Nidalee Build Guide by Mooninites

This build has been archived and is for historical display only.

PLEASE NOTE: This build has been archived by the author. They are no longer supporting nor updating this build and it may have become outdated. As such, voting and commenting have been disabled and it no longer appears in regular search results.

We recommend you take a look at this author's other builds.

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.

Rate Up LoL Guide Rate Down LoL Guide
League of Legends Build Guide Author Mooninites

Bruiser Nidalee - A Tooth and Nail Guide to S3

Mooninites Last updated on October 22, 2013
500,836 54
Build 1 (Cheat Sheet)

Champion Build: Nidalee

Health 2390
Health Regen 35.8
Mana 1530
Mana Regen 16
Armor 147
Magic Resist 122.06
Dodge 0
Tenacity 35
Movement Speed 335
Gold Bonus 0
Attack Damage 127.3
Attack Speed 1.04
Crit Chance 0%S
Crit Damage 0%
Ability Power 30
Life Steal 0%
Spell Vamp 0
Armor Penetration 0
Magic Penetration 0
Cooldown Reduction 20%

Recommended Runes

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: 14

Honor Guard

Defense: 16


Utility: 0

Guide Top


Welcome to my Nidalee Guide. My name is Mooninites, I'm an established member of Mobafire, a long time League of Legends player, and a probably, most notably, a Nidalee player. I began in Season 1, playing Nidalee as a hybrid-Ability Power champion, but by mid way through Season 2, Nidalee was being played as an AD bruiser almost exclusively in Solo Queue. Come Season 3, we've seen more of a switch to AP Nidalee though that does not diminish her power. In this guide I will attempt to teach you how I play Bruiser Nidalee top.

For people that care about elo and other nonsense

Spoiler: Click to view

Guide Top

Runes and Masteries


This is my particular Mastery Tree of choice. The 14 points in Offense keep Nidalee competitive in terms of damage output with most physical bruisers, while the 16 points in the Defense tree give her early resistances and damage mitigation to survive the laning phase. Point-for-point, the Defensive tree offers a lot more for bruiser Nidalee than the Offensive tree or Utility tree.

While Nidalee can get use out of Sunder and Executioner deep in the Offense tree, this exposes her to tanky bruisers early in the laning phase and does not see much effectiveness until she gets Aspect Of The Cougar and Takedown. At best, these masteries become effective mid-late game, while the focus is to rune and mastery early to give us as much of an advantage as possible.

Summoner's Wrath - 5 AD and AP whenever Ignite is on cooldown or reducing targets Armor and Magic Resist while afflicted by Exhaust is pretty strong for 1 point.

Fury - 4 points for additional attack speed which helps us take towers and harass. On a lot of brusiers Sorcery is more effective but Nidalee is the exception given her short cooldowns and strong split-pushing.

Butcher - 1 point to push over the threshold to a new tier, but also helps us last hit because Nidalee is quite poor at clearing minions pre-6.

Deadliness - 4 points to allow us to spec into Weapon Expertise and because AD per level is quite strong.

Destruction - Nidalee is a strong split-pusher so this mastery is pretty mandatory.

Weapon Expertise - Armor pen is quite effective on Nidalee and given how many champions stack armor top lane especially against Nidalee this is a pretty strong mastery for 1 point

Brute Force - 3 AD is strong and helps us last hit, this isn't mandatory just personal preference you can always put the points into the defensive tree or elsewhere if you choose.

Durability - 4 points in one of the more effective mastery options, health per level is quite strong

Perseverance - it's a decent summoner, especially early for trading, but I'm not entirely sold into putting multiple points into it. Even 1 point in it may not be that strong, may even be worth putting 2 points in Resistance instead.

Hardiness - 3 points put into this mastery for armor given that most bruisers are physical damage dealers, this also reduces damage done by minions and towers, although miniscule. Obviously if the enemy is an AP top it can be flipped with Resistance .

Resistance - 1 point because most games have some form of magic-dealing champion, however, you can put more points into this mastery should they have an AP top or a strong AP jungler like Amumu or Maokai.

Unyielding - A strong option for only 2 points, it's extremely effective against champions that harass frequently and decent for dueling. For only 2 points it's very strong

Veteran's Scars - 30 health for 1 point is extremely strong especially in the early levels.

Block - like Unyielding , it is extremely strong given we only need to put 1 point into it. It's not as effective on Nidalee as it is against her, but still worth the point very often.

Juggernaut - Because health items like Warmog's Armor are so strong this mastery is pretty good. I personally like it, but if the enemy team is very cc heavy Tenacious may be a better option.

Guide Top

Runes and Masteries


Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

This is a pretty standard rune page for a lot of champions. It's applicable to bot lane, most physical top laners, and just about anyone who does physical damage. This is a good rune page to have in general for champions you play. Runes are personal preference, I've listed some good alternatives below but run what you are comfortable with. It is my personal belief that runes should supplement your early game and you can build for mid-late game. That is why my particular rune choices focus on covering multiple aspects of my game while I can always build accordingly in game.


Spoiler: Click to view

Guide Top

Summoner Spells

- Pretty mandatory on Nidalee, it's a play-making summoner spell that can close the gap, secure kills, and/or be used an escape. You should be taking this 99.9% of the time. It can also save you should you fail a Pounce or be used in conjunction with Pounce to close a significant distance.

