Katarina Build Guide by Slappiz
This build has been archived and is for historical display only.
PLEASE NOTE: This build has been archived by the author. They are no longer supporting nor updating this build and it may have become outdated.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.
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.
Welcome to my guide for Katarina. This is my forth guide here on Mobafire (two has been archived). My favorite champion in League of Legends is Katarina, she is my most played champion and I've easily played more than 300 games with her.
My IGN is Slappiz, I play on the European server Nordic East and I have been playing League of Legends since the beta.
My top rating for each season (solo que),
Season 2: 1918
This guide will show you how I build Katarina and briefly how I play her, focusing on roaming and using sight wards for offensive and defensive purpose.
Reservation for possible spelling or grammatical errors
My other guide
Counter picks against each individual champion.
Build 1, Standard Katarina:My favorite and IMO the best build for Katarina, great mobility, high damage, and decent defense. Good against most team setups with no particular threat.
Build 2, AP Snowball Katarina:Almost the same as build 1 except Mejai's Soulstealer, used against teams with easily dodged crowd control and if I got a easy lane (depending on my lane opponents skill and champion).
I don't recommend that you use this against Malzahar and Warwick because of their ultimates. And if you do, always build Quicksilver Sash.
Build 3, Shunpo Katarina:Better for roaming and gives you more single target damage when you gank. Not the safest build since it forces you to harass with Shunpo.
It doesn't fit the current meta because of the junglers, by using your escape spell as harass on lane makes you really vulnerable against junglers.
Build 4, Survivalist Katarina:Focusing on survivability against burst teams with strong anti-mages, building Maw of Malmortius and Zhonya's Hourglass for their unique effects.
Build 5, Glass Cannon Katarina:This build is excellent if you fully master Katarina, high damage and excellent mobility. The only downside with this build is the lack of magic resistance, if you get caught you're pretty much dead. I would not recommend this build vs anti-mages.
Build 6, AD Katarina:I've seen a few AD Katarina builds on mobafire and noticed that they are kinda popular, but I feel that most of them falls off end game because they lack magic penetration. So I decided to add a viable AD build for Katarina in my guide. One The Bloodthirster could be replaced with Maw of Malmortius or Guardian Angel for extra survivability and Haunting Guise can be replaced with Void Staff if you want to go with different runes, Greater Mark of Scaling Attack Damage etc. or if your enemies are stacking magic resistance.
Build 7, AD Snowball Katarina:Just for fun, high risk high reward build.
Build 8, Tweaked Old'School AD Katarina:This build is actually kinda good. It's a perfect counter build against Veigar, adds a bunch of armor, magic resistance and a AoE slow effect. The Void Staff can be replace with Abyssal Scepter or Haunting Guise, but since we don't have Greater Mark of Magic Penetration I recommend the Void Staff. Your sustain is kinda low early game, but Health Potions will fix that. Mid/end game your sustain comes from Randuin's Omen hp reg and the life steal from The Bloodthirster.
I prefer Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed over Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage, but choose what you feel comfortable with.
Old'School Shunpo Katarina
Pros / Cons
- Extremely mobile
- Nobody snowballs like Katarina
- Got some crazy stunts
- Can go both top and mid
- Hard to gank, "free flash" with wards
- Countered hard by crowd control effects if not played smart.
- No crowd control (that's why we build items with slow effect)
- Hard to master, it's all about timing (need general knowledge of all champions to be really successful with her)
- Voracity: This is what make Katarina so deadly and it's your most important spell. Allowing you to do some crazy stunts and still get away with it. Also a good spell for cleaning up the battlefield after a teamfight, quadras and pentas are more common with Katarina than with any other champion.
- Bouncing Blades: Really strong during the laning phase, helps you keep the lane balanced against strong pushers and is an excellent spell to harass if combined with Preparation.
- Preparation: The spell alone is pretty dull but 240 extra damage on a full Death Lotus at rank 5 is kinda nice, but it's by combining it with Shunpo or Bouncing Blades that makes this spell really good. Combined with bouncing blade allows for some long range harass with high damage and gives a nice healing debuff for reducing the healing from potions and to reduce the effectiveness of health regenerating champions like Warwick, Swain and Vladimir.
