Leona Build Guide by TheNakedHornet
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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.
Hey everyone! This is my first Mobafire guide on someone who I've been obsessed with ever since her purchase many months ago: Leona. Despite me being a pretty conservative player, who doesn't like to take risks, the kit of Leona just feels RIGHT to me, and the way she needs to be handled is unlike anything else you'll get out of a support.
Leona is a different kind of support. In lane, your goal is to get your carry to become more powerful than anyone else in the game. Supports do this in a variety of ways -- Soraka shrugs off attempts to drive them out of lane while acting as a mana battery, Alistar peels for his carry and sets up aggressive plays, Taric stops a target in their tracks while keeping the pair resistant to attacks, and Leona delivers kills with raw aggression.
She takes practice. She takes a carry that isn't afraid to risk losing a minion or two in exchange for asserting dominance over the others, and she herself needs to risk taking a few lumps in the hopes that her ally can follow her in. If she gets ahead, the enemy can be almost irreversibly crippled. If she gets behind, it can be tough to bounce back. You will either win lane or lose lane with Leona, and it'll be clear soon enough.
So why play Leona? What does she offer, and almost as importantly, what are flaws with her that need to be cared for?
Amazing passive, and the reason you do so much damage. At a first glance it's very easy to underestimate, since the damage appears meager. But it adds up, and the fact that it adds up means that a properly coordinated assault, in which your carry is there to capitalize on every single Sunlight applied, is going to make your play a success.
Shield of Daybreak
Speaks for itself. Press Q and autoattack something, receives damage, sunlight, and a pretty nice stun. To put it in perspective, it's about the same length as a Taric Dazzle or Alistar Pulverize. Punishes facechecks to an extreme degree, sets up ults, resets your autoattack (very handy for ward clearing, as you will discover).
As much as I love this skill, it gets maxed last. Cooldown reduction on it is nice, but I've found E to be much more reliable when it's maxed. That'll be covered in the Zenith Blade section. Think of it as Blitzcrank's Power Fist -- it's nice to have the CDR on it, but one point is all you really need, since you aren't looking for extended skirmishes. Don't try to fix what isn't broken. Take a point in it and capitalize on your other strengths.
I'll be honest. When I first played Leona, before I had read any guides or seen any input on her, I figured this skill would go last. Shorter cooldowns on my CC was more useful than a bit more damage, both for kill potential and for defensive potential for the two of us.
This is wrong.
Eclipse is amazing. While, yes, it is primarily used for damage, its uses go beyond this. The other visible component is the increased tankiness, which helps if you guys do end up diving, or someone like Ezreal wants to get potshots in before he tries to get away.
But that's not all it does. Applying AoE damage and Sunlight stacks to minions is basically saying "hey carry, throw a Phosphorus Bomb, throw a Buckshot, throw a Piercing Arrow, because you can drop these minions in one go". This is enormous, not only for shoving potential after a successful kill, but for protecting your tower, getting fast waveclear to meet an objective more quickly, and aiding a carry who may be playing a bit more conservatively because he needs to Recall or something. The durability helps you freeze minions so they don't get eaten up by your tower, and in a pinch it can mitigate damage you know you'll be taking, like Requiem or Noxious Trap.
This skill is maxed first, because of the biggest damage scaling among her abilities, as well as the resistances which should not go unnoted.
The lead-in. Skillshot which deals damage, roots, and teleports you to anybody unfortunate enough to get caught in it. Moves at a decent pace, probably the rate of Dark Binding, but honestly this thing is pretty hard to screw up. Lot wider than you would think.
Despite what it looks like, this is NOT how you start your combos. The combo begins 1-2 seconds after activating Eclipse, to ensure that it pops while the target is stunned by Shield of Daybreak. Zenith Blade is used to get into the fray. Try not to use this without having Eclipse already applied, unless it's Level 2 or you can get the target without it.
Please be careful with this thing. The range is long but that means if it strays onto an enemy and you are alone, you can be pretty heavily hurt disengaging. It has happened to less proficient Leonas and the aim is not to be one. So make sure you know what you're using it for. Waveclear? Make sure nobody can intercept. Champs? Well, I don't need to tell you how to use skillshots.
Between this and Shield of Daybreak I prefer this for my level 1. I try not to play too aggro until at least 2, usually 3 unless the enemy is gutsy/stupid. The AoE Sunlight application is a godsend to a jungler starting on Wolves or Wraiths, and even then it's better for Level 1 catchouts on the bot lane unless you think a Flash-Q is enough to instagib your target.
