Leona Build Guide by Mork8

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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Mork8

Leona, Tanking with High-Heels

Mork8 Last updated on July 19, 2011
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 0

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 9

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With the metagame of “tanky-dps” and their quasi absence during Dreamhack, tanks are less and less picked. However having a tank at your side makes teamfights and pushing usually easier. Furthermore as 100% of people reading this guide will probably never play at ultra high ELO (I'll be happy to read your comments if I'm wrong :D), I still think that pure tanks have their place in a team.

At first glimpse, tanking might not be the most appealing role in a team (few damage and kills). It is however the most rewarding and most exciting one. You are basically the leader of the team and YOU decide, when, where and how to engage enemy team to ensure victory. It is also arguably the trickiest side of the game: it requires practice, “brain” and good game vision.

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Pros / Cons

-Lot of crowd control: 2 stuns, 1 slow and 1 mini snare, Leona is undoubtedly the champion with the hardest set of crowd control.
-Great initiator: the combo blink + AoE stun is perfect to start a teamfight in favor of your team
-Nightmare for enemy squishies: a stun with low cd and a damage boost for your team simply destroy enemies squishies
-Two AoE damage skills: perfect to stack up assist and make her a permanent threat.

-Weak early game
-Team dependent
-No taunt that forces enemies to attack you

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Why Playing Leona as a Main Tank

Due to the specific task of a tank, it requires some special abilities. In order to be played as a main tank, a champion should be able to:

1. Take a lot of damage without dying
2. Save allies
3. Initiate/disrupt teamfights effectively
4. Do some damage in order not to be ignored by the enemies (and becoming what we call a soak)

Now let's look if Leona can fulfill this role:
1. Her Eclipse, in addition to a tank build, grants her nice survivability.
2. Packing 2 stuns and a short snare allow her to disable effectively dangerous enemies
3. Her initiation combo, even if harder to land at the beginning is an awesome initiation. Having a low cd stun disrupts completely enemies damage dealers.
4. All her spells do some damage and have an AP ratio

Now the question regarding the last point is: why not building her "tanky-AP-dps" then? Well the answer is that her AP ratio are extremely weak: 0.3 on q and 0.4 on w and e. Only her ultimate has a decent Ap ratio of 0.8 but axing her dps on a 75 cd spell is worthless. Furthermore her cooldowns are also long (compared to "true AP casters") making her overall damage input low. Vladimir, AP Sion or Gragas or Cho'Gath would fit better in this role.

The main point remains that with her set of skills she has everything to be an excellent main tank. Playing her differently would be a waste of her potential.

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This passive is a real incentive to focus enemies in teamfight. Be sure to ping or say which enemy your going to focus so your damage dealers can burst him/her down faster.
It makes a characteristic sound when it procs (same as lux' passive).
Leona herself doesn't count as an "allies". If you attack a "sunlighted" enemy, the extra damage will not proc.

Nice stun with fairly low cooldown. Use it to:
-mess with the enemy's carry
-save allies
-prevent someone to escape
It is a "on next autoattack" skill meaning that you can activate it and then flash/blink to your opponent. If you don't autoatack for 6 seconds after the cast, the spell is "wasted".
It is an autoattack refresher: you are hitting the target immediately after you press q, you don't need to wait for the autoattack animation.
The damage part is not that great and has a poor AP ratio.

Great survivability boost that lasts for 6 seconds if used properly. It comes with a nice AoE useful to farm and pick up assists. The duration is doubled if the AoE damage minions or champions.
When it explode, all enemies in ranged are marked by Sunlight.
It is impossible to say if the shield already exploded: animation and icon buff are the same before and after the explosion.

Skill shot that can hit multiple targets and acts as a gap closer. It also stop briefly the target. Very versatile spell that can be used to:
-initiate teamfights
-chase enemies
-jump walls if enemies are behind

Great initiating tool. Due to the delay before it lands (approximately 1.5 seconds), it requires a bit of practice to use correctly. Even if enemy are not stun, 80% slow for 1.5 sec is what we call a hard slow!
More on initiation in the "teamplay" section of this guide.

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Skill Sequence

You want to level your Shield of Daybreak first for its cooldown reduction and the extra burst early game. With this skill order, you have all your harassment combo at level 3.
By the time teamfights are starting your shield should be at rank 5 (level 13) which grants your toughness. The other reason why you don't want to level up Eclipse earlier is that the increased AoE damage will push your lane... That's exactly what you don't want!
Obviously take your ultimate every time it is possible. Lower cd on it wins!
Finally up your Zenith Blade last as it is mainly use for the blink and not the damage.

