Akali Build Guide

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Akali, The Fist of the Carry

written by thekarnedge

Akali Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Welcome to my first champion guide on League Craft. I absolutely enjoy playing as Akali, but one of the problems I've seen with her guides, references and builds are all completely different from each other so it is difficult to determine where to go and not waste too much IP on runes.

    Some guides/summoners will go Pure AP or even Pure AD or halfway with both. After reading through and testing most of the "Great" and "Excellent" Akali guides, I have compiled all the good points throughout these guides as well as my own experiences. This guide will help you not only to become a better Summoner in general but also an unstoppable force as Akali. I will point you to other references and recommended reads so it is up to you whether you learn how to tower dive without being targeted or be able to hide effectively and gank using Akali as I do.

    Keep in mind that I am fairly new and I wrote this guide to finally get a consensus on an Akali build and play style. Not to mention, most guides are messy, unreadable and ugly. So, please keep your comments and remarks as constructive as possible. This will help make the guide better and be updated with each patch or revision.

    Special Note:
    Everyone argues on how to build Akali.

    Read the Theorycrafting guides. The numbers do not lie. She needs some AD and lots of AP for her to be an effective burst damage champion. If you do not trust snowball items then do not follow the Aggressive build, but keep in mind that Akali was made to kill. Sheen/Lich Bane is an excellent item for her due to the proc that coincides with your Mark of the Assassin trigger. Not to mention, it allows you tear apart towers.

    Also, if you need references and other reads I recommend, please go past the abilities section. LeagueCraft's guides won't allow more than 1 section above abilities otherwise it copies itself.

  • Abilities

    Twin Disciplines
    Discipline of Force: Upon obtaining 20 additional ability power, Akali's hits deal 10% bonus magic damage, increasing by 1% for every 5 ability power gained thereafter.

    The wording isn't clear, but this bonus damage only affects Attack Damage which includes auto-attacks and Crescent Slash. Do not fool yourself though, do not stack AD because of this, all of Akali's abilities are affected by Ability Power.

    Discipline of Might: Upon obtaining 10 additional attack damage, Akali gains 10% Spell Vamp, increasing by an additional 1% for every 10 attack damage gained thereafter.

    Same as the above note, you still want more Ability Power than Attack Damage. The more damage you do with all of your abilities affected by Ability Power will allow you gain a percentage of returned health.

    Keep this example in mind:
    "Would you rather do 1000 damage and Spell Vamp 20% (200hp), or do 300 damage and Spell Vamp 93% (279hp)?" - kodama3

    Mark of the Assassin
    Akali spins her kama at a target enemy to deal 50/75/100/125/150 (+0.4 per ability power) magic damage and mark the target for 6 seconds.

    Akali's melee attacks against a marked target will trigger and consume the mark to cause 50/75/100/125/150 (+0.4 per ability power) magic damage and restore 20/25/30/35/40 energy.

    This ability along with the trigger gives Akali the single highest AP DPS in League of Legends. Always level this ability first and foremost. This will allow you to harass champions and do last hits from range.

    Also, keep in mind that due to the bonus damage from your passive and this ability's secondary trigger; your auto-attack on the enemy carrying the mark (for 6 seconds) will do more damage than the initial throw.

    Check out the video in kodama3's guide that shows off the ever important delayed trigger with this ability. Keep in mind that the cooldown on Level 1 Mark of the Assassin is equal to how long the mark stays on an enemy so it may be difficult to pull off at the start of the game.

    Twilight Shroud
    Akali throws down a cover of smoke that lasts for 8 seconds. While inside the area, Akali gains 10/20/30/40/50 armor and magic resist and becomes stealthed. Attacking or using abilities will briefly reveal her.

    Enemies inside the smoke have their movement speed reduced by 14/18/22/26/30%.

    There are dozens of clever uses for this ability, but be careful when it's at low levels due to its high energy usage. For the most part, you want to use it as an escape mechanism.