This gets maxed second, over Shield of Daybreak for one reason: damage. But not really in the conventional way that Leona utilizes damage, since your second point gets taken at level 8, and by then the lane has pretty much been decided, the 10 extra damage in taking Zenith Blade over Shield of Daybreak is not going to tip the scales. But it's very useful for waveclear, at levels 12 or 13 when you need to stop a wave from blasting your tower and nobody is around to pick it up, Eclipse + Zenith Blade will kill caster minions without any autoattacks. Maxing Shield of Daybreak doesn't give you that ability. The cooldown reduction is also noticeable, as it allows you to make plays more frequently than if Shield of Daybreak were off cooldown, either by more easily applying Exhaust, Eclipse, or sticking onto your target.
Ohhh baby. As soon as I hit 6 and Ctrl-R to learn this skill, the lane changes. At a glance, it's a delayed AoE stun with a bit of damage to boot. Which is not entirely untrue, but the reason this skill changes the lane is because you are now able to 100-0 someone in a full combo. Granted, there are exceptions - a fully beefed up Graves, a reluctant AD, a gap closer/disengage. But it IS possible to, as M5 put it so well, "see hero, kill hero".
Why does Solar Flare enable this? Well, for one, that's a pretty sizable amount of damage tacked onto already respectable burst. I've used it to finish people off, even where no ally is around to take advantage of Sunlight. It can catch fleeing enemies at a range where your Zenith Blade cannot. It locks down your target for the duration of another Dazzle or Pulverize. It applies a 4th Sunlight stack for mind-boggling burst. This thing will annihalate a target, and whenever it cools off my heart flutters a bit, because it's game time. If anyone wasn't getting the picture of who to focus, this giant sky laser sure as hell points out "hey, this guy right here is the one dying, k?"
Its timing is not too different from Lay Waste, and the stun AoE is roughly the same. Which means that you shouldn't be opening with it against an enemy who is under no threat. AD carries move very sporadically when farming, and a good number of them have ways to deal with it -- Tumble, Arcane Shift, Spell Shield, Quickdraw, Valkyrie.. you get the point. So the laser opens up and they press a button and.. voilá, you've wasted a giant ultimate. Leading with Zenith Blade is safer. If you are not in range to lead with it, but you are in range to open with Solar Flare, your carry is NOT going to be able to engage quickly enough to pick up Sunlight stacks or capitalize on the stun, even if it lets you close the gap with Zenith Blade.
So when do we use it? I typically throw it on the target as soon as my Shield of Daybreak lands. It has pretty distinctive animations, sounds, and effects, so it shouldn't be too hard to tell when it's made contact. They stay still for almost the entire duration, even if you're a bit late on your timing, to the point where the only method of escape is mashing their key for Flash, which is a last-ditch move. The delay also serves as a window of opportunity for your carry to get the Sunlight proc from your earlier Shield of Daybreak, so you don't override it.
Of course, we take this skill whenever possible. Cooldown reduction is a godsend for this skill, and the damage and stun always stay relevant.
Here I'm going to detail the masteries I prefer on Leona. Honestly, I've never been very keen on mastery customization, and it's really up to your own preference, but here goes.
Okay, a little secret here: this is the mastery page I initially developed when intending to test out Reverse Support Hecarim. It was designed for reducing minion and champion damage in lane, as well as good movement speed buffs and gold generation. Leona needs all of these things, once I figured out my old Support page had unnecessary elements for her, I switched to this and haven't looked back.
Pretty nice mastery for anyone, honestly. As Leona you're going to be needing to engaging often, and keeping healthy enough to engage. +6 armor helps for those stray Mystic Shots, Buckshots, or even just minion damage that threatens your engage. Stuff adds up, so we might as well mitigate it the best we can.
See Hardiness. Doesn't deal with champion abilities or autoattacks, but since you're the one diving into the enemy backline during laning, the minions are coming for you. It's nice to have this.
Bit of lategame scaling here. Extra health is great, with your Eclipse it gets amplified by these delicious resistances.
You're not always going to be able to 100-0 someone in lane. The fight has to end at some point, and this is going to keep you healthy enough for round 2. You don't always have money for pots, seeing as how your income takes a while to set up, so this can work in a pinch.
