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Riven Build Guide by Satella

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Satella

A Competitive Mid Lane Riven Guide

Satella Last updated on June 6, 2013
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Top Lane
Ranked #19 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
Get More Stats

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: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 8


Utility: 1

1. Introduction
Why play Riven mid? What is a Mid Riven's role? How well can she do her job?

2. Building
What Runes, Masteries and Summoner Spells should I use?

3. Items
What items should I buy? Why should I buy them? What should I avoid?

4. Skills
What do Riven's skills do? What should I level?

5. Playing
How should I lane mid? How do I use her skills effectively? What do I do past laning phase? How should I deal with teamfights?

AD Mid in the current meta is an extremely powerful strategy that works all the way from lower elo play to the pinnacle of professional League of Legends competitions. In this guide, I will focus on playing an underplayed AD caster in the mid lane: Riven.

Riven is a close-range fighter whose damage primarily comes from her passive, Runic Blade. By alternating skill usage with autoattacks, she can deal a significant amount of damage in a very short period of time. No cost is associated with Riven's skills; therefore, she can use all of her skills freely for moving around the map or for pushing a lane with no long-term drawbacks.

Despite her melee range, mid lane Riven is one of the strongest picks in the game, even after her recent series of nerfs. Not only does she beat most AP mids, but she also massively outclasses any AD assassins you might come across, making mid Riven an extremely safe choice in competitive play.

Riven can lane safely mid despite being a melee champion due to her high damage output; Broken Wings and Runic Blade give her a lot more early game damage than any other mid laner, and Valor allows her to trade safely without taking HP damage. When played correctly, she can start with Doran's Blade and bully out of lane people who started with potions, a feat no other mid laner can achieve. With her great mobility and damage potential, most AP mids will not be able to get close to their creeps without losing half of their health in the process, and skillshot-based champions will have a difficult time harassing Riven due to Valor.

Additionally, Riven scales extremely well into the midgame and early lategame. She serves as a potent ganker, invader, and split-pusher who also has great crowd control and substantial AoE physical damage in teamfights. With Valor, she is deceptively tanky and can absorb a large amount of damage over time if not focused down immediately, making her one of the strongest and most fun-to-play champions in League of Legends.

General, common-sense laning tips like last-hitting and zoning will not be covered here; the vast majority of this guide will cover the nuances, plays, and intricacies of Riven as well as her mid-lane matchups.

21 points in the Offense tree is standard. Cooldown reduction matters more than attack speed, therefore Sorcery is more important than Fury . You don't need to crit, so Lethality and Frenzy are not leveled.

I take a 21/8/1 setup as the universal mid Riven mastery page; health regen gives you sustain in lane and flash CDR is more valuable than Veteran's Scars since you have Valor to pad your HP. Foregoing and getting is up to you.

AD Quints and Marks are essential, giving you +15 AD from runes at level 1. Combined with a Doran's Blade start, you have 86 AD at level 1. This allows you to zone the enemy hard and punish them for farming while negating their harass. Armor penetration marks scale better, but early game they don't offer as much as flat AD marks. Since you build Last Whisper and The Black Cleaver anyway, you will have more than enough armor penetration late game, when it matters.

Don't get scaling runes for anything. You want early game domination to snowball out of control either from a big CS advantage or a lot of kills. Scaling runes make you weaker early game and go against the whole playstyle.

P.S. It is possible to get Greater Quintessence of Life Steal for infinite lane sustain, but I don't typically run this unless the lane is 100% unkillable, e.g. Kennen or Teemo.

Summoner Spells
Flash is mandatory, and typically, so is Ignite. Don't be a hipster and take other skills for the sake of "not conforming". Other skills are only taken very situationally; if you are a beginner, take 100% of the time.

Exhaust and Cleanse are extremely situational and should only be taken if your lane opponent has 0 chance of dying or if you expect to 1v2 mid. They scale into lategame better than Ignite does.

Teleport is a counterpick against globals like Destiny/ Grand Skyfall/ Stand United. I don't generally take it even against a lane opponent with a global because Riven can interrupt these channels.

Item Build
Starting with consumable Health Potions and Sight Wards is currently the best choice, due to the Elixir of Fortitude nerf. Doran's Blade start should be taken in matchups against melee champions or champions whose poke can be 100% neutralized by Valor. Against champions like Twisted Fate or an ADC mid you can do cloth 5.

