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League of Legends Build Guide Author bottomset

AP Kennen - The Competitive Guide

bottomset Last updated on May 30, 2011
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Top Lane
Ranked #38 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
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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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 0

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When I first started playing LoL, my friend suggested a few champions to play, one of which was . I picked and purchased him before my first ever game of LoL. At first I found and the game in general to be difficult (no DoTa experience whatsoever). Since then however I have played him almost exclusively to level 30 and beyond. My average LoL game changed in time from #1 feeder to a player who can carry pretty hard. Now I would like to share what I have learned with all of you.

As Kennen is my main, I have built him in a variety of different ways including AD Kennen, ASpd Kennen, and even Tank Kennen. I found some success with most of these builds, but I found that AP Kennen was and always will be the way to go.

I decided to write this guide after reading through other top rated guides and finding dissatisfaction in some of the guides' weaknesses. For example, many guides recommend spell vamp items like and for lane sustainability without a clear understanding of the lack of late game harmony between them. Other Kennen guide authors fail to understand the importance of and its incompatibility with early game items like .

I've always felt less than qualified to write a Kennen guide to share with the public. Still, I have studied and watched many high Elo Kennens in both solo queues and tournaments, US and Europe, and have thus learned from the best. I understand the thought processes that go through the minds of other Kennen guide authors, and I can assure you that many of their ideas are less than optimal. I share this guide with you all in hopes that we can advance on closer to witnessing the full potential of Kennen, the Heart of the Tempest.

This is my first and only guide, so forgive me if it is tough to read; I was never at the top of my English classes. I am always open to hearing your opinions. Let me know what I can improve on and I'll try my best. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read my guide!

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Magic penetration marks is key to AP Kennen as to all AP carries. Nothing else comes close.

Greater Seal of Vitality The health per level will provide some padding for Kennen's squishiness mid game. are also a viable choice for increased mid game burst.

If you decide to main Kennen, I highly recommend Greater Seals of Lucidity. The icon isn't in the MOBAFire database, but the seals exist. The seals are utilizable only by the four champions that use the energy system and are thus quite an investment. With 20% faster energy regeneration at lvl 18, you will have far less worries in controlling your energy pool. Greater Seals of Lucidity are by far the most viable seals for Kennen.

The ability power per level will help with both your harass and burst damage. Another glyph that you may want to look into is the . It provides magic penetration instead of ability power. The standard AP carry uses and are thus recommended in this guide. Another common glyph is the . I strongly suggest that you do not use these on Kennen since he uses the energy system. Cooldown reduction would burn out his energy way too quickly.

These quintessences help your early game burst. Other quintessences to consider are and . With my build however, you will start with about 1340 effective health and so flat health quintessences may be outshined by the other two.

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Archaic Knowledge is the only Offense mastery we really need here. Standard for most AP carries.

The Defense tree will help our early game. As AP Kennen I'd like to press our early-game advantages for lane dominance, and 21 into the Defense tree helps us in that sense.

The Utility tree provides several good masteries (bonus experience gain, summoner spell cooldown reduction, etc.) that excel our mid to late game. However, the Utility tree is also more compatible for mana-using champions. If you prefer the Utility tree to the Defense tree, make sure to put 21 points into the Utility tree. Don't mix and match Defense with Utility; pick one or the other.

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Core Items

[ 10/10 Stars ]
are the way to go as far as boots go. Magic penetration is an important source of burst for Kennen.

[ 10/10 Stars ]
This is the item that makes Kennen dangerous. into five enemies, pop your , then use your active for two seconds of invulnerability. The enemy team will be stunned to oblivion while the rest of your team mates flood in to clean up.

How to use the active: Place to a specific slot in your items inventory, preferably the first or second slot. To activate Statis at any moment where you are not CC'ed, press "1" or "2" depending on which slot you have placed the item.
Countering the counter: There are three ways to counter after its already been activated; , displacement skills such as and , and to simply kill Kennen. All of these can be countered by simply going into Statis before they get a chance to do whatever they want to do.

[ 10/10 Stars ]
This is your main source of ability power and burst damage. Hurts more than the of the past, and an essential item for any AP carry.

[ 10/10 Stars ]
Mid to late game, thrives on magic penetration. Let take care of that.

[ 9/10 Stars ]
The main reason to get this item is for the addition of slow to your spells. It will help you in chasing and running away. The only problem I have with this item is the 1110g spent on health. During team fights we should be rushing in without taking unnecessary damage, bursting the enemy down with the use of and then either cleaning up or falling back with the use of your other abilities.

