Katarina Build Guide by DaCookieMonsta
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.
Introduction (New Blades, New Playstyle)
Hi, I am a huge league of legends fan. I play on the NA server and while I don't feel I am "pro" or anything, I do feel that I have a pretty good interpretation for how to play Katarina. As this is my first guide on Mobafire, please cut me some slack. Any constructive criticism would really help me out. This guide is for AP Kat who I feel is one of the most fun champs to play. Since her rework, Katarina has taken a huge shift in her play style. Before her rework, Katarina used to be heavily reliant on her ult for her maximum damage, waiting for the right moment to Shunpo in and press r. New Kat's play style is changed from a single-target assassin who jumps onto the enemy carry and ults to try to snowball the fight, to a heavy aoe damage champ who creates a whole slew of aoe havoc through her new ability " sinister steel". While a lot of people are hating on her rework, I feel that in the right hands, New Katarina can be deadly. While you can't just jump in and ult and expect penta kills, Kat post-rework takes a creative skill to outplay her opponent and her new play style takes a bit of adjusting to get used too.
When is it safe to pick Katarina?
I never pick Katarina if I am first or second pick. If I pick her too early, this allows the enemy team to counter pick me middle and set up a team with lots of hard crowd control. Usually, if most of the team seems to have low cc, I pick Katarina. If they have a lot of hard cc I choose someone else. This is why I feel that Katarina can be a situational pick. Though It's hard to play against a team with lots of hard cc, it's not impossible. You can still outplay a team with 7 disables or more if you set your mind too it.
A Team I WOULD pick Katarina against:
This team has close to zero crowd control. A lot of there crowd control is a hard to land in team fights.
A team I would NOT pick Katarina against:
This team has a wide variety of crowd control. 2 Knockbacks, 2 stuns, 1 suppression etc.. This team comp would be really hard to face especially if they're focused on stopping your ult in team fights and lowering your mobility.
Who is Katarina?
Lore: Driven by an intense killer instinct, Katarina uses her talents as an assassin for the glory of Noxus, and the continued elevation of her family. While her fervor drives her to ever-greater feats, it can sometimes lead her astray. From childhood, Katarina displayed a natural gift for combat. As the daughter of a prominent Noxian general, many paths were open to her, but she rejected them all for the path of the blade. Rigorously trained by the finest assassins in Noxus, her father the best among them, it was not long before Katarina demanded her first assignment. The task they gave her was aggravatingly simple: assassinate a low-ranking Demacian officer. As she set to her work infiltrating the enemy camp, Katarina discovered an opportunity too tantalizing to pass by – the arrival of a Demacian General. Stalking him to his tent, she quietly dispatched his guards and slit his throat. Pleased with her impressive kill, she disappeared into the night. Katarina’s elation faded the next day when her original objective, the Demacian officer, led his forces to ambush unprepared Noxian soldiers. Though the Noxians fought valiantly, they suffered heavy casualties. Furious at her mistake, Katarina set off to complete her original task. Returning to the camp, she spied her now heavily guarded target and realized a stealthy kill was no longer possible. Drawing her blades, Katarina swore the officer would die, no matter the cost. She leapt into battle, unleashing a whirlwind of steel. One by one blades flashed and guards fell, each strike bringing her one step closer to the officer. A final thrown dagger restored her honor. Bloody and bruised, Katarina barely escaped the Demacian forces, and returned to Noxus a changed woman. The scar she earned that night now serves as a constant reminder that she must never let passion interfere with duty.
"Never question my loyalty. You will never know what I endure for it."
New Kat vs Old Kat (Which is better?)
In my opinion, New Katarina is better then old Katarina. I know I'm going to get a lot of hate for this, but hear me out. Old Katarina was just a Bouncing Blades Spammer bot in lane. I feel that the rework + after buff (August 29th, v184.108.40.206) made Katarina even stronger (especially late game) and more fun to play. While at first, like most people, I felt that the rework was completely unnecessary and I was really mad at Riot Games for messing with my favorite champ. I was pissed at Shunpo doing like 40 damage at level 1. But after a few test games on PBE and then after the patch, I realized that New Kat had a lot of potential. All the power and uniqueness that made old Katarina really fun was still there in New Katarina and part of her playstyle (jumping around the map, snowballing in fights with her passive Voracity) was also still there. Before she used to rush Hextech Gunblade and try to get lucky with her 50/50 chance of using Death Lotus in team fights for her damage, now she deals consistent aoe damage in team fights and is pretty decent at 1vs1. While the damage on her ultimate was reduced a little bit, her w becoming a spammable aoe spell, seems to make up for it. New Kat just has a whole new take on her. Kind of like Old Katarina but with new weapons.
Katarina plays the role of a melee mage/assassin who can quite easily snowball out of control. One of her trademark moves is the "reset" or her passive which makes all her spells come of cooldown except her ultimate. Once the first kill/assist goes to Katarina, she has a good chance to move on and get triple, quadra or even penta kills. One of Katarina's biggest counters is hard cc. While cc can stop her ult cold and leaves her extremely vulnerable in fights, good Katarina players have to master timing. Knowing when to go in, namely when cc and nukes are on cooldown, is crucial. If you play your cards right, she has the potential to snowball a team fight and decimate teams. She excels at cleaning up fights after most people are dead.
Kat is an assassin. Her job is to shutdown carries. Her ability to go in, kill someone, and immediately back out allows for her hit and run playstyle. As she is very mobile, she excels at early ganks and small skirmishes.
Insight On New Katarina (From TiensiNoAkuma)
Overall what occurred is that they unintentionally nerfed Katarina's early game and mid game and buffed her late game and farming power. The nerfs to early game include her inability to harass the enemy with Q + W during early game lane phase without any repercussions. This puts her at the mercy of champions who simply counter Katarina (which is basically 80% of the current champion base and still growing).