Your general itemization path will focus on getting large AD items before survivability; typical build path not including consumables is as follows:

If you need the tenacity and MR, build Mercury's Treads earlier if you need to. Simply continue building big AD items after.
Don't build pure glass cannon for all 6 items unless you're extremely ahead; the last thing you want to do is throw away your advantage.

In addition, remember to consistently purchase Health Potions and Sight Wards throughout the game; consumables are extremely cheap and pay themselves back quickly, so never be afraid to chug a few potions to stay in lane longer, or to ward the enemy jungle and set up a 2v1 with your own jungler. Remember that a dead jungler generally means free dragon because they cannot engage a 4v5 and cannot smite-steal it.

Purchase Order

The old way of building Riven was stacking tons of AD, due to her basically having a 50% bonus AD scaling due to Runic Blade. With the recent change to her passive that makes it scale on total AD instead of just bonus AD, however, more diverse item build paths have been opened up. This doesn't mean AD isn't as good, however; in fact, AD scaling on Riven is better than ever!

Purchasing decisions should be made based on how well you are doing as well as how much gold you have; often a difference of 100 gold in my wallet determines whether I buy a B. F. Sword or finish my The Black Cleaver. Additionally, if another lane fed early on and now the roaming enemy is too much for you to handle, don't be afraid to invest in a Chain Vest or just a Giant's Belt. Remember that component items offer great stats by themselves and you do not have to finish one item before starting another if the stat it provides is needed for you to perform.

As for boot enchantments: Enchantment: Furor is useful for sticking to enemies but not mandatory, and Enchantment: Captain is great if you are the initiator for teamfights. Enchantment: Distortion is situational for Flash CDR; I don't typically get it since other enchants tend to outshine it. Lastly, you can never go wrong with Enchantment: Homeguard if you need it.


Why Black Cleaver? Wasn't it nerfed?

Why Ravenous Hydra? It's too little AD!

Why so much AD?

Why do you think Mercurial Scimitar is better than Maw of Malmortius?

What determines how tanky I should build?


Bad Items
Riven doesn't benefit from attack speed since the majority of her damage relies on the AD scaling she gets on her skills and passive. Since her base stats already allow her to squeeze in autoattacks between skill casts with relative ease, there's really no reason to buy any additional attack speed over additional attack damage. ( Sheen is a noob trap; avoid it and its derivatives.)

Frozen Mallet is very situational and only offers 30 AD for its price. I don't ever really purchase this item, but if you have serious trouble sticking to your enemy you can get it.

I advise against crit items just because of how good Riven's AD scaling is. Take a full [E-]AA-Q-AA-W-AA-Q-AA-E-AA-Q-AA combo. The damage dealt is proportional to 900% total AD from Runic Blade + 310% additional AD scaling damage, not to mention she gets a 200% AD scaling damage shield. There is basically no reason to invest into crit chance or crit damage (Before you ask, Runic Blade damage doesn't crit) because purchasing AD is far more efficient on Riven than any other stat.

Skill Info

Runic Blade gives Riven ridiculous damage if you stagger autoattacks between her skills. Many people perceive the recent change from a flat +0.5 per bonus AD scaling to scaling on a level-dependent 20-50% of total AD as a nerf, but this actually makes Riven do more damage throughout the game because her base damage is so high.

Broken Wings is Riven's bread-and-butter skill and technically a one-point wonder, giving her high mobility (you move at the equivalent of ~475 movespeed when using this skill), chasing power, and excellent AoE damage, not to mention the three Runic Blade stacks that it provides.

Ki Burst is a short-range AoE stun that's very versatile. 0.75 seconds doesn't seem like a lot, but it's more than enough for gapclosing, not to mention the +1.0 bonus AD scaling on its damage.

Basically Barrier on a 50x shorter cooldown that also shields you for more health on top of +1.0 per bonus AD scaling while dashing you a short distance. Most OP laning skill in the entire game hands down.

Your AD goes up by 20% when this ultimate is active, and your stun/Q AoE become 4 times bigger. Always ult before using your skills in a fight because it makes your shield stronger as well as increasing your damage all around.
AoE Demacian Justice that benefits from Armor Penetration, has up to 180% bonus AD scaling, and is on half the cooldown. This move should be used to execute enemies instead of as an initiate since it does triple damage on low health targets.

