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Nilah Build Guide by CookieLoL

ADC [12.18] Challenger Nilah Builds + Guide by CookieLoL

ADC [12.18] Challenger Nilah Builds + Guide by CookieLoL

Updated on September 21, 2022
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League of Legends Build Guide Author CookieLoL Build Guide By CookieLoL 260 25 551,570 Views 14 Comments
260 25 551,570 Views 14 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author CookieLoL Nilah Build Guide By CookieLoL Updated on September 21, 2022
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Runes: Conq Example

Legend: Alacrity
Last Stand


+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+15-140 HP (lvls 1-18)


1 2 3 4
If the enemy has all-in champions such as Katarina, Samira, Talon
LoL Summoner Spell: Exhaust


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash



Starting Items
Against All In (Nautilus, Samira, etc)
Against Poke (Karma, Ashe, etc)
First Recall
Try to always get this first
Cheap First Back for Kraken/Gale
Cheap Early Spike for Shiedlbow
Last Resort
Against Heavy AD
Against Heavy AP
Against heavy HP/Armor stackers
Into Long Range & Squishies such as Enchanters / Mages
Second Item
Snowballing/More Damage
With Kraken/Enchanter Supp
Against Squishy Enemies
For Sustain (Feels REALLY NICE)
Third Item
If you have 40% Crit
Fourth Item & Last Item
If enemy has loads of burst damage
Sustain if not bought already
If enemy has loads of AP damage and you didn't go Shieldbow
If enemy has atleast 2+ Champions with Heavy CRIT DMG
If enemy has atleast 2+ heavy HP Stackers
If enemy has Mordekaiser, Malzahar or Skarner and need to remove R threat
If your team has healing champions and enemy has loads of AP
If enemy has loads of AP and need more MR especially good vs Mages / Enchanters to catch up to them

Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None

Nilah is an ascetic warrior from a distant land, seeking the world’s deadliest, most titanic opponents so that she might challenge and destroy them. Having won her power through an encounter with the long-imprisoned demon of joy, she has no emotions other than unceasing jubilation—a small price to pay for the vast strength she now possesses. Channeling the demon’s liquid form into a blade of unparalleled might, she stands defiant against ancient threats long forgotten.

Hey there! I'm Cookie, the former ADC for the academy teams of Vitality and SK Gaming. I've played competitively for 2 years but now am committed to streaming and releasing educational content to help others reach their goals.

I have been a Challenger ADC on the EUW server since Season 6, playing with and against every European Pro, such as Rekkles, Perkz, Caps, Jankos and many others. I am accustomed to playing at the highest level.

I peaked rank 10 in S10 and maintain Challenger to this day. Currently, I focus on public coaching and educational content, such as these guides to help a broader audience.

I hope that you enjoy my Nilah Guide.

Huge thanks to Asura#9486 and valdezae#6654 for formatting and designing the guide!


Heres a video of me playing Nilah!

Following the release of the unique, unconventional marksman Zeri, Nilah is a high skill-ceiling, mid-late game focused melee botlaner. She offers a kit similar to that of Yasuo and Samira, with unique twists of her own. Straying away from the higher range meta ADCs, Nilah will be sure to test your positioning skills and how well you can navigate teamfights.

From my experience in PBE, I have had tremendous fun playing this champ and am excited to test her within live servers. With that being said, this guide will be constantly updated as I figure out unique tips, tricks, synergies, matchups and optimal builds for this champ. I hope to make her one of my mains, and hope that this guide helps you to do the same.


Joy Unending

When Nilah kills a minion while near an ally champion, gain 50% of the experience you would have lost due to sharing in addition to the normal amount of shared experience. To put it in brief context, the amount of experience you would gain would be more than any other ADC last hitting a minion with an ally nearby, but it will still be less than solo experience.

The second part of this passive is that Nilah amplifies the healing and shielding abilities of nearby allies. Nilah receives 10% increased healing and 20% bonus shield strength from allied champion’s abilities. If the ally heals/shields Nilah, they gain this amount and if they heal/shield themselves, Nilah gains this amount as well. The shields last for the same duration as the initial shielding ability, for a maximum of 4 seconds.

