Elise Build Guide by KirbyMorph
Mastery Tree Is Outdated
WARNING: These masteries are still using the old tree and have not been updated to the new tree by the guide author. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
A common misconception, perpetuated by Riot's spotlight and recommended items, is that Elise is an AP champ that should build AP. This is wrong. She can do this, of course, and do nice damage after several thousand gold worth of items, but you can do that with almost any champion. The problem is she will never get that far with how fragile she will be and her reliance on being in melee range for much of her damage and her lack of true escapes ( Cocoon / Rappel is more of a gap closer or temporary wait on cooldowns/damage avoidance than an escape since it requires you select an enemy to fall on, typically only with champions around to land on).
While Elise is conceptionally similar to Nidalee, she is actually built remarkably similar to tanky brusier top lane Cho'Gath. If you see a Cho'Gath build pure AP, he hurts, but is easily burst down, Feast stacks or no Feast stacks. Elise is similar in that regard and building her similar to bruiser top Cho'Gath results in a lot of success. Play like Nidalee, build like Cho'Gath is my motto.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed is essential for escaping ganks, moving in and out for trades, roaming, getting to and from lane, chasing down and the utility is immense and very few options for increasing it outside of the standard boots or expensive items like Trinity Force, so taking them on your Quintessences is always an excellent choice for top lane.
Greater Quintessence of Vigor Greater Quintessence of Vigor is another option that many overlook. Sustaining in lane is vital to winning lanes. If you are in a tough lane and chugging potions nonstop, you will be forced back and lose xp and cs and allow your enemy a free back and lane reset or he can freeze the lane and further deny you. Running Greater Quintessence of Vigor can turn equal or slightly negative trades in your favour simply by out sustaining your opponent's damage between exchanges as he runs out of health potions.
As Elise is a very poke heavy champion with some mild sustain from her spider form's Skittering Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy, Greater Quintessence of Vigor are fairly strong on her since she will typically give out more than she takes in human form from ranged on the typically melee oriented top lanes. For example, Olaf should never be in range for his Reckless Swing, which deals true damage, and will be forced to max his Undertow instead. The odd axe hitting you will be completely negated with Greater Quintessence of Vigor and the Vigor mastery so long as you aren't constantly walking into the axes or allowing him to get in close for Reckless Swing.
These are the only two quints I believe you should run on Elise, though other less optimal choices include Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration, Greater Quintessence of Ability Power, and Greater Quintessence of Armor or Greater Quintessence of Magic Resist.
For your Marks, Greater Mark of Magic Penetration has been my preferred choice. Top lane usually runs Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist as they are usually melee oriented top lane and build for late game resists when they see more magic damage in team fights. These take a long time to ramp up to equal the flat magic resists of Greater Glyph of Magic Resist and leave the top laner usually quite low on early resists. As Elise does the majority of her damage with magic damage skills and magic on hit auto-attacks in Spider Form / Human Form, early magic penetration is quite strong on her and my preferred choice for Marks.
Alternatives I've had success with are Greater Mark of Attack Speed and Greater Mark of Attack Damage. The attack speed marks help Elise similar to how it works with Cho'gath's Vorpal Spikes. Higher attack speed equals more Spider Form / Human Form auto-attacks and procs of the on-hit magic damage she receives in Spider Form / Human Form, more heals with spider form's Skittering Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy. Flat AD can help with early game last hitting, as Elise has a really awkward auto-attack animation similar to Anivia and combined with her base AD makes her not the best last hitting at level 1. If you are lacking in runes, I'd use them, but I highly recommend Greater Mark of Magic Penetration or Greater Mark of Attack Speed over them.
Greater Seal of Armor is the only choice here. You are going top vs bruisers 9 out of 10 times and will be in melee range for fights, tanking towers, taking minion damage and generally always seeing some form of physical damage at all stages of the game, especially early. There is no reason to take any other Seal.
Magic resist Glyphs are your best choice here. I prefer a mix of Greater Glyph of Magic Resist and Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist to give you early game resistances while still scaling well into late. I usually go 5 x Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist and 4 x Greater Glyph of Magic Resist. Remember that even most pure AD champions still do magic damage in many cases and the jungler and mid can and will likely gank your lane, bringing magic damage sources with them. Level 1 team fights/invades are common as well and you will see magic damage there. Champions like Jax also do non-trivial amounts of magic damage in the top lane, making resists always important. There are also other AP only tops, like Vladimir and Rumble that require magic resists to combat properly. Going to lane with base magic resists and using only Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist will take a while to give you any noticeable reductions in damage taken and longer still to catch up to Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist to make them optimal. The early resists from 4 x Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist makes a significant difference vs magic dealing champions.
