Katarina Build Guide by Ameys
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.
Katarina is a champion that is highly underrated. What makes her difficult to be good with is the fact that her success highly depends on how well a player can position themselves and know how to spot an opportunity to activate their ultimate to actually cause damage and pull off amazing kills. A dangerous Katarina is a Katarina that knows how to position, seek opportunity, knows how to properly use their Shunpo, and how to harass players without the risk of taking high damage in lanes. The wonderful thing about Katarina is that you don't need to build many items to make her powerful.
I use these builds in both normal and ranked games to great success. Katarina depends on a competent team that has some form of understanding of Katarina's importance in positioning and her role in team fights.
Please leave comments and questions to better help both my guide and build.
Best Laning Partners
I always love playing a game with Ashe as my laning partner. Any form of stun and slow is Katarina's best friend and Ashe fits the description perfectly. When laning with Ashe you don't want to be too aggressive. Try to keep the lane a little pushed back to your turret (this will allow them minimal time to escape from an attack) and farm until level 6. Always have Ashe target her arrow for either the champion with most CC (for example: Sion, BlitzCrank, Xin Zhao, etc." for a stun. Once she lands her arrow quickly shunpo to the enemy move forward a bit and use your Death Lotus. You want to damage them as much as you can so as they run you'll damage them for the full channel most of the time usually pull off a double kill.
This guy is just amazing with Katarina. Constant heals, double stuns, AND can tank hits for you? It's just an amazing combo. As usual wait until you're level 6 to actually try to pull off kills in your lane. It's also a lot easier to Shunpo and Bounce Blade the enemy while Alistar is taking damage or being focused. Your Shunpo can deal a lot of damage with just your Hextech Revolver.
Grabs, Knock ups,and Silences?! This guy is like crack to Katarina in lanes. Best part is all you need to do is combo his knock up with your ultimate and while the enemy is running away Blitz simply grabs him and pulls him back into your spin of death!
His knock ups and ultimate make him an ideal laning partner. How awesome is it having your enemy knocked up AND trapped in a small area with you and your Death Lotus?! It's just an amazing combo and I have great success with Jarvan in my lane.
Explanation of Runes and Item Build
The beautiful thing about Katarina is that you can deal high amounts of damage with so little items. The only problem with her is survivability. I replaced AP quints and seals with HP Quints and HP/Level seals. Since she has no cost whatsoever to her spells, you are able to spam them as much as you want. I chose CDR Glyphs to make it so her Shunpo and Bouncing Blade can be up relatively fast to easily kill an enemy. The runes also work wonderfully with her passive. Remember, you want to spam her spells as much as you can, including her ultimate. You will find your ultimate will usually be on an average of 15-30 second cooldowns rather than 50+ that is intended.
If playing against AP heavy teams get Mercury's Treads instead of Sorcerer's Shoes, a Banshee's Veil instead Warmog's, a Abyssal Scepter instead of a Void Staff.
If playing against AD heavy teams get Ninja Tabi instead of Sorcerer's Shoes, a Zhonya's Hourglass instead of Rabadon's Deathcap, and follow the rest of the general build.
Verocity is by far the best passive I've come across in this game for an AP based champion. It reduces the cooldown of all your abilities by 15 seconds for every kill and assist and gives you a bonus 25 gold for each kill and assist. Because of this you're able to spam your Shunpo and Bouncing Blade immediately after pulling off a kill to damage another enemy. Always be ready to use your skills in team fights regardless of them being on cd. What I tend to do is go in and do my damage and run away from the pile while spamming my Shunpo button because you never know if someone will clean up any enemy champions because of your damage. If you do kill champions use Killer's Instinct, Shunpo, and Bouncing Blade. In most cases they're low enough to kill with that single combo.
Shunpo deals a large amount of damage and scales a lot better with AP than with Bouncing Blade. Since you'll be using Shunpo to farm and injure enemies in team fights and single fights you want to make sure that you deal a good amount of damage. Shunpo is also on a lower cool down than Bouncing Blade allowing you to spam it more often than Bouncing Blade meaning more consistent damage.
Bouncing Blade of course holds its value and isn't as important as Shunpo but should be maxed out as soon as Shunpo is maxed out. Maxing out Bouncing Blade will allow you to poke entire enemy teams with 300-400 damage between them and allows you to farm efficiently through mid and late game.
Killer Instincts is decent throughout the entire game until late-game arrives where the damage reduction truly counts and can make a major difference in survivability. This is why we save it for last. That way you can level it up as the damage output increases from the enemy and their focus begins to shift heavier onto you.
