoE status.
What this effectively means is it becomes progressively difficult for Katarina to kill a single target. By late game, the enemy team is traveling in a pack. You've become public enemy #1, and all crowd control and focus fire will be coordinated specifically against you. In late game, your role is less to assassinate and more to survive long enough to deal titanic sums of AoE damage. A channel is easy to land while ganking scattered champions in the early laning phase, but incredibly difficult to land later on against a coordinated team. This is why I consider Cleanse over Ignite in the long run.
To Avoid Initiating
Unlike ganks, which are always planned, team fights are sometimes spontaneous. To tell you to "never initiate because you're squishy", then, is a little misleading, because you might not have known there was an impending team fight -- you could've just been harassing with your rotations, until four champions suddenly popped out of nowhere to focus-fire you while your team was present.
Here's how to spot an ensuing team fight:
Team fights occur at and beyond ~Level 8, and consist of at least 3v3 situations. The most obvious way to foresee a team fight, then, is if there are 3 enemies and 3 allies within the same lane (or jungle area). In such scenarios, abandon Shunpo as a harassment tool entirely. Be aware of the range of your enemies; people like Blitzcrank (who, by the way, can interrupt your ultimate 3 ways) has immense zoning control, simply because of the satanic range on his raunchy Rocket Grab groping. A sure-fire way to tell if you're too close, though, is when you can cast Bouncing Blade directly at a champion. Most characters have spell range that extend to and beyond that, which means you're in a dangerous position. Instead, back off and ricochet your blade off minions.
Now here's how to avoid "initiating" in various circumstances:
1) 8+ champions present: A team fight is almost obligatory. Just hide in a bush, or at least be out of visible range. They can't target you, and you can't target them. You're safe. You can close in distance easily with Shunpo, so you won't miss any of the action, should there be any.
2) 3 enemies MIA, you can't see them on the minimap: Don't use Shunpo to harass. They could be hiding in the bushes, waiting to pounce like rapists. And it's bad when you've used your only escape tool as a nuke.
3) 3+ enemies ganking a teammate, 2+ teammates nearby: I'm actually very guilty of this -- a part of me is dying just watching an ally die. But, well, shit happens, and it's not like you'll never see the person ever again. He/She is, at worst, on a 60-second respawn timer. So don't jump in there with Shunpo. If the odds are reasonable, you can stick around while you wait for teammates to arrive. Then you can jump in with Death Lotus. You should know by now that Kat is ENTIRELY dependent on her ult, and if you can't last the 2.6 seconds to unleash it, there's no point trying.
4) Don't be AP: The temptation to Shunpo-nuke an enemy is ever-present if you're AP Kat, because that's where a lot of your damage comes from. I guiltily speak from firsthand experience. Shunpo is one of the riskiest spells in the game, and using to harass, I feel, just isn't worth it if you're going to die. Bouncing Blade, on the other hand, is fairly safe.
After Initiation & "The Cannon Fodder"
Now, we know the purpose of the tank is to engage a teamfight by running into the fray and give the enemy a reason to attack him. Amumu, for example, despite being one of the quintessential damage sponges, can provoke the enemy into attacking him by melting and crying all over people with Despair, which is kind of like a really expensive [item_icon=Madred's Bloodrazor][item_text=Madred's Bloodrazor] magical reincarnate. That's a reason to want to attack him, but in reality people shouldn't. Attacking the tank is almost always a lapse in judgment, because the tank managed to convince you that he/she was a threat (this 'persuasion' works especially well when targeting squishies).
Even after the tank has initiated, however, you can't assume that all the enemy players have burned all their cooldowns trying to nuke his/her face off. In fact, most of the time their tank and dps characters will just engage yours with autoattacks, knowing that the more vulnerable enemies (i.e., you, Katarina) will soon appear.
This next part is extremely tricky. After initiation, there must be a fellow player that attacks right after the tank initiates; and, interestingly enough, it's not Katarina. I call this character The Cannon Fodder. The Cannon Fodder plays a role very similar to tanking, sometimes inadvertently -- by accident, as he or she is not necessarily built for it. You see, this character could very much be a mage; let's say Annie. The enemy team will want to burn all their cooldowns on someone this squishy. More experienced enemy players obviously won't nuke the tank; they'd rather nuke the next non-tank they see, someone squishy who can deal damage. This is why I call Annie 'Cannon Fodder.' She would have eaten the nukes/CC's for you, allowing you to Shunpo in and splatter the team across the pavement with Death Lotus.
