Akali Build Guide by Master Tom
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
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.
You always wanted to play a champion, that bursts like hell? You thought, that mere melee champs - like that Warwick - ain't the right kind of character for you to play? You thought, that ordinary squishy assassins like Evelynn are kinda lame, 'cause they don't make enough damage in no time and die as fast as possible instead? Here's definetly the right champion for you!
Akali deals TONS of damage right into your opponent's face and isn't necessarily condemned to die after she killed that one helpless Ashe over there. Playing Akali is very fun, as she can jump straight into an enemy group of champions, kill one or maybe two of them in two seconds and then get away safely while hiding in her Twilight Shroud.
Your ability to jump from one enemy to another or to chase a fleeing Katarina down is exceptional and based on your simply amazing ultimate Shadow Dance. As well as it can be used to kill your foes, it also can be used to get away after you dived a tower. Simply jump to an enemy minion that's on your escape route to gain ground, while your Flash is on cooldown. This technique is not as good for escaping than Shunpo, but after a short time of practising and by watching closely the minions' positions, you should be able to master it.
Pros / Cons
+ Tons of damage...
+ ...in no time.
+ Great chaser.
+ Got a stealth skill Twilight Shroud.
+ (Great for zoning, escaping, ...)
+ Can farm minions and creeps very well.
+ (with Crescent Slash)
- Quite squishy...
- ...therefore weak early game.
- It's easy to overestimate yourself...
- ...and jump right into your death.
- Ultimate limited, can be stacked only 3 times.
Your main weakness as Akali is your low maximum life in the early laning phase. As you are melee champion you must be very careful while still trying to get last hits on the enemy minions. Therefore I strongly recommend you to use your Mark of the Assassin to kill some minions and to hit enemy champs with it from a safe distance. You won't do significant damage, but sometimes it's possible to gain some ground, if the enemy is playing rather carfuly.
This is my personal tree, and it's totally up to your own decision wether you like it or not. I'm doing very well with it and I'll explain to you my main thoughts upon this masteries.
The offensive tree seems to be essential for Akali in my eyes. It's quite simple: You're an assassin and you need to beat the **** out of your enemies and so it's necessary to get some points in there.
For I'm playing with Exhaust, I go along with Cripple.
This is a classic mastery for every champ based on AP.
Cooldown reduction. What else do you want? It's nice and simple.
You are not much of an autohit champ, BUT it's important to have some attack speed to finish your Mark of the Assassin-combo quickly after jumping onto a marked enemy.
15% magic penetration. It makes you hit even harder and that's exactly what you want!
You ignore a small amount of your enemy's armor. Quite nice, not that much useful though, but it helps during early game.
This one I only got to get the 20th point in the tree. It seems most useful compared to other possible fillers.
Brute Force + Havoc
More damage output, that's what these two are purely about.
As mentioned before Akali is VERY squishy, so in my eyes it's mostly recommended to compensate this weakness and to highly improve your early game survivability. You may also get some points in the utility tree and improve your Awareness and Utility Mastery , but I don't see that much use in that, as long as you only have 9 points left.
Resistance + Hardiness
Not much to say about it. It lets you stay longer in lane and survive more of the enemy's harrasment.
Some more chance to dodge an attack. That's it.
Especially in early game this may help you against minion waves that attack you. Other than that, it's not that useful, but it improves your early game, so it's appreciated.
RunesGreater Mark of Attack Damage)? The answer is as follows: With flat AD runes, you gain around 8.5 bonus attack and that's not enough to activate your passive (You need 10 AD for that). In this case it's more effective to improve your main damage output and because Akali is based on ability power, you need some MP, so let's go ahead and get some! If you run Brute Force , the flat runes are enough to activate your passive though, but if you start with Doran's Blade, there's no need for this runes and with greater mark of insights your damage output will be great.
9 x Greater Mark of Scaling Attack Damage, which grants you your passive by reaching level 8. You may also consider getting the...