The Death Lotus is an amazing ultimate that has the ability to deal large amounts of damage and be spammed in a relatively low time. How can this be true? When you go into a team fight and use it right you can pull off Double-Pentakills with ease or just Single-Pentassists with your ult. Because of Verocity all you need is 3 kills or assists to knock your ultimate fully off cooldown. This is also great because you can use your ultimate when 1v1'ing enemy champions.
Farming and Harassing (Early Game)
This is something that everyone seems to have mixed feelings about. Some say farming as Katarina early game is nearly impossible and you need to get fed early on in order to be useful. Others say that you shouldn't farm early game, but farm mid-game. I say that Katarina is by far one of the easiest champs to farm with throughout the entire game, including early game.
The way I usually farm effectively in my laning phase is simply use my Bouncing Blade on a half health minion Shunpo to one next to it to kill it and then auto attack the minion I just used Bouncing Blade on. I also use Shunpo to get a bunch of minion kills since it's on a relatively low cooldown and usually use my bouncing blade to damage the mage minions in the back and finish them off with auto attacks one by one. It can't get any simpler than that. Just abuse Shunpo and Bouncing Blade and you'll be set to go.
Mid-Game for Katarina revolves around farming and pushing lanes. By this time you should deal enough damage with your Shunpo and Bouncing Blade to clean up minion waves pretty quickly. You want to push and farm a little bit while your team either defends, fights, or even pushes other lanes. During your mid-game you want to focus on not dying, farming, landing as many assists or kills you can in team fights, and pushing empty lanes.
By the time mid-game rolls around you want to have your Deathcap and your Scepter mostly built. When building your scepter you want to get Giant's Belt first along with a Blasting Wand and then just buy your scepter all at once. This is a crucial stage for Katarina in my opinion and if you can not succeed in this phase of the game it will be incredibly hard to work efficiently with your team when your team needs you.
By the time late game comes around you'll still be dishing out more than enough damage to land kills and assists. If you find yourself lacking damage build a Void Staff which gives a good amount of AP and magic penetration and you should be set to go. By the time late game comes around you and your team should focus on having you wipe the floor of everyone with your ult while they dish out damage and support. Pushing lanes as Katarina should be easier with Bouncing Blade and Shunpo especially if you already finished your Gunblade to make auto attacking faster and more efficient. You won't be dishing out enough damage to backdoor a turret fast enough so focus on picking off champions and just quickly pushing lanes for your teams. You want to try and always be with your main tank or anyone that dishes out a good amount of crowd control or take damage to quickly pick off enemies. You will be strong but you won't be invincible. Don't go into fights alone and spam your Death Lotus. Just remember, position yourself correctly. Positioning and opportunity is vital to making Katarina a success.
Lesson 101 about Katarina: Always activate your Killer Instincts spell even if the fight isn't going on. The spell duration is long enough to have you wait and contemplate which path you want to go. If the defense bonus of 35% reduced damage for 3 seconds or cut the enemy's team healing by 50%. Your Killer Instincts cools down fast enough to be reactivate when the spell waiting time ends and at level 5 it'll end before the spell waiting time does.
This is where people mess up a lot with Katarina. People think that since she deals high amounts of damage she should be able to initiate fights by using Shunpo and then follow with a Death Lotus. Now that is stupid and you never and I mean never want to initiate a fight let alone Shunpo in and Death Lotus as soon as a fight begins. The way you position yourself with Katarina is simple. Stay in the back. If there are minions within range use your Bouncing Blade on them and have the blade bounce between enemies. If an enemy is within range use your Bouncing Blade on them and have the blade bounce between enemies. This will cause a good amount of damage (I usually deal a good 300-400 with each bounce) and set up the initiation well enough for your tank or whoever to begin the fight. If the fight is taking a bit to initiate just spam your Bouncing Blade until your team is comfortable enough to initiate. In most cases the enemy team waits for you to Shunpo and Death Lotus to unleash their stuns, silences, knock ups, snares, etc on you. To avoid this happening wait for the enemy team to focus someone else other than you and once their crowd control is used up you go in and deal high amounts of damage to pull off regular triple-pentakills.
The most wonderful thing about Katarina's Death Lotus is that snares don't stop her ultimate. So if you're afraid of an Amumu, Morgana, or Lux stopping your Death Lotus just remember that they don't stop your ultimate. Most players don't know this about her Death Lotus so use it to your advantage to pull off easy kills. Always be ready to spam Killer Instincts, Shunpo, and Bouncing Blade in team fights. Every kill and assist puts those three off cooldown allowing you to pull off amazing pick-offs for your team. If your team manages to get even 2 kills your Death Lotus should be at about 10-15 seconds from cooling down. At 3 kills your Ultimate is up and ready to be spammed to help pick off the last 2 running champions.
