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Skarner Build Guide by ThousandEyes

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.


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League of Legends Build Guide Author ThousandEyes

Skarner: Stinging from the Jungle (Updated 5.12)

ThousandEyes Last updated on July 17, 2015
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Ability Sequence

1
3
5
7
9
Ability Key Q
2
8
10
12
13
Ability Key W
4
14
15
17
18
Ability Key E
6
11
16
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.



Masteries

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Havoc
 
 

Offense: 6

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1/
Legendary Guardian
 
 

Defense: 21

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bandit
Intelligence
 
 
 
 
 
 
Wanderer
 
 

Utility: 3


Guide Top

Introduction

Hi I'm Thousand Eyes, I've been an avid LoL player since S2 and Skarner was one of my first champions I really put time into learning. I'm not a pro, and I'm not gonna claim to be the best at him, but I feel I understand him well enough compared to other players to give some insight.


Guide Top

Pros / Cons

PROS
  • Strong initiate
  • Fast clears
  • Suppression ult
  • Great Sustained Damage
Cons
  • No Innate Jump or Dash
  • Hard to come back if you fall behind
  • QSS counters your ult
  • Reliant on team to really get damage off


Guide Top

Runes

Runes

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
3

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
9

Greater Seal of Armor
9

Greater Mark of Attack Speed
9




The runes are pretty important and can't really be changed much, luckily they're also pretty common.

Runes

Greater Mark of Attack Speed
9
Attack Speed Reds




Attack speed is great on Skarner and scales better on him than flat damage marks due to his passive. Especially after the re-rework Attack speed is much preferred over AD because his AD ratios dropped



Runes

Greater Seal of Armor
9
Flat Armor Yellows




Flat armor is really useful and needed for junglers so you can make your first clear a lot safer and not risk getting caught out and killed.



Runes

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
9
Scaling MR Blues




You're not gonna see much magic damage early on, scaling MR blues work better cause by the time you'd realistically gank they'd already scale harder than flat MR.

Runes

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
3
Move Speed Quints

Here's where I can see some changes if you'd like. Personally, I feel Skarner is very dependent on his ability to rush in on people and movement speed really helps with that. It's even better on someone like Skarner since he has no dash or jump to get in on people. Plus it's nice that you can move around the map quicker and get where you need to be.

Like I said if you feel more comfortable swapping these for something else, like more defensive stats, you can. I would highly suggest move speed quints though



Guide Top

Masteries

Masteries
3/5
1/1
1/1
1/1
2/5
2/1
2/1
3/5
1/5
1/1
1/1
3/1
1/1
4/
1/
3/5


Since Skarner works best as a tank we're gonna go deep into the Defense Tree while grabbing points in offense for faster jungle speed and utility to move a bit faster.

Season 4 changes made it so that 9 points in a tree isn't a huge difference when compared to less points so we're gonna go 6/21/3. When I look at what I can get in the 3rd tier of the Offensive Tree, there's nothing there that I like over the move speed you can grab in the Utility Tree.

OFFENSE TREE

  • Skarner is made to be a tanky dude who whacks you a lot, this is gonna help your Cooldown on Crystal Slash go down faster.
  • Butcher and Feast both help you sustain yourself in the jungle by doing more damage each auto attack and healing every time you kill something.
  • I use Expose Weakness as it helps your ganks since you're not a main damage dealer

DEFENSE TREE

  • Health regeneration is nice considering you'll be getting hit by jungle creeps all day
  • Helps speed you around during fights for easier stickiness
  • These two masteries were literally made to help junglers, they only work on jungle creeps and the amount of damage/resistance they give doesn't seem like much, but when you think about how many times you'll get attacked by jungle minions it adds up to A LOT.
  • Flat health is GREAT for your first clear
  • Why not scale your health too?
  • This will also, similarly to Swiftness , help you get deep into fights
  • Flat armor, useful against jungle creeps.
  • Skarner scales well with resistances, it makes his shield harder to pop, so having the ability to tank more with your shield is good.
  • You're usually going to be around enemy champions when you're in a fight so it's a nice little boost to your tankiness



UTILITY


  • More movement speed to close in on people is never bad and I like this better for Skarner than anything that 9 points in the offense tree will get you.


Guide Top

Items


First Buy




Hunter's Machete and 2 Health Potions. Pretty standard start for any jungler these days, not much room to swap things around here.

Early buys




After taking your second buff you want to back and get Ranger's Trailblazer. Since Skarner has no way of innately sustaining himself in the jungle the extra mana and health you get from the smite is very useful.