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: This is a huge boost for you early game. They are pretty expensive but fits certainly to all other champions (like mages for instance).

: These armor runes will help you a lot early game. Especially because, even mages, will auto-attack during the laning phase.
Greater Seal of Vitality: In opposition to armor seal, these ones will enhance your late game. It is a matter of preference.

: Not my personal preference due to their unreliability. Still viable as dodge is a very scarce stats. It will benefit more of Nimbleness.

: If you don't have the hp quints you should pick this one. Early extra hp is too important to be skipped.

: Same as for armor seals, this will help you early to mid game.

: Usually people prefer scaling MR on blue. The classic argument is: MR is more useful late game than early game. Well, even if this argument is valid other things enter into consideration: at level 18, your gain is 10.89 MR assuming that at that time you’ll be approximately at 150 MR anyway, I find this advantage negligible compared to the early-game survivability of the Greater Glyph of Warding.

: These ones work for every type of champion, even tanks. I however prefer defense rune.

: As most of your abilities that deal magic damage, these Marks will help you during the whole game.

If you prefer you can go for more defense stats on red rune like Greater Mark of Warding, Greater Mark of Resilience or Greater Mark of Fortitude. However, you should know that defensive stats are less efficient in red slot than in yellow or blue. That’s why I don’t recommend them.

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First of all, always masteries Fortify if you take it. This is a nice bonus for you and your team.
If you take Exhaust you can put a point in Cripple, this mastery is however not mandatory as it only add "damage" to it.

Now for those of you who are attentive you'll notice that I took 3 point in Good Hands and only 1 in Perseverance. Some of you may shout for no sense and madness. Let me show you why I do so.
You may think that 3/3 in Perseverance will help you early game. Let's do some math:

If you start with a Regrowth Pendant and you take 1/3 in Perseverance you’ll have:
8.57 mp5 and 26.21 hp5
If you start with a Regrowth Pendant and you take 3/3 in Perseverance you’ll have:
8.74 mp5 and 26.73 hp5
Congratulation, you won 0.17 mp5 and and 0.52 hp5... toooooootally not worth it.

Now you may argue at higher level with more stuff. Okay, let's do the game again. For simplicity I will consider that mana is not an issue anymore. The only things that's important as a tank is your hp5.
In this scenario, you are level 18 with 4k hp and 3 big hp5 items: Force of Nature (54 hp5), fully stacked Warmog's Armor (45 hp5) and Randuin's Omen (25 hp5).

with 1/3 in Perseverance this gives you:
152.13 hp5
with 3/3 in Perseverance you have:
155.12 hp5
You won 2.99 hp5... Considering the fact that you will have 4k hp this is completely negligible!!!

Now let’s face it, even as a tank you are going to die. Next time you play look at the time you spent dead and calculate how many seconds you would have saved by having 3/3 in Good Hands. It is much more valuable than 3 hp5 over 4k at the end of the game when you are already a real rock!

You can switch 1 point to go for a 1/21/8 if you want a better Exhaust. You can also swap Greed for Utility Mastery. I found it less usefull as you’re probably going to leave buffs to others teammates, it is only worth for the baron’s buff.

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Summoner Spells


: This skill is far too versatile to be bypassed. It is a gap-closer, an escape tool and a great start for a good initiation. Even if Leona has already a blink, it is a situational one: you need a enemy in range. The combo flash + ulti is unpredictable (unlike Ghost) and very effective.

For the other spells, there are few options:

: Great spell on a tank:
-Disable an enemy
-help your allies to secure a kill
-prevent escaping
You can masteries it with Cripple for even more effectiveness

: ok spell on a tank. It gives your team:
-6 seconds to react when someone is backdooring
-An advantage when defending a turret
As you are the tank, you can take Reinforce to be even more a helpful tool.

: very good for some extra map control and when defending a turret. Be sure that at least on champion has it on your team.

Not that bad spells
: This spell is awesome but doesn't fit your role as a tank. Simply because you cannot masteries it. Leave this to your support. If you don't have one, taking this is still a strong asset for your team.
: Well can be useful but very situational. You are the tank and you're not supposed to be disable that much. This spell is more for squishy champions.
: In my opinon flash is way better than ghost.

