Kennen Build Guide by Gl1tch
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.
I'd like to preface this build with a little bit about myself. This is my first guide on mobafire. My first ever champion I liked was Tristana, but about three free-kennen-weeks ago, I tried him and loved him. I saved up the IP immediately.
I've seen a lot of Kennen builds, and never really liked them. Early on, I hated AP Kennen. His AP scale isn't that good, so there had to be a better way to play him. I tried CDR Kennen to capitalize on his energy. I tried hybrid Kennen to get magic res below 0. I tried tanky Kennen to initiate better. What follows it the happy union of every Kennen build I've ever tried: Tankennen, Magic Pennen, and of course, AP Kennen.
This guide is probably poorly written, typo laden, and in general confusing to read at some points. But I stand by the fact that this is the best Kennen build in existence. Nothing else cuts it.
Kennen - The Heart of the Tempest
There exists an ancient order originating in the Ionian Isles dedicated to the preservation of balance. Order, chaos, light, darkness -- all things must exist in perfect harmony for such is the way of the universe. This order is known as the Kinkou and it employs a triumvirate of shadow warriors to uphold its causes in the world. Kennen is one of these shadow warriors, entrusted with the sacred duty of Coursing the Sun - tirelessly conveying the justice of the Kinkou.
Kennen was born in Bandle City and it was said that in his first living moments he bolted first from the womb and second from the midwife who delivered him. His parents had thought that he would outgrow his boundless energy, but as he matured his energy found no limits and was matched only by his unnerving speed. Despite his astonishing gifts, he remained unnoticed (or at least uncaught, as he was quite the prankster) until, on a dare, he ran straight up the great outer wall of the Placidium. When word of this feat reached Kinkou ears, Kennen was quickly and quietly brought in for an audience. He found that the role of the Heart of the Tempest suited him, frenetically delivering both the word and the punishments of the Kinkou across the realm. He now works with his fellows Akali and Shen to enforce the balance of Valoran. This hallowed pursuit has unsurprisingly led the triumvirate to the Fields of Justice.
The Heart of the Tempest beats eternal... and those beaten remember eternally.
Why I build how I build
For my summoner spells, I chose Flash and Ignite. Ignite helps a lot in the early game, because this build doesn't start building straight AP for a while. It also reduces healing and does true damage, helping Kennen deal with support and tanks, if he's forced to lane against them. Flash really helps Kennen escape. As he already has a Ghost-like ability, Lightning Rush. Any time I mention Lightning Rush as an escape or chasing ability, Flash can also be used, or combined with Lightning Rush.
As far as runes go, there aren't many bad options. Kennen is a squishy mage getting up close and personal with enemies. Any sort of HP buff, speed buff, or AP rune works well on him. The cheat sheet is just my personal guide.
I run Kennen's Masteries as 9/21/0, because the magic penetration is great, and the extra defensive masteries help him out a lot early on. Runes and masteries are really a matter of personal preference. The above are my personal preference.
Pros of this build:
High, consistent damage
Deals lots of AoE damage
Cons of this build:
Doesn't mid well
Doesn't tank as well as pure-tank builds
Doesn't do as much damage as a pure-AP build
Doesn't work as well in a 1 on 1 fight.
How this build plays
Many summoners consider Kennen a carry. Riot labels Kennen as a ranged. Both of these are misleading. Anyone can carry if fed, Kennen included. If you build straight AP, Kennen has the potential to do massive damage to the enemy team, even pentakill them, if they don't kill you first. Kennen is only borderline carry, however, and everyone actually labeled carry would be far better to give kills to.
Similarly, while Kennen's auto attack is ranged, too many his abilities aren't. Lightning Rush is a touch effect, and Slicing Maelstrom is on a relatively small range. His ranged ability can only apply a mark on one of them, and his auto attack can only apply a mark on one of them some of the time. [[Electrical surge] can't be used without a mark already on someone. Realistically, if you try to play Kennen ranged, you'll be missing out on half of his potential.
In order to maximize Kennen's effectiveness, you're going to need to use his abilities that apply multiple marks, and to do that, you're going to need to be within melee range. Kennen does not carry, and Kennen does not fight ranged. Kennen stuns and runs.
Kennen does not use mana. Mana regen, and mana items, will do nothing. The only ways to buff his energy regen are through runes, and blue buff. Other runes are far better than Energy runes, blue buff is far more beneficial on other players, simply because your energy regen is already so high. Learn to play Kennen making due with his natural energy. It's more than enough.