9 x Greater Mark of Attack Damage I mentioned before and combine it with flat AD seals and/or glyphes to activate your passive.
greater seal of vitality Greater Seal of Health. This health bonus stacks well with a Doran's Blade as your starting item!
9 x Greater Seal of Armor. Armor is always appreciated on squishy Akali as well as...
9 x Greater Seal of Health, that grants you more maximum life early game.
9 x Greater Seal of Evasion is also a valuable choice. Dodge runes are useful on almost every champ.
Akali, I ended up picking AP runes and that mainly to manage to activate the passive without the need of going back to buy an item. Well, you may also use flat AP runes, but in combination with the quintessences you get your passive by reaching level 3 AND the runes aren't pretty much useless later on like the Greater Glyph of Ability Power.
9 x Greater Glyph of Ability Power activate your passive already at level 1, but become quite useless later on.
9 x Greater Glyph of Magic Resist are a massive defensive improvement to your early game, if you like to play safe.
3 x Greater Quintessence of Scaling Cooldown Reduction could improve your damage output, although I'd prefer...
3 x Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration, but I'm not a big fan of that one, either. The effect is just too marginal imho.
3 x Greater Quintessence of Armor might be an alternative, although it's kinda too defensive, I think.
Personally I think, that suggesting to pick exactly this Flash and that Ignite isn't the best idea. Everyone's got their own personal preferences along those spells (for me it's the fact, that I don't go into a single fight without my beloved Flash), but I will give you an advise what could work on Akali and what spell probably won't fit that well. But don't try to pick a SP, that doesn't fit your style of playing the game. Just my opinion, now let's get a move on.
These two summoner spells have obvious advantages:
Flash is the no.1 escape ability. It saved my life uncountable times as well as it can be used to get that missing steps closer to an escaping enemy that are needed to use Shadow Dance.
Exhaust also grants you offensive and defensive options: You can slow an enemy who's trying to get out of your range AND you can use it on that friggin' Tryndamere who's going to beat the hell out of you or your friends and then quickly get away into your Twilight Shroud or use Flash.
Exhaust can also be used to reduce the damage dealt by an ultimate like Nunu's.
+ combined with Cripple you can completely turn the tables and finish off this nasty Tryndamere.
Ignite is very useful to get some first bloods, but it looses utility as long as the game's going on. Many people love this spell, so go ahead and use it! It's great to see escaping enemies dying! Seriously, it is.
Combine it with your Flash to ensure early kills.
That's some pretty offensive setup for very aggressive players. But the loss of Flash may let some enemies get away safe later on, because you can't jump behind their turrets and easily Flash out of there.
The very opposite of the setup above. This will make you able to escape from nearly every bad situation. You got stunned by Amumu? Just use Cleanse and Flash out. Consider this if you're facing problems with crowd control, but with this kind of defensive setup it won't be that easy to get some early kills.
Very specific summoner spells. It will definitely help you chasing down running enemies, that are trying to stop you with crowd control abilities, but that isn't worth the absence of Flash in my opinion.
This is a alternative to Flash.
I personally don't like it as much as Flash, but there are many people, whouse it very efficiently. You may give it a try!
Although this could be an option, I wouldn't run it on Akali. You're damage against turrets isn't that high, so trying to "backdoor" the enemy team could take far too long and with some nice pair of boots you're fast enough for some ganking or to defend a allied turret in danger.
Now I'll explain you the skills and give you some advice how to combine it the probably most efficient way. As for Akali being an assassin based on burst damage, it's very important to use your skills correctly in a very short period of time. Destroying some Annie bots may help you for training purposes.
It's divided into two parts:
First, by reaching 20 AP you gain 10% extra magic damage to your standard melee attack. This'll help you to kill minions and creeps and it also increases your damage during the QQ-Combo (explanation in the following passage). If your AP increases further on, your extra damage will as well.
Second, by reaching 10 bonus(!) AD you gain 10% spell vamp. This effect will let you stay longer at your lane and if it's combined with the Doran's Blade's life steal, you can stay even longer. By gaining more bonus AD the spell vamp increases.