Skill Order
vs. melee





vs. poke




This is highly dependent on lane matchup. When laning against melee champions like Katarina and Diana, you can take Broken Wings at level 1 and max it first to obliterate them without taking any damage. The reason you want to take Broken Wings early on in S3 is because its damage scales very well per level, even if the skill's cooldown isn't reduced with additional skill points.

Against melee mids, zone them out with your presence; remember that literally no one else in the game can out-DPS Riven in a straight up low-level 1v1 fight unless you screw up your combo pretty hard, so the other mid player will either be aware of this and lose CS, or be negligent and feed you first blood. Most melee mids have only one form of ranged harass ( Void Spike, Rake, Crescent Strike, Bouncing Blades, Null Sphere and the like), with their other skills being either melee or short-ranged. Abuse this to your advantage because you can shield or dodge their harass and punish them for trying to all-in you.

Against ranged mids who can disengage easily, however, you would want to take Valor first to negate the harass. If you started Valor, never take Ki Burst at level 2 unless your jungler is ganking and your lane opponent is overextended. This should be common sense, but you don't have most of your damage without Broken Wings and taking Ki Burst without the two other skills is silly.

Note that you can Valor away from autoattacks/ranged projectiles after they've been cast and still fully absorb the damage; good reaction times are rewarded pretty well on Riven since you essentially get to parry stuff.

Again, versus ranged mids you want to max Valor first unless you have the easiest lane ever, since it goes on a shorter cooldown and gains a larger shield with every skill point. Take Broken Wings next because the base damage scaling isn't half bad nowadays and vastly improves your damage.

Don't max Ki Burst early on unless you are snowballing hard. The stun doesn't get any longer and the cooldown reduction is not generally worth it. It might do more burst damage, but a bigger shield lets you trade significantly more often without taking any punishment, allowing you to gain a CS lead more easily. League isn't about champions as much as it is about CS and objectives; do things that get you a guaranteed advantage.


Riven has an extremely strong laning phase due to her shield and massive damage output. Very few champions pose a challenge to her, especially mid lane. Valor negates any and all harass while making her hard to gank in conjunction with Broken Wings, and her manaless design allows Riven to spam her abilities in lane at will, a luxury most other mid champions do not have.

I recommend a sight wardsight ward start as a universal safe choice, and if you are vs. melee mid or if you are very good at neutralizing poke.

The start is no longer as good, since it costs 350 gold now. With a 5 potion + wards start, you are guaranteed at least 10 minutes in midlane being free from ganks, and a pink ward allows you to counterward the enemy.

I personally take Doran's Blade almost every single game now (save for specific matchups) because it gives epic stats, but keep in mind that you literally cannot make a single mistake with a Doran's start or you'll be quickly forced back to base one way or another. Play it safe when you are new to the champion and take the standard potion + wards start. Good game mechanics is very heavily rewarded on Riven and being able to deny any and all damage from the enemy allows her to heavily outsustain the enemy.

You should be able to win every single 1v1 and force a flash or get a kill. Ideally, you want to harass the enemy down as early as possible, since most mids are the weakest at level 1-3 when they only have one or two abilities (meaning they will have no damage, or have no CC to get them the damage, or lack an escape mechanism to get away from you). Feel free to stand between them and your minion wave and zone them out of XP and CS while spamming /taunt; fear is a weapon you can employ to win a lane without actually touching the enemy.

Note that AP mids rely on abilities to chunk you; if they blow it to farm, you have a short window to harass them uncontested. If they do end up using it on you in a fight, they're impotent until the skill comes off cooldown; the more familiar you are with how long this cooldown is, the safer you are, since you can disengage before they get their damage back and end up winning the trade.

When you hit level 6, Riven's combo damage doubles and she gains the ability to kill people who flash away.

Once you have multiple Doran's Blades or a The Brutalizer, you can begin denying your lane hard and commence counterjungling after forcing your mid opponent back to base. Riven can clear jungle camps without taking any damage because of her shield, stun, and massive DPS, so she can take wraiths on both sides with relative ease and sometimes even get a surprise kill on the jungler. Even if a laner comes to help, you can easily win 1v2 fights and get a double kill as long as you are aware of how much damage you can take as well as how much damage they can do to you.

Note that when you are against burst mages like LeBlanc who can blow through your shield, zone them out and abuse your mobility to move out of range with Valor after they start their combo; this will cause their subsequent spellcast attempts to fail, resulting in them failing to combo you. They will either panic and flash to try and kill you under your turret (turn around and stun for 300 gold), or be extremely frustrated at the fact that they just blew a DFG cooldown and did no damage.


