Katarina Build Guide by Opeth

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Opeth

AD - Katarina: The Sinister Redhead (Trinity-Force) [U.C.]

Opeth Last updated on December 29, 2012
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Lane-Build / Jungle-Build

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

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1 Introduction


Welcome to my personal Katarina-Guide: Katarina is my all-time favorite champ for years and after the remake I tried to go for an own build. I could play her very well but after the remake we had a little "reset". Riot destroyed her previous gameplay - so here we go with the new Katarina!

(art by icicicic)

First of all: (because this guide reached the 5000-mark) THANKS for your interest to take a look at this guide! Always keep in mind that this guide is an alternative way to play Katarina - her classy AP-build (like shown in many builds) is already known. This build tries to elicit this champ a bit more variety.

I'm not a professional ranked-gamer and this is my first guide - so please don't kill me for my amateur-state. :) I really appreciate your constructive feedback!
This guide is for fun and effective playing.

What is this guide about, mister?

Attack-damage increases the damage of Sinister Steel and Death Lotus very respectively extremely well. And this is the key of my build: we push her new spell Sinister Steel in early game to surprise the enemy with high early damage - which is unexpected after her remake. Additional we use Sheen to benefit from the high attack-damage and low cooldown of Sinister Steel.

The chapters are referred to my lane-build. But I have a jungle-special for people with lifesteal-runes, too.

At the bottom of this guide you can find a compilation of interesting screenshots (stats) I'll analyze a bit.

AD Katarina? Is it still playable?

I think so but it goes into a completetly different direction than the old AD-builds:

As you can see we mostly deal magic-damage and few attack-damage. The new aspect of AD-Katarina is Sheen - just because of her new spell Sinister Steel.
I won't say which playstile is more efficient - AP or AD - this guide is for Katarina-Fans who want to try something new, efficient and funny.

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2.1 Pros n' Cons

Bold Points > Normal Points
These points are referred to my build.

+ PROS +

  • good early game and ridiculously great late game
  • a combination of lifesteal, cooldown-reduction, Trinity Force and attack-damage makes her a big threat after ult-usage
  • outstanding farming abilities
  • can be played top, mid or jungle
  • average autohit-damage as a burster
  • good escape-abilities: early maxed Sinister Steel, Shunpo (CD-Runes!) and Bilgewater Cutlass
  • Ult-Dmg = Trololol (:
  • Playing this build is much fun: it looks great seeing Kata running fast with Sheen-effect (red hair!) and spamming Sinister Steel

- CONS -
  • VERY squishy: you have to be attentive!
  • My build is expensive: last-hitting and consistent farming required!
  • They'll focus you in almost every case. They'll gasping for you like a horde of hungry Neanderthals.

To be honest: we have much pros in this list but I can't say it enough: she's ultra squishy with my build. But when you're doing it right (focussing squishies, waiting for engage, kiting with Gunblade/Cutlass, ...) they'll not have that much to laugh - especially in late-game!

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2.2 Katarina's Spells

Spells are self-explanatory but I'll discuss them a bit:

Before the remake I carefully tried to leave kills to our carry to get some cash from the passive. Now we are in hard business - I always try to get the amount of gold I need and leave the rest to the carry. Otherwise an AD-Katarina has the possibility to compensate a weak carry in a certain amount.

Katarina goes Akali - why not?
The idea isn't that bad but it's very hard to win against specific champs (f.e. Diana) in early-game because you just can't proc the second damage-effect. Katarina's early game can be horrific as an AP-Katarina - because of this spell.
Honestly, I don't like this spell after the remake. No epic harassment anymore - anyway, we are focussing on Sinister Steel.

I like this spell very much - great design and usage for Katarina. The cooldown is hilarious and the damage average. You need some game-practise to estimate the range correctly. This spell is a great harassment-tool if you master it. While laning-phase try to hit enemy champs on max range and they will freak out. :o)

I think I'm not the only one who is sad about the execution of this spell. Shunpo was a true noob-basher spell. Now we have to use it carefully and with brain. :)
A big problem about this spell is the nerf of the damage-reduction: Katarina is now ultra-squishy without the right items and much more team-depended.

Death Lotus is still good. (great for 3on3-map) It doesn't hit that hard now - so it's important to have an ace in the hole. Sinister Steel + attack-damage does this job very well from the beginning. This is the reason why I focus on an AD-build.

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2.3 Skill Sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

The Skill-Order is quite obvious:


This guide is about maxing Sinister Steel first. Bouncing Blades had a small buff last patch for AD-Katarina's and is an average damage-bonus from mid-game ( Trinity Force Haunting Guise) - we max it second. The cooldown of Shunpo is good enough with CD-Runes - it will last for our purposes.

