Kennen Build Guide by Mage Odysseus
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Not Updated For Current Season
This build and guide is intended for Dominion only. I do not recommend using this build in Summoners Rift or Twisted Treeline. This guide assumes you have played Kennen and have some basic understanding of his abilities.
Ok, I'll be honest. I wrote this guide because I was tired of getting **** for using this build in games and wanted to explain why I build this way.
Let me start by saying I love Kennen. He was the first champion I bought once I'd saved up enough IP and he is the champion I play the most. Having settled into a good groove with him in Summoners Rift I was excited to try him in Dominion as soon as it came out.
So my first couple of dominion games I built him using my standard summoners rift build.
It sucked a lot.
As we've all discovered by now the Dominion metagame is dominated by tanky melee champions. AP champions, with a few exceptions, don't usually do well in Dominion. I was heart broken that I would have to give up my favorite champion in order to be successful. Fortunately, I don't give up easily and have continued to play Kennen trying just about every build under the sun looking for something that works. What follows is the build that I have come up with that I feel works best for Kennen on Dominion.
Please read through the guide and give the ideas within a chance. Keep in mind that this is no excercise in theory crafting. This is a build I have played hundreds of games with and with which I am very satisfied. Try it before you dismiss it.
Pros / Cons
Cons!At first glance Kennen isn't a particularly good champion for Dominion because he's.....
There's no way around it Kennen is squishy. Oh sure, you can build him tanky at the cost of crippling his damage output but like almost all AP champions he's pretty easy to kill.
Kennen's biggest selling point in Summoners Rift is his ability to deal AOE damage. Three of his four abilities that can (in theory) hit all five members of the opposing team. This collection of abilities can really tip the scales in a team fight. Unfortunately there is almost nothing like a team fight in Dominion. Most of the time fights are between one or two champions three at most. This means that most of Kennen's abilities will never reach their maximum potential. This wouldn't be a problem except....
3.) Weak Single Target Damange
Because they can hit multipul targets, Kennen's abilities do somewhat less damage than most AP casters. This means that in order to nuke a target Kennen typically needs to hit with all of his abilities, sometimes more than once in order to score a kill. Tanky targets or those sporting a significant amount of magic resist can often absorb his entire combo and keep on swinging. This leave the poor thunder squirrel out of energy and just waiting to be picked off.
Pros!With such big cons working against him why play Kennen in Dominion at all? Well, he's got a couple of pros too like.....
Lightning Rush by providing a mini Ghost every couple of seconds gives Kennen slightly better mobility than most champions. This allows him to move around the map fairly quickly to support in defense or to capture an undefended tower. It also allows him to get out of sticky situations and ganks.
Kennen uses the energy system. This gives him pretty good sustain compared to most mana based casters. This seems to matter less in Dominion than in Summoners Rift but it can make a difference in sustained fights on towers. If played well Kennen can just keep on fighting forever without ever needing recall for mana.
Hard CC is one of the most valuable commodities in Dominion and Kennen has it in spades. Sure, he has to land three abilities in order to pull a stun but it is one of the longest stuns in the game and it's one of the few that the same champion can reapply after only a few seconds. Even better, he can stun multipul champions at the same time.
Wait, didn't I just say that being an AOE champion was one of Kennen's Cons? Well, it's a Pro too. The ability to take on more than one opponent particularly on defense is invaluable. Even if you can't defeat the two opponents damaging two attackers under the tower badly enough so that they have to recall immediately after a capture leaves the tower to be recaptured uncontested and the arena one or two champions short on the opposing team. On offense this can be an even bigger tide turner allowing one champion to take a tower from two defenders or two to take it from three.
Build Approach and Theory
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the build. I want to take a moment to explain what I'm trying to accomplish with this build. There are three primary goals I'm trying to accomplish here.
1.) Maximum damage at minimum gold cost
I'm looking for items that give me the most "Bang for the Buck" but only if they increase damage. For example, a fully charged Guinsoo's Rageblade for 2235 gold not only gives me more AP than the slightly more expensive Void Staff. It is also superior in that it also increases my attack damage and attack speed. While the Void Staff in a metagame where almost no one stacks Magic Resist gives me far less damage for my gold. The slightly cheaper Will of the Ancients could be argued to be superior given that in the proximity of another teammate it provides more AP overall, but since the presence of another teammate is not assured and since the spell vamp is reduced natively in Dominion I would argue that the Guinsoo's Rageblade is still a better buy. So at the end of the day I'm looking to spend as little gold as possible to get as much of a damage boost as possible.