Combining it with Shunpo allow you to become tanky for a short period of time, perfect for tower dives or when you jump to the middle of a teamfight to use Death Lotus
- Shunpo: One of the most versatile spells in the game, gives some great utility in lane allowing you to easily dodge ganks. Great ability to flee and chase with. Can be used on everything with a health bar, Sight Ward and Noxious Trap etc (more about this in the ward section).
- Death Lotus: A powerful spell that most people focus way to much on when they play Katarina. Each stun/knockback/silence effect is able to break it and you'll be in a very uncomfortable position if that happens. You need to be patient and watch carefully when enemies are throwing their CC spells, you want your enemies to have their CC spells on cooldown when you decide to engage with Death Lotus.
: 5 extra damage and ability power instead of 1 ability power, you do the math.
: 3 extra damage, easier last hits and imo better than 3 ability power.
: 4% cooldown reduction, we need this one for Arcane Knowledge .
: +10% magic penetration, all our abilities does magic damage.
: 1,5% extra damage, not much but we take all we can get.
: 18 extra ability power at level 18, slighlty more damage.
: 5% increased ability power, nice since we mainly buy ability power items.
: 6% extra damage on people below 40% health, Voracity says "yes please".
: 6 extra magic resistance, simply because we go mid, mostly.
: 2 extra armor, nothing else worth taking.
: 108 extra health at level 18, awesome since we don't build health items.
: 30 extra health at level 1.
|SPAAAAAA||Best choice for most mages. Makes all offensive spells slightly more effective.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Excellent choice for stronger mid game, should be combined with Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power if you decide to use them.||SPACE|
|Greater Seal of Vitality||SPAAAAAA||Best runes for survivability, combined with Durability and Veteran's Scars they give you a total amount of 313 extra health at level 18.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Strong early game and a better option if you are up against a physical champion, probably a better choice if you are going top.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Could actually be used since we are mostly roaming as Katarina and not focusing on getting farm.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Boosts your survivability against bursty mages and most AoE-effects are magic damage. Stronger mid/end game.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Adds some extra damage but you should consider if it is worth taking these instead of magic resistance. Strong when combined with Greater Mark of Scaling Attack Damage.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Good choice if you are up against a strong early game AP champion, with dangerous pre lvl 6 burst.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Katarina relies on mobility to be successful. By enhancing her movement speed you will ease your lane phase and also enhance your ability to roam.||SPACE|
|Greater Quintessence of Vigor||SPAAAAAA||Good for Shunpo build, allows you to play aggressive and still be able to take some damage, good early game sustain combined with a Doran's Shield as starting item.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Offers some extra sustain and makes you a slightly better duelist but there are stronger quints for Katarina. Combined with Hextech Gunblade you will end up with 26% spell vamp.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Stronger early game, especially pre lvl 6. Easier last hitting and slightly more punishment with Bouncing Blades.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Only good if you decide to prioritize Shunpo. But I wouldn't recommend them since the Shunpo-build playstyle is to risky.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Gives the most extra damage overall compared to Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage and Greater Quintessence of Ability Power. Best offensive quints for early game.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||We roam a lot, so these could be useful in theory since we won't be focusing on farming.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Ignite: This one is perfect for Katarina, since most people seem to neglect Ignite when they stay in lane with low health during the lane phase against Katarina, allowing you to easily kill them. Ignite is the best summoner spell to trigger your Voracity. No other options imo. Can be used while Death Lotus is active without interrupting it.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Flash: When your Ignite just wasn't enough a Flash can come in handy to survive. You can end up in the most crazy positions when you fail to trigger Voracity. It's also the best spell to dodge gankers if you blew your Shunpo for harass or got nothing to jump on.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Exhaust: This spell is better for "stand and trade" champions imo, the only reason you would want to use it on Katarina is because of the slow, but since we got that covered in our item section there actually is no reason to use exhaust.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Ghost: Offers some great chasing potential, but since I got Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed there is no need for more movement speed, and Flash got so many more uses than Ghost.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Teleport: Only if you are on top lane, but giving up either Flash or Ignite really ain't worth it. But it does have some benefits, allowing you to pull off some unpredictable ganks and fast dragon presence if needed.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Heal: Adds some extra survivability, better suited for a "stand and trade" champion imo.||SPACE|
|SPAAAAAA||Cleanse: Good against really CC heavy teams, but you shouldn't need it if you adapt to your enemies abilities.||SPACE|
- Hextech Gunblade: The best item that was ever created, for Katarina at least. Good stats and the activate brings a damage slow to our combo. Making Katarina even deadlier.
