Irelia Build Guide by Sandrino Rhys
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.
Balance in ALL things
Standard Full Build
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.
Threats to Irelia with this build
|Cassiopeia||Dodge her poison, proceed to kill her.|
|Gragas||Dodge his Q with yours. Stun up, acquire kills.|
|Kassadin||Just kill him, he can't do much vs you.|
|Poppy||Don't get wall slammed. You're better than her pretty much the whole game long, and your W counters her passive.|
|Ekko||Doesn't have much that threatens you. Your early game is vastly superior levels 3+, feel free to trade and kill|
|Hi, I'm xDarkwind, a Platinum Anivia and Irelia main. I mostly made this guide because I noticed that pretty much all Irelia guides out there seem to recommend builds that I don't think are as strong as they could be, most notably by recommending Blade of the Ruined King as a core or semi-core item. A lot of them also highly misrepresent her lane matchups in my opinion, so I wanted to give people a better idea of how to play in those lanes. This guide should be fairly accessible to most players. If I use any terms you aren't familiar with in this guide, you can look up the term here. Still, it is more geared towards fairly experienced players. I'm still adding some content to this guide, so stay tuned for more info!|
Irelia is a top lane fighter. She has very, very high base damages, decent dueling potential, good burst damage, and some decent DPS. She tends to be chosen for her snowball potential and her ability to hard carry mid game fights. Our main goal on her is to get our Trinity Force and start bursting as many enemy squishies as we can get our hands on. Getting our team ahead in the mid game is the whole point of picking Irelia.
Irelia excels at jumping in and destroying a single damage threat, no matter how much peel the enemy team throws her way. She also has good mobility, snowballs super hard and has a mid game power spike so large that you usually can win the game right off of it. She works reasonably well in most team comps because her kit is pretty versatile. The idea with this build is to abuse your mid game strength to the greatest extent possible so that you can win asap. All of that said, here are some pros and cons of Irelia.
There are lots of options for runes on Irelia. The main build shows the most general set, which can survive lane against basically anything. Here, I'll discuss why I choose those particular rules, as well as talk about lots of other solid options. First off, here is the standard rune setup I use.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Armor
Greater Quintessence of Health Regeneration
Overall, these runes are incredibly safe. Greater Mark of Attack Damage is the most standard choice for marks, giving solid trades, good last hitting, and some damage on Bladesurge. Greater Seal of Armor is also standard, providing resilience against auto attack harass in a ranged matchup and stronger trades and all-ins in a melee one. Greater Glyph of Magic Resist are necessary in case you're laning against an AP top. One Greater Quintessence of Armor will help keep you safe against all-ins from heavy physical damage dealers. The Greater Quintessence of Health Regeneration will help with overall lane sustain and get you through your early levels. They provide a ton of safety against poke based top laners. Combined, these runes will keep you safe in almost any lane matchup, and are by far the most versatile set up for Irelia.
Each of the following runes can be substituted in in order to customize based on your matchup, or based on personal preference.
|These are great for longer trades. They're stronger when maxing Hiten Style over Equilibrium Strike, but are weak in short trades and aren't as good for last hitting. Examples of good matchups for attack speed marks are Garen and Shyvana.|
|These could be okay, in combination with at least 1 armor quint, vs melee AP tops like Rumble. They aren't my favorite choices for top lane, but they'll give you a lot more overall tankiness a little later into the game. You could also take 4-5 along with 4-5 Greater Seal of Armor.|
|These are quite good against AD tops when their team still has magic damage. They are less versatile, though- if you run these against AP tops you'll be in a lot of trouble.|
|These will significantly decrease the CDs of all your skills throughout the game. If you combine them with 2 points in Sorcery , you'll be sitting on 10% CDR to start the game. Since you are fairly cooldown reliant, this can be an effective tactic. However, they will leave you highly vulnerable to magic damage, especially in the early game.|
|Similarly to Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction, these will decrease your cooldowns at the expense of magic resist. Keep in mind that you have other CDR options that you can easily build- Frozen Heart, Spirit Visage and Youmuu's Ghostblade are frequent purchases. Because of this, I generally don't take these.|
|Three of these will solve all of your Fiora and Pantheon problems. They're also a solid choice into Renekton and other physical damage dealers. Taking just 1 is standard for my guide, and will help dramatically against all top laners. Keep in mind that quints are the most efficient runes to get armor from.|
|These are good in the same kinds of matchups that attack speed marks are. However, you'll have less defense and a harder time sustaining through the lane without defensive quints. They are the most efficient attack speed runes.|
|These are okay in most scenarios. They provide better burst damage with Bladesurge than other options, easier last hits, and auto attack damage. I'm not a big fan, but if you don't have the IP for one of the other options, they're fine.|
I really wouldn't take any runes that aren't listed here on Irelia.
