Skarner Build Guide by Nexevis

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 Nexevis

Skarner Skarn!: Top Lane Skarner Build

Nexevis Last updated on August 24, 2013
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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: 0

Honor Guard

Defense: 21


Utility: 9

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Greetings, kupo. My name is Nexevis and this is a top lane guide to Skarner. I've tested a lot of builds and this is what I find most effective. Please rate and comment, and if you do, please test the build too! I appreciate looking over it and enjoy my input. Here is a quick preview of the results I have had with top lane Skarner.

Credits to jhoijhoi for the template, which you can find here.

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Pros / Cons

+ Natural Tank
+ High movement speed with Crystalline Exoskeleton
+ Good AoE slows with Crystal Slash
+ Can single out a target for the team with Impale
+ Good sustained Damage
+ Is a Pokemon
+ Pink is manly

Skarner excels in singling out a target in lategame teamfights. He utilizes his Crystalline Exoskeleton, Shurelya's Reverie, and Greater Quintessence of Movement Speeds to run into the enemy team quickly and Impale a high damage squishy target, such as the adc or apc, and turn the tides in his team's favor. Also, in teamfights he has good AoE slowing with Iceborn Gauntlet, Randuin's Omen, and Crystal Slash which allows your team's carries to survive longer for maximum output.
- No gap closer
- High mana cost
- Low burst
- No spammable stun
- Evolves at level 19.

Skarner lacks a solid gap closer such as Fizz's Urchin Strike, but he compensates this negative aspect with the high movementspeed. His mana cost is high in lategame teamfights due to the spammability of his abilities with his Energize, but by then a couple mana items are made to assist.


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I use 0/21/9 masteries on Skarner, taking Juggernaut , Relentless , and Legendary Armor in defense to reach maximum survivability in lane, and when teamfighting. I take Wanderer , and Meditation for easier chances at Impale with the movement, and lane sustain with the mana regeneration. I put a single point into Mastermind instead of Summoner's Insight because Summoner's Insight reduces the cooldown of Flash by only 15 seconds, when a single point into Mastermind reduces it by 12 seconds, but also reducing Ignite's cooldown by 8.4 seconds.

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed

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Summoner Spells

Flash: I use flash to escape, initiate, or finish a kill. This spell can be replaced by Ghost if you prefer easier Impales lategame.

Ignite: Ignite is used primarily for early kills, especially at level 6. Once you obtain your ultimate there may be a chance to pull the enemy into your tower and ignite can help secure the kill after they flash away. It is also used against champions that heal a lot, such as Mundo or any adc. Ghost: Ghost can be used instead of either flash or ignite if you would prefer the easier lategame initiates, or are going against a lane opponent that ignite would not be very good on because they have a spammable shield, and they do not heal.

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Ability Explanation

  • Energize Energize (Passive): This reduces cooldowns with each attack. Attack speed utilizes this ability well, and is the main reason why attack speed is viable on him. An important note to keep in mind is to autoattack as often as possible when your ult is on cooldown to reduce the cooldown quickly.
  • Crystal Slash (Q): This ability does AoE damage around Skarner, and when cast again within a certain time deals extra damage and slows all targets hit. This ability is good for lategame teamfights because it can help zone the enemies away from your damage dealers. This ability can also be used to detonate the marks from Fracture all at once.
  • Crystalline Exoskeleton (W): This ability gives an instant shield, and attack speed and movement speed while the shield persists. This is often used to chase and escape, and is good for closing gaps to use Impale. The attack speed also assists in proccing Energize more often.
  • Fracture (E): This is the ability that makes top lane Skarner amazing. It is a skillshot that travels through targets, damages and marks all of them. If the marked target is damaged by Skarner again he receives healing that halves each mark consumed off the same cast. This ability is free harass if utilized correctly, because you can aim it your lane opponent through the minions, and then heal off the minions.
  • Impale (R): This is the ability most players know about Skarner. You suppress a target, but are allowed to move freely during it. This is good to prevent champions from attacking or casting, for initiating, for preventing enemies from escaping, and for screwing your opponent over by dragging them into a tower.

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Ability Sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
> > >

Fracture is maxed first due to the higher sustain and harass.

Crystalline Exoskeleton is maxed second because of the higher survivability and movespeed.

Crystal Slash is maxed last as it is primarily useful in late game teamfights where it can hit multiple opponents.

Impale is taken whenever possible.

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Starting Items


I start with these items for the higher sustain and an early Philosopher's Stone. You can also choose to start with a single Health Potion and a sight ward, if you believe the enemy jungler may gank top early. Another possible start is Faerie Charm, Rejuvenation Bead, and 2 Health Potion 1 Mana Potion, because he has sustain off mana with his E, and he has slightly high mana consumption early game.

