Akali Build Guide by Xealot129

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Xealot129

Akali: Soloing Top with the Fist of Shadow

Xealot129 Last updated on November 26, 2011
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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: 19

Honor Guard

Defense: 0

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 11

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11-17: edited to take into account Hextech Gunblade nerfs and Fizz patch. Added section "RIOT U SO FUNNY" and edited Runes, Masteries, and Items, as well as making smaller changes throughout guide.

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For the longest time, I played Evelynn, not only as my main, but as my only champion. Since she got nerfed, (although she is still more than viable) I decided to branch out and try new champions. Today, I am good at many champions, and extremely good at a few others, but I never stopped my obsession with the assassin playstyle, and ever since I tried Akali I have not missed playing Eve.

Let's start off with why I made this guide. I have long been a fan of using MOBAFire guides and this site has improved my play a great deal, especially when it comes to Akali. However, I found that the other guides for Akali, while great, just slightly missed Akali's true potential and that is what I hope to correct.

Basically my goal with this guide is to help you play Akali better, give you a few tips and tricks on how to use her, and contribute something to MOBAFire, which helped me so much in learning to play the game.

Note: This guide focuses on soloing top with Akali, as this is the best position for Akali to be in, with the only other viable place being mid.

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This section explains how hard Riot just trolled the forum's Akali OP QQers

In the Fizz patch, they hit Akali with the nerfbat. Riot nerfed her spell vamp at 2% in the early levels and scaling up as well! A bunch of people are seeing Akali as no longer being viable because of this. But, there's a new mastery that gives you 3% spell vamp. So now, at level 1, you will get 11% spell vamp instead of 10. So they have buffed her early game spell vamp. Ok, maybe this nerfed her late game, after all, they changed the passive from 1% spell vamp per 5 AD to 1% per 6 AD. The most AD you should ever build on Akali comes from Hextech Gunblade and runes (and late game an Elixir of Fortitude. The most this can add up to is 60 (including the elixir, which you wont get close to in most games). Before the nerf, you would get an extra 12% spell vamp from this, for a total of 22% from your passive. Now, you get 10% extra spell vamp, for a total of 18 from the passive. Add that to the Transmutation and you have 21% spell vamp. Riot buffed Akali's spell vamp by 1% early game and hurt it by 1% mid/late game. This is one of the smallest nerfs I've seen.

Yes, they nerfed other parts of her too. The other element of her passive got hit at the same ratios, but the other disciple wasnt nearly as powerful. They also hurt her base damage on Mark of the Assassin, but only by 5.

The new masteries are so ridiculously good for Akali that in my opinion, riot actually buffed her. If anything, I think that these nerfs were included not to shut up the QQers, but to balance her after the huge buffs from the rune pages. Before, it was hard to make mastery pages for Akali. The standard build involved putting points into attack speed and armor penetration, which do very little good for Akali. These points were more or less wasted. Now, every point is valuable. The offensive tree gives you a huge boost to AP, CDR, and magic penetration. The utility tree gives you movespeed, spell vamp, and energy. A little extra energy might not seem like much but, ******* does it make a difference, especially with the greatly increased CDR.

tl;dr riot buffed Akali instead of nerfing her. Forum qqers, suck on my kamas.

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Pros / Cons


  • Extremely large burst damage, with the potential to do sustained damage throughout a teamfight
  • Great 1v1 due to Twin Disciplines and high damage output
  • Amazing solo laner because of Mark of the Assassin for last hits and Twilight Shroud to avoid ganks, as well as the ability to explode after level 6
  • Is still able to do a great deal at extremely low HP because of spell vamp and large burst
  • Incredible juking potential from Twilight Shroud, Shadow Dance, and of course Flash
  • In my opinion, the most fun champion
  • Can be focused down in teamfights if they get oracles
  • Has to snowball to carry hard, and needs a good early game, so if shut down in lane you're in trouble
  • Hard to master

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The most recent patch, updating the masteries, completely antiquated my old rune build as well. Now, you only need 6.5 AD and about 14 AP from runes in order to activate both disciples. The page I show above is my personal favorite, giving you massive movespeed at level 1 as well as both disciples. Here are a few other options; it's all up to personal choice really.