Tough Skin, but works on anything. Come at me, minions.
In my opinion, one of the best masteries in the game, and so little investment required. 30 HP is not a lot on paper, but there have been clutch plays where you get out with under that amount. And you may not think "oh, if I didn't have Veteran's Scars we would have lost that", but it's true. I can't see anything else I would rather take.
As if the name didn't say it already. Prime positioning and zoning power is what Leona needs to capitalize on. Movement speed is one of the best stats in the game and 3% can make a difference. It helps while positioning, it helps while disengaging, and it helps while roaming.
I don't go any further in the Defense tree since I really enjoy Greed , and I put in the bare minimum amount of points into the Utility tree to get it. If it's your personal preference you could experiment with Mercenary for bigger snowball but it deprives you of that ensured gold income. 24 bonus gold on a kill/assist per 10 seconds vs. 2 gold every 10 seconds means you need to kill around once every 2 minutes, a bit more leeway if you keep that point in Greed , but I like to keep myself anchored in reality where you don't always steamroll your opponents. Come lategame the gold generation doesn't make a huge difference since there isn't any major purchase that stockpiling for wouldn't take an eternity to reach.
Initial parts of the Utility tree aren't very lucrative. Leona's main problem is usually health instead of mana, and by the time you have enough CDR to start spamming abilities, mana isn't really an issue. Still, I'd rather not invest points into Good Hands since it's like taking Revive... you already expect bad things to happen. You can make plays happen but you are no carry, 10% less downtime isn't going to break a game at 45 minutes, especially if you revive before your allies (which you probably will, seeing as how you are probably jumping into their backline) since your burst isn't much without someone to proc Sunlight.
Who doesn't love this? Especially once you kill your opponent and shove the lane out, you want to stay healthy. Recall is already a useful tool, the extra 1 second can mean a lot in clutch situations.
See Initiator . Even works at above 70%, which is nice against poke lanes.
Up to personal preference here. I like it as a safety net, as well as a faster Philosopher's Stone. I run Greater Quintessence of Gold on Leona in addition, so you might consider it overkill, but in that case feel free to substitute.
Some people like Wealth on their supports.. I've never been too keen on it. The classic Faerie Charm + 3 Sight Wards + 2 Health Potions opening works for me, I suppose if you want to start with Boots of Speed and a mix of potions and wards it could work, but I don't think the extra MS early on is all too necessary since we rune and mastery with it, and you can usually sneak 1-2 kills against an unaware opponent before he starts playing scared and you're required to get boots to keep threatening him. Extra 2% movespeed from Initiator is worth that 40 gold to me.
Almost there. Hang in there, guys.
Runes are.. honestly, pretty much up to you. This is the rune page I use but as long as you aren't slapping scaling AD on her or something your page should be fine. Just listing what I use, as well as alternates if it suits your fancy. Doesn't cover every rune that could be considered viable, just ones that I think work well.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Gold
Greater Mark of Insight
Balls deep. You want kill potential and this is a pretty solid way to get it. The amount of magic pen you get may not look like much, but considering a carry won't be itemizing to mitigate your burst until later with Quicksilver Sash or Banshee's Veil, this works to cut out any natural resistances (or even runes) they think can stop you. I realize that Sunlight does not rely on your magic penetration, but all the same you need to think about your directive as Leona. Are you here to eat autoattacks or here to blast their carry and support?
Greater Mark of Armor
Greater Seal of Resilience
Pretty much the only yellows I use. I love how much they give, 12 armor is nothing to snort at, especially as a diver. Never owned any other kind of yellows and never had any problems with it.
Greater Seal of Gold
Greater Glyph of Shielding
You can mix it up a bit here. For the longest time I ran AP blues on her to complement the magic pen, but soon enough wised up and realized the dismal ratios on her skills meant I was sacrificing 9 rune slots for what amounted to about 10-15 extra damage on a full combo. These are classic blues, similar to the yellows in that you really can't go wrong with them. I may experiment with armor blues, as I have those stashed away for when I try Reverse Support Hecarim again. You can use the AP blues if you REALLY REALLY think it's going to help, but it's personal preference I suppose.
Greater Glyph of Armor
Greater Glyph of Ability Power
Greater Quintessence of Avarice
Nice, cheap little quints for you budding support players. Faster Philosopher's Stone, faster Boots of Speed, faster Heart of Gold, you name it. Never realized how much I missed them when I tried out Greater Quintessence of Movement Speedes, I love them to death but if movespeed is your thing (my masteries typically go for the 5% extra so an extra 4.5% might be overkill), they work just as great.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Last part, I believe, then we're under way.
