Skarner Build Guide by Mikuroo
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Not Updated For Current Season
Not Updated For Current Season
Hello, this is Mikuroo with my Skarner Guide on Mobafire. I am writing this guide to show people my way of playing Jungle Skarner. I have been playing Skarner for quite a while now, and I am writing this guide to clear up misconceptions as long as show people how to play Skarner in a Solo Queue Situation.
The first part of my guide will be about the cheat sheet and the general building of Skarner. This will include masteries, runes and anything you can do that doesn't really include playing. This section will also include my reasonings or theory craftings for any common issues.
The second half of my guide will be about how to actually play the game and what to do in the actual situation of a ranked game. It will describe how to jungle, how to gank, and how to abuse skarner's power in a solo queue game. I will also show you how to beat other certain junglers and what to do if you are getting beat. These descriptions will go all the way to late game from early game. I will then finish off with match-ups and people to gank.
I was planning on leaving this in the hall of fame, but to keep people reading I am going to leave this here: This is my currently match history with skarner and I will continue to update it. I have recently stopped playing skarner because I have gained interest in other junglers. This is so I can learn more about other junglers and increase my knowledge in the jungle.
Also, I would like to leave these 4 games in a row here. These are not for bragging, but a show of how consistent Skarner jungling is. Notice that apart from some little tweaks, a generally similar build is being used. However, you can also notice something else from the creep score. It shows really well how games are different from each other and you must adapt to how much you jungle and balance that with gank opportunities when you see them.
With that done, I hope that you enjoy reading the guide. Read how much you want and whatever you want, I hope that this guide may help you with learning how to play Skarner. I would also like to point out that this guide works in all elo's. I have played this in a game where none of my lanes won and have carried my team to victory. Just because this guide goes full tank doesn't mean that I can't do damage. Please read the full guide and test it out before voting.
This isn't the prettiest guide :) Sorry!
JUST PUTTING THIS HERE TO WARN YOU THAT THERE IS A LOT OF TEXT! YOU CAN SKIP IT IF YOU HONESTLY WANT TO, JUST READ THE IMPORTANT PARTS. I DON'T REALLY HAVE THE TIME TO PUT SOME COLOR AND PICTURES INTO THIS GUIDE, SO I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE.
Why Play Skarner in Solo Queue?
Skarner is one of the strongest champions in Solo Queue under my beliefs. What makes him a good choice in solo queue? Here is my list of valued characteristics in a solo queue game.
- He is a jungler. This is the first step to take in a solo queue game. When you queue into a solo queue game, and the champion select starts, how many times have you seen people say this: Mid or feed. Solo top please. Solo top. No I'm solo top. No I am! With this tactic, less people play jungle because less people don't know how. Jungle is the role that takes the most knowledge so you are more likely to get this role.
- He can build tanky while still doing damage. Not many champions can do this, but a skarner with a frozen heart and a shurelyas does a **** load of damage. All that Cooldown reduction equals more Crystal Slashes, and more Crystalline Exoskeleton's to get more Crystal Slashes. Being tanky is important because it gives you the ability to turret dive safely. It also allows you to run in 5v1 and signal your team to initiate without dying in 1 second.
- He has a strong jungle. He has great ganks for solo queue, and once you get your oracles elixir you can gank any lane and get a kill. His slow and ability to endlessly chase someone is amazing, and you will force flashes like no other.
- His ultimate is game changing. I consider his ultimate one of the best ultimates in the game. For me, it is the best in the WHOLE GAME. The best part of this ultimate is that if one champion is carrying the other team, most likely an AD Ranged Carry, you can get rid of him in a second. Skarner can easily get to a champion, ult him, and he's dead.
The first time I tried skarner out was in a ranked game for some reason, and I then proceeded on a skarner marathon. He is a very easy champion to get used to.
Masteries and Runes
These are the masteries that I use. I go with 0/21/9 because these are really the only viable masteries that you can use on skarner with success. There is nothing in the whole offensive tree that works with skarner except for the 4% attack speed, but 4% attack speed is not worth anything we get in the utility tree or defensive tree.
Summoner's Resolve is taken because there isn't really anything else that is too game changing in the defensive tree, but that extra early income helps to get your income rolling.