Also make sure you grab some Health Potions and Stealth Wards with your extra cash. Never bad items to grab.


Core Items



Skarner can really be built with Ranger's Trailblazer - Warrior or Ranger's Trailblazer - Cinderhulk. It's really personal preference on whether or not you want tankiness or damage. Of course considering Skarner has to dive deep on people being tanky from the cinderhulk is great to survive the initial burst. Skarner scales pretty well with the AD and CDR from the warrior enchantment since his Crystal Slash does magic and physical damage that scales with AD, so Warrior isn't bad either.

You'll also want to get Trinity Force you spam spells on Skarner so the Sheen proc will happen as often as possible, Trinity Force gives you respectable damage, and speed. Skarner actually uses every part of it well, except maybe crit.

Skarner actually is the best user of Sheen in the game, Sheen scales with base AD and Skarner has the highest scaling base AD in the game, tied with Cho'Gath. He spams his spells and auto attacks so much as well that he can proc it and use the proc as much as the item allows.

The Mercury's Treads are great for some early magic resist and the tenacity is awesome too because it's a hard stat to come across. Ignoring slows and stuns is very important for Skarner too.


Alternate Route

I used to love Wriggle's Lantern on Skarner it worked well with his attack speed buffs and was the only pure offensive item you needed to build on him. He could farm crazy fast and become a late game monster.

Currently the devourer enchantment got hit hard and while in 4.20 it might have been viable, the nerf in 4.21 wrecked that. It's gotten some changes in 5.12, but it's still not as good as either of the other enchants. It's also not very synergistic with Skarner's passive anymore, so it won't get you your ult back up sooner anymore.



Tankiness


At this point we're just going to be itemizing to resist what our opponents damage source is.

Magic Resist Options




Banshee's Veil is probably your best MR item to get especially if they have a just one magic damage dealer who's rolling. Gives you health, MR, and a nice shield that blocks one incoming spell AND its effects every 45 seconds.




Locket of the Iron Solari is a little bit of a situational pick up. It's great for dealing with double AP(magic) comps or even someone who does a lot of AoE(Area of Effect) damage because it gives resistances to everyone nearby. Also a nice item if your team REFUSES to buy MR when they have a fed AP champ. As the meta right now has a lot of double AP comps the item is pretty great at the moment




Spirit Visage used to be a pretty good item for Skarner. At least when his Fracture still healed him when he attacked something that was marked. Since they removed the heal Skarner has no self heal on his kit, so Spirit Visage kinda went down on the list for MR



Guardian Angel is a late game buy if anything. it gives a decent amount of armor and MR so it's good for either. The MR is more valuable though because it's harder to come by. The passive is nice, but as soon as it pops it's worth your money to sell it and buy something else. The value of the item takes a huge dive once the passive is no longer active.




Wit's End isn't a TERRIBLE item on Skarner, if anything he gets more out of it than a lot of other champs. It doesn't give a lot of magic resist though and you're already getting enough attack speed from Wriggle's Lantern and Crystal Slash that it really just doesn't do much for you compared to other things you could get.





Armor Options






In my opinion, Ninja Tabi is a really underestimated item. If you're up against a team that has a lot of AD(Attack Damage), which is decently common. Especially if they do a lot of auto attack damage. You're forgoing the CC reduction from Mercury's Treads though.





Randuin's Omen is a great item. Lot's of health, lots of armor, and an active that slows down all enemies around you. In my honest opinion there's no reason for this to not be built unless the other team has little to no AD.







Basically a cheaper Randuin's Omen with a different passive. If you need an armor item quick and can't afford Randuin's Omen. The passive isn't too bad considering you should be in the fray a lot. It doesn't give as many stats as Randuin's Omen though, so it's not as ideal.





Frozen Heart is an item that's a lot better than it used to be on Skarner.
Especially with Cinderhulk if you build it. Frozen Heart gives no health, but the armor it gives is crazy and Cinderhulk alone gives good health. Great against heavy AD comps.




I'm one of the minority that actually doesn't hate Thornmail that much. It's a lot of armor and the passive is actually surprising if people don't realize that you have built it. I can't tell you the amount of times I've killed someone because they kept auto attacking me. Considering the meta right now is a lot of attack speed/auto attack champs it's actually a pretty nice armor pick up if they run things like Trundle, Nasus, double adc or something similar.

It should be considered a more offensive buy though, because you're buying it for the passive reflect damage.




Yes, I know it's not an armor item, but there's only one pure health item and this is it. It's a pretty good final item especially if the other team has nothing like a Liandry's Torment or Blade of the Ruined King or something else that does % health damage. Skarner definitely scales better with resitances though because of his shield. So it's not too efficient.