I mentioned my preferred build a bit earlier in the guide, when discussing whether to take Wealth or not, but here goes again:
sight wardsight wardsight ward
Fairly standard opener for a support. Faerie Charm for Philosopher's Stone, Sight Wards in spades to keep you safe, and Health Potions to keep you relatively healthy and ready to dive back in.
philosopher's stonesight ward
I like my first back to be at minimum 620 gold, since that's enough to get the Philosopher's Stone up and running. Wards are in there because you really should always have some form of coverage, although sometimes if you're right on the edge of a major purchase you might be able to get away with forgoing them for a bit, especially if the other lanes are doing really well since it can pull the jungler's attention. Vision Wards are a can of worms there, once you start putting them down it's only a matter of time before the enemy goes "okay fine, I'll get some of my own" and then this big ward war erupts. You can turn this into an advantage by monitoring when the support leaves the lane. Capitalize on this. Ping them out to your carry, tell them that the ward war has separated AD and support, and that you can pick off the support while he's trapped in the river. If your AD is stubborn, scared, or blind, try to zone the enemy support out by yourself and make him think your AD is on board when in reality he's not. A large component of successful Leona play is not necessarily engaging, but threatening the enemy with an engage. Make him pay the price for resisting your dominance in the river control.
Unless your enemies are towerdiving Sonas and Malzahars, your next Recall may not leave you with a whole lot in the bank. We're working towards Heart of Gold but around this point is where movespeed becomes noticeable, and you need it in order to zone effectively. Boots of Speed are just going to be more helpful than a Heart of Gold rush, unless you charge into lane and grab a kill 10 seconds later anyways (hey, you might). Keep the wards up, and stay supreme in the ward war.
Around now is when you've got double GP10 and the cash starts coming in. It's also around the point where someone's tower is falling (hopefully theirs) and the game starts to change for you. Decisions need to be made -- fortunately, with the extra gold income you're allowed to be a bit more flexible with your item purchases, so let's check out what's on the agenda.
kage's lucky pick
Triple GP10 may be overkill to some, but there's a lot of neat stuff out there, and proper support play demands a boatload of wards (since nobody else will buy them in midgame, trust me). The AP isn't going to make your burst any more fearsome than it already is, but it can't hurt, and it beats Avarice Blade. Once your triple GP10 starts to kick in, our next item is...
Oracle's Elixir. The item so necessary I'm about to write a giant explanation for it, even if you buy this already.
This is probably one of the most game-changing items out there. 400 gold and a pop of the item, and you become an ENORMOUS threat. Not only are you able to eliminate enemy map control, you profit from their demise, quell aggressive invades, mask your team's plans, and make the enemy unable to receive forewarning on your team's aggressive plays unless they kill you, and that's a hard feat as long as you are picking your battles correctly.
This item is CORE. It's the best 400 gold you will ever spend, and so few people purchase it. It gives so many benefits, once my triple GP10 is up I try not to ever leave the base without one popped. Junglers are the optimal buyers of this but they don't get it, for some reason. They can complain all they want about a lane being warded, how ganks are impossible, but you know the truth? They're too busy farming away in the jungle, looking for any excuse to keep farming. Screw that. They can keep their second-rate gear, once you have this, the team follows YOU.
Let's be serious here. Having Oracle's Elixir makes you the head honcho. Everybody likes getting rid of the enemy wards but when it comes time to cough up the gold so it can happen, everybody has something else on their plate. People follow you, they want you to sweep around and clear the wards so your team can roam uninhibited. And you should be more than willing to comply! Oracle's holders have an unwritten claim to the +25g from a ward kill, so as if triple GP10 + masteries + assist gold + possible rune gold isn't enough, now you have even more gold coming in. The thing pays for itself with smart play, because three things can happen once the enemies see you sporting that Oracle's:
1. They stop buying wards
2. They keep buying wards
3. They go for a bait play to try and get rid of your Oracle's.
1 is probably the best scenario. Completely stopping attempts to gain map control and vision is why you bought the item in the first place. 2 may occupy you a bit, but it's great as well, since that's extra money for you, and their money keeps going towards fleeting vision. 3 is something you need to be careful of, since an Oracle's may only eliminate THEIR map control. You still need to maintain your own vision; remember, it takes time to clear these wards, and they can see you coming. Proper ward baits can leave them with a dead Leona. This segways nicely into the next segment:
But what if I die with Oracle's?