Formless blade

Passive - Nilah gains 0-33% Armor Penetration based on critical strike chance. Additionally, her basic attacks and Formless Blade heal her for 0-15% of the post-mitigation damage (damage calculated after modifiers) based on critical strike chance. Excess healing is converted into a shield that lasts for 6 seconds per instance of getting the shield.

Active - Like a Yasuo Q Steel Tempest, Nilah cracks her whip in a linear direction dealing 5 / 10 / 15 / 20 / 25 (+ 90 / 100 / 110 / 120 / 130% AD) physical damage to all enemies struck, increased by 0-100% based on critical strike chance. Note that this ability can be used on enemy structures (inhibitors, turrets, nexus), also granting you the bonus attack range. Casting this ability immediately after using Slipstream (E) causes a wave to be sent from the start of the dash to the end, hitting all enemies in her path, similar to Samira’s E Wild Rush + Q Flair.

The amazing part about Nilah’s Q is that if she hits an enemy with it, her whip becomes enhanced for the next 4 seconds, granting her 125 bonus attack range (350 total attack range) and 15-65% bonus attack speed, based on level. Furthermore, her basic attacks now strike in a cone dealing 110% AD physical damage to enemies hit. Against secondary, non-champion targets, this is lowered to 36.3% AD for minions, and 11% for monsters. On-hit attacks are only applied to the primary target hit.

Jubilant Veil

Nilah covers herself in a mist for 2.25s, granting her ghosting and 15/17.5/20/22.5/25% bonus movement speed. Additionally she dodges all non-turret basic attacks and reduces incoming magic damage taken by 25%. While active, touching allied champions envelops them in the mist (like Senna E), granting them the same effects for 1.5s.

This will be one of Nilah’s crucial abilities when looking to engage. Paired with an engage support, you can easily engage against the enemies without you both being punished. It does come with a high cooldown, so be sure to use it wisely.


Nilah dashes a fixed distance towards or through a target unit, dealing 65 / 90 / 115 / 140 / 165 (+ 20% AD) physical damage to enemies she passes through. Nilah also periodically stocks up to 2 charges of this ability.

This will be your primary source of gap closing onto enemies or quickly slipping away from a horrible position. With this ability, you can dash towards ally/enemy minions as well as both ally and enemy champions. Additionally, this ability also resets your basic attack timer, and can be cast with Formless Blade and Apotheosis. Just remember that you will always travel a fixed distance, so try not to overshoot yourself into the enemy team.


Nilah’s ult, a mixture between Samira’s and Diana’s R, she whirls her whip in a 450 radius around her dealing 60 / 120 / 180 (+ 140% bonus AD) physical damage to nearby enemies every 0.25s. Each hit slows the targets by 10% for 3 seconds, refreshing on subsequent hits. Afterwards, she bursts dealing 125 / 225 / 325 (+ 120% bonus AD) physical damage and pulls affected enemies 250 units towards her.

Nilah heals herself and nearby allies for 30-45% (based on critical strike chance) of the post-mitigation damage dealt to champions, reduced to 10% against non-champions. Excess healing is converted into a shield, lasting for 6s per instance.

This ability is both a great engage or follow up tool during teamfights. Look to layer this with your E Slipstream (explained later in the mechanics section), and your Q Formless Blade. Some interesting interactions can also be done with items such as Galeforce, offering a whole new level of mechanics to master.

