Katarina Build Guide by Leknih
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.
Alright, so here's my first guide for my first champion... the lovely Katarina Du Couteau of Noxus. Champions within the League and soldiers on many a battlefield have had their lives severed at the hand of the Sinister Blade. The last thing their eyes falling upon her beautiful dance, the Death Lotus and the spreading grin across her lips as the enemies of Noxus and hacked to pieces. This is my guide for Katarina and it is my hope to help my fellow players thrive in the chaos that is Dominion.
So, for Runes I decided to take the generic Katarina runes. Greater Quintessences of Potency for ability power to give your bouncing blades a little more stopping power and Shunpo increased potency as well for your early game. I also strongly suggest taking Greater Marks of Insight as well for breaking through your enemies defenses early on and this will help you throughout the match. Greater Glyphs of Focus will help reduce your ridiculous cooldowns even further, giving you capability to deliver the killing blow faster and drastically reduce your cool down on Death Lotus, giving you the edge and help finish off any survivors from your initial encounter.
Now, for seals I typically choose Greater Seals of Fortitude and this is open for debate or change. I take them because an enemy team may lean more towards AD or AP... it can go either way, so stacking armor or magic resist can be useless if they're mainly composed of the opposite you picked runes for. That's why I like taking health instead. It'll give you more survivability and is more versatile, which every good Katarina player should be. You need to move with the ebb and flow of the battlefield, learn to go with the tide and not fight against it.
Now onto mastery selection. I went with a 21/9/0 build, opting for maximized damage output with some points in defense to help you survive the battles to come. While the utility tree offers some great abilities and buffs, the points required to put into that tree could be much better spent on increasing your offensive capabilities instead.
The points in offense are optimized for increasing the damage output of your spells. I'm a huge fan of the Executioner ability... it just makes Katarina that much more deadly. See an enemy low on health? Shunpo onto them and watch them crumple at your feet. And now that your cooldowns have refreshed you can feel free to Shunpo out of his allies reach or back into the fray to show them what a true Noxian can do.
Now, onto the item build. I typically start out with two amplifying tomes and boots of speed to give you some mobility and extra ability power to get those early kills. Depending on how things go, you can either upgrade to your Hextech Revolver for some extra punch and spell vampirism to regain some health. You could also opt for the Ionian Boots of Lucidity for the movement speed and cool down reduction if you're roaming more frequently. Some people prefer the increased magic penetration of the Sorcerer's Shoes, but I feel that the cool down reduction allows you to harass frequently, do more damage and give you increased versatility and survivability.
Now, most players would rush the Hextech Gunblade next but I believe that the slow and health bonuses given by Rylai's Crystal Scepter are much better suited for fighting multiple targets and give you increased survivability, especially since it isn't dependent on a cool down. The Gunblade comes immediately after finishing the Scepter, because it's an extremely versatile item and it's activated ability is great for finishing fleeing opponents or slowing them down enough to get the finishing blow with a Shunpo or Bouncing Blade if need be.
Rabadon's Deathcap is next on the list for it's amazing boost to your stopping power which only will continue to increase due to it's amazing 30% ability power bonus. Most Dominion games are finished by the time you finish this, but if they haven't yet... this will be more than enough to turn the tide in your favor. After our fancy hat, next up are the Void Staff and Abyssal Scepter to give you increased spell penetration and killing power. I almost never finish these items due to the short game duration in Dominion, but if I do these typically give me enough of an edge to finish with a hard earned victory instead of a drawn out loss.
While Shunpo may be my favorite skill in the game for it's amazing damage, cool down and versatility, I typically max out Bouncing Blade first. It's better suited for getting minion kills and will do more damage than Shunpo to an enemy team when they're close together. It's great for harassing, so sit back and throw your daggers until you see the opportune moment to leap in and unleash your true power... Katarina's amazing ultimate.
So I take two points in Bouncing blade to start to increase it's damage, number of targets and reduce it's cool down. I take a point in Shunpo for obvious reasons. You don't want to use it to initiate, just throw your daggers around and Shunpo in on softer targets, distracted or fleeing enemies or whoever is being focused. You don't want to just leap into the fray when your allies are sitting back. Survival is key, you want to strike fear into the enemy's hearts and minds... not be an easy source of gold.
Take a point in Killer Instincts and level four to reduce damage before you Shunpo into a fight and unleash Death Lotus or to disrupt healing on enemies using potions or have spell vamp/life steal. For obvious reasons, you want to take points in Death Lotus whenever they're available(as you would with any champion). I finish leveling Bouncing Blades first to maximize it's efficiency and follow up with Shunpo and finish with Killer Instincts. Feel free to change your skill sequence depending on the situation, but this will usually optimize your skills and capabilities on the battlefield.
This is Dominion, the ability to move throughout the map to reinforce capture points or take vulnerable ones is key to victory. I take ghost for such reasons, it's great for the start of the game and allows me to catch up with my team while we're fighting for the top capture point instead of arriving only to find their corpses lying in the dirt without it. Flash is an amazing spell, it gives you unrivaled prowess for pursuing fleeing opponents or means of escape from a losing battle when combined with Shunpo. Practice combining these skills to utilize your ability to juke enemies or nimbly break through the enemy line to finish off the fool lingering on the sidelines and make them pay for their arrogance in blood.
These spells are best suited for Katarina in Dominion, but feel free to take exhaust or ignite depending on personal preferences and team builds. Whatever you're comfortable with, use. But the only way to become well versed is to gain experience, so feel free to try it. And remember, think before you use your spells. Take the cooldowns into consideration, use them when they'll help you the most... but don't hesitate for too long or you'll never use them!
Pros / Cons
While it pains me to say Katarina has any weaknesses, she is extremely vulnerable to enemy CC. If you're stunned or slowed, escape sometimes is impossible without the aid of a nearby teammate or minion. I've had many instances when I'm exhausted or slowed and my only means of escape is to Shunpo onto an ally, only to have them flee just beyond it's range. Make sure to communicate with your team, have them stick close in case something like that were to happen and keep an eye on minion waves. Plan your escape beforehand, always have a way out and watch the map for missing enemies.
Other than that, Katarina's only weaknesses are her inability to farm at early levels. That however, shouldn't be a problem in Dominion. We're going for point captures and enemy kills, not farming minion waves here. This is Katarina's territory, exploit it and crush your enemies with the unbridled prowess of House Du Couteau. Practice leaping from enemy to enemy, throwing your daggers and unleashing her Dance Macabre at the right moment. Every time one of them falls, your abilities will be ready for use again and Death Lotus will be almost immediately finished cooling down. Optimize targets and you can easily rack up kills while remaining virtually untouched.
Working with your team is the most important factor in League of Legends. There's nothing wrong with being a lone wolf, but this is a game based on coordinating with teammates to overcome the enemy. Your main goal is to leap into the fray at the right moment. You are not an initiator, you are the assassin. You are the one that cleans up the fights by making an even bigger mess of the enemy... keep that in mind. Lie in wait, anticipate the enemy movements and catch them off guard. That is your biggest advantage, the element of surprise. Use it to your advantage and carry your team to victory. Also, leave the Storm Shield for the initiators.
So that's my guide for Katarina for Dominion. Love it, hate it... either way, feel free to leave feedback and suggestions for improvements. I'm always down to put more effort into revising this, I have plenty of downtime here at work to do so. So go ahead, give it a try. Use the spells, items and strategies I've discussed here and put them to practice. Katarina is an easy champion to learn, but a difficult one to master. Keep this in mind, be patient and eventually you'll master this Black Widow.