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2.4 Runes


Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction

Greater Quintessence of Health
My runes are a bit strange:

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
One key-point of my build is to push attack-damage for Sinister Steel and Death Lotus - so we need some magic-penetration.

Greater Seal of Vitality / Greater Seal of Armor
Armor/Health-Runes for the lack of defense.

Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction
So here we go: CD Runes on Kata?!? I know we have a sweet passive giving us everything we need but: this guide is focussing on Sinister Steel. This sweet spells cooldown is extremely low - I use this for my advantage! With some cooldown-reduction Katarina transforms into a true killer-machine: she's able to constantly harass the enemy with blinking to him/her (-CD!) and "escaping" with Sinister Steel - there are many situations where I'm happy to have a decent CD-reduction (ganking, escaping, chasing fleeing enemies, pushing, ...trolling)
The point is: IMO a high amount of attack-damage harmonises well with cd-reduction on Katarina.
Excursus: I've tried to play with maxing CD-reduction - it's not possible to "spam" Sinister Steel in team-fights for a wispy redhead ;)


Greater Seal of Scaling Health

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Seal of Vitality / Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Alternative Runes:

I often play top-lane so I choose armor-runes. But health- and magic-resistance-runes are always a good (but boring) choice.

Greater Quintessence of Life Steal
Lifesteal-Essences are important for jungling with weaker champs. You'll probably need them to farm fast and without breaks! I use them for laning too because I don't want to spend money for another rune-book <:o) but Greater Quintessence of Health are much safety.
(more in a future jungling-section)

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2.5 Masteries


With my masteries I want to get much attack-damage and some magic-damage + Health.
I've chosen everything that harmonises best with my build (I guess!). I don't choose Lifesteal in the Offense-Tree because we don't need it in early game that much - and we will have enough of it in mid- and late-game.

The Defense-Tree is variable. When you have to play mid it's a good idea to choose Resistance .

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2.6 Summoner Spells

Recommended Summoner Spells

Riot destroyed our early-game-burst-machine spell Shunpo and changed it into something I would call: garbage. Thanks Riot! IMO Flash is now an important pick with her - I hate this spell as a game-destroyer but it's too strong to leave it out.

Ignite is classy with Katarina. Always a good choice! Use it to improve your burst-combination with reduced Magic-Resistance and Armor of your enemy - or to kill fleeing enemies.

Subordinated Summmoner Spells

Cleanse should be a good choice with Katarina but I never could use it for my advantage. I would prefer Ignite and buy Quicksilver Sash in special situations.

Katarina has a good lane-sustainability if you go for Boots of Speed + Health Potion or Doran's Shield. Her movement-speed is high enough (+ Shunpo) to choose other summoner spells.

I didn't test this spell so far. It could be a good choose (especially for jungling) if you have a lack of defensive runes.

Ghost or Exhaust is a needless choice with my build. We have a good movement-speed with Trinity Force and our personal cutlass! Phage-effect slows our target, too.

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3.1 Items

The Purchase-Order at the top is not obligatory. This is just a build that gives me everything I need in a normal game. You just should buy the items of the "Core-Build" as soon as possible and combine them with items from the "Additional/Situational Items"-list.
After completing the Core-Build I normally push Katarina's attack-damage and penetration-stats while looking carefully at her defend-stats.

What criteria did I have while choosing these items?
I've chosen items which have a lot of Attack-Damage and only few or no stats we don't need.

What stats do we not need?
AD-Katarina with Trinity Force is still a burster - we don't want to hit the enemy fast while life-stealing like Master Yi. We want to burst the enemy with Death Lotus, Sinister Steel and the Sheen-effect from the beginning.
So we don't really need attack-speed and crit-chance. Life-steal isn't bad but we don't need it that much.
It doesn't hurt but we're focussing on attack-damage, survivability and penetration in this build.

Core Build

I start with Boots of Speed + Health Potion against casters or specific cc-champs or Null-Magic Mantle + Health Potion against heavy nukers. Katarina has a good amount of early-game damage with my build - so we don't need an offensive starter-item. Against AD-mid or top you can choose Doran's Shield, too.

This is the item we rush for. It increases the damage of two spells and enables us to improve chasing and escaping. Lifesteal is good, too - although it's more needed in late-game.

In my build - focussing on Offense-Masteries - we have a lack of magic-resistance and survivability without this item. In addition Tenacity is lifesaving for Katarina.

After completing Bilgewater Cutlass we have a sweet amount of attack-damage. Sweet enough to build Sheen. In combination with CD-Runes and attack-damage the Katarina rework enables a way to use Sheen/ Trinity Force because Sinister Steel has a short cooldown. In additional we can reduce the cooldown of Shunpo and Bouncing Blades with CD-Runes.