|9 points into offense gets you all the early damage you need.|
Going 21 points into defense will hit all the really strong masteries you want, and is MUCH stronger and safer in the early game than taking 21 points in offense.
Those masteries are the most versatile set that I would use in a blind pick scenario. However, I strongly recommend you tailor your masteries to both team comps. While Oppression is normally pretty weak on Irelia, it's suddenly strong if your team has lots of AoE CC, especially AoE soft cc. It can be worth it to take points out of Perseverance and Second Wind in favor of more points in Resistance and Evasive if you're up against a top laner like Lissandra. Even though Tenacious does not stack well with Mercury's Treads or Ionian Fervor, it can still be worth picking up if the enemy team has lots of strong CC. Make sure to keep your points out of Swiftness , but otherwise, feel free to customize to the game you're about to play.
Alternatively you can go 21 points into offensive. This will give you a weaker early game, but you'll snowball quite a bit harder, if you can get going. I personally rarely if ever change to 21/9, but if you're confident in your early game, it can be strong against favorable matchups. Make sure to take Blade Weaving , Spell Weaving , and Dangerous Game . It's not that important to have full points in Warlord , so sacrifice points here rather than in something like Devastating Strikes .
Start flask 3 pots in most matchups. This will give you a lot of health and mana sustain to survive your first couple of levels until you have access to your combo. The mana is really important, because it will let you use skills a lot more liberally at low levels than you could without it.|
I haven't seen anyone do this since the start of Season 5 and the change to shop range, but you can actually still get Crystalline Flask 4 Health Potions as your starting items. Go out normally with 3 HP pots and place your trinket ward to spot out any invades. If nothing is happening, you can recall at 1:20 and walk out to the edge of shop range. Wait until you have 35 gold, then run top. You'll arrive very shortly after minions do. This was pretty common back in Season 4.
|Cloth 5 is my preferred start against champs like Fiora, Pantheon, and Riven. This start gives a LOT of sustain and a whole bunch of armor. Overall, it will greatly reduce their ability to kill you and builds nicely into Ninja Tabi.|
|Doran's Shield is an okay choice against all-in champs like Riven. I usually prefer Cloth Armor 5 hp pots over this start, but the shield is a solid alternative. It is also a really strong choice if you're expecting to go up against an ADC top, or if you expect a lane swap... not that those happen in solo q...|
|This is your core item. It's insanely strong on you. As soon as you get it, you're instantly the strongest champion on the map in almost all games. This should be your first major item 100% of the time. There is absolutely no situation in which I wouldn't build it.|
|You'll always want a Guardian Angel eventually. Most of the time, it should be an item you'll get after 2 or so defensive items. If your team is well coordinated, though, you can actually get it right after Trinity Force and it'll give you a huge advantage.|
|These are ideal when up against ranged AP champs with cc. Ryze and Lissandra are perfect examples of this. Any time someone is able to kite you with their CC, you should get Mercury's Treads. If there are any super heavy CC skill on the enemy team, such as Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Mercury's Treads are your solution.|
|These are some of my favorite boots. They're great for laning against pretty much all AD champs, but especially counter champs like Tryndamere and Fiora. These are also really good at helping vs ADCs in mid and late game, because the passive isn't affected by Last Whisper.|
|These are only good when you're ahead in your lane, think you can snowball, and the enemy is pretty squishy. If you get to late game, you should sell them for one of the other options.|
|This is overall my preferred choice for Armor options. It will give you the most defense vs physical damage of any options, and it's quite inexpensive since the change to armor items this season.|
|Frozen heart is a better defensive option than Randuin's Omen when you're snowballing. It will give you CDR and mana, both of which are really useful, especially when ahead. The attack speed debuff aura is its biggest selling point. It doesn't give any health at all though, which is the major reason I prefer Randuin's Omen most of the time.|
