Akali Build Guide by Needlefeet
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.
Welcome to my guide on Akali, the Fist of Shadow. This is my first guide here on MOBAfire, so I hope I do it right. I'm bringing you this guide in hopes that I help some people wanting to try out someone that they haven't tried before or even help those who just want some guidance on a champion they already play.
Alrighty, here goes! Remember: play well and have fun!
Pros / Cons
Every champion has their strengths and their weaknesses. Akali is an AP/partly AD assassin that is most viable in the mid lane. Let's have a look at her pros and cons.
+ Very good at escaping and juking thanks to Twilight Shroud
+ Able to assassinate enemies before they even know what hit them
+ Can turn the tide of a match
+ Spell vamp passive ( Twin Disciplines) that can be crucial to winning fights if they turn awry
+ The bonus magic damage from Twin Disciplines also affects turrets, allowing you to push better than many other AP champions
- Melee champion, meaning that Akali has to be in the thick of a fight to be reaching her full potential
- In great danger once the enemy team busts out the CC
- No crowd control aside from a fairly low percentage slow from Twilight Shroud and Rylai's Crystal Scepter
- Relies heavily on stealth to escape, so Oracle's Elixir or a Vision Ward can impede on her escape
Akali's runes are very important and actually give her a bigger edge than they normally give most champions.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage x9
These runes give Akali a great edge early game. The 3 points in Brute Force combined with the 8.55 AD from these runes allow for a beginning bonus AD of 11.55. This activates the second half of Akali's passive, Twin Disciplines, giving her approximately 8.25% spell vamp before the game has even begun. This should help you to keep your health up before you get your Hextech Revovler.
Greater Seal of Armor x9
Seals specialise in physical defense. On a normal AP carry, I would be taking Greater Seal of Replenishment x9 for the mana regen, but since Akali uses energy and has quite low energy costs for her abilities, it makes the most sense to get something else and ignore regen. I chose these seals because Akali is squishy and needs all the help she can get. An extra 12.69 armour is always helpful.
Greater Glyph of Ability Power x9
14.8 ability power early game from runes and Mental Force ? Yes please.
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power x9
Make that 29.65 AP. Double yes please. Such a high starting AP not only allows for her abilities to pack that extra punch, but it also activates the first half of her passive, Twin Disciplines. This gives her basic attacks 9.6% extra magic damage.
The basic goal of this mastery build is to aim for bonus melee damage and bonus ability damage. All masteries have their max amount of possible skill points.
- Brute Force allows me to free up a quintessence slot and replace what would have been an AD quint with a Greater Quintessence of Ability Power. It also allows me to have those 5 or more points to continue down the Offense tree.
- Mental Force gives extra AP. Always helpful on any AP.
- Alacrity isn't really all that necessary, but I wanted to get to Weapon Expertise .
- Sorcery is more useful than Alacrity , but again I was just trying to reach the penetration mastery: Arcane Knowledge .
- Demolitionist is great for helping to push turrets. Again, if you're not into pushing turrets, just get rid of it and put it somewhere else.
- Weapon Expertise is great for that extra penetration for your Lich Bane and your basic attacks in general.
- Arcane Knowledge is a really great mastery that gives you extra magic penetration. Great for any AP champion.
- Sunder is, again, just for that helpful bit of armour penetration for Lich Bane and her basic attacks.
- Archmage is probably one of the best masteries on this tree. 5% AP increase is like.. 1/6th of a Rabadon's Deathcap... At level 1!
- Executioner sums up what your role is: dishing out damage to enemies that are about to die. This is great for when you're called in as the janitor for when your team only just loses that team fight.
- Resistance is just for the extra defense in mid lane, where you will almost always be facing an enemy AP carry. A little bit of reduction could just give you that upper hand.
- Summoner's Insight is chosen because I love Flash. Quite simple. Flash can never be off cooldown fast enough.
Flash is an amazing summoner spell. I couldn't tell you how many times Flash has saved my life in the heat of battle or secured me a kill that was otherwise unreachable, but I can tell you that it happens at least once a match.
Flashing over walls, past turrets or even over Teemo's Noxious Traps can save your life or secure that kill.
Flash can also mix quite well with Akali's current skill set. Here is an example:
Mark of the Assassin on your target -> Shadow Dance to the target -> Crescent Slash to activate the mark's second effect -> Flash out of there immediately, putting distance between you and your enemy.
This tactic can prove as very deadly harassment that can take place in seconds, without the enemy knowing what is going on. Because of the quick burst->escape technique, this is also viable amongst groups of enemies to weaken them quickly or initiate a team fight, although I wouldn't recommend this unless you are quite confident that you can escape.
