General Guide by voidflame
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.
What is a Tank?
Tanks are champions who excel at taking damage. They typically have high health, high armor, and high magic resist. Their job is usually to take the damage for their team and initiate teamfights. They also have a job of using CC (crowd control such as stuns, slows, snares, etc.) on enemies in order to make it easier for your team to focus them.CCing an enemy can put them out of the fight, thus reducing the enemy team's damage output. They may also dive turrets with their high resists and allow their teammates to finish off the enemy, while the tank is taking turret aggro. However, tanks generally have a low damage output. Tanks are important and there should be one tank (no more and no less) on every team. But then agian, the new meta no longer requires tanks. Still good, just not mandatory QQ.
Pros / Cons of Tanks
Hard to kill
Have good intiation
Have good CC (crowd control)
Multiple of them can fulfill multiple roles (such as jungler or support)
You feel like an impenetrable and unkillable wall. Basically, you can scream at your opponents
Tend to get more assists than kills; as a result, many tanks have negative KDR (kill to death) ratios
Earn less gold than other team members (this is because you should usually give away your minion farms to your carries)
Commonly have cooldown issues (this is solved with items toward late game)
Out of meta currently (unless support or jungle0
Highly Recommended Summoner Spells
Flash is my FAVORITE summoner spells on tanks because it gives them a good escape and a method of initiation. For example, Amumu can use Flash and Curse of the Sad Mummy to initiate. Flash can go over walls so it's a nice escape.
Teleport is AWESOME. It lets you recall, and return fast. What's not to love? You can Teleport to minions, towers, and wards. Please note that if you cancel Teleport halfway through, you have to wait a reduced 180 seconds before you can use it again.
Exhaust is a good summoner spell. Even though as a tank you already have ltos of CC, Exhaust is good because it slows and reduces attack speed. It lasts for a nice amount of time. Overall, a solid choice for any tank.
Decent summoner spells (meh.)
Ghost is a good substitute for Flash if you haven't unlocked Flash or you can't get the knack of flashing over walls.
Clarity is good for tanks who have mana issues. I tend to avoid Clarity as it isn't very useful late game and isn't great on all tanks. Clarity is a good choice for Malphite, Maokai, and Galio.
Ignite gives you more damage. However, if you take this, try not to KS (kill steal) your carry as they might not get enough gold.
Cleanse is alright I guess. I just don't find it necessary on tanks as you have resists, you'll probably have tenacity from Mercury's Treads, and you might have a Banshee's Veil.
Surge is ok for carries who like more damage, but your a tank. Plus I hate tthe cooldown on that thing.
Promote is bad. It WAS good back in like...beta. But now it sucks as you can only promote a siege minion and those only pop up like every 10 waves or something...
Revive is a serious no. You're a tank. Avoid dying so much.
These are spells I put in a different category as it depends on whether or not your tank is fulfilling multiple roles. If not, avoid these spells.
Clairvoyance is really good on tanks that act as supports. It gives you vision of an area (including bushes).
Heal is a decent option on tanks that act as supports and lack a built in heal. For example, Alistar should avoid this as he has his own heal.
Smite should only be used if you are jungling your tank.
Tanks runes are pretty straightforward.
For marks, get greater mark of desolation or Greater Mark of Magic Penetration depending on the kind of damage your tank does. Greater Mark of Health works as well.
For seals I like Greater Seal of Armor (these are a must on the junglers.) You can also get scaling armor runes greater seal of defense.
For glyphs you take Greater Glyph of Magic Resist or Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist.
Finally for quints, I prefer Greater Quintessence of Health.
With tanks the basic setup is a 9/21/0 or a 0/21/9 set up. I always like points in defense for more tankiness. 9 in offense is generally for Magic damage based tanks. 9 in utility is for support tanks or jungle tanks as they need Runic Affinity to keep their buffs going on longer.
Offtanks vs True tanks. Who's who?
While I won't really discuss any offtanks in this guide, I find that it is important for people to be able to differentiate between a true tank and an off tank/tanky dps. People should not just assume an offtank can replace a tank in their team composition.
Off tanks are different from tanks because of the following reasons:
Their CC isn't as good as tanks typically
They are squishier (easier to kill) than tanks, but are still harder to kill than most other champs
They aren't as good at initiating as tanks.
They tend to earn more gold than tanks.
