Leona Build Guide by lagomorph129
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.
Basic Supp Tank Mechanics
Although there are plenty of different kinds of tanks, this guide focuses on general HP tanks and damage resistance tanks. It may be easy to understand that HP tanks have tons of health at the cost of armor and magic resist. If a tank is built well, both types should have the same damage soaking time. Damage resistance tanks have possibly an extreme amount of armor, magic resist, or a balanced amount of both (depending on enemy team) at the cost of health. Many players use hybrid methods and get as much health and as much damage resistance as they can together.
HP versus Damage Resistance Tanks
1. Get tanky.
2. Walk amidst battle and soak up damage and waste enemies' abilities.
3. Chase down enemies if your allies are following and use your abilities to set up kills.
HP tank supports tend to get the item Face of the Mountain which adds to their support abilities making them healers. For this reason, maximizing one's health as well as getting items that may help your team (such as zeke's herald) makes one as good a healer as they are a tank.
Damage resistance tanks are nonetheless magnificent. A pure damage resistance tank may have less than %10 hp, walk into a team fight, and walk out alive anyway. Items such as Thornmail, Guardian Angel, or either item built from Spectre's Cowl will give great damage resistance.
As a support, your job is to set up kills. Whether it's for your adc, your jungler, or in general for team fights, Leona's abilities often call for her to build tanky. Other support champions include but are not limited to Taric, Alistar, Thresh, or Braum. (A really good support player may even play Cho' Gath and successfully pull off the role.) Referring back to Leona's abilities once more, it would often be better to build as a damage resistance tank because her ability Eclipse scales off of Leona's bonus armor and bonus magic resist. As may be obvious, it would be best to max eclipse first.
Shield of Daybreak -q
Zenith Blade -e
Solar Flare -r
Leona's passive, Sunlight, doesn't quite imply that it would be ideal to spam her abilities despite her aggressive champion style, but instead deals bonus damage whenever Leona goes in with her team members. Remember to always be synchronized with your team to maximize damage to enemies. The fact that Leona can't activate this extra damage on her own is what makes her a stronger support than it does a damage dealer.
Leona's q, Shield of Daybreak, is a stun which is always useful for stopping enemies in their tracks. The best part of it is that the enemies can't attack any of you back for the duration! However, the damage scales the least compared to all other skills, and the stun duration stays the same at all ranks. The mana cost increases as the cooldown decreases as the skill levels up. In order to optimize damage and lane time, one may wish to either level this and Zenith Blade in an alternating manner, or they may wish to save this skill for last. In order to maximize stun, max this after Eclipse for the lowered cooldown.
Leona's w, Eclipse, is ALWAYS to be maxed first when playing as a tank. If one wishes to play Leona as a mage or perhaps even as a fighter, this guide will be particularly unhelpful. Make sure to max this skill first, as it is what makes Leona the formidable tank she is, and allows her to stay in lane as long as possible to disable enemies and allow others to deal out immense damage. Additionally, Eclipse is also ideal for setting up farm for your in-lane partner.
Leona's e, Zenith Blade, is a poke, and a snare. It's damage scales better than Shield of Daybreak, it's mana cost is 60 at all ranks, but the snare is only half a second. Oh, yeah, one more thing; it only snares one enemy. However, it snares the last (farthest) enemy hit, which often happens to be a fleeing, squishy, damage dealer. Sorry, guide maker, but I must intervene here with a valuable tip against Leona's Zenith Blade. Players, if you happen to be opposing a Leona in-lane, and you happen to have a tank (or bait... O.O) nearby, stay on your tank. When you see Leona throw her skill, run toward her slightly, and then run back once she dashes to your tank instead, ha ha! As mentioned earlier, this guide will propose an alternating leveling of Zenith Blade and Shield of Daybreak. It is the player's own judgement, however, that must realize what order they wish to finish off these skill ranks.
Once eclipse is maxed, and all three basic abilities have at least a rank of 1, the leveling order has maximal damage when Zenith Blade is maxed first, and maximal stun when Shield of Daybreak is maxed first.
Leona's ult, Solar Flare, is an ability that often ought to be used either to initiate, or in combo after a successful stun. Using it in combo after a stun is one of the best ways to ensure your enemy's doom. This ult is quite properly named an ultimate ability and ought to be taken when available, at levels 6, 11, and 16.
Again, when Leona is built as a tank always make sure to level Eclipse first. Of course, always prioritize Leona's ultimate ability, Solar Flare. Optimizing between damage and disable time, it may be best to alternate increasing ranks of Zenith Blade and Shield of Daybreak. Below, the skill sequence is ideal according to this guide. The player is always in control of their own play style and can choose any order they wish. This is only one of various ideal sequences/builds/guides.