This gives some extra survivability early game versus some tough lanes. Probably best if you're going to find yourself in a 2v1 lane.

This page is oriented much more towards late game, giving you some CDR that Akali tends to lack.

In addition, you could swap out the Quints in the original masteries for other ones, like experience quints, but movespeed is probably the best.

Feel free to fool around with the runes a bit, that's all I did, and come up with your own variations on these, but these are the 3 basic setups.

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The masteries included in the build are the most optimal for Akali. The only thing I would consider changing would be taking 2 points out of Transmutation and putting them into Archmage and Executioner , if you wanted that extra boost, but I don't think it's worth losing the extra 2% spell vamp.

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Items are the most important part of Akali, as the right items let her annihilate while the wrong ones make her fizzle. I feel like there are 4 tiers: the first being what you should get in every game, the second filled with a few items that you should get in most games or should alternate between, the third being solid items to finish your build off, and the fourth being very situational items.

Tier 1 - Every Game

  • Hextech Gunblade: This is an items that is basically required on her. It is almost mandatory to rush this, as it increases all the stats that you need by such a good amount. Even after it got nerfed, it's still strong (it was OP before, now it's balanced).
  • Rylai's Crystal Scepter: This is also a well-known core item that is perfect for Akali, giving her ability power, survivability, as well as an awesome passive which gives her a fantastic slow on her Q and her R, making her an excellent chaser.
  • Lich Bane: I have seen some guides and players that severely underestimate this item on Akali. About half your damage output comes from that one autoattack that procs your Mark of the Assassin, so why not put that autoattack on steroids? Late game you will have about 200 attack damage, which deals an extra 300 magic damage from Twin Disciplines, which deals another 500 damage from Mark of the Assassin and another 600 physical damage from your Lich Bane proc. We're talking over 1500 damage from one autoattack, and a 50% damage increase from the Lich Bane alone. Also, you have the extra movement speed, ability power, and enough MR to put you over 100 when combined with Mercury's Treads that each do a lot of good for Akali. Some people say that since it gives you mana which Akali can not use it is a waste of money, but I disagree. It may make this item not as efficient on Akali as it is on other champions, but it is still well worth it.
Tier 1.5 - Boots
  • Mercury's Treads: I like this item a lot on Akali. It gives her cc reduction, which is her main counter, in addition to enough MR when combined with Lich Bane to block half of all magic damage. There are a few other options when it comes to boots, though.
  • Sorcerer's Shoes: These boots are the main alternatives that I would suggest on Akali, however I only get them against teams without much cc, or whose cc is not countered by tenacity, such as Alistar, Singed, Anivia, and other knock-ups or AoE slows that end when you get out of the AoE.
  • Boots of Mobility: These are probably my least favorite of the three on Akali, I would only get them if you know you are going to be ganking all over the map really often even in laning phase.

At this point, you should have some sort of Boots, Hextech Gunblade, Rylai's Crystal Scepter, and a Lich Bane. This means you're probably going into late game. So now you're looking for another item or two to help you keep carrying.

Tier 2 - Choose wisely
  • Rabadon's Deathcap: The be all end all for an AP carry. A whopping 140 AP with a passive that gives you another hundred or two more. A great fifth item that I get in most games, if they go that long. For some people, it is even a good idea to get this before Lich Bane, but that's up to personal preference on how well you can time your autoattacks, as well as whether the other team is building armor or MR.
  • Void Staff: At mid-high elos, the enemy will be smart enough to have built some MR by the time you get to mid-late game. That's where this beauty comes in. One of the hardest nuking items in the game, this will make your damage explode when you finish building it.
  • Guardian Angel: For some reason, people like to focus Akali. I have no idea why. This item gives you a second life after you have already soaked up most of the cc and damage to come back and killsteal all of your allies. Works great on any assassin, and even though it's a defensive item, its utility almost makes it an offensive one.