2.) Even build progression
As much as possible I never want to leave the recall pad without having purchased something. This allows my champion to improve consistently over the course of a game be it short or long. This means things like Trinity Force are more attractive than things like Rabadon's Deathcap. Why? Because with Trinity Force no single component or receipy costs more than $500. So you can be fairly sure that ever time you go back to base you can purchase something there that will mean you come out even stronger. With Rabadon's Deathcap it may take 10 minutes to amass the 1600g needed to buy the Needlessly Large Rod during which time someone working on a Trinity Force has already gotten and used against you the benefits of one and a half of the sub components a Trinity Force. When the game is of unknown length, I consider it better practice to buy items that are composed of a lot of cheap components even if they are overall less powerful than items that consist of fewer more expensive components. (At some point I may go into this in more detail in another guide.)
3.) Damage consistency
The problem in my opinion with almost all of the AP caster champions in Dominions is that they tend to be burst damage dealers. Which is fine on Summoners Rift where battles usually only break out every couple of minutes and consequently all their abilities have a chance to come off of cooldown but in Dominion where fights break out every few seconds this puts AP caster at a competitive disadvantage against melee or AD champions who can deal continuous damage. My goal with this build is to try and find a way to allow Kennen with his very short cool downs to deal damage more consistently so that he isn't dependent on blowing a full combo of abilities to get a kill or survive a battle. Or so that after he does blow his full combo he can still do some respectable damage.
My runes are pretty straight forward.
9 - Greater Mark of Precision
A little bit of magic penetration and armor penetration goes a long way particularly in the early game. Since I'm planning to do both physical and magic damage these are the marks I use. You could forgo the armor penetration in favor of even more magic penetration with Greater Mark of Magic Penetration but I'm planning build a lot of magic penetration with items so this feels redundant unless you have some reason to think the opposing team will be sporting a lot of native magic resist.
9 - Greater Seal of Vitality
This is primarily to improve survivability in the mid to late game. You could also use Greater Seal of Armor or Greater Seal of Defense but I don't find them to be as effective.
9 - Greater Glyph of Ability Power
I go for a lot of early AP with this build as I find it makes a big difference in the early game. Alternately for more defense you could go with Greater Glyph of Magic Resist or Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist but I find that while these can occasionally help in the early game by mid to late game they're not very useful.
3 - Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
I take even more early AP here. Again I find that it makes a big difference early game. If you feel you are too squishy early game you could also take Greater Quintessence of Health.
This collection of runes is intended to get Kennen out the gate and dealing damage quickly. The only concession to long games are the Greater Seal of Vitality.
Yeah I take a 30/0/0 in Masteries. You got a problem with that?
I don't find the Utility Masteries to be particularly compelling for Kennen until you are deep into the tree. The same goes for the Defense Masteries. I'm primarily looking to maximize Armor Pen, Magic Pen and Damage. I have done 24/6/0 just to boost the early armor and magic resist but I haven't found it to be particularly compelling. So it's full boar assault Masteries.
What do you do when some melee champ dashes up and tries to chop you into kibble? Hit them with Exhaust, Lightning Rush out of range and then feed them shurikens and lightening from just out of reach until they die. What do you do when a champion finally descides that they should get out of the Slicing Maelstrom before they absorb any more voltage? Hit them with Exhaust and then feed them shurikens and lightening until they die.
It's flash. If you don't know what it is for or how to use it. LEARN!
This is an amazing mobility spell for Dominion but since Kennen already has Lightning Rush I usually skip it in favor of Flash.
I've never been particularly crazy about this spell even though I know a lot of people really like it. I usually only take it if I know I'm going to be facing at least two major lifesteal champs like Mundo, Scion or Vlad.
Now we get to the really controversial part of my build.
I start the game with Boots of Speed, Ruby Crystal, and Amplifying Tome. This gives me a good starting mix of health damage and movement ability.
On my first trip back I try to upgrade to Sorcerer's Shoes and Haunting Guise. These two items combined with my Masteries and Runes give over 45 Magic Penetration. Unless an opponent has invested heavily in magic resist I will now be doing true damage or very nearly true damage with all my abilities. The value of Magic Penetration over AP has been analyzed elsewhere so I won't cover it here. I've also picked up a little bit of heath and a little AP which boosts my damage.
