Akali Build Guide by xenomes
Mastery Tree Is Outdated
WARNING: These masteries are still using the old tree and have not been updated to the new tree by the guide author. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Hi there and welcome to my first guide on moba: Akali - The amazing bursting Ninja girl
In this guide I will try to give you a basic understanding of what Akali is capable of. I'll explain how she performs in 1v1, 2v2 and team fight situations, as well as how to take most benefit from her abilities and styles.
If done correctly Akali really shines at destroying enemy squishies. She is a perfect Anti-Carry with amazing mobility.
With her great chasing abilities she can easily stay on her enemy's tows and almost no running champion may escape her. Akali's burst damage is one of the highest in the game, so walking into battle alongside a strong control champion like maybe Blitzcrank (Greets to Breetzl <3) or Morgana really helps you to completely tear apart single enemy champions.
I'd like to apologize in advance: I'm not a native speaker, so my english might be messed up a bit here and there. Just tell me if you find some really strange sentences and I'll correct them ;-)
I would appreciate your feedback. Don't hesitate to vote, comment and/or ask questions!
04.09.2011 - Guide published, some videos are yet missing. Will add them soon. Those parts are written in brackets "".
29.02.2012 - Guide is still viable for the most parts. Just reworking mastery section and item builds to fit present meta/gameplay.
Pros / Cons
Let's have look at the up- and downsides of Akali in general:
- Huge burst damage
- Fantastic chaser
- Amazing mobiliy after level 6
- Really mid/lategame profit from a well played earlygame (Snowballing)
- Great at farming/laning
- Squishy (At least against early Vision Wards and/or oracle -- Akali hates Oracle's Elixirs :-/ )
- A bit prone to crowd control abilities
- Requires a feeling for when to go into the fight, respectively when and whom to chase
- Timing is essential on Akali. Simply blowing cooldowns will make enemies get away and you getting killed
This is what makes Akali incredibly strong early game. Her passive actually consists of two effect which can be activated separately. Those are:
Discipline of Force:
This is the ability power part of Akali's passive. Upon gaining 19.5 ability power from runes, masteries and items Akali recieves a permanent buff which adds a magic damage component to her auto attacks. This starts at 10% for 19.5 AP and increases by 1% for every 5 additional AP. In this build we want to activate this at level one.
An example: Let's say we have 70 Attack Damage at level one. Akali's auto attacks now hit for 77 damage with 7 damage being magic damage. As this scales greatly with AP we are mostly buy AP-boosting items.
Discipline of Might:
This is the attack damage portion of Akali's passive. As soon as she gains 9.5 attack damage from again runes, masteries and items Akali recieves a permanent buff which increases her spell vamp by 10% at 9.5 AD. For every 5 AD this effect is increased by 1%.
We will activate this at level one too. As Akali's damage is much more AP dependant we won't primarily go for AD items. AP is just so much more worth it.
Mark of the Assassin:
Mark of the Assassine is the base of Akali's burst damage. This is a relatively short ranged ability which applies a debuff (Mark) to her target. After a 0.5 second delay the debuff is active and can be triggered by Akali's next auto attack within 6 seconds. This consumes the Mark and deals additional damage to her target. The missile on its own does not hit very hard, but comined with a triggered Mark and its therefor required auto attack this deals damage lots of damage:
Missile damage + auto attack damage (including min 10% from passive) + triggered Mark.
Triggering the Mark also refunds 20 to 40 energy depending on level.
Akali's swiss army knive. This can be used both offensively and defensively. It helps you last hitting minions, escaping ganks etc. Hang around on the edge of the cloak as most enemy players will most likely cast their abilites to the center of your shroud. Twilight shroud also has a slow component which may be used to slow escaping targets or constrain chasers who want to reach you or your teammates while running away.
In addition while Akali stays on/under the Shroud her armor and magic resist are increased by a flat amount. She always recieves this buff while in the area of effect whether stealthed or not.
This is Akali's AoE farming tool which also contributes to her high burst damage. Crescent Slash hits all enemies in a small area of effect. This is Akali's only ability which deals physical damage alone. That contributes to the fact that we build for strong attack power. Crescent Slash recieves both a damage bonus from AP and AD.
Now this is where the magic happens. Shadow Dance. This ability makes you an incredibly strong chaser. It does not cost energy but has its own ressource. Essences of Shadow. Those are added to a buff in a regular interval or can be obtained by scoring kills or assists. Each kill or assist provides you one charge of Essence of Shadow. Each use of Shadow Dance consumes a charge. Essences of Shadow can stack up to a maximum of three at a time. I'm going to explain different uses of this ability in the strategy part of the guide.