You can choose 2 of the 3 items in this tier. If you are feeling invincible, then you might wanna go for the Rabadon's Deathcap + Void Staff. If they are not getting MR for some reason, Rabadon's Deathcap + Guardian Angel is the way to go. If they have a lot of MR and are focusing you hard, Void Staff + Guardian Angel is your best bet (you can live without the extra AP).

Tier 3 - Some Games, Based on Your Judgement
  • Abyssal Scepter: I only really get this in a few specific situations. One is as a sixth item to counter heavy hitting AP champs that are focusing you down fast. Another is if you want to just destroy their multiple below 50 MR squishies. Finally, if your team was being dumb at champion selection and got 4 AP champs, I would get this if nobody else has as a good team steroid. And lastly, I would only get this if 2 or more of those situations are true - the tier 2 items are just better than this otherwise. It should be noted that this should be a replacement for Void Staff.
  • Zhonya's Hourglass: This is a pretty sweet item on any AP champion. I would get it on Akali in much the same way that I would recommend Abyssal Scepter, to counter heavy hitting AD champions that are focusing you down. Also its active works wonders and can be used to prevent a damage spike that would kill you. This would be more of a replacement for Guardian Angel
Tier 4 - Very Situational
  • Deathfire Grasp: This item is not really recommended, but it is viable in some situations. If they have a couple of HP tanks, and you are not quite doing enough damage to them, you can get this to help you focus them down quicker with the active. It also offers some cooldown reduction, as well as AP of course, but I do not think this item really pops with Akali. If you do get this, get an early Kage's Lucky Pick for the extra gold generation and finish the item later.
  • Haunting Guise: Hardly ever seen, and I would not include this in a finished build, but if you are having trouble, it can be a good little boost to your game and help you survive and do enough damage so that you remain viable into the longer game.
  • Hexdrinker: Another item that I might not keep in a finished build, but if you are playing against someone like a Karthus it could save your life, as well as give you a little boost to your AD (and spell vamp), and giving you even more survivability against magic damage.

    You could also use your final slot as a specific counter to their damage. Some possibilities are Thornmail, Force of Nature, Banshee's Veil, but I would rather get a damage-oriented item, as you should be avoiding getting hit much anyways as Akali. I would recommend Zhonya's Hourglass or Abyssal Scepter over these items in nine out of ten games.
Do Not Get These Items
  • Guinsoo's Rageblade: This is a common mistake that I find people use for Akali. A great item for hybrid DPS champs like Jax, but it is only really useful for champs that get the most out of its passive. The base stats are kind of nice, but they are easily outclassed by a number of other items. If played right, Akali should not be getting the most out of its passive. If you have eight consecutive auto-attacks in a teamfight, something is wrong. If you want to play Akali as a hybrid tanky DPS, it is a bad idea but you can. However, that is not what this guide is for.
  • Mejai's Soulstealer: I used to get this every game as Akali. I still believe that it works well with her; a snowball item for a snowball champion. However, it just doesn't fit in her build. Late game, I would rather have any of the tier 1 or 2 items than Mejai's Soulstealer, because they're just more important. Not much more to say on the subject.
As far as the order goes, I recommend the one up top in the build, but you can fool around with it a bit, like getting Rylai's Crystal Scepter or Sheen before finishing Hextech Gunblade. In my opinion, the listed order is most efficient and effective, but if you feel a different order works better for you, go for it. Akali is one of those champions on which i heavily recommend experimentation.

