Skarner Build Guide by BotheredMe
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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.
Tanky Bruiser Top
Example Final Build
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.
Threats to Skarner with this build
|Yasuo||The the ad squishies are stupidly easy once you get your IBG. You could start Cloth 5 and negate a good chunk of their damage or start Flask if they lack Ignite to finish you off. I lane swap to go mid against Yasuo's fairly often, starting cloth five leaves you sustained in lane and able to farm better than if you went top against the Ryze/Kayle/Yorick (thank you Ziggs for swappin'). Do note that some champs will still out dps you hard, but that's just because Kah'zix is op.|
' Why take Skarner Top? He's clearly a jungler :/ '
Skarner is a hybrid damage champ who scales well into late game as a very sticky tank. He's next to impossible to peel off of yourself or your carries and can be considered annoying. You could even say he 'bugs' people...
No puns, only ELO. Taking Skarner Top allows him to rush core items over a jungle item, which in turn brings him to his late game damage output much faster than if he hadn't had lane farm. Skarner's real damage spike doesn't come until he gets at least a Sheen and level 6, which in turn helps tremendously with ganks or just solo kills. In my opinion, there are plenty of better junglers who do his job but earlier that level six (ie Lee Sin, Elise, Pantheon) and Skarner just feels better as a laner if you can get past his pre-six. While it's true that Skarner's Q does proc the Spirit of the Elder Lizard's on-hit ability, it doesn't live up to the raw damage of Iceborn Gauntlet.
So why Top Skarner, you might ask? From my experience, Skarner top is like Malphite in that you can build full tank and still deal tons of damage, and where the current meta stands, I'd say this type of play style is looking really good right now. On top of that, not only is his mid/late game godly, his laning phase after your second buy is where the real fun comes.
Skarner's kit is one of the best for freezing under your tower and every game where I manage to solo snowball my lane, it was because someone thought they could try to push the wave into my tower and not get ulted, cc locked underneath my tower to tank four shots while I finish them off. Even when they play smart, all you have to do is have your jungler come top when they're completely zoned or simply wait for the minion wave to build up big enough to do real damage as you ult them into the three wave swarm you've got built up. His ult has so much utility to it in a solo lane, it's wonderful.
Late game, your sole purpose is to get to the enemy backline, pick off a fed enemy carry/carries, and laugh when they think they can 4v5 you and your team under their turret in an attempt to defend. It's something I've been having fun with in ranked, and I'd like to share my tactics with everyone.
Runes & Masteries
I generally run Attack Speed Reds, Armor Yellow, Flat or Scaling MR per Level with one Lifesteal and two Movespeed Quints. I will, from time to time, swap out the Attack Speed runes for flat AD Reds or Armor Pen Reds if I so feel the need; however, it's generally best to stick with the AS runes considering how well it synergizes with your Q's passive.
The general idea for having attack speed runes is to get as many procs of your Iceborn Gauntlet off on your opponent so that they are consistently being cc'd until the opposing team tries to peel you off of their carries. The more aa's you get off, the more Q's/IBG Procs you can get off in a very short amount of time. As seen on Skarner's LoL wiki page:
Basic attacks reduce the cooldown of Crystal Slash by 0.5 seconds (doubled against enemy champions).
Considering his Q is on a 3.5 second cooldown at all ranks, building 40% CDR will have the cd at 2.1 seconds, allowing you to have one Crystal Slash in between every other auto-attack when hitting an enemy champion. Even at early levels with minimum cdr, having just a Sheen allows you to deal 100% extra physical damage in between spell casts to deal tons of damage. Attack Speed is great for laning against champions who tend to build glass cannon rather than full tank, as fighting tanks without armor pen runes is you basically bruising them to death.
My second favorite rune set is to run Armor Pen reds against Tank Heavy team comps. The idea for this is that both Skarner's Crystal Slash and IBG procs deal hefty physical damage. While I almost always run attack speed, Skarner does really well with armor pen or even hybrid pen runes against late game tanky teams (especially when you're in low ELO games where they tend to last forty+ minutes into late game). It helps deal more damage, but you'll have to focus on utilizing your E and W to get an extra IBG proc in between Crystal Slash uses to deal optimal damage to the enemy team.
