Kennen Build Guide by Ur Little Sister
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.
Kennen. Subjectively one of the more fun characters to play!
This fast ninja packs quite a punch. He can choose to build towards single target destruction and lane domination, or towards larger AoE damage in teamfights. This guide will explore both ways of playing him, as well as explaining how to variate upon them, or take a route somewhere in between.
Kennen is not a polar champion! Therefore, I have dedicated a separate section of this guide to constructing your own build.
The first build is a very agressive, high single-taret damage build. It focusses on obtaining large amounts of AP fast.
The second build resembles a more popular way of playing kennen: this build is tankyer, and focusses on large AoE damage in teamfights.
The third build is how I play kennen in dominion. Feedback on this section would be greatly appreciated, as I'm fairly new to it.
There is only one section discussing Dominion, as it is a different playground. All other sections of this guide are meant for Summoner's Rift.
Pros / Cons
- Great harassment in lane
- Multiple-target hard cc
- Can keep laning forever due to energy system
- Good at both juking and chasing
- Built in shield + increased movement speed. (Careful, last time I checked mobafire didn't mention the increased armor and magic resist on lightning rush!)
- Very squishy when trying to unlock his full damage.
- Vulnerable to CC
- Stun is not instant, and is sometimes hard to control
Mark of the Storm: Kennen's abilities add Marks of the Storm to opponents which last for 8 seconds. An opponent is stunned for 1 second upon receiving 3 Marks of the Storm, and Kennen receives 25 energy. The stun has a diminished effect if applied more than once within 7 seconds.
This passive defines Kennen. The basis of learning Kennen is mastering the marks. The art of Kennen is to keep track of who has how many marks, and how many you can apply in which manners. Can you apply a guaranteed mark or only a skillshot one? How many ennemies in this teamfight did my ultimate already mark?...
Thundering Shuriken: (Active): Kennen throws shuriken in a line in front of him, dealing magic damage and adding a Mark of the Storm to the first opponent that it hits.
Your main single-target damage ability. It's a linear skillshot that deals damage and applies a mark of the storm. It's on a low cooldown and has a low energy cost, so spam it!
Electrical Surge: (Passive): Every 5 attacks, Kennen next attack will deal extra magic damage equal to a percentage of his attack damage and adds a Mark of the Storm to his target.
(Active): Surges electricity through all nearby targets afflicted by Mark of the Storm, dealing magic damage and adding another mark.
This skill is the most versitile one kennen has, and it's often underestimated. The uses include applying a mark of the storm to the entire ennemy team, applying 2 guaranteed marks on a single target, detecting stealth units,...
The damage on this skill is on par with thundering shuriken, and is even higher than shuriken under 200-ish AP. The reason this skill is generally overlooked is that the buffed auto-attack is often forgotten. For more information, check the Thundering Shuriken vs Electrical Surge section!
Lightning Rush: (Active): For 4 seconds Kennen gains his base movement speed again as a flat movement speed bonus, as well as increased armor and magic resistance and the ability to pass through units, but he is unable to attack. Lightning Rush deals magic damage and adds a Mark of the Storm to any hostile unit he passes through; but it only deals half damage to minions.
Kennen restores 40 energy if he passes through an enemy while using this spell, but can only gain this effect once per cast.
This ability is often poorly understood. So here's some info!
- Yes, this ability gives increased armor and magic resist and thus can be used as a shield to mitigate damage.
- During the ability, you cannot auto-attack, but you can activate spells.
- You can cancel this ability. This will instantly terminate your movement speed increase, the ability to apply marks on collision and the inability to auto-attack, but the armor and magic resist bonusses WILL PERSIST FOR THE FULL 4 SECONDS!
- You must go through your opponent to apply the mark of the storm, deal the damage of this ability and get the energy refund. Merely touching an opponent (eg by rightclicking) is not enough.