- A very good summoner spell for securing kills early and diminishing healing effects on champions. The mastery Summoner's Wrath also gives an additional 5 AP and AD so it can be useful to burn early. For the most part, people underestimate the damage from this ability, especially early on.

- A decent summoner choice. It's a more defensive summoner used to reduce huge bursts of damage and for dueling. Because of Nidalee's high mobility, the slow isn't as necessary as it is on other champions so it becomes a summoner for skirmishing or blocking damage before ultimates like Noxian Guillotine or Demacian Justice so they are less effective.

- In my opinion this is the best option other than Ignite. I usually take this if the enemy has a teleport/global ultimate such as Shen or Pantheon. I also consider this summoner if my main goal is to split push. You may want to consider this spell against 'brick wall' top laners, such as Yorick in which Ignite will gain you very little.

Most other summoner's are not sufficient enough to be given their own section. However Cleanse, Ghost, and Barrier are viable options, but I would not go as far to say strong options. They will more often than not be niche summoner choices and I would rather not clutter this guide explaining very rare circumstances in which they would be better options than any of the above listed summoner spells. In 99.9% of games you should choice Flash and one of the other 3 listed summoner spells listed above.

Guide Top

Skill Sequence and Explanation

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

This particular skill sequence is fairly standard to almost all bruiser Nidalees. Maxing Primal Surge not only increases sustain but the attack speed steroid as well. Starting with Bushwhack allows you to trap the area surrounding top lane or your jungle to deter ganks or invades. Javelin Toss is mainly taken to last hit but maxed second for an additional source of ranged harass.

- Prowl: Prowl is Nidalee's passive that grants her an additional 15% movement speed when traveling through brush and for a few additional seconds after she leaves the brush. The best Nidalee players are able to not only use the brush effectively in lane but to also traverse the map.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view

- Aside from Aspect Of The Cougar perhaps Nidalee's most iconic spell. However, in bruiser Nidalee because we build very little to no Abiliy Power, this spell isn't as powerful as those marquee spears that hit people for half their health. It can still be a decently powerful harass tool, but not as effective as you see from AP Nidalees.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view

- Nidalee lays down a trap that lasts 4 minutes and reveals, damages, and reduces the targets armor and magic resist by a percentage amount for 12 seconds. This is a great tool to start out with, discouraging invades, catching out ganks, and applying good damage when harassing them with the Armor and MR shred.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view

- Nidalee heals herself, restoring health and granting an attack speed steroid. Another spell Nidalee is known for. Early in the League, one of Nidalee's strongest attributes was her sustain, however, since the game has progressed, sustain has become more common, though that does not diminish the strengths of having built-in sustain.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view

- Nidalee transforms into a cougar, granting her additional Movement Speed and a new skill set. Probably Nidalee's most iconic spell. The ability to change into a cougar is what completes Nidalee as one of the most versatile champions in League. As Bruiser Nidalee, you will spend a large portion of the game in this form.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view

- Nidalee's next attack deals additional physical damage, a flat value enhanced by a percentage of the targets missing health, capping at 200%. Bruiser Nidalee's bread and butter, this allows Nidalee to trade favorably in most circumstances.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view

- Nidalee leaps forward, dealing damage to enemies in the area. Another one of Nidalee's marquee spells, this ability is what allows Nidalee to be such an effective split-pusher. This ability allows her to traverse over ledges and certain crevices in walls. The best Nidalee players are able to effectively escape ganks or close the distance between enemies.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view

- Nidalee cleaves all enemies in front of her, dealing magic damage to all enemies hit. A great spell that allows Nidalee to clear minions and push lanes very quickly.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view

Guide Top


I have no particular item path or build that I follow every game, but there are a number of items of which I consider core and purchase nearly every game unless under extreme conditions. Most of my item purchases are in accordance to how the game is going, although there are a number of items that are strong for Nidalee and a number that are not.

Core Items

- pretty much always a core item because almost every game has an AD Carry. Even if they are a full magic dealing team, this item is almost too good to pass up. This item replaced Trinity Force more or less. The consistent AoE slow also added to wave clear but gave armor and cooldown reduction.

- This item recently got buffed and it's so strong. It's absolutely core now. They did slightly increase the cost after the rework but this item is incredible. Health, Health regen, CDR, Magic Resist, and the passive which is really strong for Nidalee. I wouldn't build it as my first item unless against a heavy AP champion like Elise but it's probably a 2nd or 3rd item.

Strong Item Choices

- An extremely underrated item on Nidalee. Nidalee has pretty good base attack speed and an attack speed steroid on Primal Surge making this item very good. It's also pretty good as a single damage source as it doesn't stack well with other sources of damage. The active is quite nice as well and gives decent AD and sustain. Great 5th or 6th item.

- An extremely strong item on Nidalee, worth rushing at times. It makes her incredibly tanky and the sunfire passive starts to tick hard over time, given your high mobility, it's very hard for champions to get away from the passive. This makes you incredibly difficult to duel.