Currently I'm running a mix between attack speed and armor pen reds with two lifesteal quints and an gold per 10 quint. Why you ask? Experimentation. I plan to edit this guide to optimize the best runes and masteries for my favorite little scorpion. I've stuck with this set-up for about a month now and it's been working well as a balance between getting more IBG procs from attack speed and the armor pen dealing just a bit more damage every hit.
Generally, you want 9/21/0 masteries, but as I'm writing this, I have been running without Movespeed Quints so that I could experiment. The three points in utility I currently have help fill the hole where Movespeed Quints are missing.
The best way I've found to get Skarner to the enemy back line is to stack as much Tenacity as possible, making Merc Treads and 21 in Defense a must. Most teams tend to bring lockdown heavy teams into Solo Queue, Leona, Thresh, Pantheon, Elise, so many stuns and suppressions, a Skarner can only give so many f***s. Tenacity helps against these lockdown comps, but at the same time, if they have little to no cc, there are better options than Merc Treads for Skarner to build (Boots of Swiftness baby).
Iceborn Gauntlet is always, ALWAYS, your first item to finish. It's your main source of damage as it not only hits for 150% your base ad, but also provides utility by slowing your enemy laner, making it impossible for them to run once you've started fighting them. On top of that, IBG provides cdr which is very crucial in Skarner's build path to be the best tank for diving that he could be.
Merc Treads against teams with a lot of hard CC (stuns, snares, silences, etc). Against teams with minimal hard cc and/or a lot of soft cc (slows), get Boots of Swiftness. If you are dependent on your flash for engaging against certain team comps (those with a lot of escapes), take the distortion enchantment to get a lower cd on your flash. If ahead, I prefer Alacrity, behind, Homeguard, when my team is really slow, Captain's.
It's generally best to focus on building full armor before investing in magic resist, as you are the one who will be tanking towers all game. Randuin's helps hold people down even more on top of the AoE slow from IBG and gives more health, but Frozen Heart is great for when your bot lane got wrecked and the enemy adc's are attack speed dependent, plus FH gives more of that beautiful CDR you're looking for. Thornmail against full ad team comps is best mail. I almost never get sunfire cape unless I'm really ahead, my team is ad heavy and I need some more magic damage to bruise the enemy with.
If the enemy team/your enemy laner is largely AP heavy, Merc Treads are a great help for early MR. If you need more, build a Locket of the Iron Solari. This will help you greatly when you reach mid/end game as it will give your entire team a shield for when you all-in the enemy team, whether under their tower or in open teamfights. Also grants cdr. Against a team with crazy bursty ap mids that got fed off their ***es (ir Syndra, Malzahar, Ahri), rush a Banshee's. This will leave you vulnerable to the enemy adc's damage early, but man does it help when you get all-in'ed by the enemy ap caster as you're trying to ult them into your team. Otherwise, go Spirit Visage because cdr (am I starting to sound like a broken record?).
I build Blade of the Ruined King against HP building tanky teams to ad to my damage and to sustain a bit back considering Skarner is still a relatively squishier tank than some champs (AKA Malphite, Cho'Gath, Singed). BotRK also greatly helps against sustain monsters like Warwick, Renekton, and Mundo.
Wit's End is good for when your team is largely AP heavy, the MR shred helps a bit with your and your teammate's burst considering your ult does a fair amount of magic damage.
Crystalizing Sting is what truly helped bring Skarner back as the sticky bruiser/tank he used to be before the slow was removed from his Q. It helps win trades in lane and provides a fair amount of cc/burst to pull out on your enemy laner while your jungler swings into lane. It's a great bit of burst and ultimately scales relatively well into late game to help hold down the enemy carries, synergizing well with you kit to make you a lockdown monster.
The idea behind Skarner's new passive is that every offensive ability Skarner casts on an enemy Champion/minion/monster, a stack of 'crystal venom' is applied. Upon having three stacks of crystal venom, Skarner's next auto-attack on that enemy will stun them and deal a bit of magic damage. It's like Braum's passive, but less op because only Skarner can proc this stun, shown by his animation changing to him attacking with his stinger to proc the stun which makes it look cool. Cool stuff is the best stuff.