Mark of the Assassin / QQ-ComboThis is it, your bread and butter, your best friend, it's your number one damage skill and it's output is outstanding! I max it first, obviously because it's important to increase your damage early enough to get some early game kills and the money that's coming along with that. Now, how does this baby work?
First of all it's a ranged skill, so please use it! You're a melee champion, any way to stay out of the fight as long as possible is appreciated. Use it to last hit minions, that are too close to the enemy. Use it to hit enemy champs to make them getting afraid of coming closer. Besides this, there is the actual effect, that this skill provides:
If you hit an enemy with your Mark of the Assassin, he/she is marked as a target for you. This lasts for 6 seconds and if you manage to hit a marked enemy with your standard melee attack he will suffer the damage of your mark again. This doubles your Mark of the Assassin damage output and your enemies will be scared as hell and run away crying (that's why I call it QQ-Combo, get it?), IF they manage to survive it anyway. If this skill is maxed to level 5 you'll deal 300 magic damage + 40% of your AP + your basic attack damage + the bonus of your Twin Disciplines. Not to mention that Sheen or Lich Bane will increase the damage output even more.
Also this bubble provides you more armor and magic resistance as long as you're inside, while slowing every touching enemy by a small, but not negligible amount.
Now it's time to look at the best positions to set a Twilight Shroud. If you're in trouble it can be a possibility to set it right in front of you, dive into it and then turn around and run away in a different direction. Also you can set it at branches, so that the chasing enemy doesn't know which way you choose. Possible points to set these kind of branch-bubbles: *Klick*
These position are quite obvious and can be used very well in combination with hiding in the grass in the jungle. You also may flash over a wall while inside your Twilight Shroud.
Your bubble provides also a possibility to sneak towards careless enemies during laning phase. Mark them with your Mark of the Assassin, then set a bubble in front of them and use it to gain ground and smash them. You may as well mark them not until you're inside your Twilight Shroud for a more suprising attack. You might cause the enemy to escape, but you can use this absence to kill some minions at least.
- Video of how to use your bubble during early game.
Ashe, that is one step ahead of your melee range, if other skills are on cooldown.
This is Akali's only hybrid skill besides her passive.
Thinking of the small amount of damage it provides, it's not worth focusing on AD.
Tip: If you got your Sheen or your Lich Bane you can use Crescent Slash to activate their passive effects on your next autohit to improve your damage output. This especially comes in handy while fighting against Dragon, Baron, Golem or Lizard.
Akali's ultimate! This will burst tons of damage to all enemies around you, right? Wrong. BUT this skill is such a excellent chasing tool, you'll miss it, if you're playing with another champ, that's for sure. Basicly this skill works as follows: You can jump onto any enemy, who's in a range around 1.5 times of Flash's range (800 to be exactly.). You are dealing damage this way, but compared to your Mark of the Assassin it's a quite small amount.
- Jump onto escaping enemies.
- Use it to surprise enemies, that are close to a jungle's wall and jump over it.
- Jump to enemy minions or champs, that are closer to your allies in order to escape.
- Use it to complete your QQ-Combo.
Keep in mind that your ultimate is limited. It takes around 20 seconds to get 1 activation and every usage of your Shadow Dance requires and consumes 1 of these. Those activations can only stack up to 3. This won't be a problem that often, but it's very important to keep an eye on it.
Calculation and skill usage example:Let's assume you are at level 18 and you got around 250 AP and you got your Lich Bane as well. Your attack damage is around 120 thanks to your Hextech Gunblade. So, your first hit with your mark deals 150 (+100) magical damage. Now you jump onto the enemy with your Shadow Dance dealing 250 (+125) damage. These two hits deal around 625 damage to your enemy and they are based on ranged skills, so they can be done easily from quite a safe distance. Now you finish your QQ-Combo with the next autohit after the jump, dealing again 150 (+100) damage to your victim. Your passive does around 60 bonus damage combined with your Lich Bane bonus, that provides your full AP as extra damage: 250. After that you're using your Crescent Slash, doing 130 (+75)(+75) damage, what leads us to a summed up damage output of 1465 in around 2,5 seconds.