Hardiness is a great 3 points for 6 armor. It allows you to take less damage when clearing camps as well as just armor in general.
Durability and Veteran's Scars just allow you to be more tanky. You need to take these because with the magic resistance and armor we get in this build, that little bit of health goes a long way.
Tough Skin and Bladed Armor are essential for faster clear times. The meta in solo queue is to clear your jungle as fast as possible and look for ganks. Also, Tough Skin plus Indomitable saves you a lot of damage.
Initiator is the most important points of this tree. That 3% is very very good and helps with ganking. This allows skarner to have high ganking power.
Enlightenment gives you cooldown reduction, which allows you to hit your cap in late game. Cooldown reduction equals damage on skarner, remember.
Juggernaut is a very nice mastery for only 1 point. No need to explain.
The 9 points in utility are very self-explanatory, we need a longer blue buff, as well as that 2% movement speed increase. We do not take the mana masteries because the other ones are better, and skarner is not that mana hungry when played properly.
Marks: Greater Mark of Attack Speed These are honestly the best marks you can use on skarner. No other runes help him this much, especially early game. Remember: autoattacks lower cooldowns, so you can use your shield and your Crystal Slash alot more in the jungle, resulting in fast clear times.
Seals: Greater Seal of Armor These are once again the only seals you should use on any jungler. These give you more durability in the jungle, and also dueling power.
Glyphs: Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist These are the runes I use, but you may also use Greater Glyph of Attack Speed. It really doesn't make that huge of a difference, but I find my clear times are fast enough to gain more late game power. I do not use flat magic resistance because during the early game we won't be taking much magic damage.
Quintessences: Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed These would be my most recommended quintessences because it gives you a lot of speed early game. With skarners pretty high base movement speed, and also buying boots first, this gives a lot of speed even just at level 1. However, since these are pretty expensive, you can use Flat AD Quints until you get these.
I'm not gonna write the ability descriptions cause I don't want this section to be too bulky, but if your really looking just for stats or damage you can put your mouse over each of the pictures. However, it isn't really the damage that's impressive, it's the utility.
This passive is just amazing. I don't really know what else to say, it gives you super fast Crystal Slashes and Crystalline Exoskeleton on a really low cooldown. Also, you can go back to the jungle and lower your cooldown on Impale. Always remember that it has double efficiency when hitting champions. This allows you to chase forever and do the skarner "permaslow."
This skill is your main damaging skill. Remember, it must be charged up to have the energized version. When energized, this skill actually does a ton of damage because it has basically a 1 second cooldown when used properly. You want to use it to clear camps as a jungler, also use it to permaslow a champion for the kill. In a teamfight, you generally want to peel for your carry so that the enemy bruisers can't get to them.
This is your initiating skill and it is also a very nice ability. It gives you everything you need, speed, attack speed, and health. It fits skarner very nicely, giving him a kind of gap closer, as well as sustain and faster clearing times. Remember that when it increases your attack speed it also procs energize more frequently. this means more Crystal Slashes. Without blue buff, don't use this too often when clearing jungle mobs.
This skill sucks. haha its so bad I wish they'd remake it, it's such a noob trap. You can read more about this in the next section. There is really only one use for this, to recover from enemy poke in the late game.
Best ultimate in the game. BESSSST. This skill is just so good and also so easy to use, it's just a point and click yet it is so good. Just make sure that the person you ultimate is squishy enough to die in 1 second after getting focused from your team. If you accidently pull a tryndamere or a singed you are screwed. YOU CANNOT FLASH WITH THIS SKILL!
The skill sequence is pretty self-explanatory, however I may need to explain why Fracture is one of the worst skills ever. You may think that it does damage, it also gives you sustain in the jungle, but it really amounts to nothing. 1 point in Fracture means one less point in Crystalline Exoskeleton if you are going to take a point at lvl 4. This means 45 less health per cast of Crystalline Exoskeleton, 5% less attack speed, and 2% less movement speed. All for the sacrifice of a ****py heal and attack, that barely does anything unless you want to max it second.
The stats on fracture actually aren't that bad, except that there is always something better to get. Maxing crystal slash is obviously our priority because it is our main clear tool, gank tool, and fighting tool. Plus the cooldown is freakishly low. For those reasons, here is our maxing priority, from most important to least important.