Tip: The activate can be used while Death Lotus is active without interrupting it.
- Sorcerer's Shoes: The only boots you will ever need on Katarina. Our playstyle allow us to not build tenacity.
- Rabadon's Deathcap: Best AP item, enough said.
Item order: Boots of Speed + 3x Health Potion --> Hextech Revolver --> Sorcerer's Shoes
--> Bilgewater Cutlass --> Hextech Gunblade --> Rabadon's Deathcap
Tip: Always buy a sight ward and a Health Potion if you got enough gold for it when you are at the shop.
- Zhonya's Hourglass: Perfect item for Katarina's playstyle. The activate is really useful to dodge burst spells and to survive when all your spells are on cooldown. Shunpo into a teamfight, cast Death Lotus, none dies!!?? Activate Zhonya's Hourglass and use Shunpo either to kill or flee.
- Abyssal Scepter: Adds some well needed magic reistance and a bunch of AP, one of my favorite items in the game for mages. The aura effect is also very strong, reducing a maximum of 100 magic resistance on enemy team.
- Rylai's Crystal Scepter: Adds a awesome slow effect allowing you to easily chase people down and enhances your Death Lotus. The extra health is also nice vs strong AoE teams. It's a good item for Katarina, but I rarely build it since I use the slow from Hextech Gunblade, but it's a good substitute for when it's on cooldown.
- Haunting Guise: Great mid game item, adds some extra health with the magic penetration. Combined with Sorcerer's Shoes and Greater Mark of Magic Penetration this item is really powerful mid game. Only downside is that it won't build to a stronger item late game, so you will probably end up selling this item.
- Quicksilver Sash: Since I give little attention or respect for Tenacity on Katarina, this item really comes in handy. Allowing you to remove Dots and CC effects. A good item if you find yourself getting caught by Warwick's or Malzahar's ultimate etc.
- Guardian Angel: Tbh, I maybe build this item 1 out of 50 games on Katarina. It's a really good item, but it doesn't really fit (my) Katarina. I prefer to build offensive items with defensive stats instead.
It's definitely not a bad item but how often does this happen?
- Maw of Malmortius: Strong item, gives a 400 damage shield (magic damage) and adds some nice extra attack damage. Recommended if you are up against a strong burst mage like LeBlanc, Veigar or Kassadin.
- Mejai's Soulstealer: I only buy this when I know that im going to snowball, I decide this about 10 min into the game. Some people just can't handle Katarina in lane, use that as your advantage and 20 stacks will not be that hard to reach.
- Void Staff: I rarely build this one because the targets we are supposed to kill doesn't really stack Magic resistance, and if they do.. You build this one.
- Mercury's Treads: I don't think I've ever used these on Katarina, she dosen't really need the Tenacity if you know what you are doing. You should only build these if you go for a Void Staff. The stats from Sorcerer's Shoes is far more beneficial for you.
- Deathfire Grasp: Really powerful item in the right hands, the activate allow Katarina to easily assassinate enemy carries. If you decide to use this item I recommend that you buy kage's lucky pick your first time back to shop. Try to hold on to it for a while and preferably upgrade it to Deathfire Grasp after finishing your Rabadon's Deathcap.
Laning Phase and Roaming
- Best and most suitable lane for Katarina, allowing us to easily access all lanes and jungle for ganks. Katarina is one of the most powerful gankers after level 6 and our Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed highly boost our ability to roam.
- While in lane you should focus on last hitting with melee attacks and harassing your enemy with Bouncing Blades. Only last hit with your spells if you getting pushed back to much or if there is no other way to get the minion. Katarina is a highly offensive champion who relies on champion kills to be effective, harassing your enemy is a critical aspect in our play style. If you can't get kills on lane you need to get them somewhere else.
- Shunpo is your best spell to defend yourself against gankers, never use it for harass or last hitting if you got no clue where the enemy jungler is or if someone is MIA.
- Sight ward are highly usable in mid lane, sometimes I find myself flanked by the enemy jungler if they gank properly when I got my lane pushed. By using a sight ward and jumping to it with Shunpo will save you many times (more about this in the ward section).
