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Garen Build Guide by FSat


Garen CAN Carry [S9 (REWORK - 9.20)] [Dedicated Matchups Cha

By FSat | Updated on October 12, 2019
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Runes: Conqueror Page

1 2 3 4
Legend: Tenacity
Last Stand

Bone Plating

+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor


1 2 3
Best couple in 99.99% of games
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite


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Ranked #7 in
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Win 53%
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Champion Build Guide

Garen CAN Carry [S9 (REWORK - 9.20)] [Dedicated Matchups Cha

By FSat

Introduction: about Garen, FSat, FAQ

Hello, readers!
Garen is a tanky, high damage AD Caster who fits toplane's requirements perfectly, he has high base statistics, good scalings and amazing sustainability, and his main reason of existence is his capability to make his way through crowds of enemies in order to kill the most dangerous ones the enemy team has; his kit is well suited for this role, but it does need the help of some specific items, that we'll cover in this guide for sure!
Apart from his ADC/APC Reaper role, Garen suits well the role of a regular tank aswell, thanks to his Courage and his amazing passive ability: Perseverance, although he lacks an engage, which can make him less useful than other tanks: be aware of this when picking champions, a team without engages is often a team that gets poked down too easily before teamfights start!
Garen is often Built full AD with only one or two defensive items, although this build does work, it's much less gold-efficient, and can turn into a waste of time if you don't get fed enough to realize it, plus remember a tanky champion is always more useful than a full AD one to the team in most cases!
With all this being said, let's get into the core details of this guy!

Garen in S9

I feel confident when I say Garen's currently a great toplaner to climb to Diamond with. Once mastered, with the current runes system and the matchups as of this season, it's possible to carry games all the way to Diamond. I'm still experimenting up here to figure out how to go beyond that, and I will keep this guide up to date for that purpose aswell. Keep reading!

Some Questions and Some Answers

  • Why are there a lot of OLD items at the top?
    Garen's been reworked in patch 9.20 and he became a very strong toplane pick in comparison with before the patch. This means they may nerf him and make the new buildpaths worse than the old ones fairly soon. I want to keep an eye on what they plan to do in the next few patches before removing the old build paths. Just ignore them for now ^^
  • Is this 9.20 rework good?
    It is. It's in fact so good it may aswell be too good (in fact, I expect nerfs to come pretty soon). The guide's being completely reshaped to mirror the changes that have been made by this rework, it may take me a while before I fully update it, so please be patient!

  • Is Garen a tank?
    Even after the rework, Tank Garen is still viable, maybe even better than before thanks to the W shield and the True Damage Ultimate. Your damage will likely still be sufficiently high to dispose of the weaker foes and your defensive stats are still way above average. I don't like Tank Garen much, but if you want to play him that way, you're still going to have a good time for sure!

  • Will Garen be in the meta?
    As of patch 9.20, Garen's one of the strongest melee bruisers in toplane. I'd say that qualifies!

About FSat (the writer/me, lol)

Not too much to say, and I'm not huge on talking about myself. I've been playing League for some years now, since Season 4, started off Silver, quickly managed high Gold in season 5, high plat in season 6 and now I'm Diamond, climbed all tiers with Garen, HE IS VIABLE UP TO DIAMOND, I PROMISE.
This guide has been started almost 5 years ago and I've dedicated myself incredibly deeply to its up-to-dateness and its content. I'll keep working on this as best I can for as long as I can!

Here are some links for more information on me as a League player!
FSat's LolSkill
FSat's opgg
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YouTube - Twitch - Discord - Social Links

The YouTube guide has been removed due to it being outdated. I'll make a new one soon!