This item is pretty great if you need help getting to the back line in fights, the problem is it gives few defensive stats. If you have no way to get sped up into the enemy team this can turn the tides for you. However, if you have a support with Talisman of Ascension or a Sivir, or anything that can get you into the fray quick, it's better to just get tanky.

Might be core, if the situation demands you get it, but otherwise just pass on it.



Power Items


Note that these are items that I believe synergize well with a more offensive build. You'll have to trade off a defensive item for one of these and you should really only think about these if you're really far ahead early


Blade of the Ruined King gives you everything you need offensively. Attack speed, Lifesteal and a passive that applies to every auto attack dealing more damage. It's gonna help your Crystal Slash cooldown and your damage and sustained fighting potential. I really would love to build the item more on him, but he needs the defensive stats too much. It doesn't help that it's really expensive too.






I used to have Iceborn Gauntlet as a core item for Skarner but with the ability to get tanky through Cinderhulk, it has become less needed. Cinderhulk lets you get tanky enough to build a triforce and not die immediately in fights. The slow portion is still incredibly synergistic with Skarner but the power of Trinity Force on makes him a much bigger threat in addition to all the CC he brings.


Guide Top

Spells

CRYSTALLIZING STING
3 spells on an enemy makes your next auto attack stun
At first I was adamantly against changing this passive. I loved the ability of farming my ult back to use, but as I thought more about it this was a clear reason to change the passive. You were so reliant on that ult that you were forced to farm and couldn't gank if it was down. This was bad design and kinda unhelpful to the team.

Basically the way it works is on jungle creeps and enemy champions Skarner's abilities will add a stack of crystal venom. At 3 stacks, Skarner's next auto attack will stun the target for a certain amount of time. This amount of time scales at levels 6/11/16 all of the levels you can level your ult at.

The new passive is great all around. Your clear time is still fast because, while Riot did nerf the damage on Skarner's abilities, the stun and extra damage this new passive brings makes up for that.


CRYSTAL SLASH
attack/movement speed and AoE damage. More after second hit
This is a bit of a weird ability to explain in text. First activation is just an aoe physical damage spell and gives some attack and movement speed if you hit an enemy. 2nd activation if the first activation hit something will do extra magic damage and increase your attack speed more. The attack speed portion and movement speed of the ability can stack up to 3 times and it really helps your clear and passive activation[

Skarner also retained his old passive on this skill, which is great because it was needed to keep the spell off CD so it could be stacked.

CRYSTALLINE EXOSKELETON
Shield and movement speed.
This is your way to chase people down and keep yourself healthy in the jungle. An important note is that the movement speed increases over time after you active it, so you'll want to pop it early to fly in full speed. This is also why I build a lot of resistances on Skarner as well. Shields scale harder when you build MR and armor. Be wary though, you lose the movement speed as soon as the shield dies.

FRACTURE
Skillshot slow
This is Skarner's most changed skill. Also your only way to make decent ganks before you hit level 6. It's got a good range and the slow is pretty noticeable even at rank 1. Don't spam this to clear the jungle though because you'll go mana hungry pretty easily and it doesn't do much damage either. If you can use it to catch up and auto attack them you'll lower the cooldown enough to get another off pretty easily and then the chase begins.

IMPALE
Pull people wherever the hell you want
My favorite skill on Skarner run up to people and grab them and pull them back into your team. It's a suppression too which means it's the only CC(Crowd control) that can stop someone from using smite.

Your basic idea with this is you want to grab their squishy carry and FORCE them to be out of position. Don't think that's the only use though. If your carry is super fed, but getting dove by an assassin, grab the assassin and force them into the tank line to get mopped up.

There's a cool little passive interaction here too now. If you have stacks of crystal venom on the enemy you'll do extra damage. The extra damage scales with ult levels and at 16 this can be as much as an extra 300 damage.

Basically, if your team is around you'll want to wait to use the stacks after you ult someone because you can stun them for longer. If you're dueling alone, get all 3 stacks and then use your ult so you can get that burst damage down.

Riot lowered the CD on this skill a good 20 seconds at all ranks after the passive change to make up for losing the CD reduction per auto attack. It's a nice addition to keep Skarner feeling like he can ult frequently.


Guide Top

Jungling

For my basic jungle clear I try and stay in the jungle as long as I can, until I hit level 6. Your power ganks come from your ult, Fracture is great for slowing for a secured kill though, and the new passive can actually make you pretty scary early if you can stun someone. If you see a chance at a gank early, or you want to be really aggressive early, you can do that a lot more easily now.