The enemy is probably still alive and trying to escape, but he's slowed because of your Rylai's Crystal Scepter (if he's still too fast for you, you may use Exhaust) and got not chance to do so. Use another Shadow Dance to gain ground: 250 (+125) while Q is on cooldown. After around 1 second, your Mark of the Assassin should be ready again, dealing 150 (+100) magical damage, plus your next Shadow Dance (250 (+125)) and some pretty hard autohit, that finally completes your deadly combo with 120 + 250 from Lich Bane + 60 from your passive and the 150 (+100) from your mark.
This makes 3145 in total (armor and mag res not included), what is a HUGE TON of damage.
Here we are, this is what most people want to see: Items! Build order! But let me say this before you get what you desire: Items HAVE TO be chosen by circumstances. Don't be stubborn and buy a Rabadon's Deathcap if you're slain a dozen times by Veigar, who stunned you, by Fiddlesticks, who feared you, or by Morgana, who caged you. You can't win, if you don't consider about your battlefield situation everytime you're going to buy an item. Your first priority is to counter the enemy champs and items. Always keep that in mind and use guides' item builds just as guidelines. Stick to your core items and build the rest upon consideration about how to survive against your specific enemy team and how to counter them most efficiently .So let's don't waste any more time. I'm starting with some different build options...
Core:First of all, there are 2 core items in this build, that are a must have on Akali in my eyes. These two items are Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Lich Bane. Items have to be chosen by the circumstances - that can't be said too often - but these two friends are working SO VERY well on her, that you never want to miss them anymore once you gave them a try. Why to use Rylai's Crystal Scepter? well, it provides you 500 HP, what is a huge bonus for squishy Akali and you gain 80 AP for some early/mid game pwnage. It's passive is great: Slowing enemies is essential to keep them in range of your Shadow Dance. It's another advantage, that the items on which Rylai's Crystal Scepter is based on, are also very useful and appreciated. This improves your early game very well.
Lich Bane is your ultimative damage increasing item. You gain another 80 AP, 7% more movement speed to chase your enemies down, 30 magic resist to survive more of Veigar's nasty skills AND on top of that: The unique passive. This is what you want Lich Bane for in the first place. Everytime you use an ability, your next autohit will do an additional magical bonus damage equal to the amount of your AP. Equal to the amount of your AP. Seriously, what more do you want? That will make that Amumu cry even harder! Look at the calculations section if you can't imagine what this baby is capable of.
Additional Core:Hextech Gunblade: This great item fits perfectly on Akali as it increases your offense as well as your defense. You gain 60 bonus attack damage (consider the positive effect on Twin Disciplines), 75 AP for even more damage output AND 20% life steal + 25% spell vamp. This will help you tremendously to survive in larger team fights, because you're able to heal yourself by a very nice amount just by doing your job and beating the hell out of your enemies in a short time. Also keep in mind, that Hextech Gunblade brings a pretty nice active along, that can act as a second Exhaust.
The other additional core item is Rabadon's Deathcap. Thanks to Pelikins I took a closer look on how this item works, if you get it immediately after your Lich Bane and wow, it worked VERY well! I did such a massive damage, it's simply amazing. There's not much more to say about the effects of this item: Your Lich Bane's bonus damage will be outstandig with it and your skills' damage outputs will increased tremendously.
This is my main starting item. It provides you 100 HP extra life, 3% life steal and 10 bonus attack damage. That is exactly what you need to activate your Twin Disciplines and it's a huge increase of your survivability. If you got flat AD runes ( Greater Mark of Attack Damage) you may consider about the alternative on the right, because Doran's Blade is a pretty expensive starting item after all and you mainly get it because of Akali's passive. Personaly I prefer it definitly for my start, it grants you such nice bonuses for your early game.