- This last thing also implies that taretted gapclosers ( Shadow Dance, Audacious Charge, Sonic Wave / Resonating Strike,...) performed on you will NOT activate the ability's effects.
Slicing Maelstrom: (Active): Kennen summons a magical storm that deals magic damage to a random enemy champion near Kennen every few seconds. The storm hits several times, increasing with level, and cannot hit the same target more than 3 times. A Mark of the Storm is applied to enemies each time they are hit.
The famous electrical circle thingy. Pikachu's final move! It's a solid ulti, deals ok-ish damage. The real thing about this ultimate is, obviously, that it applies a gratuitous amount of marks of the storm to your ennemies. Keeping track of who has how many marks on them and basing your actions on this is what separates the winjas from the ninjas.
How you choose to use this ultimate is a matter of flavor, and depends on your build. There's a section in the Tactics chapter that deals specifically with this.
I personally like Ignite and Flash.
Flash is an absolute must! You have no built-in blink, you are relatively squishy no matter how you build, and your ultimate NEEDS flash. Flash can give you the extra range on your ult to hit that running target (build 1, see tactics), or get you in the very middle of the battle to unleash havoc on the ennemy team (build 2, see tactics).
Ignite gives you that extra early-game damage punch you might need for an early kill. That, and ignite is just one of those summoner spells that your team should have to counter ennemy tryndameres, mundos, swains,...
Other good summoner spells on him are Ghost and Cleanse. Gost is similar to flash in usage. Cleanse is more situational. It works good on you as escaping tool, since you can follow cleanse up with a movement speed increase instantly (lightning rush). It can also change the course of a teamfight if you're cc-ed with your ult on.
The marks are obvious: Greater Mark of Magic Penetration all the way baby!
You could go for Greater Mark of Ability Power, or get 6 Greater Mark of Magic Penetrationand 3 Greater Mark of Ability Power or something, but since kennen's scalings aren't superb and Mpen isn't necessarily a heavy component in the build I do suggest full Mpen reds.
For seals I take Greater Seal of Vitality. I consider these to be the best defensive seals in the midlane, as the magic resistance ones are pretty bad compared with glyphs, and armor isn't that useful a stat when your laning opponent deals magic damage. Nice all-round defensive choice. I don't really have any alternatives here.
Glyphs give you some options: Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power gives you a nice midgame boots in damage; whereas Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist will help with your squishyness. The reason I'd pick mres/level runes is that these runes exceed flat mres runes as soon as lvl 6. The only magic damage you'll find this early in the game comes from the ennemy (quite likely caster) champion. Most casters get their true strength at lvl 6 (when the scaling runes are already better than the flat ones).
Quints are also versitile.
You can pick Greater Quintessence of Ability Power for early game harassment.
Greater quintessence of vigor work on everybody.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed might help if you opt for a doran's shield start.
Thundering Shuriken vs Electrical Surge
This topic has seen many discussions. As you can see, my first build focusses on shuriken, whilst my second one neglects it alost completely and maxes E surge first. Some thoughts:
Thundering Shuriken is your main single-target damage spell. When maxed, this spell deals SLIGHTLY less damage than the total damage Electrical Surge gives you, if you count in the bonus damage the latter gives on the 5th attack. The difference is negligable for all practical uses.
So why do most kennens max it first? Because of the cooldown and range. This spell has a higher potential damage than E-surge, simply because the cooldown is so much lower. It's also safer, because E-surge requires you to get into attack range for the passive proc, which means you'll eat through extra harass.
Advantages and disadvantages of Thundering Shuriken:
+ Highest damage potential of kennen's skills (considering the low coolown)
+ Long range: you can poke relentlessly from a great distance!
+ Fast moving skillshot!
- Still a skillshot. Can be dodged, juked, blocked by minions
- Single target
Advantages of Electrical Surge:
+ Guaranteed damage! Even if your auto-attack gets dodged, the mark gets applied and you can activate surge. Great finisher skill.
