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League of Legends Build Guide Author KoreanSP

Mastery Trees - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

KoreanSP Last updated on August 31, 2012
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Intro - Why this guide?

Hi, I'm known as multiple aliases, been playing MobA games from casual gameplay to the competitive scene but nevertheless, I've always been someone who analysed everything and gave my fair worth of information on it. I play at a high level and always give it my best, and this guide is no exception to my motto. On Mobafire, I'm known as KoreanSP, and I have been playing League for a good amount of time on various accounts. A key part in every MobA genre game are the roles of Mastery Trees.

This short guide is here to help you choose the right masteries for each guide and pick what is necessary and realize what is not.

This is NOT a detailed, comprehensive guide. This is directed to more of a brief, masteries explanation guide.

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What to expect -

+ Brief explanations on each mastery
+ General conclusion
+ My favorite picks
+ Encouraging new mastery picks, tree combinations

What not to expect -

- Fully described trees
- Baby-stepping your trees
- Discouraging mastery-tree experimentation

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The Three Trees

There are three mastery trees in LoL -
  • The Offensive Tree
  • The Defensive Tree
  • The Utility Tree

Each tree has unique properties that generally focus on it's intended goal for defense, offence, or utility. Some of these stats are completely different and unique, while others are repeated throughout the other trees.

You can have up to ten different mastery trees, for various builds, champs, lanes, and so on.

With each level, you gain one mastery point. You can have up to 30 points max. Each tree has more than 30 points, so even at level 30, you won't get the full tree.

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Individual Masteries

It is important to note that most masteries require points in the tree. When moving to higher levels in the tree, AKA known as a 'higher tier', you need to have 4 points in the tier before it, AKA the 'prerequisite tier'.

Offensive Tree

Summoner's Wrath :It gives you bonuses to all the offensive skills, which coincidentally are the ones people tend to use the most apart from Flash. In any builds using offensive summoner spells such as Ghost, Exhaust, or Ignite, this spell is a must-take.

Brute Force : Basic 3 points of attack damage. Used to last hit efficiently, common pick.

Mental Force : Basic 4 points of ability power. This mastery is usually picked my many guides for the AP, but I dislike it. Four points of AP is useless and three points of AD is more useful to last hit with. There are some exceptions though.

Butcher : 4 AD against creeps, useful for junglers reliant on attack damage, or in the lane for last hitting.

Alacrity : Attack speed, not much, but necessary for ArPen.

Sorcery : CDR, not much, but necessary for MagicPen.

Demolitionist : Not picked often as the extra damage against towers are rarely used and pretty pointless. Plus, the extra damage won't speed up a tower's death due to its armor, and how little the damage bonus actually is.

Deadliness : More AD, useful to get the crit bonus. It is scaling, so best for late game.

Weapon Expertise : Crucial skill in many builds, gives more ArPen which is great for AD reliant champs.

Arcane Knowledge : Crucial skill in many builds, gives more MagicPen which is great for AP or skill caster reliant champs.

Havoc : Gives 1.5% bonus damage upon AD damage and any skills you do.

Lethality : Gives you more crit damage WHEN you crit. Useful for those with skills that do 100% crit/higher crit chance, such as Ashe's Focus, or Shaco's Deceive.

Vampirism : 3% Lifesteal, it is very little, but during the laning phase, it is 2-4 more HP per hit, and with a Vampiric Sceptor and Doran's Blades, it can stack up lineally.

Blast : More AP at level 18, it is a scaling mastery. Good mastery for any AP caster for obvious reasons.

Sunder : Flat ArPen, it is useful for any AD based champs due to the effectiveness of ArPen. Early game, if you have ArPen runes, this works with it beautifully by shredding through squishy champs' armor.

Archmage : Fantastic skill, works like a Rabadon's Deathcap. It amplifies your AP by adding on 5% of total AP to your AP.

Executioner : Deals more damage as the target is low. It CAN be the reason you got a kill, or if you didn't have the mastery and you are the AD carry, you missed out on it. 6% more damage is pretty useful overtime, and that might be the few more damage you needed to kill someone. Works with spells too.

Defense Tree

Summoner's Resolve : Commonly picked by junglers for Smite bonus, and for AD ranged carries for the Heal bonus, you should look at the benefits it gives, see if any of your skills match the benefiting skill, and get it as seen appropriate.

Resistance : More MR for the early game. Get it against AP enemies in the lane.

Hardiness : More Armor for the early game. Useful in the lane more then Resistance since early game is largely about auto attacks, and minions do less damage to you.

Tough Skin : One of the best masteries for top champs and junglers as it reduces the damage done to you by minions. Less damage from minions, more health to trade with and survive.