This is the point at which people usually start to give me **** for my build. Why Nashor's Tooth? Because at 2735 it is cheap for all that it does and it is made up of all kinds of small cheap components it is almost the perfect item for Kennen. Sure the mana regen is wasted on him but the 65 AP is great to have since Kennen is now doing pretty much true damage. The 50% attack speed boost means that auto attacking is no longer a complete waste of time and it will trigger the passive of Electrical Surge more often. Last but most importantly the 25% Cooldown reduction is the really important part. Not only will it make his already short cooldowns shorter allowing him to do more damage. It will significantly reduce the cooldown on his ultimate Slicing Maelstrom without which Kennen really cannot nuke anyone.
If Nashor's Tooth gets people starting to rage Guinsoo's Rageblade seems to be what causes them to foam at the mouth. I know this is a very controversial item but if you can keep it charged it is one of the cheapest sources of AP in the game. Since we've already built Nashor's Tooth and I auto attack 50% faster it is that much faster and easier to get it charged. Even better thanks to the Tooths 25% CRD even in the absence of anything to attack I can throw Thundering Shuriken to charge and maintain the charge on the Rageblade as its stack cooldown is longer than the Shuriken. The AD on this item also helps make Kennen's faster auto attacks more meaningful and the increased attack speed helps in that regard too.
Typically the last thing I have time to build in a game is the Hextech Gunblade. Again it's an item composed of a lot of small cheap items starting with Hextech Revolver. Even after the nerf I think this is a great item on Kennen. The active is an great extra source of damage and since it's magic damage it synergizes with the magic penetration we've already built. The extra AP and spellvamp are great on our fast cycling abilities. The AD boost and the lifesteal help make auto attacking worthwhile.
Sixth ItemsIf there is time for a sixth item I usually pick one of these three items.
Extra attack speed, extra AP, extra magic damage on auto attacks and reducing opponent magic resist all for a nice low price.
Every once in a while I feel the need to buy a Negatron Cloak to deal with a pesky Ryze or
LeBlanc. If that happens and I'm building a sixth item I typically built an Abyssal Scepter. It's got a lot of Magic Resist which is always nice. The AP is good and the Magic Resist reducing aura can be nice particularly late in a game. It's also fairly inexpensive.
This is a first build item on Kennen in Summoners Rift and I do like the item. It's an awful lot of AP for a very low price. So why is it a last pick item in this build? Because it really shines in Summoners Rift during the laneing phase as a way for Kennen to use his energy for sustain. In Dominion with no laneing/farming phase and the reduced effectiveness of spellvamp it's just not that good. That said, I do like it as a last item because it is cheap and stacking the spellvamp and AP from this with the spellvamp from the Hextech Gunblade given the fast cycle of his abilities can be very effective.
But what about....?There are a few cannon items for Kennen that don't appear in this build which isn't to say that they're not good items or couldn't be great sixth items but there are reasons I don't pick them. (Eventually I will get around to posting a more or less viable AP build for Kennen which does include some or all of these items.)
Deathcap is THE uber AP item. So why don't I use it in my build for Kennen who could clearly benefit from the massive infusion of AP? First, it's terribly expensive. Which isn't entirely a deal breaker ( Hextech Gunblade is slightly more expensive) but it's also only possible to buy in large expensive chunks. This means that it is possible to finish a game without getting much or any benefit from this item and long stretches of the game when your fighting power doesn't increase significantly at all only to suddenly jump when you can finally afford a piece. I prefer to buy a series of smaller AP for a steady increase in power.
Honestly, I keep trying to make this item fit into the build but so far I haven't found a satisfying way to do it. I love the AP and I love the extra HP. The problem is that like the Rabadon's Deathcap it is expensive and due to the Giant's Belt the cost to buy it is a little too chunky for my taste. I'm not as excited about the passive as most other people seem to be. Since most of Kennen's abilities are AOE he only gets a 15% slow for 1.5 seconds. In Dominion I feel like its usefulness is more situational than in Summoners Rift.
Lots of AP, Armor, and the ability to take a golden smoke break. Why did I skip Zhonya's Hourglass? Well, mostly because for the same price I'd take the Rylai's Crystal Scepter. I don't value the Active as much in Dominion as I do in Summoners Rift simply because it doesn't come up quite often enough considering that you are constantly in combat and I'd rather have more HP than more armor.
If you're used to playing AP Kennen this build will take some getting used to. You've got to get used to the idea of auto attacking. I find it helpful to think of playing a sort of hybrid between Teemo and Ahri.
