Skarner Build Guide by Risin
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.
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.
Greetings summoners, I'm Risin and I'd like to introduce you all to my first guide on Mobafire featuring Skarner! Now, I'm new to the guide-building scenario, but if anyone has any questions, concerns, or helpful criticism, please feel free to comment. Skarner is considered an underpowered champion as of August 11th by most people, but in my personal opinion, he's a GREAT champion, if played right. Before you read any further, I'd like to clarify that this build is intended for lane Skarners in 5v5. There are many different, debatable ways to build Skarner, but thus far I've succeeded with this build and I hope you do too!
-Will Change build a bit as soon as I get time. For now, building Skarner is MOST effective like this:
Saphire crystal+mana potion-->tears of the goddess-->boots of speed-->Bildgewater Cutlass-->Hextech Gunblade-->Mercury Treads-->Sunfire Cape-->Rylai's Crystal Sceptor-->Rageblade-->Manamune
I realized Skarner's mana is always running low throughout the game, so Tears of the Goddess is a must have as soon as possible. Throughout the game, you'll be gaining more and more mana, which will make Skarner far more efficient.
Pros and Cons
Great at kiting
Supports team with kills throughout the game
Good escape abilities
Weak early game both offensively and defensively
Struggles at attaining killing blows fairly often
Relies on abilities almost too much (silences hinder Skarner immensely)
Relies on items throughout the game
How to play Skarner
Skarner is a fairly active champion the entire game. If you can, try to take the lane that has the blue buff nearby. Around level 7 or 8, blue buff is extremely helpful to Skarner because it allows you to play much more aggressively. If your team has a jungler, then don't count on them sharing blue buff. Ask them now and then if it's ok to take blue buff. If they say yes, then great! If they say no, then make due without it. With Skarner, it's not gg if you don't have it, so don't freak out. It just means you have to be more responsible with your mana throughout the game.
Once you've chosen your lane, be sure to use your e to harass the enemy team every now and then. Try to conserve your mana, however. In my opinion, use e to harass every 20 seconds or so. If they pop potions, use e to keep their health low/make them think "omfg I did that for nothing". You're e will chip away their health slowly and eventually, they'll be low enough to charge them. When you do go on the offensive, exaust them and use ghost immediately. Use q asap so that you can use it to continuously slow your victim. You won't succeed every time, so don't get frustrated. Skarner is slightly underpowered early game, so you shouldn't be expecting to roflstomp them like Xin zhao can. If you have your ult, SAVE GHOST FOR IT. Ghost is a MUST HAVE for Skarner's ultimate because you pull your victim up to 3 times farther than if you didn't have it. Use w, pop ghost, use your ult, then get your *** as far away from their safety as possible. use q immediately once you have them to charge your slow. they'll try to escape, and once they do, use exaust to catch up and q to slow them even more. They should be dead by now, but if they somehow escaped, don't beat yourself up. just auto attack minions until your ult is up again, and do it again, but alter your strategy for certain champions. i.e. if you are trying to use this on someone with flash, try to pretend to gank them so they use it, then ACTUALLY gank them and they'll die peacefully.
If you are on the defensive, DON'T PANIC. You're e will be annoying as hell regardless, so as long as you stay at your turret and kite them round it, you'll be fine. If you get into trouble, use q to slow them and w to shield yourself/gain movement speed. When their minions show up at your turret, use w as soon as they seem like they are going to attack you. kite the hell out of them and if they are stupid enough to tank the turret too long, turn on them, exaust/ghost, and kill them.
20-30 minutes into the game, you should have the Gunblade. Awesome, now you can fight and kite for much longer. Skarner excels at dealing damage at the same time you kite enemies. Your q and e will heal you now, so when you are running away, spam q to heal through your opponents attacks. Turn and use e quickly to heal for a larger portion, then q again to slow them continuously. Use w to shield yourself as much as possible while spamming q to heal. This strategy is essentially the same as when you're on the offensive, but the only difference is that you'll be using your summoner spells and ultimate to pick apart single targets. If you're exaust is down, use Gunblade's active as your slow, then ghost/ult your victim towards their doom.
After the first turret in your lane goes down, start farming and jungling like a boss. Build Hextech gunblade as soon as you can, and once you do, you'll be in the fights getting kills. Don't stop farming unless your team needs you. Remember, you are essential to getting the first kill in team fights, so you don't want to ignore your duties and sit in the jungle with your head up your *** while your team is dying. Jungle Skarners do this a lot at times, and it's a big mistake. When the enemy team/your team is pushing a single lane, position yourself so that you are prepared to tag and bag a vulnerable enemy champion.
Late in the game, you want to start playing Skarner more as a tank rather than a fighter. Skarner's damage output doesn't burst bulky enemies down quick enough to be considered a true fighter in my opinion this late in the game. Use q to slow enemies and protect your teammates, use w to keep up with fast champions, and finally, use your ultimate to suppress the greatest threat to your teammates when they present themselves. Your damage output will be good enough so that the enemy team can't just ignore you, so once you get their attention, kite them around so your teammates can faceroll your enemies to death. If they run away, obviously chase them with w activated and spam q to slow them. Use hextech active/exaust to get that second q hit on them and they'll rarely escape from you.