This item improves quite everything - after finishing it we feel a
Always remember: go for Ruby Crystal/ Long Sword/ Amplifying Tome when you don't have enough money to instant-buy Sheen.
After finishing our core-build we have to take a closer look at the builds of the opponents.

Additional/Situational Items

When you go for Hexdrinker and the enemy has a lack of CC you should think about buying this item. Sure, you don't have to buy Mercury's Treads if you prefer the Magic-Penetration but I'm always happy to counter champs like Veigar with Mercury's Treads.

This item is just perfect for AD-Katarina. It gives you magic-resistance and attack-damage (without any other stats you don't need!). The improved shield of Hexdrinker is a blessing against fed AP-champs because Katarina acts in melee-range.

This item is a real classic on Katarina but it disappeared in almost every Katarina build. It's a good choice for my build to counter high amounts of Magic-Resistence.
Notice: I rather choose Mercury's Treads than Sorcerer's Shoes because I want to improve my survivability with some Ruby Crystal (like in Haunting Guise) anyway.

What a...classy item ^.^ When the enemy doesn't stack armor I'd buy it after completing the Core-Build. Katarina can farm very fast so you'll maximise the attack- and lifesteal-bonus of The Bloodthirster quickly. After buying B.F.-Sword it would be smart to go for a Health-Stone before completing Bloodthirster.
If the enemy team has high magic-damage you should think about buying Maw of Malmortius instead of this one. The additional lifesteal of The Bloodthirster is cool but magic-protection can be better.

Truth be told, I don't know when it's the best time to buy this item. I'd finish it as the last item because we need the money for attack-damage.

We need an item to get armor-penetration if the enemy is stacking armor - this item is some kind of cheap and always a good choice to counter small amounts of armor. Every item with a high amount of attack-damage on the cheap is great for Katarina!

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3.2 How to play Trinity-Force Kata

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The first three levels are all about last hitting with Bouncing Blades and playing defensive. Reaching level 4 is good, reaching level 5 is perfect! Harass the enemy with Bouncing Blades + Shunpo + escaping with Sinister Steel.
When you're able to clear almost every minion by chasing your opponent, try to land some autohits with "your" minions.
This harass-rotation can be expanded with additional autohits - especially when you've got the Pickaxe. You have some decent lifesteal because of Vampiric Scepter - make use of it!

Your first recall should include Boots of Speed + Vampiric Scepter or - better - Boots of Speed + Pickaxe. Health Potion and (especially Vision Ward) Sight Ward are your best friends.

Use the rotation Flash -> Bouncing Blades -> Shunpo -> Bilgewater Cutlass -> Death Lotus to finish damaged enemies.
Double-Blink is her ultimate tool to surprisingly kill squishy champs in early-game.
You can use Sinister Steel while this rotation to position for your ultimate.

After buying Mercury's Treads you should think about buying two Trinity Force-Items (no Sapphire Crystal) when you don't have enough gold for completing Sheen.


In team-fights Katarina has to choose squishy-targets that are fed most. She has the possibility to kill opponents that are unreachable for other champs. She is fast as hell with an early-maxed Sinister Steel.

Fast playing is one key-point of being a good Katarina. Instantly focus another target if you killed a champ. Every following centisecond you can land another kill OR/AND die. Katarina can surprise her enemies with swiftness and smart targeting.
If you try to hunt fleeing enemies always be sure that you have the option to escape when you're trapped.


In this phase Katarina joins the insane-mode - she doesn't need to be highly fed to be useful in late-game.
And again I have to underline that Katarina is great for killing a specific target. Use Flash in important situations to double-blink to your target. I think that Katarina helps her team by even sacrificing herself to kill the most dangerous opponent.
If you have a decent amount of attack-damage Trinity Force is an unexpected damage-boost.

Buy an Elixir of Fortitude - even if your build isn't completed.

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3.3 Matchups - Good/Bad Opponents (under construction)

Akali Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Anivia Difficulty: Easy

It's all about movement: you can harass Anivia really easy because of your high movementspeed and Shunpo. Just wait until you evade her spells and counter-attack.

Cassiopeia Difficulty: Medium

It's all about damage and evading her AoE-Spells. Cassiopeia has a great damage-output which can be high enough to kill you while you're casting Death Lotus.

Diana Difficulty: Easy / Medium

One of the advantages of the AD-Katarina-Spec: You're able to harass her after evading Crescent Strike by moving forwards. The high movement speed of an early maxed Sinister Steel is great against all "Aim"-Casters.

Fizz Difficulty: Hard

Really stupid opponent because of his mobility and high damage output. He can evade our Sinister Steel harass which reduces your damage-output significantly.

