Katarina Build Guide by vamperage

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 vamperage

[S3] Katarina the True Damage Assassin

vamperage Last updated on December 31, 2012
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Magic Pen

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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

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Hello, this is my first build, and a lot of thought went into this build. Now, this is not a perfect build by any means, but it has its niche in league. Usually when you pick Katarina to go mid, the other team throws a counter at you. To make up for this counter, or to just wreck the other team, you mass up magic penetration. Having magic pen means that all 400/500/600+ap of your up is hitting. When champions have 400 hp left, and you are level 6, you know they are dead. This build also relies on ganking the bottom. The jungler and ADC should be giving you kills, so that they pick up the assists. You can also turret dive more, despite the lower hp, because you can Shunpo back out of dives once the kill is secured.

It should also be noted that this build, even the behind version, lose a lot of the effectiveness when you are not tied or ahead of your opponents. The reason for this is when you are behind, you need straight AP to catch up, but when you are tied, Mpen means they cannot hard counter you with items.

TLDR: This build focuses on giving you magic pen early, giving you true damage most of the time. You can go 33-0 in unranked blind pick with this. I did so yesterday. and OneBadBrad, 2300 elo season 2 player approves this build

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The focus of this build, is all out true damage. You're not going for ridiculous AP, rather, you are going for armor penetration. Doing this will mean that mid and late game, you can drop enemies very easily. Open with Boots of Speed and three Health Potions. These will help you stay alive for a very long time in lane. Essentially, with your masteries set up correctly, you should have 520+ hp, and another 450 in Health Potions.

Once you have 1550-1600 gold, recall to spend your money. Get Sorcerer's Shoes and as much of Haunting Guise as you can. Be sure to build the Amplifying Tome first, if you are wining your lane. If you are being pressured, get Ruby Crystal instead. You are building Haunting Guise to get the magic penetration early, making you have 40 penetration from items, and another 9 from runes. Masteries should give you 10% as well.

Why does this work early game? If you are facing a tank champion such as Amumu who has (for easy math) 100 Magic Resist, and you want to hit Bouncing Blades. Lets say blades does 300 magic damage. Normally, your attack would be reduced to 200 damage because of armor. With 49 penetration + 10% of 100 MR, you would be doing 270 damage. Thats a lot more, against someone that build up Magic Resist. Against ADC's supports, and other mages that early in the game, you will be doing true damage.

Once you have Haunting Guise, build Abyssal Scepter, as it gives you protection from other mages, and increases your magic penetration. This means that mid fight when you hit Death Lotus in the center of everyone, they will take significantly more damage. Then build Void Staff for the same reason. At this point you have 69 Magic Penetration, and another 50% from items and masteries.

With void staff complete, get an Amplifying Tome as it is cheap, and will help later on. Build Rabadon's Deathcap to get a large boost in AP(but not as big as before. However the effect is still the same in game). I build needlessly big rod first, as the huge jump in AP can catch opponents off guard. Then, I get Blasting Wand and sell my Haunting Guise to have the gold for Rabadon's Deathcap as Haunting Guise is no longer as useful.

NOTICE: Hextech Revolver and gunblade no longer seem to be viable, as late game katarina relies on items, rather than spell vamp. Instead, I recommend Rylai's Crystal Scepter or Zhonya's Hourglass

Next, upgrade your Amplifying Tome into Hextech Revolver and then to Hextech Gunblade. If they have not surrendered by this point, or you have not won, get Zhonya's Hourglass. This will alow you to shunpo into a fight, activate the hourglass, and then Death Lotus everyone. While the hourglass is active, your team should be attacking, while the enemy team tries to kill you. Thankfully, you will be immune.

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Skill Sequence

For skill sequence, I take all of my abilities early, with Bouncing Blades first above all. Secondly, I take Shunpo if, at lvl 2 I need an early escape ability. If your lane opponent is easy to hold off, you should take Sinister Steel instead, as it grants better farming, and a much lower cooldown.

I max Bouncing Blades first (q), followed by sinister steel(w), and lastly Shunpo (e), with the ultimate at the usual 6,11,16. The reason behind this, is to max your farming and damage output. On very rare occasion, you may need to max Shunpo first, blades second, and Sinister Steel last, to decrease to cooldown time on Shunpo. Only do this when you are having to constantly escape/initiate from range.

Additionally, dont forget to use wards with Shunpo, always carrying at least one ward. with it, you can place wards over walls, and Shunpo to them when flash is on cooldown.