If you watched the champion spotlight, you're probably wondering why i max e instead of q first. There are many reasons as to why I choose e first. First of all, e does 3 times more damage than q, allowing you to burst enemies much more efficiently early game. Secondly, it's a ranged attack, so you can harass the other team without putting yourself at much risk. Third, your other abilities don't truly shine at getting killing blows. q has the potential to be annoying, but I've found that it can be easily ignored and doesn't force your opponent to recognize you as a serious threat nearly as much as e does. w is very important, but unless the other team is extremely scared of you early game (very unlikely) then your w won't help with Cooldown reduction that much when maxed out earlier in the game.
If you have mp runes and ability power runes, then your e will be at the very least, annoying as hell. Grab level 2 q, then w, then max q and finish with w.
Skarner's defenses early game are relatively weak, so in order to buff him up a bit, I give him plenty of defensive stats to keep him sturdy. Grabbing Ardor in the defense tree and Alacrity in the Offensive tree makes Skarner's passive slightly more useful early game, not to mention it makes him able to be more aggressive if he needs to be. Among the most important Masteries to grab are the improved exaust and ghost. 1.5 seconds longer ghost=more distance you pull your victim from their safe place into their doom. Exaust lasting longer also means you have better chance of ulting someone as well.
Contrary to the champion spotlight, I chose to use magic runes due to leveling e first for maximum harassment. Ability power and Magic pen. runes will help your e do more burst damage early and your shield will be slightly more sturdy, while the extra mana regen will keep you in your lane much longer.
Skarner takes Saphire crystal and a few potions to help him keep in his lane and harass efficiently for awhile. The saphire crystal will eventually build into banshee's veil, so don't sell it in an attempt to buy other components in this build later. It will only result in you losing money in the long run.
Recall and buy boots as soon as you get the gold. I recommend buying boots before the next item, then building mercury treads after the cutlass.
Once you get a kill and/or farm enough gold, it's time for a Bilgewater cutlass. This item is very important mid game, because not only is it one more slow you can use to prey on people with your ultimate, but it also gives you the damage you'll need to compete with other champions at this point in the game. Be sure to build pickaxe first, then vampiric sceptor, then the cutlass.
Now that you have a decent amount of damage, it's time to finish your boots. At this point in the game, tenacity will probably be needed. Skarner is severely underpowered if he's CC'd for too long. In fact, all it takes is 1 stun to kill you early in the game. This is REQUIRED for Skarner, get it as soon as you got the Cutlass. A little mr never hurts too :-)
Once you get tenacity, get catalyst. Catalyst will help with regenerating health and mana this early in the game when you level up, while also preparing to build banshee's veil later (or Rod of Ages, depending on what works best in your situation, but I recommend Banshee's)
Hextech Gunblade is THE item for Skarner. With it, you have a second slow to help you focus your ult on a victim, which is a must have. You have lifesteal, spellvamp, ad, and ap boosts that make you not only dish out a decent amount of damage, but also allows you to stay in the fights longer through heals. In my opinion, this item is a must have, so take it as soon as you get the gold.
Warmogg's armor is great for Skarner at this point in the game because by now, your probably at least level 14, and Skarner's survivability is waning at this point. Grab Warmogg's and the other team won't want to focus you first. If they do, kite them like crazy ;)
Rylai's crystal sceptor is a great item for Skarner. By now, your game is probably dragging out late and at this point, survivability is a must. The sceptor will not only make you harder to kill, but your q now slows in the first hit, allowing you to chase people much easier.
Banshee's Veil provides the magic resistance that Skarner needs this late in the game. At this point, nuke and ap carries will be a problem, so grab the veil and be sure it's up when you charge in to ult your victims.
If you manage to get this far into the game, rageblade is perfect for helping you kill people insanely quick. Depending on your situation, you might even want to grab this item before Rylai's or even before warmogg's, assuming you aren't being focused at all in the game. The attack speed boost you get with this item will make your passive much more useful when you're aggressive. Once you have it, click your enemy and faceroll to victory.
All in all, Skarner is slow to warm up, but once he does, he's a great team player. Although I obviously recommend my build for any Skarner, he's extremely flexible. Some Skarners prefer to be tankier, whilst others prefer ad over ap and vice/versa.
IF anyone criticizes my build, I ask you to at least do two things:
1) Be respectful and polite. My goal is to help out other Skarners, and I would hope that yours is to help me not screw that up.
2) Before you criticize, try out my build. I don't want comments that criticize my build simply because they "think it will suck". Try it, explain your reasons for it's flaws POLITELY, then allow me to respond.
I won't acknowledge negative comments that don't follow these two rules.
Now as for those of you who like my build, vote it up! I want to know whether it helped the Skarner community, and there's no better way to do that than to vote up my guide :)