Leona Build Guide by littlekisses
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Leona is my favorite tank by far. The amount of crowd control she has, combined with a synergy to build defensively, make her a formidable opponent. You won't get to fight anyone 1v1 as they will run when they see you coming.
This build is designed for normal random matches. It has not been tested in ranked play. While you are highly dependent on a decent lane partner in your early levels, Leona can soon hold her own.
Note: the above character summary stats do not incorporate her masteries and some item bonuses. Her stats are actually much higher than stated.
- added screenshots
- added gameplay section and tidied the summary
- fixed formating/name errors
- guide published
Pros / Cons
- Vast array of crowd control abilities
- Great synergy with defensive items
- Excellent ultimate ability
- Can initiate very well
- Represents a significant THREAT to the enemy
- Lack of mobility
- Limited innate offensive and defensive scaling
- Very squishy early game
- Highly gear dependent
- Initially a poor farmer
- Lack of ranged abilities (except for her ult)
- No poke, no harass, little damage
- Can be mana hungry early, limited mana pool
- CANNOT BENEFIT FROM HER OWN PASSIVE
Why build Leona defensively?
Leona adopts a the best offense is a good defense mentality. There are several reasons for this. She has some rather glaring weaknesses (see Pros and Cons) and this build allows us to compensate for those. At the same time, her true strengths lie in her vast array of crowd control abilities, which we are able to unleash on the enemy who cannot escape as our team burns them down.
Leona does not scale with attack damage at all, and she scales poorly with ability power.
An offensive build is possible (I'd suggest changing out the last two items for an Atma's Impaler and a Madred's Bloodrazor) and can even be built with AP (using defensive items such as an Abyssal Scepter and an Zhonya's Hourglass) but in the end she will be less effective.
Her true power can be summed up as such: STUN, STUN, STUN.
This makes Leona a huge threat to the opposing team. She may not have a taunt ability but she certainly puts herself between the enemy and her team. She will get focused, and focused hard. Survivability is hugely important.
Although I play Leona defensively, I don't put points into the Defensive tree. Why?
What Defensive gives us:
The Defense tree is actually a little lack-lustre. We gain some but not all of the following:
- up to 6 MR and/or 6 armor
- 1.5% damage reduction (adds up versus fast enemies)
- 3% boosted health and 10% less disables (great!)
- run speed over 70% health
- extra gold on assists
- bonus health (decent!)
- CDR (nice for Leona)
What Attack and Support give us:
- 10% cooldown reduction. Combined with gear and consumables, this gives us 25% shorter cooldowns by endgame. This is sufficient for a tanking build.
- 2 gold per 10. This gives us an extra 180 gold every 10 minutes. As our gear makes us far more defensive than our masteries, it can mean the difference between getting an item now or later.
- 2% faster movement speed, on top of her 4.5% boost from runes. Leona lacks an escape and has a small range on her gap-closer.
- Increased experience. Leona's early game is weak. Her farming pre- Sunfire Cape is non-existant. She has no harass, no poke, no damage and no range, making her highly dependent on her lane partner to get an early enemy kill or assist. This helps ensure Leona isn't left behind in those early levels.
- Significantly shorter cooldown on Flash.
- 10% magic penetration, that is otherwise absent from her build. This is necessary to make the most of Thornmail. It makes a difference farming also. You can see Sunfire Cape tick for less damage without it.
- 218 extra mana. This means you don't need to get a mana item.
- As this build is what I play in random normals, I'm never guaranteed to get a good laning partner (or any partner, as there is a perception all tanks can solo lanes). Going into the Support tree means, I can somewhat lessen the dependency on my random partner to get early kills.
- This build works better for me when I don't know what kind of team I'll end up in. I'm less likely to be left behind in early game.
- I'm more likely to use the Defensive tree when playing with people I know.
Greater Mark of Scaling Health
Greater Seal of Scaling Health
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
- You have an option here, to use the flat +health quints as Leona is squishy for the first few levels, and we don't buy a +health item until Heart of Gold.
- Leona lacks mobility, and has no way to escape. Flash and these babies makes a game-long difference to countering these issues.
- Master Yi often almost destroys himself on your Thornmail but rushes away to heal. These get you close enough to Zenith Blade and finish him off.
- Leona needs to be in the thick of the action at all times. These help you get in (and out).
- Useful from level 1 all the way through to end-game.
Greater Mark of Vitality and Greater Seal of Vitality
- Leona gets plenty of armor and sufficient magic resist from her items. Vitality runes scale really well and are useful from level 1 to 18. These add almost 1% health regeneration to your Force of Nature. Your final build nets you around 4.6k health.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
- I've tried a few glyphs with Leona (including CDR and ManaRegen), and without a doubt, MR per level gives her the best bang for her buck. She lacks early MR, gains none innately as she levels, and usually buys FoN last.