Building Rylai's first: This is a viable build used by many good Kennens. It focuses on building a more tanky Kennen (supplemented with ) with less burst and more poke relying on . You may die less often but will have less control in the tides of a team fight.

[ 8/10 Stars ]
The last item I like to get is the . Much like the , the provides both defense and offense. The also helps your team deal more magic damage to the enemy team, which is always nice. This is the only item in the core list that is situational and can be replaced with another item. A thing to keep in mind when purchasing this item is to look at the enemy team composition. If there isn't an enemy champion that is doing sufficient magic damage to you and your team, you may want to look into other items.

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Other Common Items

[ 9/10 Stars ]
These are the best boots for most champions. You can never go wrong with these boots as they provide invaluable CC reduction. I recommend buying if you are constantly having troubles with a certain enemy champion's CC.

[ 8/10 Stars ]
Start using these after you complete your granted you have nothing better to buy. Very useful for baron fights and final pushes.

[ 6/10 Stars ]
A cheap counter to CC. Get this if you are having troubles with , taunts, and stuns during the use of . A cheaper way to counter CC is to unexpectedly with the use of , bushes, or letting others initiate, then going into Statis instantly.

[ 5/10 Stars ]
I don't prefer to get 100% defensive items on Kennen, but if you get matched up against a heavy AD team I'd recommend getting . With this you will have to be killed twice, and you get a good deal of armor.

[ 5/10 Stars ]
is a snowball item and thus need to be purchased early to build up stacks quickly. It is a double-edged sword, especially for , as his puts you in a dangerous zone in the middle of the enemy team. Many games where I've been a game changer I have died a plenty amount. Fearing death would only limit the strength of your after all. And puts you in the mindset of fearing death. I recommend only getting if you can keep your stacks above ten and can stay alive. If you decide to get , it would be beneficial to lane mid. This way, when you are level 6, you can gank both top and bottom lanes to build stacks quickly.

[ 5/10 Stars ]
Never a bad choice for any champion. A spell shield every 45 seconds is very good. Another item choice if you are having problems with enemy CC.

[ 4/10 Stars ]
Many players have recommended this as a last item to me. I find however that it doesn't focus on 's strength late game, which would be his AoE nuke . Instead, it helps in the team's clean-up activities, which should be role of the AD carries and assassins. Keep in mind that the unique passive deals physical damage, and we are not equipped with any armor penetration. For some reason, many people assume that deals true damage. Also keep in mind that has a range of 900 while his auto-attack has a range of 575.

[ 4/10 Stars ]
This is an early game item. is not effective with early game items because his core items and are just too pricey. Don't waste your time with this.

[ 3/10 Stars ]
Spell vamp and don't mix. Why? Because spell vamp only works at 33% efficiency for all AoE spells. That means you only get 6.6% spell vamp using AoE abilities with . And is all about AoE damage late game.

[ 2/10 Stars ]
There are several reasons why I would not recommend this item. One reason is that the mana regeneration, which is about 20% of in value, is completely worthless to . The other reason would be the Deathfire Grasp's active. It's a single target nuke that scales off of AP; excellent for a single target nuke specialist like Veigar, who paces back and forth picking off one champion at a time. On the other hand, Kennen's role in a team fight isn't to pick off one enemy champion, but to nuke the whole enemy team. To stray from that goal by investing in this item would only lead to a weaker AoE nuke. You may ask, "what if we get to counter a really tanky tank?" I would answer, "focus him last". Now the opposite situation. "What if we get to counter a really tanky team." " and lots of AP. Maybe even get a second instead of a . They'll probably just sit there and try to tank all your damage anyways. Give them as much damage as you can afford to dish out. What would you do with ? Take one tank out and die to the rest?"

I know the items section is everyone's favorite portion of a champion guide. If there are any other items you would like for me to review, let me know. I'll add them asap!

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Skill Sequence

This passive is what makes Kennen. allows to stun anyone and everyone around him. Every time you hit a target champion with any of your champion abilities, you give them a . Within an 8 second period of time, hit the target champion with another ability, and they will gain another . On the third , the target champion will be stunned. This passive is vital to both offensive and defensive situations.

This skill defines late game. It creates a large AoE ring around you, and any enemy champion in that ring will be hit by bolts of lightning, nuking them down and stunning them. Late game, this ultimate will be game changing as it can stun and nuke down a whole enemy team for an absurd amount of damage. will be maxed first. Remember that has a very long cooldown, and so shouldn't be wasted on 1 or 2 champions late game. Get 4 to 5 enemy champions into your ring of death at a time and you will be rewarded. Keep in mind that puts you in dangerous range of the whole enemy team, and so it is expected that you will die often, more than the average AP carry. Good use of will minimize your deaths while maximizing your potential.