Not to take spells
: Might eventually be in certain condition possibly be useful very early game. After this, it sucks.
: Meh if you plan to die often, pick a glass canon not a tank :)
: Spell primarily used early one but sucks later and does not fit the role of a tank.
: No, no, no you are not the one who makes kill nor the one who kill steal! Leave this spell to your DPS.
: Way too much situational to pick this one.
: Bah if you’re not jungling, there is no reason to take this one.

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A Few Words on Defensive Stats

Before going to item build, I’d like to make some comments on defensive stats.
As a tank you have 3 priority stats: health, armor, magic resist and 2 bonus stats: health regen and tenacity. Forget about the rest, these stats will make you more durable than anything else. There are other stats that may come with those one (like movespeed, CDR or AP) but they are side effects and you must not focus on them.

Magic Resist vs Armor
Now, in a balanced game (i.e. 50% magic damage and 50% physical damage) are MR and AR equally important? The answer is yes and no.
If we compare those two stats there are two things to take into consideration:
-turrets do physical damage
-You take only magic damage from spells. This means that unless enemy mages are dumb enough to focus you (if they do, you probably already won the game ;-) ) you will only take magic damage from AoE spells (like Annie's Incinerate and Summon: Tibbers, Anivia Glacial Storm etc…)
-Even mages deal physical damage (this point is less important as the game lasts)

This points mean that in most of game, you should aim for more armor than magic resist.

AR, MR vs health
Here is a bit of theorycrafting. The frequent question about building a tank is shall I go for more AR/MR or more health. Some calculations have been done. They try to find the optimal effective health giving a cost constrain. The main result is:
If Current Health > 1200 + 12*(Armour+MR)/2, buy Armour and MR. Else, buy more Health.
(credits to Auster Delaurant)
Now these calculations are perfectly correct but purely theoretical. As you cannot buy stats “points by points”, you will never have the exact value. Furthermore it does not count for defense penetration stat that your enemies may have. Casters that are not trolling will at least have 8.55 and 15% magic penetration coming from runes and masteries. Similarly AD carries will have at least 14.94+6 armor penetration coming from runes and masteries.
To take this into account and to avoid complicated mental arithmetic (!), I use the following trick: take your MR or AR score, add 100 and multiply by 10, this should be approximately your health.
Example: if you have 123 armor you should have around (123+100)*10=2230 hp. This is a rule of thumb to help you decide which stats to go for. By doing so, you are “underestimating” the hp value, meaning that you’re taking the defense penetration into account.

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Core items:
: is usually the boots to go for: 35% reduced cc is too good to be omitted. Take Ninja Tabi only if you face and heavy AD team (like Master Yi, Ashe, Tristana, Tryndamere and Corki). In such a situation you need to upgrade your Philosopher's Stone in a Eleisa's Miracle to have the 25% reduced cc.

Philosopher's Stone and : Two gold per 10 items that give you extreme lane sustainability as well as income. This allows to let you lanemate to last hit.

Armor items:
: A bit of AoE damage to ease farming and a nice boost in hp and armor. Careful though, if you have 2 champion in your team that have a Sunfire Cape enemies will only take damage from 1 of them!

: Great item, even if it lacks of health, the 20% CDR and passive is just great to counter AD enemies. It boosts your all your team survivability which is always nice!

: Also a nice item. Specially because it is an upgrade of your Heart of Gold. If you plan to buy it, rush Heart of Gold asap.

: A nice item. Unlike the tooltip says it returns damage dealt and not taken! Unfortunately, Leona does not have a taunt so it the Thornmail is only effective if enemies are fool enough to auto-attack you.

Magic resist items
: Huge amount of MRES, nice amount of health regen and (what people always forget) the nice movespeed increase!

: Nice item because it provides you with hp and MRES. The passive is not that great on a tank: as you will be the first to walk in the enemy team so your bubble will depop very soon (by harassement or AoE).

Health items
: A decent item, build it only late game or not at all. Even if health is effective against both types damage, it comes naturally when you build tank item.

Damage items
: Some defensive stat, a bit of AP and a nice aura for your mages on top of it.

: Nice AP boost and the activation may save your life.

Not recommended items
: Defensive stats are pretty low. Leave this to your off-tank or support.