Ignite picks up so many kills that it's not funny. Whether you use it on an enemy who is escaping a team fight on 5%~ health so you can return to the fight or just using it to pull out some extra damage/debuff (50% reduced healing) on an opponent you need to kill quick(ly/er), Ignite is a great summoner spell to have in an offensive arsenal. I take it with almost all champions.
Other Viable Picks:
Because of Akali's Shadow Dance and Twilight Shroud she still maintains almost all of the mobility and juking ability as she does with Flash. Ghost can be used to quickly escape in a tight situation or reach an enemy once you're out of stack for your Shadow Dance. Ghost + Boots of Mobility = Fast. Very fast.
Useful for team fights and gaining the upper hand on your opponent in a 1v1 assassination. Also good for slowing if you don't have any stacks on Shadow Dance.
Since Akali is so vulnerable when crowd controlled, Cleanse is a great way to aid in your escape. I've never personally used it, but I can see how it would be an amazing tool in your arsenal. This could allow for you to assassinate 1-2 members of their team and then escape after the remaining few have decided to give chase.
Ehhhhh.... I dunno...
I've not really tried jungle Akali more than once or twice, but she was nowhere near as viable as she was when in mid lane. If you are going to jungle, you might want to put a point into Summoner's Resolve for the 10 bonus gold.
Boots of Mobility provide tons of movement speed. You're also better off with your enemy not knowing where or when you are coming.
You're strong enough already. The extra AP and attack speed could prove useful in pushing turrets, but in terms of a fight: you're either going to win by a mile or get your face stomped. It's very rare that you win by a tiny percentage of health.
I wouldn't bother. You're mainly focusing on assassinating a target, then leaving. Spell vamp and life steal give enough sustain. There are other better picks.
Don't Even Think About It:
Leave this to the support. You don't have any ability that can go further than your vision, so it's useless for personal use.
You can push just fine with your Guinsoo's Rageblade and it's not even your job to push. Although it has its benefits, there are several summoner spells that are way more useful to an Akali.
Read the description of this one. I think that's enough said.
If your team is alive, then it's not vital that you come back immediately. If your team is dead, you're just going to get your face stomped by the entire enemy team. Not really a fan of a spell that focuses on dying either.
Ganks. What more can I say? Akali isn't meant to be seen, let alone hit. Gank boots will allow you to move away from enemies when you need to escape, and will close the gap when you need to be ever so slightly closer to your enemy for that Shadow Dance to secure the kill.
This item allows you to act as an initiator for your team against the squishier members of the enemy. Your enemy will almost always be slowed for 2 seconds at a time. Why? Because Akali does a hell of a lot of combos to dish out her damage. Unlikely that your target will get away when you have a Rylai's Crystal Scepter in your inventory. Even if they flash, you still have plenty of time to close the gap with your Shadow Dash and Boots of Mobility.
Health on Akali is also a bonus that allows her to survive for that second or two longer in a fight, allowing her to dish out tons of damage.
Now, I know you think I'm crazy for choosing to actually use a recommended item in my build, but it works. Trust me. If your team is mediocre at best and you're left to carry yourself and the rest of their sorry butts to victory, then this item works miracles. The idea behind this item is that it gives you the attack speed, damage and bonus magic damage to take down turrets quickly. While your team defends, you can creep through the jungle, escaping with Twilight Shroud if needed, and appearing at a turret to quickly burst it down. I've done it in many games before and it has resulted in a victory. Great item. Swap it out if you don't want to touch turrets, because I don't really use this as much for champion killing as much as I do turret pushing.
Mark of the Assassin + Basic attack with the bonus magic damage from Twin Disciplines and the second effect of Mark of the Assassin is a pretty devastating attack already. Now imagine if you added roughly 300-500 damage to that attack. That's nearly a 1 hit to destroy their AD carry. Extra magic resistance never hurt either. Ignore/destroy all those who tell you that you're an idiot for buying an item with bonus mana when you use energy.
Even though this item has an awesome passive that gives a nice slow/chunk of damage, I rarely get time to use it. The Hextech Gunblade is a great choice because it gives both spell vamp, AP, AD and life steal and allows you to build your Hextech Revolver into something stronger. The AD also gives you even more spell vamp. Imagine the amount of health you'll get back from a Lich Bane hit with Mark of the Assassin... Yeah.
9 times out of 10, you won't get this item. Not because it's a bad choice, but because you've either won through force or forfeit.
However, when you do grab your Rabby-Dabby's, sit back and laugh as their face melts twice as quickly than it was before.
Justification for the Item Sequence:
Boots + 3 is a great starting place. You should already have the 8% spell vamp from runes/masteries, so when you combine that with the potions, you're able to stay in lane quite a while. The boots also help you run in and out to take minions quickly.
Ability power is always helpful and you can't go wrong with a bit more spell vamp.
Adds to the sustain and deters attackers early game. Early game tankiness is great.