Now, you may have noticed how obsessed I am with movement speed in this guide. That is because it is the most important stat on skarner. Movement speed is what makes skarner viable, because without it he would be kited all day endlessly. Skarner has to get close to deal any damage and activate his slow.
Base movement speed: 320
Level 1 boots: 50
Crystalline exoskeleton at lvl 1: 15%
Total: 370 x (1.245) = 460.65. Because there are diminished returns past 415 movement speed, we take 460.65 - 415 = 45.65, 45.65 x 80% = 36.52. 415 + 36.52 = 451.52 rounded to 451 in game.
Now lets compare this movement speed to an average champion that went top with cloth and 5 pots. The slowest champion is 300, and the fastest is 330. The average would be around 315. This means that you are around 40% faster then him. Even with boots, 365, you would be 20% faster then him. Now, lets see skarners full build movement speed.
Base movement speed: 320
Level 2 boots: 70
Crystalline exoskeleton at lvl 5: 23%
Force of nature: 8%
shurelyas active: 40%
Total: 390 x (1.805) = 703.95. Because there are diminished returns past 415 movement speed, we take 703.95 - 415 = 288.95, 288.95 x 80% = 231.16. 415 + 231.16 = 646.16. there is also diminished returns after 490, by 50%. 646.16-490 = 156.16. that divided by 2 = 78.08, that plus 490
It doesn't take a genius to find out how fast that is. IN SHORT, REALLY FAST. So why is this so important? With this kind of movement speed, you can reach the enemy carry really fast, so you can Impale him and drag him back to your team. Of course, shurelyas will probably have worn off when you are dragging him back, but even without shurelyas you are much faster then anyone else.
NOTE: I don't include trinity force in these calculations because the game rarely goes that far. But if it does, thats an extra 12% movement speed.
And that, is why I build movement speed on skarner. It is the ultimate "OH SNAP I'M A DOUCHEBAG LOL YOUR DEAD" move to any enemy carry who overextended just a tiny bit. And so you punish them for that. hard. really hard. as hard as that shell around skarner.
Items you don't want to build
Before I get to the section on items, I want to clear up some misconceptions about items that are good or bad. I believe the build I have currently is perfect for a game and can be tweaked a bit per different game. Below, I will talk about some items that are a definite no-no for skarner.
+23 attack damage
+12% life steal
Passive Unique: On hit, 20% chance for target minion/monster to suffer 425 magic damage.
Active Unique: Places a Sight Ward at target location. 3 minute cooldown. (600 cast range).
The total cost of this item is 1600 gold. Now let me ask you, what would you rather buy? A Heart of Gold and a philosopher's stone that you are gonna build into a shurelya's reverie and Randuin's Omen late game? Or a Wriggle's Lantern that you are gonna sell late game? That should be enough to convince you, but if not I will keep going.
What stats from wriggle's benefits skarner? 23 attack damage? Barely. It won't help clear camps much faster, neither will it help ganks because most your damage comes from Crystal Slash. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT DOESN'T MAKE YOU TANKIER. next, 12% lifesteal doesn't help skarner. He doesn't take damage in the jungle.
Now what about the wriggle proc? Of course that helps right? Yes it does, but to a minimum extent. Skarner's clear is an aoe attack, so even if we get a lucky wriggles proc we are only going to finish the camp 2 or 3 seconds faster. But mikuroo, you said time was everything! It is everything for a jungler, but it isn't worth 1600 gold for a minimum increase in clear time. Besides, by the time you even get to buy this item you will have fast enough clear. the only stat that is good on this item is the armor.
The next item I see everyone rushing on skarner is :
Now, most people rush this because of skarner's spammable Crystal Slash. I agree it is a good item, but I can use the same argument I used for the single target wriggle's proc. It doesn't help that much and it is not worth it. Early game Heart of Gold and philosopher's stone are way too important. mid game Oracle's Elixir, shurelya's reverie and Frozen Heart are way too important. however, this makes you vulnerable to ap casters so buying some magic resist is important. This is why I leave trinity force as the last item, because only now do you have time to buy it.
The general rule of thumb is: If you are winning don't build offensively. Build tanky. A tanky skarner is a good skarner. Remember this and you will learn quickly how to build skarner to his maximum potential every game.
