Build Guide by Sapient
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.
This build is mainly oriented towards Twisted Treeline. You would need more survivability for Summoner's Rift. But facing five enemies that can stun, drain, and/or nuke you from range ... well, good luck with being a squishy melee burst champion.
The 7 Greater Mark of Attack Damage and one Greater Seal of Attack Damage runes (when combined with the bonus damage points from the mastery tree) will precisely activate the Spell Vamp component of Akali's Twin Disciplines passive ability, while the 9 Greater Glyph of Ability Power and 3 Greater Quintessence of Ability Power runes are more than adequate to activate its bonus magic damage component.
The remaining 8 Greater Seal of Vitality runes are there to give some survivability that will scale to all stages of the game. I chose not to use dodge runes because dodging is only effective when someone is raining many physical attacks on you; if you play Akali correctly, that will not be happening. Akali should be more worried about things that hit once but leech her life away over time.
The reason this build has Exhaust and Ignite are easy to explain. For one, they have useful masteries on the offense tree. Secondly, it gives you an answer to every potential target. For example, without ignite you wouldn't be able to bring down Mundo very easily. Without exhaust, you wouldn't be able to bring down DPS champs like Master Yi very easily.
Exhaust also helps keep them from making it back to their turret and it sometimes works as a getaway spell when you get in over your head. Since this build is oriented for twisted treeline, sometimes it's enough to slow one person. For summoner's rift, obviously, it's less effective.
Doran's Shield may seem like an odd choice to start off, but I've found that it helps if you like to play aggressively in the early phase. A lot of champs start weak and become strong later, but with this build Akali has a high damage potential even at level 1. You should use that to your advantage and play aggressively. Then after trading a few blows, the regeneration from the shield will help to stay in the lane.
As soon as you have enough money, it's time to stack the Mejai's Soulstealer! Think of this as a race against time. You must gain ability power faster than your opponents gain the hitpoints to survive your attacks. That's why I get this snowball item before I even buy boots.
When it comes to boots, there are really only two choices: Sorcerer's Shoes or Boots of Swiftness. While the extra magic penetration of Sorcerer's Shoes would be great for your magic damage, I usually opt for the increased movement speed of Boots of Swiftness. Since we aren't taking Flash or Ghost summoner spells, you really do need the extra movement speed. Also, as a ninja, Akali needs to get in and out of melee range very quickly: both to get her kill and to survive when the enemy reinforcements avenge their fallen comrade. Nothing is more frustrating than losing those hard earned Mejai stacks, so generally you're better off with Boots of Swiftness.
Would I ever recommend Mercury's Treads instead? Not really. If you get immobilized and you didn't have the reflexes to put your shroud down right then you're probably dead anyways. Many times slowing effects get reapplied on every hit, so it wouldn't matter there either. The only reason to consider it would be for a little extra magic resistance when a fed Brand is on a rampage.
The next item is a no-brainer: Rabadon's Deathcap. The massive amounts of AP will ensure that you can keep putting the hurt on. By the time you complete this item, you may even see a few surrender votes popping up for the enemy team. Those split-second kills with Akali can be very demoralizing!
A ninja doing tons of damage, so far so good. But that Doran's Sheild is starting to look a little worn out and old. More health is needed, so the last core item of the build is the Giant's Belt. The enemy team may realize that they need to kill you to knock down your Mejai stack count, and they may try very hard to do so. This item will give you enough health to thwart their dastardly plans.
The selection and purchase order of the remaining items will be situational:
For more survivability and to help defeat runners (builds from Giant's Belt)
For more damage and to help defeat turrets
To stay in the fight longer by replenishing your health
To counter those who would stack magic resistance
To escape from Malthazar/Warwick's suppression or from Fiddlestick's fear
If health is low and you need to play very cautiously, or you have a solo lane against two opponents, you can just last hit minions with your Mark of the Assassin.
Later though, with the Crescent Slash ability, farming will become very quick and easy. If you are hanging back from a teamfight and none of the enemies wants to stick their neck out, just go push a tower, or jungle, or farm minions nearby. Don't waste too much time farming, though, because your real job as an assassin is to be getting kills.
Shadow Dance to the cannon minion then mark it with Mark of the Assassin, hit it once with an auto-attack to activate the mark (doing more damage), then use Crescent Slash to hit all the surrounding minions. Continue auto-attacking and using Crescent Slash to finish off any remaining minions.
I added this section just to say that the most important key to mastering Akali is to become adept at shroud usage.
Proper usage of her Twilight Shroud will allow you to take mid in Summoner's Rift, or top lane in Twisted Treeline against anyone. It will allow you to defend turrets, escape ganks, juke chasers, slow fleeing opponents, solo Jax in melee and kill him, hide while Tryndamere rages (which is pretty hilarious by the way), and the list goes on and on.
If you are having problems using Akali, it can usually be solved by a creative use of Twightlight Shroud to solve the problem.
As a result, this makes Akali pretty vulnerable and thus half as effective when the enemy buys Oracle's Elixir. Keep that in mind and ask your teammates to help you kill anyone with the pink eyeball floating over their head.
One final word of advice: if your team is planning to do a risky gank maneuver at L1, I highly advise one rank in Twilight Shroud before Mark of the Assassin. You can cautiously bait the enemy into focusing their attacks on you, then before your health is too low use Twilight Shroud to simultaneously slow the enemy (for your teammates to finish them off) and run away.