As a League player, I chose to invest my time into making guides and streaming games, showing what goes on in my head when playing Garen. The links and previews showed here are only a minor part of my work as a youtuber and content creator. I don't mean to spam, but following me through these channels can provide even more information than you can find in this huge guide :)


YouTube is where I started making content and it's where only the most important and useful games are shown. If you look for an occasional way to support me, or simply a channel for Garen mains, this is the place for you.
Visit FSat's YouTube channel (AMSatellite)

Here are a couple of previews of what you can expect to see on my channel:

Full Game Commentary example

Montage Example

(Nostalgic) My first Garen Montage (old! Shows how much I've improved in these years, though!)


I've recently started streaming on Twitch and became an affiliate right after, thanks to the already present fanbase from YouTube and Mobafire. No way I'll ever be able to repay you guys for your amazing support!
Twitch is where I stream at. Check out my page linked below for a schedule, basic information and the possibility to support me through Subscriptions and Donations directly. When I stream you can expect all my normality in games. I lock Garen/Darius and do my best to win the game and provide as much information to the viewers as I can, with chat as a powerful tool to keep requests coming and focusing on giving out the right advice at the right time. Keep in mind LIVE means LIVE: if I'm having a bad game, you'll see it all, hear it all. Unlike my YouTube, Twitch is a pure experience, where you can see how good I can be, but you can also see how many mistakes I can make: high elo didn't make me a machine: I still fail sometimes and it's hilarious! ;)

Visit FSat's Twitch page (AMSatellite)


If you don't know what Discord is, here is the short version. It's a Client that allows you to text, chat and voice call people in a public environment. Each person can create one or more Servers and invite friends or strangers inside said servers. I have a server of my own for my fans and my friends, called "Mights of Demacia". There, I post information (personal and Garen/League related), stream announcements, video announcements and generally speaking all that can matter to someone who follows me.
My server is also where you can talk to me privately to ask questions in a live chat or voice chat, or you can arrange a game with me when I am not grinding for elo in ranked. I really recommend joining in to keep in touch with me and my friends!

To join the server, simply click on the following link, you will then be able to choose if you want to install Discord as an app on your PC or simply open the server via Web Browser with some limitations on features.
Join FSat's Discord Server


I do have a Facebook page, but I haven't worked on it for months since Discord is so useful. One day I may pick it back up and keep it up to date, when the day comes, it will be linked here, too :)
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+ Great sustain paired with increasing tankiness!
+ Good base damage even after the update!
+ One of the best lategame carry-deleter thanks to his kit and the new "Villain" mechanic!
+ Overall good mobility and cc resistance
+ Good anti-tank thanks to the true damage he received from the update!
+ Only limited by his cooldowns!
+ Good team utility
Garen's base statistics are very very good and will give you a great edge in Early-Mid Game against most toplaners and junglers, that in conjunction with your passive ability's unique sustain will make you a real bully in your lane, a strong individual who beats people, while being hard to takedown and almost impossible to force out of lane! But that's not it! Garen's damage and tankiness allow him to turn into a very big pain for enemy carries, only limited by cooldowns thanks to him being manaless!


- Easy to kite
- His kit lacks crowd control (Silence is good but not enough!)
- Kill potential is not the same on all targets due to the new "Villain" mechanic
- Overall low mobility: speed boost is nice but the lack of a blink or jump forces us to use flash
- Manaless means many items are not gold efficient on him, which is sad
Unfortunately, Garen isn't as OP as people who can't deal with him claim, he definetly is good, but he has his flaws, no gap closing (easy to kite), no hard cc (people will always have a chance to run from him), he is unfortunately forced to choose between a limited amount of items due to gold efficiency. Many of these flaws can be fixed during the game, but it requires you to play well and use him to his full potential: follow this guide, and you'll do it for sure, I promise! ;).
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Welcome to the updated runes section!
In this section, I'll explain the choices behind the runes in the pages that concern the MAIN BUILD you can see at the top of the guide. Other builds that have dedicated chapters to them will have a little section containing all information on the runes for them directly there.

