Irelia Build Guide by Xenasis
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Not Updated For Current Season
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Hello! Welcome to my off tank guide for Irelia! I play her quite a lot and every single time I off tank!
This guide will hopefully teach you how to build, play, lane, and off tank successfully with Irelia. If it doesn't - I'd appreciate it if you'd leave a comment telling me where to improve the guide or where it doesn't fill in all of the details!
Irelia excels at off tanking and is arguably the best in the game at the job! This should help people new to Irelia and off tanking in general!
Pros / Cons
Why should you play Irelia as an off tank?
+ She is arguably the best at the job!
+ If she's low/medium health, she will be getting many more stuns from her Equilibrium Strike.
+ Can easily solo top - and fit a great role in the team.
+ Has high damage even when building tanky!
+ Can 1v1 most other champions with ease
+ Super fun to play
- There's not always a spot in the team for an off tank.
- Not very easy to play successfully
- Unreliable CC
Now, I don't pretend to be a god at off tanking, and if you do want a really detailed guide then look no further than DuffTime's guide here! -
In Short -
The art of off tanking is essentially being a second or "reserve" tank for your team. If your tank is there to initiate, ALWAYS let them go first, THEN you go in. If your tank isn't there to initiate, it's your time to shine! Off tanks can be a back up tank, essentially, and peel off the carries with your pretty crazy DPS for your survivability!
You essentially just want to run in like the female Rambo, use Q and E to dive and stun, then activate your Randuin's Omen and let your carries do the rest of the job whilst you dive the ones they can't reach! You can also do some fancy tricks with Ghost and Flash if you so desire! It takes a little practice, but off tanking's extremely fun AND successful if played correctly!
The beauty of an off tank is that they build tanky items when the team fights start happening - meaning they know what to build by who's doing the best on the n
So, how does one correctly lane as Irelia?
A good question. She's very tricky in lane until she hits level 6 and gets a Sheen. Until 6, you'll want to be playing pretty passively unless you're sure you can 1v1 them. Make sure to last hit with Q if you can't get it with ordinary auto attacks, since last hits are crucial on Irelia, as they are on most champions, but early game, you NEED your Sheen to do some damage!
You might notice that, as Irelia, you have a bit of a burst, then rely on your W for sustained damage. If the enemy you're laning against is more of a sustained damage dealer, such as Gangplank, rather than a bursty champion such as, say, Ryze or Gragas, you should be activating Hiten Style, Bladesurgeing in, hitting them with Equilibrium Strike, then hitting them a few times as they retreat, if they do retreat. If the enemy is smart, they will fight you back. If you notice them being smart - I'm afraid you'll definitely need to wait for your Sheen, and stay back more. People fear Irelia in lane, but the worst thing to do when she Bladesurges at you is to run - you should almost always fight her!
Sustaining as Irelia is easy. If you're winning trades with the opponent, just hit some minions a few time to recover full health (or use a Health Potion!), then unleash your combo on them again. This way, you will almost always win trades, and if you do happen to lose a trade with your opponent, you can recover it faster than almost any other champion top lane. Just rinse and repeat after a while. Make sure not to push too much though, you need to find a balance between not pushing too much and getting your health higher. This really depends on your opponent, and it's something you learn through time, so just practice! As a rule of thumb, if your minions are at their tower, you're pushing too much, and if you're less than half health, you're pushing too little.
If you opt into a Wriggle's Lantern, you get considerably more lane sustain, and can threaten the enemy in a lane even more, since if you get low, you bring it all the way back up really fast. LLL's Zealot opts for this build, and he has excellent results.
After you do get to level 6 (and usually, with a Sheen), I'd be full out aggressive, you'll be dealing, to use Phreak's phrase, tonnes of damage. Activate your Hiten Style THEN dash in with your Q, punish them a bit then go back and get health. You might need to heal with your ultimate or auto attack with W, but both are fine. Pushing your lane a little bit for full health is the best sort of way to do it. Mordekaiser pushes a lane to keep his shield up, as you should to keep your health up! Be wary, however, if you are getting your health up by pushing minions, I'd make sure your lane is warded, or that you have some sort of way to escape.
If you're still a bit uneasy about laning with her, I'd advise watching someone like Wickd (Who's one of the best Irelias in the world) on his stream or in a tournament match. You'd be surprised about how much you learn. Irelia is one of the hardest champions to successfully lane as, you either get stomped or don't when playing her, and since she has no ranged harass, a new player will usually do the former.
Masteries can be altered to your taste, however, I personally feel that Defence is a much better in most circumstances, and you'll almost ALWAYS want 9 points in it, no matter what tree you put your 21 main ones in! I personally feel that Defence > Utility > Offence, as far as the "best" tree goes, but hey, each to their own.
To be honest, the only ones I'd list as viable would be 9/21/0, 0/21/9, 0/16/14 and 0/9/21.
Defence is simply amazing. Veteran's Scars and of course, Tenacity make you surprisingly bulky! You fit the tanky role a lot better with Defence, and those points can REALLY save your *** more times than you'd think.
Utility is, in my opinion, the second most viable for an off tank Irelia. That extra move speed, combined with 15% off Summoner Spells and a little bit of CDR and MP5 thrown in for good measure make you an extremely potent opponent in a lane - even more than she is normally!
Offence is a little iffy. Irelia isn't a carry, and the Crit Damage isn't all that great for her. She doesn't even need the Offensive Mastery because of her amazingly good last hitting already. I think the 9 points are all you need really.
These are pretty much self explanatory but I'll go ahead and explain them anyway!