The new jungle is rough. Really rough. Skarner is able to clear fast still, at least relatively, but he take a lot of damage since he doesn't have a sustain ability. This is why Ranger's Trailblazer is pretty much a must have for an item. Skarner has both mana and health issues early and this help's remedy that.

The best start for Skarner is Krugs. The smite buff from them is useful since you get attack speed from your Crystal Slash. However, it's probably best to start the same side as your bottom lane in order to have more team members in case of an invade.

Whether you start Krugs or Gromp, smite it immediately for the buff and clear the red/blue buff that you're closest to. If you feel you can clear one more camp before you head back feel free to, but you should have enough to back after those two camps and get your Ranger's Trailblazer after you buy that head straight over to the blue/red buff that you didn't clear yet and take it.

Since the jungle changes, you need to be smart about how you smite. Each camp gives a different buff that is useful in different ways. This buff is given to you when you smite not when you kill the camp. So keep that in mind.

Gromp - gives a poison thornmail buff

Blue Buff - restores % missing mana

Murkwolves - creates an unkillable ward spirit that follows enemies that invade your jungle in that area.

Razorbeaks - gives power to notify you of the next nearest ward you walk buy and the ability to clear it.

Red Buff - restores % missing health

Krugs - Makes every 6th auto attack stun minions and monsters

Each has a different use and you have to smite according to how the game is going, you'll also want to keep in mind you'll need smite for objectives such as dragon and baron as well. So jungle control has gotten infinitesimally more important.



If you ever get low or are sitting on a lot of gold head back to your fountain and buy up. It's important to keep buying items when sitting on a lot of gold so you can stay relevant in power.

Once you hit level 6 and grab your Impale and look for someone that's playing really aggressive or far forward. Bonus points if your laner has some kind of crowd control to help you reach them. As soon as you're in range grab them and pull them as far away from safety as you can.

I also want to talk about a little trick with Skarner that you can now do a lot easier and can really increase your clear time.

As you move from camp to camp, try and make sure the damage that actually kills the camp is your Crystal Slash. This will re-apply the stack and start the counter for it again. Now because we get movement speed from that and our Crystalline Exoskeleton now you can move from wight or a buff over to a camp and keep your Crystal Slash fully stacked. Meaning you have all of that attack speed you stacked from the last camp.

Here is a great video from the legendary Last Skarner NA explaining what I mean if you don't get it.





You'll want to have your ult to gank most of the time, but if you have a lane with some other hard CC and good damage, or the enemy is really far forward, don't underestimate the power your passive and slow bring. Skarner is much more useful now without his ult than he ever has been.


Guide Top

Spell Leveling

Skilling Order



> > >

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
W
W
W
W
W
E
E
E
E
E
R
R
R


> > >
Obviously we want our ult leveled as often as possible so we can lower the cooldown on it. Plus we get more damage from stacks of crystal venom as we level it.

We want the attack speed and AoE from Crystal Slash first so we can clear the jungle at a safe and reasonable rate. And we get to move from camp to camp faster, as well as stick to people better.

Crystalline Exoskeleton is the next in line, the movement speed and shield go up as we level it so this will increase our chase potential and tankiness.

Fracture is the last thing we're leveling because the damage is minimal and the rank 1 slow is good enough for what you need it for. If you want to have stickier ganks, or if you want to drop Iceborn Gauntlet from your build you can try maxing this over Crystalline Exoskeleton but be forewarned you're losing a decent amount of speed and tankiness for this.


Guide Top

Role in Fights

Skarner's role in fights is usually to charge in and grab the squishy carry from the back line and pull them out of position and get them killed.

You want to be enough of a damage threat that you need to be dealt with, but you don't want to sacrifice tankiness for this. You can't do your job if you can't reach the back of their team before you die.

Basically keep diving and auto attacking towards the back line and be as much of a problem to them as you can. Toss as many Fractures and Crystal Slashes towards them as you can.

If you can grab someone and pick them off do it. Make sure it's someone who you can kill if they're dragged to the front. Pulling the tank towards your team and focusing him isn't a good thing and you'll probably lose the fight.

You have a great initiate, but you don't have to be the one to do it if you you have someone on your team who can initiate from range. Say Malphite, Leona, etc.. If they force the fight the enemy is focused on trying to reposition, and in that chaos you can dive the back line and grab who you want.


Guide Top

Outro

That's about it!

Thank you for reading! If you guys have any suggestions on how to make my guide better, cosmetically or informational, or just any kind of comments please leave them down below.

I hope you give Skarner a try and enjoy him as much as I do!