This skill is what makes Kennen a strong laner to be feared. With the energy system, can spam this long-ranged skill shot all day to last hit creeps and harass the enemy team. You can and always should check bushes with it before you face check the bush. will make a distinct crackling noise when hitting a target. More points into gives you more damage, lower cooldown, and less energy cost. What more can you ask for? Max this out before everything but .

This skill is maxed after . After marking an enemy with , add extra damage and another mark by using . It helps your mid game farm as you mark your creeps with then wipe them out with . It is also used after you have marked the other team with your to inflict some additional damage and stuns.

This skill is a one-shot wonder and thus maxed last. Use this skill sparingly as the cooldown is initially long. Spamming would also deplete your energy levels very quickly. More points into will give you lower cooldowns so you can push a lane faster with your / combo.

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Summoner Spells

[ 10/10 Stars ]

Vital to a good . Some common uses listed below.

- and into unexpecting enemies to close the distance lightning-fast and storm them with your .
- over walls into a team fight where you are unexpected and use your to wipe everyone out.
- defensively over walls and over distances to protect yourself from death.
- counters CC during team fights (for anyways). Imagine into a group of enemies and getting stunned right before you are about to use your . You may die before your is even used. How are you going to get past and Puncturing Taunt to reach the squishies with your without getting taunted for 3 seconds? Even will likely not help you there. In the worst case scenario, you will be taunted and killed before you can use your . And you would have lost your team the fight. , , and active quickly enough and you will be safely in range to keep your the full 5 seconds on 5 people.

[ 8/10 Stars ]

Important for getting your early kills. lacks sustained damage, and thus after using your , would give you that small additional damage needed to finish off your enemies while countering any they might use. Late game, it is useful both for countering healers and for last hitting champions.

[7/10 Stars]

The skill is decent for but not great, as already has a built-in Ghost. would be used in running away when your is on cooldown or when you are out of energy. would also be used when chasing down enemies with your to catch everyone in your circle of death (assuming and are down). is great on most champions. However if is used conservatively, should never be needed.

[ 7/10 Stars ]

A CC'ed is often times a dead one. This spell would be used as a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. Did a catch you in Puncturing Taunt while you are in mode? No problem; . This would be my third summoner spell of choice behind only and . However, can be purchased to provide the same ability while also cancelling suppression from champions like , , and .

[ 6/10 Stars ]

Use to teleport onto bush wards for easy ganks. Use to make a quick visit to the shop for early item purchases. Use to defend a tower on the other side of the map. Use after backdooring a lane to join a team fight at another lane. Globals are simply overpowered, and thus I think this summoner spell is somewhat underrated.

[ 6/10 Stars ]

This is a very useful summoner spell. It will cushion some damage from AoE ultimates like yourself and shut down AD carries. It will also help you guys focus fire in a team fight. However I feel this is a tank's job. should not need to carry in most situations.

[ 1/10 Stars ]

I don't have much to say about this summoner spell. It's just bad. Almost never used at top level competitive games (I've seen some support champions use it though), and definitely not worthwhile on a nuker that has to go into death range to use .

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Pros / Cons

- Great solo laner
- Great farmer
- Great harasser
- Great escaper
- AoE stunner/nuker
- Energy regeneration (lack of the mana regeneration system)

- Short-term energy regeneration - Use conservatively
- Squishy - range and help against this problem
- Vulnerability to CC - Understanding zone areas will keep you out of trouble (watch Shurelia's video in the "Laning and Early Game Strategy" section)
- Suicidal range of - usage explained in the "Team Work and Late Game Strategy" section

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Early Game: The Solo Laner

Yes Allied Jungler
Yes Enemy Jungler

+ Sight Ward + x4

Solo top lane. The will act as your discounted , while the and Sight Ward will allow you to play aggressively. And I do encourage aggressive play due to 's energy system. You will likely have more effective health than your opponent because of your . Be careful pre-level 3, as you won't have at that moment. Playing aggressively, you will gather some creep aggro. Learn to control it using bushes. Also, by being aggressive, you will be pushing your lane. When you first push your creep past the river line that separates your initial zone from his, place your Sight Ward in the bush below to avoid jungle ganks. Once your Sight Ward is in place, you can use aggressively, but use it wisely as it's also your escape skill. When your Sight Ward runs out of time, your aggressive playstyle (as Reginald would call it) just ran out of time as well. Push your lane safely and go back to purchase another Sight Ward, , etc., and come back to harass some more.