If you die with Oracle's on, I have a solution for you:
This is too good to pass up, unless your team is in dire need of initiation and you haven't got under way on your Shurelya's Reverie. I tend to forgo any purchases past triple GP10 and wards until I've got another Oracle's popped, and the only way you will see me without Oracle's is if you are killing me so frequently I have no money left for it. With extra money you can go for...
...(or any other boots to your liking, I'm a huge fan of CDR so I indulge in Ionian Boots of Lucidity once in a while), but this thing is core, because you become an immediate threat which needs to be taken out. You know that feeling you get when the enemy jungler runs through your tribush and takes out your ward? That feeling of "okay, well, he's here now, and I have no idea what he's planning"? That can be you. You can be the one to strike fear in your enemies. Leona support is about making plays. Not all of them revolve around killing champions.
Later on, when you've got comfortable ward coverage, sitting on oodles of cash, upgraded Boots to your liking, pink eye over your head, take that leap of faith and get it:
Once I buy this item I know I'll be missing the triple GP10 income, but you still have 2 more by your side, and this is worth the purchase. CDR is always welcome on Leona, as well as a powerful, powerful active which helps mobilize yourself (and, importantly as well, your allies... someone needs to follow up on your engages, remember?). Good support item for a reason.
If the game progresses even further than this, you may have failed to adequately squash your opponents. Never fear! We'll get more into the Leona lategame as we go along. For now, the road branches here, and you can go ahead and pick up...
...depending on your preference. Both great for team skirmishes, really up to you here.
If you are still sitting on cash after this, and Soul Shroud and Zeke's Herald aren't really your thing, I'd probably recommend
as a last item. Off the top of my head I can't remember ever getting to a point past this as Leona. Frozen Heart is just a nice item, should round out your CDR to 40%, superb armor boost, and a nifty passive aura. Never forget to stop warding, as if you are fed enough where you're forced to buy even more stuff, your allies are probably sitting on 6-item builds, and map control is still very important, especially for lategame Baron Nashor attempts which can completely turn the scales of a game.
Most guides I've read don't cover much past runes, masteries, and items. That's not what I look for in a guide, I look for things to set my play apart from others. And that's what I hope to deliver to you.
Level 1: The dawn has arrived
We begin at Level 1 (duh). 90% of the time I'll go ahead and skill Zenith Blade first, for reasons previously stated. It helps you be there for your carry, and junglers love the Sunlight procs, if nothing else. The other 10% of the time is if we have a specific plan in mind which requires longer CC and allows me an avenue of gap closing (for example, my friends and I enjoy running Leona Blitzcrank, with Rocket Grab as our "gap closer"). If you can, help your jungler (he's a team member, even if you will end up not needing his help to beat your lane, he will love you 5eva) with whatever he wants, and get him rolling. If you are unable to help your jungler, as he is starting on the upper side of the map, you may want to try for the Double Golems.
What are double golems for? For the most part, you don't really need to worry about them, but I often enjoy the start as it's gold and experience for your carry, able to be taken at a time where they aren't doing anything anyways, and junglers hate taking them early on anyways so everybody wins. The way I learned to take double golems is to have the carry stand on the right side, and the support on the left. When the golems spawn at 1:40, the carry attacks first, and kites the golems to the right. The support stays close to the golems, so when the carry exits golem aggro range, aggro transfers onto the support. The support then kites the golems to the left, switching aggro back onto the carry. By this switch, it may take a little while but your carry should have taken both golems, the two of you missing a tiny bit of health and mana but the sigil should restore a nice chunk of your carry's health. This process requires the carry to stay on the right since that leaves him or her closer to the minions at the end of the process, and there is less of a time crunch necessary for them to reach the CS.
Golems are weird, and take a while to master. In a solo queue setting don't expect anyone to be perfect at it, as they may surprise all but the most top players. Know when to cut and run, you need the both of you to stay healthy for what's to come ahead.
