Katarina Build Guide by MRN.ecco
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Example Build #1 (against low AP mid or AD)
Hey, guys! It's Tyler "ecco" Spesick here again with a guide for one of my favorite champions, Katarina! I was the former mid player for the LCS teams "Team MRN" and "Team Velocity eSports!"
I was always feel a little bit of resentment towards the aforementioned teams because they never let me play my beloved Katarina after she got beat down a little bit with the nerf bat but she is still a strong champion! Definitely after the recent buff to her ultimate where there is now no delay for it to start doing damage after casting it. Katarina is a very strong, unique champion who snowballs extremely hard. Her laning is a little rough in a lot of match-ups until you get very experienced with her but she is such a rewarding champion once you get the hang of her.
- Sooooooooooooooooo much fun.
- One of the strongest snowballers in the game.
- Heavy AoE damage with her ult.
- Arguably the best clean-up in team-fights due to her resets.
- High-mobility and roaming potential.
- Has a fair amount of weak match-ups.
- Not getting a reset in a team-fight makes her damage overall fairly underwhelming.
- Gets shut down hard by cc.
- Doesn't excel really well in an even game.
Katarina is a mobile, assassinating machine. As a result, she excels similarly to the team-comps and style that fnatic runs. This style is a very hectic, pick heavy kind of style. It revolves a great deal on denying vision, setting up picks, and then using your advantage of strength in numbers to force objectives and towers extremely aggressively. You can do this with champions such as Lissandra top, Jarvan IV jungle, and a Corki + Sona botlane. You don't /have/ to go this kind of style to win as Katarina but I believe that is when she is at her strongest. There are mid-champions who are better in straight up 5v5s.
If you were to have a more team-fight heavy composition then you want either a very strong aoe-comp or another burst champion to help you get resets. Rumble/ Jarvan IV/ Sona/ Corki/ Katarina is pretty much the best team-fighting comp you could possibly have with her.
Ignite and Flash have the strongest synergy on Katarina when emphasizing her laning and picking strength. It will give you the most damage in lane to help you snowball (and the most damage potential in general) and also help you kill ad carries in teamfights because of the reduced healing that they obtain when ignite is on them.
Teleport and Flash is the other set of summoners that you can run on Katarina. It gives you more presence in other lanes at the cost of making your own weaker. It is a trade-off and hard to pull off without strong communication with your teammates but it can make you snowball like a monster if you have one good teleport.
|...|| Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Ability Power
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
These are my standard runes that I run on Katarina. Flat magic pen reds gives here the most damage with her burst and are overall by far the best choice for this slot. Flat armor yellows helps your laning because you will be getting auto-attacked so much since you are a melee who is fairly weak in her first few levels. Scaling AP blues is fairly greedy and makes your laning weaker but helps you scale harder into the late game. If you are against a very strong AP-mid and are worried about being bursted (such as against an Ahri or Lissandra) then you can switch them for flat MR blues. Flat AP quintessences are by far the best thing you can run on practically an AP mid because they are just way better than anything else.
This is the mastery page that I have been running on Katarina since the beginning of season 4. It is very similar to that of season 3's and actually doesn't have any important differences. We go down the offense tree all the way to the bottom because having the most damage possible late game is very important. We then put our remaining 9 points into defense to help with Katarina's horrible early game!
The skill sequence shown above is the most standard leveling of Katarina's abilities. It gives you the most consistent damage, waveclear, and mobility. I use this skill sequence when I'm in a more even lane where I can be forcing trades a lot and spending a lot of time in the minion wave. The other skill sequence that I would use is maxing Q first before W. I do this in match-ups where it much more difficult. Such as when I am being zoned and it is my main form of harass and farming. Such as against a Kennen or Orianna I would be maxing Q first.
Sinister steel is Katarina's most consistent damaging move. It gives you good damage in lane with your trading, helps with wave clear, is mediocre aoe damage in team-fights, and also gives you a pretty nice movement speed buff that helps you chase down opponents as well as run away from them. Once you are very experienced and are able to know the range of sinister steel down perfectly then you can use it to its highest efficiency. Such as running away but turning around for that split second to just baaaaaaarely get into w range to give you that movement speed buff to escape better. It also helps with trading in lane if you are able to throw your bouncing blade onto them and then hit them with sinister steel from the furthest range you possibly can.
Doran's Shield is by far the best starting option for Katarina because it helps carry her through the first few levels of laning where she is weakest. She'll be taking a lot of auto-attack harass and damage in general so going anything else is just shooting yourself in the foot.
This will be your core for Katarina. Because she doesn't scale super hard off of AP and snowballs very well off of how you do early game it is best to invest into a lot of spell-penetration as quickly as you can. Zhonya's Hourglass is also core on her because it allows you to play more aggressive overall and also gives you a way to buy 2.5 seconds of time for your team to help you get a reset.