|I personally LOVE Thornmail in late game. It just makes you even more annoying to ADCs and removes all the lifesteal that they would normally get. If the enemy ADC doesn't have enough lifesteal or magic resist, it can do most of your work for you. It's also really really strong against Fiora, Tryndamere, and Master Yi.|
|Spirit Visage has synergy with Guardian Angel, Ravenous Hydra, and Transcendent Blades, increasing each source of healing. It also gives 10% CDR, which will go nicely with a Frozen Heart. These two strong points are the reason why this is my preferred magic resist choice most of the time.|
|This gives you slightly more health than Spirit Visage, and the passive spell shield can be super powerful. If there are particularly large spells like Curse of the Sad Mummy that you don't want to get hit by, this will handle them. Overall, it is very close in strength to Spirit Visage.|
|Maw is ideal vs AP champs with high burst, but little DPS. The damage it gives you is also really nice, but it generally isn't enough on its own as a defensive item vs APs in the late game. Hexdrinker is a great mid game item and is the main reason to build Maw of Malmortius.|
|This is the best snowball item there is for Irelia. If you're winning like mad, you can 2nd build it, which will let you burst squishies incredibly fast. It will also give you a lot of pushing power. Make sure you use your active during your burst.|
|This is another good snowball item. It'll give you even more chasing power than just your Trinity Force, armor pen that's really really strong, some nice attack speed, and a good bit of AD. Again, make sure to use your active. This is cheaper than Ravenous Hydra, so I typically buy it second when I think I need defense earlier than I could get it with a Hydra build.|
|This is sometimes (rarely) worth it as a snowball item in combination with Ravenous Hydra. It makes your burst damage very high with Trinity Force procs and the Ravenous Hydra active. I don't think it's that worth it most of the time though.|
|This provides massive attack speed, tenacity, good movespeed, and a good boost of attack damage. I still almost never buy it. The reason why is that I typically don't have a need for the combination of stats it provides. If there is a lot of CC threat on the enemy team, I tend to just get Mercury's Treads. If not, then the tenacity on this item is wasted, and I should just get Youmuu's Ghostblade instead. However, if you REALLY need Ninja Tabi, REALLY need tenacity, and want to get some damage on the way, this is your item.|
|Zhonya is actually an okay item to build on Irelia in some very rare situations. Your Equilibrium Strike scales .5 with AP and your Transcendent Blades scales 2.0 (and is AoE and low CD). Getting Zhonya's Hourglass will give you a lot of damage on your E and R, more healing from your R, armor, and its OP active. I've built it twice, both times against a team with both Zed and Karthus; I won both games. That's a pretty low sample and it's quite rare to see Zed and Karthus on the same team. Building Zhonya's Hourglass in ranked is... suspicious at best.|
|You thought Zhonya's Hourglass gave you lots of healing from your Transcendent Blades? Think again. This gives an absurdo amount of damage to your R, which increases its in-built spellvamp, and it also gives you ACTUAL spellvamp, just in case you needed to heal more. The active... exists... and it also gives a decent chunk of AD and lifesteal. But if Zhonya's Hourglass was questionable, this is well beyond that. Don't get it outside of normals.|
|Trolololol, pair with Hextech Gunblade and Spirit Visage to be the ultimate troll healing master. Surprise your friends with the heals of the century! Not an item to buy in any competitive game, ever.|
|This item is not that good on Irelia. It is only good as an all-in item when you want to fight almost immediately. We don't want to fight at low levels- it's more important to sustain through our mediocre levels 1-2 than to survive all-ins, because Equilibrium Strike will let you avoid them. The lifesteal isn't good enough to merit buying Doran's Blade after our starting items most of the time. However, it's worth mentioning that Doran's Blade is effective at deterring all-ins, as much as it is at winning them. For that reason if you base early and have just enough for a Doran's Blade, it's not the worst thing to get one. Just know that you're delaying your Trinity Force.|