Another option is running 9 x Greater Glyph of Magic Resist versus a pure AP lane, like Vladimir or Rumble and being super aggressive early and often.
Top lane is bruiser lane. Elise will be in melee range to do the majority of her damage, either with them gap closing onto you or you finishing up in spider form, and people will jump on her for ganks and team fights. She has no real escapes from this. Cocoon / Rappel will not save you and you will only get a slight reprieve if you believe it is an escape tool. It only really acts as an escape if you use it to return to the minion wave after a tower dive or other fortunate instance where a hostile unit ends up on your path to freedom.
As I've found my most success with her as an AP bruiser in the top lane, I build her with a full defensive mastery page. Similarly, as she does significant magic damage and does this damage without a need for pure damage items, I like to get more cooldown and magic penetration from the offense page. Mana should not be a major issue and I don't find myself with buffs all that often, so utility isn't required, though I've run it for more move speed on occasion. It's really up to you on whether you would prefer more move speed or more cooldowns and penetration.
Reasons for Defense choices:
Flat damage reduction is absolutely OP and the most broken masteries in the game. Riot is removing them for season 3 and for good reason - they absolutely trivialize minion damage with Indominatable and Tough Skin masteries.
Hardiness can be swapped with Resistance in tier 1 depending on lane match up. Vladimir or Rumble? Get resists obviously. Most will be AD champs, so you get flat armor.
Vigor is a largely overlooked mastery by many. It's quite strong for how few points you put into it. It's 36 hp per minute. Not much, but you don't usually go back to base for the first 10 minutes or so. You will take some harass at some point. That's 360 HP in 10 mins right there. Almost 2.5 free [[Health Potion] during lane. You have to wait for it compared to health potions and you likely aren't regenning during the first 2 minutes before the minions hit the lane, but the numbers are there to show the difference between someone with and someone without this mastery in top lane over 10 minutes. When you start a lane at level 1 with ~500-600 health, getting 36 hp back in a minute is pretty significant.
The rest are mostly self explanatory in the defense tree. If you wonder why I don't get Honor Guard , realize it's 3 points for next to no damage reduction. If they hit you for 1000 damage, it blocks a whopping 15 damage for 3 points. Meanwhile, you could put those in other spots for more health, more armor, more regen, more move speed and more cooldown reduction. Honor Guard is a really weak and lackluster mastery for how far down in the tree it is.
On the Offense side of things , the only noteworthy choices you might question is going 2 points into Butcher and none into Summoner's Wrath . Ignite is a strong spell. Getting some bonus stats for free when it is on cooldown might sound great, but they are also a dead give away that you are clearly on cooldown for Ignite and not likely to go all in on them or tower dive or otherwise try to outright kill them. You still could, obviously, but the difference between winning and losing a fight or him getting away with Flash is typically decided by who has Ignite up. If they see me with 5 bonus AP, they know my Ignite is still down and 5 AP will not make me win trades or last hit or do anything better. Same for the bonus AD.
As for Butcher over more flat AD from Brute Force , I have my most trouble early with last hitting on Elise. I'm not a pro. I don't average 10+ CS/minute. When weighing the choice between 2 AD and 4 bonus dmg to minions, I feel it improves my last hit potential significantly more in those crucial early minion waves before my damage ramps up. Your mileage may vary, but I don't feel either will make or break your build. She has no AD ratios to take advantage of the bonus AD either, so I don't feel you miss out significantly.
The other option for the 9 points is to go over to the Utility tree and pick up Swiftness . I don't find myself with buffs all that often, so Runic Affinity rarely sees much use, but is great for times you do get a red or blue buff. Flash cooldown is not terrible, but I find this tree lacklustre for her. I included it simply to show the only other alternative you could take. The move speed is the only reason you could take this. If vs a Nidalee or other high mobility lane, it might be worthwhile, but I doubt it will let you catch them either way.