Kennen can mid, but he's far better laning. His range is good, not great, and his farm puts him in harms way of the enemy. When midding with Kennen, your goal is to stun the enemy enough that your E scares them. If it comes down to a 1v1, and they aren't stunned the whole time, they'll win. Laning with Kennen makes his stuns twice as effective, his farm twice as protected, and lets your actual ranged carries mid.
In summary, this build will allow you to both lane and mid, although there's a specific section on play modifications needed to mid. It will build you items that boost Kennen's AP, but as Kennen is normally short range, it will build you tanky items as well. If you build this build, you'll be in the middle of the team fight, dealing massive damage to everyone, and you'll get out before they know what happened. It's really fun to do.
Mark of the Storm
Kennen's passive is the first thing any Kennen player needs to master. Every three abilities Kennen lands on an enemy, they get stunned. The 25 energy return isn't all that useful, 1v1, but in a team fight, it's brutal. In order to master the ability, Kennen players should first note the three blue orbs that appear above anyone with a mark on them. These blue orbs will change color, and look more electrical, for every mark the enemy has on them.
When 1 on 1, if you ever see an enemy with 2 marks on them, it's a great opportunity for harass. In a team fight, if you can get three marks on everyone on their team, it's enough energy gain to power, at least, your escape.
Kennen's Q is harass, and a ranged way to apply a mark of the storm. It has good range, and fully leveled, can be spammed really easily. However, as it can only hit one enemy, and as it's a skill shot, it's next to useless in a team fight. This ability should be used to farm, harass, and apply a third mark of the storm.
When you press Q once, it'll bring up the aiming arrow. This arrow helps aim the skill shot, and it will also provide you with a way to measure your other abilities' ranges.
I suggest leveling this first simply for the extra farm and the harass. You won't need to level it again until your other abilities can't be leveled any more.
Kennen's W passive is why his attack is labeled as average. Every fifth attack, he does extra damage, and more importantly, applies a mark. Keeping track of that will allow for earlier stunning, and make last hitting easier.
The active has a range of 8/9ths of your Q, or about the center of the arrow head. While it has higher cooldowns, less damage, and less AP scale than your Q, it's still better, because it hits every target in range.
When harassing, use this ability immediately after your Q. Once you start power farming, use this ability to last hit all the minions at once. At max level, with the CDR runes, this ability will leave cooldown before the marks go away, allowing you to use it twice on the same target, without needing to use another ability. As it has synergies with all of Kennen's abilities, is twice as effective at the lower cool downs, and auto-hits, this is the ability you should focus leveling first.
Kennen's main method of getting multiple marks on the field, and the reason Kennen isn't ranged, is this ability. It's also Kennen's 'oh ****' button. He ghosts, has higher move speed, and becomes tankier. If you see an ability like Karthus' ult about to kill you, an extra 50 MR can be the difference between life and death. If you're being chased, extra move speed is more than enough to get away, and if they've already touched you, the mark can be used to stun them later, for even more easy of escape.
Kennen's ultimate, played right, should have the enemy players screaming Kennen is OP. New players to Kennen should think the move auto stuns. If people aren't complaining about Kennen's stun, you're not doing it right.
Kennen's ultimate has different uses at different levels. At level 1, it lasts 3 seconds and is guaranteed 3 hits if used on two enemies. It's perfect for laning, as it will stun everyone in lane. Also note it's shorter than Lightning Rush. Used simultaneously, Kennen will keep the increased move speed and armor bonus for the entire duration of the ultimate, and have 1 second of prep or escape time. Kennen's ultimate's range can be estimated by half of the range of Thundering Shuriken's arrow. If an enemy is within half the range of the circle, you're pretty much guaranteed to stun them with at least some combination of his abilities.
At level 2, Kennen's ultimate is at an awkward middle ground between level 1 and level 3. It has too many bolts for 2 enemies, but not enough for 5. It really only gets it's full use against 3-4 enemies. It also has the exact same duration as lightning rush.
At level 3, Kennen's ultimate is guaranteed 3 hits on all 5 champions, if you can keep them in range, and it has a duration of 5 seconds.
Kennen's Ability Combos
1) Lightning Rush as many manions as you can.
2-6) Auto attack 5 times, trying to get as minions enemies below 65 health as possible. The first auto attack should be the powered up one, so that at the end of five attacks, you have another powered up auto attack waiting.
7) Electrical Surge to last hit as many minions as you can.
Lane Fight Combo
1) Lightning Rush into place, hitting both enemy champions if possible.
2) Electrical Surge to get the second mark on them.
