Leona Build Guide by Nobby
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Leona, why is she undesirable?
Leona has amazing CC, she can play very aggressively early on and has little to no problems dominating her lane as soon as she hits level 6.
Her biggest problems lie in her low base damage and scaling and innate squish factor for a tank. This causes her to fall off in late game, which means if you're not overly aggressive you'll have problems forcing a 30 minute surrender.
Pros / Cons
Very mobile, despite having low base movement speed.
CC Includes two hard stuns, a slow, and a half second displacing stun.
Armor/Magic Resistance buff equal to a mid grade item and a half (chainmail and negatron cloak *1.5~) that is able to be kept up for -most- of a fight.
Very easy to last hit with, easy farming in mid and late game with practice.
Has a very easy time chasing down kills up until late game.
Team fight oriented.
She has team fight presence even without raising her damage output because of multiple quick refreshing CC skills, so she can build full tank.
Massive item dependence. Very reliant on being fed in lane or off kills. She cannot snowball.
Cannot activate her own passive, this is her second largest con as it's really nice.
Useless unless she's tanky, even as an AP tank she typically wont break the 475 AP barrier, which means that none of her spells will do more than 500 damage before mitigation.
Very reliant on CDR unless you're using the Bruiser or Jungler build, but she's outperformed at those roles by many other champions.
Eclipse has a 1 second downtime with 40% CDR, 4 second if you miss a Zenith Blade or have no creeps to hit with it which leaves her highly vulnerable for that down time. This only doesn't matter if you hit the soft goal of 150 ar/mr and start stacking health items.
Can't duel as an AP or Tank without Red buff, so it enforces her initiation role.
Focused in a team fight because her job is to initiate, disrupt then get out to come back in after and do it again in five seconds. If not tanky enough, she's useless with a bad initiate.
She's completely outplayed by Sejuani, while lacking hard CC has more threatening presence.
So, then why should I play her?
This will be the shortest section in this guide.
Because she's awesome. It'll make you awesome for playing her well. She's not that rare to be seen in a kill lane because of her large amounts of CC, but people will have problems countering her as a solo top, jungler and middle counter pick.
Build 1 - Screw damage, I'll just tank.
This is my general playing as support in a kill lane Leona setup. It has more defensive items while still attaining tank-like beefiness. The order isn't set in stone and I typically change it up depending on how the game is progressing. I almost always start Regrowth Pendant 1x Health Potion, rush a Philosopher Stone and grab boots then split off in the build.
I pick up Glacial Shroud early to help with her mana issues and give her a nice chunk of CDR. If your allies will grab Rylai's or Frozen Mallet, this is the time to build into a Rod of Ages instead or pick up a Heart of Gold to build into an ever strong initiation tool, Randuin's Omen, I typically wont build into a Warmogs and get a Randuin's Omen instead.
Force of Nature is important because she has very little self sustain (hp5 doesn't count in late game) and the majority of her items are split with health. I'll typically try to build into this when the team fights begin and the ap carries become a real threat. Of course if you don't feel you need the sustain, you can always grab an Abyssal Scepter for more damage, a nice aura and destroy another item in your kit to trade Will of the Ancients for pseudo sustain.
No matter the situation, you took Leona to be the late game initiator. This is what you do, and you do it damned well. Be fearless, wait for your opportunity then pop shurelia's for your team, Zenith in, pop randuin's, lay down your AoE stun/slow, stun their biggest threat and then either retreat or chase down a low health foe.
The core items for this setup are definitely Frozen Heart and Shurelia's Reverie, they give her the much needed CDR cap as well as a great initiation and stay-in tool in the current meta game where AD carries reign supreme.
Build 2 - Eclipse is enough for me, let's issue some hurt instead.
With this build, she's still an initiator but she leaves a lot less room for failure. The main ideal here is that she hits that sweet spot of survivability while still being able to deal damage with her spells.
As per standard Leona, I build into a Philosopher's Stone early on for minor gold income and lane sustain. The only real difference is that I build into Kage's Lucky Pick as soon as I can, but that doesn't stay as a GP10 for as long as the Philosopher Stone on average because Deathfire Grasp is a very important item, just deciding when to purchase it is the hard part and the biggest problem with this build.