Elise's Neurotoxin / Venomous Bite is her strongest poke in human form and an amazing execute in spider form. Obvious to max it first. Whether you get it at lvl 1 or not is debatable. I wait until I need a skill before levelling. If we invade, I will get Cocoon / Rappel to hopefully secure a first blood or disengage. If I'm just helping my jungler on a leash, I get Neurotoxin / Venomous Bite since it will do a lot of damage quickly to the blue golem and I can use for harass in lane.
Either Neurotoxin / Venomous Bite or Cocoon / Rappel are your first two skills in order of what you need at lvl 1. I typically don't feel a need for the Volatile Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy in human form until later in game when it's stronger and I can use it to wave clear quickly or harass. It can be used to check bushes though, so an early point isn't completely wasted.
Basic priority is Spider Form / Human Form > Neurotoxin / Venomous Bite > Volatile Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy > Cocoon / Rappel with one in Cocoon / Rappel early for utility.
Flash is as vital on Elise as anyone else. You can Rappel -> Flash to make a quick escape if you can Rappel to a minion wave or over a wall to jungle creeps or simply break vision with Rappel and then Flash as you come down to hopefully get a slight bit of surprise as they try to figure out where you are Rappelling down only to have you instantly Flash on landing.
Ignite is my preferred second summoner. Elise can all in with deceptively strong burst. Her pokes in human form are extremely damaging on high health targets and if you land a stun with her E, you can then immediately go spider form and bring some pain and force a flash. A rappel to gap close and another wave of cooldowns into human form cooldowns can typically secure a kill, but ignite is usually the deciding factor in whether they die or not without jungler assistance.
Teleport is the alternative to Ignite. Can give global presence, get you back to lane quicker or help turn the tides of a gank or all in on bottom lane. As Elise can absolutely eat towers in spider form with a wave of her own spiders (5 at lvl 16) with her W attack speed steroid, teleporting to a huge wave can push a tower down before anyone can usually react.
+ x 3 or 4
VS AD Top:
Rush Ninja Tabi vs people like Riven, Irelia, Jax. From there, get a Glacial Shroud and Wit's End. Tack a Giant's Belt on and either finish Frozen Heart or Rylai's Crystal Scepter. Grab a Guardian Angel and if gold permitting, a Rabadon's Deathcap.
VS AP Top:
Get Null-Magic Mantle x 2 on your first back and rush Wit's End. Get your Glacial Shroud and then finish Mercury's Treads. Pick up a Negatron Cloak to further cut the enemy AP damage down and consider finishing your Frozen Heart or grabbing a Giant's Belt. Gauge how the game is going and either finish Rylai's Crystal Scepter or Abyssal Scepter. Grab your Guardian Angel to complete the build.
Early Advantage (Level 2 ganks, favourable match-up, etc):
Depending on match ups, many champions will be free to your harass early. Singed for example is quite weak to it until he gets his ultimate at level 6 and is still open to free harass when it is on cooldown. Going with early magic penetration with Sorcerer's Shoes and Haunting Guise in addition to your Greater Marks of Insight will leave many top laners scrambling for magic resists. As you transition to your Glacial Shroud and Wit's End, they will find they do little damage to you after itemizing for resists while you are tanky and cutting through most of their resists as it is. If they do not build resists, they get shredded by your poke and bullied out of lane regardless. Only slightly delays your core items.
Basic start is Boots of Speed + 3 x Health Potion to start. I like to sometimes stay and get a fourth Health Potion or back after helping my jungler and get a 4th. Remember to use spider form to get back to lane. You gain move speed in spider form and it costs no mana to switch, so always a good idea if you stay for a potion to get to lane quicker.
From here, I weigh my options on who I'm facing and what type of damage they do and how active my jungler and their jungler are.
My preferred path vs aggressive AD champions is to on first back get a Doran's Shield for health, regen and armor. Keeps you in lane and stops their aggression as you should start winning trades as you require no real damage items as Elise.
Alternatively, I'll grab quick Ninja Tabi as they are really cheap and provide significant damage mitigation against the majority of top AD champions who rely on auto-attacks and pure physical skills to do damage.
From there, I go to a quick Glacial Shroud for more armor and the massive cooldown reduction. The mana it provides will be more than enough for Elise to spam her abilities non-stop for the rest of the game. All core stats for Elise.