|The active on this is nice on other champions, but your Ionian Fervor makes it pretty silly to get an item like Quicksilver Sash. If you think you need more tenacity, just get Mercury's Treads.|
|Warmog's is just a really underwhelming item now. It's supposed to be an anti-poke item, but I feel the strongest counters to getting poked are Enchantment: Homeguard and engaging quickly. Which, by the way, you're quite good at in mid game.|
|There are just better armor options available. Randuin's Omen does the same thing, except better in every way for you. The Omen active will help you chase, it gives better stats, and is barely more expensive. The Sunfire passive might mess up your Equilibrium Strikes.|
|This item is in a really bad spot right now. The components barely give any bonus for you, so there's no point in getting it unless you can 1-shot it. Even then, it only makes a strong impact for a few minutes. It's not as strong a snowball item as Ravenous Hydra or Youmuu's Ghostblade and its defensive stats aren't nearly as good as something like Spirit Visage. Hexdrinker is better for hybrid defense and offense.|
|This is a pretty underwhelming item on Irelia. It doesn't give you any resistances at all, and all the mana you need comes from Frozen Heart and Trinity Force. The active isn't awful, but you already have Randuin's Omen and Bladesurge.|
|Youmuu's Ghostblade is a better version of this for you. I mean, if their entire team is composed of tanks, and your whole team does physical damage, buy this. Otherwise, no.|
|Trinity Force, Bladesurge and Equilibrium Strike already make Irelia incredibly sticky. Frozen Mallet is overkill with a terrible build path. That said, its stats actually aren't that bad when completed. If you have a random Pickaxe and enough money to complete Frozen Mallet, it's not an awful choice.|
|Lol don't get this unless you're out-of-your-mind, ridiculously legendary fed. It's just wayyy too expensive and doesn't make any sense at all on you.|
A lot of people seem to think that Blade of the Ruined King is an awesome item on Irelia. These people tend to incorrectly believe that Irelia is an auto attack/dps champion in teamfights who is at her strongest in late game. She isn't either of those things. Irelia is strongest just after completing Trinity Force, and then slowly falls off. This fall off isn't dramatic- you're never useless, and you're often stronger than your lane opponent in late game. However, there will come a time when you're not able to dive the ADC by yourself and kill them.
Blade of the Ruined King doesn't help with that. That's because the vast majority of your damage comes from Trinity Force procs, Equilibrium Strike, Bladesurge, and Transcendent Blades. You don't typically get off enough autos in a teamfight for Hiten Style to have a huge impact. BotRK provides mostly attack speed, which you can't usually use all that well in a teamfight, and not that much AD, so it doesn't add to most of your reliable sources. Ravenous Hydra does help- it gives a lot of AD for Transcendent Blades and Bladesurge, and its active provides a bunch of additional burst. Youmuu's Ghostblade helps also- the armor pen amplifies your Trinity Force procs, which is extremely painful. BotRK is only good for splitpushing or DPSing down tanks. Ravenous Hydra does a better job of the first, and the second isn't your job.
Keep in mind that LCS top laners as a rule DO NOT build Blade of the Ruined King. No EU LCS Irelia top laners have built Blade of the Ruined King this season. In NA, Calitrlolz, Flaresz and Seraph have built it. One game, Calitrolz won with only Bilgewater Cutlass, and he's 1-1 with Blade of the Ruined King completed. Seraph is 0-1 with Blade of the Ruined King, and Flaresz is 1-0. I can't say for sure that this is true in Korea or China, as I don't have their stats stored and don't know where to find them. I can't recall a player in either region building it on Irelia, though I don't watch every game.
Overall, there are just lots of small reasons why Blade of the Ruined King is not that worth it on Irelia most of the time, and although the stats look good on her in theory, in practice it often doesn't work out that well. All of this said, Blade of the Ruined King is now a significantly better item on Irelia or otherwise due to Enchantment: Cinderhulk and the lifesteal now working with the %health damage. If you want to get it as your snowball item and the enemy team is fairly tanky, I won't disown you.