Have you ever had an enemy who got away with about 20 hitpoints? This helps solving the problem.
Ignite is amazing early game. Paired with your strong passive(s) a Mark of the Assassin combo combined with an Ignite can often secure first blood.
Later Ignite is particularly good against nasty supporter heals or any other strong life regeneration like Dr. Mundo's Sadism or to Tryndamere's heal right after he uses Undying Rage. And of course Ignite increases your burst damage a bit as well.
Well Flash is used in most builds for obvious reasons. It is an amazing spell and can help you both offensively and defensively. Use it to hop over a nearby wall to escape a gank or Flash right out of your Twilight Shroud to even increase confusion if you want to get away from a fight. (I'll explain that in the Strategy Chapter)
Flash can also be used to close big distances to a running enemy. Combined with your Shadow Dance you can overcome a huge area in notime. E.g. There is an low life enemy champion on your lane, but you are too far away to easily attack him, then you could first Shadow Dance on a minion, flash towards that champion and finally hop onto him with another Shadow Dance to give him a killing blow. This combo makes you travel almost a full screen length. (See Strategy Chapter too)
Of course there are more possible ways to go with your Summoner Spells. Some good examples below:
You could switch Ignite with Exhaust. This spell really shines before you get your Rylai's Crystal Scepter, because you have no way to slow down your target on your own without that. Exhaust may also help you if you have to 1v1 some strong AD champion like Master Yi, Tryndamere, etc. But in general you should only accept a fight if you think you can definitely win. Of course Exhaust can also be used to get away from a chasing enemy.
Ghost is great in so many ways. It can swiftly take you to an ongoing battle, help you escape a lane gank which would be impossible with just having flash, or even easier chasing running targets.
This spell is great in laning phase, if you want to go for a quick shopping trip back home and be back in lane 5 seconds later. Later in the game it helps you defend your towers, quickly move to approaching large minion waves or backdooring a lonely enemy tower.
Other Summoner Spells like maybe Clairvoyance, Heal, Smite, etc have their own uses. But those are by far worse than the spells mentioned before concerning Akali.
In case of masteries this build goes a classic 21-0-9 style.
Particularly important are the +3 AD from Brute Force to activate the AD part of Twin Disciplines, Archaic Knowledge for its +15% magic penetration and Burning Embers to benefit from Ignite, even if it is on cooldown. The rest is picked quite as normal. We spare points in critical hit masteries like crit chance ( Deadliness ) and crit damage ( Lethality ).
Akali is build to deal massive AP damage and has no items to get insane melee crits.
If you stick with Exhaust you should go with Cripple instead of one point in Deadliness . Put the point from Burning Embers into Alacrity then to have 3/4 here.
In the Utility tree we get Good Hands for less time spent dead and Perseverence on tier 1 though Perseverence is a really bad mastery. Its regeneration effect is minimal. Still we have no other possibilities unless you picked Ghost. Then you go with Haste instead.
With this runes we activate both passive bonuses from Twin Disciplines as early as level one.
This way Akali starts with both 10% Spellvamp and 10% extra magic damage from auto attacks (right clicking targets)
7x Greater Mark of Attack Damage
- For AD passive in combination with Brute Force
2x Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
- A bit more magic damage late game
9x Greater Seal of Armor
- Here you may mix in whatever you prefer. Greater Seal of Vitality might be a good alternative. I like flat armor since early game damage often comes primarily from enemy autoattacks
4x Greater Glyph of Ability Power
- The minimum amount of flat AP glyphs to activate AP passive
5x Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
- 5x per lvl AP glyphs for more AP in mid/late game
3x Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
- 3x flat AP so we trigger Akali's AP passive when added up with AP from glyphs
In sum this gives us following boosts at level 1:
1.9% Magic Penetration (MP)
19.66 Ability Power (AP)
6.65 Attack Damage (AD)
15.3 Armor (Ar)
Thus with Brute Force mastery we have 9.65 AD triggering 10% spell vamp passive.
Furthermore having 19.66 AP activates Akali's 10% bonus magic damage passive. (+0.6 from Archmage's Savvy )
Our first items will be Boots of Speed and 3x Health Potion (or 4x Health Potion if you want to wait for 15 gold at start). I like to get boots in the beginning, because they help with both last hitting and harassing and also gives you a bit of survivabilty against very early ganks or intense engages on you. Since we activate both our passive effects with runes and masteries at level one, there is no need to get a Doran's Blade or Doran's Ring. You might pick Amplifying Tome instead of boots if you prefer. Then it is one Health Potion.