Damage Resistance Build
There are pros and cons to every role, every item, every champ: everything. Today, we'll be starting with the cons. Damage resistance tanks, for example, are by no means immune to true damage. Leona, if your lane opponents are Vayne/ Darius, you'd do bad by stacking armor. You'd do better to get one large armor item, such as Randuin's Omen or Sunfire Cape which give some armor, but, more importantly, give you an essential stat for survivability; these items give you a large health bonus as opposed to Thornmail or Wit's End. (Note: Wit's End is more of a bruiser item, and requires you to attack the target repeatedly. It may or may not be effective on Leona, considering that her q requires her to attack to stun.)
Sadly, we're not yet done with the cons. Although the lane matchup I mentioned is extremely rare, otherwise, so horrific it's merely never done, Vayne is still a popular marksman who all supports will see at one point in their career. It's only a matter of time before Ahri, Corki, Cho'Gath, or even (as mentioned earlier) Darius decide to take on the role of support. Worse yet, Riot may decide to design a support champion who deals true damage. (Please excuse me if I'm neglecting any support champions who deal true damage as I am not currently aware of any.) No matter the situation, champions who deal true damage may be few in number, but they are fairly popular. Don't tell me you're a level 30 who hasn't heard of ANY of these champions I just mentioned.
Now to the pros. As popular as Vayne is, there are still so many more marksman and supports and matchups in general that are so much more popular. The true damage combos may be popular, but people don't play them EVERY game. Given the distribution of true damage to champions, and their individual popularity as supports and marksman respectively, you are more likely to get a Caitlyn/ Lulu or a Jinx/ Thresh instead of that horrible, yet, dreadful matchup: Vayne/ Darius. The pros of these kinds of match ups are that one may much more easily purchase more damage resistance items than health, and still live through battles.
This is a pro for many tanks in general: items that grant magic resist never grant ONLY magic resist. Spectre's Cowl, and the two items built from it give great passives, give health, and give a significant deal of magic resist as well. Chalice of Harmony and both items built from that grant good amounts of magic resist as well as granting mana regen. (Most support champions use mana.) Mikael's Crucible is more of a support item, as it can get whoever has these cc effects on them out of some of that trouble. Abyssal Scepter is one item you can never go wrong with when you have ap scalings and your skills do magic damage. It tends to help if you run right in there, as the passive range is greater than or equal to most of these tanky champions' ability ranges.
Remember to judge the situation properly, as a marksman is not used to seeing their Leona or their Braum getting Wit's End. If you play so aggressively that you hit repeatedly, feel free to get it. If you're more cautious and stand in front of your own ally to soak up the damage, it would be more ideal to get a different magic resist item. Thresh, however, with his ranged attacks and passive bonus damage may actually benefit from Wit's End in the long run. *HINT* *HINT*
HP Maximizing Build
As with damage resistance tanks, HP maximizing tanks will waltz among the battle field and will never die if played properly. Yes, we already discussed that HP can be considered "death resistance" and that HP is an ideal method of combating true damage. This guide recommended making Leona a damage resistance tank, but that is by no means the only way to play her, even if you have NO enemy champions that deal true damage. By default, Eclipse adds bonus damage resistance and still makes a 10k hp Leona a formidable foe despite stacking Warmog's Armor only.
Yes, 10k hp can only be reached by Sion at this point in time, but that number was intended to be intimidating. If all the enemies build pure damage, then one round of an entire enemy team can quite easily kill a tank who stacked Warmog's Armor. Think about that briefly, as an hp maximizing tank, you'd only be doing your job if you had your team around you. If you were to get caught out, then you would be useless, and the enemies can capitalize on that "lack of team survivability" and probably raze the rest of your team as well.
Back to my point, Eclipse will change from Leona dying in a 1v5, to Leona escaping the 1v5 narrowly.
That being said, let's look at the pros and cons. If you're reading this on a different day as you read the other one, I'm going to be consistent anyway and start with the cons. Pretend you are Dr. Mundo support because you thought his q, Infected Cleaver would be a great cc ability as well as peel for your ally. For once, stacking HP benefits you in every possible way. You manage to get your armor and magic resist down to 0 each for bonus health because you're just weird like that... I'm not judging... and now you have 10k HP like Sion and mythological Leona further up there. An Udyr comes in from jungle, and stuns you close to a wall, Vayne capitalizes on that by stunning you INTO the wall, and Braum just keeps stacking that passive, adding cc and stun to the mix. Your marksman had to recall to heal. You were just defending your turret. They had enough cc not only to kill you, but to kill your jungler coming in to try killing them because "Mundo is so OP, he had 10k hp!" That was a bad idea. They killed you both, and got your turret. Bad Mundo. (Now I'm judging.)