The rest is fairly simple. I can't stress enough that it helps a lot to get Rylai's Crystal Scepter early, as it adds to your ability to kill quite a lot.
Alternate Item Choices
I really wanted to include a bunch of items here, but I truly believe that every item I've included is what's best for Akali and the way I play her. Regardless, here are 2 more items.
Provides you with the extra tankiness and deters your enemies from attacking you. Along with the extra resistances, this gives you a second chance to wreak havoc on your enemies. If your team has taken most of the remaining enemies out before you get back up, you could even finish them off and secure a win.
This would probably replace the Guinsoo's Rageblade and provide some awesome magic penetration. This would help your basic attacks (bonus magic damage) and increase your burst damage considerably. A pretty good pick, honestly.
Skill Sequence and Overview
It is important that youstart with Akali's Q: Mark of the Assassin. This allows you to farm/harass at long range, which you'll need because the majority of mid meta champions are ranged AP and can poke you if you don't have anything ranged to farm/harass with.
The second skill you want to take is her E: Crescent Slash. This skill allows for AoE farm and added harassment if you're able to get aggressive early game. Alternate leveling this skill with Mark of the Assassin. Try to keep them at the same level as they are both fairly equal in importance.
Take Twilight Shroud third, which helps in the psychological warfare department. Enemies don't know where you are or when you're going to strike, so they keep out of your way when this is down. It's also a good escape if they have a strong jungler and can gank early. Max this last, as the other abilities are more effective when maxed than this is.
Obviously you take your ultimate, Shadow Dance as soon as you ding 6/11/16 as it provides great mobility and damage. It really helps you close that gap and, if used right, can help you to escape like a pro.
Skill priority: Shadow Dance > Mark of the Assassin > Crescent Slash > Twilight Shroud
Here's a rundown of Akali's abilities and how they're useful.
Passive: Twin Disciplines
This is a great passive that allows Akali to have a lot more survivability and pushing power compared to other AP champions. The bonus magic damage from ability power is such a great little bonus that can secure plenty of kills and push turrets quite well.
The second half of the passive allows you to have a nice bit of spell vamp, possibly before the game even starts (like with my build). Very helpful for sustain.
This is Akali's most spammable ability. Great for farming, great for burst damage, great for poking, low cooldown, low energy cost. What more could you ask for? The only downside to this ability is its low projectile speed. I've missed a ton of minions and even kills because this ability doesn't reach the target in time.
On the other hand, it never stops once thrown. It's always funny when someone like Malphite escapes on a tiny amount of health with his Unstoppable Force and a Flash, only to see one of Akali's scythes following him as he accepts his fate.
This is honestly one of the best things about Akali. Many times I have stealthed in the middle of a fight to wait for my cooldowns/energy while the enemy patiently waits for me. They can usually only get 1-2 hits in before I get my burst out and stealth again. Since Twilight Shroud has such a long duration, it's great for these situations. Be careful though, if you're caught without it, it can lead to a lot of pain. A long cooldown is this ability's only downside.
You also maintain the stealth of the shroud for approximately 0.5 seconds after you leave it, so with strategic placement you can escape and juke an entire enemy team. Sometimes they won't even have a clue where you've gone. Casting this out in the open is only helpful when you have no other option but to fight.
AoE farm for the win. You won't be one hitting minion waves with this until very late game, but due to its short cooldown, you don't really need to. Good for early game farming and harassment at the same time when you hide in a Twilight Shroud near a confused enemy. You can have the highest CS on your team as well as a tenderised opponent.
This ability also acts as a great source of health when you have your passive spell vamp combined with a Hextech Revolver/ Hextech Gunblade.
R (Ultimate): Shadow Dance
This ability is what makes Akali so good. If they removed or nerfed this, it would have a severe impact on Akali's viability. If you're fighting 1v1 and you have all 3 stacks available, they will not escape you, unless you're against someone who has a lot of fancy juking and escaping tricks up your sleeve. This is where intuitive thinking comes in and you can find creative ways to use this and your other abilities to land another chase. This is why I choose flash. The enemy flashes over a bush or manages to make an escape? Just Flash closer and close that gap, gutterstomping any hope that they had of escaping.
I'll break this section up into three parts and break down each section. These are:
Level Range: 1-5
Since you don't have your best ability for fights, Shadow Dance, you can't be too aggressive (unless your opponent is really bad). Stay back and farm using quick bursts from Mark of the Assassin and basic attacks/ Crescent Slash. Twilight Shroud can also be helpful in farming, because you can throw it in the middle of the fight and pull out some quick AoE bursts on minions before the enemy has a chance to realise that you're right next to them. Also works well for quick pokes on the enemy.
Level Range: 6-10
If your enemy is still farming anywhere away from their turret once you ding 6, then either their jungler is about to gank you (which can be easily escaped with Twilight Shroud), or they aren't... well... the brightest of players.