- This item has been somewhat nerfed, it still provides 1000 hp and a good passive. But I only think it's good if you have a lot of health items. Generally this item doesn't really fit into my build. I still think its a strong item, just no longer core. I wouldn't really get this unless I have about 3 strong health items (such as Randuin's Omen, Sunfire Cape, Spirit Visage etc) before Warmog's Armor.

- A strong item for team fights and skirmishes. The shield is great and will save your life more often than it will get credit and the passive that gives us additional damage for our percentage missing heal makes this item extremely strong over prolonged team fights. It also gives us Magic Resist and Damage which are nice. It is expensive, but sitting on Hexdrinker and upgrading it later is a viable option.

- Definitely a strong item as a whole. One of the strongest items in Season 3 and it didn't even get hit by the health nerfs (aside from the component of Giant's Belt. The active is extremely good in teamfighting and makes dueling you near impossible for an enemy. However, it costs a bit more than Sunfire Cape so rushing it probably isn't an option. Additionally, Warden's Mail is pretty much only an armor item, you will get very little use out of the passive as a ranged harasser. It's a good item, but probably more along the lines of a 3rd or 4th item.

Viable Item Choices

- It got a pretty substantial buff for season 3 and comes up more frequently, it's really good against champions like Lux which have decently long cooldowns on majority of her spells. It's fairly cheap for the stats and passive it gives, but I think of it as more an item for sieging which as Bruiser Nidalee you shouldn't be doing often.

- This doesn't really build into anything for you, but provides mana regen and magic resist and is extremely strong in conjunction with Spirit Visage. This is definitely a viable item on even Bruiser Nidalee and you shouldn't hesitate to buy it against someone like Elise or Yorick if you need it.

- A strong item in general, but your build path out of Glacial Shroud should more often than not be into Iceborn Gauntlet. Additionally, the reason this isn't in 'strong' or 'core' item is aura items generally aren't as effective on Bruiser Nidalee when your main objective is to split-push.

- It's viable, the health, damage, and slow are good, but both Trinity Force and Iceborn Gauntlet provide better slows. It's viable and not completely awful, but there are clearly better choices.

- This item got nerfed pretty substantially, it's still decent. The resistances are considerably weaker and really should only be purchased if you need a revive. It's strong for split-pushing, but I still don't like it after the nerfs. They did actually buff this item fairly recently. It now builds out of Negatron Cloak but is 150g more (total cost). Really you're getting 10 MR for 150g more. It's not that much better. I still don't think this is core.

- a pretty good item for it's cost. If you Armor Pen than this is your best option. I personally don't like building an item purely for damage, I think there are better options. All in all, the Armor Pen only affects your auto attacks and Takedown which hardly seems worth investing 2300 gold and an item slot.

- It seemed to be weaker in Season 3 compared to other options, but since the cost reduction, it's a more viable option. I'd get this item if I'm snowballing fairly well as it is still extremely effective when ahead, but if I'm not, I'm rarely confident enough to buy this straight up. The components are pretty good on Nidalee specifically Phage and Sheen but I'm not quite sold that it's a better option than Iceborn Gauntlet. They recently changed Tri-Force to now increase the Sheen bonus damage to 200% and remove the slow from Phage to add a 20 movement speed buff. I am still testing to see if this is good or even better than Iceborn Gauntlet. Initial thoughts are Iceborn Gauntlet is still better. Will update soon

- After some extensive testing, this item is viable on Nidalee and not too bad a damage source. It gives buff control and does a ton of additive damage, meaning over the course of the game it becomes significant. Personally, I don't know if I'd give it the item slot, but it is a viable damage item. Very niche item.

- Decent item choice, viable for sure, but not extremely strong. Most people replace their boots with this but I don't feel like that is usually a good item, Mercury's Treads and Ninja Tabi both offer just too much. This an item I probably wouldn't even consider until I'm 6-itemed and sitting on close to 2k, so as soon as I sell boots I can pick it up. Rarely will you be able to purchase this if you even want to.

Boot Options

- One of the few true choices for Nidalee as far as boots are concerned. The magic resist is pretty nice, but more than anything we're after the tenacity which makes it very difficult to peel us off an enemy carry.

- Probably the second best choice behind Mercury's Treads simply because it lacks tenacity. This is very strong against most bruisers and AD Carries. You may even want to consider this if they have someone like Kayle because her Righteous Fury is considered an auto-attack amplifier thus making it considered an 'auto-attack' and subject to the damage reduction.

- Personally I a not a fan of these boots, but the slow reduction may not be that terrible. People often are confused with how these boots work. They do not reduce the duration of slows rather the affect. For example, Singed's Mega Adhesive is an AoE slow that's effect is not reduced by tenacity because it affects an enemy within the area rather than for a duration. Boots of Swiftness actually reduces the amount you are slowed by so Singed's Mega Adhesive is effected by this.With that said, there are few circumstances when I find this a better option than Ninja Tabi or Mercury's Treads.

Weak Item Choices

- While health stacking has made itself the meta, this item is still very weak. Crit is a fairly weak stat on Nidalee and it's really just not worth the item slot no matter how much health you have.

- this build includes very little crit. I personally don't like crit on Nidalee and investing 3800 gold for 75 damage and 25% chance to make use of the passive is hardly worth it. If you really want the damage just get The Bloodthirster.