|Your passive is Ionian Fervor. It's quite a strong passive that gives you a little bit of tenacity any time an enemy is nearby, increasing to a really strong amount with 3 enemies nearby. This does stack with other sources of tenacity such as Mercury's Treads, although not perfectly. It makes you a lot harder to pin down than a normal champ and is a big part of why you're such a nightmare for the enemy ADC.|
|Your Q is Bladesurge. This is a pretty fast targeted gapcloser. It deals full auto attack damage, some bonus damage, and applies on-hit effects, so you can use it to deal an extra burst of damage with your Trinity Force procs. The part of this skill that makes it really strong for you is that is if last hits an enemy, it will reset its cooldown and return you some mana. It's really important, especially in the early lane phase, to always get the reset with your Q so you don't run out of mana and can always dodge enemy skillshots. You can use it to farm minions as well, just be aware that it costs you mana to do this. The refund is only a flat amount of mana, so as you skill it, it will refund for proportionally less. This skill makes you really really mobile once you max it, and as soon as you get Trinity Force you can 1-shot caster minions with it and Hiten Style, allowing you to jump all over the place as long as minions are there and Trinity Force isn't on cooldown.|
|Your W is Hiten Style. The passive portion gives you a small amount of health gain on-hit. When you activate it, it doubles the health gain you get on hit, and also gives you a large amount of on-hit true damage. This is where your DPS comes from and also where you get a little bit of sustain. You'll want to have this up any time you go in for an extended trade. There's generally no reason to use your Bladesurge on an enemy champion without Hiten Style active, unless your Bladesurge will last hit them without that damage. While the bonus true damage will not work on structures, the healing will- both the passive and the active portions.|
|Your E is Equilibrium Strike. This skill is incredibly important to use well, and knowing how to do that is a bit of an art. It deals a good bit of magic damage in burst and slows. However, if the enemy's percentage current health is equal to or higher than your own, it will stun instead. Most of the time, it's better to save this skill during trades until the enemy gets your health lower than theirs. Equilibrium Strike is a big part of why you're so strong when both you and your opponent are low HP.|
|Your ult is Transcendent Blades. It gets a lot of flak for being a "weak" ult, but it's actually super strong for you. Each time you activate it, it will send out a blade in a line dealing damage and healing you for a % of that damage, up to a total of 4 blades. The damage isn't bad and scales quite well, it heals you for a good amount, and provides good wave clear if you need it. If the enemy has a large minion wave, you can actually still fight them as long as Transcendent Blades is up- it will heal you more the more minions it hits. Its most important function, however, is getting you lots and lots of Trinity Force procs. If you spread out the actives, you can get 4 bonus Trinity Force procs from it, which is just an insane amount of damage.|
Most of the time, this is the max order I use. Maxing E first gives really good burst damage and a lot longer duration stun. That will let you stick to your opponent really well and get incredibly good trades. I take E at level 1 vs melee enemies, but you can take Q first if you need to farm safely vs a ranged opponent like Teemo.
Maxing W first is also an option. That will give you stronger sustain in lane and better DPS. If you can get long trades, maxing W is often stronger than maxing E. Examples of good opponents to do this against are Garen and Shyvana. For these same benefits, I usually max W second.
Maxing Q second is sometimes a good option, also. This will greatly increase your stickiness, your mobility in general, the ease with which you can 1-shot minions with Q, and your burst. Don't max it first, though, and I usually max it last. Keep in mind that maxing it increases its mana cost.
After level 3, and especially starting at level 5, you can trade by waiting for the enemy to be near a low health minion. When that happens, you Bladesurge the minion, stun your opponent, activate Hiten Style, and auto them a bunch while walking with them. If you want to all-in them, you can use your Bladesurge for additional burst and chase. Otherwise, you want to Bladesurge back out (ideally to another low minion to save the CD&mana) and wait for your CDs to be up again. A trade like that should be super positive for you, but you have to watch your mana bar to make sure you can afford to do it.
You get really, really large power spikes in lane as Irelia. Typically these come at levels 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9, as you get more points in the skill you're maxing. Also, getting Sheen or Trinity Force is always a MASSIVE powerspike for you.
If you decide you want to take wolves, you'll need to start your W and take your Q at level 2. You'll also need attack speed marks and/or quints in order to speed up the process. Start with Doran's Blade and a Health Potion. Activate W on cooldown while taking the wolves, starting with the big one and then the two small ones. After you finish, recall, then Teleport back to your tower right away, buying 3 Health Potions and 2 Mana Potions on your way. The enemy will be pushing when you arrive, so you'll want to try to negate that push with your Q as much as possible.