This will most likely be the bread and butter of Nilah. As she is considered a melee champion, she gains 2 stacks of Conqueror per basic attack. Combined with how easily she can get on top of her enemies, this allows Nilah to quickly stack the rune, similar to how Samira works. The bonus adaptive force feels great in all ins, and the healing when fully stacked synergizes quite well with Nilah’s Q Formless Blade healing. Make sure to practice your all in combos so that you can quickly have Conqueror stacked up during teamfights.
This rune can work when you plan on building plenty of lifesteal or have a shielding/healing support so that your Q’s Formless Blade excess healing can be turned into a shield. Will work especially well mid-late game when you have more items that can heal you.
This rune is great for those champs that play aggressive and get in the face of enemies. The healing from takedowns will come in clutch when you are deep into the teamfight, and allow you to either keep slaying or survive enough to escape.
The 3 Legend runes in this portion of the tree will be based largely on your preference. Alacrity is highly suggested when going Immortal Shieldbow, as you typically don’t need Legend: Bloodline. Additionally, Nilah has healing built into her kit, so the 18% attack speed at max stacks can be a great quality of life.
Against heavy cc enemy comps, this can be a great rune selection to prevent yourself from being locked down by the enemy team.
Take this if you’re going Kraken Slayer, or simply enjoy having that extra bit of sustain in lane. The 100 bonus HP at max stacks is always welcomed on an ADC.
This rune is great against squishier comps where you can easily gap close and stick on them.
This is great against heavy HP stackers, but does lose value when you build Immortal Shieldbow (you gain 70 bonus HP per legendary item).
This rune synergizes well with the Immortal Shieldbow build. When Immortal Shieldbow procs, you gain a bonus shield, bonus AD and the extra bonus damage from this rune. All together, this allows you to quickly turn around those close fights.

Great overall rune for this ADC, granting you free tanky stats at the 12 minute mark.
Can work well in heavy poke lanes to help you sustain HP. Typically this is a lane based rune, and will lose a bit more value mid to late game where Conditioning will be more valuable.
Amazing rune to grant you free HP based on the number of minions that die around you. Synergizes well with the bonus HP gained from Immortal Shieldbow.
Great rune against heavy CC comps and if you did not take Legend: Tenacity. A great bonus is the addition of a slow resist, which can be quite helpful against comps that have champions like Ashe, Braum or Dr. Mundo. Note that the tenacity and slow resistance increase by 20% based on missing health, which synergizes well with Immortal Shieldbow and Cut Down.

The most common and iconic summoner spell in League of Legends, it offers great versatility as it allows you to dodge deadly abilities, chase down enemies, reposition and make some insane animation cancels and flashy plays. It is necessary to have Flash every single game.

The most consistent summoner spell for ADCs besides Flash because its really nice for 2v2's as it heals both you and your teammate while also giving you an MS buff which can be very useful to chase enemies or to run away from them. Keep in mind that Heal will target the allied champion that your cursor is on, if no champion is under your cursor it will heal the most wounded ally in range.
If the enemy team has one or multiple of these characters then take Cleanse: Fiddlesticks , Morgana, Ashe, Varus, Amumu, Lissandra, Lillia, Lux, Maokai, Seraphine, Sona, Twisted Fate, Zoe, Sejuani, Leona, Galio and Rammus. Keep in mind that Cleanse removes any summoner spell debuff, such as Ignite and Exhaust.

Exhaust is good if enemy has a lot of dive champions such as Talon, Samira, Tristana, Zed, etc. But if you have a lot of CC in your team then enemy ADC might take Cleanse which removes Exhaust so keep that in mind.

Nilah is a short range ADC (225 range, enhanced to 350 with Q Formless Blade), and thus is extremely prone to being poked out by the majority of ADCs during laning phase. Thus, it becomes extremely crucial to play this part of the game near perfectly to ensure you have a strong foundation for mid-late game.

A good foundation for early game begins with analyzing the matchups presented. Important questions to ask are, who wins the 2v2? Who will maintain priority in the lane? Is this a heavy poke matchup? What are my win conditions and what are the abilities that I really need to avoid? Thinking of these questions in champ select, and the loading screen will help you in formulating the proper approach to laning phase. For example, a heavy poke bot lane may require you to start with a Long Sword + 3 Health Potions, or Doran's Shield + 1 Health Potion. On the other hand, an all in lane may require you to purchase Doran's Blade for that extra HP.