- Manamune/ Muramana might stack up extremely quickly on Nidalee but both items are pretty weak. Given that cougar form has no mana costs Manamune is fairly weak for the stats it provides. Additionally, the active/passive from Muramana is extremely weak on Nidalee because it only applies on single-target spells and auto attacks. Only Nidalee's Javelin Toss and Takedown are affected by this. Her Bushwhack, Primal Surge, Aspect Of The Cougar, Pounce, and Swipe are not affected.

- This item looks good on paper, giving decent damage and magic resist as well as a cleanse. But in all honesty it's comparable to Maw of Malmortius if not worse. Additionally, Maw of Malmortius is 600 gold cheaper and better over the course of a team fight. It doens't provide a cleanse, but rarely is there any form of CC that requires immediate cleansing.

- Not really sure what possess people to buy this on Nidalee, Zephyr is more efficient on her and comprable in price. Honestly, the only significant thing this item provides is 'ignoring unit collision'

- While I absolutely love this item, it's not very efficient on Nidalee. It can really only be used in cougar form and theres better options if you're looking for damage and lifesteal, mainly, The Bloodthirster or Blade of the Ruined King.

- With the new Aegis of the Legion and Locket of the Iron Solari changes, you're seeing more Top laners and Jungles buying this item but I don't think it's very good on Nidalee. You split push a lot and you really aren't able to provide the aura often enough to make it worth it. There are better defensive items and you aren't able to provide the aura often enough to make this item worth it.

- cool item, not very effective. Attack Speed is pretty good on Nidalee but as I've said I don't like crit. The passive is quite nice for pushing the lane, but in all honesty this isn't really worth an item slot.

- I know it was League of Cleavers for a while, but even when this item was flat out broken, it was still a weak option on Nidalee. Don't get me wrong; Armor Pen, Health, and Damage are all strong stats, but the passive is more or less wasted. The passive requires 5 auto attacks or forms of physical damage. Unfortunately, for Nidalee auto attacks and Takedown are her only physical forms of damage. This makes it incredibly difficult to get a full 5 stacks of the passive up. In every circumstance Last Whisper is better: it's cheaper, provides comprable AD, and a passive that actually sees use. Stop buying this item.

- This isn't a bad item even though it's fallen out of favor, I just don't think it's very good on Nidalee. I really dislike buying an item purely for Attack Speed on her. I know it gives magic resist, but I can't even see this item being better than an item like Hexdrinker which considered to be an item tier lower, not to mention cheaper.

Guide Top


Nidalee is perhaps the most versatile champion in League of Legends. Virtually every item is viable on her, and she makes very good use of a number of stats. For example, looking at an item like Trinity Force that offers a plethora of stats, Nidalee makes use of virtually all of them in which most champions could not. While there are items that aren't extremely efficient on her, she makes use of virtually all stats. Because of this, Nidalee can be played in hundreds of ways which makes her such a strong champion because of her ability to adapt better than any champion to the changing gameplay. In this particular guide, we've highligheted mainly around the AD/Bruiser Nidalee build so virtually all of this gameplay section will cover only the AD/Bruiser Nidalee play. I will not cover AP Nidalee gameplay in this guide, but there are other AP Nidalee guides out there.

With that, let's examine a brief overview of how to play Nidalee in simple man's terms:

  • Early Game (levels 1-5) - Sit back try and farm the wave hitting as much CS as possible. Do your best to avoid getting pushed to under tower. Wait it out for 6.
  • Mid Game (levels 6-11) - Abuse your cougar form and the lack damage mitigation your opponents have. Very few champions will be able to deal with your damage output. Push the lane and play aggressively without playing recklessly.
  • Late Game (levels 12-18) - Try to split-push and draw pressure to the lane. Try to pull more than 1 member to deal with you, but understand when it is necessary to team fight.

So let's go a little deeper into the game play.

Early Game - Levels 1-5

Early game is important for virtually every champion and that does not exclude Nidalee, but I wouldn't say it's crucial. Your early laning phase doesn't really hinge on you making big time plays but more surviving. During the point of the game your main goals should be surviving and hitting as much cs as possible. You should try to keep the lane slightly pushed towards you tower to make it more difficult to gank you. It's always better to play safe rather than too aggressive. While champions like Jax and Vladimir do outscale you, there is no reason to play so recklessly you risk losing the lane just to attempt to get an advantage over them, you still have the opportunity to outplay them mid and late game.

Riot has recently imposed a limit to the number of Health Potions to 5. At the same time they increased the cost of Elixir of Fortitude from 250 gold to 350 gold. The Health Potion change hurts Nidalee slightly but all in all the Elixir of Fortitude nerf should be beneficial for her.

General Tips

Spoiler: Click to view

Starting Options

Boots of Speed + Health Potionx3 is a strong option and against champions that can gap close easily such as Garen, Riven, Darius, etc.

Rejuvenation Bead with 5 Health Potions and a ward seems to be the way to go. You can also pick up a Mana Potion for good measure, but this start can still get you to level 6 effectively which is our main goal, best alternative to replace the old 9 potion start

Starting Cloth Armor+ Health Potionx5 is situational, I usually only take this against someone like Renekton or Pantheon who can all-in early on and boots won't necessarily save you.