Basic Combos
You will see many Riven players do the harass before using to run away. This works, although it isn't optimal; Riven has enough sustained damage to 100-0 anyone who doesn't Flash away, and if you know exactly where their jungler is, it is 100% safe to jump on the enemy and slash away. Just don't get Barrier baited or do reckless tower dives.

  • Append for the kill at any point if needed.
  • Always try to position the third hit of Q so it knocks the enemy towards you and not away.
  • You can cancel your autoattack animation as well as your ultimate's cast animation by using a skill. This is very important since it allows you to stutter-step properly and stick to enemies.
  • If their flash or escape mechanism is down, ignite before you start a combo so it deals more damage since you get 5 free AD from Summoner's Wrath .
  • You can use your ultimate to execute people recalling at low health.

Q-only combo at levels 1/2:

  • Gets you first blood, especially deadly in level 1 teamfights.
  • Don't engage a level 1 teamfight as Riven, and especially don't engage if the enemy composition has a lot more CC/AoE than yours. You are strong, but you lack a strong initiate at level 1.
  • If you need a boost to your speed in order to get in front of them for the third hit, drop the autoattack between Q casts and you'll gain some distance. For instance, you can drop the AA between the second and third Q casts to do

Combo against poorly-positioned enemy at levels 3-5:

  • Almost certain doom for an enemy who doesn't flash away. Riven can stick to an enemy forever if they make one mistake in positioning.

Post-6 1v1/1v2 combo:

  • This doesn't do optimal damage but will catch enemies off guard due to Valor canceling the casting time of your ultimate, allowing you to surprise stun the opponent and get an advantage.

Teamfight/initiation combo:

  • Use this in teamfights to AoE stun and hopefully assassinate someone with your burst.
  • The whole last part can be performed fast enough to happen entirely within the stun duration of Ki Burst. After this, if you're still alive, go to town on the enemy team.


  • Broken Wings is cast first so it goes on a shorter cooldown after you use the third hit.
  • The third hit should not be used until you Flash to them. This allows you to use the CC aspect of the third hit and keep them from running just a little bit longer.
  • Use your Q while moving! It does not cancel the move command and the difference in the distance you cover is quite substantial.

Counterjungling and Roaming
Riven clears jungle camps incredibly quickly due to her immense DPS and can 1v1 just about every jungler and win the fight. Enemy mids who ward forwards instead of in their own jungle can easily allow you to slip through and steal camps/buffs from the enemy jungler. Since you do not have smite, pull buffs into bushes and kill it as quickly as possible before the enemy jungler shows up. Vision Wards help a lot in preventing them from smiting it away.

If you can take Q at level 1 and started Doran's blade, you can take enemy wraiths and get back to lane without losing any CS and without taking much damage, giving you an XP lead over your lane opponent. With Riven's ridiculous DPS, you're free to take wraiths as often as you want since the camp just explodes in like two seconds. 4 extra CS every minute is absolutely huge for the laning phase and can put you far ahead.

Camp clearing combo:
  • Unless you're 0/7 with 12 CS, any jungle camp should be dead or close to dead by the end.
  • For most of this combo, the jungle camps are either stunned, knocked up, or attacking a shielded Riven. You should take close to 0 damage doing this, especially post-9.
  • For Dragon or Baron, just mash on every cooldown and try to alternate autoattacks between casts. Valor absorbs ridiculous amounts of damage.

Riven is one of the best split-pushers in the game due to her mobility, excellent dueling potential, and extremely fast waveclear. The enemy team cannot send just 1 or even 2 people to deal with you; Riven can win almost every single 1v1 in the game and can even destroy people 1v2 if they engage without a substantial item lead.

Riven can easily take objectives like Dragon or turrets solo if left unchecked, so if you can get your team to pressure the enemy into sticking together, she can singlehandedly secure your team a huge lead even if a stalemate is happening elsewhere on the map.

Dealing with Losing Lane
You will not win every single lane; sometimes you will make mistakes that get punished heavily, or be consistently outplayed by your opponent. But even if you lose lane, do not fret; there are ways to cope with a lost lane. You can lane freeze in mid if needed, although it is more difficult to do than a side lane, so it is also possible to push out the lane and roam to regain your advantage. If the jungler is occupied, take some jungle farm to catch up. Alternatively, if the rest of your team is doing well, you can force an objective to try and narrow the gap with assists in a teamfight.