If it's vs an AP champion, I prefer to on first back get two Null-Magic Mantle. The reasoning for the two Null-Magic Mantle is that I feel Wit's End is core on Elise. A null mantle will be used to build Wit's End and the second is for Mercury's Treads. Two mantles early will be cheap and effective at completely shutting down an AP champion's damage output.
VS Rumble, you will need Mercury's Treads for his slows and he will eventually get a Rylai's Crystal Scepter, further increasing the number of slows. Mercury's Treads wont provide much additional MR (it only gains 1 additional MR for upgrading) vs Vladimir and the tenacity is fairly useless vs him as well, so I try to gauge whether to build them vs him based on the rest of his team and the amount of CC they can bring to a team fight. Boots 2 aren't worth rushing vs AP usually though. The two Null-Magic Mantle will be fine for top lane exchanges and you won't need the boots 2 until laning phase ends against them in most cases. From there, build your Wit's End as the first core item.
Your Core Items
Regardless of which top you face first - AD or AP - your first two core items are Wit's End and Glacial Shroud. The order you get them depends on which you face, but you should prioritize both. Upgrading of the Glacial Shroud to a Frozen Heart can usually wait until later when team fights are common.
Reasoning behind both items as core is simple - Elise relies on abilities with high innate damage and low AP ratios, which result in lacklustre gains in damage output for gold spent on pure damage, to do damage. She must be in melee range for a lot of her damage. If you build damage, you are squishy and in melee range will be taking lots of damage without defensive items. As such, building tanky will keep you alive and building CDR lets you spam those high innate damage %hp abilities more often. Simple math should show you that adding a few % more hp damage with every 100 AP vs having more base damage abilities cast 40% more often will significantly out DPS the pure AP build. If you build AP + CDR, you will just melt from a stiff breeze the instant you show up to a fight and she does not have some super long range spell like a Nidalee spear to just throw from beyond the fog of war nor an escape move to get away. So tank + CDR items are best on her. Wit's End provides resists and synergy with her spider form and is easily stacked in any fight you go in on with her Volatile Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy. These two in tandum allow Elise to demolish towers in seconds in spider form with her Volatile Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy active and army of spiders from her passive Spider Swarm. Frozen Heart gives her the armor to tank damage, tower dive, and mana and CDR to spam her abilities for poke and during fights.
Situational items can be built after her core is complete. As you have resists, damage through CDR and attack speed and armor covered with your core, you should probably focus on health now.
If facing a true damage opponent top, I actually prefer to grab an early Giant's Belt and rushing a Sunfire Cape. It is stronger the earlier you get it (resists are lower early and the passive never scales with levels, so will be more effective early than later) and will provide health and armor vs these true damage champs ( Olaf, Darius, and Irelia in particular).
If I don't get an early Giant's Belt, I usually try to grab one once my core is finished and typically built towards a Rylai's Crystal Scepter. The AP will provide a little boost to my damage and the health will prevent true damage and burst from killing me in team fights. The biggest advantage from it, however, is the slow. Elise does a lot of nukes on low cooldowns. Where other tanks can use a Phage to make them sticky and give them health at a cheaper cost, I find Rylai's Crystal Scepter a superior choice for Elise since her auto-attacks for Phage procs would only really be useful in spider form compared to how Rylai's Crystal Scepter procs on every spell cast, human or spider form. It is indeed far more expensive than Phage though, so take that into consideration when building towards it. The goal of these purchases is to buff your health and provide stickiness or some form of sustained damage to your targets.
Whatever your third item is - Sunfire Cape, Rylai's Crystal Scepter or a simple Phage - it's usually at this time that more team fights occur and you should consider finishing that Frozen Heart. This should put you around 32% CDR (~8% from Defense at lvl 18 and 4% from Offense + 20% from FH = ~32% at lvl 18). I typically get a Elixir of Brilliance to max this at this time.
Alternatives are grabbing a Zeke's Herald if the support doesn't. You do a lot of auto-attacks, it will synergize with your spider form Volatile Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy and it will help the carry immensely. Your jungler likely can benefit from it as well and it will cap your CDR at 40%.
I don't recommend a Shurelya's Reverie on Elise. Other champs or support are better choices for that item. There are few other options for CDR at this point.