I typically change her item purchases with this setup the most depending on the enemies. Deathfire Grasp is essentially her core item, it gives her a large burst every minute which she desperately needs with her terrible scaling.
Other than that, the sky is the limit. Force of Nature is my general standard for Leona because she needs that sustain, with this build she can however make great use of double will of the ancient aura.
My overall favorite version of this AP tank is; Deathfire Grasp, Zhonya's Hourglass, Rabadon's Deathcap, Force of Nature, Lichbane and Rod of Ages. I discovered this as an accident on a multiple disconnect normal PvP match where in the end, there were only 4 of us on Summoner's Rift at 3~am, Monday evening the 50 minute mark and we were just wasting time farming. The lack of mercury treads have a very noticeable effect, but you have more overall speed with FoN and Lichbane, which then makes your shields hit for about 1k~ damage with lichbane procs.
Very usable items include;
Lichbane - For the reasons stated above, you wont typically get that farmed in any game to get that much AP, but it does provide a bit of Magic Resistance and Movement Speed as well as giving you the much desired ability to duel an opponent.
Randuin's Omen in place of Frozen Heart - This requires you have the blue buff, DFG or lose potential uptime on Eclipse due to not hitting CDR Cap, but it provides health, hp5 and the ability to slow enemies en mass.
Why should I try an AP Tank setup?
It doesn't farm too much faster in the jungle, it's mostly giving you the ability to push lanes and win a fight without your team. Should it be used in place of a typical tank Leona? Probably not, but it allows her a lot more dominance as a solo top.
Build 3 - Bruiser Leona? Definitely a troll pick.
Well, not necessarily a troll pick, but it definitely was something I came up on a random mood when I wanted to pick an early Leona to screw with the enemy team's predictions and demanded solo top.
This build is mostly a hard health and AD tank counter. It doesn't focus on capping CDR and greatly focuses on using her skills as a means for chasing down and ensuring kills. The problem? Well, other champions do it better. She has a slightly slower early game, profits greatly from afk farming and builds an early wriggles to help with getting Dragon kills or stealing Red.
Very late game you should build either Trinity force or Frozen Mallet, depending on what you want out of it. After that replace wriggles with The Bloodthirster if you want more AD.
Obvious variations would be getting an early wriggles to help with AFK farming and two or three Doran's Blades and then building into Atmogs for hard health items by the time team fights break out. This gives her a nice, much needed boost to her health and damage output.
Most times I'll pick up Frozen Mallet just because it's awesome and I have a personal hatred towards Warmogs. Most AP mids love Rylai's though, and as we all know, Frozen Mallet doesn't stack with Rylai's, so there's no point in taking it if somebody else in the team that will make good use of it and opt for the Trinity Force/Warmogs combination instead of opening up a slot for something offensive or defensive.
The rune page is just a little bit stronger of an early game, sometimes I'll use full ArP marks and movement speed quints just to help with zoning in the first ten minutes.
The biggest flaw with this build is that she builds next to 0 AP, and little to no Mana. This means that she can't really pull more than two full combos off before she has to recall without blue buff. This means that you'll almost always be dedicating your skills for zoning and afk farm until big pushes start.
Build 4 - Jungle Leona? It's like Maokai, but slower.
First things first, Sejuani does it better. I don't know if Sejuani was added with Leona in mind, but we got a quick clearing jungler with amazing initiation.
Why should Leona jungle? Her passive does her no good in the jungle, she can't spam her spells early in the game and Eclipse isn't amazing for mitigation anyways, especially at the low levels where it matters.
Wait, that just answered why she shouldn't jungle. The reason why she should jungle is Zenith Blade into the lane, eclipse AoE to clear that creep wave and chunk their health, followed by two stuns and a kill. Leona has an amazing front loaded attack animation, so it's great for applying Blessing of the Lizard Elder which makes her an unbelievably great ganker.
In the jungle, you'll farm with Wriggles and pop Eclipse on every pull and that's just about it. With this build she doesn't get the mana to sustain spamming skills, but it also allows her the ability to donate blue near 7 minutes and every spawn after that.