This is a risky decision, in my opinion. You've just blown your Teleport, which means you're highly vulnerable to ganks, and you're trying to counter push when your lane opponent has more minions- and you don't even have your Equilibrium Strike yet. If you should happen to get forced out of lane, you'll end up 1-2 levels behind, which is a catastrophe. Even if it succeeds, you're only gaining a little gold and- at best- half a level. Instead, I prefer to play the lane straight-up if possible.
If you expect your opponent to start a jungle camp, you should attempt the "Wickd Method." At about 1:00 on the game clock, attempt to trinket ward the enemy Gromp if you're playing on red side, or Krugs if you're playing on Blue side. If you find an enemy, simply Equilibrium Strike them and walk away. If you take too much damage, simply recall and return to lane. If not, you're probably right, they most likely ARE starting wolves. Assuming the enemy jungler isn't spotted by your ward, you can sneak in behind the enemy turret and delay the enemy minions until your minions are about to hit their tower. Then walk back around to lane. This will cause the entire first wave of minions to die to tower before they can TP up, as well as 1-3 of the 2nd wave to the enemy minions, depending on how fast they take wolves. It'll also put on a freeze for you, which can be really really nice. That will keep you even or even ahead in exp, you'll get more gold, and they'll have used TP while you won't have.
Alternatively, you can simply walk up to the enemy melee minions as they arrive in lane (but before they've aggrod your minions) and get them to group up. This will help you set up a freeze directly. This is risky in the short run, as you'll be DRAMATICALLY behind in exp when the enemy laner shows up with their Teleport, but will put you ahead in exp by the time the wave bounces off your turret. You have to be very careful not to push when attempting this method, as you can easily mess up the freeze.
For some bizarre reason, people seem to think that Orbwalking, Stutter-Stepping, Animation Cancelling or Attack-moving is something that only ADCs need to worry about. But that's not the case at all- it's actually a critical skill for Irelia players to have. First off, take a look at this video intoduction to Orbwalking:
The idea here is to get as many auto attacks in as possible while walking with your opponent. This is especially important to get right once you start getting ahead in the lane, as it will let you squeeze out those 1-2 extra autos while chasing that get you the kill. What the video doesn't describe well is how animation cancelling works for melee champions. Instead of a projectile, you have to either learn precisely when the damage occurs in your animation, or listen for the sound. I prefer to listen, as I find that to be much more reliable and accurate, but both methods work.
As a final note, here is the link to the reddit thread discussing how to change your attack-move click to the left mouse button: http://www.reddit.com/r/leagueoflegends/comments/1bo2nk/guide_to_easy_kiting_left_click_attack/
- You could hit the minion and fail to kill it. This will not give you the CD refresh, mana refund, or gold for the last hit.
- You could hit the minion and fail to kill it, but it die almost immediately from another source. If it dies soon enough after your damage, it will give you the CD refresh and mana refund, but of course will not give you the gold.
- You could perfectly last hit the minion. Yay! Money, mana, and CD.
- You could arrive after the minion has already died. This, too, will not give you the CD refresh, mana refund, or gold for the last hit. It will, however, leave you with a Trinity Force proc that you can use for whatever purpose you desire.
- Don't use Hiten Style to last hit under tower against ranged opponents. You'll take a ton of harass from autos and skills.
- Using Hiten Style to last hit will put it on cooldown. You won't be able to trade right away after farming, so if your jungler is coming or you want to trade, don't use it.
- Mind your attack damage. If you're maxing Equilibrium Strike, Hiten Style may not do enough damage to last hit the way you want to.
- Mind the minion's health. If they're in strange amounts, Bladesurge is more flexible than Hiten Style.
Finally, if you're far ahead in the lane and want to freeze, it may be useful to stand between the enemy's minions and the enemy champion. This way, you can zone them twice the range of Bladesurge away from their melee creeps. To do this, you stand max range of Bladesurge away from their melee creeps, where you can instantly Bladesurge to last hit them. If the enemy attempts to get close to the creeps, you can Bladesurge to them and trade, forcing them away and zoning them even farther. This isn't as good as laning normally, as described in the laning section, if your goal is actually to kill them (you're more likely to get a trade by standing in your minions and using their minions as a surprising double gapcloser). However, it can be useful if you're trying to set up a freeze for a long time and don't actually want to fight.