They increased her trading potential with a higher ap ratio and a new added skill. But because of the Shunpo nerf there is little reason to be willing to go all in and trade with the enemy unless you can guarantee that the enemy will not gank you, and that you will win the trade. These risks are what make the increased damage output pointless for early game.
Another unintended nerf to early/mid game is the change on her ult. During these times in the game fights usually consist of a 1v1 to a 3v3, there is usually minimal CC, and good players can bait out all of the CC and go in with a fully channeled Katarina ult (or atleast longer than 2 seconds). Now that Katarina is limited to only 2 seconds on her ult, she actually is weaker overall if you consider that lost second of damage. I've personally noted that I've missed 1-2 kills atleast per game simply because my ult doesn't last long enough for me to finish them off.
The final nerf to Katarina is the increased CD on E, as I said before there is little reason to max E first, which means that you'll be stuck with a 14 second Cd (without cdr) Shunpo for the better half of the game. This limits the risks that you can take as kat early-mid game simply because you no longer have a reliable escape skill (the 1 second speed increase on W with a 4 second cd does not make up for being able to ward hop over a wall or cover 700 distance).
The buff to the late game consists of two things, her new W skill lets her farm much better, she can farm camps with minimal damage taken in return. Late game her W + Q + 1 Auto attack can clear an entire creep wave in no time. The other buff is her damage output in team fights, her new E + W + Q combo has mathematically a better overall ratio than the old E + Q combo. In addition W is a aoe spell now, so she is now even moreso, a monster in team fights if she can get her reset off.
+High Aoe Damage Output in team fights.
+Potential to snowball in team fights.
+Easy to learn (hard to master)
+Strong mid-late game
+Built-in escape, less reliant on flash
+Excellent at Tower Diving
+Doesn't use Mana
+Can carry if you know what you're doing
-Very susceptible to crowd control spells
-Weak early game
-Low 1 spell burst
-Low burst early game (without items)
-Melee Auto Attack
-Her escape spell is also her all-in spell. (Weak to ganks after use)
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: For Katarina's marks I feel that there is simply no better choice than Insight marks for penetration. This is the best in the slot for most ap carries. Because New Katarina has a bit higher base damages but low ap ratios, magic pen works great on her.
Greater Seal of Armor: I choose to take armor seals over Greater Seal of Vitality because since Katarina is melee and her Bouncing Blades isn't too reliable for last hitting, smart opponents will hit you with their ranged auto attacks during laning phase when you go to last hit. Greater Seal of vitality also work if you don't have armor seals or prefer health per level more than flat armor.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Flat magic resist are really good here because this tries to make up for Kat's bad early game and these runes also lower her damage taken from spells. I don't choose ap per level glyphs because most of her early game relies on using her q to last hit and harass which has a rather low ap ratio.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: Movement speed quints are my go-to choice for Katarina. Movement speed quints help a lot whether its going back to lane, roaming, running away from ganks, harassing or dodging spells. Greater Quintessence of Ability Power can also go here if you prefer those or if you don't have the expensive movement speed quints.
There are 3 different masteries pages I would suggest using on Katarina:
This page helps me out a lot in lane. The defense helps me trade with the enemy mid laner and helps out a bit with Katarina's weak early game and her nature of combing the enemy pre 6 ( Bouncing Blades ---> Shunpo --> Sinister Steel --> Run Out). This page is the one I normally use and it gives me a good mix of defense, cool down reduction, magic penetration and everything I else I need.
This page is also viable as well even though it actually wouldn't be my first choice. Since Katarina has low ap ratios, I don't feel going the full 21 in offense is worth it. Though executioner in offense is tempting to get. This page also gives me a fair amount of defense as well as offense.
This mastery page even though I don't use it as much as the others, I still feel it has some usefulness. I steer clear from all the mana/energy boosting masteries in utility and go for reduced death timer, 15cd reduction on flash and more movement speed which is all really nice. The thing is though, with this page I miss out on a good share of cooldown reduction, ad for last hitting and the 10% magic penetration. This page is useful along with movement speed quints for running away from ganks, roaming or just dodging skill shots in lane.
Summoner Spells (What's good and what's not)
Ignite: My favorite summoner spell for basically any champ with burst or high kill potential. I often times find my self doing a full combo and the enemy escaping with barely any health. This helps me secure kills and snowball.
Flash: While you do have Shunpo and high movement speed to escape most things that get thrown at you, I like Flash still as it is such a amazingly broken summoner spell. Escape from ganks, secure kills, juke + kill, go through walls. Flash is op.
Exhaust: Not my favorite choice on Katarina. It can still be good if your team lacks one and you may need it to shut down a strong champ.
Heal + Ignite Silsol Combo: Are you a man? Do you want to snowball your lane? HEAL + IGNITE 2 STRONK. YOU CANT BEAT THIS COMBO. (lol seriously, your choice if you decide this, but your left without a relaible escape spell in Flash)
Cleanse: I wouldn't pick this on Katarina, your better off getting maybe quick silver sash. Your lacking a great spell in Ignite if you go Cleanse + Flash.
Ghost: Good for escaping/catching fleeing opponents but you already have Shunpo + Flash for mobility/positioning.
Teleport: I guess this could be ok if you have a well coordinated team. Helps you farm longer and get back to lane faster. Better off getting something else, especially if your only getting this for mobility around the map since Katarina already has high movement speed with masteries/quints/boots.
DON'T PICK THESE
Surge: If your just picking this for ap, your better off picking something else. I personally feel that this spell isn't as good as others. Surge works better with hybrid attack speed champs like maybe Kayle, Jax, Teemo or Kog'Maw.