- A wise tip is to always have a ward placed in one of the river bushes. This will often prevent ganks and allow you to easily escape either by using Shunpo on the sight ward or running the opposite direction if the ganker tries to enter your lane from the warded bush.
- If you have killed your lane opponent always push your lane after, this will result in your minions getting killed by your enemies tower, meaning your opponent will lose experience and gold since he/her won't get the last hits on that minion wave.
This is a very underused tactic, but one of the best. Getting yourself a kill and denying your opponent gold and experience will ease your lane and allow you to push and roam more frequently.
- Recommended, try to always have 2x Health Potions and 2x sight wards in your inventory. Always being able to heal with potions and to use wards for Shunpo will greatly boost your sustain and survivability.
- A viable option for Katarina thanks to her Shunpo offering some strong mobility to dodge ganks. Vladimir and Teemo are popular champions for top lane and Katarina is strong counter against them. Imo Katarina is a better mid champion because she is such a strong roamer, but if your enemy team picked a weak opponent against Katarina for top lane, you should go there. Or if they picked a really strong counter against Katarina for mid lane, Viktor etc.
- Sight ward is a must for every lane, especially for top. The top lane is longer than the mid lane making you more vulnerable for ganks, so always have the river warded (see the ward section).
- When you play Katarina in top lane you should focus less on roaming and more on getting minion kills, getting a kill and snowball our lane is still or main priority. And always try to push your lane if you kill your lane opponent or if you force him to recall, denying your opponent gold and experience.
- Recommended, try to always have 2x Health Potions and 2x sight wards in your inventory. Always being able to heal with potions and to use wards for Shunpo will greatly boost your sustain and survivability.
- After level 6 Katarina becomes really scary for low health champions. And your job is to bring havoc. By using Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed we got our self good base movement speed, this has a major impact on or ability to leave our lane (roaming) and help keeping pressure on our allies lanes. The low cooldown on Death Lotus allow us to frequently and effectively gank top and bot lane and Voracity is very effective for tower dives.
- If you got your lane under control, try to keep pressure on your lane, focusing on damaging your opponent so he needs to back as often as possible and roam whenever you get the chance. Our job is to ease our allies lanes and give them the advantage by constantly helping them out. Thanks to our superb mobility and low cooldowns this is what we do best.
- Sight wards and Health Potions are really important as a roamer, since we risk getting caught when we are running through unwarded territory we need the sight ward for escape or provide vision so we don't get ganked while we are ganking. The Health Potions comes in handy since we most likely will take some damage while we gank, either from turret or enemy champions. This will allow us to return to our lane without having to recall.
- Don't over do it, we still need our farm if we can't manage to get kills.
- Analyze the lane you are going to gank before you engage, vision possible outcomes. Ask yourself, what kind of CC do your teammates and enemies have, do they have Exhaust/ Flash, who is the weakest and easiest to kill, do they have any escape spells, ( Quickdraw and 90 Caliber Net etc.)?
Always plan your ganks after these questions, timing and preparation is everything with Katarina. Failing a Death Lotus is always your fault, so ANALYZE your ganks.
Playing with wards
|.............||Sight Ward||SPACE||Sight Ward||SPACE||Sight Ward||SPACE||Sight Ward||SPACE||Sight Ward||SPACE||Sight Ward||SPACE|
- Always try to have at least one Sight ward in your inventory. Two wards is highly recommended.
- A Sight Ward can be used over walls, use that to your advantage, allowing you to "free flash" over the wall. Great for chasing/fleeing.
- If you got fast reactions you can dodge incoming skillshots, Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Trueshot Barrage and Finales Funkeln etc. with Sight ward+ Shunpo combo.
- By placing a sight ward before you go for a kill in a tricky/crowded situations, will in most cases secure your escape route and you will be able to save your Flash, mostly.
This is a excellent demonstration of why you always should have at least 2 sight wards in your inventory.
This section is a work in progress, but I'll try to update it as frequently as possible.
- No lane opponent is impossible for Katarina but you will have to adapt and analyze your enemy, this is what makes Katarina so complex.
- You need to know the skill set and combos for each champion to be really effective against them.
- You wait for your targets to make a mistake and then use it against them.