Yes Allied Jungler
No Enemy Jungler

+ x6

Take top solo again. This time, you will face off against two enemy champions and thus need to play more passively pre-level 6. Last hit where you can, throw a and at them where you can. Learn how to last hit creeps at turret, as you will be doing it a lot in this situation. Keep a safe distance at all times and be aware of what the enemy laners are capable of. A well-utilized stun or along with can drop you dead instantly. Also keep in mind, when you first enter your lane don't go face-checking bushes. Throw into bushes to sniff out any sneaky enemies.

No Allied Jungler

+ x6

Take solo mid. Same strategy as earlier (aggressive playstyle) without the Sight Ward. Be careful of jungle ganks from both sides.

Level 6

At level 6 you will go for your first kill 90% of the time. Depending on the different enemy champions, your ultimate zone may be different. Learn your ultimate range; it's huge with both and . When you are in range, in, behind your enemy if need be, use and everything else you got on you (including of course). There are too many situations to explain, so learn from experience who you can kill and who you can't. Many non-tanky champions will fall to you from 70% health, so set yourself up by level 6 to go in for the kill. Even against a duo lane, see if you can get a kill (without dying of course). Be careful of tanky champions as they may be able to withstand your initial burst, and you will be left vulnerable to whatever combos they have. Below are a few difficult-to-kill champions that I can remember at the top of my head and how to deal with them.

Vladimir - Be aggressive; use to feint an ultimate. You want to bait his . Once he comes out of , if you are in range, use . Use if necessary.
Jarvan - Bait his as you would Vladimir's . Only afterwards can you kill him.

Many other champions have getaways similar to Vladimir and Jarvan. Bait them out before the kill. On the same notion, dont let them bait your Lightning Rush. Use it conservatively and wisely. Never Lightning Rush to farm during the laning phase (except in safe and reasonable circumstances).

Solo Top vs. Solo Mid

I've heard quite a few people say that Kennen wrecks solo mid. I want to explain to these people why Kennen is preferred solo top over solo mid at higher elo.

In most teams, there should consist an AP carry, AD carry, tank, jungler, and offtank/support. In the US server, it is standard to see the two carries take the solo lanes so they can farm more and gain more experience. Now, the difference between top lane and mid lane is the distance from a team's outer turret to the other team's outer turret. Top lane has more distance between the two turrets, and thus champions there are more vulnerable to jungle ganks (they have to run back further to safety). AD carries like Kog'Maw and Ashe do not have reliable escape skills that can keep them safe from ganks. AP carries like Kennen, on the other hand, have escape skills that protect them from all but the better ganks. In other words, if you put Ashe at top, she will almost certainly die over and over again to jungle ganks while Kennen will not. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, such as Ezreal and Kassadin (pre-level 6).

Another good reason for soloing top specifically for is that top is very secluded from most early game team fights. Early game team fights usually revolve around contesting dragons, which top is very distant from. This allows you to focus on your farm as is very farm dependent for getting a strong late game.

Zone Control

Shurelia's Zoning Tutorial Video
When facing off against a weaker laner, there are chances for you to "zone out" the enemy laner. It is when you control a zone where the enemy champion cannot gain experience from dying creeps. Watch the video above, full credits to Shurelia, for a better explanation. I may put up a video of myself playing Kennen attempting zoning, as it is slightly different from the zoning shown in the video above. The fundamentals are the same, but you are to last hit creeps while zoning out the enemy champion at the same time. Keep in mind that a last hit is often times more important than harassing an enemy champion as Kennen needs lots of farm for his core items. Of course you can both last hit and harass at once with Thundering Shuriken and auto attacks. Also be careful when attempting to zone out your enemy as you will be prone to enemy jungle ganks.

Doran's Shield?

I find that the time for Doran's items is a time of the past as Doran's items have recently had their prices increased. No longer can you purchase a along with your Doran's item. People are starting to switch to and x3 for better lane sustainability. There are exceptions, of course, like on , who can sustain her health pool with self heals from all day. Kennen however has an extremely strong early game. He needs to be aggressive. And early aggression will benefit from .


Why do we not buy at start, you may ask. I feel that we only really need speed when we are about to kill or about to be killed. I trust and to be sufficient in both instances. Remember not to use too aggressively during the laning phase. It is your escape skill. Do not waste it on early game farming or harass and leave yourself open; a smart player will expose your weaknesses. Use bushes for harassing and dodging creep aggro (only at top solo).