They get more kills
Some examples of off tanks are: Nasus, Renekton, Udyr, Trundle, and Shyvana. There are many other offtanks in the game.
Many off tanks are mistaken for tanks. For example, many people consider Dr. Mundo to be a tank. However, Mundo is an off tank (or DPS soak) because his CC is not reliable, he is beefy (lots of hp, but no resists), and he's not all that great at initiating. Another champion commonly mistaken to be a tank, is Volibear. Yes, I know Riot calls him a tank. Volibear's fling isn't as good of an initiation as Singed and his slow is pretty weak. Volibear is encouraged to build HP, not resists, in order to increase the damage on Frenzy. As a result, he lacks the resists needed to be a true tank. Cho'Gath is another offtank mistaken for a tank. While I feel Cho'Gath is very close to being a tank, he still is not one because of three main reasons. 1. Cho'Gath needs farm. 2. Cho'Gath is squishy before lvl 6 when he gets his Feast. 3. If Cho'Gath dies, he loses Feast stacks and returns to being squishy again.
At the same time, some people consider Singed to be an offtank. I consider Singed's position to be a shaky one, as there are valid reasons to identify him as an offtank. Overall, I still consider him to be a tank due to his resists, his Fling being an awesome intiator, and his Mega Adhesive being one of the biggest slows in the game.
Some people also consider Malphite to be an offtank. As far as I am concerned, Malphite is a true tank despite not having hardcore CC until lvl 6, because he has a built in shield, and his Unstoppable Force is so good, that it makes up for the lack of CC until lvl 6.
Taric is a different matter. He should simply be a support, not a tank, nor an off tank, as his damage is low, but his CC is rather situational. Unlik Alistar (who can be played full support, tank, or a sort of hybrid), Taric's skillset is much more supprot based versus Alistar who still has massive CC as a support and his ultimate lets him become a tank even as a support.
In general, tanks should be on duo bot lane or solo top if you have a jungler (this is duo top at lower levels).
Tanks are good solo top choices because of their large health, resists, and overall good sustain. In a solo top lane, you'll either be in a 1v2 situation (in which you will just attempt to survive and avoid harassment) or you'll be in a 1v1 situation. On solo top, you will want to ward the bush near the river (this will be discussed more in the warding section) as the enemy jungler may attempt to gank you. In a 1v1, try to deny the opponent farm. Remember, many solo tops will deal more damage than you, as you are a tank. If you are solo top, Teleport is a good choice.
On a duo lane, tanks should give their farms to whoever else is on their lane (typicall an AD carry, such as Vayne). The reason for this is that carries deal more damage when they get farmed. If your carry recalls, then you may get minion farms.
I would avoid putting a tank on mid lane as the enemy mid will deal far more damage and farm a lot better than you. If absolutely needed, the only tanks I would risk putting on mid are Maokai and Galio. Maokai because he can be built with AP pretty solidly and Galio because he can stack magic resist against the enemy AP carry.
Tanks will earn less gold than other champs due to a lack of farm (unless you're solo top. Then please get plenty of farms). Farming whenver your carry leaves lane won't be enough to get you the items you need to play your tank efficiently. The solution is gold over time items. The main ones used on tanks are Heart of Gold and philosopher's stone. Both of these can be built into tanky items. These two, DO stack, so I recommend getting both of them early game.
Types of CC
CC stands for crowd control. CC is basically any ability that can disable or weaken an opponent and dirupt the enemy team. Types of CC include stuns, silences, slows, snares, taunts, and knock ups. Knock ups are my favorite kinds of CC as tenacity (which redues the duration of enemy CC) does not work on these knock ups. I will go over all the tanks' various kinds of CC in the next chapter "Initiating a teamfight".
Initiating a teamfight
As a tank, you should initiate teamfights. You should be the one because you are the least likely to die and you have good CC. Here are some methods of initiation by various tanks:
Bandage Toss, one of Amumu's skills, is good because it pulls you to the enemy, acts asa gap closer, and stuns the enemy. You can then follow up with Curse of the Sad Mummy. Just keep in mind that it pulls you to the first thing hit, so you might get a minion instead. This takes practice.
Curse of the Sad Mummy is a great initiation as it is an AoE stun.
Zenith Blade is a pull like Bandage Toss, but instead it pulls you to the LAST champion hit, so it can go through minions.