However there is one important thing I want to point out right at the beginning of this section:
Buy Sight Wards. More Sight Wards. Everytime you've got both the money and a free equip slot when leaving home. Everytime (Except on starting items of course)! Wards are king. Wards are OP. Wards save your life and secure kills. Wards let you control the map. Get a ward on you first trip home and place it on key positions on your lane. It is not your job to be the only one to place wards but you can easily complement your teammate's wards to gain control over the map. Wards have saved me countless times.
Follow ups/Mid game:
Now this is the point where the two builds up top of the guide differ. And my decision which way to go depends on how I peform on the first few levels. If I can secure a kill or two early I go straigt for Rylai's Crystal Scepter thus buying Giant's Belt as my first item after boots. This ensures a bit of tankyness early so you can secure more kills without any risk of dying too fast.
If things don't go so well I buy Hextech Revolver as my follow up item to boots. As revolver's spell vamp adds up with the AD part of Akali's Twin Disciplines, it makes you last in lane longer even if you get harassed since you can regenerate health with both Mark of the Assassin's missile hits and triggered Marks.
If I get Hextech Revolver, I go for Mercury's Treads next. Right after this we have to take Rylai's Crystal Scepter.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter is crucial. This item is meant to be build with Akali. It has all the stats she needs. Lots of AP, a massive health boost, and last but not least: An amazing passive bonus. Rylai's is key in this build (as for most of the Akali builds) since its passive effect helps you so much in staying with your enemy. It excels at chasing down targets. Every single Mark of the Assassin missile hit AND Mark proc slows down your target. This is absolutely awesome. It also applies for Crescent Slash (though with 15% slow here, multi-target-ability) and Shadow Dance! Thus chasing is cake with both Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Shadow Dance. The moment you get this combination you can go out there and melt some faces.
So if I went straight for Rylai's without any Hextech Revolver I finish my Mercury's Treads next. In my opinion Mercury's Treads are by far the best boots for Akali since crowd control is her biggest weakness. Ionian Boots of Lucidity might sound good in theory, but you will end up in having your cooldowns ready but no energy to use them. I tried that. I don't like it. If you absolutely disagree with Mercury's Treads you might take Boots of Swiftness for even more chasing/running power.
Now the time has come to boost damage output. We achieve this by building Rabadon's Deathcap next. Like with Rylai's Crystal Scepter I try to get the most expensive piece first: Needlessly Large Rod. After you have completed Rabadon's Deathcap your spells really hit like a truck. Most squishier enemies fall in few seconds now.
Depending on the situation in the game and whether I bought Hextech Revolver earlier or not, I get Guardian Angel or Hextech Gunblade next.
Now that we have quite some AP and our survivability is increased we can work to counter enemies who are building up magic resistance. Void Staff is our way to go here. This item gives us another AP boost and the added magic penetration will give us 55% magic penetration (in combination with Archaic Knowledge ) in sum.
The final item, if you have not build Hextech Gunblade is Lich Bane. Lich Bane's passive scales greatly with our high amount of ability power and gives another amazing on-hit effect. However I rarely come to this point in the game. Most of the time the game has ended before I could finish Void Staff.
Of course there are more items of use for us. But these mostly depend on the situation in the game. Banshee's Veil for example is the one which comes to my mind in the first place. This item is really great against AoE ultimates such as Karthus' Requiem and/or various ability combos (E.g. think of Brand, Blitzcrank or Veigar here). In general I prefer Banshee's Veil to Force of Nature since the latter does only provide magic resist but neither a health bonus nor such an amazing passive like Banshee's.
Against AD heavy teams I like Zhonya's Hourglass as it both boosts your armor and provides additional AP. Not to forget another amazing passive. You get under focus in a team fight and Twilight Shroud is on cooldown or the enemy team uses Oracle's Elixir? Pop Zhonya's Hourglass and watch them waste cooldowns. You can also use it to prevent getting hit by some slow moving projectile like for example Taric's Dazzle.
Another item which comes with a lot of very handy uses is Quicksilver Sash. Use it whenever there are heavy stuns or suppression effects on the enemy team. Those might be Warwick's Infinite Duress, Amumu with Curse of the Sad Mummy, Nether Grasp by Malzahar, Galio's Idol of Durand, an Enchanted Crystal Arrow from Ashe, to name just of few possibilities. It also comes with some nice magic resistance.
There are more options of course and I will add items to this assembly if I can put them to good use in a game.