To be successful with this build you need to be able to kite melee champions. Lightning Rush combined with your stuns is the best tool for this. Make sure to wait till the melee champ burns their gap closer before you use it though. If possible try to Lightning Rush through an enemy champion to apply a Mark of the Storm this followed by an Electrical Surge will leave them with two marks. If they try to close to attack range again a Thundering Shuriken will leave them stunned and you'll be able to move out of range. Keep auto attacking and using your abilities whenever you are able particularly if your opponent is stunned. Exhaust and Flash can be used to continue to kite particularly agressive and or tanky champions. Don't be afraid to use Slicing Maelstrom to apply a stun if your back is to the wall. Keep in mind that Lightning Rush will drain your energy quickly so try and avoid using it repeatedly in a fight if you can. It's primary purpose should be as a gap closer or an escape ability not as a damage dealer.
On offense I find the best strategy is to use Kennen's auto attack to push up the minion waves to the tower you want to take. Use Thundering Shuriken and Electrical Surge to harass any defenders down to 1/2 health before going in for the kill with Lightning Rush and Slicing Maelstrom. If an opponent is attacking your teammate don't be afraid to engage with auto attacks and Thundering Shuriken from maximum range using Electrical Surge whenever it is available and an opponent has a Mark on them.
On defense the strategy is pretty much the same as offense using your auto attack to keep minions from pulling down your tower and only using Lightning Rush and Electrical Surge to clear particularly large waves. Use Thundering Shuriken to harass attackers and disrupt capture attempts as you can hit most opponents from beyond the range of their abilities. If you can bait someone under the tower use Slicing Maelstrom to stun them and try and kite them around the tower being sure to always force the opponent to move through its attack area to get at you.
A word on auto attacking. It is best not to think of yourself as a ranged AD carry with this build. Your auto attacks are there to charge your Guinsoo's Rageblade, allow you to continue to deal damage while your abilities are on cooldown, and to allow you to deal damage and push or destroy minion waves without sapping your energy. While the damage you do auto attacking is not exceptional it is meaningful particularly against non tanky opponents. Try to make sure you auto attack as much as possible when you are not using your abilities.
Early Lane Strategies
Kennen can go top or bottom lane with this build. I prefer to go bottom because I love to duel but I've had a lot of success going either way.
When going top lane I think it is best for Kennen to get mid if possible. Since two of Kennen's three abilities are AOE. I think it is best that he be the last one to arrive at top. Since his early damage really isn't up to the task of taking out an single enemy champion quickly this gives him the best chance to maximize the damage he does do by hitting multipul opponents.
Additionally Lightning Rush usually allows Kennen to get to the mid tower before anyone else thus starting the cap a few second sooner. It also usually allows him to beat the enemy mid to top. Once at top you should try to hit as many people as possible with Lightning Rush followed by Electrical Surge. If there is a particularly tempting stun target try to catch them with a Thundering Shuriken. From there I usually try not to Lightning Rush again unless I have to. Instead try to auto attack and use Thundering Shuriken and Electrical Surge to deal damage from maximum range and disrupt capture attempts whenever possible.
Bottom lane is all about the farm and harass. Your objective bottom lane should be to last hit as many minions as possible pushing the lane if possible. You want to harass your opponent whenever you get the chance in order to make it difficult for them to kill minions for gold or push. If you can harass them down to half health by level 6 you can usually kill them outright with a Lightning Rush into Slicing Maelstrom. If their team doesn't react quickly you can usually disable or capture the enemies bottom tower. Try to be aware of what is going on in your top lane. Often times if your team looses the initial battle for the top the enemy will send someone bottom to gank. Keep an eye out for this and if it happens try to pull back and play more cautiously making sure you have Lightning Rush ready to use at all times in case you need to scoot back to your tower in a hurry.
Bottoms to watch out for.
These two champions if they are played even halfway well will give you headaches bottom.
Yorick is a nightmare to face at bottom if you're playing Kennen. I avoid going bottom if I think I will have to face him there. There's almost nothing you can do against him he's that strong early game. His ability to spam ghouls and regenerate health while at the same time doing damage to you and to minions make his particularly difficult for Kennen to counter.
Heimerdinger is a little easier to counter but he can still be difficult to deal with in the bottom lane. If played well Heimerdingers harass is the best in the game and his turrets make it fairly easy for him to push minion waves while keeping Kennen at bay. Try to destroy his turrets as quickly as you can once they come out. This will cripple Heimerdingers ability to push and allow you to counter harass him effectively. Heimer is almost always found packing Promote so be ready for it and try to destroy the promoted minion as quickly as you can even if it means giving up on harass until it is dead.
Yeah so that's my guide. It's a little unorthodox as builds go but it does work. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Feel free to vote this up or down but if you do please leave a comment telling why so I can hopefully improve my guide. Constructive criticism will be given due consideration and the rest will be ignored.