So now you're sitting in the bush, carries farming away. Right away, you can tell what your opponent thinks by observing how they play against you. If an immediate ward comes into your bush, the enemy support is already playing scared (probably have experience with Leona, bleh) and you can start trying to zone the carry. It's important to know bottom lane matchups and predict early aggression. If the enemy carry is one like Draven or Caitlyn, expect them to try and hurt your carry early on, and look to establish a "danger zone" where they don't dare take potshots at you or your carry. Level 1 is awkward for Leona (Anybody who tells you that her level 1 is great with a Shield of Daybreak start is lost in theoryland, any squishy who lets Leona get close enough at level 1 without Zenith Blade to land Shield of Daybreak is going to be bad enough where you really don't need this guide to do well) and my best advice is to ride it out until 2 or 3. Try and make your presence known, it can help the transition stay nice.
Levels 2-5: First light approaches
When we hit 2 or 3, now we start looking for catchouts. When picking an engage, run a set of questions through your mind.
#1: If this goes wrong, what is the worst case scenario? Will a counterattack cripple or kill me, or worse, my carry?
#2: Is my carry close enough to the action where, even as I perform a long-range gap closer on my target, he is able to proc Sunlight stacks and apply the necessary pressure to allow a clean disengage? How is his mana? What is his goal?
#3: I am engaging on a target. Where is his or her partner? Are they at base? Warding? Far away and unable to peel or fight? Currently occupying my carry?
It's not easy to get a successful engage as Leona. You can't always assume that a successful E-Q-W combo will do what you think it will. You shouldn't aim to kill a full-health opponent, use your Exhaust sparingly when both you and the carry are focused on the target. Pick your battles. Capitalize on your opponent's missteps, do not use your abilities just because you are restless or bored. Always make sure your carry is on board, do not force them out of their comfort zones. People will always be happy to aid you in a kill attempt but it should not be done out of an obligation to protect the idiot who just ran into 2 enemies. The success of a Leona engage will usually be evident before you even make contact with the target, the ability of your carry to be there at a moment's notice is something you need to evaluate before diving in.
Hopefully your laning phase here went smoothly. We define "smoothly" as "not surrender-at-20 terrible", because the Solar Flare period is upon us.
Levels 6-10: They will be sundered
Here it comes. Solar Flare. The dealbreaker ability that can be a free kill every 90 seconds if you play your cards right.
We'll start with the defining characteristic of this phase: the introduction of Solar Flare. I told you that it grants you the ability to 100-0 most targets. Let's see it in action.
I AM GOING TO MAKE A YOUTUBE VIDEO HERE
Solar Flare is a pretty key component in most of these kills. The range on it may not be too noticeable, but in some you can see it. Here's an example of how far it goes:
So with this 100-0 potential, you need to execute it in a manner similar to 2-5. If you have that down, the Solar Flare is really icing on the cake.
Open with Eclipse (or, if you think the opportunity is fleeting, lead with Zenith Blade and activate Eclipse during the move). Most allied carries will react to the dive around the time you teleport to your target, which is fine, that's natural for a human, considering how quickly you're able to throw yourself in there. While the target is still snared, throw an autoattack, wait for the distinctive clash of sword on flesh, pop your Shield of Daybreak to refresh the autoattack timer, stun, damage, and get Sunlight refreshed (assuming your carry was on the ball and popped the Zenith Blade Sunlight proc, either by committing to the fight earlier, Blessing of the Lizard Elder , Deadly Venom, you get it), then make a decision. Is my carry able to proc Sunlight and add damage of his own, or is he lagging behind? Look at your target and think about how they will respond once the stun ends. Are they weak, and will try to Flash away, or mash Arcane Shift, Valkyrie, or some other escape mechanism? Are they weak enough where even the fairly large AoE damage, Sunlight, and enormous slow will seal their fate if they do try to slip away? You want to play aggressive with Leona but don't develop a trigger finger with Solar Flare, it is a massively powerful tool, and it's a shame if it's wasted.
That being said, if you do decide to throw down Solar Flare, one trick I like to use is to position it slightly behind the target, within a range such that they'll be stunned if they stand perfectly still (small circle on the target), but at the same time if they do try to Flash away, you still get the huge slow, damage, and Sunlight stack on the target. To avoid getting stunned by that, your target would have to run towards you and your carry, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out why that's even worse.