Durability : Another scaling skill, useful for more health. It is usually gotten to get Veteran's Scars more so than anything.

Vigor : Tad more health regen, good for a bit longer sustain and to make up for minion damage.

Indomitable : One of the best masteries for all champs. Gives damage reduction (2) from all damage sources. Throughout the game, this will really pile up from all the minions, jungle creeps, and eventual lane harass. Great early and mid game for farming.

Veteran's Scars : A Free Health quint essentially. Good for any squishy champs, during the first few levels (1-4), this may be what saves you from a Ignite or from that one last hit from the enemy champ.

Evasion : Not commonly seen, helps you take less damage from AoE.

Bladed Armor : Best pick for lots of junglers, deals 6 damage back which can speed up your jungle by many seconds, especially on camps like Wraiths. Just make sure that you don't steal the Blue or Red while waiting to give it to someone. If you wait too long, you may end up killing it due to this mastery.

Siege Commander : Gives armor debuff for towers in a short range, but usually never usefully applied.

Initiator : Great for laning phase and later on before teamfights. Extra movement speed when you are high health. Laning phase - use the bushes and the mastery to avoid damage while wistfully juking and poking.

Enlightenment : Scaling mastery, gives decent CDR at level 18, and for some, it may be the only source of CDR. 8% is nothing to scoff at, and I enjoy getting it for many champs.

Honor Guard : Lowers 1.5% damage from all sources.

Mercenary : It is bonus flat EXP from kills/assists.

Juggernaut : Great final tier mastery, the 3% HP bonus is great for tanks and essentially is just free HP. The 10% Tenacity is fantastic, and with many champs like Irelia or Dr. Mundo, this skill helps them get rid of CC even faster.

Utility Tree

Summoner's Insight : Contains CD reduction for Flash, and many other spells that usually supports take. Again, check if your skills match the benefiting ones listed, and raise the mastery if seen appropriate.

Good Hands : Good skill, best late game when you can shave off 6+ seconds on your death timer, which may be what saves that Nexus Turret or get to that Baron. Best for those who die often as well such as tanks or supports.

Expanded Mind : Scaling skill. More Mana. Useful for many, especially champs with low mana pools but high mana usage such as Sivir or Malphite.

Improved Recall : Faster recalls, great for those with Teleport too.

Swiftness : 2% movement speed bonus, extremely useful since speed is a harder stat to get.

Meditation : A bit of mana regeneration, not a lot, useful for laning phase spell casters and supports.

Scout : If you buy wards, this is useful so best for supports. But 5% is very small, and unnoticeable in 95% cases.

Greed : More GP10, great for anyone. It is extra gold generated, especially good for supports who need more gold.

Transmutation : More Spell Vamp, the counter part to Vampirism . Due to Spell Vamp's more complicated formula and how little you actually heal from it, 3% isn't much.

Runic Affinity : Popular for many, it extends include Blue and Red buffs, and is an extra 30 seconds, which is pretty useful, especially for mid-lane blue dependent users. NOTE: This doesn't affect Baron Buff.

Wealth : You start off with a bit more gold which helps for those who want the extra health pot, or for supports to get that Vision Ward or more pots.

Awareness : More experience, great for solo lanes to beat the enemy, or for supports who lack experience due to all the constant warding.

Sage : More experience, best in the early lane phase when kills can snowball. Other than that, it loses effectiveness.

Strength of Spirit : Great mastery, you get HP regen according to your mana. Great for mana-stacking champs and generally a fantastic regen mastery. Best on Blitzcrank and Ryze.

Intelligence : 6% CDR, a useful thing. Helps you get max CDR on supports and any utility users.

Mastermind : Reduces your Summoner Spells' CD by 15%. Great skill overall, helps all summoner spells.

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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


