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Leona Build Guide by Riftborne

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Riftborne

5.17 Leona Jungle - First Light Approaches

Riftborne Last updated on September 9, 2015
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 10

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 17


Utility: 3

Threats to Leona with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Ekko Yeah... pick a "I completely rely on mobility" champion into a Leona. Good idea.
Fizz Completely relies on mobility. Leona is a CC machine.
Nasus He's one of the only junglers that you can actually counterjungle early on. He's absolutely nothing until he gets some stacks together and gets a sheen. You can bully him all you want to. Once he gets those things though, he goes all the way up into the red "Really goddamn difficult" area. He can slap you around like a back alley broad later in the game.
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Welcome to my Jungle Leona guide!

(That's not my image. All credit to the original artist.)

Now now, I know what you're thinking - Mr. Riftborne, Why would anyone want to play Leona in the Jungle?

Well, kiddies, gather round and let uncle Rifty tell you a little secret. There is no one in the game that brings more peel to a teamfight. Nobody in the game that has an ultimate ( Solar Flare ) that can engage, amplify damage, apply crowd control, and deal pretty good damage all in one shot.

Nobody else in the game amplifies their team's damage with every single spell that they have. No one else in the game has a massive AOE burst that also provides them with huge mitigation and amplifies allied damage to every target struck. Plain and simple, nobody else does what Leona can do.

With the recent sequence of nerfs to the jungle, she can actually hold her own quite well against the various wildlife on summoner's rift and clear at a pretty average speed. She can start ganking as soon as she gets Zenith Blade at about level 4.

You could get it at level 3, but please keep in mind that you're gonna slow your general clear speed down by skimping out on that second point in Eclipse... So you'd better be sure it's worth it.

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Why not just play her support?

I mean... That's a valid point.

In lane, she applies Sunlight regularly which gives her ADC a hell of an advantage in lane. I love Leona as a support. I have about 700 games on her across several accounts. She's by far my favorite champion in the entire game. But why would you not want to grant those bonuses to every single lane?

Why would you struggle to always land Solar Flare on an enemy that already knows you're coming? Why would you not want the guaranteed unmatched utility of Leona added ON TOP OF the utility of another support? Do you not like winning? Are you even a human being? I don't even know you anymore.

Look... I know there are a ton of you out there going "Oh look. Another **** theorycrafter guide. Next page please..." but as I've said, I have about 700 games on her. I've actually worked out the math on paper for this. I've actually put a lot of time and trial into this. The first time I ever tried it was back around 5.12 (I think. I could be wrong) and I put it down because... well... she just couldn't ever come out of the jungle with enough health to do anything effective.

But now that the jungle monsters are toned back quite a bit, she's amazing. Now that sated devourer keeps even the high damage squishies who would normally REALLY screw her up at bay and in their own jungle for a while, nobody really messes with her either. She's got the clear speed and the right variables within the current meta to get big enough to matter within a time frame that is acceptable for competitive play. If it's something you've already tried, I encourage you to revisit it in the present state of the game.

Also... Who the hell isn't sick of playing the same damned junglers we've all been playing for like... A year now?

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Alright... So how do I do it? How do I start?

Well you're going to want (not need) a pretty hard leash at gromp. While many junglers have the option to start pretty much wherever they want to, Leona really needs gromp to be able to clear effectively. Pairing that with the mitigation of Eclipse is kinda what makes her work early on.

My route usually goes:
Smite gromp -> Blue -> Wolves -> Smite red -> back

From there you're just clearing whatever is up on your way to wherever you're going. Smiting gromp will always increase your clear speed, as is the case with most tanks. You want to get cinderhulk and Thornmail as quickly as you can. After that, you clear just as well as just about anyone else. The only people that clear faster than you are those who are well known to be really fast junglers.

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What about ganking?

You can gank as early as level 4 - though I recommend ganking AD targets since we don't have any magic resist early on. You're liable to get blown up in an AP lane unless it was already a sure thing. I find that ganking AD top laners is ridiculously easy.

Just keep an eye on which lanes are getting pressured. You're not a jungler who is just gonna blitz a lane and manhandle everything like a Master Yi or a Nocturne. You're more about setting up plays and feeding your lanes like a Nunu. You essentially still want to be in the mindset of a support. You can even get Sightstone if you really really want to.

So... TL;DR - Your job is to set your lanes up for plays, not to make them yourself.

She's great for solo queue in this regard. If you do your job right, you're going to have a lot less of those "My god, this lane just won't stop feeding." games. Leona is cheap to build and doesn't necessarily need to be ahead in levels to matter. Feel free to camp a lane for a bit.