Greater Mark of Desolation
Hands down THE best marks for physical damage. Increase damage from your Q, R, and auto attacks in general. These are pretty damn bad *** if I do say so myself. The closest thing to an alternative would be Greater Mark of Attack Damage, however, Armour Penetration is always the way forward when it comes to marks and physical damage for most champions.
Greater Seal of Replenishment
These give you what's essentially unlimited mana late game. These help your harassing a little bit, and are generally awesome. If you want an alternative I'd highly recommend Greater Seal of Armor, which adds to her tankyness!
These are essentially what we rely on for some early game MR, but with these, a good Irelia can easily keep even a Vladimir at bay in a lane with these. Though I wouldn't recommend it, Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist are also an option, but because we don't get any MR items early, I'd still recommend the flat ones!
Greater Quintessence of Desolation
Same reasoning as the marks really! However, flat health quints ( Greater Quintessence of Health) are definitely a good substitute!
Items - With Explanations and Alternatives!
For Irelia, as most of you know, getting a Sheen and building it into a Trinity Force is ESSENTIAL for some serious damage. This should be rushed 90% of the time. The only time I'd say it was better to postpone it would be if the enemy team is completely AD/Magic, in which case, get some Armour or Magic Resistance.
A Wriggle's Lantern thrown in for good measure can result in incredible lane sustain, you will be able to practically ignore damage as you farm, and it has incredible synergy with your Q, and can result in some lucky double dives on minions if your Q procs the Wriggle's proc and kills it when it wouldn't usually.
After her Trinity Force, there's no reason to build more offence. She's as powerful as you need her to be right then, and since she's an off tank in this build, defensive items should always be a priority from here on out.
I get the Randuin's Omen for a decent team fight presence and some early armour, which we are lacking, since we have some MR from runes and boots! I love Randuin's Omen so much, and it's amazing on an off tank, they can provide so much support with it whilst being oh so tanky their self.
This item is optional, Wit's End speeds your auto attacks up and gives you quite a bit more MR, which really suits an off tank, a great choice on Irelia, but I wouldn't recommend it if you're not doing well!
The Force of Nature second is preference really, we need some MR at this point, no question about it. The only thing I'd consider other than that would be a Banshee's Veil, Banshee's Veil is good on anybody, but a Force of Nature is better for taking repeated hits, which is what a good off tank will need to be doing!
After this, I get a Guardian Angel, a little more armour, a little more MR, and one of the best passives on an item in the game. It's even better on Irelia due to her Equilibrium Strike, you revive with low health, stun, get away, or if the conditions are right, get a kill!
You might notice I left the last part blank, if you didn't take a Wit's End. I did this since there is no real staple item to get at this point. You need to adapt to the enemy team - getting items suited to who's doing well or who's not, how heavily physically/magically stacked they are, and so on! I'd recommend a Banshee's Veil if you are completely stumped at this point.
What You SHOULD Get -
Flash is arguably the best summoner spell in the game. It escapes ganks, secures kills, initiates fights, and lots more, all in one spell. I'd recommend you to ALWAYS take this as Irelia.
Just like Flash, but to a lesser extent. Either way, this is an awesome summoner spell and an amazing choice.
What You CAN Get -
With no reliable CC, this would be the closest thing to a reliable CC you'd have. This is a great spell and should never be overlooked, I just feel movement is a lot more useful.
Shuts down healers, and can help towards those early kills a great deal. I still feel Irelia needs Ghost and Flash more, she isn't there to deal damage.
Irelia is often the choice for solo top, this is great if you feel you'll struggle or want that little extra "oomph" in laning power.
What You SHOULDN'T Get -
She's not THAT mana hungry...
Why are you even considering this spell?...
Let a support or a tank take this, you are extremely reliant on your summoner spells!
This is for the supports, let them take this!
You aren't jungling.
Your passive and Mercury's Treads make this essentially useless, but it's great on other champions!
This spell is so outclassed it isn't even funny...
Don't take this spell. Please no.
Often frowned upon, but it does have it's uses, just not on Irelia. Take it on Twisted Fate or Pantheon, but Irelia shouldn't be dying very often as an off tank!
General Tips and Tricks!
- If you're struggling, last hit minion with your Bladesurge, this can result in quite a lot of gold! Watch out though, it can end up costing a lot of mana!
- You can combo up Bladesurge and Equilibrium Strike for devastating harassment.
- If you're getting ganked and are at low health, don't just pop Equilibrium Strike at the first chance you get, try and do a quick evaluation of the situation, can you kite them to your tower and then use it? Sometimes it turns out a lot better if you wait to use it!
- You can use Bladesurge to dash through minions to enemies for unexpected damage.
- Remember, you're only an off tank, you aren't invincible! Let the tank go first if one is present! You didn't build that Trinity Force for fun, you know!
- Even though you're extremely bulky, your main aim will be focussing squishies down and getting focussed that way. In most cases, you will be up in their face with huge damage and a stun waiting for them - not forgetting your Randuin's Omen active! That's an easy and awesome way to get focussed or peel a carry or some heat off your own team!
6/6/11 - Published
6/6/11 - Added a Wit's End into the (first) item build.
16/6/11 - Added an alternate build.
13/7/11 - Turned the second build into a tankier build, and the first into a more damagey build. It's important to note that the second build is MUCH better in lane than the first.
23/7/11 - Fixed a mistake in the second build's skill order.
26/7/11 - Added Teleport to the second build. It's great on Irelia and complements her split pushing a lot, whilst giving her a lot of lane staying power, which she needs when soloing.
25/9/11 - Added a new section on Laning.
27/10/11 - Changed the second build to something similar to LLL Zealot's Irelia build, I feel it's one of the best ways to build her in this metagame for Irelia after her nerfs.