To gank bot, it's ideal to Teleport to a ward behind the enemy laners. From there you can do pretty much the same thing- walk up, Equilibrium Strike, Hiten Style, get some autos in. Don't be afraid to last hit one of their bot laners with Bladesurge so you can immediately Bladesurge to the other. Getting your ADC fed is important, but kills on you are very strong, too.
Another tactic that's pretty nice to use is something freddy122 has been doing in SK. If you shove your lane in top all the way to your opponent's tower, you can just walk down to mid/ Dragon and contest it. Then, as soon as the Dragon is down, you can look at top and decide- if they shoved in and you can defend the tower, you should Teleport back up there. If not, you can just walk back up and save your Teleport cd. The only risk is, if the enemy can Teleport and get an engage while you're on your way down, you could be forced to blow your CD early. This technique is especially useful if you're not used to Teleport yet and aren't confident in your ability to Teleport to dragon impactfully.
In late game, you'll need to keep in mind your Teleport timer. If you don't have Teleport up and Baron is alive, you can't afford to be in bot lane.
Position 1 Ward
Position 2 Ward
Position 3 Ward
Position 4 Ward
If you have consistent lane control, it can be very valuable to place a pink in either position 1 or 2 from Red or Blue side respectively. This will allow you to clear any wards your opponent has and also maintain vision for a long period of time. If you're behind, though, you're likely to immediately have the pink ward cleared.
Position 1 Ward
Position 2 Ward
Position 3 Ward
When splitpushing top, keeping a ward in positions 1, 2 and 3 will alert you to any and all incoming ganks. Positions 4 and 5 are helpful at spotting out enemy rotations when sieging turrets and for pressuring Baron when playing on Blue side. These wards will allow you to catch out enemies that mis-position during a rotation or that venture out too far towards Baron.
Blue Side Warding
Red Side Warding
Blue Buff Warding
If you're splitpushing on bottom side, you'll want the same wards as you would in top. The map is reversed, but the placements are the same.
When mid game comes around, you ideally either want a Greater Stealth Totem to keep vision up or to grab two Stealth Wards every time you base. You also want to always have a Vision Ward on the map somewhere, unless you'll need the stealth detection in-combat. For example, if the enemy team has a Vayne, it might be better to hold onto your Vision Ward for use in combat.
Keep in mind that the main reasons you're warding are to avoid getting caught out, keep tabs on your lane opponent, and catch enemies out. Always purchase however many wards you need to do the first two. Catching enemies out is also nice, but purchasing wards to do this is a luxury.
I tend to be fairly selfish in my ward placements, only warding on the half of the map I plan to be on. This is because you usually just don't have the time to try to help ward more than that, and even with a Greater Stealth Totem, you tend not to have enough wards.
There is also a neat trick you can do when on Blue side to ward the river more safely. Take a look at this video, starting at 0:40:
Placing this ward this way is extremely safe. Normally, you would either have to nearly facecheck the river bush in order to ward it, or walk all the way through your tri bush to ward over the wall. Neither of these options is ideal, so learning to ward over the wall this way is very useful. I recommend going into a custom game and practicing placing this ward until you can consistently and easily place this ward.
Even though he had almost no help from his team, Wickd was able to burst Gragas down to only a couple hundred health and blow his flash. If the spear from Nidalee had landed, or if there had been any follow-up damage from his team, he easily would have gotten the kill. You can do this same thing, even if the enemy team is fairly nearby, as long as your team is, too.
If you're fighting in the jungle or the river, just wait for someone to get out of position. If the mistake is huge, you can just walk up and Equilibrium Strike them- otherwise, use Bladesurge to get there. Take a look at this video starting at 36:40:
Notice how extremely far out of position the enemy Annie was. Annie is a high base damage, high CC support, but is super super squishy- so the instant she gets too close to Wickd's Irelia, he stuns her and his team bursts her. As soon as that happened, this teamfight was won for Alliance. From there, Wickd positions in the choke point to zone the enemy Lee Sin and Jinx out of the fight. Once they commit to running the long way around Blue, he turns and helps finish off Trundle. This is EXACTLY how you want to play a teamfight in the ideal scenario- burst one person, zone the enemy carries, and help finish off the tanks.