First, learn proper teamfighting, because it is not as simple as you might think. Riven's goal in teamfights is to act as a disruptor/assassin. She has two forms of AoE crowd control, as well as very significant damage output that can quickly bring down anyone she jumps on, forcing the opponents to focus Riven instead of her teammates or take severe damage.

Blade of the Exile -> Valor -> Flash -> Ki Burst will win teamfights if positioned correctly, since it is an extremely long-range instant AoE stun that works wonders as an initiate. Get used to the distance you can cover with Valor -> Flash so you know exactly where you will end up after rapidly casting your two gapclosers.

Good positioning is a lot better than tunnel visioning onto the enemy carry; remember that you deal lots of AoE damage as well, it's better to unload everything on the whole team with your own members backing you up, instead of isolating yourself trying to go after a Vayne who can reposition herself easily and kite you.

Remember to position yourself well and to save the last cast of Broken Wings to interrupt channeled ultimates like Bullet Time or Nether Grasp; you have a considerable time window between each Q cast and you should take advantage of this. If you cannot easily get to the carry because your abilities are on cooldown and they used a dash to get away, hit the closest target instead of trying to chase. As good as Riven's chasing ability is, there is no time for idle movement during large engagements. Being kited and not doing the damage is the worst thing you can do in a teamfight. In solo queue, ping a target to focus if you can; teamwork decides the game in a battle between players who are around the same level mechanically.

Do not be afraid to die; damage dealt to you equals damage not dealt to your ranged AD carry, and if you're guaranteed to die anyway, use your last few seconds to DPS the enemy instead of running away doing nothing. Many people lose teamfights in solo queue because they scatter like bugs as soon as they take damage instead of holding it out like a champ. Also remember that since lifesteal sustains you, sometimes you can stay in a fight for a really long time and not drop much health. If you can safely disengage at low health without throwing the teamfight, however, do so; not dying is of course still better than dying if nothing else is lost.

Very Late Game
If the game drags on for too long, you are in some trouble because everyone will be fully built at this point; any gold lead you had earlier in the game only means you get to refresh your elixirs more often, and at this point the enemy team will actually be able to kill you quickly now. Do not engage without your GA off cooldown.

It is typically at this point that I sell Last Whisper and purchase a Mercurial Scimitar. Your damage isn't substantially impaired, but the MR and active utility is invaluable in the late game. Since you are either the initiator or one of the first champions jumping into the fray, the enemy team will almost definitely dump CC and burst damage onto you. By cleansing them, you force them to make a decision between continuing to focus you and using more of their cooldowns, or ignoring you and using their CC on other team members instead while allowing you to go on a rampage. Essentially, it forces the enemy into making a split-second lose/lose decision, and greatly disrupts their synergy, giving your team the upper hand. Use this well.

Acknowledgements and tips
I'd like to voice my extreme gratitude to astrolia for setting a new standard of guide writing on mobafire and for giving me permission to copy it. This guide's visual style and formatting is homage to the 5 min Ashe guide, one of the best guides that I have ever seen. It includes two of the most important League of Legends tips, too! I have transcribed them below:
  • Learn how to cancel your animations. Generally remembering to "move while attacking" instead of just standing there like a big derp while you autoattack will improve your AD carry gameplay.
  • Get better at last hitting. The Creep Score Calculator illustrates just how much gold you're missing by not last hitting very well. You can walk around to dodge enemy skills, or you can hit "S" to hold your position while waiting for a minion to get low health before you last hit it.
Huge thanks to everyone who provided criticism in the comments as well; the guide has improved leaps and bounds with your help, and I also learned a lot about proper presentation as well. <3 you all.This concludes the guide! I'm having trouble with getting visual content uploaded here because LoLReplay seems to be held together by duct tape. Any corrections or suggestions that you would like to make should go in the comments section; I'm always open to being corrected.

Also, since I'm an uncreative bastard with no graphics design talent who had to rip off banners from a clearly visually superior guide, I'm open to letting any aspiring artists to redesign my guide banners! Anyone who wants to give it a shot should feel free to drop me a PM at any time.

P.S. Desperately looking for Championship Riven. omg I can't believe I did not buy it when the skin was available. ><