- Good reactions and timing is the key to win your lane.
Best tactics against Akali is to play really passive, she will constantly try to hit you with Mark of the Assassin, make sure that you don't get in her melee range when you have been hit with it, debuff is where 50% of the damage comes from and can only be triggered by a melee attack. So keep distance. We need to constantly hit her with our Bouncing Blades, this can be a bit frustrating before lvl 4, because our range harass has about the same range. So we will most likely eat a few Mark of the Assassin, this is ok but we need to make sure that we win the harass game. Like always, make sure to use your debuff on her when she is using a Health Potion. Now to lvl 6, Akali now has Shadow Dance and will start to play very aggressively, she will most likely try to hit you with a Mark of the Assassin and follow up with Shadow Dance, when you see the projectile coming for you try to position yourself near your creeps and away from her creeps. When she jumps on you, instantly use your Death Lotus. She is either going to take a lot of damage our use her Flash, if you still got your Ignite ready you could probably go for the kill, depending on how much health she got left. Her Twilight Shroud is easily countered as well, our Death Lotus can still hit her while she is in stealth.
If you can manage to stay out of her Noxious Blast you will have no problems against Cassiopeia. Constatly harass her with Bouncing Blades and keep her health dropping, she should be a easy kill by level 6 with Death Lotus. When you are using your ultimate against Cassiopeia always face your back against her before you cast Death Lotus, or else you will most likely get stunned by Petrifying Gaze and probably die. So Shunpo and make a fast click to face your back against her before you use your ultimate.
Kennen is one of the most annoying to lane against for melee champions, he constantly tags you with his W and pokes hard, you need to dodge his Q by standing behind the creeps, think twice before you engage him with melee range. A fast stun from Kennen can easily be your death. So check his energy bar before you decide to engage him with your Death Lotus.
Mordekaiser is relatively easy to win against, the only problem for Katarina against him is that he can easily out push her. Keep distance and don't go in for melee last hitting if you know that he has Siphon of Destruction off cooldown. We don't want to take unnecessary damage against him. Most Mordekaiser players tend to focus on harassing the enemy, we will use this to our advantage. Iron Man will slowly drain out when they focus on hitting us with the damage. We are smart and do not position ourselves with the minions, instead we stand next to them so Mordekaiser won't be able to hit both us and the minions in the same Siphon of Destruction, constantly tag him with Bouncing Blades when his shield is low and make sure to add the healing debuff if he uses a Health Potion. Keep this going until lvl 6, you should have more %-health than him by now if you done everything right. Now it's time to kill him, always and I mean always hit Mordekaiser with the healing reduction if he has Children of the Grave ready before you use your Death Lotus, if you don't to this he will most likely heal a bunch of hp and kill you instead. Make sure that you choose the timing for when you engage him wisely, you don't want to engage a full shield Mordekaiser. Bait the Siphon of Destruction so he won't be recharging his shield on minions. Shunpo him and use your Death Lotus, make sure that you either have Ignite or a Preparation+ Bouncing Blades activated on him.
He can be annoying during the first 3 levels, so play passive and just try to tag him with Bouncing Blades, Katarina eventually out scales him and should be a easy kill by lvl 5 or lvl 6. He can't do anything to interrupt your Death Lotus. Free kill when you get Hextech Gunblade, the slow effect + your ultimate will force a Flash or get you a kill. A bad Teemo is a perfect target to farm Mejai's Soulstealer stacks on.
Only use Shunpo after his Hungering Strike in lane, to prevent you from taking unnecessary damage when harrasing. Use Bouncing Blades as often as possible on him to constantly bring his health down so he need to waste his mana for sustain, always combine with Preparation when it's off cooldown. Infinite Duress mana cost is 100/125/150, keep that in mind before you engage him when he has ulti ready. I usually try to bait is ultimate with my Death Lotus since it has lower cool down, and go for the kill next time when my ultimate is refreshed. Warwick is hard to kill, boring lane for Katarina, try to roam whenever you get the chance.
Wukong's Crushing Blow can be eaily dodged with Katarina, each time he use his Nimbus Strike against you, you need to instantly use Shunpo on a minion/champion/ward to get out of his reach, This results in mana loss for him and you only take damage from Nimbus Strike. Best way to out sustain him in lane.