    - Throwing this at the edge of bush will allow you to see into a bush without being seen, therefore not "facechecking" the bush. Be wary, if you hear, "DEMACIA!"
    - Extend bushes or create bridges to other bushes.
    - Stealth around corners with bushes in an escape but juke the same way the enemy is coming towards you.
    - Slow down chasing enemies but only suggested at higher ability levels.
    - Disappear after initiating a fight to have more armor and magic resist from all the AOE and CC that will be wasted on you, allowing your team to move in for the kills.
    - Disappear from auto-attacks and minions focusing you.
    - Lessen the damage from an incoming tower shot.
    - Using it to intimidate people in the laning phase.

    I will add several videos in the future showing off these techniques. Let me know if you have any other clever uses that should be added and you will be credited.

    Crescent Slash
    Akali flourishes her kamas, hitting nearby units for 30/55/80/105/130 (0.3 per ability power + 0.6 per bonus attack damage) physical damage.

    Still affected by AP, this is the only ability with an AD ratio bonus. This should be used mainly for farming large groups of creeps or after hitting a champion with the delayed Mark of the Assassin and double trigger hit.

    Using this ability at a tower will activate the proc from Sheen/Lich Bane therefore doing double AD/AP respectively. Read any of the theorycrafting guides on the numbers for why stacking AD over AP will hinder your usage of your abilities, even though this one has a higher ratio for AD.

    Keep in mind, there is no return on energy for this skill so use it wisely or you will leave yourself vulnerable.

    Shadow Dance
    Akali moves through shadows to quickly strike her target, dealing 100/175/250 (+0.5 per ability power) magic damage.

    Akali stores an Essence of Shadow on kills and assists as well as every 25/20/15 seconds up to 3 total.

    This is, by far, one of my favorite ultimates on any character. Especially if you time this with your delayed mark, and have a Lich Bane. This basically teleports you to the enemy and strikes them. If you mark them and auto-attack after using this ability, it will begin your extreme burst damage combo.

    Even with the short cooldown, it is advised to not spam this spell too much even while chasing. Not only could this lead you into a trap you cannot escape but also leaves you vulnerable if you run out off charges. If you do manage to make a killing blow with this ultimate, you will gain 1 Essence of Shadow back.

    Technically it's possible if the situation allows, although unlikely, you could Ultimate to each team member without losing a charge and gaining a Pentakill. I'd like to see that, though I'm pretty sure it would anger your team due to the possibility of the kills all being "stolen". But this is good anyway, read the "Killstealing" is the optimal way to get your team fed forum post to find out more about that. Not to mention, you just speed up an Ace where everyone will revive at the longest possible times.

    Shadow Dance also has escape mechanisms. If used with Clairvoyance or Sight Wards, you could fly through the jungle walls and get away. You can also use it to get away from enemies if their minions are away from them as well.

    You can also use this ability to tower dive but know your surroundings, escape routes and prepare beforehand. If you want to tower dive, make sure you mark them before hand so you already have them ready for a huge hit. I would suggest not tower diving if you don't have Flash though, as it will allow you jump away from the tower before it even hits you. Otherwise, most champs (even at low health) will return the favor and CC you and allow the tower to kill you, if you were not successful at killing them.

    In future edits, I will add videos showing various uses of Shadow Dance. In the meantime, check out kodama3's guide for videos on tower diving and check out GiRLSTAR's guide for using this ultimate as an escape mechanism through the jungle.

  • Pros / Cons

    - Extremely high burst damage that balances somewhat between AP/AD so it's hard to mitigate from her attacks.
    - At high summoner levels (25+ with runes, masteries), she can jungle from Level 1.
    - Both of her passives are activated when you start the game with this guide's build.
    - Can tower dive effectively, keeping other champions away even from their own tower. :P
    - She can tower hug very well even against 2 players.
    - Rips apart towers and inhibitors in late game like butter.

    - She is very squishy and should never initiate team fights.
    - Akali isn't exceptionally great at pushing lanes solo until level 6.
    - Nearly no CC other than slow with Twilight Shroud.
    - AOE range is very short.

  • Masteries + Runes

    The two ways I suggest to go are either more survival or quicker burst damage. You will need to judge yourself on how you want to play. If you want to jungle you may want to get Smite and change masteries accordingly. The only thing you would ever want from the Utility tree would be Awareness and Utility Mastery but it's just not worth it honestly. Although, I must admit that the Offense tree is pretty bad.