Solar Flare is an AoE that can stun or slow. You can place the AoE, but since it's delayed you should try to predict the enemy movement, so they run into it. Or use it in a scenario where they cannot run away.
Fling can allow sgined to throw one of the enemies into your team. All 5 of you will make short work of the poor fellow.
Headbutt allows Alistar to send someone flying straight into your team. Note that you may knock someone away so this takes practice. Follow up with Pulverize.
Unstoppable Force is a great initiate. It's an AoE knockup that can be used from a range. It can even go over walls. The only downside is its long cooldown.
Idol of Durand is good for thee taunt, but you might kill yourself. I prefer Curse of the Sad Mummy. It can pull aggro away from your teammates.
Puncturing Taunt lets you pull one of the enemy team toward you for a couple of seconds. It can force them to take turret aggro since they attack you. Doing this can also force the enemy carry to target you allowing you to soak up damage for your team and basically disabling the carry for the duration of the taunt. Can you say OP?
Twisted Advance acts as a dash allowing you to rush to an enemy location and snare them. Super good for ganks.
Shadow Dash is a skillshot that taunts everything that Shen dahses through. This is probably my least favorite methoed of initiation among the ones I listed as its range is short and its skillshot reliant.
Teamfights/ Disrupting the enemy team
After initiating, you should be in the middle of teamfights disrupting the enemy as much as possible with your CC. You should try to CC the enemy carries, so their team's damage outpupt is reduced. For example, Leona is great at disrupting the enemy team with her three stuns. Another good example is Rammus and his Puncturing Taunt as you basically disable an enemy carry for the duration of your taunt.
Any AoE CC is great at disrupting ( Pulverize, Solar Flare, Curse of the Sad Mummy, Unstoppable Force.) Randuin's Omen is great for disrupting as well, as it provides an AoE slow.
Playing a tank as a jungler
Junglers are champions who go into the jungle and kill neutral monster camps for XP and gold.
Pros of a tank jungler:
Good sustain in jungle with good resists and lots of health. Blue buff covers any mana issues the tank may have. (For example, Amumu has some mana issues with Despair, but blue buff solves these issues.
Good ganks with CC.
Cons of a tank jungler
You won't clear jungle as fast as most other junglers such as Trundle, Nocturne, or Udyr.
You can be counterjungled easily.
Good jungle tanks are Amumu, Rammus, Malphite, Maokai, and Shen. Smite is a necessity if you jungle. Typical starting items are Cloth Armor and 5 Health Potion.
The jungle route for them is the same. (The order is shown in the above picture. Blue number and arrows are if you start on the lower side of the map. Purple directions are for starting on the upper side of the map). Start at wolves (use a health potion) and move on to blue buff and have someone leash you at the blue buff (use smite on the golem and use a health potion the moment you take aggro from the monsters). Proceed to wraiths and then small golems (Use a health potion here). Go take the red buff (smite the big lizard. Use a health potion). Finally, take the wraiths again to hit lvl 4. Continue jungling, recall, attempt to counterjungle, or gank. Use your last Health Potion before you gank or continue jungling.
Playing a Tank as a Support
When you want to play a tank as a support I recommend you get either Heal (if your champion does not have a built in heal like Alistar does) or get Clairvoyance to give vision. As a tank support, you should buy wards. The top priorities to ward are dragon and baron. Use a Vision Ward for these ones so you can see if the enemy places a ward. (More info in the "Warding" chapter.
Amongst the tanks, there are three true support tanks: Shen, Galio, and Alistar. All 3 of them can be played either full support, full tank, or a hybrid of both.
Shen is a support tank because of his ultimate, Stand United allowing him to shiled one of his allies anywhere on the map.
Galio is a support tank because of Bulwark to increase allies' magic resist and his rightouse gust to speed up allies.
Finally, Alistar is a great support tank because of his Triumphant Roar.
Alternatively, other tanks can grab Clairvoyance or Heal and get supportive items like shurelya's reverie and Frozen Heart. Two of the more commonly seen support tanks who do this are Amumu and Leona. They both act as supports with their various CC allowing their carry to finish off the enemy. Support Leona shows up in lower elo solo ranked surprisingly often as far as my experience goes.
ALl in all, tanks are kind of out of the meta. But theyre still good an important in team comps if you ask me.