Mid Game - Levels 6-11

Mid game is really the part of the game where Nidalee begins to shine. At level 6 she can pick and choose her fights which makes virtually every lane advantageous for you. You also become incredibly difficult to gank and this is the point in the game in which you really become a bully and able to push lanes and push enemies out of lanes. There are very champions that can deal with you at level 6 so take advantage of this.

General Tips

Spoiler: Click to view

Item Options

Giant's Belt is a universally good buy against all damage types on your first trip back. It gives a pretty good chunk of health for a relatively low price and sitting on it isn't half bad either.

Chain Vest is a strong option against heavy damage bruisers such as Renekton or Pantheon or even Fiora. However this item is also fairly limiting because it almost forces you to get a relatively early Iceborn Gauntlet or Sunfire Cape. You can sit on it, but it isn't as effective as sitting on a Giant's Belt.

Most likely you won't be able to complete both these items on your first back, but should be able to complete both relatively quickly in the mid game. I generally would only get this against AP bullies such as Elise or Rumble or against lanes which I needed sustain such as Yorick and in rare circumstances Shen.

Late Game - Levels 12-18

Late game can really dictate how the game ends. This is one of the more difficult parts of the game because this is when experience and game knowledge really comes in. In a very broad sense, at this point you have to decide whether or not it is more beneficial to split-push or to teamfight. While Nidalee really excels at split-pushing, there are times when you need to just group and fight. At this point in the game you should be a real juggernaut and pretty much impossible to 1v1.

General Tips

Spoiler: Click to view

Item Options

This is probably the best overall 2 item combo if they have a good mix of physical and magic damage. You also probably want consider picking up an MR item and either another armor item of source of damage.

This is a very good two item combo if the enemy team is very AD heavy having very little source of magic damage. This combo is so extremely strong for sitting on the enemy carry. Not only are you incredibly beefy but the Iceborn slow keeps them in range while sunfire ticks away.

These items are very good if the enemy has two or more strong sources of magic damage, for example and AP top and mid or something like jungle Diana. Both these items are extremely strong and built in most games, but if you feel the need to or just prefer Maw of Malmortius go ahead and switch Spirit Visage out for it.

Generally speaking, the items listed about should have already be completed by late and that section is mainly there to highlight in which circumstances you should have those items. By late game you should have 2 or 3 big ticket items or more if you had a very successful laning phase.

Guide Top


I will cover common top lane match-ups, rating them, and explaining how to beat them. Each match up is different and can vary depending on skills of the enemy player and uncontrollable circumstances such as the jungler. I will only cover top lane match ups, I will not provide mid lane champions or junglers. Additionally, to prevent this guide from getting too ridiculously long I will only cover common top laners. Ratings will be based from 1-5, 5 being the most difficult and 1 being the easiest

Difficulty: 3

She's extremely difficult to deal with after she hits 6 until you get considerably tanky. Shadow Dance gives her huge kill potential and her Twilight Shroud can make it difficult for you to fight back. Once you get pretty tanky, or a Warmog's Armor and a form of magic resist she should be manageable.

Difficulty: 2

This just becomes a sustain war. His utility in team fights is better than yours, but he can't push as well as you. He's extremely difficult to push out of lane and you may not even win an all-in if he has Feast up. He's relatively easy to deal with because you can push against him considering his wave clear isn't as good as yours and he has virtually no way to keep you off his tower.

Difficulty: 3

Damage output on this guy is stupid high. Rushing Sunfire Cape is a pretty good idea as it gives health and armor and you may want to consider Ninja Tabi. Going all-in on him is difficult because of Noxian Guillotine but staying in cougar form and avoiding his grab will make him easy to abuse. I'd probably start with Boots of Speed just to avoid his Q and pull.

Difficulty: 3

Elise is no longer really played a top laner, but she's still viable top. I definitely think Nidalee is one of the more difficult match-ups for Elise but that said, Nidalee is extremely vulnerable at level 1-5 which where I think Elise can really shine. Her late game is stronger than yours as well, but at level 6 you close the power gap quite a bit. I highly recommend investing in both Chalice of Harmony and Spirit Visage. Both these items together make it nearly impossible to push you out of lane and considering your wave clear and ability to push a tower is marginally better than hers, you should win the lane after you get these items.

Difficulty: 5

This is honestly one of the most difficult match-ups for Nidalee. I think a lot of people underestimate Fiora as a champion. She's one of few champions that can duel you and come out ahead more often than not. Her Riposte can easily win her duels and if she manages to Riposte one of your Takedowns you will most certainly lose the trade. She can't push a wave like you can, but she can take down towers faster than you can, so leaving lane can be a bad idea. Honestly, buy boots and try and survive, but often you will lose this match-up.

Difficulty: 3

After the rework Garen is much stronger. You can still deal with him considerably well, but he's a bit more difficult to bully out of lane. You are fairly vulnerable between levels 1-5 and if he gets on you he can hurt quite a bit. I would recommend starting Boots of Speed or Cloth Armor with Health Potions. I would consider rushing Phage (you can sit on it instead of upgrading to Trinity Force) and getting an Iceborn Gauntlet as quickly as possible. Sunfire Cape is also a viable option.