Your goal during the laning phase is to essentially cs what is available to you. Since most ADCs outrange you, they will have an easier time punishing you with autos when you try to cs. Think of how it feels to lane against a really good Caitlyn, but a bit more worse. Luckily, Nilah’s passive Joy Unending helps you gain maximum value from last hitting creeps, as if you are even in cs with the enemy bot lane, you should be a higher level than them. This becomes important around the important level spikes (2, 3, 6) where you can catch the enemy bot lane by surprise and try to secure an early lead. Your Q - Formless Blade will be your staple ability to both farm, and trade with the enemy. For maximum value, look to hit both the enemy ADC and the wave when they step up to cs. This will grant you bonus range and allow you to get off a great trade. This ability can also come in handy with last hitting as you can always auto + Q Formless Blade to get that extra damage off for those minions with an odd amount of HP.

Playing with your support will be key into how well the lane goes. With an engage support, like Nautilus, your W Jubilant Veil will be a key ability. You can look to engage level 2 with the engage support, as you will be quite strong and quickly able to gap close with E - Slipstream and dish out some damage. However, level 3 your engage gets much more deadly. If you manage to cs properly, you can easily hit level 3 before the enemy bot lane. Aggressively ping your support to get into position and the second you hit level 3, W - Jubilant Veil and touch your support. This will briefly grant them increased movement speed and block incoming attacks. If the support happens to begin moving before you, look to layer W Jubilant Veil + E Slipstream onto the support to apply the mist to them. Once you are on top of the enemy, look for them to blow their Flash before using a second cast of E Slipstream to gap close and secure any kills. DO NOT CHASE THE ENEMIES DOWN. Getting them out of lane is good enough as you can now cs in peace and gain a massive experience lead.

Look to crash your waves on cannon waves to allow yourself some extra seconds to return from base as a cannon wave will be harder to push and will take longer to get killed by your tower. Remember that minion waves always spawn first at 1:05 and then every 30 sec from there. Try to push the wave before the next one spawns in order for you to catch the next one as the enemy will push it into your tower.

If you notice a similarity to the Cheater Recall, we are just a few waves into the future, crashing a normal wave instead of a cannon wave. Cheater recalling can be considered the basis for fundamental wave management, roam timers and recalls. Therefore, always keep that in mind and make sure to practice it! These types of recall can be considered Economic Recalls as you use it to get an economic advantage on your opponent. Try to be mindful about this part of the guide as with items being so cheap and impactful early, your decisions and economy will decide many of the games you play.

Your early item purchases will be quite situational and will depend heavily on the amount of gold you have accumulated. Against heavy poke botlanes, Vampiric Scepter is a great buy to provide sustain. Alternatively, Pickaxe is a cheap, early AD powerspike that can help you snowball lane. If you happen to back with 1300 gold, go ahead and purchase Noonquiver. Alternatively, you may also look to invest in early boots like Berserker's Greaves or Plated Steelcaps. Like many melee champions, Nilah is no exception to gaining great value from early boots. The armor from Plated Steelcaps can help make the enemy ADC’s poke essentially useless, or the attack speed from Berserker's Greaves can help a lot for dishing out damage when you gap close with E Slipstream.

Mid game can be split into two sections, both depending on whether you won your lane:

If you win your lane then you are in your prime, you have an advantage in items and you are more impactful than your counterpart so you want to look to secure global objectives like all the Tier 3 turrets, Dragon and Herald. Look to make a deathball with your support and Jungler and move around the map towards those objectives. Force skirmishes if you are in a good position and use Nilah’s amazing gap closers and damage to one shot opponents caught by your team. Whatever build you chose to follow, remember that you have an amazing spike in power with 1-2 mythic items. While other ADCs typically depend on Infinity Edge to start dealing a lot of damage, Nilah comes online much earlier. Beware of giving shut down gold and look to deny enemy resources when it is safe to do so (freezing side waves when there is no objective available, taking enemy jungle camps). Most importantly, try to stick around your team as best as you can. Depending on your elo, fights are known to break out quite frequently. So if you are able to farm waves/jungle camps close to your team, it allows you to take part in the fight sooner rather than later.