Karthus Difficulty: Easy / Medium

Easy opponent if he can't land Lay Waste. You don't really care for his Wall of Pain because of Shunpo. After killing him you're able to get away from him very fast which prevents a counter-kill of Death Defied.

Katarina Difficulty: Easy/ Medium

I'm never really afraid of playing against Katarina. You can surprise her with constant Sinsiter Steel harass. Stay away from minions and wait for a good counter-attack.
By the way: I always choose Null-Magic Mantle against Katarina, it reduces the damage of Death Lotus. In additional we deal surprisingly hich auto-attack damage because of Pickaxe.

Nidalee Difficulty: Easy (AP!)
Nidalee AP is an easy opponent. You can avoid her spear almost every time with Shunpo and Sinister Steel.
Try to harass her as often as you can and try to land early kills on her. It's hard to kill her after her Heal-Spell is almost maxed.

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4.1 Katarina in the Jungle: A Special-Feature of AD+Lifesteal-Kata (Fun Bui

First of all: thanks to Phoenix for his great Twitch-Jungle guide:

This guide is a big inspiration for me - his idea of jungling with Greater Quintessence of Life Steal is outstanding because you're able to jungle with a full-maxed Offense-Tree!
If you don't have at least two of these essences (very expensive!) you shouldn't give it a try. :)

I transfered the whole thing to Katarina as a jungler:


Greater Mark of Armor Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction

Greater Quintessence of Life Steal

With my runes Katarina can take the whole Offense-Tree with everything she needs (Magic-Pen, AD/AP). This is an advantage for Katarina because her burst while ganking will be stronger with Executioner and all the other damage-boosts of this tree.
Furthermore I choose Flash for better escaping and ganking.

Playing Katarina as a jungler is afun-build. There won't be many situations where you can pick her as a jungler - which is good because her best position is probably the mid-lane. (especially against squishy casters)

(Note: wrong masteries in the video - just look overhead)

In this short movie I show you my jungle-route (just mute the elevator-music if it's not your taste ;) ).
I'm starting with blue to use Sinister Steel more often. Port back to your base if you have enough money to buy Boots of Speed, Vampiric Scepter and 1 Health Potion.
As you can see I don't need the 5th Health Potion - use it if you want to gank early.

There's a little trick when you pull golems or wolves: pull them with Sinister Steel, Bouncing Blades or even Smite, wait for them to come and Shunpo behind the big golem/wolve. His companions will run a bit and you can use the first casted spell earlier.

At the end of the video I just want to show you that you're able to kill the dragon with lvl 9 (I used 1 Health Potion for good measure :D ) and Bilgewater Cutlass.

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4.2 3on3 Kata

Katarina can farm very well in 3on3. IMO she's a good champ for this map (before and after the remake).
I've tried the same build in 3on3 games and it rocks - her farming potential is almost maxed in this map.

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5 Summary

First of all: Thanks to jhoijhoi and IceCreamy for their guides!

It cost me hours to find a decent build which goes for something different than straight AP or AD. I didn't calculate if this build is efficient in numbers. I only know it is fun to play and that my overall- and burst-damage is really high.

I'm tired of a LoL-Game when it's only about playing the best champ with the best build which happened in almost every game - so I just went for my own build and had a lot of fun with it!
So what do I say when someone is laughing because of my strange Trinity-Force build?

No seriously, judge me in the comments - Have fun! :)

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To Do-List

- Expanding 3on3-Section / Jungle-Section

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In this section I show you some expressive game-results, loses and wins.
I blanked out the names of other players - we don't need them - but you have the unique pleasure of laughing about my kill-lose-ratio in random-games (I play almost every game without premades) :)

This is a typical result of a game with my build. I have many assists and easily get the missing gold from kills through my farm.
As you can see my damage is very high although I'm not totally fed.

This is one of these games I want to forget - my team is feeding and failing and the enemy is winning because of that.
As you can see I completly outfarmed the other Katarina. Her overall-damage is just about half as much (every Katarina I've played against was good and AP-builded).
In every mirror-match I countered the enemy Katarina with my harass and cooldown-runes - this is the result.

Another example for the things I've said about mirror-matches - completly outfarmed the enemy Kata in early- and mid-game. This funny and bloody game was about pushing our Ezreal to finally win it. As you can see I made some bad decisions in this game.

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- 01.09.12: Fixed some animations and expanded the "How to play" and Summoner Spells-parts.
- 05.09.12: Added items, the jungling-section and a jungling-video. Improved the explanation in the item-section.
- 05.09.12: Added some screenshots + explanations.
- 10.09.12: Improved design and explanations.
- 24.10.12: Expanded introduction, added new item-sequence and explanations.