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Skill Explanation

  • Q: Mark of the Assassin – This is your bread and butter throughout the game; you rely on it for damage late game and last hits early game. It deals damage on impact and then if you attack the target you hit with it, it will do your regular autoattack damage in addition to dealing the damage that Mark of the Assassin did in the first place again. Proc’ing the mark as such will also refund the energy you had to use to cast Mark of the Assassin in the first place.
  • W: Twilight Shroud – This skill is your AoE stealth/slow/steroid. It keeps you from being focused in teamfights, helps you avoid ganks, helps you survive damage that would normally have killed you, and allows you to juke like crazy. I will cover certain uses of this ability later.
  • E: Crescent Slash – This skill is still a great damager, not as great as Mark of the Assassin, but still great. It is also AoE and makes farming creeps easy. Also, unlike the rest of your damaging skills, it deals physical damage which helps a lot when the enemies start stacking MR to counter you. This ability also has a shorter CD than Mark of the Assassin at level 5, making it so that you can keep Lich Bane proc’d whenever you need it.
  • R: Shadow Dance – What a skill! As much utility as Twilight Shroud and almost as much damage as Mark of the Assassin with a shorter cooldown than any of Akali’s other skills. Read on for an entire section devoted to Shadow Dance.

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Skill Sequence

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

Your skill sequence as Akali is pretty much set in stone, if you are going to be playing her as an AP assassin. Priority goes Q -> E -> W, getting R whenever you can and a point in W at level 2. This maximizes both your damage and your utility, as an early point in Twilight Shroud is invaluable for solo laning, but increasing it past level 1 does less good than putting a point in any of your other abilities. Mark of the Assassin is your main damaging ability throughout the game, but maxing out Shadow Dance is more important for the reduced time between marks and the better scaling damage.

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Summoner Spells

The two main spells I like to take as Akali are Flash and Teleport, but most people prefer Ignite

Flash is a must on Akali, it lets her juke like nobody’s business, and is really invaluable on almost any champion. Even after its nerf, it still seems pretty strong (although that 50 range has cost me some kills).

Teleport is a great spell for soloing top. In case you are getting beat in lane and you cannot push your minions out so that you can b and have time to walk back to your tower, it can save your turret and your life. This spell also opens up a great strategy for you in lane. Hit level 6, harass the enemy a little bit, push the lane a bit, then go b, buy a Hextech Revolver, teleport back, and tear your opponent(s) to pieces before they know what hit them.

[*] Ignite: This is good for her too, it gives you that last little bit of damage that you need in addition to cutting the enemy’s health generation in half, which is the most useful application of this spell. Late game, this spell should be saved for champs like Xin Zhao, Dr. Mundo, and Vladimir, who have insane lifesteal, health regeneration, or spell vamp. Also Ignite should be used on any champion you focus when the enemy team has a spike healer like Soraka.

When taking Ignite, I would recommend adjusting Runes and Masteries as such:

Basically, take one point out of Brute Force and put it in Summoner's Wrath , and add a Mark of Attack Damage, taking out a Mark of Magic Penetration.

A few other summoners are also viable.

  • Ghost: I do not quite feel that this is needed on Akali, but it is still viable. Your juking should be enough to get you out of any fight that you do not want to be in, and your ult is incredible for chasing. The only use I could see for it is to get to a teamfight, but I do not have this issue much.
  • Cleanse: Against teams that you know will permastun or suppress you, this spell is a good idea. Either take this and switch to Sorcerer’s Shoes, or if you are really scared of their cc you can get this and keep Mercury’s Treads.
  • Exhaust: Been a sleeper OP spell for a while, starting to be used more and more. Great for duels, good to shut down their DPS, but that's not your job. Then again, if nobody else on your team is taking it against that team with Tryndamere and Master Yi, you might want to sub it in.

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Laning With Akali

There are two basic elements to your lane game: pre-level 6, and post-level 6.