Strategy: Game phases, fighting situations
To maximize burst damage on enemy champs it is most important to not use your abilities at random but to think about when to use what and why first. You will easily end up energy starving if you just dish out spells like crazy. Thus I will try to give you the idea of how to place and time your spells correctly:
Early game: Last hitting and basic burst
First of all and most important is (as with almost any champion, maybe except supporters) last hitting minions.
Akali snowballs very well, so constantly last hitting throughout the game combined with some neat kills will give you a decent gold advantage leading to better items and eventually help you getting even more kills.
From early on you can use Mark of the Assassin in addition to your auto attack to secure minion kills. This ability is quite cheap and cools down very quickly. You should try not to attack minions at random but to just do the very killing blow. While proceeding like this you avoid pushing to the enemy tower. Thus being less attractive for a gank.
If an enemy decides to come close just punish him with your standard Mark of the Assassin combo. You perform this by throwing your Mark on him followed by a quick auto attack to trigger it. This will deal an decent amount of damage as early as level 1 (thanks to your runes/passive). However your Mark has a 0.5 second timer running until it is set up on the enemy to be triggered. Instantly attacking after the mark has landed does often mean no proc happens. Just wait that tiny bit to give him real pain:
Missile damage + autoattack + 10% magic damage (from passive) + triggered Mark
At level two we get Twilight Shroud. This ability helps us to be more save while last hitting. Many players are also scared away if they see your shroud on the ground because they are in danger to be hit by your combo any moment while staying close. Twilight Shroud is Akali's main escape tool. You can easily juke enemies by running straight to a nearby brush while being invisible or trick them by going a different path than usually expected. You are just unpredictable while under Twilight Shroud. I'm going to show you some possible Shroud uses later.
At level four we get Crescent Slash. This is going to be our main minion wave farming- and pushing tool. You can use it to last hit nearby minions while your Mark is on cooldown or inflict damage to a whole bunch of minions if you try to push towards their tower.
We also use it to even increase burst damage output by using our standard combo first followed by a Crescent Slash. However remember our golden rule: Don't dish out ability cooldowns at random. Prevent beeing energy starved. You will be easily finished off by a gank if there's not even energy for a Twilight Shroud.
Mid game: This is where the fun starts
There we go! Once you hit level 6 you can inflict some real pain. Still focus on last hitting minions. But if you find yourself in an opportunity to make some dead people: Go for it! This works best if performed like this (Your standard combo move):
Throw your Mark of the Assassin, hop onto your enemy with Shadow Dance, auto attack to trigger Mark, Crescent Slash, another Mark of the Assassin, trigger, rinse and repeat.
As soon as your enemy starts running away or tries to keep you off with crowd control abilites/slows you can close distance by hopping on him again with Shadow Dance. Shadow Dance may also be used to deal additional burst damage if you need to finish off an enemy real quick.
We throw Mark of the Assassin before performing a Shadow Dance jump in order to have the ability cooled down after Crescent Slash is out. This way we can instantly apply another Mark to our enemy thus increasing damage dealed per second even further.
Yet remember that tiny bit of activation time your Mark needs before it can be triggered. Throw + instant jump may not trigger it immediately. Also try to have at least two Essence of Shadow before engaging. Otherwise your target's chance to escape is far bigger than you want it to be. In this phase of the game Akali really shines in securing the kill.
Late game: Domination and teamfights
Now that the game comes to big team fights Akali's main role is to take out enemy squinishes. For most of the time: Enemy carries.
But first I want to tell you what you don't want to attack: Any champion with a real good amount of health. Those are mostly tanks and tanky dps champions. Some examples: Malphite, Sion, Garen, Amumu, Rammus, Mordekaiser, etc. These champions often take far too much time to kill and are not worth the effort. While beating an hour or two on them, their allies show up an melt your face. Don't do this.
You should only engage in a situation like this if their team out of place and you can be sure to have the time it takes to bring down one of those bulkies.
Here comes what targets you do want to engage to fulfill your role. As said above destroying enemy squishies is what you excel at. In general that is any target with a low health pool. I want to give you some examples here so you get the basic idea which champions should be prefered:
- Ashe - She has no strong defense mechanism. If her arrow is on cooldown she can hardly do anything to get rid of you
- Annie - Almost same as above. Just watch for her stun (white circle floating around her)
- Caitlyn - She may try to hop over a wall using 90 Caliber Net
- Cassiopeia - Try to catch her when her ultimate is on cooldown. Then she dies quite easily.
- Ezreal - Has a skillshot Flash-like spell. Shadow Dance.