It's really cool that you don't have to over-stress about keeping up in levels or keeping farmed. Everything that makes Leona useful already lives in her skill kit. Plus, with all of your CC, the amount of damage an enemy laner can do to you is substantially lowered versus what they'd be able to do versus a jungler that doesn't have a mitigation buff or CC for days. Same principle behind why the golem smite buff makes you more hardy in the jungle - If it can't hit you, it can't hurt you.

You might even consider taking Skirmisher's Sabre rather than Ranger's Trailblazer if you plan on camping a lot. Because again... Putting that 20% damage reduction on top of your huge mitigation buff from Eclipse is a pretty good way to make sure that being underleveled matters a lot less.

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And dragons? She does like no damage.

Scuttles take more damage when they're hard CC'd. If you have Krug buff and shield of daybreak, they go down like caster minions. Keep dragon lit up at all times. You'll probably be level 6 before anybody tries to do dragon, so just keep in mind that as soon as they all pack up for it... One well-placed ultimate is going to get you the dragon AND a bunch of free kills.

Just make sure your team knows that this is the plan. I find that "Kill buffet at dragon in 45 seconds. I have ult. I have vision. Come get your free gold." is a great way to get people's attention.

Ideally the enemy goes for it first.

But let's say the enemy isn't really in the mood for dragon's **** today. Let's say they're in an argument and dragon just wants some space from the enemy team, it seems. Just apply as much sunlight as you possibly can and your adc should be able to take it down pretty easily.

If the enemy comes while you're down there partying with your bottom lane, just spew glorious Sunlight all over the enemy carry's head and neck region and bash face with shield. Repeat until your ADC has killed everyone in the vicinity.

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She has awful wave clear. How do I help push towers?

Like hell she does.

Leona with cinderhulk and thornmail drops waves like a Sion. Pop Eclipse, take aggro from the entire wave, and let thornmail and cinderhulk do the rest. If you have gromp buff it's even better.

Did you know you can use Shield of Daybreak on towers? An Auto-Q-Auto combo on a tower will drop it a pretty good chunk and takes less than 2 seconds to pull off.

You can also use Zenith Blade to apply Sunlight to a wave as it marches in single-file. If the laner has any sort of AOE, the lane is just going to get deleted.

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So how do I engage?

This is generally what separates good Leona players from bad Leona players.

Just ult, close distance, pop a carry with Zenith Blade, stun them, and then tank the incoming damage with your Eclipse, right?


You walk your happy butt into that fight like you've got two functioning legs. No need to blow your ultimate. You can do all of that fancy stuff without having to drop Solar Flare in the first 1.5 seconds of the fight. You do this way because this way, if you get zoned away from your carries and the back line gets dove, you still have Solar Flare to drop to stop the baddies from vaporizing your carries until you can get to them and peel for them.

You do it this way because it makes your ultimate more valuable. If you use it to just kick off a fight, nine times out of ten your CC is gonna be just about worn off by the time everybody closes distance.

"But my team is already in position and we're already fighting... you're saying I shouldn't drop my ult?"

No. That's not an engage. That's you arriving to a fight already in progress. If that's the case, by all means drop a flare on some punks. ESPECIALLY if they've got their nasty mitts on a priority target on your team. You gotta shut that **** down as soon as it happens. If Solar Flare is your best answer, then use it.

"So probably don't use my ultimate to catch single fleeing targets... right?"

No. Use it for exactly that as long as you're absolutely positive that you're not going to be in a teamfight for the next minute or so. The cooldown is only a minute and a half at rank one and a minute at rank 3. It's not really that big of a deal to burn it. With CDR runes and masteries and CDR in your build, it's even shorter. Just make sure that when you're using it, you're not going to wish you hadn't used it a few seconds later.

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Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Attack Damage Marks - Because it's kinda hard to clear the jungle if you don't do any damage.

Armor Seals - Because I don't really know of a jungler that works without armor seals.

Cooldown Reduction Glyphs - Because having Eclipse and Shield of Daybreak up as often as possible is what enables your longevity.

Movement Speed Quintessences - Because you need to be able to get to where you're needed as quickly as possible

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Sorcery - Because you need your Eclipse and Shield of Daybreak available as often as possible.

Expose Weakness - Because it makes Sunlight hurt more and it makes your allies hurt more. Sunlight is treated as damage being done by your ally, not damage being done by you.

Butcher - Because it helps you kill stuff quicker in the jungle

Mental Force - Because damage... and stuff.

Arcane Mastery - See: Mental Force

Recovery - Kind of a no-brainer. As you're moving from camp to camp you're healing a little.

Veteran's Scars - Having more health means not dying before you get to red or having a heart attack clearing a camp with 1 HP left. Mildly helps with Sterak's Gage.

Tough Skin - Helps you take less damage from jungle creeps.