Boots of Speed + 3 Health Potions
You feel very experienced about how to play Akali and you think Doran's Blade is just too expensive and can't be processed further into your core items or your boots? Well, take this as an alternative, this seems to be perfect for you. 3 Health Potions grant you the possibility to harass your enemies even more and more speed from the early boots is also appreciated. Keep her passive Twin Disciplines in mind though. It won't be activated unless you got 10 bonus AD.
Boots of Speed + Amplifying Tome
If you started with Doran's Blade you should go back once you got around 800 gold in order to buy these two items. Movement speed and 20 more AP should provide you all that is necessary to gain some early kills. If you need to get back earlier, get the Boots of Speed before buying the Amplifying Tome except you think, that some more damage could be more helpful.
You started with Boots of Speed and health potions OR you don't need boots, because you're pushed against your turret and some nice damage boost would come in handy? Take the Blasting Wand! It provides 40 AP and you'll be able to smash the enemies. If you started with the boots and you need to get back before you got 860 gold, go ahead and get the Amplifying Tome first. This just happens if the situation doesn't look good for you, so more damage is needed to turn the tables and waiting for the Blasting Wand could take too long.
Conditions: Boots of Speed, Amplifying Tome and/or Blasting Wand
It's important to buy this great item at the right time to maximize it's positive effect on your gameplay. Before getting it, you should always got the Boots of Speed and at least the Amplifying Tome. If you started with Doran's Blade you can get the Blasting Wand first, you already got 100 HP bonus. Keep in mind, that Akali is useless without some nice damage output and chasing possibility, so you have to set priorities: Only get the Giant's Belt before Boots of Speed or one of the two AP items, if you think, that you absolutely stand no chance without more maximum life.
Personaly I never got into that situation, just letting you know.
Choose your boots!
Personaly I don't like them on Akali, because your cooldowns are pretty low already, so the effect is quite marginal.
Sorcerer's Shoes let you hit even harder! That's great, but keep in mind, that you need to be able to chase your enemies. If they get away safe too often or you're not able to escape yourself, switch to Boots of Swiftness or Boots of Mobility.
If you're facing heavy crowd control enemies like Fiddlesticks consider of taking these boots. Personaly I prefer my Boots of Swiftness + Quicksilver Sash in such cases.
Mid game Items / Core
Rylai's Crystal Scepter
Once you got your Amplifying Tome, your Blasting Wand and your Giant's Belt go ahead and finally buy your first core item: Rylai's Crystal Scepter (visit the Items Build section to read more about its advantages). You're already dealing some massive damage to your enemies and with 500 (or 600 with Doran's Blade) bonus HP you got around 2000 maximum life, what will make you pretty hard to be killed. At least by now you should be able to get some kills to increase your gold income and to step forward to your next core item: Lich Bane.
This is the prestage of Lich Bane, it provides 25 AP and some nice unique passive, that's quite similar to Lich Bane's, but not that amazing at all. Everytime you're using an ability, your next basic melee attack deals 100% bonus damage. By getting Sheen your QQ-Combo will destroy your enemies even more and farming will become easier, if you use this passive in combination with your Crescent Slash. Also Sheen is not that expensive after all, so get it as fast as possible! Always start with the Amplifying Tome if you're not able to purchase Sheen instantly.
Obviously there's no use for a Sapphire Crystal on Akali.
If you're doing fine, just go ahead and grab some more Blasting Wand to increase your damage output by another 40 AP. This will make you smash your enemies and break them like glass.
If you're facing heavy magic casters, that make you suffer under their deadly skills over and over again, consider taking the Null-Magic Mantle first. You can't do enough damage, if you're dying too fast, keep that in mind and pick one of these two according to the circumstances.
Here we are! This is your beloved Lich Bane, this is what the enemy will fear you for! This will make you jump around the battlefield while getting kill after kill. Your QQ-Combo is deadly as hell now and killing Lizard, Golem or Dragon will take you a few seconds only, thanks to Lich Bane's massive bonus damage after every used ability. At least now you should start jungling time by time to gain more gold and buffs. With this you complete your core and you can focus on getting your Hextech Gunblade or Rabadon's Deathcap.