Know when to hit it and when to quit it. One of the biggest mistakes you can make as Leona is to recklessly pursue a kill, doubly so if there's a perfectly good target next to you. Too often I'll land an engage on a carry, we tango for a bit, and when the carry disengages, my carry chases. I'd be lying if I said Leona's early cooldowns weren't disappointing. You don't have chasing power without Zenith Blade, and without Boots of Speed you really shouldn't pursue a chase. That's what makes a good Exhaust, it doesn't force either of you to do anything differently. You are not killing the biggest threat, you are killing the easiest target. That is my Leona mantra. And I know a lot of readers may think "wow, you're an idiot, of course you go for the biggest threat". The two are not mutually exclusive. Even the best of us make missteps, it's your job to look at those missteps and say "too far". If the support valiantly defends his carry, who disengages after you jump in, stop trying to chase the carry who will kite you for free damage while Zenith Blade is down, and instead turn focus to the now-overextended support. Your easiest target has changed. Yes, it's nicer to get the kill on their carry instead of support, but tunnel vision can make you miss out on huge opportunities. If the damage is free, make it happen. Balancing aggression and intelligence is what this game hinges on. You can be relentless in your engages but acting without flexibility can cripple. You can be the most calculating and patient Leona, sitting in the bush for 15 minutes waiting for their carry to get right on top of you so you can get the optimal engage, but you waste her ability to control a lane if you don't take any risks.
Here's an example of switching aggression:
Here, we get a superb catchout on Varus (seriously, if you get an engage like that, don't expect another quite like it for a couple more games, that one was priceless), who is able to outrun me after Shield of Daybreak lands. Immediately, instead of chasing Varus in a futile effort to kill him (he started Boots of Speed and I didn't, so I could never catch him), I turn onto Lulu, who is now the only person I can feasibly hit. Ezreal pummels Varus more, dumping Mystic Shot into Lulu and using Arcane Shift to hit Varus with another auto. However, this is an example of recklessly pursuing aggression, as the minions are now hitting Ezreal. Once he is out of ways to punish Varus's retreat, and Varus cannot reasonably fight back, Ezreal switches aggression to Lulu, who, now, is punished by the engage on Varus. Overall, even though Varus lives, I manage to put decent damage onto Lulu during her retreat, and while Ezreal has the right idea to attack Lulu during her retreat, his Arcane Shift put him in a bad spot, where he tanks the minions without a lot of room to retreat into the brush.
My point is that you need to pick your battles, and know when you need to change tack or bail out completely.
Levels 11-15: I will break their line
Now that towers are falling, and people begin to start leaving their lanes, it's time to move away from the laning phase and into the midgame.
I'm gonna level with you. Leona's laning phase is a lot more fun than her midgame, because we've got several elements at play now:
~Tanky people, like your top lane bruiser and beefy jungler, are pretty hard to kill, and will (ideally) protect their carry
~Reckless engaging can be punished by a lot more members of their team
~Itemization can make your flat damage seem insignificant, things like Rod of Ages or Frozen Mallet, which you don't normally see picked up on the bottom lane, can help other people weather a combo. This does not mean your damage is irrelevant, as you will see. It just means your 100-0 potential is going to drop. It is still dangerous to let Leona jump on you.
That said, there are a few more tools at your disposal, most notably the presence of your other allies, who may have better ways to pop Sunlight or disengage potential then your carry.
We've also got to start the ward war. The introduction of Sightstone is a pretty nice tool in this, it's pretty cost-efficient and a nice item to have all game, unless you're an hour in and the enemies are knocking at your door for the last stand. It's not without its shortcomings, though. 2 (or 3) wards are not enough to cover key points and give proper vision. Sightstone is nice but can it simultaneously cover..
~Blue side jungle entrance (purple/both, if purple is losing or a lot of action is happening top)
~River (upper and lower)
~Assorted jungle spots
Sightstone is a supplement to Sight Wards. Even if your allies are pulling their weight in ward purchases, depending on how confident you are that you can reasonably predict your opponents' moves, you may need more. Natural gold income, plus GP10s and perhaps runes/masteries, can sustain the purchases better than you may think.
Still, another element of the ward war includes the use of Vision Wards and Oracle's Elixir. If we were in Season 2, I'd advise purchasing Oracle's Elixir every time you don't have it, because it used to be that good. However, given the recent nerfs to it, the item is situational, and I'd recommend it only in the event that you absolutely need control of an area and have almost no idea where the enemy wards are or could be (control of Baron Nashor , for example). Some key points, like Dragon or the blue side jungle entrance, can be covered with Vision Wards since there's a pretty limited range that enemy wards can be located.