Clarity: Katarina USES UP SO MUCH MANA IN LANE. I NEED Clarity TO SPAM SPELLS FOREVER. Clarity IS OP. (WTF R U THINKING PICKING Clarity ON A MANA-lESS CHAMP LOL)
Rally: U HACKING?
Revive: Revive ALWAYS VIABLE HUEHUEHUE - Dyrus
Clairvoyance: Are you a support? This spell has no use for you.
Smite: ALWAYS GET Smite ON JUNGLERS. THOUGH Katarina ISNT THAT GOOD A JUNGLER AND THIS IS A AP Katarina GUIDE
Promote: 5 MAN PROMOTE TEAM COMP PUSH ALL DAY ALWAYS WIN. (LOL NO, don't pick this)
Garrison: Didn't know we were playing dominion
Fortify: STOP HACKING YOU HACKERZ
After a kill or assist, Katarina refreshes her cooldowns on her basic abilities and reduces her ultimate cooldown by 15 seconds.
Explanation: This spell is extremely powerful and when used right, can make you one of the strongest damage per second ap carries. It helps Kat snowball to oblivion and deal large amounts of aoe damage in team fights with her q and w.
Q: Bouncing Blades
Katarina throws a dagger that bounces quickly from enemy to enemy, dealing magic damage and marking them. Each subsequent hit deals 10% less damage. Bouncing Blades hits a total of 5 unique targets (4 bounces), each striking the closest next target.
Blade Damage: 60/95/130/165/200 (+0.4 AP)
Mark Proc Damage: 15/30/45/60/75 (+0.15 AP)
Cooldown 10 / 9.5 / 9 / 8.5 / 8seconds
Explanation: Old Katarina used to max this first since it was the only things worth maxing. Bouncing Blades is a great harrasment tool/farming tool. I max W first usually because sinister steel just offers more than q does. It gives me better farming, dps, and utility. Dont underestimate the proc damage from the mark.
TeamFights: Poke the enemy team before team fights to weaken them for when you go in. This allows you to snowball even faster. While the initial damage is low, it does stack up if you use it 3 or 4 times in a row. Spam q a lot to poke and fights and try to use sinister steel to proc the mark rather than you auto attack
W: Sinister Steel
Whirls daggers in a circle dealing 40/80/120/160/200 (+0.5 bonus Attack Damage) (+0.25 Ability Power) magic damage. If she hits an enemy Champion, Katarina gains 12/20/28/36/44% Movement Speed for 1 second
Explanation: The new skill of Katarina's which I feel makes up for the loss of damage on her ult. I greatly underestimated this skill at first but soon found it to be very strong. A spammable, high base damage, aoe nuke that gives you 44 more movement speed for mobility in lane/fights. Helps out a lot during dragon/baron fights. I usually max this first unless it would be otherwise smarter to stay back in lane and spam q. For example: if your facing a champ like Ryze mid, maxing q would be a lot better than w because if you even run up to him to try to w, you will get rooted and then chunked by his other spells for free damage.
TeamFights: If you are positive that you can get off the full ultimate during a teamfight then definitely start spamming this before you go in or after you go in. The movement speed increase can help you chase, run away, or even get into a better position to ult. With the addition of this spell Kat now has two spammable aoe damage dealers to deal high amounts of damage to the whole enemy team.
Moves to a target's location. Deals 60/85/110/135/160 (+0.4 Ability Power) magic damage if the target is an enemy
After using Shunpo, Katarina gains 15% damage reduction for 3 seconds
12/10.5/9/7.5/6 second cooldown
Explanation: This spell separates the good Katarina's from the bad. Your ability to use this spell properly and at the right timing makes or break you from winning the team fight or just dying quickly and costing your team a win. This spell is a great spell to use in lane. Use it to juke, to dodge skillshots, for mobility, for setting up ult etc. The damage reduction on this spell can even help you survive burst damage, though don't go crazy and dive into 5 of the enemies thinking the measly 15% damage reduction for 3 seconds will save you.
TeamFights: NEVER use this spell to initiate UNLESS you are really fed and nothing can stop you, or the team has low cc. If you are sure the enemy team won't expect it, feel free to dive in with Shunpo and ult.In teamfights, to aggressively use Shunpo, dive directly onto the enemy (preferrably ad carry) and burst him down to start snowballing or jumping in the middle of the fight after a good initiation. Shunpo can be compared to ap Ezreal's Arcane Shift. These two champs both use it as a gapcloser, escape, repositioning tool AND a nuke.
R: Death Lotus
Katarina becomes a flurry of blades, throwing daggers at the closest 3 enemy Champions dealing 400/500/600 (+3 bonus Attack Damage) (+1.75 Ability Power) magic damage over 2 seconds
Daggers apply Grievous Wounds, reducing incoming healing by 50% for 3 seconds
An enemy champion can be hit by a maximum of 10 daggers over the 2 seconds.
Cooldown 60/55/50 seconds
Explanation: This very ultimate has the potential for one of the highest flat damage potential in the game. While this spell does crazy aoe damage, smart teams are going to save some of their cc to stop your ult mid-way. Even if you don't hit the full duration of your ult, 60-70% of your ult can sometimes be good enough. Similar to Nunu ult, you aren't revealed if you launch your ult while in a bush. Also, you don't always have to Shunpo in first to ult, you can walk in with the movement buff from Kat's W ( Sinister Steel) and begin to ult right there.
Death Lotus> sinister steel> Bouncing Blades> Shunpo
Normal Skill Sequence.
Maxing w first gives you consistent dps as it does about the same amount of damage as q, and helps out by a LOT midgame. W is great for farming, chasing, running away, and taking your wraiths if the jungler isn't near them. Q is maxed second because Shunpo, while having an lower cooldown on your escape spell is nice, Q provides safe farming, and lets you poke harder in lane/before a team fight. I like getting another point in Shunpo (usually around 8) early because the increased cool down really helps out a lot.