+ Can hit multiple targets. This skill can, when used cleverly, stun multiple ennemies at once.
+ Reveals your target's location. Any target near you with a mark on them can be hit, even if in brush or invisible. You hit a twitch with your shuriken but he stealthed? Surge, and then Lightning Rush to his location!
- Lower single target damage potential than shuriken
- High cooldown
- Makes you visible to any ennemies hit. So be careful when using it from behing a wall if your ennemies have gap-closers.
Having discussed Shuriken and surge, we can now get on with the skill sequence:
You take Electrical Surge as first skill in both builds?
Yes. I also generally proc it on wolves or golems before I enter my lane. This skill cannot be dodged, deals a good chunk of damage, and is unexpected to most players. This skill is, in my experience, the easyest way to acheive lvl 1 lane domination with kennen. However, if you know that your opponent's harass is targetted, and greater than yours (eg malzahar), be careful with this tactic!
Since this build aims to unlock kennen's maximum damage, maxing Thundering Shuriken is a logical choice.
I max Electrical Surge right after shuriken, taking only one point in Lightning Rush. With this setup, I have the highest harass Kennen can acheive.
This build aims for hitting multiple tarets hard, and as such Thundering Shuriken is left virtually untouched. I only take 1 early rank in it to be able to tag ennemies with marks.
Maxing Electrical Surge gives me good damage. This, however, leaves me more prone to counterharass. This is where Lightning Rush kicks in: this skill gives you increased movement speed, armor AND magic resist! It's a shield, and must be used as one!
The armor and magic resist bonusses last longer than the movement speed bonus, and last their full duration even if you cancel rush. This means you can get into auto-attack range fast, get there beefy, and hit them with your procced auto-attack and followup active from E-surge.
In the offensive tree, I take all masteries that increase my spell damage. This includes Havoc and Executioner . You may choose to build Kennen more defensive, but Arcane Knowledge is an absolute MUST!
The 9 points I take in the defensive tree are spread out 2/2 across Resistance and Hardiness , which allows for Veteran's Scar to be taken.
A more defensive kennen setup would take 9/21/0 masteries.
I like to take Indomitable , Vigor , Honor Guard and Juggernaut . I put the missing point into Evasion .
The reason I favor Evasion and Vigor over Enlightenment is that Kennen in my opinion doesn't need much cdr. Thundering Shuriken has a short enough cooldown (especially at later levels, which is when Enlightenment starts to work) as it is, and reduced cooldowns quickly lead to energy starvation anyway.
There are many item choices on Kennen. I'll explore as many as I can think of right now ^^
For starting setup, my favorite combination is without a doubt Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potion. The movement speed just helps you enormously with positioning shurikens and getting out of harm's way. The health pots will give you the lane sustain you need early on.
Another starting item that works well is a Doran's Shield. It gives you good lane sustainability, and will help if you're fighting a dps ennemy (ez, corki, irelia,...). It's a solid pick for build 2, as the closer range from your auto-attack means you'll draw minion aggro frequently.
For tier 2 boots, Sorcerer's Shoes is the way to go! You're an AP carry, it's the logical choice.
Before getting Rylai's, I generally get 1 cheap item to boost my midgame.
My 3 general options here are:
- Hextech Revolver for great sustain. This will keep you in lane as long as you please. It's somewhat the kennen variant of a Catalyst.
- Haunting Guise. This item gives you extra health, AP and magic pen. Amazing item if you're fighting an ennemy with magic resist runes who's getting on your nerves, or a ryze who might get an early banshee veil. Overall a solid pick on Kennen.
- Menjai's Soulstealer. This, however, is very situational. Only get it if you are already dominating your lane.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter is a main item on kennen. It increases your tankyness, gives you a good chunk of AP and adds a slow to all your spells. Ennemies will find it harder to kite your ult, once you hit them you can keep slowing them forever (and get some stuns in between) by spacing out your spells, and once you hit an ennemy once, you can hit with shurikens more easily.