If you lose your lane then you should try to either stay mid to soak up waves if your team does not have someone who can clear waves better than you, otherwise go to a side lane and try to freeze the wave when the enemy pushes into you. The idea here is to try to soak up as much experience and gold as you can while being safe and keeping an opponent locked up with you in the lane. If there is no important objective that you MUST fight for, look to deny as many waves to the opponent as you can because essentially you are cutting the resources the enemy gets by a quarter (3 lanes and the jungle makes the full income of a team). At the same time you are much weaker then your opponent so you want to avoid fighting until you get back in the game. This way, while the enemy will want to group up and force fights, sacrificing their income to do so, you will want to be alone to get back levels and gold. Don’t mistake this for playing alone all game as you will want to group with your team for important objectives that you cannot give to the enemy team without losing the game (sometimes Baron, Soul Drake, Elder Drake, etc…). If there are objectives to fight for and you are freezing in a side lane, you want to push and force an enemy to come back to the wave. This way the enemy team will have to make a choice; either they leave multiple waves of minions get lost to the tower or they send someone to catch those waves but they will not be able to force a fight in the meantime, giving your team even more time to catch up in gold.

Teamfights with Nilah can be fairly interesting because of how your R Apotheosis can be used to setup teamfights or follow up on existing engages. Unlike most ADCs that typically want to stick behind the team and dish out consistent damage, Nilah is able to get right up close and personal with the enemy team. After all, she is in fact a melee champion.

In teamfights you need to keep a mental list of various factors to look out for and target the priorities. For things to consider:

Key enemy cooldowns, such as hard CC spells ( Ashe R - Enchanted Crystal Arrow) or items ( Stopwatch, Zhonya's Hourglass, Guardian Angel).
spa Easy to land CC ( Nautilus R - Depth Charge).
Abilities that create zones of control that require you to be patient and wait them out, dodge or go through them. Although the later is not recommended. Examples include Ziggs E - Hexplosive Minefield, and Ornn R - Call of the Forge God.
Key summoner spells, such as Flash, and Exhaust/ Heal.
Key damage dealers on the enemy team, their positioning and the way they want to play the fight.

This list of things to look out for will help you prioritize targets during a fight. For example, if you want to engage the enemy Ashe but she still has her R Enchanted Crystal Arrow up and you lack Cleanse or Quicksilver Sash, you should put her lower in priority as you will get stunned if you E Slipstream into her. Same situation would be with a fed enemy Zed. If your closes path to the fight requires you to go through the zone where Zed threatens to one shot you. You will have to either:

spa Go around the specified zone
spa Be patient and wait for him to blow his CDs on one of your teammates
spa Ping your team for assistance to play around you and use your R to CC lock him and E to dash away after he pops out of his ult to prevent any incoming damage.

At the end of the day, Nilah will still function like a traditional ADC. You will want to wait out any critical abilities prior to going in, play behind your frontline, and kite the enemy the best you can. Remember to hit the closest target you can see, as zoning in on the backline can put you in an uncomfortable situation if the rest of the team can’t follow up on your plays. Remember that the most important part of being an ADC is to SAFELY hit the closest target. Your reliable damage is your AA so you need to auto as much as you can, and thus, staying alive is a must. Use your E Slipstream and W Jubilant Veil to mostly reposition if you get collapsed upon or to follow your teammates if they all engage on an important target. Always play close to your team and especially close to the champions that can peel for you (Usually the support or Jungler). I will remind you once more to be mindful about your target selection in order to dish out as much damage as you can. Good luck and make sure to review your team fights after the game in order to analyze your mistakes and fix them.

Late game will follow suit with the Mid Game and Teamfighting sections mentioned above. This particular section will expand a bit more on your strengths during late game and how to play around the map as the game state is presented to you.

Vision becomes really important in the late game so make sure to stay only on the side of the map that you have vision on and the enemy doesn’t or else you can be blown up in seconds and lose the game because of one mistake. Make sure to fit in a space for Control Wards in the late game if you are not already full build. With pushing vision, you get access to objectives and the enemy jungle. You can look to steal the buffs and have permanent vision on their side of the map.