Difficulty: 3

I originally had Irelia at a 2, but having played this match-up more I think Irelia is a lot more difficult than I give her credit for. Her early game is weak like yours, but you can abuse her with auto attacks quite easily. The new Doran's Shield makes that pretty difficult and you don't really have a way to stop her from getting to late game. She has pretty good gap close as well, so she can all in you at level 3-4 and win easily. You get a massive spike at 6 and probably want to take advantage of this otherwise she will just win because outscales you. Get Ninja Tabi if you can afford a lack of tenacity.

Difficulty: 4

He's gained a bit of popularity recently and is quite strong. Nidalee's weakest points are pre-6 as is Jax's. You are often not able to abuse Jax as much as you need to early on to win the lane. He outscales you at an astronomical rate and his power spike at 6 is comparable to yours. After level 6 or 7 you will lose most duels unless you are able to outplay him. Definitely a difficult lane for Nidalee but with that said you can outplay him pretty substantially if you are good at controlling your cougar form and kiting to avoid necessary damage.

Difficulty: 5

Probably Nidalee's toughest match-up or at least top 3. Reckoning is so unbelievably frustrating for Nidalee to deal with and she will just kite you all day. Even if you do manage to get in range she can ult a large portion of your burst and come out ahead. Her sustain is fairly strong and not significantly worse than your own. She can push a wave with Righteous Fury and is all around a pain. Her level 2 is unreal and there's almost no way for you to deal with it, other than wait for the minion wave to push to tower and try and last hit.

Difficulty: 1

This guy is a joke top lane now. As anyone could expect, getting nerfed consecutively since virtual release isn't good for a champion. I think what really pushed him over was the removal of armor on Safeguard. Before he was able to max Safeguard and virtually sit in lane all day and wave clear with E, but now he's so easy to beat it's pretty sad. For him to beat you, he has to either do it extremely early or he has to outplay you so hard that it looks like a Diamond player playing against a sub 1000 elo player.

Difficulty: 1

I don't understand why people consider him so strong. He's easily abuseable and your sustain makes it impossible for him to push you out. Iceborn Gauntlet rush makes him a virtually free kill post-6, or at the very least forces him to blow Flash or Unstoppable Force.

Difficulty: 4

I think Olaf is one of the most difficult match-ups for Nidalee. If he lands an Undertow pre-6 you can guarantee a new level of pain to be brought to your face. Say hello to Reckless Swing and most likely another Undertow. Additionally, he for the most part outscales you, has enough wave clear to prevent you from making a significant push on you, can get to your carries better than you can get to his, and is extremely difficult to all-in given his passive and Vicious Strikes. If you can avoid getting hit by Undertow pre-6 then you've got a significantly easier time, if you find yourself eating a lot of axes, it's going to be a long game.

Difficulty: 3

Renekton is one of the most lane dominant champions and is incredibly strong at early levels. Nidalee can really easily abuse him early though. Like Garen he requires near-perfect play pre-6 to avoid any major damage. Slice and Dice can get to you pretty well pre-6 and Cull the Meek with Slice and Dice offers him some really good wave clear. He's impossible to all-in because his ultimate directly counters Takedown, but sitting in human form spamming auto attacks on him gets very irritating for him and Cull the Meek simply doesn't provide the sustain necessary for your harass. Renekton is one of the few champions you outscale late-game so you can sit in lane just wait for him to be rendered weak.

Difficulty: 3

I originally had Riven at a 1, but I've bumped her up to 3 because of her early all-in potential. However, if she doesn't win early, she loses incredibly hard. You're torn between needing the extra movement speed from Boots of Speed to avoid early all in and Cloth Armor to survive that all in. I recommend trying to get as much of an advantage at level 1 as possible to avoid allowing her to play aggressive at levels 2+.

Difficulty: 4

I think of Rumble as the AP counterpart to Jax for Nidalee. The damage and harass that is necessary to abuse him early on just isn't there for Nidalee. Rumble is a bit odd, his power spike isn't necessarily at his ultimate but for some reason it seems like it's at levels 7,8, and 9. This is when his damage from Flamespitter seems to really pick up and makes trading with him difficult. He doesn't outscale you as hard as Jax does, but does pretty well against Nidalee. This is probably one of the more difficult match-ups for her.

Difficulty: 3

I personally think Shen is one of the more favorable match-ups for Nidalee, but he can be difficult. You have no CC to stop him from using Stand United but he your push while he is out of lane is insane. You pretty much guarantee a free tower or force the enemy jungler or mid lane to respond to you. This is a circumstance when you may also want to take Teleport to counter his ultimate. As far as laning, it's pretty difficult to push him out, but it's also difficult for him to push you out. You have much better wave clear than he does and forcing him to last hit under tower is pretty much the death of him at virtually all stages of the game.

Difficulty: 4

Singed is extremely easy to abuse early, but later in the game he becomes a real nightmare. His wave clear is probably better than yours given that he can run past your tower and clear the next wave after poisoning the first. He doesn't take towers as well as you, but you'll definitely have difficulty putting some real damage down on him. Even when you do, he can just regen it or run away. If you get ahead early he's extremely easy to beat but he does have the ability to get back into games quite easily if he's allowed you farm.