Rejuvenation Beads?

I find oftentimes that can stay in lane for incredibly long periods of time. For those times I feel health regeneration to be very useful. For half the price, gives you the same amount of health regeneration as the . What a bargain! You can also buy up to six along with your !

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Mid Game: Super Farm Mode

has potential in being one of the best champions as you transition into late game. An easy way to get there is in having an excellent creep farm. Towards the mid game, you will be able to quickly take out dozens of creep with and . Look for lanes where enemy creep are pushing. When a fight isn't about to break out in the near future, you want to be the one visiting those lanes for a wave or two to reverse the creep wave towards the enemy's base.

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Late Game: Unrivaled AP Carry

Congratulations, you've made it to late game. Assuming you've stayed on top of your farm during mid game, you will be unrivaled here in carrying team fights. You have by far the most powerful area-of-effect nuke, and it will hurt to get hit by it. It is so good in fact, the only way to counter a good (and well-farmed) Kennen late game is to split push towers. Enjoy completely annihilating the enemy team. But also keep in mind: a master user understands his position, his team's position, and the enemy's position at all times. picked off will mean a lost battle. A misused will mean a lost battle.

The Most Basic Usage of Slicing Maelstrom

After a team fight has started, in, tagging anyone that you can (safely) then use . After you have marked everyone that you can put your hands on, to add another mark/stun. Throw around, prioritizing squishies, easy kills, and champions with two Marks of the Storm. Throw auto attacks and use for anti-heal and extra damage. If you have and are being focused, use the active. When is off cooldown, decide if you want to out into a safe distance to throw more or chase enemy champions that are running away. Make note of your energy pool; two in one sitting will completely deplete your energy pool if you aren't running through enemies.

Initiating with Slicing Maelstrom

Sometimes you won't have a good initiator like or on your team. Maybe you will have , a great tank but not the best initiator. Maybe a is on the other team, and you are afraid of being initiated on. In these types of situations I prefer to initiate myself. First we will need and preferably as well. When your team is in position you towards the enemy team, right outside of enemy CC range into as many of them as you can, and unleash your on the enemy team. Quickly use the active to make yourself invulnerable and watch as your team floods in to clean up. After the active is used and gone, use to add another mark/stun to the enemy champions. Clean up with your and auto attacks, moving to safe distances when needed.

What happens if your is on cooldown? Either surprise them from a bush or wait for someone else to initiate. Being caught by CC right before you can use your ultimate sucks balls. Also remember that you can initiate by blinking over walls with into the unsuspecting team. This would best be used in the jungle where there are lots of tight spaces.

When Slicing Maelstrom is Down

Let your team know that your ultimate is down. Let them know it wouldn't be good to engage the enemy team at the moment. Tell them to tower hug if they need to. This is a good time for you to go to lanes where enemy creeps are pushing and clean it up. You are extremely efficient at farming with and . This does not mean to overextend. Stay for that one big wave, clean up, then go elsewhere.

is 90% useless to a team fight without his ultimate. Make sure they know you will not be able to contribute to a 5v5 team fight. Though if the enemy team is pushing your tower and your team can't handle it, you still need to be there to help defend.

Forcing Fights at Baron Nashor

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm surprised no one has written on this subject. is extremely good in forcing team fights around Baron. I only suggest trying this when you guys have an advantage in team fights but cannot yet tower dive the tower hugging enemy team. Remember to have both your and ready. Have your team get 2-3 Sight Ward and place them at the most common entrances from where the enemy team is likely to come from. Your team must all be there occupying Baron Nashor's river. would also be nice for clearing enemy wards around Baron. When ready, attempt killing Baron. If you see an enemy group approach, initiate with and . Be aware where you initiate the fight. You don't want your team taking Baron aggro while in the 5v5 fight. Make sure your team is aware that if the enemy team comes and you initiate, they follow. Kennen shines so brightly here because an enemy team will likely come to counter Baron as a group of five. Yes, a perfect situation for with ready. Use your ultimate for the full five seconds on the five enemy champions, and profit.

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I would like to say thanks again for taking the time to read my guide. I hope it helped you get where you wanted and learn what you needed. If you have the time I would be grateful to have your feedback, both your love and rage, in the comments below. Please let me know of new ideas, things I may have missed, ideas where I may have been wrong, any questions you might have, etc.

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5.27.11 - Updated the purchase order for the items
3.23.11 - Added personal ratings to the items section
3.22.11 - First published draft