Bladed Armor - Stacks very well with gromp buff, cinderhulk and Thornmail

Tenacious - Because a Leona that can't get to her carries is a pretty useless Leona.

Juggernaut - More health is always good. Helps with Sterak's Gage, too.

Hardiness - Jungle monsters do AD damage. Armor is invaluable.

Perseverance - If ever you get away from a fight you were tanking and you have about 4 HP remaining... Just remember that you'd be dead without Perseverance.

Adaptive Armor - absolutely essential, since we play so armor heavy early on and don't bring any MR with us. I'm not totally sure, but I think this mastery is the sole reason that Leona suddenly works in the jungle. They just added it recently.

Fleet of Foot - You need to get to where you're needed as fast as possible. Don't leave home without it.

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So do I go tank or do I go damage? Why build these items?

It's really hard to say without seeing your team comp.

If you have several available engages and not a lot of damage, build damage/tank.

If you have a lot of damage but no real "windowmakers", go full tank and be one.

Core Items

Cinderhulk is kinda what makes you into a tank, so you need it either way.

Thornmail gives you a massive boost to your clear speed and makes your ganks in the bottom lane a hell of a lot more efficient. Sometimes the same goes for the top lane. Hell, sometimes the same goes for every lane. In those games, you're a really happy Leona. Pray for all-AD comps.

Mercury's Treads gives you tenacity, which is great to stop people from getting you off of them. Half of Leona's power comes from being sticky. Believe it or not, I'd consider Mercury's Treads to be a power spike item in this build. Once you have them, you move quicker, you can't really be stopped, and you have mitigation versus both AD and AP. You're pretty darned powerful once you get them.

Hard Tank Build

Sterak's Gage - By far one of the best early game items available right now, and double so with cinderhulk sitting right behind it. Once you have gage, you need not fear burst champions as much. Early in the game they're kind of your weakness. They're really hard to safely gank because one false move from your laner and that champion can wipe you right off of the map. When you have Sterak's Gage, this is a lot less likely. Additionally, it adds a lot to your damage potential thereby increasing the rate of success of your ganks. Gage makes you into the quintessential "windowmaker". Run in, tank everything, punch a hole, turn around and peel for your carries.

Locket of the Iron Solari - Always has been, is, and always will be a core item for a tanky Leona. CDR, health (feeds into gage), MR, and a shield for your whole team. What's not to love about it? Once you have it, mages hit about as hard as AD champions have been hitting you thus far. This is when you REALLY start to feel like a tank.

Warmog's Armor - A huge compliment to both Sterak's Gage and cinderhulk. Massive health regen when out of combat so you can rejoin fights more often. It's kind of a no-brainer

Tank Damage Build

Rylai's Crystal Scepter - Health works well on top of cinderhulk. All of Leona's scaling is AP. Putting a slow onto everybody hit by Eclipse is ridiculously OP. On a champion who already brings more CC to a fight than anyone else, this is just a good way to tell the entire world "I have absolutely no regard for your feelings."

Liandry's Torment - Ever the sidekick to Rylai's Crystal Scepter because it's passive is doubled against crowd controlled targets... which... around a Leona, is everyone. This gives Leona the ability to do % health damage, which is always strong regardless of meta. It also adds health (great for cinderhulk) and gives you some penetration. The combo prevents you from having to build multiple AP damage items and sacrifice tankiness - No matter what the enemy builds, your damage will always be relevant.

Spirit Visage - You don't have as much mitigation with this build, and around the time you get your 6th item, mages are going to be hurting a hell of a lot more than marksmen. This also gives you great cooldown reduction, more health (great for cinderhulk), and increased healing. "But I don't build anything that gives me any health regen or life steal. Why does that matter?" - Because you have masteries that DO give you health regen and if anybody uses summoner heal or you get a healing support, it's going to matter more.

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In closing...

I really hope you guys enjoy this as much as I have been. I'm gonna keep playing it now that I've got it all polished up and worked out and I'll be posting screenshots of score and hopefully even videos of what this can do in the right hands.

Feel free to leave any comments, questions, or concerns.

Oh... And if you're one of those people that's gonna come by and comment "Leona jungle doesn't work because it's not X champion and it doesn't use X item"

Here's the facts, Jack: Nobody on this entire website or anywhere else in the world appreciates your garbage input. Everything that ever was, is, or ever will be "good" is something that was theorycrafted by some dude like me at some point in time. If all anybody ever played was what's already out there... The meta would never shift, nothing would ever get patched, nothing would ever change about this game that we all love so much.

Half of what we love about it is all of the evolving and developing the game is constantly doing over time.

So please stop stifling change with your one-track views and your closed mind. Nobody wants to hear it.