From here on, my 2 builds each take a different direction.
We're maxing our damage output, so let's get that rabbadon's deathcap fast! They'll be building magic resist by now, so get a Void Staff too! You're a monster with amazing damage now, congragulations!
However, the defence you got from that rylai isn't enough anymore. It's lategame now. You've built a tad glass cannon. Your range has kept you safe so far, but their damage is becoming big, and they will focus you if you ult now. And that's why you get your Zhonya's Hourglass! The ultimate doesn't end when you activate it, so focussing you can quickly become a dire mistake!
You can finish your will of the ancents somewhere in the very end. All item choices at this point are, as you all know, situational anyway. You could also throw it away completely and get an Abyssal Scepter!
You've got Rylai. However, you'll be diving RIGHT in with the ennemies, and they will focus you! Therefore, you must quickly boost your resistances even more (than lightning rush already takes care of). Build your Abyssal Scepter and Zhonya's Hourglass. These will make you nice and tanky!
From here on, again, it's situational. You can finish your Will of the Ancients, get a rabbadon's deathcap to increase your damage, you can sell the revolver and get a Void Staff,... Check your opponent's items, how fed everybody is, their creep score,... And decide what is best.
I generally don't get these,but they are viable.
Lichbane Woohoo, extra magic damage! It fits nicely in build 1, though I wouldn't know which item to throw away for it... The mana component of this item also is kind of wasted.
Guinsoo's Rageblade Get this if you want to go splitpushing, or if your team lacks physical damage. You'll have no trouble maxing the stacks on it quickly.
Let's start off with some general tacitcs, to then differentiate between the two builds. Eventually, I'll write a couple of words on when to choose which build.
Harass, lasthit, harass, lasthit, lasthit, HARASS!
And if you find some spare time, harass.
Reguardless of the build, you should try to tag ennemies with Thundering Shuriken. This will ensure good damage and leave them open for getting stunned. Once the ennemy has 1 proc on them, you can use your other sources of marks to get a stun off and do some nice harass to which they won't be able to fully retaliate.
If you want to go for that first blood, you can flash in once you know you will stun. So hit them with a shuriken or procced auto-attack before you flash or lightning rush in.
Keep an eye on the passive of Electrical Surge, and try to hit a player with it at all times. It's basically 2 free, guaranteed marks of the storm (because you can instantly activate E surge's active after a procced attack hits); combined with some nice damage.
You should be farming well now. You might push the opponent to his or her turret. This is not a problem. Go gank a sidelane! Don't stand still, always be doing something. Lightning Rush makes for fast transport between lanes. And keep an eye on your midlane so you can call MIA if your opponent decides to countergank once she's re-pushed her lane a bit.
A word on Slicing Maelstrom
Always keep track of how many marks all your ennemies have. This spell strikes at random. What you DON'T want is that you stun your ennemies solely with this spell! Because if you do that, your ennemies (who were in your AoE spell) will lose their marks! It is a lot more efficient to unleash E surge early, when many ennemies have 1 or 2 marks on them.
Build 1 specific tactics
With this build, you want to keep your distance. Harass from a long range, you are squishy! If you can get them low enough, make your move and finish them! But never overextend. Positioning is very, very important in this build!
Slicing Maelstrom is a great spell. However, you DON'T want to use it in the middle of a teamfight. You're simply too squishy for that. Wait for an initiation from your tank (or offtank), and follow up after the fight has begun. Keep the ennemies about halfway between you and the edge of your ulti. This way, they can't insta-kite you, but they still have quite a way to run if suddenly want to jump you. You have an amazing damage output, don't let it go to waste by dying in the first 3 seconds of a fight.
Build 2 specific tactics
You are reasonably tanky. Your harass probabely outdamages theirs, so don't be afraid to lightning rush in, hit them with the procced auto-attack and hit that E surge button! Disengage after this again. If they chase you, throw a shuriken! They have 2 marks on them anyway after this harassment...