CC is everybody's worst enemy. Well, baron nashor and dragon are immune to cc, but they also have increasing health and increasing damage resistances. CC will get HP maximizing tanks killed most of the time. Damage resistance tanks build items that grant bonuses and anti cc such as Mercury's Treads or Locket of the Iron Solari for AoE shield or tenacity. Yes, damage resistance tanks will be killed by cc effects on occasion, but they often survive because their resistance to the enemies' damage is so well balanced, that the enemies run out of cc to throw at them before they can kill the tank.
Enough cons, you're making Amumu cry even more. He feels so helpless now, look at what you did! Let's look at the pros of maximizing HP.
To begin with, you can stop that Cho'Gath who stacked Rabadon's Deathcap from killing you with all that true damage from Feast. As an HP maximizing tank, you can sometimes trick your enemies. If you do manage to get 10k HP, then you can briefly walk into a fight with 10% health. That's still 1000 HP. They tend to focus the "weak" ones. You look weak to them with only 10% HP. This tactic is known as baiting. You HAVE to have your allies nearby and ready to attack the enemies if you want to survive this one.
HP maximizing tanks also have magical healing powers when played as a support. Face of the Mountain and the component as well as the base item heal nearby low enemies for a percentage of their maximum health when a minion is executed by the tank. Additionally, the item allows the tank to shield an ally (or themselves) which may deal damage to enemies if the shield persists.
This is only a guide. It is here to list some pros and some cons of certain build paths. It is the player's judgement that must decide how much damage resistance, and how much HP they want in their tanky build. If you were to watch a thousand pro players build their tanks, you would probably never see a pure damage resistance or a pure HP maximizing tank. The big key is balancing the two according to your enemies.
Shyvana is a champion whose abilities deal out mostly magic damage despite scaling with physical damage and being a fighter. You would do well to build both, types of damage resistance against her, or to start briefly by adding some HP. Stop asking questions like why your in-lane against a shyvana support, or why you had 10k HP earlier. You need to judge the situation, and build some sort of resistance against your enemies.
Lastly, remember to itemize. I mentioned some items and their passive abilities and a couple of activated abilities, but to be a good tank, you need to know what these abilities are, what they do, and which of your champions work well with what abilities provided by said items.
As a tank, itemization is one of the most important skills one can have. Just because Boots of Speed are the recommended starting item, doesn't mean you shouldn't ever get a Ruby Crystal instead. If you're playing Rammus, who scales excellently off building armor, against a team of mages and magic damage, the ideal thing to do may be to build a small armor item to reduce damage from basic attacks (yes, they do add up over time) and build major magic resist items. Often, Ninja Tabi will do as a "small armor item" and are by no means useless in a team against mages.
If the mages get smart, and start building hybrid damage, or flat out physical damage, Guardian Angel will be the best thing for you to add to your build. It will make you harder to kill, and it will also let you run in to the battle, get their focus, and have your team come in when you're low, and your greedy enemies decide it will be a good idea to finish off the tank before killing the deadly adc.
If you happen to be a tank against mages and magic damage, one of your biggest problems will be poke. The two items that build from Spectre's Cowl help for the situation. The regen and healing bonus from Spirit Visage help you recover some of that lost health by the time you get poked down again. Banshee's Veil helps by nullifying some crowd control and damage if you either block for an ally, or fail at dodging the skill.
Thornmail - ideal against marksman and fighter role champions/consider this item if your enemies are relying heavily on physical damage
Randuin's Omen - this item is great, as it gives health, armor, and reduces enemies' attack speeds as well as slowing enemies
Frozen Heart - great for tanks who like to consume mana (please don't build this on Garen, Shyvana, Shen, or any other champion without mana as a resource)
Sunfire Cape - if your team doesn't seem to be doing quite enough damage, this will help to either secure the kill, or provide peel
Iceborn Gauntlet - another mana item: gives decent armor/cc sheen passive
Ninja Tabi - 25 armor, really?... (lol it's still a decent item)
Zhonya's Hourglass - because it never hurts to have some more damage if you scale off ability power
Abyssal Scepter - the item is great if you scale off ability power, but be careful because Veigar can use this against you with his ult, Primordial Burst
Locket of the Iron Solari - gives some regen bonus, and gives a shield to you and your allies (it was intended to be an AoE shield)
Mikael's Crucible - good support item, as it remvoes cc from an ally
Banshee's Veil - spell shield, good amount of magic resist good amound of health (considered interchangeable with Spirit Visage)
Spirit Visage - increased healing and regen, good magic resist, decent health (considered interchangeable with Banshee's Veil)
Guardian Angel - best used when your allies are nearby, otherwise the enemy will merely kill you (again!)