Difficulty: 4

He's extremely annoying to deal with, the blind, the shrooms, everything. His auto-attacks also start to hurt quite a bit. Additionally, building early MR is necessary, but there aren't really good options for that. He provides more map control through his mushrooms but doesn't split-push as well as you. Getting some early MR and health will do wonders, but he'll constantly be annoying.

Difficulty: 4

He's similar to Jax and Rumble in that you need to be aggressive early but simply don't have the means to do so. His sustain can make your harass pretty negligible and allows him to get to mid game in which he starts to outscale you. If you can get considerable harass on him early then he is forced to play catch-up which is extremely had for Vlad's to do. However, once he gets a Hextech Revolver if you do not have a considerable lead the lane is most likely over unless you're able to all-in him. You can win a lot of all-in trades, but doing so can be difficult with his pool. One of the more difficult lanes for Nidalee.

Difficulty: 2

Wukong has been quite weak for a while now. He's pretty easily abuseable and aside from Nimbus Strike into Crushing Blow into Decoy he has nothing in his kit that can deal with you. Even the standard E+Q+W combo is pretty weak. Cyclone is an extremely powerful ultimate, but it's really difficult for him to keep you in it for the full duration and after his ultimate and small bursts, you start to win trades quite easily. A fairly easy lane for Nidalee.

Difficulty: 5

This lane is unbelievably difficult for Nidalee. Pre-6 is absolutely hell. Audacious Charge and his Q wreck you. Even after you hit 6 it's pretty difficult to win trades. His sustain from W makes it difficult to get substantial harass to stick on him and trying to all-in him is asking for a losing battle. Although he's played more in the jungle, he's very hard to deal with as a top lane champion.

Difficulty: 3

I can understand why Yorick is so difficult for some people, but I feel like Nidalee handles him quite easily. Early game ghouls are an annoyance at best but can be out-run and the damage sustained. Building Chalice of Harmony and Spirit Visage pretty much ends the laning phase for him. This was first introduced by Taipei Assassins top laner, Stanley, and worked tremendously. Mid and late game he isn't tanky enough to deal with you, nor does he have the damage to all-in you. Even if you feel threatened, it's quite easy for you to run away and he doesn't have the wave clear to stop you from pushing on his tower. Once you learn the match-up it's quite favorable for Nidalee.

Difficulty: 4

Zed is fairly difficult to deal with as a champion. He's one of the few champions that I feel has a weaker early game than Nidalee but he has pretty good waveclear and a really good escape making it pretty difficult to abuse him early. His level 6 spike is massive, almost as big as yours, and you have to respect his kill potential. It's really difficult to spltpush against him unless you get an astronomical amount of armor because he just does so much damage and has so much waveclear. If you get 250+ armor, he has a tough time 1v1'ing you but that doesn't mean it's easy for you to 1v1. This match up kind of stalls out, as neither of you are able to do enough to each other; and since Zed has better teamfight than you, Zed gets a slight edge in my opinion.

Difficulty: 4

Ryze is fairly difficult for Nidalee and he's seeing increased play top so it's necessary that I include him. It's really difficult to engage on Ryze because of Rune Prison and on top of that he get a decent amount of spell vamp and beefyness to make him hard to deal. I recommend building Chalice of Harmony and Spirit Visage and just pushing him to force him to blow his ultimate for waveclear. Ryze has absolutely awful waveclear without his ultimate so pushing is the key to winning the match-up, it will be difficult to out trade so just focus on the objectives.

Difficulty: 3

Kennen is a lane bully for most champs, but Nidalee can do alright against him. I Mercury's Treads are a must for this match-up and going Chalice of Harmony+ Spirit Visage isn't a bad idea either. Kennen does have a slight range advantage on you, but you have sustain and as long as you trade fairly smartly early on you should be able to do pretty well. Slicing Maelstrom is normally a game changer for most of his match-ups. But as long as you don't let yourself get below 50% hp, when he pops his ultimate you should be able to just run out of it and back or heal up. Kennen can pose some problems if fed, but if you are able to splitpush on him and keep him top, you've kind of nullified his purpose as a superior team fighting champion.

Difficulty: 4

They reworked Kha'Zix to a degree and in some ways he's stronger, in others weaker. He is definitely more of a burst assassin than a ranged poke assassin. He does more consistent damage and can be difficult for Nidalee to deal with. Before he was fairly easy because most Kha players maxed Void Spike and really didn't all-in until they had a decent amount of damage on their target. Nidalee easily sustained through this, but now most Kha players max and evolve Taste Their Fear which has huge burst. My recommendation is just to build enough armor survive his burst and turn on him. His Q does more damage based off your percentage health, so don't stack too much health. You have to avoid getting all-inned early, Kha'Zix players love to all in at levels 2-3 and there's really nothing you can do to stop it during these levels. If Kha gets any form of advantage he will snowball the lane and you will not be able to come back.