In teamfights, you must run towards your ennemies, and try to hit as many as possible with all 3 your AoE spells! Lightning Rush + Slicing Maelstrom will quite often bring 2-3 ennemies at 2 marks simultaniously. Using Electrical Surge, you have an instant AoE stun right there buddy! Stun the others with your procced auto attack, and with shurikens!
Choosing your build.
I have explained a lot of Kennen mechanics in this guide. You've read about the pros and cons of defensive vs offensive building. Go forth and testeth this yourself! Every skilling and itemization decision you make changes a whole different region of you, and this must be accompanied by your playstyle following through with the made decision.
Some general pointers:
Electrical Surge based builds are great when you're fighting short-ranged laners, or laners with skillshots that you can juke. Do mind, however, that this skilling opens you up to ennemy harass more.
Electrical Surge based builds are worthless if your ennemy's harass exceeds yours, or if you need to keep your distance from the ennemy in a fight. I'm thinking mordekaizer, malzahar... Not the best ennemies to be using this against!
Thundering Shuriken builds will generally give you a stronger laning phase. They are advised against strong laners. There are situations though, where shuriken fails. If for example your ennemy is Yorick, who can constantly create stupid bodyblocking minions around you and him, don't bother levelling shuriken. You won't hit him. Ever.
As for masteries, the 2 builds differ immensely. But realize that any linear combination of these masterie setups is good. As long as you remember to take Arcane Knowlage
Kennen is also a viable champion in Dominion.
I see him as a mobile champion who assists his team in whatever it is they're doing. My base strategy with him is to stay in the back and dish out as much damage as I possibly can.
Kennen is squishy. If the other champions get to him and can stay near him, he dies. In dominion, this can be a problem. Thank goodness, he has high mobility and a long range!
Kennen on dominion is like playing a blitzkrieg. Poke from a distance, but poke HARD!
My rune setup is geared towards damage. I want to be dishing out damage from level 1 on!
The Greater Seal of Healths are there to give me that little extra durability just in case, and because honastly I don't like the alternatives.
My masteries are identical to summoner's rift, because I already gear up for maximum damage output there, which is consistent with my dominion tactic.
As my strategy is to stay far behind, run like a chicken if I get focussed and keep harassing hard from afar, the main things I should spec into are AP and magic pen. Rushing a deathcap is a very viable option on him here. Zhonya's Hourglass is for those ults in the middle of all my ennemies, and the ability to survive them. Now getting further than these items on dominion is rare; but if it happens I'd gear up for magic penetration quickly with a Void Staff. After this, my opinion is that you should continue the strategy and buy insane amounts of ability power.
Ignite for the finishing touch. Exhaust is a viable alternative, as you can never have too much exhaust on the crystal scar.
Ghost is probabely the best spell you have here for charging in with Lightning Rush to ult, or if you need to escape a gank.
You might have noticed a key difference with my preferre Summoner's Rift strategy: I always max Lightning Rush over Electrical Surge here. This is because:
- Mobility makes or breaks a dominion game
- The added on armor and magic resistance give you some survivability. If they focus you, a decent rank in this skill is a very strong escape
- You don't have enough laning time to proc the passive of Electrical Surge. Auto-attacking also isn't a good idea in general on kennen here.
Playstyle and good teammates
I prefer to have kennen rush top with his teammates. From there on, you should stick to your team like your laning opponent in Summoner's Rift to his turret. You are a glass cannon. Help capture, help defend. Capture unattended points, but rush out if they come after you.
You should consider sticking to tanky teammates with cc. These guys can tun in and take the beating, whilst you keep hitting like a truck. Good teammates include: Rammus, Udyr, Alistar, Singed.
In all, Kennen is definately one of my favorite champions to play.
He has a lot of mechanics and options that many people don't realize, and I hope this guide was able to illuminate some of these to you.