- Brilliant. Couldn't play Leona any other way. I use these so much, and they get boosted by our Support masteries.
- Flash gives Leona both an escape and a means to catch up to someone. Don't forget, you can also Flash through walls and terrain. This skill is always on cooldown for me, yet somehow, almost always up when I need it.
- Teleport lets Leona be in the midst of a fight anytime. She can backdoor to solo a tower. She can rush to save a team-mate from death and nab a kill. See a wave of minions about to destroy your tower? Leona instantly appears and boost her Warmog's Armor in the process.
Other viable summoner spells:
- The only other spell I'd suggest for Leona is Heal - not so much for yourself, but for your team. If I built Leona using Defensivee masteries, I would probably pick this up (for the 10% boost).
The suggested sequence is how I build Leona, every time. However, Leona is very flexible in how you choose to progress her abilities and you can play around with your own preferences.
- I get her melee stun Shield of Daybreak early as it helps so much, either to escape or to hold an enemy. I max it last as I use it mainly as a stun, rather than for increased damage. This build has a limited mana pool and I don't use this ability on cooldown or to farm. You can choose to max this earlier for the reduced cooldown.
- Eclipse is such a great ability and the reason why we don't need flat armor or magic resist runes for early games. I always max this first, as not only is it great defensively, it gives you aoe damage. Many opponents you face have never tried Leona. They aren't quite sure what the shield does besides blow up.
- Zenith Blade is both a gap-closer (works on enemy champions only) and a line-aoe. I max it second, mostly for the aoe effect which helps clear minions.
- Solar Flare should be increased whenever possible (levels 6, 11 and 16). This is an AoE damage spell with a wide radius. Enemies on the edge of the circle are slowed, and those in the middle are stunned. This is a great Ultimate. It is Leona's only ranged attack. Some examples of how it can be used, are to
- cc an enemy group,
- catch a runner (learn to predict when your enemy will move and throw it ahead of them, in the direction you think they will flee, and
- to escape - Leona has limited mobility, most of her stuns are used at melee range. A lot of the time you want to stand and tank the damage, but there are moments you need to run.
- Leona cannot benefit from her passive ability Sunlight - but try to time your spells so that your allies can use it as much as possible.
As Leona has 0 points in Defense (for bonus health) and her runes are per level, you may opt to start with a Doran's Shield. I play Leona very cautiously early game, and have Flash for escape so I start with a Regrowth Pendant.
You want Gp10 items as soon as possible. These pretty much pay for all your other gear, and Leona wants a Sunfire Cape as early as she can. Plain Boots of Speed with her 3 Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed give her sufficient mobility to wait before upgrading to faster boots.
I consider these to be Leona's core items. If the opposing team is AD heavy, or has a particular AD Champ giving me trouble, I build Thornmail first, otherwise Warmog's Armor.
I almost always build Thornmail regardless of the enemy team line-up. There would need to be 5 strong AP users for me not to build it. Even in matches against AP-heavy teams, I end up taking twice as much physical damage as magical (checking the stats at game-end).
Players usually like to build Warmog's Armor as soon as possible, as it takes some time and farming to max it out. However, I choose to wait because Leona's early farming is poor anyway. Once she has her core items, her farming rate increases dramatically, and this item maxes out in no-time.
Mercury Treads give Leona some early Magic Resist. Tenacity doesn't hurt either, although Leona is perfectable capable of tanking most CC anyway. These are what I get most of the time as it means I can hold off getting additional MR until late-game.
Boots of Swiftness are myfavorites for Leona. They bring her over the movement speed soft cap. She's so fast, she can catch anyone with them, and she can flee from an entire team trying to slow her down. I get these anytime I don't need the early MR.
The only time I would get Ionian Boots of Lucidity is if I were playing more offensively. This build has 25% cooldown reduction endgame and these boots bring that up to 40% which is the cap.
Build your Heart of Gold into a Randuin's Omen. You can never have enough armor. Most of the damage you take will be physical because you get auto-attacked more than anyone else on your team (in spite of Thornmail). This item semi-permanently slows both the attack speed and movement speed of anyone who continues to hit you by 35%. You can activate it for a further 35% reduction to any enemy in your immediate vicinity. It is superior to a Frozen Heart for Leona due to how much she gets hit (you'd be surprised how often the same people destroy themselves repeatedly on your armor).
Master Yi with his 3 Phantom Dancers and The Black Cleaver will be inhibited by 70% as he continues to (slowly) kill himself on your Thornmail.