Laning (Early Game)
Lvl 1 fight: Don't get too crazy with these as Katarina is rather bad in these lvl 1 skirmishes. Other ap mid champs like Ryze and Ahri outshine her with their great lvl 1 cc abilities. Maybe if your team has a tons of aoe damage, you can skill up Shunpo and jump on the enemies faces, but in general just steer clear of lvl 1 fights since Katarina is pretty bad at them.
Laning: At level 1, stay back and farm. Last hit with your q and auto attacks. Dodge any skillshots that may come your way and be wary of powerful level 2 junglers. Alistar, Lee Sin and Shaco are just some of the early ganking junglers. If you are really worried about lvl 2 ganks and you aren't sure if you can escape, sometimes it can be ok to skill Shunpo first and as soon as you see the jungler come in, Shunpo to nearby minions.
Engaging: Don't go too hyper aggressive early on, farm up and wait until your level 3 so you have to access to all your spells. Even though early on your focusing on farming, if you are playing against someone like Ryze and your Bouncing Blades is on cooldown, sometimes it's best to let the minion fall instead of going into melee range for it. Risking multiple Rune Prison's and Overload's hits can be detrimental to your early game.
Harassing: To harass your lane opponent, it requires skill to be able to outplay your enemy mid laner and juke his skills. Your 3 spells are definitely not going to be able to 100 - 0 burst your opponent. Start off by constantly poking with your Bouncing Blades. Only engage with Shunpo and Sinister Steel when you feel you can trade blows with your enemy and there is no enemy jungler prescence nearby. A good time to engage is after you juked a skill-shot, you can catch the enemy offguard, or if an important/strong spell is on cooldown. What most people forget on Katarina is that harassing with auto attacks early game can actually do a lot of damage as it adds up, even if you are not an ad carry. Katarina has a faster auto attack animation that quite a few mid laners so getting in some quick hits can really help you out. Don't get carried away with it though, only try to auto attack in between times when enemies spells are on cooldown.
Level 6: Once you hit level 6, you gain your ultimate, Death Lotus. This move is a pretty strong spell, and because it has such a short cooldown, you can sometimes use it to harass and push the enemy laner to their turret or to the point where they have to back. With the nice damage reduction from Shunpo you can usually out damage other mid laners if the enemy stays near you long enough for the full duration of Death Lotus.
Laning (Mid Game)
Mid Game: Here is where Katarina begins to shine! With your movement speed runes + tier 2 Sorcerer's Shoes, you can roam around the map pretty easily. If you took Haunting Guise, you damage will be skyrocket high and you can kill enemies with ease. Roam around and gank often, looking for small skirmishes in which you can snowball off of.
Dragon/Baron Fights: Katarina really excels at these fights, especially if you are maxing Sinister Steel. The movement speed boost from her w makes it easy to move around the dragon area getting to a key opponent who you can kill. A lot of enemies will be clumped up in certain areas so a well-timed Death Lotus can make the enemy team spread out just the same as a Nunu's Absolute Zero.
Ganking: Just like Akali, Katarina is a snowball champ. The best way to succeed in mid game is to gank other lanes and KILL ALL THE THINGS! Bot lane is usually a great choice to gank. If you can sneak out and combine your gank with the jungler, you can get two easy kills and snowball bot lane to victory. In fights, always be smart about how you engage on an enemy, use your spell combo on an enemy you can kill so you can get the reset and rape someone else.
Laning (Late Game)
Late Game: This is the point where Katarina becomes unstoppable. Post-Rework, Katarina's late game can be even better than before! While you can't jump in and ult and expect straight out PENTA KILLS, you Death Lotus still does a epicly huge chunk of damage. Your Sinister Steel and Shunpo allow you to be highly mobile in teamfights, being able to escape focus, reposition, and focus your target better. Katarina can farm very well, so don't get caught up too much in roaming with your team all the time and forgetting to keep your creep score at a good level.
Teamfights: Before you start fighting, poke with your Bouncing Blades to lower the enemy team's health and soften them up for an increased kill potential. If you see someone out of position like if they are caught by a Skarner ult or Ahri Charm, focus them along with your team. Before you ult, get into a good position so you can ult as many people for as long as possible. Sometimes ulting two people for the full duration is better than ulting three for half the duration. Clean up team fights cleanly. Like I said before, don't just randomly spell combo any nearby enemy, do it smartly so you can kill a high priority target or get a reset on your spells to snowball the fight. Usually, before you jump in and ult, wait for a tank or someone to initiate and then follow them in to ult. Well timing with your spells can result in everyone saying "PENTA OMG" or raging cause you died immediately causing your team to lose the fight/the game. Remember, late game is where Katarina is strongest, play smart and play like your having fun. :D
Matchups Section (Halfway Done)
This is where Match-Up descriptions against certain enemies will go. This may take a while to finish since I will be adding a lot of matchups against mid laners, so don't expect this to come too quickly.
*Currently In Construction*
The following section shows matchup descriptions of Katarina vs commonly seen AP champs in the midlane. (These matchups description evaluations assume players are at equal or close to equal skill level.) Item builds and/or skill level up may change depending on opponent.
Very Easy: This is a match-up that any good Katarina has no trouble with. You should rarely be getting killed by this champ in a 1 vs 1 and you can straight up dominate and go off to gank. Even with enemy jungler presence, you can still be stronger/be back in the fight soon after.
Easy: While this matchup is still pretty easy, if you are not careful, you can still be easily stomped on. Be a little wary about jungler ganks, if you get to far behind, its going to be a little difficult to come back in. Good jungle ganks can tip the "easy" matchup on its side.
Normal: A great deal of these matchups rely on the skill of your Katarina and the skill of the enemy's champ. You may tend to be a little stronger early on, but make 1 too many mistakes and the matchup may go in their favor.
Hard: So, you decided to pick Katarina. These champs tend to be quite a challenge for you and tend to have to make you work harder for a kill. Maybe Kat wasn't such a great pick, but regardless try your best. Focus on last-hitting creeps, ask the jungler to help you out. Play these matchups with caution.
Very Hard: Maybe you should just give up! These matchup's tend to be the toughest champs Katarina can face off against. While they have reliable cc to stop your ultimate, more burst than you, or even too hard for you to reliably kill, you realize there were better picks than Katarina at this moment. These matchups will make you work your butt off. Try to push up and then go gank other lanes for a lead.
Ahri - (Normal)
Skill Priority: R>W>Q>E
*Avoid her Orb of Deception while laning.
*She's Dangerous with her strong ultimate, be wary when fighting her.
*Don't Ult on her unless you can bait out her Charm first.
* Ahri is a pretty strong ganker so when she leaves call mia and follow her to the lane.
Note: Kat's ult probably won't do much due to Ahri having three extra flashes plus hard CC... but Kat really doesn't care. Use your QEW combo on her and then run like heck while being careful to juke a Charm that may be on your tail. Rinse and repeat early game and Ahri will have a tough time. If you get a decent advantage, Katarina will begin to decide who wins this match-up. Careful about getting caught by Charm though, as post-6 she has a lot of damage with her ultimate.
Akali - (Normal to Hard)
Skill Priority: Q>W if she gets really ahead. Otherwise W>Q
*You have no CC so you have no way to stop Akali from ulting your face off.
*Neither does Akali so you can use ultimate without fear of getting disabled.
*Try not to get into extended fights with her as she out trades you big time especially post-6
*Early game is your best bet against her as you can combo in and gtfo before she has time to retaliate
Note: Her Q straight out trades yours and doesn't push the lane up so trading Q spells isn't the smartest thing to do. You do have an advantage early on since the real action for her doesn't begin until post-6. You can try to harass her before she hits level 6 as she has no gap closer, but she has good sustain and will probably just heal quite a bit of your damage off. Do not let her proc her Q on you early game as it does crazy amounts of damage. Post-6 though, She will rip your face off with her ultimate and Q combined and you have no way of forcing her off of you. Push the lane up to her tower if you can and rush a revolver to help you out if needed. She does out damage you and will probably beat you in lane but you do more damage in teamfights so try to play passive and bide your time with sustain. Follow her if she chooses to roam as she just like you is exceptional at it. If you manage to get ahead after a point, straight out dive onto her, catch her off guard, and ignite + Death Lotus. Your ultimate provides healing reduction so it's going to hamper a bit on her sustain from Hextech Gunblade.
Anivia - (Normal to Hard)
Skill Priority: R>W>Q>E
* Flash Frost is a very slow projectile so step to the side or Shunpo to dodge.
*Utilize the "Advanced Harass" combo where you auto attack in between cooldowns/spells.
*If you can dodge Flash Frost early on, Anivia has no way of stopping your combo.
*Bully her a lot pre-6 because she will get the upper hand after level 6.
Note: Anivia is a exceptionally strong laner right now but Katarina can actually hold her own. Early on dodge her Flash Frost and Anivia can't out trade you. Destroy her before 6 as she will be stronger when she gets her ultimate. When Anivia gets blue buff and she has ult, she will push non-stop and chunk health bars off of you. Your pushing power with Sinister Steel + Bouncing Blades is not too powerful yet so you will be stuck at turret often trying to get last-hits. DON'T FORGET ABOUT HER EGG. If you do manage to egg her early on, you can probably kill her even without jungle help as you have a short cooldown W and strong moves. If you can't kill her fast enough, be sure to dodge any Flash Frost that may come out against you when she revives.
Annie - (Normal to Hard)
Skill Priority: Q>W if she gets far ahead as she can 100-0 you but otherwise W>Q.
*Her auto attack range is crazy high so expect her to poke you often with it.
*If she is maxing Q first, push up. If she is maxing W stay away from cone range.
*If you can Shunpo right before the stun infused Q hits you, Annie might miss her W spell.
* Annie post-6 has huge burst, keep moving and stay wary.
Note: Early on, if she doesn't have stun up or is too many stacks away from proccing her passive, be sure to combo her. If she does get her stun up though, stay back until she wastes it on a minion. Once she hits level 6 though, be real careful. If you see her randomly flash, it's probably a chance that a jungler is nearby and/or she has stun up. If you see her flash, IMMEDIATELY Shunpo or counterflash and gtfo of there. Shunpo has damage reduction so if you can use it early on when Annie starts her burst, you can survive it and retaliate when she no spells up, or you can escape. If you can jump on her when she has no stun stacks, you straight out DPS her and you can easy win the fight.
Brand - (Normal)
Skill Priority: R>W>Q>E
*Laning against Brand isn't too hard if you can dodge his fire pillar.
*Harass him with your combo when atleast one of his spells are down since he out damages you.
*Since you have no mana, you can out sustain him as he has high mana costs.
*Once he hits 6, don't stand too close to allies since it will bounce and do more damage.
Note: Brand isn't that hard to lane against as Katarina because she has such high mobility. If you can dodge his Q or Shunpo on his face to make him miss a skillshot, you out trade him no problem. Careful about jumping on him when he has all his spells up since he can stun you and his combo will do more damage. A nice technique to do is stand around in the middle of your creep wave and Shunpo away as he tries to hit you with pillar pushing the lane to your tower making you safer from jungle ganks. Brand is scary in jungle/dragon/baron fights because if he can catch to people near each other, his ultimate will do crazy damage. Be smart when playing against him and you will win.
Cassiopeia - (Normal)
Skill Priority: R>W>Q>E
*This matchup is a skill related one so it can go either way.
*Early Twin Fang doesn't do a whole lot of damage so if you dodge her poison she can't hurt you too bad.
*Since you have such high mobility, Cass players are going to get thrown off when your faster than normal competition.
*When she is chasing you, zig zag as this will make her miss her skill-shots and make you win the lane.
Note: This matchup can really go either way. Most people think since you are so mobile that you pretty much automatically win the lane as she will never hit you, but this isn't always the case. When fighting her, keep moving and never stand too long in one place. Mix up your running style (Side to side, diagonally, backwards, or even towards her). When you want to harass her, it can be tricky, but doable. Only harass when she has missed an important skill shot and as you gtfo, zig zag to dodge any incoming skill shots. Post-6, Cass is tough to deal with. Juke her ultimate by Shunpoing onto her face or make her choose by facing away from her and ulting. Be wary about doing the latter trick as she can just as easily flash in front of you to get into position and stop your ultimate.
Cho'Gath - (Normal to Hard)
Skill Priority: R>W>Q>E
*Use your high mobility and Shunpo to dodge his Rupture and his silence.
*Stand away from your creeps so he can't harass you and farm at the same time.
*Get Haunting Guise to help counter his true damage ultimate with the extra health.
*You both will have trouble killing each other if you play smart, so just try to farm.
Note: Cho'Gath is actually stronger than most would expect. His silence is a very good spell against AP mages and can shut down your ultimate along with any other form of retaliation. Haunting Guise is a great item in this matchup as the health can help you survive some of his burst damage. Outrun his ruptures and Shunpo his face to dodge skillshots. Once Cho'Gath hits 6 and gets a few feast stacks up, it will be really hard to kill him. But if you play it safe, he will have a hard time killing you too. Keep trading with him and dodging spells and you can get him low enough for an eventual kill. Once he has a bunch of feast stacks it pretty much turns into a farm lane though as he has such great sustain from Rod of Ages and his passive.
Diana - (Hard)
Skill Priority: R>W>Q>E
*A good way to dodge Diana's Q is to run in the opposite direction of the curve.
*If she gets low on mana, or if one of her spells is on cooldown, then it is a good time to harass.
*If she gets ahead, consider maxing Q and getting revolver.
*She outrages you straight on with her shield so try to bait it out or dodge one of her spells.
Note: Diana is a real hard matchup for Katarina. Try to dodge/bait out her Q's and you should be fine early on. Trading with her is a little hard as she can knock you back towards her as you run away. Her shield is crazy strong so your trading won't be so strong if you fight for extended periods of time. Once she hits 6, be ready to Shunpo away as soon as she dives on you. Play the lane safe all the time, and if you outplay her, you can win.
Evelynn - (Easy)
Skill Priority: R>W>Q>E
*Especially before she hits 6, Evelynn has a hard time straight out damaging you.
*Keep moving and dodge her Q's that will randomly fly out at you.
*As soon as you begin to lose vision on her, call mia as she is fast and can easily gank a lane.
*Now that Deathfire Grasp was nerfed along with her ultimate, she does a lot less overall damage.
Note: Don't stand still too long and try to dodge her Q's. If she Q spams like crazy early on, she is going to go oom. You generally out trade her especially if you add in auto attacks so use that to your advantage. Don't try and fight for way too long as she has an attack speed boost so her auto attacks will hit faster. Call mia as soon as you can't see her unless you are 100% sure where she is, although you can never be too sure. You can win this fight if you outplay her and use good ultimates.
Fiddlesticks - (Hard-Very Hard)
Skill Priority: R>W>Q>E
*Try to push up before his drain gets to a higher duration
*As soon as he starts to drain you, IMMEDIATELY Shunpo out of there
*Harassing is hard as he will make you pay for sure if you dive on him
*Push up and start to roam as Fiddlesticks's pushing power is low so he can't punish you
Note: This is one of Katarina's hard counters. Try to push up a lane a bit before he gets a higher rank of Drain or he will just sustain forever. Don't jump on him when he has a higher level of Fear or he will just fear you and Drain you and you'll take way too much damage. Once he hits level 6 and he goes mia, be wary that he may be planning a surprise attack off in the river or nearby bushes. He will pop out, fear, drain and your gonna die. If he spams his spells using fear and silence, and then just standing there draining you, don't even bother wasting time casting Q or W, just Shunpo for the damage reduction and then full combo + ult him as your retaliation.
Gragas - (Easy)
Skill Priority: R>W>Q>E
*Don't stand in your creeps so Gragas has to choose whether to harass you with barrel or farm
*Dodge his barells with Shunpo and you should be fine.
*With Shunpo you have a high chance to outplay him as all his skills are skill-shots
Note: Gragas is actually one of the easier lanes for Katarina if you know what you're doing. Dodge his skill-shots and harass from time to time. If he takes W at level 2, punish him for it by getting Sinister Steel at level 2 and pushing up so he has a hard time farming. It is really easy to harass Gragas as Katarina and remember to take time to hit him when his barrel and spells are on cooldown. Once he hits level 6, you do have to be careful of his burst with ultimate. You have so much mobility, and his ultimate is a skill-shot so if you play it smart and use Shunpo, you can just out right dodge the whole thing.
Karthus - (Easy)
Skill Priority: R>W>Q>E
*Dodge his Q with your Shunpo + high mobility
*If he took Exhaust (most good ones do) then your going to have a tough time killing him
*If you harass him, be sure to keep moving in a circle as you auto attack so you can dodge his Q's
*If you see lanes getting lower on health and you know that Karthus has his ultimate up, try to rush to the lane to gank before they get so low that Karthus can kill them.
Note: Harass, Farm, Trade etc.. This is a pretty basic matchup for Katarina and an easy one at that. As you harass, run around so you can dodge Q's. Same thing if you QEW and are running away. If you jump on him and he uses his wall, if you have been maxing W, the boost of speed might just outweigh the slow from the wall enough for you to hurt/catch up to him. Play it safe, and remember he can kill you and other lanes when they are on low health.
Note: Do you like the Match-Ups Section Layout so far? Tell me if I should change it or not in the discussion section. As I may have not played certain matchups in a long time, I am not 100% sure on how all of these should work out for Katarina. If you see something I should change, be sure to point it out for me! (The Matchup Section is halfway through and will be finished off soon).
ALWAYS START: Boots of Speed + 3 health potions. The mobility is very good and the potions helps out for sustain during lane.
First Back: I don't normally rush Hextech Revolver on Kat anymore. Since most of your damage is aoe (Q,W,R) you won't be healing back for the full sustain. Also, your single target spell which heals for the full amount from revolver, got nerfed for half its old damage. Hextech Revolver also slows down your core build and getting better items. I normally go Kage's Lucky Pick after boots + 3 pots for the early ap + gp10 to head towards Deathfire Grasp later on (late game). Then I get Sorcerer's Shoes for the early mobility + magic penetration.
Next: I usually start heading on towards Haunting Guise and/or Abyssal Scepter. If you want, you can rush Haunting Guise first and then get Kage's Lucky Pick in between Haunting Guise and Abyssal Scepter. I now rush Rabadon's after Abyssal to make up for the damage lost from Deathfire Grasp which I now take late game as it was nerfed pretty hard.
Build Order so Far: Boots of Speed + 3 Health Pots, Kage's Lucky Pick, Haunting Guise, Sorcerer's Shoes, Abyssal Scepter
Rylai's Crystal Scepter: This item is ok, but it worked better on old kat. This item was usually taken on Old Kat because it helped people stay in for the full duration ult which was 3 seconds. Since most of your spells are aoe, you won't be getting the full slow. This item doesn't grant the offensive property of Abyssal Scepter or Rabadon's Deathcap and it also fails to match the defense and survivability from Guardian Angel or Zhonya's Hourglass.
Rabadon's Deathcap: This item is core on every ap carry and this no exception at all on Katarina. Although I don't rush this first, I tend to usually take this second after my Abyssal Scepter to make up for the burst lost from Deathfire Grasp. This adds "Tons of Damage" to Katarina which can help her snowball in fights with ease.
Lich Bane: Not really that good of a choice. It could be a possible 5th or 6th item if you just want something to buy. If your just getting this for mobility, it isn't worth it since you have a lot of movement from sinister steel + runes.
Guardian Angel: For defense or if your getting focused down hard in team fights. Also buy it if you are fighting in a really important team fight where one ace can mean GG. I also like to take this if I AM THE TEAM. Zhonya's Hourglass is usually the better choice though, but this is still very good.
Void Staff: If the enemy team gets smart and tries to buy a lot of magic resist to counter you, get this item for sure. It helps out a lot better late game so don't buy this too early.
Deathfire Grasp: Great for mid-late burst damage. This really compliments the fact that Katarina has low single target damage and also helps if your focusing down one specific champ.
NOTE: Now that Deathfire Grasp has been hit pretty hard with the nerf, my build order has changed a little bit. I now take dfg last as it isn't as strong, but it is still viable and can be used to burst people down late game when they have higher amounts of health.
Hextech Gunblade: Not much of a core item anymore. Kat's ad ratios aren't that strong anymore. The sustain doesn't help as much as before, but the slow is still really powerful and can prove to be very useful.
Will of the Ancients: Only get this if you want lots of sustain and your team comp is double wota/bursty double ap.
Haunting Guise: A very underrated item. This item compliments Kat well as this helps out with her high base damages, but low ap ratios. With Abyssal Scepter, MP runes, masteries, this item and sorcerer shoes, you can be dealing TRUE DAMAGE to low mr opponents. I usually take this item pretty often when using the "standard" build.
4 Description's Of Builds and When To Use Them
As you can see, I have four different builds in the "Cheat Sheet" for Katarina. Some builds are better than others at certain times in certain games. It's up to you to choose which one too use, but it's usually best to stick with the "Standard" build set up. Here are the descriptions of each build:
Standard: Sorcerer's Shoes, Abyssal Scepter, Rabadon's Deathcap, Zhonya's Hourglass Guardian Angel, and Deathfire Grasp.
This is the standard build I use 95% of the time. If you are not sure which one to use, definitely stick with this one. Not much else to explain here.
Full On Assassin: Sorcerer's Shoes, Hextech Gunblade, Deathfire Grasp, Zhonya's Hourglass, Void Staff, and Guardian Angel.
This build is the best build to use when you are clearly better than your lane opponent (*cough* Normal PvP *cough*). The power of the double offensive actives is really strong. Just by using Deathfire Grasp + Hextech Gunblade actives, you can easily drop any squishy down to half health which makes them low enough to Q-E-W combo them from 100-0 flat. When you are clearly better than your opponent, you can get fed off them very easily allowing you to be ahead of just about everyone in the game as in your level/gold/stats. This is a great build in solo queue because you can easily 100-0 nuke a priority target (i.e. Ad Carry) and then go call a baron for your team. You should probably still get Kage's Lucky Pick in this build, but rush Hextech Gunblade after Haunting Guise for the extra nuking power. This is a good build when your up against 2-3 squishy enemies with low escape potential.
Sustain: Sorcerer's Shoes, Hextech Gunblade, Abyssal Scepter, Rabadon's Deathcap, Zhonya's Hourglass, and Guardian Angel.
This is a great build if you are needing some sustain against a hard opponent. I sometimes take this build against maybe an ad mid champ like Pantheon or Lee Sin mid (I've seen some crazy things). This build works great when its a farm lane or a lane on which you know you can't snowball off of. This build is really a perfect combination of damage and tankiness and can honestly be used every game as a cookie-cutter build until you are experienced and confident enough with Katarina to experiment with other items.
Vs Tanky Team Comp: Mercury's Treads, Abyssal Scepter, Zhonya's Hourglass, Rabadon's Deathcap, Void Staff, and Guardian Angel.
This build is not a build I use too often, but a good build nonetheless. This is when your facing a pretty tanky team where it is hard to burst someone from 100 - 0 and they have maybe even a few silences (i.e. Cho'Gath). Therefore, you want to focus on building more tanky so you can withstand possibly having to sit in the enemy team helpless for a couple seconds if things go wrong. You still have very high potential for damage if you can get a full lotus off, which is why you still build Rabadon's Deathcap rather than say, a Rylai's Crystal Scepter. If you manage to get ahead I suggest rushing Zhonya's Hourglass ASAP after Abyssal Scepter.
Advanced Tips and Tricks
Ward-Hopping: You should always carry a Sight Ward with you as this is crucial to using the "ward-hop" to escape, juke, or get closer to an enemy to finish off with a spell/ Ignite. To ward hop, you need quick reaction times and a Sight Ward :D. To help out even more, try setting an item slot up for smart-casting, place the ward in the smart-cast item slot and then quickly smart-cast Shunpo onto the ward in the same split-second. It's all one big fluid motion. Use this technique by placing a ward over the wall and Shunpo to it can easily make you escape out of tight situations. Buy an extra ward in which you can use to ward-hop with while playing Katarina or any other ward-hop user like Jax or Lee Sin. The ward-hop technique is similar to using Flash if you can do it fast enough, so obviously use it when Flash is on cool down.
Scarra's Ward Killing Trick: This while a little tricky can be situationally useful. Katarina's shunpo not only reveals your own wards, but it also reveals enemy wards for 3 seconds as well. If you get an auto attack off on the ward and then shunpo to it, you'll have enough time to finish it off before it goes invisible. All credit to Scarra for this one. Alright, here's how to do it: First you need to have Shunpo off cooldown. As soon as you see an enemy place a ward, run up and and auto-attack. As soon as you feel the ward is about to turn invisible, Shunpo to it which resets the 3 sec timer until the ward disappears. Shunpo won't do any damage, but will cleanly reset the timer. So, auto-attack, then Shunpo to reset timer, then you can auto-attack 2 more times after that to finish off the ward.
Stealthy Ult: Similar to Nunu's Absolute Zero, when Katarina ults from a bush, she doesn't get revealed. So, while fighting an enemy, pretend like you are retreating and dash for a nearby side bush. As they begin to chase after you, channel a full duration stealth ultimate. This trick allows you to get your enemy to take a full damage ult and allow you to combo them to finish the job. You can also use this technique to assassinate your opponent when he comes back to lane/after he gets blue buff, kill an AD carry walking alone in the jungle etc. More ways you can use this technique is when a jungler comes to gank you while you are busy fighting the enemy mid lanes. When the enemy AP carry is around 50% health or so, dash to a bush while the AP carry + jungler follows you, channel your ultimate and then combo the AP to kill them. After that, choose to fight the jungler, or just Shunpo away to nearby minions.
Wombo Combo's: Katarina has a variety of combo's which she can use to kill/send an opponent to base. Here are a few combos:
Standard Harass: Bouncing Blades -> Shunpo -> Sinister Steel -> Disengage
Advanced Harass: Shunpo -> Sinister Steel -> Auto Attack -> Bouncing Blades -> SInister Steel -> Disengage (preferably with Shunpo)
Note: This is a long drawn out, but strong combo. Since it usually implies you use an auto attack in between, only use this combo when you are sure their is no nearby enemy jungler presence and that key enemy AP spells are on cooldown. Juke out any skills sent out after you once the combo is done and you are disengaging.
Going For The Kill (Full Combo): Bouncing Blades -> Shunpo -> Sinister Steel -> Death Lotus -> Sinister Steel -> ( Ignite)
Stealthy Bush Combo (Single Target): Death Lotus -> Shunpo to them as they run close to your max range -> Sinister Steel -> Chase down and use your spells/ Ignite.
Stealthy Bush Combo (Multi Target): Death Lotus -> Bouncing Blades -> Shunpo -> Sinister Steel -> ( Ignite). Then either retreat or try your "Standard Harass" combo on a squishy/low health opponent nearby.
Note: I would greatly appreciate it if people posted ideas in the comments of what I should add to this section, or maybe even help me decide whether or not to include this section if there isn't enough information.
This is my first guide ever on Mobafire for a champ I LOVE playing. If anyone would help me out with constructive critiscm, I would greatly appreciate it. Though mean comments are greatly UNAPPREACIATED. Two things I would really like to know how to do to make my guide even better is by adding Videos. I want to make some gameplay videos of me playing in Normal Draft Mode (maybe Ranked too). I will soon be adding many parts to my guide including: Matchups Section, Tips and Tricks, and a Gameplay section. Im still working on making a good guide, even if this is my first. Wish me luck as my guide changes and grows. If this gets decently good results, My next guide will be a Poppy guide. As Poppy is my second favorite character, EXPECT A HUGE IN-DEPTH Poppy GUIDE COMING SOON) Here are the next few in-depth guides I will be making in order: Poppy, Singed, and then Tryndamere. Looks like I have a LOT of work to be doing.
-Chao for now!
DA COOKIE MONSTA