    Aggressive (Offensive)
    Masteries 21/9/0

    If you use Exhaust instead of Flash, take a point out of Deadliness and give yourself Cripple instead. Deadliness isn't that helpful but the points have to go somewhere sadly to get to Havoc.

    Of course, I favor Burning Embers for the added bonus when Ignite is on cooldown. The 3 AD we get from Brute Force with three Greater Quintessence of Strength and 1 Greater Mark of Strength runes give us enough AD for 10.14% Spell Vamp from our passive without even having an item. :D

    3x Greater Quintessence of Strength (+6.75 AD)
    1x Greater Mark of Strength (+0.95 AD)
    8x Greater Mark of Insight (+7.6 MP)
    9x Greater Seal of Evasion (+6.75% Dodge)
    9x Greater Glyph of Celerity (-8.1% CD at 18) or Greater Glyph of Force (+27.54 AP at 18)

    Note: Greater Glyph of Force will pass Greater Glyph of Potency by level 6, but Greater Quintessence of Force won't pass Greater Quintessence of Potency until level 12.

    High Survivability/Jungling (Defensive)
    Masteries 9/21/0

    If you are jungling, you will need Smite to help you get Lizard buff early enough. Harden Skin only has one point due to needing 2 more points for it to even block another damage which is a waste. This setup will give you +222 HP at Level 1 with 14% Lifesteal from your passive and Doran's Blade.

    2x Greater Quintessence of Strength (+4.5 AD)
    1x Greater Quintessence of Fortitude (+32.4 HP)
    9x Greater Mark of Insight (+8.55 MP)
    9x Greater Seal of Vitality (+174.96 HP at 18) or Greater Seal of Regeneration (17.82 HP/5 at 18)
    9x Greater Glyph of Warding (+13.41 MR)

  • Summoner Abilities

    Tons of credit goes to other guides that helped me along the way as well as the people I have played with and against.

    - Pro Guide: AP Akali VS Hybrid Akali (theorycrafting) [Written by Sanrensei]
    Focuses very deeply on Theorycrafting side of Akali with its best features showing what each item is worth to Akali. This and the next guide pretty much seal the deal on my build.

    - Akali, by the numbers (Theorycraft) [Written by kodama3]
    Shows off different builds (AD, AP and Hybrid) and what their damage outputs do per ability and combos thereof. Plus, this has more videos including the all important delayed Mark of the Assassin triggering. ;)

    Here are some recommendations that will help you not only as Akali but also as a summoner in general on League of Legends:

    Recommended Reads
    - "Killstealing" is the optimal way to get your team fed [Written by RobertMeta]
    Try to inform and spread the word. I can't stand it when people call KS when this is an effing Team based game. I just got to the gank and yes I'm Akali, I can actually catch that run away, sorry. This points out that the team actually gets more gold if more than one person attacks and kills someone.

    - The Missing Manual - League of Legends Mechanics [Written by RobertMeta]
    This will help you with the dynamics of the game on what affects what, also helps with AI ordering like how the Towers prioritize targets.

    There are great many other resources but these are the main ones and this may update with the changes.

    - GiRLSTAR & Medikai's Ultra Pro Semi-Comprenshive Semi-Comprehensible Akali Guide [Written by GiRLSTAR]
    While this guide has great points and videos, it focuses Akali on being a Jungler. And it isn't very viable unless you're at least Summoner level 25+ due to runes and masteries needed. Then again, I also recommend being high enough for the extras before jungling low level in-game as Akali.

  • Skilling Order

    Always get Mark of the Assassin first no matter which stance you decide on. And, remember: the real hit is the auto-attack after you mark someone. Also, it's good for harassment and last-hitting minions.

    Ability Priority Order:

    Of course, get ultimate whenever possible (6,11,16).

    The reason we leave Twilight Shroud for last is because it is viable on its own with just 1 point so we do not "facecheck" bushes, are able to hide, and scare off people while laning. The slow and other effects are much more usable during late game. We are a burst damage champ and should focus on the skills that increase that.

    Jungling Note:
    Get Crescent Slash second instead. Using Twilight Shroud while jungling will actually cause the creeps to reset and regenerate all their health due to Akali disappearing. In late game, when your cooldowns are very low, you can use Twilight Shroud to give Akali Armor and MR, and be able to keep up with attacking the creeps and kill them faster than they regenerate health.