Before I start talking about items, I would like to point something out. A good skarner should build 40% cooldown reduction. Also, hp is worse then resistances on skarner because he has a shield. This shield has a really short cooldown due to his passive, energize. Buying resistances will turn this shield into (technically) twice or maybe three times of how much it actually is. So keep this in mind when buying items with hp.
: These are my preferred starting items. They give me ganking power also sustain. You can also start with to build later into your philo stone, but only if you can gank any lanes because they are too hard to gank.
philosopher's stone : These items are essential, as I already explained. They give you the stats you need and also apply more pressure on the opponent. Why? They give you more roaming potential. If you don't build these, the opponent will know you have to spend more time in the jungle and can play aggressively.
mercury treads: These are my favorite boots. You can buy boots of mobility if you feel that confident, but I would rather buy these because you WILL be a future target due to your oracle's elixir. These also give you the early bit of magic resistance that I don't buy until way later.
: This is a must. Honestly, skarner is a horrible ganker if the enemy can see you coming due to having no "jump" or "gap closer." Early game you can pull off ganks because no one buys a ward for top that early, but after the first recall, any smart player will come back with a ward or two. Be careful, you are worth 2-3 kills after you buy this. If you cannot handle buying an oracle's, you should wait a while before playing skarner. Because if your facing competent opponents without oracles your going to be useless.
shurelya's reverie: This is also a must. Shurelyas + skarner = Biggest Douchebag plays. This adds sooo much pressure to the game because your ganks just devastate anyone. Not only does it allow you to make great use of your ult (either getting to the opponent or using it to drag him back a further distance) it also gets your teammates into position because it speeds them up too. I know that this item gives hp, but it's active is too good to miss out on.
: This is again a must. Everything on this item belongs to skarner. The armor gives him the ability to turret dive with ease. The mana lets him not run out as fast because you should be giving blue buff to your mid. The cooldown reduction means more damage for skarner, and more Impale's. And finally, that passive. Do I need to say more?
: In my opinion this is the best option for magic resistance because it also gives you movement speed. Not much to say except that it makes you more tanky and faster. You can skip this if the enemy AP mid is horrible though.
: This item is really cheap because we would be buying heart of gold anyways. However, if your solo top built it and your support build it I would suggest not buying it and buying something like guardian angel instead. Do not feel impelled to buy this just because you already have heart of gold.
: A pretty good item, by this time skarner should be super tanky and you are finally allowed to build damage. However, you don't have to buy this item if you team is doing really well, and they just need you to be more tanky. Only buy this if your team needs that damage.
kage's lucky pick: I have recently seen a lot of people building this for extra roaming power, but I would not recommend it for this playstyle because the money going into kage's lucky pick could be better spent finishing your shurelya's reverie or whatever you need. You can build this if you're really ahead, it will put a ton of pressure on the whole enemy team.
: This would be a great item if I was playing for TSM. Too bad the scrubs in solo queue can't be carried.
: This is actually such a great item, but again, I couldn't find anywhere that this item could belong in this build. All the items in this build are just too important. If your support has bought an oracle's before you (quite early in the game, so usually not) then you can rush this. However, this requires a good support, because if he loses that oracle's your gonna have to buy one as soon as possible, really limiting your build.
: I don't usually build this because it should only be built when those ap casters are a really huge threat. You will have these games once and a while so be prepared to build this. I also don't like it because skarner scales better with resists, and building hp makes me cringe.
: This item can be built when the team is balanced. Again, this doesn't happen much so keep your eyes peeled for when it does. The passive isn't the best on skarner, but it is useful.
: DON'T BUILD THIS OR I WILL CRY T^T it mostly offers you health, and a bit of armor. The damage is barely noticeable in your ganks and all in all this item is trash on skarner.
: If you actually have to buy this, the other team is probably like 800 elo. FOCUS TANK FTW?!!?!?!??!
: I have built this a few times and I don't really like it. However, you never know. Don't build it unless you actually need the attack damage and the magic resist early. If your going to build it late, don't build it at all. This is because the shield does not scale late game, it stays the same.
Any other items are not viable. I have looked through all the items and if you want to suggest an item I will tell you why it is bad. However, all the items I have not mentioned in this section are pretty obvious why they are bad.