The Bread to your Buttah'. This is your primary source of damage. It's a fairly spammable ability that lets you get Sheen procs off every chance they are available, which makes rushing Sheen feel awesome. It's deals primarily physical damage, but upon using it multiple times while hitting an enemy minion or champ, grants not only an attack and movespeed buff, but also starts dealing bonus magic damage. The bases are all very low, but considering how spammable his Q is, it still deals tons of damage.
Crystal Slash is your main trading tool in lane. Position yourself between your minions and the enemy minion wave. Every time your enemy laner comes up to cs, apply a stack of Crystal Venom using your Q as abilities do not draw minion aggro. When they have two stacks on them, aa/Q/aa them and walk away while they are stunned. That is a simple trade as Skarner.
Note that it isn't always best to position yourself so aggressively. A) Your enemy laner is a strong lane bully, you will lose out on these type of trades and have to play passively and B) Using Crystal Slash from this position will more often than not have the wave start shoving towards the enemy tower. It's a matter of how much vision control you have and how aggressive you feel you can be in lane when the jungler's whereabouts are completely unknown.
I refer to this skill as the 'Tanking Towers All Day' ability that makes Skarner such a strong tank for all-in team comps. I generally take this second to mitigate some damage taken in early trades, but it is by no means a spammable ability for early laning phase so use it sparingly. Because Crystalline Exoskeleton remains as an active shield for 6 seconds, at max rank with 40% cdr, the cooldown of this ability is 6.6 seconds, meaning there is only a 0.6 second window where the enemy doesn't have to break through your shield to deal any type of damage to you. It synergizes well with tons of armor to tank more damage while diving and Locket of the Iron Solari for both the cdr and the active shield. It feels good to lead your team into a thirty second long fight under their inhib towers tanking all the shots to get an ace for the win and still come out with half your health.
AKA the Derp Laser. Max this last, never max this first. It's low damage and contributes little to nothing to your optimal burst as it is your utility and a great way to start off an early gank (pre-six) rather than a means to simply kill. It's a costly ability, so it's best to use only for A) slowing the enemy laner in preparation of your jungler ganking for you and B) slowing the enemy laner/jungler when they're chasing you down. Using Fracture to get more stacks of Crystal Venom helps snag a quick stun whether you are simply trying to win a quick trade or are stunning the enemy to get a kill/not be killed, but again, it's expensive considering Skarner's early low mana pool.
Lastly, having to last-hit someone with your long-range derp laser after they flash away will happen, and it will always be funny.
How does one make the easiest gank for their jungler possible? That nasty, single-target cc lockdown that is Skarner's ultimate. All you have to do is pop your Crystalline Exoskeleton, run up to them, ult them towards your tower, and watch them flash away right into your jungler. It makes for great utility when the enemy tries to dive you, a means to hold down your enemy laner while you finish them off, and a great way to follow up on any tp down to bot lane, whether to ult your enemy bot lane and secure kills or to ult the enemy top laner trying to tp bot (suppression sucks, baby).
Note that Skarner's new passive also effects his ultimate, in that the more stacks of crystal venom the enemy champion has, the more damage it will deal. Also take into account that you cannot apply crystal venom to enemies after proc'ing the stun from an auto-attack on three-stacked targets and you'll find that to apply optimal damage with your kit, you want to start off by applying stacks of crystal venom, ult to deal extra damage which consumes the stacks and pulls them in closer, then use fracture to slow them, while applying the last two stacks of crystal venom and stunning them.
When you have your ultimate as Skarner, it's best to set your lane to freeze just in front of your own tower. This can be either for setting up a gank or setting up an easy kill for yourself, the second of which no one expects the first time they face Skarner top. When the enemy minion wave is just close enough to the tower that you can cs but not lose minions to the tower, your enemy laner has to go out of his way to grab the creeps. At level six, your ult makes for one of the best snowballing tactics in the game. Every time they go to grab a creep, apply a stack of crystal venom with your Q, get a hit off even. When they have a number of stacks, Ult them and activate Crystalline Exoskeleton to increase your movement speed to quickly drag them under your tower to tank turret shots and laugh as they try to flash away from your speed and slows.