  • Items

    As I said in the beginning, there are two routes to go with Akali: Offensive or Defensive. Choose wisely, my friend. High Survivability may be easier to get use to due to Akali's extremely quick attacks and constant movements needed.

    These builds are quite similar and focus mostly on AP due her abilities. Her Spell Vamp passive is unlocked on both when you start the game, but the Defensive stance requires at least 435 gold before you get her second passive.

    Aggressive (Offensive)

    With our runes and masteries, we start the game with our Discipline of Might activated already giving 10.14% Spell Vamp, which means we can save money and start building towards Mejai's Soulstealer. Now, before someone gives me slack about having a snowball item on Akali. She's burst champ and easily cleans up teamfights. She is suppose to get kills. If you are not carrying, then do not do this build.

    Amplifying Tome (435g)
    Health Potion (35g)

    I don't usually come back until I hit level 6 with over 1150g and no opportunities for ganks has appeared, this allows my ultimate to build up charges.

    Mejai's Soulstealer (800g)
    Boots of Speed (350g)
    Giant's Belt (1110g)

    Upgrade your boots according to what type of team you're against:
    Mercury's Treads (850g) Heavy Caster CC team (Recommended)
    Sorcerer's Shoes (750g) MR stacking
    Boots of Swiftness (650g) Just want to be fast
    Ninja Tabi (500g) Heavy Melee DPS Team

    The Mid-game stage should be on it's way, so lets get our slow:
    [item=Rylai's Scepter] (1995g)
    Sheen (1260g)
    Needlessly Large Rod (1600g)
    [item=Zhonya's Ring] (1860g)

    Usually games end before now, if not it's time to get your tower destroyer:
    Lich Bane (2210g)

    Most games will finish by this point unless you're in a well matched ranked game. Last items to consider:
    Hextech Gunblade (2425g) - It's active will pretty much stop a run away, not to mention it raises your Spell Vamp considerably.
    Will of the Ancients (2400g) - This is a nice AP boost plus helps your team which you'll be with until the game ends anyway.
    Void Staff (2295g) - Only get this if they are stacking MR out the ass.

    High Survivability/Jungling (Defensive)

    Our first item along with the runes will give us our first passive with 14% Lifesteal to start off.

    Doran's Blade (435g)
    Health Potion (35g)

    If you want some more tips or help on Jungling as Akali, please head over to GiRLSTAR's Jungling Akali Guide. She has helpful videos with hints and goes more in-depth on jungling. She however does go for more a offensive role (including masteries) when jungling so you may want to keep that in mind. Plus she has a really cute voice. :P

    I start from the bottom to get the Golems, then towards Wolves. I wouldn't do Lizard until level 3 though. Go back when you have enough gold for the Amplifying Tome (435g) and Boots of Speed (450g). Now work towards your Sheen (825g).

    Now you'll want to work towards [item_text=Rylai's Scepter] (3105g), starting with Giant's Belt (1110g) for the health.

    I would suggest surprising bottom lane with a gank after level 6 or help push mid a little bit. Try to warn your teammate that you're going to attack someone and mark them accordingly. Of course, make sure you have Lizard's buff before you do this to help out. You can solo Dragon at level 9-10 but it will take you down in health pretty well so try to have Bottom lane help you so it's not a waste.

    From here, you would want start building the following: Hextech Gunblade, Lich Bane, and then build up to a [item_text=Zhonya's Ring] for the end all catch up in AP.

    Of course, throughout the game, always go back for Lizard's buff when it spawns every 6 minutes (I think) and help your heavy casters get the Big Golem's buff. You could get it yourself as it does give you faster energy regen but honestly you hardly have to wait for energy unless you're fighting for more than a 10 seconds which is rare.

  • Farming

    It's actually rather difficult for Akali to last hit minions when starting out. Maybe due to my noobness, I usually end up with only about 100 creep kills by the end of a 45 minute normal game. At level 1, with 20 AP (plus Havoc), you can kill melee minions when they have about 15% HP. Practice makes perfect; although, once you get Crescent Slash, it will help significantly due to AOE.