Pre-level 6 Laning

Laning is primarily about three things: levels, last hits, and first blood. You are not going to get first blood by yourself with Akali unless you are playing against a really bad player who you can bait into turret range. You are not going to out-harass them and push them out of lane so that you get more xp. The one thing you can do is get more last hits. Mark of the Assassin is great for last hitting, and even when I play against two champions in a solo lane I find that I often have more last hits than both of them combined. This is why in lane I focus on last hits and avoiding harassment, at least until level 6. That being said, a good strategy to get last hits and prevent them from doing the same is throwing your Twilight Shroud down over the enemy's minions, going in, and hitting them with a Mark of the Assassin. If they get close enough to the shroud, slap them with a kama, procing the mark and doing massive damage. If they don't, you get to free farm and zone them at the same time. Best done vs. champs without aoe/skillshots.

In addition, I usually will tell my jungler to only gank bot or mid until I am level 6, because they would be more productive and probably need the gank more than I do. There are some exceptions to this however. As Akali, while running my build, you deal a lot of damage and are incredibly fast. If you have a jungler with just ridiculous amounts of cc, like Rammus, or are carrying Exhaust, or are just getting decimated and pushed to your turret hard, an early gank could be a good idea, although you would probably have to end up burning Flash to get the kill.

By turtling until level 6, you can lull your opponent into a false sense of security so that when you do go on the offensive, they will underestimate your secretly fantastic ability.

Post-Level 6 Laning

It’s over. You can now 1v1 almost any champion in the game, except for maybe Udyr or Garen. Hell you can even 1v2 most champs. After all you will be level 6 while they are level 4, not to mention that you are Akali. If you have teleport, I recommend you take the blue pill and buy a Hextech Revolver and a couple wards, teleport back to lane, and go kill the people in your lane. You could/should also call for a gank so that you have a better chance of taking down your opponent, and also it will give your jungler assist gold. Just go kill them or force them out of the lane, go b, buy your items, and then come back and start to play aggressively. Now that you are level 6, I formally approve of harassment, because with your Shadow Dance and your Hextech Revolver, you have more combined burst damage and sustainability than almost any other champion at this level. Shoot off your Q -> R -> Autoattack -> E combo, run away, and spam your Q -> Autoattack on minions until your health is full. Also, hit your E near as many minions as possible while your Q is on cooldown for a solid amount of lifesteal. Repeat this until they are dead, and do not be afraid to turret dive if you know that you can get the kill.

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This part is pretty simple. If you are on the purple side you are going to want to place a ward right outside of Baron. If you are blue, you will want that ward as well as one in the top tri-bush. Or you could just be lazy on either team and put one in the bush right next to the center of top-lane.

The black X represents where you should ward regardless what team you are on, the blue X represents where you should ward if you are on blue team in addition to the black X. The red X represents where you should ward if you are a lazy bum and don't want to walk over to ward the other places. Sometimes your jungler will ward places for you but don't count on it.

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This is where Akali excels. Unfortunately, this is also the most complicated part of playing Akali. The essential damaging combo that you will rely on is Mark of the Assassin -> Shadow Dance -> Autoattack, but it is up to your discretion to decide when to use your skills. In general there are a few steps that you should take in any fight. First you wait for the teamfight to start, you need your tank to initiate and your carries to start doing damage before you are ready to jump in from the wings. Initiate by hitting your Mark of the Assassin-> Shadow Dance->Autoattack-> Crescent Slash, at which point you should have done enough damage to kill or almost kill whoever you were targeting, and it is usually a good idea to pop your Twilight Shroud to avoid being focused down by the rest of their team. At this point, you want to use your Mark of the Assassin-> Shadow Dance->Autoattack combo whenever it is off cooldown and it is not too risky. If your team is winning the fight, you can feel free to be less conservative and get into the thick of the fray, as an Akali with Rylai's Crystal Scepter is exceptionally good at chasing down enemy champions. Just make sure that you do not overextend, as you will probably be miles ahead of any of the other champions on your team that are chasing.

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Using Shadow Dance

Shadow Dance is great in a variety of situations.