Leona isn't very quick at clearing jungle camps, so she's not an amazing counter jungler, but because of how defensive she is with maxing Eclipse by level 9, she has a greater chance of stealing a big mob and escaping an angry jungler than lots of other junglers do.
Early Wriggles is imperative on Leona, so I typically start cloth armor and 5 pots, alternatively sometimes I'll start Regrowth Pendant and build into a Philosopher's Stone on first go back, but Wriggles first is the much better option because of her strong ganks.
I don't always build for a Trinity Force after Wriggles, but I find it's fairly useful if you're doing well with ganks. It adds with clearing speed very slightly, giving you desired movement speed as well as a chance to slow enemies.
Beyond that, Atmogs is a very powerful combination, I'll typically builds for Warmogs first if the enemy AD carries aren't doing too well, otherwise I tend to build into Randuin's, Atma's then Warmogs last or just forsake the Warmogs completely for a Force of Nature and Frozen Mallet instead of Trinity Force to become more of a tanky threat.
Building Randuin's early allows for an easier time doing Baron just because you get more effective health through the armor than you would going for a Warmogs, it also allows for counter initiation advantage with the activation if your team is caught off guard by an enemy.
Summoner spells are just my standard choices, ghost might be better than Exhaust, in which case you can take the enhanced exhaust mastery point and put it wherever you like. I find Exhaust gives an easier time ganking top or bottom than ghost does. Mastery page isn't the best, it's just somewhat ideal for more uptime with red buff and for the first set of ganks and counter jungling, blue buff.
Remember the basics to jungling, use wards to protect your buffs, buff timers are current time +5 minutes, Dragon is 6 and Baron is 7, always type in chat when you get these buffs so you can just hit Z and be ready to ward. If you ever force an enemy jungler off a buff, attempt to steal it immediately, especially if your lanes are pushing hard and don't allow for their lanes to back them up.
Most of your item choices after Wriggles and Boots should be devoted to building towards late game, and what this includes is getting kills because all that gold adds up and contributes. If your enemy team has more threatening AP carries than AD, might want to pick up a Negatron Cloak or Quicksilver Sash that will build into late game utility. Enemy team has virtually no CC? Ninja Tabi if AD heavy, Mobility for rocket speed ganks. I guess the biggest thing I'm trying to point out is don't just use a cheat sheet as a standard and focus on building overall instead of what works for two levels and falls off. /rant
Rune choice is sub optimal, I sometimes switch pure attack speed out in favor of pure attack damage, I only favor attack speed for applying red lizard buff in ganks. Remember to always lead the shortest path after Shield of Daybreak instead of standing there smacking them to continue a lead for multiple smacks.
For a jungle path, I typically do Wolves, Blue, Wraiths, Wolves, Double Golems, Red, Wraiths then go back and gank whatever lane is pushed after picking up boots or grab a madred's and counter jungle. After your successful gank, because you ping and always get that first blood, grab a couple wards to keep an eye on enemy buffs that are about to spawn and then finish up your Wriggles.
I was bored and felt like writing a Leona guide since she's one of my favorite champions. This was written in about four hours based on recollection of epic matches on my main and many alt accounts. The MobaFire account name isn't linked to my main account, and I don't typically accept friend requests from anybody, even people I know or the best people I've played with, so if you have questions, suggestions or concerns should be sent to me through MobaFire.
All typos were deliberate.
All skill orders are the same and I might have made a mistake on the specific level. First level, Zenith Blade can get a first blood, Autoattack shield can help get that awkward last hit but more importantly zone control and Eclipse is more important in the jungle at level one than it is in lane, where it can potentially make you miss creep score with mistimed blasts, but helps mitigate damage when going in for last hits, so.
Solar Flare > Eclipse > Zenith Blade > Shield of Daybreak, even without AP investment, Eclipse and Zenith Blade scale better with ranks than Shield of Daybreak, which only really reduces it's cooldown for all intents and purposes, but also raises it's mana cost.
This guide will forever remain ugly and not have fluffy images to detract viewers from the ever existing walls of text.
I wont click the comment to vote checkbox, because honestly a lot of people hate me for being me, and more power to you if you want to downvote my guide to spite me. It's not the best, it wont ever be the most detailed and was only designed to be a jumping off point for starting with a very undesirable champion.