Late game, your ultimate, Apotheosis, is a great source of engage and provides ample opportunity for follow up damage or CC. You can choose to play aggressively with your E Slipstream + R Apotheosis combo to pick off any stray enemies with your amazing vision and turn them into Baron or Elder Dragon objectives. Before doing objectives, be mindful of enemy Flashes, Stopwatches/ Zhonya's Hourglass and other key abilities and position in order to not be the main target as even one second of being alive can mean that someone in the enemy team dies and the teamfight is won. Remember that the enemy team will constantly try to remove the vision you place down so you can stack in a bush to surprise them and get an easy teamfight victory.

Nilah’s combos are not too difficult to master, but the way you utilize them in teamfights will be what sets a good Nilah player apart. Here we will cover some basic combos and mechanics that you should be aware of. Hopefully you get to express your creativity with these combos on the rift and have some fun with it.

Q Auto Trade
This will be your primary way of poking the enemy (with or without the minion wave present) to have your bonus Q Formless Blade range up. It is quick, simple, and lets you go in and out fairly quickly. Make sure to auto after the Q Formless Blade for maximum efficiency and to utilize the bonus attack range.

WEQ All In
Now this is something that you can look to do as early as level 3 with an engage support or a jungle gank. W Jubilant Veil provides increased movement speed, blocks attacks and provides magic damage reduction, allowing you to quickly engage the enemy without losing a bunch of HP. We layer the Q Formless Blade with the E Slipstream here so that when Nilah reaches the end of her Slipstream, she has the empowered Q Formless Blade autos ready to go.

EQR All In
Similar to the previous combo shown, this ties in your Ultimate - Apotheosis into your dash. Note, you want to press E Slipstream prior to pressing R Apotheosis, as if you do it the other way around, you will not be able to cast E Slipstream. The only dashes that can work once you channel your ult are item dashes (eg. Galeforce) or summoner spell Flash. This provides a nasty engage trapping your enemies close to you. Follow up with a second charge of E - Slipstream to stick onto enemies after they blow their flashes or try to run away.

Reaching Backline
You can now get creative with the 2 charges of Slipstream. If there is a low HP enemy in the backline that you can reach safely, feel free to use the first charge of E Slipstream to get behind the frontline, and the second charge to reach the enemy. You may look to either Q Formless Blade before or after the second cast of the dash. In this video I have shown how to use Q Formless Blade slightly after E Slipstream so that the damage doesn’t affect the first target, but instead hits the backline enemy. Additionally, you may look to hold off on the second E Slipstream while you use the movement speed from your W - Jubilant Veil and wait for the target to use any Flashes/dashes that can help them escape.

EQR Galeforce
Building off of the previous combo, we can now tie in our ultimate Apotheosis to target the backline. Here I demonstrate an example with how Galeforce can be used to direct the ult onto the backline. You may achieve the same thing by pressing E Slipstream onto the secondary target and then immediately channeling your R Apotheosis.

R Flash Engage
Another variant of how you may look to prepare an engage. Like Diana R Moonfall, you can channel and Flash right onto the enemy as means to surprise them.

Using Ally to Engage
Since E - Slipstream can be cast upon allies, you can use them to either follow up on or initiate engage.

Example Engage with Galeforce
You can get creative with these engages as well. In this example the enemies were a bit further than my E Slipstream range. First E Slipstream the ally with my W Jubilant Veil active to get some distance, galeforce to get close then press E Slipstream + R Apotheosis to finally engage all enemy members.

Another Combo Example
These combos may start to feel overwhelming when you factor in the abilities that can be used at different stages. Here I use my first cast of E Slipstream with my W Jubilant Veil active to gather some distance, Galeforce to gap close, and then cast E Slipstream + Q Formless Blade + R Apotheosis so that I have the empowered autos ready by the end of my R Apotheosis channel time. Timing of the abilities can be tricky, so make sure you experiment and practice in training mode to get this down. I find that rapidly pressing each individual key (in contrast to only pressing them once) can help get this combo out quickly. Otherwise you may find yourself awkwardly standing still because an ability’s input was not registered.

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide