Katarina Build Guide by LaGorra
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.
Katarina is a very powerful champion if played correctly. Her abilities can be hard to master but are incredibly strong if used to their full potential. Shunpo is her staple; it can be made to have a 3 second cool down and deal 700 damage a pop - that is a lot! This ability is her bread and butter. Her ultimate is nothing to scoff at either. It can do nearly 12,000 damage in total (4,000 to three different targets) if you have enough ability power. Her weaknesses include the fact that Death Lotus is your main damage dealer - without it she is not nearly as viable on team-fights and ganks. You need to be careful about when to use it, but this guide focuses on CDR (cool down reduction), making her ultimate ready more often and allowing Shunpo to be used in place of an auto-attack. Also, ability power is key. Many people consider Katarina to be an AD champion, but mathematically she does more damage with AP. So get ready, because with abilities like Shunpo and Death Lotus, your enemies will be safe nowhere, not even beside their trusty turrets.
Very basic build. Not much detail.
Much more detail - added all chapters but Introduction, Pros and Cons and Skills.
Added the Shunpo, Special Thanks and Recent Changes chapters. Also changed the item build to exclude the Lich Bane and instead use the Hextech Gunblade.
Gave the items section fancy pics :-P
Changed core item build back to how it was before I added the Hextech Gunblade
Added another alternate item build for if you are not being fed
Added more pictures
Changed the quintessence from Greater Quintessence of Force to the Greater Quintessence of Potency
Changed seals to Greater Seal of Focus (x9)
Added Sorcerer's Shoes to the items section as a suggestion for noobs who do not have magic pen runes
Added Void Staff to the items section as a suggestion but not as a core item.
Added the "Laning Partners and Opponents" chapter
Big changes to the item build.
-Replaced Mejai's Soulstealer with Hextech Revolver (Later to be made into a gunblade)
-Replaced Lich Bane with Banshee's Veil for higher level play (blocks cc to allow for a
full channel on her ultimate)
Pros and Cons
- Very high DPS
- Shunpo makes her a good chaser
- Her ultimate has an incredibly low cool down
- She can carry a team ridiculously well and invoke surrenders before any turrets are pushed
- Difficult to gank with Shunpo
- Killer Instincts (her "W" ability) allows many utility effects such as extra defense and decreased healing on enemies
- Her passive is great - it reduces cool downs more than any rune or mastery ever could
- NO FREAKING MANA
- Terrible pusher (don't even try without a lich bane)
- Her ultimate is easy to disrupt for skilled players - use it wisely
This is Katarina's heroic passive. It gives her 25 bonus gold and reduces all of her cool downs by 15 seconds after she scores a kill or an assist on an enemy champion. This is an awesome passive. It allows her to use shunpo again and again (even more often than this build already allows) and to use her ultimate multiple times in team fights. This is devastating to the enemy team. This passive helps make Katarina Katarina - low cool downs and no mana = constantly casting spells. Win.
Cool down: 9/8.5/8/7.5/7 seconds
Damage: 60/95/135/160/200 (+80% of Attack Damage) (+35% of Ability Power)
Effect: Katarina throws a dagger which bounces to (2/3/4/5/6) enemies, dealing magic damage. It deals 100% damage to the targeted enemy, and then 10% less to each subsequent target.
This ability is nice in the early game, because it can be used to last-hit creeps and harass from afar, but because this build is focused on AP, not AD, in mid- to late-game this skill does very little damage to the target. However, it has a good utility application. Your third item should be the Rylai's Crystal Scepter. With the slow from this ability, Bouncing Blade will slow an entire enemy team, with the blade bouncing around, dealing magic damage to the enemies and slowing them. It can be used to escape or to screw up their positioning in a team fight. However, this ability is sort of cast aside for this build, while we focus on the evermore important namesake of my guide, Shunpo.
Cool down: 20/18/16/14/12 seconds
Bonus Damage: 8/12/16/20/24
Effect: (Passive) Katarina's autoattacks and abilities deal bonus damage per hit.
(Active) Katarina's next ability (excluding Death Lotus) has a bonus effect:
Bouncing Blade - Deals 100% damage to all targets hit and halves all healing done by said units for 5 seconds.
Shunpo- Katarina takes 15/20/25/30/35% less damage from enemy attacks and abilities for three seconds.
This is a very nice skill. It allows for not only passive damage (an extra 240 on each target of your Death Lotus) but also great damage reduction. 3 seconds happens to be the same duration as your Death Lotus, which you have to channel. So, a great combo is Killer Instincts --> Shunpo (to an enemy unit you wish to utterly obliterate) --> Death Lotus, which will render you incredibly well defended for the duration of your channel. Also, the healing reduction is nice - once I was playing against a Master Yi who would use Meditate each time I began my Death Lotus. His healing was enough (because of his high AP) to essentially negate my ultimate. So, naturally, I slapped on Killer Instincts and then proceeded to shred the **** of him with Bouncing Blades and Death Lotus. Use this skill whenever you engage a fight - the damage reduction is golden, as is the heal nerf on your enemies.
Cool down: 10/9/8/7/6 seconds
Damage: 80/120/160/200/240 (+75% of Ability Power)
Effect: Katarina flashes to the location of her target. If that target is an enemy, it takes magic damage.
This is an insane skill. It is the skill this build focuses on. You can do so much with Shunpo. You can escape ganks by flashing to an allied or enemy creep or ward. You can use it in combat to deal insanely high damage to your enemies. You can use it to dodge skill-shots in lane by provoking one and then flashing mockingly to a creep. This skill does it all, and with a cool down of little over three seconds once I'm through with it. This is the reason for all the CDR in this build. It allows shunpo to be used as a primary means of combat, and all with no mana cost. There is a reason I max this skill first, and it is because it is an amazing skill. In my opinion it is one of the best League of Legends has to offer. Use it accordingly. I will go into more detail about Shunpo later in the guide.
Cool down: 60/55/50 seconds
Damage per Dagger: 50/65/80 (+50% of bonus Attack Damage) (+25% of Ability Power)
Effect: Katarina spins, rendering herself defenseless, for three seconds, while throwing daggers at nearby enemies. She throws a maximum of 30 daggers, and a maximum of 10 daggers at each target. Therefore, she may only hit 3 different champions.
This ability is awesome. It deals, in all, 250% of your ability power, plus an additional 800 damage, to THREE DIFFERENT CHAMPIONS. The reason that it says BONUS attack damage in the guide is to show that the base attack damage that you have WITHOUT ITEMS is NOT INCLUDED. That makes it significantly less effective for an AD build. Also, AD gives no bonus to Shunpo. Don't give me comments about AD Katarina. It is not nearly as good. Anyways, with your Rylai's Crystal Scepter, you can keep enemies inside your AOE with Death Lotus so that they take 100% of the damage (because of the slow). This is great and the real reason the scepter is even a part of the build. You do not have to use this ultimate sparingly because of its low cool down and your passive to reduce that cool down even more. Death Lotus is an awesome ultimate. However, you must be aware that ANY FORM OF CROWD CONTROL STOPS YOUR CHANNEL. This means that you cease to throw blades, and you deal no more damage. Therefore, be careful around champs like Fiddlesticks and Garen. They will CC you like there is no tomorrow.
Shunpo is an amazing escape skill. It allows you essentially an extra flash. You should make your teammates aware of your intention to escape via shunpoing to them at the start of a match. That way, if you are being left behind while being chased, you can simply shunpo to them! They should know to come back for you if you are caught in a gank - but not too much; just enough to be in shunpo range. Also you can use minions if you need to to get away from would-be ganks. Another useful technique is warding. This involves using shunpo to blink to wards, which you place strategically to allow you to avoid ganks. I highly recommend you place them in certain places: One near your tower, so you can blink there if there are no minions present. One could be in the grass on either side of the middle lane, so that you could see gankers and escape to the grass on the other side. Another option is to place them nearer to your base - again, for pulling yourself to. This strategy has saved my butt more than once.
Chasing with shunpo is relatively straightforward. You can blink right to would-be escaping enemies, and send them to their doom. However, what do you do when that person is JUST out of shunpo range? If your team is chasing, it is useful to flash to a teammate that is closer than you, then wait for shunpo to recharge and then blink to them again. Also, you could flash ahead, into shunpo range, and then shunpo to them. It is a wonderful skill for chasing people down.
In the lane I love to use shunpo to dodge skillshots. One way that I do this is I will stand vulnerably with no creeps between my opponent and I. Then I wait for the animation to start on the skillshot (only against enemies with skillshots, like Nidalee and Nocturne), and shunpo to a nearby minion. This wastes mana like you wouldn't believe on your enemies. Once they are OOM, you can easily take them out with death lotus and shunpo. Many a Caitlyn has run herself out of mana against me only to be defeated by the power of the Kat!
DO NOT USE THIS FOR KILL STEALING. Shunpo is a great skill to ensure that a kill goes to you. Just use it right as the enemy is about to die - you will get the kill almost every time. Don't ks though. That's just not cool. Use it to secure a kill that is rightfully yours and tell the frickin nubs who keep ks-ing you to beat it!
That's not All!
If you have any other ways that you love to use shunpo, tell me in the comments. I'll surely add it to the guide.
I chose the Marks of Insight because of the magic penetration - it allows you to own tanks that try (albeit unsuccessfully) to get items like the Force of Nature or Banshee's Veil and then be resistant to your spells. This small bonus will give you an edge in team fights. If you have a better suggestion for ANY runes, I am open to hearing them, since I am still on the fence about them. However, I am owning people right now with the Mark of Insight.
I had a bit of an issue with my seals. I originally was going 9 Seals of Force, but when I saw that my CDR was only at 38.1% that way, I decided to change things up here. I added some Greater Seals of Focus, so that I had 40% CDR which is the max. I know that when i my build is finished i have over 40% CDR, but now i have more when i don't have full stacks on my soulstealer.
I got the Greater Glyphs of Celerity because the nice 8.55% CDR is just what you need to reach that golden bar of 40% cool down reduction. With that, masteries, full stacks on your soulstealer and your boots, you will be JUST barely above that line. This is the core of my build. Plain and simple. Having low cool downs is Katarina's strong suit. These glyphs complement her nicely.
The reasons for getting the Greater Quintessences of Potency are that you can deal significantly more damage early on if you go with the flat AP bonus.
I chose to fill out the Defensive tree because Katarina is a squishy champion as is, and she is a carrier with this build. Therefore, she should not be quite so easy to kill. I generally picked survivability masteries. I am interested in other ideas, however - I would love feedback in the comments. As far as offense goes, I got the masteries to give CDR for obvious reasons. Then, I got +15% Magic Penetration to complement the Mark of Insight I got earlier. The AP masteries are obviously a good choice. The masteries are fairly straightforward on Katarina anyway.
My core build at the top of this guide is based on what I generally do in a best-case scenario. You should, however, think about what items to get for reasons such as the fact that the Mejai's Soulstealer is not especially good if you are not consistently getting kills and if you are dying often. I have two builds here that I will explain.
This should always be the same. I begin every game in this fashion.
This item is nice because it gives you that little positioning bonus in the beginning of the game and also will let you chase and escape from foes who did not get wheels to start off. I do not take the amplifying tome because my runes give me enough of an AP bonus that I do not need it.
I spend the rest of my starting money on some health potions just to give me some survivability until level 6. It will last you long enough if you play right.
Now, you should lay back until level 6. Once you get your ultimate, you should go all-in and attempt to get a kill. If this is successful, go to build #1. If not, you should attempt to gank. ONLY IF THIS GANK DOES NOT YIELD A KILL do you go to build #2; at least with my experience.
I get this item because it gives nice sustain and is decent for AP. It builds into the Hextech later. I like this one, but if you are getting fed you can replace it with Mejai's and just get it later.
These boots rock for Katarina because of the CDR. That is it. Get them. Now. No really. What? You say you're not in a game? GET THEM.
Another AP item here, but it gives a nice utility effect. This item is awesome for Katarina. It has a slow effect that triggers when you deal magic damage. This rocks because it is able to keep enemies in your Death Lotus AOE until the channel is over. It makes up for the lack of crowd control Katarina has. I love this item and you should get it no matter what.
This item is purely AP. It gives a ton of it. It will make you incredibly powerful and have you dealing tons of damage with all your spells. Its unique passive owns. But its costly.
Another AP item! (wow, its a recurring theme here!) This item has a fun active though. It allows you to be invincible for 2 seconds. Use it just after you enter Death Lotus. It is very good and protects you from the enemy team for the duration of your channel. I like it a lot.
This item is pretty nice. I know I said my build was going to be AP only, but this item is too good to pass up. The attack damage bonus is really nice on Death Lotus and makes bouncing blade actually DO SOMETHING. The spellvamp and lifesteal make you essentially go into Master Yi's meditate every time you death lotus (except for you are slaughtering your enemies ruthlessly simultaniously). Friggin awesome item.
This is a new item for me. I have started playing Katarina ranked a lot more and I realized how much cc blatantly counters her. The Banshee's is a really nice way to say "screw you" to that Blitzcrank or Xin Zhao. It will let your ulti channel for the full duration and own them!
If, however, they a) do not stand a chance against you anyways at this point or b) do not have any cc, by all means, get a different, AP-heavy or survivability item. For example, I was against a Yi, Ashe and Miss Fortune one game. I was getting owned. I swapped Banshee's for a Thornmail and suddenly could 1v3 them. ;-D whoops!
If you are not yet level 20 or for some reason you don't have the suggested runes, you may want to alter the build in the following way:
This is because if you don't have your AP quints you will have too low AP early game. Therefore you must take the tome in order to compensate.
This is because if you do not have your marks of insight, you will need magic penetration. You NEED mag pen and if your runes don't give it, these boots will. However, I still HIGHLY recommend that you get the marks and take because they are so good for this build.
I feel like this build with those options is the best way to go as Kat - but if you are a Kat player and you want to give me some items that you love, then by all means, leave a comment. If I ecide to use your items, I'll put your name in the credits!
Flash - I love flash. This spell makes Katarina 1) an amazing chaser, 2) incredibly slippery and 3) much more mobile during team fights. Honestly, my favorite usage of this spell is to tower dive. You shunpo to your victim, death lotus to kill them, then flash out before the tower can hit you a second time. I have not died of a tower dive in weeks - all because of this little bugger. Also, the double flash is an amazing chaser, as stated above. You can simply flash into range of your shunpo, shunpo to your target and begin the spin. Flash is useful in many, many ways for Katarina.
Ignite - Ignite is the other spell that I take for Katarina. This spell is mainly useful because of the mastery point I take, granting Kat extra AP whenever Ignite is off of cd. I love it, and how angry people get when they are just barely escaping... but wait.... NO! KAT PUT SHUNPO ON ME! WHY THAT SNEAKY ---
Exhuast - I can see exhaust being good on Katarina. In fact, I used it instead of Ignite when I was a little bit noobier. It makes it very hard to chase or escape Kat, what with shunpo and flash. I think that this is a decent choice.
Teleport - This spell is good. I like being able to heal and buy or even gank without any experience lost. However, its combat effectiveness is very little, so I prefer the above spells to it. Also, Kat has no mana. >.< So, going back with the spellvamp from Hextech should not really be necessary all that often.
If I Find out that you are Using These Summoner Spells I May Have to Kill Myself
Rally - I hate this spell. It is something personal. >:-(
Revive - This spell sucks. Don't die. Please. If you are playing Katarina right, you won't. Why would you even need this if you don't die?
Gameplay - Early Game
Katarina is quite good in the early game - this is where she will get fed. The first step to being fed is doing well in the lane. Here are some tips specifically for that.
Lay back to start. From levels 1-5, you are nothing. You are small. You are weak. Katarina uses her ultimate for kills, which you do not yet have. You should use bouncing blade and shunpo to last hit as often as possible, but not if it means taking damage from the enemy. As a melee, you may miss a small amount of exp, but do not worry - you will get it back at level 6. You should appear weaker than them - let them feel confident. Slowly wittle them down. They will have the lane from levels 1-5. No more. *A nice tip if the enemy has a skill shot is to drain their mana by standing in the open, then waiting for the skill shot and shunpo-ing to a creep. This will cause them to waste mana and become frusterated!* Once you hit level 6, wait for the enemy to overextend. After that, hit them with Bouncing Blade, then slap on Killer Instincts, Shunpo them and use Death Lotus. At first, because of the confidence you let them build, they will probably attempt to fight you. After they realize they are dying, they will run, but it is too late. This kill is crucial. If they survive Death Lotus, use ignite to hurt them more and continue using abilities. A tower dive is acceptable - just shunpo them, kill them and flash out. This kill will be the start of you being fed - just make sure the tower doesn't kill you. PLEASE don't let the tower kill you. I AM BEGGING YOU! DO NOT LET THE TOWER KILL YOU! ...sorry, I get a bit emotional sometimes. After you have this kill under your belt, check your gold. You should be level 7. If you have enough for the Hextech, recall and buy it, then gank. If not, proceed directly to another lane for a gank (it doesn't matter which, although I tend to do top). This gank is also incredibly important. You want both kills. If you are 3-0 at this point, as long as you don't screw up, the game is over for them. Continue ganking, occasionally checking to make sure mid isn't pushed too much by the enemy. You should be able to get incredibly fed and have your Rylai's Crystal Scepter in due time. Once you get that item, the game phase changes to Mid Game.