3) Slicing Maelstrom is guaranteed to stun them both within 2 seconds, if you're unlucky. Odds are, they'll both be stuck while your teammate cleans up.
4) If, for some strange reason, your ult didn't stun one of them, Thundering Shuriken should do the trick.
5) If they don't die, escape with another Lightning Rush
Bear in mind that with this combo, you'll have two marks on everyone way before the Slicing Maelstrom. Getting three hits on enemy champions isn't to guarantee a stun, it's to maximize damage. Played right, they should think one hit stuns them. Feel free to time the surge/storm as you like, so you can use the move speed to get in or get out, as you prefer.
1) Use Lightning Rush to reach the group of enemies. Hit as many as you can.
2) Turn on Slicing Maelstrom the second one of them gets in range.
3) With Lightning Rush still on, touch as many enemies as possible.
4) Right as Lightning Rush is about to end, use Electrical Surge.
5) As Lightning Rush ends, activate Zhonya's Hourglass. It should keep going for 1 second after your Slicing Maelstrom ends. Of course, activate Zhonya's Hourglass early if it will save your life.
6) Using the energy gained from stunning all of your enemies due to Mark of the Storm activate Lightning Rush as soon as you can, and either chase the fleeing foes, or run away yourself.
Kennen's Early Game
Kennen should start with an Amplifying Tome, and a Health Potion. While laning you should work on last hitting. Harass with Thundering Shuriken if you like, I prefer to use it to punish people who harass me a bit too hard. Last hitting with it is always an option, but be careful how frequently it's on cooldown. Sometimes you'll need it. At level 2 you take Electrical Surge, which is the other half of your harass. It will also be the first opportunity you get to land 3 marks on enemies. Hit them with your 5th auto attack, then Thundering Shuriken, and Electrical Surge will be the stun. At level 3, you'll have all of your abilities, making stunning enemies relatively easy. At level 3, you can also start your farming combo.
On your first trip back, you want to both finish your Haunting Guise and buy Boots of Swiftness. The early Magic Penetration from Haunting Guise is probably the biggest damage boost you can get early game, and it's extra health is more than enough to make you durable in lane. As Kennen's early game play-style is to stun and run, Boots of Swiftness make the running a lot easier. Combined with Lightning Rush, Boots of Swiftness make escaping with Kennen a breeze. If you're having a bad game, level 1 boots or a Ruby Crystal should give you enough survivability to get your farm up.
Once you hit level 6, you should dominate lane-fights. Once your partner initiates, activate your lane fight combo. Two stuns and lots of damage, they'll either have to back, or they'll already be dead, and you can farm easily. Push for turret, and the Early Game is over.
Kennen's Mid Game
At this point you should have your Haunting Guise and your Boots of Swiftness. The next item you get is based off of Magic Pennen. The idea of Magic Pennen was a hybrid Kennen that got people into negative MR. Using Malady and Abyssal Scepter, you could get enemies down to negative magic resist, and then use both Thundering Shuriken and Electrical Surge to deal massive damage, and stun them. Malady only works when fighting 1 on 1, and Magic Pennen isn't very good, but the Abyssal Scepter + Haunting Guise + Runes should get enemies down to 0 MR, so Abyssal Scepter is your next build.
(A quick aside: If you like playing with Mejai's Soulstealer, build it before you get the scepter. You'll just leave off Rylai's Crystal Scepter at the end)
Note I did not pick Void Staff. While Void Staff is great at reducing the Magic Resist of tanks, percentage based penetration is terrible against players who don't build Magic Resist. And, as a good player focuses the squishier damage per second dealers, it's more effective to build flat Magic Pen, so damage dealers will have 0 magic resist. You'll watch those squishies melt.
By the time you've built Abyssal Scepter, using Electrical Surge and Lightning Rush as a combo should kill entire minion waves, no extra auto attacks required.
Because Kennen's ultimate hits 10 times over 4 seconds, not only is the Lightning Rush/ Slicing Maelstrom combo less protective, but it's also an awkward number of bolts to maximize effectiveness. At this point in the game, it's time to be selfish. Your next two items are expensive! Instead of starting your Lane combo at the beginning of the fight, wait until the end. You can get lots of kills quickly this way. In essence, you're kill stealing, but you'll pay your allies back later in the game.