Early Game

philosopher's stone Philosopher's Stone is purchased early for the lane sustain and the gold over time. It can be built quickly if you started with Rejuvenation Bead and Faerie Charm.
Sheen increases your single target damage immensely because Crystal Slash can be spammed frequently. This item is then built into your core item Iceborn Gauntlet.

Mid Game

Iceborn Gauntlet is extremely important on Skarner. It prevents enemies from escaping where they otherwise would, and increases his damage by a lot because of the spammability of his q. Iceborn Gauntlet also gives a decent amount of armor and mana to help laning against the many AD top lanes there are.
Wit's End is used to synergize with Energize and to give magic resist. This item is also good as it is very cheap for the usefullness of the item.
Mercury's Treads is taken for the extra magic resist and tenacity. This can be replaced by Ninja Tabi if your lane opponent focuses on melee basic attacks.
Giant's Belt is an important mid game item, because the health is needed to survive longer with your high defenses. It also builds into two possible late games items, Sunfire Cape or Randuin's Omen.

Late Game Options

Randuin's Omen is a great late item due to the high armor and health. It also has a decent passive that may hurt enemies that try to focus you, and a good active to prevent people from escaping and slowing their attack speeds. This item can be replaced by Sunfire Cape if you want a cheaper alternative that has less survivability but some more damage.
shurelya's reverie Shurelya's reverie can be built from philosopher's stone. It is a good item because the active allows you to get into the the fight quickly and Impale the target you need to, with a very cheap cost to create. Depending on the situation, it may be better to sell philosopher's stone and purchase a different item, such as Banshee's Veil.
Runic Bulwark helps the entire team to be more tanky and survive longer. It also gives you a good amount of health and both resistances. A well rounded item in general, I highly recommend buying this item, however, it is usually the last item I end up purchasing.
Sunfire Cape is the other item built out of Giant's Belt. I prefer Randuin's Omen for the active and higher defense and health, but this a good cheaper alternative.
Banshee's Veil is a good item if the enemy team has a lot of magic damage, and not much physical. Other than this situation, I do not recommend buying this item over any other item.
Mercurial Scimitar is a good alternative to shurelya's reverie, if you can afford it. It provides a decent amount of magic resistance, and has a good active that gives movement speed, but costs a whopping 3700 gold. Only buy this if you have a lot of extra gold.
Zephyr is a good choice if you chose the Ninja Tabi route. It provides movement speed, tenacity, attack speed, and attack damage which Skarner all benefits from, without an outrageous price. I would replace shurelya's reverie with this if you can afford it.
Warmog's Armor is a late game option if you need more health to survive longer. If you choose to take this item I would replace shurelya's reverie.

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In a teamfight, Skarner's job is to initiate the fight by attempting to catch one of the enemies carries with Impale and his high move speed. After the initiation he must then peel for his carries with his area of effect slows and prevent them from dying. He does this by focusing the targets that are threatening his carries the greatest, reaching them with Crystalline Exoskeleton, slowing them with Iceborn Gauntlet and Crystal Slash, and dealing as much damage as possible with Fracture as well.

More coming soon to a guide near you!
Going to add video and screenshots for teamfights and laning phase once I get my new laptop in the mail.

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Skarner is a tank that excels in singling out a target and changing the tides of the battle in your teams favor. He also is good at peeling for your damage dealers and preventing them from dying by utilizing good AoE slows. He is a good top lane because of his sustain, his ability to survive enemy ganks, his easy farming and harass, and his ability to set up ganks for his jungler.

Credits to jhoijhoi for the template, which you can find here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I play Skarner top instead of jungle?

I believe Skarner is a jungle now outclassed by other junglers that can gank better early-game and transition into late-game just as well, such as Hecarim. In the toplane Skarner can quickly build up his items with high farm and prevent the lane opponent from farming efficiently with good harass and sustain.

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Some of my recent games with Skarner!

Boeth's results with the guide!

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-Guide Created.

-Added Warmog's Armor as a lategame option.
-Added an alternate start of 2 Health Potion, 1 Mana Potion.
-Added Results section

-Patch 3.04 Changes that affect Skarner
- Sheen 60g cheaper.
- Iceborn Gauntlet lost 10 AP, gained 10 armor, and is not affected by Sheen price decrease.
- Randuin's Omen attack speed reduction reduced to 15% from 20%. (along with Warden's Mail).
- Zephyr recipe change, but total cost unchanged. In addition it received an 5 AD boost.
- Runic Bulwark: Combine cost reduced by 250, health reduced by 100, aura MR reduced by 5, aura now gives 50% to minions.

- Runic Bulwark recently removed from the game.
-Changed build to fit current meta more accordingly from recent patches.