Conqueror Garen: the best page for the rework

Grasp of the Undying
Conquerornow procs once for each tick of Garen's Judgment. That makes Garen one of the strongest users of that keystone due to just how fast he can proc the 5 stacks and get access to the true damage conversion and healing. There's not much depth on how to "use" this keystone. Simply Q-E and stick to your target to quickly stack it up for maximum damage output and healing during the fight!

Triumph is a simple, yet strong rune for Garen. It heals you back for a percentage of your max HP after you get a kill or an assist, and provides you with some extra gold as a bonus. It's good for chaining kills in a teamfight and it's great to get even more of a lead if you're winning lane thanks to the bonus gold!

Legend: Tenacity
This rune will provide you with Tenacity as you kill minions, wards, monsters and champions (so basically anything lol). Garen's Courage is usually enough when it comes to Tenacity in a game, but the truth is some extra "always on" Tenacity on top of it is still extremely valuable for the times when you're caught without W up. Even the best Garen players can get caught with W on cooldown (the CD is actually quite long early and midgame) and this 30% bonus tenacity can prove vital to keep you alive in that situation.

Last Stand
Before you tell me that Coup de Grace is better: it simply isn't guys. Last Stand gives you MORE damage than Coup at almost all stages, it's always on when you're below a certain amount of HP and it boosts your damage when it matters. Now that Demacian Justice does True Damage to everybody, Coup won't enhance it at all ever because True Damage can't be enhanced nor reduced. By the time the enemy is low enough for Coup to give you damage, you can just press R and finish them off without making any use of Coup. If you're running Last Stand, any time you're below 60% your entire burst will be stronger, and that is very very valuable.

Secondary Tree

Bone Plating

Bone Plating is a fairly weak early game rune that becomes INSANE in midgame and lategame teamfights. It blocks a certain amount of damage from the next 3 sources for a short duration. There's a few toplane champions who do deal a fair bit of burst damage early on, and this rune can certainly help you against them, but the long cooldown on it and the short duration make it quite easy to play around. Later on, in teamfights, you'll likely get focused very quickly, and having this rune to absorb some of the burst you'll be taking will actually make you seem much tankier than you actually are. It's very strong, just requires patience to see its power.
Note that you can replace this rune with Second Wind against poke heavy lanes (generally ranged) like Gangplank or Kennen.

Garen's base HP early on is extremely good (one of the highest in the game), but it scales horribly into late due to a low amount of HP per level. Having Overgrowth somewhat fixes the issue without forcing us to give up early defensive stats from our shards. Very valuable rune for scaling into a good bruiser later on.

I hope this page makes sense to you. Before I let you go on to the Summoner Spells, let's discuss alternative pages. Note that runes from the alternative pages can fit in the page above (for example Second Wind instead of Bone Plating against poke heavy lanes).

Tank Garen (Strong early game page)

Grasp of the Undying
Grasp is the keystone of choice here because the other two simply can't proc with Garen's kit, leaving Grasp as the sole contender (and to be honest, it would've been the best regardless). What it does is simple, Grasp provides a means of in-fight sustain via autoattack whenever you're in combat for over 4 seconds and repeats itself every 4 seconds. Additionally, it increases your health PERMANENTLY whenever you proc it. This means you should use it whenever it's possible AND advantageous, DO NOT use it if it opens you to risk as you may gain 5 HP and heal for 20, then die, which is obviously not a worthy trade off. So in short, use it often, not always, or you'll make mistakes!

Demolish does some serious work when you're ahead in lane, especially since the addition of Turret Plating. With it, and the build we use, we will get to be a huge threat to objectives and the enemy team won't be able to ignore us pushing for one. Not to mention if you manage to get Turret Plating in lane you can actually earn insane amounts of gold to snowball with!