As seen in example #2 this core can change depending on what you are laning against. If you are against a heavy AP mid then you want to get an early negatron and follow it up with an Abyssal Scepter. This will greatly help your laning and trading as well as give your more spell-pen! You still follow up the abyssal scepter with a zhonya's hourglass and the build resumes as normal.
If you didn't get an Abyssal Scepter early on then you are typically getting one later still because it makes you more defensive as well as you benefiting from the spell pen. Rabadon's Deathcap is the usual follow-up to Zhonya's Hourglass because it gives you as much ap as possible which has great synergy with all of the spell pen you already have.
By the time you finish your Deathcap, typically the other team (at least their tanks) have started to stack magic resist so you want to pick up a Void Staff to help your damage scale. Finishing off you will pick an abyssal scepter if you haven't before as well as closing out your build by selling your Haunting Guise for a DFG.
Katarina has a lot of fairly weak match-ups that causes her to lose her lane slightly in cs but unless you play too aggressively and get punished for it, you should really never die due to your incredible amount of mobility with from Shunpo. Such bad match-ups consist, of Kayle, Kennen, Orianna, as well as many others.
The reason that they are bad match-ups is becuase they are all ranged, heavy hitting auto-attackers, who can always keep you down and punish extremely hard if you are ever aggressive when you shouldn't be. Just do your best to farm well, harass them when you can, ask for ganks if they are playing too far forward, and just to not get too far behind so you can be useful when the time presents itself.
|...||How your laning goes is going to greatly depend on what you are matched up against. If you are in more of a skill match-up (which is typically melee champions or those who don't have ridiculously strong early game) then you can be very aggressive and constantly trading with your opponent. Mostly you are last hitting with your auto-attacks or Sinister Steel and then harassing with your Bouncing Blades as well as sinister steel as well. Use Shunpo very tentatively because it is very dangerous to use your only escape blind. You can use it to be aggressive by jumping on your lane opponent in conjunction with your other spells to have a nice chunk of harass onto them but you have to be careful that it is safe to do so. Typically you are being aggressive with shunpo when your opponent has improperly used their spells so they are on cool-down. You can also use it to dodge skillshots, such as Gragas' Barrel Roll and then capitalize by being aggressive off of this opportunity. For the most part though, you will be saving your shunpo to be used in a defensive matter, definitely in early game.|
In more difficult match-ups, such as the ones listed in the match-ups section above, you will be playing much more defensive and mostly using your Bouncing Blades to last-hit and harass when you can. Mostly just last-hitting until you reach level 5 or 7 because your harass can't really lead into anything at earlier levels. Most of the time you will be pushed under your tower and last hitting so try not take to take too much harass while doing so. If the opponent doesn't have a ward it is risky for them to be doing this so try and call for your Jungler to gank if they are. A nice little trick is that if all of the caster minions are full health, one hit of your sinister steel will get them all into the health-range where a tower shot + an auto-attack will last hit them.
Once you get past level 6, regardless of how tough the match-up is, you can start being more aggressive overall. As mentioned earlier, if your opponent wastes their cool-downs, then you should use Death Lotus to do as much damage to them as possible to punish them for their mistake. Death lotus is an extremely low cooldown for an ultimate as well as has very high base-damage. This can give you a lot of strength in lane as it will hurt them dearly, forcing them to hopefully use a good amount of their consumables, or maybe even set you up for a kill in the near future with a standard Q -> E -> W + ignite combo.
|During the mid-game you should be typically looking for roaming options if you are able to clear your wave mid fairly quickly. One thing to keep in mind though is to not force ganks too hard. If you take too long to try and force a gank that isn't going to happen then your mid counter-part is just going to stay in mid free-farming, hitting your tower, while you're in another lane wasting your time. The best time to force a gank on Katarina is to tower-dive a weakened lane. Due to Voracity it makes it very safe and easy to clean up prey under towers.||...|
As for your team's goals, it should typically revolve around denying vision and forcing picks through catching people in lane rotations as well forcing team-fights if you have a heavy AoE team composition. Katarina's team-fight can be one of the strongest in the game if it goes properly to the weakest if it doesn't. You /have/ to make sure that when you go in that it is the right time to go in. Know how much cc the enemy team track and try to keep track of which ones have been used and the rough time left until they are going to be back up again. I know that this sounds extremely difficult to do (I'm not saying it isn't) but the more experience you have on Katarina the better you will get at this. If you are able to catch a priority target away from the people who do have cc (such as an adc in the back-line all by their lonesome) then by all means dive them and do your best to single them out and murder them for your reset.
Typically you want to be dancing around the edges of fights throwing your Bouncing Blades as well as popping the proc with your sinister steel when it is safe to. Then you want to be going in on the priority targets to weaken them as much as you can for your team to clean up or for you to kill yourself. There are times where you want to be using your ult on the front-line if they are very clumped but not typically.
Your team's goals are the same as mid-game where you want to be trying to deny vision and catching opponents in their jungle as a result as well as forcing objectives. Your job is also the same but you must be even more careful than before because the longer a game goes, the more you get punished for even the smallest positioning mistakes.