: Expensive item and The passive won't help much... If you died early in the teamfight because you was focused, your team probably crushed the enemies and reviving is useless. If everything went bad and all your team died, 750 hp is worthless. This item is way too situational to invest in it.

Leviatha: Snowball items. If you're afraid to die because you want to preserve your stacks, you won't be a good tank.

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As with other tanks, the early game is certainly the trickiest part with Leona. She has a melee autoattack, has low attack damage and her mana is drained very quickly. The only good point is that with your runes, masteries and shield you are tougher than any other opponents.
To go through this phase painlessly, you must focus on last hitting: never autoattack if you can't do the killing blow on minions. This will prevent you from pushing your lane meaning that you'll be less vulnerable to ganks.

Leona is best suited botlane with a dps: Due to her cc, she is a consistent treat to all enemies.
Use your spells only to harass/kill enemies otherwise you will be oom very fast. For maximum damage output, use learn to use your q as an autoattack refresher. The only exception to that is if you can kill several minions with on spell (like Zenith Blade and Eclipse).

Harass Combo

The harass combo is as follow: => wait 2 sec => => autoattack => => autoattack
Pop your shield wait 2 sec, blink to the enemy, hit him once with an autoattack, immediately press q to refresh the autoattack and stun him giving you a few free autoattacks. At this point your shield should explode. If your teammate is focusing the same enemy it can result in a kill. For more effectiveness, wait the 2 seconds in a bush so it is completely unpredictable for your enemies.

Once you reached level 6 it is easier:
=> wait 2 sec => => autoattack => => autoattack =>
With this order, your ult is guaranteed to land. There is no reason to open with your ult as it my results in a waste if the enemy flash away when he sees the animation. The 1.25+1.5 stun combined with Sunlight is a kill 80% of the time.

The other possibilities is to take solo top (1v1). This will grants you higher level and more farm than the botlane and jungler allowing to tank like a boss. However in the current meta-noob-game if then enemy team doesn't have a jungler, you'll face a 2v1... Don't do this. Providing the fact that your opponents are as skilled as you, you will be denied.
When soloing, you want to put a point in Eclipse at level 2 and take Zenith Blade at level 4. It helps you if your are submerged by creeps or enemy harassment

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Team Work

OK, you are the tank. This means few things:
-You are the one that is going to jump first in the battle
-You need to be in front of your allies every time so you can eat enemies harassment, cc and burst damage
-You DON'T want to kill steal, in fact you want to be "kill stolen". That's the most frustrating part but here is why: the stuff of your damage dealer is more expensive than yours (think of a B. F. Sword or a Needlessly Large Rod compared to a Chain Vest). Taking the money form assist is enough for you !

Saving your allies
Sacrificing your self to save an ally is sometimes okay. Specially if your damage dealers have Mejai's Soulstealer or Sword of the Occult.
All your saves are based on your stun. The combo is fairly easy. Blink to your enemy using your e, while you are "in flight" activate your q, stun your opponent and run away from him.

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Team Fights

An initiation is the fact of starting a teamfight. Of course when you engage the enemy, you want your team to have immediately the upper hand. That's way a good initiator should be able to cc enemy and to kill a dangerous damage dealer rapidly to turn the fight in a 4vs5.
With her ultimate and her q, Leona excels at initiating. The classic combo is as following:
=> and =>
1. ping/say which enemy you're going to focus first (it should be the one that does the more damage or that has a AoE spell)
2. Blink at your target using Zenith Blade or Flash
3. While you are blinking, activate your q and your shield
4. Once the stun of your q is over, cast your ultimate trying to catch as many enemies as possible
Basically, the combo Zenith Blade followed by Shield of Daybreak prevents your target to flee. In the initiation combo you are using the shield as a protection and not for the damage as for the laning phase. That's why you don't wait 2 seconds before engaging and you don't really care about your autoattacks.
Same as before, using your ultimate last avoids wasting it. Furthermore, opening with the Zenith Blade or Flash makes the combo unpredictable and virtually inevitable once the enemy is caught.

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That's all folks!
Hope you learned enough to play Leona decently! Making such guide take quite a lot of time so if you have constructive criticism, leave a comment.

As the game changes and as the game experience evolves, I'll keep this guide updated.

If you rate the guide up, that's fine but be sure to let me know why.
If you rate the guide down, that's fine but be sure to let me know why.

Final word goes to Padme aka Natalie Portman for agreeing to pose for this new champion ;-)