Jungling: The basics
The jungle is where there are neutral monsters which you kill for gold. This role is here because it gives the solo lanes more experience and gold. It also takes advantage of the sitting gold in the jungle. At first glance, it doesn't seem like much, but the respawn is very short and the jungle can be used with certain champions to obtain a very efficient creep score as well as experience. First, let's go over the basics.
A normal Jungle Route:
Wolves > Blue > Wraiths > Golems
You should have your teammates damage your wolves for you when your killing them, and then leash your blue. This is because you will take way too much damage if they don't. After this you can do whatever you want.
Wolves, Wraiths and Golem timers: around a minute each, it really doesn't matter though. With my set up, you should be looking out for ganks and only return to the jungle to do a full clear. Rinse, and repeat.
However, the more important parts are buffs, dragon and baron. Buffs respawn in 5 minutes, dragon respawns in 6 minutes and baron respawns in 7 minutes. I recommend you type them down in chat after killing any of them.
Also, make sure that you clear your small camps enough. If you leave them there all the time, you are wasting potential gold. Return to the jungle enough so that you don't waste gold. However, don't waste your time walking around in the jungle or waiting for a camp to respawn.
Jungling: Mind games
Above this section was the normal route that most junglers run. However, good junglers are not predictable. By doing the above jungle route, you are susceptible to invasions, or getting counterjungled. For example, if I get a good leash at blue, I will almost always head to the enemy red jungle side. If it was a really good leash, I will pull THEIR red buff into the bush and kill it with smite (only if I didn't use smite on my own blue due to a very very nice leash). Otherwise, I usually go steal their big golem. If it is a champion I can duel I will wait in their red buff bush and kill them while they try to take it.
It's stuff like this that really messes with the other junglers head. If you constantly counter jungle his wraiths, he might start wasting a lot of time and waiting for you there when your somewhere else. Or he might catch you there with his mid and kill you easily. It's all just a big game of "can I outplay the enemy jungler"?
Putting pressure on the map is a great way of beating your enemy jungler. For example, if you kill an enemy champion, suddenly he will be behind in lane. You put pressure on your enemy jungler because he now has to help his laner get back from your laners lead.
Another way of putting pressure is simply not showing yourself until a perfect gank appears. Since you have not appeared on the map yet, your opponent's don't know what your doing, they don't know where you are, and they don't know where your going. Always remember: The moment you show yourself on the map, all pressure is released. If you gank top lane, mid and bot know that they can relax, or play aggresively. They can do whatever they want because you can't be in 2 places at once. Also, the enemy jungler is free to do whatever he wants. If he is behind, he'll farm his own jungle. If he's ahead he'll counter jungle the **** out of you.
A general rule of thumb is: If one of your buffs is up, and you haven't warded it, don't gank a lane that is very far away from it unless the enemy is so overextended it's not even funny, and you will get a guaranteed kill. Because if you do so, and the enemy jungler is decent, he will steal your buff.
Pressure isn't the only thing you can create. You can create panic. You can make the other team mad. Use manipulation to get what you want. If you just killed the enemy top lane 2 times in a row, diss the enemy jungler in all chat. If you just killed that enemy lee sin in his own jungle, diss him in all chat. Make them lose their patience, and eventually they'll lose their whole jungle. Ward his jungle so you know where he is, and wait for him to gank so you can counter gank the same lane. It makes people panic when someone is always one step ahead, beating them at everything.
And that's your role. To beat the enemy jungler and win as many of your lanes as possible. I don't know if I've scared you, but I have to say one thing. Jungle is the role that takes the most knowledge in the whole game. As much knowledge as all the lanes combined. And before you hate on me, let me point out I said knowledge, NOT SKILL. All lanes take skill, but jungle takes the most knowledge, so I hope your up for it.
Jungling: The mindset
Since all my sections have been pretty wordy, I'm going to summarize this section in point form. This section is not like the last, the last section required descriptions. However, in this section I will point out your goals for the game:
- Do not sacrifice your jungle for anything unless a lane is pushed
- Try to set back the enemy jungler
- Gank easy lanes
- Ward and keep awareness
- Defend your turrets when your laner is gone
- Go for a gank every time your ultimate is up
- Tank turrets and dive
- Clear your jungle, but not as a first priority
- Push lanes
- Catch enemy champions and also clear enemy wards
- Initiate with your combo to kill the largest threat
- Keep warding for awareness
- Tank and peel all the damage
- Tank turrets
This section is an update, and there will be pictures coming soon to compliment the descriptions. Just be patient, I’m playing a lot of other junglers at the moment and getting those specific screenshots can be hard, because I can’t just choose what kind of gank I’m going to pull off. The right gank fits the opportune moment.