Force of Nature rounds off your gear, giving you excellent Health Regeneration, per 5 and per second, with a decent chunk of Magic Resist to completely negate enemy AP champs. 8% movement increase makes up for having Mercury Treads instead of Boots of Swiftness if you had to get them for the MR.
Optional end-game items:
I consider the last two items to be exchangeable for something else, depending on your circumstances. Always be flexible.
If the enemy is building some Magic Resist to counter your Thornmail, do not underestimate a Void Staff. It not only gives you some AP but also gives you a huge chunk of penetration which effects all your ability damage, and your item damage.
A Hextech Gunblade could work great on Leona, although I've never tried it. If anyone plays Leona more offensively than I do, try it and let me know.
Likewise, a Zhonya's Hourglass or a Guardian Angel can help situationally. Trinity Force is a decent item for an offensive Leona, and Madred's Bloodrazor is awesome when the other team is tank heavy.
Early game is a little rough. Leona has no poke or harass and unlike other tanks, is inadequate at soloing a lane. Play conservatively, let your lane partner last-hit most minions (even if he's an idiot, it's for the team's benefit) and don't over-extend.
Use Eclipse to be a little more aggressive early on, stun when it's safe to do so.
Once you have Sunfire Cape start farming minions, and pushing a little. With Thornmail and all your abilities, you can engage anyone you like. Remember to Flash often.
Mid to Late game, you will be initiating most team fights. You will also be putting yourself ahead of any team efforts to push a lane. Make sure you are between the enemy and your team. Be imposing. You are a huge threat and they know they have to take you out to get to your team. If you have one of those teams that runs away from a big fight (happens waaaaay more than it should), just get out. You have enough speed to remove yourself from the situation.
When your team needs to make a big push, don't expect it to automatically happen (it's lovely when it does though). Ping the map at a good spot to group up (such as the bushes in mid) and wait for everyone before forging ahead. Make sure your team understands you can tank a lot of damage. Then move in. You can tank 5 enemies and a turret and live if your team is there with you to take out the turret (why do they always go for enemies first?) and then pick off the opponents.
By the end of the game, Leona has free reign to be a little crazy. She's great at backdooring (although she takes forever to kill a tower solo). She can run straight into enemy groups. She can solo Baron (slowly). She survives having 5 ults hit her at one time (happens).
Most of my deaths happen very early or very late. Early because she is vulnerable to ganks pre-gear. Late because I get a little silly once I know we're going to win. It's just too funny watching people destroy themselves on your armor, or waste a long cooldown on your shield. So I tend to jump into reckless situations, for the lulz.
You can definitely die a lot less than I do!
Note: Most games end early when you play Leona. Very few games get to Nexus stage. The other team tends to surrender.
WIN to LOSS ratio:
I haven't been playing all that long. I leveled fast through EXP boosts and by the time I hit 30, I was still learning and had an 80-ish game W:L deficit. Since I switched to Leona, played this way, that number is turning around.
When I play Leona as a tank, I win 75% or so of my games. Almost all of my losses occur when we have an afk player. On the other hand, we've won 3v5 before.
Randoms are just that - random! You don't know who or what you will get. If Leona makes the most of her early game, avoids dying, buys her cape, she can literally take charge of a game and make it happen. Many random players are afraid to take the initiative to make a big push. Leona as a tank is able to rally the troops and make it happen.
You won't win them all but you will win a lot.
My match history:
Check my match history and items here:
Here is a match we should have lost (4v5), but won:
Leona is a flawed but wonderfully fun champion to play. Her shortcomings can be compensated for through the use of Masteries, Runes and Items.
Don't yell at your team. When you get one of those idiots who screams at you for not shielding him (after you've explained about five times that Eclipse is self-cast only), just put him on ignore. You need everyone to work together and many players don't know enough about Leona to understand how she operates, or even that she is a tank.
Leona stacks very well with other tanks. Most tanks are AP based or build more offensively. This makes her a great match to work with them. Games with three tanks start sooooo slowly, but they pick up in no time and suddenly the enemy team is hiding in their base, surrendering at 20. Don't be afraid to choose Leona just because someone else on your team has already picked a tank.
Leona is great fun played this way. I would try other builds but I have too much fun with this one. I have never seen so many enemies run from me, in spite of my low damage. Her health regen by the end is through the roof. Leona doesn't need to do much, her gear does all the work, and nabs you kills, while you stand there and bubble yourself on cooldown, passing out the occasional round of stuns.
Comments and Feedback
I would appreciate constructive feedback, particularly from other Leona players. I am happy to add new sections to this guide or expand on existing ones. If anyone tries this build, I'd love to hear how it works for you.