Warmog's Armor - lots of health, bonus regen
Face of the Mountain - support tank item: can shield an ally, can heal an ally (don't underestimate this heal, each point of health makes the difference)
Righteous Glory - often used by supports, it still gives decent health as well as bonus mana for abilities
Sightstone/ Ruby Sightstone - good item for supports, and sometimes junglers too
zeke's herald - fighter/support item: if your allies have decent attack damage, and neglect to build sustain, this can make a huge difference
As there are with all champions, there are a great many ways to play Leona. She can be very tough to kill if she gets ahead enough. On occasion, if her carry has fallen behind, it would be best for Leona either to keep farming and build items, or secure kills that the carry couldn't finish. If Leona is fed, she can very easily disrupt enemies enough to provide peel, and then allow her carry to make a comeback.
Referring back to the list called "Starting Items," Leona would do well to start out by purchasing one Vision Ward, a Relic Shield, and either a Warding Totem or a Sweeping Lens. You should get the sweeping lens if you want to maintain bush control. Take warding totem if you want to maintain vision.
The Relic Shield may be obvious as to why it's an ideal item pick, but the vision ward can be used in a few ways. Keep in mind that a support is a support to the entire team. If you start on the red side, the vision ward would have been a waste if you place it in river, and push back, while the enemy jungler comes in and destroys it. If your carry wants to push, place a ward from the warding totem in the river bush. Personally, I prefer to give the vision ward to my jungler, and place it in the bush by blue buff. If an enemy places a ward, you can destroy it easily. It's an anti-invasion technique. (I also like doing this because they tend to do better, which brings them some good empathy and encourages them to gank for you more often.) On blue side, an ideal place for the vision ward would be in the tri-bush by the dragon's lair. Again, it helps to stop jungle invasions, and it also stops enemy junglers from sneaking up behind you if they wish to trap you in.
Often times, it isn't ideal to start at level 1 with Zenith Blade as charging in without eclipse for Leona may as well be feeding, unless you have all four allies nearby. If you've yet to place your skill point, and your team decides to invade, maybe you can put that skill in Zenith Blade in order to snare the enemies, or to pick off what your team scrambled. Ideally, it should work similarly if the enemy tries to invade your side. (Putting a point in this skill at level 1 is very situational. Judge whether your carry will rush in with you or not.)
Many players like to begin by placing their skill point in Leona's Shield of Daybreak to make early plays. This is where bush control plays a vital role. Leona would do best to hide in the bush, and wait for enemy mistakes, including walking too close. The next step is punishment: stun them.
Starting your game as level 1 with Eclipse is my personal favorite. I know I'm not alone, but this is the kind of start that allows Leona to walk in, and distract the enemies while your carry attacks them. It also helps because you debuff enemy minions with Sunlight. In plenty of cases, it will make farming easier on your ally. Although the same can be said for Zenith Blade, you have to be REALLY careful about placement. There have been several (very funny) instants when a Leona throws her Zenith Blade and dashes into awkward situations.
Laning in General
Now that you are a level 3 Leona, you have to either land combos, or use some advanced mechanics. A very common combo is her w/e/q(r) combo. This is when she initiates Eclipse, times the blast, initiates her Shield of Daybreak while shooting out her Zenith Blade for a really disruptive snare, stun, blast on the enemy. If she has her ultimate available, she may use it either to stun the enemy for an easy way to land Zenith Blade, or after she stuns the target for an easy ultimate stun with Solar Flare. Normally, you provide enough peel to allow your ally to finish them off.
Another tactic is to walk up to the enemy, stun them, and chase them with Zenith Blade so that they can't escape. Notice that Leona can dash if she is snared. If that pesky Lux catches you with Light Binding, you still have a brief window in which you can catch up to the target.
As always, it is ideal to use Eclipse and time the blast when possible. It adds peel, gives the enemy the Sunlight debuff, and is very good at helping Leona survive the encounter even if Shen top uses Stand United while Rek'Sai pops in with Void Rush finishing up with Twisted Fate trying to trap you after casting Destiny turning your 2v2 into a 2v5. If your carry is ahead, and maybe a cocky Vayne, you just might be able to secure them a penta kill.
If you do your job right, you'll notice that the enemy team becomes afraid of you even if you are alone. I know very well that there are others, but I commonly see this happen with Leona and Thresh. Whenever the support is anybody else, the enemy team usually jumps on the support and deletes them.