With Shadow Dance, you can dive the enemy and pull off tons of damage before they even realise what hit them. I recommend waiting for the second or third stack of Shadow Dance to be built up if they're still on full health.
If you achieve this kill, you might be a little short on health with nothing but a little bit of spell vamp to sustain yourself. This is when you go back and grab your Hextech Revolver (and maybe even Boots of Mobility).
Warning: Leaving your lane unattended while your enemy is still there is risky, as mid is left almost exclusively up to you in the early game. Don't lose that turret.
This is also the level range that you can pick up kills from other lanes or counter jungle. If you have plenty of health after your mid lane kill, move on to top or bot. If not, just recall and head to another lane with your flashy new Hextech Revolver and pick up a kill or five before returning to mid.
Level Range: 11-18
By now you'll probably just be bursting down your mid lane opponent soon after they return from their last beating and then moving on to other lanes thanks to your Boots of Mobility to pick up some more kills. Your farm now should consist of a quick clearance of mid lane minions and any jungle along the way that your jungler won't miss. Bonus points if you take theirs.
Even though Akali is an assassin and operates quite well picking off enemies in quick bursts, teamwork is always key to a good game. I know I mentioned earlier that I've carried teams almost single handedly with this build, but that was a dire situation that called for dire measures.
Remember that teamwork is important, especially because you're so squishy. I am usually either the first or the last one into a team fight, and that is completely intentional.
I am first into a fight when I know I can deal significant damage and that I am safe for an escape if needed. I also account for the fact that even though I may not die to the enemy team in this fight, I can't take them out by myself. This is where the team work comes in and your friends pick up the kills. Ignite may help you to pick up a kill, even if you leave early. Keep in mind that you should never take on the entire enemy team alone. Even if they are under fed, they will likely have enough crowd control and combined damage to take you down pretty quickly. More enemies = more abilities to be used against you. 5 Ignites with a bit of basic attacking would finish you off.
The more common situation you'll find yourself in is when you are last into the fight, which will happen when you have a tank in a 3-5 vs 3-5 team fight. It is important that you wait for the tank to initiate. Once the tank has initiated and likely had the entire enemy team knocked up in the air or taunted, you wait for the rest of your team to begin the fight. As soon as the team fight really begins, make sure you place a Twilight Shroud, for the buff and for personal stealth. Once the enemy team is busy, it is your cue you Shadow Dance in and deal as much damage as you can. Focus the AD carry and other squishy, high damage dealers. By rushing in last, the enemy team is less likely to focus you, or, if they do, then you are at least taking damage away from other team mates so they can dish out more. Remember, you can always stand still and disappear into your Twilight Shroud.
Akali isn't anywhere near as good in the jungle as she is in lane. I, personally, keep out of the jungle on her unless I'm picking up Blessing of the Lizard Elder or regaining some health with spell vamp/life steal. Another bonus in terms of the jungle is her low energy costs that allow her to pull of a string of combos pretty quickly. Because you don't need the extra energy regen or cooldown reduction, you are able to give the Blessing of the Ancient Golem to other mana hungry champions on your team. For the most part, keep out of the jungle.
You probably have an idea of how Akali is played by now, but I'll give a rundown of some familiar scenarios that I encounter frequently. I'll also include some of the more amazing ones that I've partaken in.
Your typical gameplay with Akali will consist of farming and harassing anyone who steps too far out away from protection by applying Mark of the Assassin, dashing in with Shadow Dance and then landing a basic attack with your Crescent Slash.
If things escalate a little more, then you'll probably just be repeating that combo and chasing whenever the target manages to get away. Too easy gg.
Akali is able to gank a lot, unless she's getting heavily harassed in mid. You can make it to other lanes very quickly once you have your Boots of Mobility. Look for lanes that need a gank (one or both team mates are gone from the lane/the team mates in that lane are getting dominated) or are simply open to one. It's very satisfying to make a quick dash from mid before the enemy can call "mia" (leave a Twilight Shroud if they're still there to make them think you're still in mid) and then appear in bot lane against the enemy AD carry and Support who have over extended because they've gotten cocky.
Your ganks should focus on heading off the enemy, reaching them with Shadow Dance, placing Twilight Shroud in front of them so they can't escape as easily, and then finishing them off with bursts from Mark of the Assassin and Crescent Slash. The Twilight Shroud also gives you the upper hand thanks to its buff, just in case the fight turns on you and your opponent decides to attempt to do a trade off.
Make use of your shroud and your environment. It helps the know the abilities of enemy champions too.
Thanks for reading this far into my guide. I really hope that it's helped at least one person out there. Please go ahead and rate my guide and leave any feedback in the comments. I'm open to suggestions and reason why my build does or doesn't work for you.