  • Initiating onto an enemy champion: This element of Shadow Dance is seen in three situations – jumping onto an enemy champion in lane, ganking an enemy champion in another lane, and entering a teamfight.
  • Chasing a champion: Since Shadow Dance has a longer range than Mark of the Assassin, when chasing a champion you will often need to Shadow Dance onto them to apply your Rylai's Crystal Scepter slow. Also, if they are out of range but there are minions between you, you can shadow dance onto the minion and then onto the champion.
  • Escaping ganks: An important thing to remember while playing any champion, is that you are not always safest by running back to your tower. Oftentimes, you can Shadow Dance onto an enemy minion when you seem cornered and run away through their jungle. When doing this I also like to gank mid on my way back to safety, which usually either nets my team a kill or causes the enemy to use their Flash. Sometimes, if I know that their Flash is up, I like to wait for them to flash away before I Shadow Dance onto them so that I can pick up a kill in addition to burning their summoners. Another slightly more risky but also more fun way to do this is to Shadow Dance onto one of the enemy champions ganking you to get away. This is slightly more risky, so I only recommend doing so if they do not have any stuns/slows/knock-ups that could pin you down, or if they are very short range like Udyr or Alistar and you think you can get away before they realize what happened
  • Juking: This is the most fun part of playing Akali. While running from an enemy champion, you can hide in the bush until they get there and run out the other way. Then when they begin chasing you there, you can Shadow Dance onto them and flash back in the first direction you were going. This is obviously only one example, and it is up to you to use the incredible utility Shadow Dance and Flash give you.
  • Doing damage: The simplest, if least tactical and fun way to use Shadow Dance is to simply damage the enemy champion. This is risky, as you have a limited number of uses of Shadow Dance, and if they do not die right away you lose your main chasing/escape mechanism. However, in a 1v1 fight, it can be a good idea to just maximize your damage by spamming all of your skills onto the enemy as fast as possible, both for the damage and for the spell vamp.

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  • Shadow Dance has a higher missile speed than Mark of the Assassin, so be careful that if you are spamming your Q -> R -> Autoattack -> E combo, that your Mark of the Assassin reaches the enemy champion before you do. There have been many times that I have cursed at my computer because the game glitched and my autoattack did not proc my Mark of the Assassin, only to realize that it was not a glitch after all and I was just a bit quick on the draw (a problem that is limited to League of Legends, I assure you).
  • When you are in your Twilight Shroud, most enemies assume you are in or near the center, which is why it is a good idea to hug the edge on the side to avoid skillshots from champs like Ezreal or Cait.
  • Most people forget about the extra armor and MR you get from Twilight Shroud, but you should not. When you are in it with a finished build, you are going to have around 150 armor and MR inside of it, and with your 2500 HP you will probably be almost as tough as the tank on your team
  • Do not underestimate the amount of physical damage you can deal as Akali. Your finished build will be dealing about 1828 magic damage and 1277 physical damage, unadjusted for resistances. With standard defenses, you will be able to spike down squishies to very little health with your normal combo before they have any time to react.
  • Just because you have low HP does not mean you are no longer a threat. Even with 100 HP, your spell vamp from just your passive and Hextech Gunblade coupled with your OP spike damage is enough to turn certain death into an easy kill for you. That being said, don't be cocky either. If they have a hard stun/silence and you have low HP you are most likely dead.
  • Do not let their minions kill you! If you escape with about ten HP from a fight in lane, their caster minions will often kill you. Do not let that happen, turn around and **** that minion up with your Mark of the Assassin, and farm up till you have about 100 HP, then go b.

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Akali is an awesome and fun champion and I hope you all have a good understanding of how to build her/play as her now.

Please post any questions complaints and comments, constructive criticism is welcome and if you have trouble understanding any part of my guide let me know. I'll think about adding in some pretty pictures, and I will update this guide as necessary.