One of the other builds I tried for Kennen was Tankennen. Slicing Maelstrom is a great initiating ability, and Lightning Rush can position him easily. However, I felt that going straight tank just wasn't cutting it. Kennen was too squishy early on, and he couldn't tank in the lane phase. However, in the late game, Tankennen worked beautifully. As part of Kennen's balance in all things, this build balances damage with protection. Adding onto the magic resist from Abyssal Scepter, the next item built is Zhonya's Hourglass, which will give you both armor and a great active ability. Zhonya's Hourglass can save you from all sorts of time-bomb abilities, like Vlad's Hemoplague, Karthus' Requiem, and Zilean's quite literal Time Bomb.
You should build Zhonya's right about the time you reach level 16, and in good games, it will be followed shortly by victory. If you haven't won yet, it's time for the late game.
Kennen's Late Game
Now that you have Zhonya's Hourglass it's time for Kennen's initiate combo. It won't bring you kills, but it will stun a good portion of the enemy team, as well as dealing lots of damage. To boot, they'll be targeting you and your high armor/magic resistance, because you'll be the one dealing lots of damage, and there will be a huge blue circle around you. Your team should capitalize on the stun and start getting killing the enemy, if not, you still have an escape plan. And, as the enemies squishies will be devoid of magic resistance, you'll hit them for almost twice as hard as you would have with just straight AP. But, as Kennen says, balance in all things, it's time to give straight AP it's turn.
Rabbadon's Deathcap, your next item built, will give you about 500 ability power. At this point, your ability power will double all the damage from your skills, and every hit will be a 300-600 damage nuke, unless they've built Magic Resistance. While the core of the build was in the first four items, Rabbadon's Deathcap makes your attacks destroy enemies.
After buffing every other aspect of Kennen, his ability power, his initiate, and his magic penetration, his sixth item buffs the only thing left: his spell vamp. Will of the Ancients will make it so your farming heals you for loads, and it will make your ulti even stronger. If for some reason hourglass isn't keeping you alive, this will. They can't possibly kill you before you ult, hourglass, electric surge, and are full again.
If the game still isn't ending, it's time to make a judgement call. Selling Haunting Guise is a good option, but you can either buy Void Staff if the enemy team is tanky, or Rylai's Crystal Scepter for more durability. Either is good.
Solo laning with Kennen
Early on, Kennen is a viable mid. Your range is nice, your CC punishes enemy mids, and your farming combo lets you out farm most other mids. At level 6 things change.
Slicing Maelstrom is designed to hit two enemy champions at level 6, and playing in a solo lane means it will only be half as effective. Instead of using Slicing Maelstrom on the enemy mid, use Lightning Rush to reach another lane far faster than your lane opponent can. Use your lane combo to gank the enemy, and you'll be back before your turret takes damage.
Hopefully, after a few times of doing this, your allies will take their turrets and the lane phase will end. Slicing Maelstrom is designed to be used in a team fight. It's a decent way to burst down an enemy who's alone, but it's far more beneficial if you hold onto it until you can maximize how many bolts hit the enemy.
If you like using Mejai's Soulstealer, buy it before you build Abyssal Scepter, and do not build Will of the Ancients at the end.
If the entire enemy team has magic resistance, sell Haunting Guise and build a Void Staff.
If you prefer move speed quintessences over health quintessences, build Sorcerer's boots, and you'll have 40 magic penetration. I'd recommend keeping Abyssal Scepter for the Magic Resistance though.
If you like buffing Kennen's auto attack, build Sorcerer's Shoes and Lich Bane, which will give you extra magic penetration, move speed, and make your auto attacks hit harder. It will cost you another item though.
If you like starting with a Doran's item, start with Doran's Shield, and sell it once you get to building Zhonya's Hourglass. You won't need the health or armor any more.
Hall of fame
If you use this guide and do well, send me a screenshot!
Image taken for me by my buddy Leona. I'm the one playing Kennen.
Image taken for my by my friend Sh11ft, a pro support-heimer. With WOTA, I had 50% spell vamp, and as no one on the enemy team every built MR, I was dealing 700 damage and healing for 350. A swing of 1000. You'll note the change in boots, I found I needed more health once the entire enemy team started focusing me. Not even 60% reductions and hourglass could let me stay in the fight until the end, so I swapped it out for a belt and slower boots.
Update Log and Conclusions
Thank you so much for reading. While I'm certainly not the best Kennen player in the world, this build is what took me from having a slightly negative K/D each game, to being very positive. It is my pride and joy Kennen Build.
Added missing details about flash
Reformatted Abilities section to make it easier to read
Learned the use of the wiki function. Added the midding section.
Improved the "Why I build how I build" section. Added some color to make it feel less like a wall of text. The problem still persists a bit.
Changed the last item in the build to will of the ancients.