Ganking is arguably the most important part of the game for a jungler because it sets off the good junglers from the bad junglers and gets your lanes going. Anyone can run around in the jungle for 10 minutes and farm, but who would want a jungler that only farms? During a game, you have to judge whether you can gank a lane or not. If you go to the lane and wait in a bush for a long time, you just wasted that time which could have gone into farming. This sets you back.
But you have to gank sooner or later. Or else the role of the jungle is not fulfilled. You may not even get a clear gank opportunity, in fact, the higher the level of play the less likely there will be clear and obvious gank opportunities. Which means you have to find better ways of ganking. I will start with the most elementary, and go up to more advanced.
1. Running up to the lane
This is the simplest type of a gank is to simply run straight from the river into the lane. Then proceed to do whatever you want from there. The advantages and disadvantages of this kind of ganking are straightforward. It is the most predictable way of ganking, but is also the most convenient. However, it is countered by wards.
2. Lane Gank
This means to hide in the bush OF THE LANE and gank. You can do this by letting your laner push his lane so that you can sneak into one of the bushes undetected by the opponent. The lane barely has to be pushed for you to sneak into the first brush of either top or bottom. Just make sure that the fog of war covers you and keeps you hidden even from the enemy’s minions. once you have made it into the brush, you need to take the time and wait for the enemy champion to come near. He may never come close, it is a matter of patience, and you may just end up wasting all your time. However, I would have to say this is one of the best ways to gank earlier in the game because people don’t ward the bushes IN the lane that much.
3. Counter Gank
This is the most effective kind of gank from skarner’s perspective, but along with that, the most risky as well as the hardest to pull off, as well as time properly. The whole point of a counter gank … is to counter your opponent’s gank. That means you have to either be there when the enemy ganks or bait your enemy into ganking your teammate while you are hiding in a bush.
There are a couple things you must consider before trying to pull this off. The first thing is you have to be sure that you can handle a 2 vs 2 with your enemies, because if they have great dueling champions you will just give them a double kill. The second thing that the laner has to think about is to what extent he should be baiting. If he does an amazing bait, but then takes 50% of his hp before you get there, you will probably lose.
4. Backdoor Gank
I rate this type of gank as the hardest because it requires a lot of things, and is very hard to pull off early game without many items. Every lane has some sort of “back entrance”, where you can walk around and gank the enemy from behind. This kind of gank gives the enemy a lot of time to react, because you have to walk quite a long ways, and may even give your enemy jungler time to respond. This kind of gank also requires you or your teammates to take a couple direct turret shots. If the creeps are not pushed up to the turret, you will take 2 or 3 hits. If it is, you are still going to take 2 or 3 hits if not more, based on how long it takes to kill the target. The one advantage to ganking like this is surprise. You have the element of surprise here, because no one expects people to do crazy **** like that. But as I said earlier, it will be challenging.
I leave this section near the ending as a warning to fellow junglers. I am telling you here and now that over counter jungling is a bad thing, and will throw you a close game that you should have won. I used to be obsessed with beating the other jungler and destroying his jungle, however, after playing against better players I learned.
Only counter jungle small camps if you have absolutely nothing else to do, you know the enemy jungler isn't there, and when the enemy mid is occupied. There is nothing, NOTHING, more dangerous then invading to counterjungle, and after you burn your flash you will think to yourself, "Was that big wraith worth my flash?"
Counter Jungling can definitely change a game, but you have to control yourself. Feel free to contest buffs and important jungle creeps all you want, but if your honestly going to put yourself in danger for a wolf camp? I don't see your logic.
Thanks for reading this and I hope you learned at least one thing! If you have any questions feel free to PM me on this mobafire account. Of course, if you have anything to say about my guide comment below and send in your vote, whether upvote or downvote. This guide is here to help.
Have a good day, and if you actually read everything, thank you !