  • Summoner's Wrath - One point wonder
  • Summoner's Resolve - One point wonder
  • Summoner's Insight - One point wonder
  • Butcher and Brute Force - Early game, they are useful to last hit with, so it is great for newer players, or for those who are not confident with their last hitting abilities.
  • Weapon Expertise and Arcane Knowledge - Armor Penetration and Magic Penetration, respectively. Both are great for more damage, and hybrid builds get both. Great throughout the game.
  • Archmage - A mini Rabadon's Deathcap, a must-get for AP carries.
  • Hardiness and Resistance - Great for lane phase trading early on.
  • Durability and Veteran's Scars - Many champs are squishy early on, and even throughout the game, will be pretty squishy. This gives quite a good amount of health, more then quints. It can save your life more often than not, especially if the enemy decides to not dive you because you had this extra health bonus.
  • Tough Skin and Indomitable - #1 pick for solo-top champs, GREAT damage reduction when you poke the enemy, or wish to trade. Minions attack often and a lot, and this really helps. Also, when you 'freeze' the lane, it helps ease the damage.
  • Tough Skin , Indomitable , and Bladed Armor - This combo is ideal for jungling, speeds it up, and leaves you with more HP at the end. Combine it with Vigor and Hardiness for best results.
  • Enlightenment - 8% CDR, nothing to scoff at. Late game, it may be the only CDR you have.
  • Juggernaut - Best part is the tenacity, rather then the HP boost. But it always helps. Works great with stuff like Irelia's passive.
  • Expanded Mind - More mana. Greaaaat.
  • Swiftness - That small speed bonus can be an extra kill, or it might be the extra distance from that scary Garen.
  • Greed - GP10, fantastic for everyone, best namely put - supports.
  • Runic Affinity - Longer blue for mid lane, snowball harder. Longer red for jungler, 1 more gank.
  • Strength of the Spirit - Great for extra health, even better for mana heavy champs. This really is fantastic regen that just gets better and better throughout the game.

  • Mental Force - The 4 AP is useless for most champs, maybe apart from someone like Nunu.
  • Alacrity and Sorcery - Just prerequisites.
  • Deadliness and Lethality - Not the largest boost, just more damage.
  • Vampirism - A bit of lifesteal, nothing large
  • Blast - 18 AP, best at level 18.
  • Sunder - Flat Armor Reduction. Not bad.
  • Executioner - 6% more damage is not that high, and usually won't make a difference for a kill or not. Rarely, it does. But it isn't a fairly great final tier mastery because of how it usually (98%+) won't affect kills.
  • Vigor - Not much health regen.
  • Initiator - I'm a fan of it, but it won't help out much in team fights, since you drop health fast. It loses effectiveness once you are below 70% health, which is common.
  • Good Hands - A few seconds off, it may be what saves that tower or helps steal that Baron, but that is really just pure luck more than anything. Great skill, but not the best.
  • Improved Recall - A second or so off. Can save your life, other times won't do anything.
  • Wealth - One more potion can be the difference, but at the same time, in most cases it'll make no change.
  • Awareness and Sage - More experience, best for those who need levels or need to catch up, such as supports.
  • Intelligence - CDR, but usually people with the utility tree have it maxed at 40%, or won't really need the 6%.
  • Mastermind - 15% off skills are great, but half the time it won't even be used, or it wouldn't of made a difference. Great skill, but nothing game changing in most cases.

  • Demolitionist - The damage boost is unnoticeable and very small. You usually don't want to push towers anyway, but rather let minions push it (unless it is a free tower). Even if it is a free tower, the damage benefit won't make a difference, you'll get the tower anyway. Don't waste your point.
  • Havoc - 1.5% damage increase. Which means if you hit 1000, you do 15 more damage. Or if you hit 60 damage, you get 1 more damage. And this mastery is 3 points to max. Terrible skill to get. not to mention there is armor and magic resist, so that 15 damage may only be 9 damage.
  • Evasion - It is unnoticeable. Don't waste points. 3% less from AoE damage will do absolutely nothing apart from a couple points of health. And this is only in AoE situations.
  • Siege Commander - The aura is so small, and unnotciable. Again, you shouldn't usually be pushing the tower, rather just letting minions do it. And if it is a free tower, this won't speed it up, it'll fall essentially the same. Waste of a point, you almost NEVER get to use it, and when you do, it makes NO difference.
  • Honor Guard - Same as Havoc , if you take 1000 damage, you get 15 damage less. You are dead by the next second. Early game, if you take 60, you take 1 less damage. And this is for three points. Even for a tank, this is useless.
  • Mercenary - Useless skill, rarely used, completely unnoticeable, Bruisers and Tanks don't need it.
  • Meditation - Very low mana regen, it isn't worth the 3 points. +3 Mana per 5 seconds, which means it is only +36 mana per minute. Not worth it.
  • Scout - Unnoticeable boost in ward coverage in almost every case. Won't change anything. Waste of a point.
  • Transmutation - Very small spell vamp, not worth it. You heal for almost nothing. I rather get Meditation than this.

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All in all, this guide was made because I saw many people choosing bad masteries, over underestimating/overestimating masteries.

Not to mention many people go strictly by the 21-9 builds. Knowledge about masteries can end up leading people to try out different ones.

I appreciate any debate, criticism, remarks, and insults on this guide.

This was just a short, brief guide that I did in a short amount of time.

Do learn and enjoy perhaps!


Check out my Competitive Olaf Guide and Competitive Nidalee Guide Would really appreciate it!


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