    Use your Twilight Shroud to check bushes or to move around corners. Of course, always stay moving around especially if someone with Skill shots (Ezreal) is laning against you or make sure you have friendly minions between you and that champion. If you die before level 6, chances are you will not be doing well for most of the game. You will have to play major catch up but it is possible so don't rage quit loser.

    If you are playing as Offensive Akali, you'll be well off with Sheen, Hextech Revolver, and [item_text=Zhonya's Ring], and of course their upgrades. With Defensive Akali, you'll be doing very well once you get [item_text=Rylai's Scepter]. If you creep farm pretty efficiently, you should have these items before the laning phase ends or just as mid game begins.

    Check out more of LumpOfCole's videos especially the Map Awareness one for knowledge and hijinx.

    Check out Kodama3's video on solo laning. Of course this will also help you if you're in a normal 2v2 lane.

    I'll add my own video later when I can record with the builds I do, although Kodama3 is using the same build route in the beginning.

  • Working in the team

    Teamwork is key in League of Legends. Its hard to find at low summoner levels but eventually even in solo queue, you will find teamwork with strangers. Know who you are against and what they are carrying; counter it. Know if you can tower dive and when not to. Keep yourself aware of all your opponents. Call MIA's if possible.

    As Akali, never initiate team fights. The best you can do is stand back and wait for an opportunity and smack down a champion pushing too far forward. Never go for the bait in a jungle. Never look Mordekaiser in the eyes.

    She can initiate as I said before by burst damaging someone (possibly their carry) really low and dropping her Twilight Shroud, making their team waste their initial attacks and CC on you. This will allow your team to move in for the kill and focus the others without having to worry too much about the AOE and CC they blew on you. Keep in mind, you MUST do this VERY quickly for it to work. Too slow, and they could stun you before you even drop the shroud. Never do this if their team has lots of AOE nukes like Kassadin.

    You're main job in the team in late game is cleaning up the mess in teamfights, wiping out those low enough or going after their carry. In early/mid game, you should coordinate ganks against solos or dual laners. You can easily 1v1 most champions so taking out those guys who want to try to take your lizard buff should be done quickly. Warwick is the hardest one to get down do to his ultimate and passive lifesteal. Always throw Ignite on him before engaging, this will negate his healing. If you have Exhaust, blind him with that and burst him down to nothing. If you do not kill him in 1 combo and he starts running, DO NOT follow... he is just waiting on his cooldown to comeback and ultimate you anyway.

    This section will be cleaned up as it is mainly a stream of thoughts. If you have some additions please feel free to comment.

  • Summary

    If you enjoy playing a fast paced, high burst damage champ, then Akali is for you. She is sneaky and often underestimated in power. However, do not forget her squishiness. She can be pummeled within seconds if focused. Stay careful, but be quick. She is the very definition of "Glass Cannon".

    Final notes:
    - Do not stack AD over AP nor balance them equally, this will hinder her burst damage and even her Spell Vamp amount.
    - Timing is everything; delayed triggering on Mark of the Assassin is worth the wait.
    - Kiting is Akali's best friend; Twilight Shroud and Shadow Dance double as escape mechanisms.
    - Be clever, be fast but be safe; know when to strike and prepare accordingly.
    - Laugh maniacally when you backfire the enemies' gank.
    - /j when you destroy the Nexus.

  • Cheatsheet

    Aggressive (Offensive)
    Starting Items:
    Amplifying Tome
    Health Potion

    Summoner Spells:
    Masteries 21/9/0

    3x Greater Quintessence of Strength
    1x Greater Mark of Strength
    8x Greater Mark of Insight
    9x Greater Seal of Evasion
    9x Greater Glyph of Celerity or Greater Glyph of Force

    High Survivability/Jungling (Defensive)
    Starting Items:
    Doran's Blade
    Health Potion

    Summoner Spells:

    Masteries 9/21/0

    2x Greater Quintessence of Strength
    1x Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
    9x Greater Mark of Insight
    9x Greater Seal of Vitality or Greater Seal of Regeneration
    9x Greater Glyph of Warding

    Note: This is here for a quick look at everything. Essentially, the "TL;DR" for trolls.

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