Second Wind
Second Wind - Insane rune. It heals you by a flat amount AND a % of your missing health every time you receive damage from an enemy champion. Not only is this amazing as a standalone rune, the interaction it has with Doran's Shield makes it even more powerful. This rune works so well on Garen because our objective is to deal damage quick and back out quick, which usually leaves our opponent with a small amount of time to deal damage, thus making this rune especially effective. Think about it, if you joined an extended trade, the rune would be refreshed constantly but the healing wouldn't be optimized, whereas if you take a small bit of damage, the healing you receive from the rune in combination with Doran's Shield will be massive and may outweigh the damage you took in the first place!

This rune stacks very well with Grasp's health increase and allows you to scale tankier even if you're not farming very well or simply can't stick Grasp's proc on your opponent. It won't help you in laning phase, but it will help you in the long run as the game progresses! You can opt for Unflinching too in hard lanes, but I generally would recommend using Overgrowth because Health is better than Tenacity :D.

Secondary Tree


Triumph gives us 2 things we like: 1) more gold and 2) in fight sustain. If you get a close call against a champion, Triumph will allow you to chain the kill you just earned into a safer escape or maybe another bit of fighting. Since we're aggressive players, and we also like to be tanky enough to dive, having a bit more of a reward for our risks is definitely good!

Legend: Tenacity
Scaling Tenacity on top of the already great amount we get from our W - Courage is good to have, though the real reason this rune is so good for Garen is that it's up when W is off too, meaning if you don't have Courage ready to block a CC, you'll still get less of a punishment for it, especially if you have other sources for Tenacity like Mercury's Treads, Unflinching or Sterak's Gage's passive.

Other Alternative Keystones (and some other ideas)

Keystone of choice for Jungle Garen and a very strong alternative to Conqueror when against a ranged champion.
As a small description, it's a movement speed steroid that only ends when you output damage in any form ( Ignite counts too, for instance) and buffs the first form of damage you do after its activation. Good keystone for macro play that allows for insane pressure on the map and also a good engage/anti-kite tool. The only issue is this keystone itself and its tree make up for a very weak laning phase, meaning it forces you to play pretty defensively in order not to lose trades, which is why I recommend running it when you reach higher elos and feel comfortable enough with a weak lane and a stronger mid-late.

Phase Rush
Stormraider's clone that requires you to land 3 different types of attack to proc. Sounds good on paper, but it is a bit harder to use than you'd expect especially in high elo. You can do the Auto-Q-E combo in laning phase only against melees and not everyone will allow you to do it either, after that, it's almost impossible to get over 1 autoattack in a single combo when you're teamfighting or trying to kill some lonely adc, meaning you'll only proc this keystone in laningphase or when you ult or use ignite. Of note, building Bami's Cinder will make the proc happen with Q-E only, which is actually pretty nice. Overall it's a great keystone but it only adds fun and some outmanouver potential to the mix, without necessairly boosting Garen's kill pressure, which is really all Garen gives to his team unless he's full Tank Garen.

Unsealed Spellbook
Good keystone. Opens up more paths for the game and allows you to do more with your summoner spells. The issue is it forces you to rely on them harder than you already do since the keystone itself and the tree it is in aren't extremely good for Garen specifically. I think it's definetly a viable option in some cases where you don't think you're going to need the pros of other keystones, but I don't recommend running it as your primary keystone!

Thunderlord's decree, except it's red and is way harder to proc on Garen, which is a primary reason I don't recommend it unless you're going for Lethality Garen, which is not a recommended build this season. If you're going to run this tree, it's probably better to just use Predator unless you're against an easy melee matchup.

Fleet Footwork
The heal is ok, the movespeed is nice to Q-back off but it ends up being nearly useless in mid-late game unless you have to stick to someone for a single second and not more. I think if you really want to have mobility in your kit, it's best to take Phase Rush over this keystone, also considering the Sorcery tree provides better lower tier runes than the Precision tree :)

Glacial Augment
Less dumb a choice than you may think into some ranged matchups. I personally don't use this keystone because I prefer to run Predator into ranged matchups since it allows me to just straight up kill my opposing laner, but this keystone does allow you to put a lot more pressure on the enemies, since getting Q'ed basically means not only being silenced but also being slowed. It basically empowers your Q's CC component, which isn't half bad, it's just a little worse than what other keystones do, but it has its niche. Use it when you feel like you just need that extra second to spin on your foe before killing them!