Pros / Cons
Obligatory anime grill Skarner fanfic pic
Skarner as a champion works best with an all-in team comp, set on their ability to outright dive the enemy team with relative ease compared to other tanks. He synergizes well with a bursty team who can follow through with his ult/flash initiations and can generally delete the enemy team provided someone tanks the turret for them.
Skarner does not work well with poke team comps. The number of times I had to deal with a Nidalee, Karma and Ezreal not being able to burst whoever I ulted down in a teamfight made me certain of this. Skarner's ability to tank tons of damage is a convenience for poke comps, not a means by which to dominate a teamfight.
As a top laner, I've found Skarner snowballs harder than a majority of tops I used to play and remains relevant through late game with his utility, tankiness, and damage. Skarner is strong against top laners who are not extended fighters, relying on cd's to deal more damage than simply through auto-attacks. At the same time, he is susceptible to being snowballed on hard by champs like Riven and Fiora (you should never lose to Fiora unless your jungler is set on feeding her every time they come to lane...). When you get behind, you're behind hard. It's generally best to start a defensive/safe first buy such as Cloth 5 pots or Flask for optimal sustain through your first laning stage.
While poke champs like Teemo and Kayle are annoying, your cc makes them incredibly easy to gank so having a jungler swing by once or twice till you have an IBG is gonna have you snowballing hard. The most difficult match-up I've found for Skarner is every sustain monster in the game. Mundo, Vladmir, Warwick, and arguably Renekton make extended engagements as Skarner impossible to win alone unless you're already snowballing out of your mind. It's usually best to rush a cutlass before grabbing IBG considering how Skarner has no sustain to match theirs otherwise.
Despite having a weak early game, Skarner's real damage spike, where he really starts to hurt and can solo snowball his lane, is when he gets his sheen and his ult. Skarner has one of the highest base AD's in the game at level 18, that being 129.7 ad, tied with that of Cho'gath's base ad. Every level Skarner gets, makes his damage spike that much more. This is the second most important reason why Skarner top is so strong, the other being his utility and build path.
A number of games are decided on the cheese factor of ulting someone under your tower and I love how easily you can force someone out of your lane with just freezing a lane in front of your tower. Granted, champions who can push the lane in very easily make this difficult to do, but it's still something to try in case they don't immediately realize that you're trying not to reset the lane for a reason.
Skarner's a strong champion, but can be squished in a teamfight if built improperly. A number of games where I'd go full armor, the one ap carry on their team would melt me before I could engage with my ultimate, making it impossible for me to do my job (Syndra please ;.;). His kit is not only great for picking off carries, but also removing threats from a fight such as Zed after he ults or a Renekton trying to tee off on your adc. It's a matter of deciding the best route for using your abilities that seperate the good Skarner games from the great Skarner games.
Average Skarner Contribution to a Teamfight
Skarner's sole purpose is to work his way past the enemy front line and pick off the enemy carries. If you can't engage on the most fed enemies on the enemy team, either wait for flash or simply initiate the teamfight on the enemy front line while working your way back to the enemy carries whenever they try to get close to the fight.
Skarner is also great for initiating fights underneath enemy turrets, especially when he has built a fair amount of armor and cdr as Crystalline Exoskeleton is a spammable shield with a 6.2 second cooldown at 40% cdr, of which you can tank multiple turret shots with without being harmed. His Ult is just the icing on the cake for holding down enemy carries who try to run out of the teamfight. For this reason, I pick him for all-in, bursty, and lockdown team comps.
Real Talk: If it's not op, then it's Freelo through Silver
Ladies love Gold players.
Carry your team to victory on your burly crystal back.
Carry your team to victory even when OP Kayle tries to counter you.
Look cool with a high k/d/a for those uncarriable situations (Ashe built Runaan's, GG Riot).
Share your successes with Skarner Top!
I'd love to add a section of your successful (or failed) escapades with Skarner top. Feel free to screenshot your results and post them here so I can add them in. Also, I'm open for any build suggestions if I've missed anything important. I'd like to keep this updated for as long as I find this game playable by my standards. Thanks for reading my first guide :D
Sites I 'borrowed' stuff from
Thanks LoL Wiki guys.
You, too, google image search.