Gameplay - Mid Game
By now, you are fed. In fact, you should be feeling fat. However, this stage is when you shine the most. Now, there really are no rules. You should be far enough ahead of the competition to slaughter anybody 1v1 and most people 2v1 or even 3v1 - since your ultimate hits three targets. Continue to gank around. This is how you will feed - not off your lane but off of others. This continues until you get to the Rabadon's Deathcap. Now, organize for a team push in a weakened lane. The enemies will be forced to gather there. You will win team fights. Not your team. You. Katarina will single-handedly win them for the team (okay, you need a little backup). Continue to take care - you're not invincible, just very strong. Your team should be able to push - you won't. Just take out the champions for the team, and then go buy. Rinse it, wash it and repeat it. Mid game is relatively freelance - kill heroes wherever they may roam. *Que Metallica Music*
Gameplay - Late Game (And Initiating Team Fights)
Honestly, by now it is more of the team. If the enemy team is foolish enough not to surrender, you will have to push - but dont worry about towers. You will be able to tower dive and not really worry about it - you get kills too quick to have the tower actually hurt you. Flash is your secret escape mechanism. Just kill people in order to clear the way for your team.
Team fights are where Katarina is at her best. Right in the thick of things, slaughtering her enemies. You should almost always use this combo: Q --> W -> E --> R --> ZHONYA'S HOURGLASS --> *shunpos to survivors*. This will give you tons of protection in the middle of your spin, and allow for tons of damage output. Try to be in the middle of the fight when you use Death Lotus, so that you hit the maximum number of times. Also, Bouncing Blades is always a nice slow - don't forget about it. If you can, initiate the fight - run in first. With zhonya's hourglass on, you will be invincible. Don't worry about being targeted. You should be able to rack up the kills!
There isn't a whole lot extra to say here. The main thing I wanted to mention was a nice tactic that I use when ganking a lane. Generally, I will hide in the brush that is in the river and wait for them to overextend (standard). Then, when they do, I SHUNPO TO A CREEP behind the fighters. Que Death Lotus. They will run back to their tower, THROUGH YOUR DEATH LOTUS. They should take almost all of the damage. Select one to kill and shunpo them, and then unleash a flurry of spells (including summoner spells if necessary). This gets me a kill essentially every time I gank. Almost. ;-) Nobody's perfect!
*This tactic is much better EARLY GAME. I do not recommend it once Shunpo's damage is very high. Early on, it is not much at all so the positioning is worth it.*
Katarina is a very good hero. I love so much about her - no mana, low cool downs, and a nice flash spell. You need to know how to play her, though. Do not expect to go 20-0 the first time you play this build. Give it a try, then leave me some feedback and questions in the comments - I will answer you. And please, oh please oh please, follow this advice. Don't Die!!!!!!!!! It may seem like a joke but it's not. Deaths as Katarina mean losing stacks on your soulstealer and therefore damage, and also time for getting kills. Do. Not. Die.
Well, that's about all the I've got! Gl Hf with this new build, and I hope you liked the guide. Leave me feedback, negative or positive, in the comments PLEASE! Katarina is so good, I hope that she serves you well. I hope I will see you all on the Fields of Justice!
Special Thanks To.....
- gave me the idea of adding the "Shunpo" section and adding the Hextech Gunblade to the core item build.
- created the name for my guide! I couldn't think of a catchy one. He whipped out a thesaurus and within minutes cleverly smiled and said, "Katarina, the Shunpo Shutdown."
- gave me the idea for a Special Thanks section. Good Job, Inhale! :-) Check out his Udyr guide, Unleash the Tiger.
- helped me to change my god-awful quintessences! I have started getting kills much earlier now - thank you devildog!