Difficulty: 2

Rengar has gained some popularity top lane as an absolute insane split-pushing assassin. For Nidalee he's not too much of an issue. You have to be extremely cuatious levels 1-5, this is pretty much the only point in which Rengar can win the lane. After you get Aspect Of The Cougar, he's much easier to deal with. Basically getting some armor (I highly recommend Sunfire Cape and/or Iceborn Gauntlet) you can just force prolonged engagements and come out ahead, because he's so reliant on his abilities. He doesn't have great waveclear either unless he's burning his Fury charges on his W. Build armor, push him to turret and walk all over him.

Difficulty: 4

I've only played this match-up a few times, but it seems pretty difficult for Nidalee. Aatrox has a lot of sustain and a leap if he's really danger. His ultimate is a massive steroid, and his passive is literally the most ******ed thing to ever be introduced into the game. He doesn't have great waveclear, but I'm not sure if you're able to go toe-to-toe with him. Getting a good amount of armor and some form of lifesteal is probably your best bet. As I play the match-up more, I can get a more accurate assessment, but this what I've got.

Difficulty: 2

Zac has fallen out of favor top lane, he did get some nerfs so that is probably the reason why. Nidalee actually does quite well against him after playing the match up a couple times. His harass is pretty negligible and you can easily heal through it. His wave clear is decent, but nothing compared to yours. He has trouble last hitting under tower and breaking towers, so picking up a Chalice of Harmony and sitting in lane forever is advantageous to you because it's a losing battle for him.

Guide Top


Why not Locket of the Iron Solari? It gives health, armor and CDR too.

Locket of the Iron Solari is a strong item in it's own right, and extremely strong as a first or second item. It is cost efficient yes, but it falls into the aura item category for me, when your main goal is to split-push how often will you be able to effectively use the shield active? Top lane is an island for most of the game, and as AD Nidalee you want to keep it a 1v1 island for pretty much the entire game, very rarely will you be hitting more than just yourself with the shield. Besides, this item is really good on supports and a lot of junglers, so why not let them pick it up.

What about stacking Doran's Shield + Ninja Tabi vs. auto-attacking lanes?

I guess I didn't elaborate as much as I could have in my guide. But this is a strong option against heavy auto-attackers. Teemo, Xin Zhao, Fiora, Kayle, and sometimes Irelia or Jax will all see damage reductions. It's certainly viable and very strong in lane, I don't see a reason why you can't or shouldn't.

What if I don't like Sunfire Cape on Nidalee?

Perfectly fine, you can find plenty of alternatives. I'd point you in the direction of Randuin's Omen or just full out rushing Iceborn Gauntlet which is very strong.

What about Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration?

Very good and optimal choice. They affect you Pounce, Swipe, and Javelin Toss. Personally I like them on Nidalee, especially AP Nidalee top, but I didn't like them on bruiser Nidalee, however, I haven't tested them that extensively, so maybe I'll try it out again.

What about Doran's Blade with Greater Quintessence of Lifesteal?

Definitely viable and I tried it out but didn't fit my playstyle. I personally try and survive until level 6 and then buy before skirmishing. Doran's Blade gives you skirmishing power pre-6 which may be beneficial to some playstyles but not mine. You do get a good amount of sustain, but it is risky going into top lane without a Vision Ward and Health Potions

Guide Top


  • Special thanks to my teammates and friends.
  • Thanks to the members of Mobafire.
  • Thanks to Jhoijhoi for the borders and bbc coding guide.
  • Special thanks to Xaioli for his help with BBC coding.
  • Above all thanks to you the reader and supporters of this guide.

Guide Top


Spoiler: Click to view

Nidalee was recently nerfed in patch 3.03 or commonly known as the Quinn patch.

There are a number of reasons why I don't agree with these changes. First and foremost I don't think Nidalee needed to be nerfed, she was a strong pick but not an overpowered one. She still had her flaws. My main problem is Nidalee's incredibly weak early game. Her level 1-5 is among the worst in the game, no wave clear, extremely squishy, no escape, etc. Aspect Of The Cougar was compensation for this incredibly weak early game. It also doesn't help Riot's cause when champions like Elise and Jayce both get their dual-forms at level 1 AND get flat armor and magic resist values as well. From a logistical standpoint this makes very little sense, especially considering Jayce' kit is extremely similar to Nidalee.

Additionally, I find their reasoning behind the change very puzzling. They increased the ratio on Swipe which offers no compensation to Bruiser Nidalee and only AP Nidalee. One of the reasons this is an absolutely mind-boggling change is particularly playing her as AP Nidalee, offers very little incentive to use Cougar form as a damage source. It was just a couple months ago that they changed her Aspect Of The Cougar to give armor and magic resist per level rather than just a flat value of 10 at all ranks. And that change was made to incentivise AP Nidalee being able to go in do damage with cougar form. It seems as if it's a revolving door of nerfs, the main problem I see is trying to incentivise damage in exchange for tankiness, and in this current meta, and pretty much throughout the history of the game, trading off tankiness for damage is hardly a positive. Additionally, this was a huge nerf for bruiser Nidalee. She lost her tankiness but wasn't given anything in compensation; she builds minimal AP, albeit some, through Iceborn Gauntlet or Trinity Force but 30/40 AP hardly does anything for her. Ultimately, I think she's hardly a viable competitive pick. I've played her quite extensively since the changes, testing her out, trying out her new limits, but she honestly feels extremely weak. She can still be played with some success, but I can't see her being played in a competitive setting.