1 VS 1 Fights and Escaping
This is where a lot of Katarina players mess up at a lot. They just spam their spells and auto attack when confronted in a 1 VS 1 fight. Katarina is one of the easiest champs to win 1 VS 1 fights in many cases. Always use your Killer Instincts and Shunpo combo and then Bouncing Blade. You want to run away out of Enemy range and then use Bouncing Blade. Whenever you Shunpo the enemy locks off and must relock onto you by either using their A key to attack nearby enemies or right clicking you. What I find incredibly useful is running into a bush after said combo, waiting until they're right outside the bush Shunpo onto them use Bouncing Blade soon after and if they're outside the bush run back into it and repeat. If your enemy begins to run away you'll hopefully already have your scepter built so you can Shunpo to them to slow run ahead a bit or just simply sit there and activate your Death Lotus. Usually they'll have low enough health that one more Shunpo after escaping your Death Lotus should be enough to kill them. If not just throw a Bouncing Blade and you've just won yourself a 1v1.
Remember to use your Exhaust as soon as you begin to win the fight or if you're escaping. Exhausting them will lower their armor and magic resist along with slowing them so you can pull off that final Shunpo or even just Death Lotus them to death. Why Death Lotus on a single player? Why not? It's intense damage and by the time you come to another fight the 20-30 second cooldown is already over with and ready to be used.
Always activate Killer Instincts when trying to escape! The reduced damage can work wonders when you need to save yourself!
Escaping with Katarina is one of the easiest things to do. Unfortunately most teams don't understand this and will leave you out to die when they're barely within range of your Shunpo. Shunpo has a far greater range than Flash. You can Shunpo to minions, champions, and even wards now. ABUSE YOUR FRIENDLY UNITS AND CHAMPIONS! If you're going to farm a lane alone always be sure to have a ward set in place to let you escape with ease. Even carry one to throw over a wall and Shunpo to if you're skilled enough to land a fast enough combo. Abuse your fellow champions. Most cases I find myself running slower than my team so I simply Shunpo onto them and repeat until I can Shunpo to minions and escape to safety. Your Shunpo should be on a 4 second cooldown on average once the laning phase ends so escaping will be relatively easy. In team fights if you are stopped from fully channeling your Death Lotus simply Shunpo to a friendly champion that's in the back (usually your AD Ranged carry) or an incoming minion wave to escape. Most cases they will chase you while your team picks them off or they will become confused on who to focus since their auto-lock is lost on you and you'll get away with your life, assists, +25 gold, and your spells refreshed to possibly jump back in and finish off any further damage.
Due to the lack of crowd control on Katarina ganking with her can be a bit troublesome. I suggest not roaming and trying to gank with Katarina unless the lane you're ganking has some form of crowd control and you're atleast level 6. If someone is coming to gank your lane, don't be obvious with it as usual. Harass with your Bouncing Blade. Shunpo to them let them attack you if they want and then have your ganking partner jump in with their CC get out of range of the enemy and then just Shunpo back into the fight and pull off the kill or assist.
Alternative Items and Summoner Spells
People like to get Ionian Boots on Katarina. I really don't view it as necessary. You get more than enough CDR from your Glyphs and her spells are already short termed getting them really won't make much of a difference. I guess the only time you'd get them is if you find that the CDR makes a difference in that specific game where you just need to constantly spam your spells.
People have told me that Guinsoo's Rageblade is good on Katarina for her late game. I personally view it pretty useless seeing that you get more than enough AD and AP from your Hextech Gunblade that this item won't make much of a difference where as a Void Staff gives you more AP and also gives a really good amount of magic penetration to stack with your Marks.
Mejai's Soulstealer isn't viable in my opinion. Getting a stackable item just brings even more focus onto Katarina. Soulstealer gives 160 AP boost with 20 stacks but in reality I view it as useless. Katarina is already focused because of her intense damage, adding a stackable item will make them focus you as first priority and will just dish it out and wait for you to come into a fight to unload on you. It's also time consuming to get stacks and avoid any deaths to make it function properly. I'd rather have a deathcap which is a secure 140 AP +30% AP bonus than an unreliable item that can vary from 20-160 AP depending on how well you perform in game. As I've already stated you do more than enough damage with a minimal amount of items.
People like to get Ghost. I really don't see the point of having Ghost if you have flash and Shunpo in your arsenal. I guess it can be one of those "gotta-catch-them-quick" situations in which you'll be using ghost.
Flash + Teleport
I use this combination a lot to be honest. Teleport allows you to have incredible map control and can make harassing enemy team lanes a lot easier. I find myself switching between lanes over and over to help with ganks and team fights. I also use it to quickly aid any team members that are about to get ganked our about to begin a team fight. I find it more useful at times than exhaust since exhaust is a single target item and Rylai's + your damage output should be more than enough to bring an enemy down with efficiency.