- Heimerdinger - No escape mechanism
- Karthus - Same as above
- Miss Fortune - Again.
- Tristana - She can push you away with her ultimate and jump out of range. Have Shadow Dance ready to follow her
- Twisted Fate - Pick A Card can stun you and he may try to teleport away using Destiny
- Veigar - Event Horizon stuns
In team fights timing is of the essence. You can't just hop in on the first target in sight (even if it is a carry) as the enemy team will quickly CC and kill you. Your role is not to engage a team fight. You sit in the back and wait for the opportunity to burst down your target. Let the fight commence first before going in. As soon as the first big crowd control spells have been blown and dangerous ultimates ended your time has come! Run your standard combo (You remember above?), go into battle, devastate them, chase down runners. If things don't look so good or you have to escape a tricky situation pop Twilight Shroud. You might stay in stealth for a few seconds until you lost enemy focus and then reengage your target.
You have to be aware of Vision Wards and Oracle's Elixir. That is what makes Akali so difficult to play in the big fights. If you encounter unfortunate situations you just can't back up in your Shroud and wait until there is the opportunity to attack again. You have to play quite defensively if Oracle is with the enemy. As above wait for the big crowd controls to be blown and engage with even more care.
Strategy: Tips, Tricks, Juking, awesomeness
Let's do some magic shall we? In this section I want to tell you how you can juke (Urban Dictionairy: To defeat an opponent by using subtlety, cleverness, or a trickery) your enemy, how to escape ganks, to chase runners from far away, how to maximize burst damage and so on.
Mark of the Assassin:
As stated above Mark of the Assassin is key to burst down squishies. Due to its low cooldown it is possible to have the ability ready again while an enemy still got a Mark on him. What this means is that since a Mark is active on your enemy for six seconds, you can delay the triggering of an applied Mark until you got your ability off cooldown (which takes 6 to 4 seconds, depending on level). Let me show you this in a video:
[Throw Mark, wait, trigger it, immediately throw second mark, trigger it --> big burst]
What I do here is marking an enemy and wait for my Mark of the Assassin cooldown to (nearly) finish. Then I walk up to him and blow the Mark, immediately followed by another Mark of the Assassine apppliance and trigger. This causes a ton of damage in a very short time span. Add Crescent Slash afterwards to increase burst even more. You might want to wait in your Twilight Shroud while waiting for your cooldowns to finish.
A full kill combo can be seen here (This is what I refer to as a standard combo):
First I'd like to show you how to abuse Twilight Shroud in different ways:
When leaving your Twilight Shroud area of effect you won't become visible again immediately. It takes a tiny bit of time until it happens. Thus it is indeed possible to move from a Shroud into a nearby brush unseen. Look at the following picure respectively the video to see what I am talking about:
Another great use Twilight Shroud offers is unpredictability. It can be used to confuse your enemy or to make him think you want to do several things.
Here an enemy is being attacked from out of stealth multiple times.
Such behaviour often makes opponents fear your Twilight Shroud. Thus many champion keep distance to prevent getting assaulted.
This finds another occurence in using Twilight Shroud as an escape mechanism.
Especially if you combine your Shroud with Flash:
[Escape routes with flash after Twilight Shroud]
Second I am going to tell you how your Shadow Dance functionality can be extended.
Since it is also possible to target opposing team's minions you can use them to travel great distances in no time.
[whole screen travel with Shadow Dance and Flash]
As such it is also possible to catch a running opponent using this. The following video shows you how:
This feature may also be used as an escape mechanism. While beeing chased by an enemy champion run into a nearby brush and immediately hop out of it and onto a minion using Shadow Dance once the enemy gains sight on you when entering the brush himself. This can bring a lot of distance between you and your opponent. Let's have a take at this in a video:
[Video move to brush -> hop to minion to escape]
Recommended lane mates
While laning with a helpful partner you can completely dominate your lane. As mentioned in introduction strong laning partners are Blitzcrank, Morgana, Amumu, Fiddlesticks, Lux, Sion, Maokai, Xin Zhao, to name just a few examples. Basically helpful champions are those who own some sort of strong crowd control ability or stun. They basically hinder your enemy's escape.
Various combinations are possible. One I happen to use frequently thanks to a friend of mine is the following:
Laning with Blitzcrank:
[Video of Blitzcrank hooking a target - bursting it to the ground]
I hope you enjoyed reading and that you may find some of my ideas/tips/strategies useful for your play. Don't forget to comment, vote and rep if you like. Please tell me if you have any improvements.
Now have fun laying waste with Akali - the amazing bursting ninja girl ;-)
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