An early Spirit Visage is a possibility, though I only consider it vs AP champs and rarely at that. She does very little self heal off her spider form Volatile Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy, but it can add up. The resists and health will be useful during lane phase vs an AP top. I've run it personally a few times, but find it delays late game core items since you would want to get this early to mitigate the other AP's damage. Not a bad alternative vs Vladimir instead of building Mercury's Treads. Very situational item. I find Vladimir's pool when I spider form onto him and hard to get much Volatile Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy up time on him as he escapes. Resists and health and CDR are still quite good for a relatively cheap item.
Whatever you choose, maxing that CDR without wasting points on extra CDR above the cap is important.
Other situational items include Abyssal Scepter for resists, AP and MR shred, Guardian Angel for more tankiness and the revive, making you less likely to be targetted in team fights, Ionic Spark for more split push power and health on a cheap item (I prefer Wit's End personally), Haunting Guise for health and penetration (I like this early if I see someone come to lane with no MR or get early lead vs someone that can't deal with my harass. Combine with quick Sorcerer's Shoes and watch them itemize for resists and be irrelevant as you tank up), Rabadon's Deathcap for huge AP boost as a 6th item, Void Staff if you see the enemy building Force of Nature's on multiple people or other heavy MR builds, Aegis of the Legion for great stats all around and if no one else is building (get after Wit's End and Glacial Shroud if you are building it) and Nashor's Tooth, which is extremely good on Elise, but requires shifting away from the Frozen Heart core due to the amount of CDR on both items. I've done this working with a Sunfire Cape rush into Stinger, then a Guardian Angel and then Nashor's Tooth to varying degrees of success. For all purposes, I prefer the Wit's End + Frozen Heart core though.
Tips & Tricks
- Cocoon / Rappel is amazing for unadvertised reasons. The best feature of the spell that many overlook is the invulnerability while using it. This means you can completely avoid a Vladimir's Hemoplague, Karthus's Requiem or Zilean's Time Bomb or various other skill shots on reaction, mitigating all of their damage and usually saving your life. Be mindful of who you are facing and their ultimate cooldowns in this regard. While it is common to Rappel into the enemy to close the gap after poking with human form, you risk putting rappel on cooldown and the opportunity to avoid these delayed damage spells.
- Spider Form / Human Form provides lots of passive boosts in the form of armor, resists and move speed. If you are running away or fearful of a gank, get in spider form asap and use these bonuses to help you escape.
- Rappel works in 2 ways. The first is clicking onto an enemy. If you smart cast, that is the likely option you will do by default. This causes Elise to immediately jump up and back down onto the enemy. Many times this isn't optimal. You probably want to wait on a cooldown or use the delayed drop to pick targets for reposition or hopefully escape to minion wave or buy time for a jungler or teammate to help you. Clicking on the ground when activating Rappel will cause this secondary delayed descend where you stay up in the air longer.
- Human form combo - Volatile Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy to send the tracking spider bomb to the enemy and immediately throw the stun Cocoon / Rappel out from a bush or blind spot. This gives the spider bomb time to track and get there before the stun ends and/or they can move away. You can immediately follow up with a Neurotoxin / Venomous Bite and auto-attacks as well instead of going for the stun to lead off and then sending the spider bomb. If you play Zyra, do it similar to how she throws an ability out and then immediately puts the seed down for it to grow a plant instead of planting a seed and then the delayed ability to activate it.
- Spider form - Her Neurotoxin / Venomous Bite lunges a short distance. Use this to your advantage for a small gap closer.
- Rappel can reset turret aggro. Very useful if you don't blow it early or you are coordinating a tower dive. Lead the damage and swap aggro after a few hits with it while also gap closing onto the enemy.
- Never face check a bush. Human form Volatile Spiderling / Skittering Frenzy can be sent into any bush to check for people. Her Cocoon / Rappel can be sent into the bush and reveal people in the bush if they are hit by the stun. Spider form Cocoon / Rappel reveals people in bushes as well. If you are heading to your blue, rappel first and see if anyone is in the bush. You can then descend onto the golem to jump the wall/get there quicker if it is all clear or just let Elise fall to her original position if you see people waiting to gank you.
- Another unique feature of Rappel is that if you can see an enemy ward, you can rappel to it. It is very situational that you will be in such a unique fight where this will provide you an escape or gap close, but something you should be mindful of if you ever do see the opportunity and need to do so.
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