The thing is, most teams in solo queue won't have a designated Cannon Fodder. It's something that I've observed happens mostly by chance -- some ally just so happens to engage after the tank does, and enemies will try to kill that non-tank champion instead. It's difficult to convince another fellow squishy (whose self-worth is measured in terms of K/D, and not a tank whose worth is measured through D/A), "You have to die so I can walk in and kill their team". Even if you're Katarina and probably outdamage them. It's hard as is convincing people you don't know to spend 90 gold on a Sight Ward.
If the enemy is resilient, however, and has placed you, Katarina, at the top of their priority list, they won't even take The Cannon Fodder bait. They'll let Annie slide, because late game her damage is inferior to Katarina's. This is a tougher situation. You can use the fact that you're the highest priority target to make them withhold CC/nukes, but in turn they've also forced you to withhold Death Lotus. Realistically, your team composition should include some high-threat damage dealer such that you withholding Death Lotus doesn't completely wipe your team's ability to fight. Realistically, your team should be persuasive and threatening enough to force the CC out (or they target the character with the CC); because otherwise, I'd suspect your team is full of tanks.
The hardest part is landing your ult in its asskicking entirety. After that, you've probably killed at least 1 person; which means you can unload a full rotation of spells on somebody again (thanks to your Voracity passive). If you're AP, activate [item_icon=Zhonya's Ring][item_text=Zhonya's Ring] if you're being focus-fired (and you probably are). If you're AD, you can auto-attack a little bit or retreat, as it's vital you don't lose your The Bloodthirster charges.
Making Katarina a Competitive Pick
In rated games, Katarina should never be the first pick; she's more along the lines of a wild card 5th pick that adds titanic AoE damage. She's not reliable precisely because she is a one-trick pony. LoL is a team game, and Katarina best exemplifies this notion: she must rely not only on a well-coordinated team, but also a well-formulated one, as well.
Her single counter is crowd control; simultaneously, her strongest compliment is crowd control. Any champion with a reliable stun, snare, or hard slow that forces an enemy to eat Death Lotus exponentially increases Katarina's viability. That in mind, here are some strong complimentary champions (with best picks at the start):
AoE Stun / Pop-up / Taunt / Snare
Galio, Amumu, Kennen, Annie, Sona, Malphite, Veigar, Shen, Swain, Lux, Blitzcrank, Alistar, Evelynn, Morgana*
Morgana takes 4 seconds to land a team-wide stun, so it's difficult to classify her -- because when she does land it, it's effectively GG.
Gangplank, Rammus, Xin Zhao, Karthus, Cho'gath, Morgana, Miss Fortune, Pantheon, Twitch
Morgana, Kayle, Janna, Shen, Lux
Based on this mini-tier list, we can see that Morgana, Galio, and Amumu are hands down the best compliments to Katarina's Death Lotus. Morgana's Black Shield completely negates every crowd control ability thrown at you, effectively getting rid of your single weakness. She is your best goddamn friend in the universe. Next is Galio, who entirely disables the enemy team with just one button. Amumu only snares, and does not prevent someone like Annie from stunning you out of your ultimate.
Furthermore, your team composition must include champions who can successfully hold a temporary 4v5. This is because in order for Katarina to facemelt the other team, she must stand back safely and Shunpo in at the last minute when all CCs have been burned for quick clean-up. And trust, Katarina is arguably the best clean-up champion in the game, resetting most of her CDs after just one kill. The best team comp, then, should include a tank and off-tank -- because they can eat through some damage long enough for you to jump in. Mix this in with a good Cannon Fodder like Annie and you have a very strong team.
I hope you've enjoyed my Katarina guide, which, in retrospect, is probably failblog.com's first image of a "tl;dr." But I hope it helps you better understand Katarina -- one of the best harassers in the game, and the caster's manifestation of carrying.
But in spite of all my praise and preamble, and the fact that I wrote this guide, I don't think Katarina has a place for rated games. Whereas she'll rampage and pubstomp in regular solo queue, every champion in rated has some form of crowd control, which is the single counter to the single-trick pony that is Katarina. Unless you've a well-coordinated premade, or unless a teammate banned/chose Blitzcrank, Katarina will never successfully launch Death Lotus. My best recommendation is to play with a Galio, or anybody else with reliable crowd control.
But if you liked my guide, comment! If you didn't like it, comment anyway, so I can improve it! And if you think it deserves it, +1 for awesomeness and happyfacing. =)
P.S. Many thanks to Shinyumo for being an awesome help in the creation of this guide and an awesome person in general. I will forever hate that woman with all my heart.
Submitted by Damond
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