In this fight, Irelia's team is already very far ahead. Wickd is actually splitpushing bot lane at the time this fight starts, because he knows the enemy top laner doesn't have Teleport and he does. The fight starts with the allied Karthus getting knocked right into the middle of Fnatic (a note to Alistar players: don't do what YellowStar did). Irelia instantly starts her Teleport into the middle of the fight, and arrives just after the start. He receives a Lulu Wild Growth and Sivir On The Hunt to run straight at the enemy backline, and as soon as his allied Wukong lands Cyclone on the enemy Lucian and Orianna, he follows up with Bladesurge and Transcendent Blades. All of that damage lets them almost instantly burst both carries. At that point, he dashes onto the next highest priority target- Pantheon- and they clean up from there.
Now, that was a little easier than it will usually be in solo queue, but the same idea applies. Simply wait for someone to engage and then follow up with Bladesurge to help burst the squishies. This tactic is most useful when you aren't tanky yet ( Trinity Force but not Randuin's Omen), when the enemy team is positioning really really well, or when it's getting close to late game and you aren't able to dive the enemy backline alone.
The only difference between Mid and Late game on Irelia is how hard it is to kill the enemy carries. At this point, you probably can't just dive right in and be successful anymore. The enemy ADC does way too much damage. You have two choices at this point:
- Dive the enemy adc/apc anyway. In this case you're trying to cc them as long as possible, do as much damage as possible, and zone them out of the fight for as long as possible. This is where Guardian Angel really shines- the enemy adc can't afford to position between your dead body and your team, because you'll just come up and wreck their face in again. It will help you keep their adc out of the fight for at least 6 seconds more than you could otherwise (your Equilibrium Strike should be off cd when you come up).
- Peel for your adc. This works the same way as in mid game- just Equilibrium Strike whoever is trying to dive them.
Using Guardian Angel correctly is a really high game-knowledge endeavor, so I can't really tell you how to do it in a simple guide like this. The best thing for you to do is just make sure to die in a way that can help your team- for example, die during a teamfight while diving the enemy ADC. If you do that, your GA passive should at least get you some benefit.
However, the other thing that Guardian Angel does is let you play INSANELY aggressively, as long as your team is around. I remember one particular game in which I was quite a bit ahead and had my Trinity Force, Guardian Angel and a Giant's Belt. I used Bladesurge to jump over the wall behind the enemy's Red buff- into the middle of three enemies- despite my team being significantly behind me and the final two members of the enemy team not being too far away. This is normally a suicide mission. Jumping in like that is WAY too aggressive most of the time- but because I was so very far ahead, and because I had the Guardian Angel passive, I ended up getting 3 kills, an assist, and escaping by the skin of my teeth. Learning when you can play this aggressively and when you can't is something that takes time, but these sorts of aggressive plays are exactly why I love Guardian Angel.
Another thing I want to tell you about is one trick that's pretty useful. If your Guardian Angel gets popped after you use at least 1 Transcendent Blades active, but before all 4 are used, you'll revive with the full 4 charges. So if you expect to get your GA popped soon, it's a good idea to try to have only 1-2 charges of your ult left. This isn't a huge deal, and if you NEED the ult damage at a different time, don't try to save it just for this bug. Know that there is a time limit for you to use all the charges, and getting GA popped won't refresh that timer.
One last thing to keep in mind is that Guardian Angel is not very effective when its passive is on CD. If it's been popped, you're full build, and you have the money, you should sell it in the very late game for a different tank item while the passive recharges. If the game goes long enough and you get enough money, you can buy it back when the passive is back up.
In this section, I'm going to mostly talk about matchups that are either particularly common, particularly difficult, or particularly unique. Basically, I'll talk about matchups that need to be played significantly different from the standard or really really common matchups atm.
Thanks for reading my Irelia guide. Hopefully it can help you carry your team to victory in the mid game! If you have any questions, any recommendations, or any feedback please feel free to leave a comment below. I'll respond to pretty much everything posted. I really like explaining my thought process on decisions I make, so if you disagree with me about something feel free to tell me why.
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