Mid to late game
Now you have to make the desicion wether to buy your Hextech Gunblade, your Rabadon's Deathcap or a situational 4th item. Your main alternatives are an earlier Warmog's Armor, a Quicksilver Sash against CC enemies. I'll give you some help to conceive the situation and buy just the best item in this context.
Situation 1: You and your team are doing quite well, you manage to get some kills and you don't die too many times. No noteworthy crowd control enemies.Hextech Gunblade: This is your additional core item and as long as there are no other circumstances, just take it. It will improve your kill-death-ratio right away and you'll make even more gold by killing enemy champs and jungle more often. Use its spell vamp and life steal to heal yourself by killing minions and creeps. Start with the Hextech Revolver and its required Amplifying Tomes. Then grab the Bilgewater Cutlass to gain even more life steal and spell vamp due to your Twin Disciplines.
Rabadon's Deathcap: This item will increase your damage output ALOT. You'll deal absurd amounts of damage in combination with your Lich Bane. This item is your alternative additional core item and it's never wrong to get it. If you add it's benefits to the calculation, you'll redefine the meaning of "damage".
Situation 2: You and your team are doing quite well, but you often recieve some heavy damage from your enemies. No noteworthy crowd control enemies.Warmog's Armor: An earlier Warmog's is a good option in order to increase your survivability. Keep in mind though, that this will take you longer to gain bonuses for your Twin Disciplines and therefore your life steal and spell vamp will not be that significant as it would be with the help of the Hextech Gunblade. Therefore you can just grab the Giant's Belt as well + the Hextech Revolver and/or the Bilgewater Cutlass (or maybe even the whole Hextech Gunblade) and then complete your Warmog's Armor while using your 450 bonus maximum life from the Giant's Belt. If you're not sure what to do, try this option and if you still recieve that massive damage, forget about your Hextech Gunblade and finish Warmog's Armor first.
Situation 3: You and your team face some heavy problems with the enemies' crowd control abilities and maybe their magic damage.Quicksilver Sash: This item so often made the difference between my early death and a double kill, I have to give you this one advice: If you're facing heavy CC, please take this item! Every 90 seconds you can remove all debuffs and completely turn the tabels in an 1on1 situation as well as in a team fight. The magic resist on Quicksilver Sash is also great, if you fight against enemies like Fiddlesticks, Veigar or Morgana. Another great thing about this item is its price: 1440 gold makes it a very cheap item late game.
Situation 4: You and you're team are doing quite well, but the enemy team is very tanky and you don't deal enough damage OR you're just feeling like you could use some bonus damage?Rabadon's Deathcap: It's quite an offensive choise, 'cause it won't increase your spell vamp due to Twin Disciplines as Hextech Gunblade does nor will it give you more HP. Killing the enemies can be your best possible defense though, it depends on the circumstances. There are matches against HEAVY tanky teams and it's your job as Akali to get rid of them: So pick up Rabadon's Deathcap.
Late game items
You haven't got a Hextech Gunblade and your Rabadon's Deathcap yet? Go and get it!These items are your additional core items, so if you had to switch your priorities due to the circumstances, now is the time to get them or the complete it, if you already began with a Hextech Revolver or a Blasting Wand.
Most games won't go that far, but if it comes to that point, you need to buy your 6th item and especially in late game you have to choose your item wisely. The enemy tanks won't go down that easy anymore and the enemy carries will wait for a chance to ambush you, so don't be careless and stick to your team and your tank.
Possible late game items, if not already bought:
This chapter will prove you wrong! :3
This screenshot is from my own account and just a few days old.
Besides that one game, that I really messed up due to a lack of concentration, it went very well that day.
Hopefully you're games will work out that well, too!
Finally I want to thank you for reading my Akali guide and I hope you have fun playing with this build and with my advices. This is my first guide and therefore feedback is very appreciated as well as constructive criticism! Please tell me, what you liked about it, when you upvote this guide and what you didn't like, if you downvote it. If you find any mistakes, please tell me as well and I'll fix it.
Thank you, guys!
~ Master Tom