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For runes, I mostly mass ability power, with a small amount of magic penetration. This gives you a stronger early game, leading to more effective trades vs your counters. I am currently running my Katarina with flat armor seals, instead of ability power seals, so I can survive better against ganking the bottom ADC's. But it is mostly a matter of preference on your part. You can also substitute for more magic penetration, however the lack of ap, might make last hitting minions harder.
For the basic build, I reccomend:
-9X greater glyph of potentcy for +10.8 AP
-9X Greater Seal of Ability Power for another 5.3 AP
-3X Greater Quintessence of Ability Power for 14.85 AP
-9X Greater Mark of Magic Penetration for 9.5 magic penetraion
This should give you a starting AP of (4+10.8+5.3+14.85) X 105% = 36.7 AP

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For masteries, I follow the standard 21-9-0, with focus on ability power and survivability. Not much more I have here besides that I have found these masteries work, becuase they greatly increase your ap, and give you +30 hp(a must imo)

My reasons for taking certain masteries are simple. You want all out damage output with a splash of durability early game. For me, I try to rely on skill in fights, rather than masteries in heavy in magic resist or armor. As Katarina, to me, you are wasting your potential if you mass up armor or magic resist (except Abyssal Scepter ....ceptar...idk) because you should not be initiating fights. You should be cleaning up, while someone else tanks for you, or when the enemy is too low to return fire, or has their abilities on cooldown.

To get a good balance of early armor and magic resist, I take 2 points in each, assuming that I should be ganking bottom a lot (ADC's are good targets).

Additionally, if your team is smart, they will pick a jungler that does not use mana, leaving you to take the blue buff. While most people think this is a waste, since Katarina has no mana, it is an extreme help for her. With these masteries, your ult should have somewhere around a 50-55 second cooldown. The blue buff grants 20% Cooldown reduction (CDR). Having a near constant blue buff as Katarina, means you can have a 35-40 second ult cool down. The threat of this ult being up, should be enough to give you room to farm in lane. No one wants to initiate a Katarina that can drop them to half health instantly.

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Summoner Spells

For summoner spells, I take [ignite], and [Flash]. [Flash] is obviously a needed spell for a character as low hp as [Katarina], and [Ignite] helps you keep opponents low on hp/get the finishing blow. You can also substitute [Cleanse] for [Ignite], as it will help you avoid death from stuns.

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For the lane-ing phase, you should play passive before level 6, and highly aggressive afterwards. If you dont play aggressive, your lack of kills/farm will result in losing to the other teams tanks. However, if you keep your farm up high, you should be successful

Open with Bouncing Blades on minions, and run into their midst of the lane. Use Sinister Steel to drop 5-6 of them all at once. Finally Shunpo to get out of enemy reach. When alone in a lane, and you know you are safe to farm, Shunpo into minions to get there sooner. Just be cautious, as it has a longer cooldown than your other abilities.

With these techniques, your first two to three levels, possibly even up to level 6 may be difficult, as your abilities wont one shot minions. Until then, you should focus on using Bouncing Blades, or a basic attack as a finishing blow. Make sure to keep Shunpo off cooldown, and ready, in case of ganks. Sinister Steel will also help you escape to your tower, via your speed boost.

When you are pinned down by opponents such as Diana with her usual tanky-ness, focus less on farming. Instead, occupy lane for the experience, getting as many minions as you can without taking damage. Your hp NEEDS to stay high, or you risk a quick ult and ignite. Once you push lane, rush to bottom to pick up a kill. This will not only benefit you, but your own team's ADC will get more farm out of it, and the other team's ADC will slowly be rendered useless.

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Pros / Cons / Why You Should Choose This Build(guide)

-certainty in how much damage you will do
-better laning phase than the usual katarina
-trades are more certain
-easier kills late game
-godlike when you hit 450+ ap
-beats most counters, as long as you play smart
-can harass and kill tanks after you get void staff
-can solo take down the ADC and support after lvl 6, as long as you aren't 2 shot.

-squishy (obvs), more than the usual Katarina
-miserable if you are beaten by your lane opponent
-a good ADC with high crit potential will kill you
-Easily kited when you are alone
-relies heavily on getting kills early
-less potent vs champions with silences
-if your opponent knows how to trade smartly, you're gonna have a bad time.
-until late game, a tanky AP will be able to take you down. Example being Diana or Gragas with Rod of Ages and Rylai's Crystal Scepter

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11/6/2012 Build Created

11/7/12 BB code added, and more sections added for explanation of build.

11/8/2012 added more updates to items, and added additional pictures.\

11/8/2012 added section to 'farming' section on what to do when pressured.

11/17/2012 added more ranked game scores. OneBadBrad, 2300 elo season 2 player approves this build

12/11/2012 updated for s3

12/13/2012 changed skill order for better farming and mid game strength

12/19/2012 items ending changed

12/31/2012 items section updated