Ravenous Hunter
If you're running the Conqueror page and you're facing an easy toplaner+jungler duo, you can opt for this rune. You'll integrate your Conqueror healing, becoming a draintank in midgame and lategame, and you can complement this rune with Death's Dance later in the game to become impossibly hard to kill later on.

Cheap Shot
Your Decisive Strike silences your opponent, so if you spin right after that, you'll be dealing the true damage instantly. Given how Garen's a burst damage based champion, this is a massive enhancement to his kit. If you're running Domination as your primary or secondary tree, this rune is the best alternative out of the 3 possibilities in that branch.

Biscuit Delivery
A nice rune for hard lanes that helps you get through the very early stages. It's quite useless after you consumed your biscuits however, since you don't get access to the maximum mana they would provide if you had mana. Very niche.

Time Warp Tonic
Amazing rune in combination with Biscuit Delivery. What it does is it gives you 50% of the health restoring effect of ANY healing consumable IMMEDIATELY (that's 75 for a Health Potion) and the remaining 50% over the normal duration. Its only downside (that is irrelevant in my opinion) is you cannot pop multiple potions of the same type: say you had 2 Health Potions and you popped one, you'll get the 75 healing immediately, but then you're locked out of popping your 2nd potion for 15 seconds. It works on Biscuits and it works on Refillable Potion aswell!
An insane combo I do often is all-in my opponent until I'm very low, pop a biscuit and then pop a potion immediately after. Garen will heal for HUNDREDS of HP on the spot, winning the all-in in a clutch, cool and unexpected way. Given how biscuits aren't that good, I don't believe this rune is really worth taking, but I suppose it has its niche in specific lanes, if you want to be fancy.

Coup de Grace
A rune that's been nerfed and will almost always do less damage than Last Stand. It's a noob trap in my opinion. The damage boost does work on your Ultimate, but it won't be big enough to compare with the one you'll earn via Last Stand. Take that rune instead if you want a bit more damage in an all-in :)
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// Teleport in the direction of your cursor
Flash is the best summoner spell on Garen (in my opinion) because it gives him the instant teleport ability (a.k.a. engage) that he lacks, and can also be used to escape quickly and over walls if necessary.

// Lights up an enemy on fire, dealing a certain amount of true damage for 5 seconds
Ignite is an amazing spell for Garen: it's an useful way to finish off enemies that are escaping from you pre-level 6, and it will couple very well with your Demacian Justice after you hit level 6. Nothing prvents you from using Ignite on an enemy and then Demacian Justice on another enemy, to get a double kill, just make sure you are a good calculator and you'll do this often! ;) Don't forget that you can also use it on high lifesteal/healing targets, to half their regeneration.

Other viable summoner spells

// Teleport will allow you to teleport to a tower/ward/friendly minion
Teleport is a very common summoner spell for toplaners and Garen isn't an exception, the ability to back, shop and then pop out of your turret/minion is really nice. Not to mention the fact that it's amazing to just come out of a ward in a teamfight, turning the odds to your favor: a tank that appears all of a sudden can change things, especially if he's Garen! Why don't I pick it then? Simple, Ignite will allow you to snowball if used properly: it's just too good on Garen. In general, I'd say you should pick Teleport instead of Ignite against ranged enemies that will force you to recall often, or in case you are the only tank in your team and all of your teammates are squishy and need your presence often mid-lategame
Also, teleport beats ignite if you are in a 5 man Ranked with people you can communicate with. That makes every teleport count unless you guys are terrible at cooperating, into which case I'd recommend you get better premade friends to play with if you want to win and climb elo ^_^

// Ghost will boost your movement speed for a limited amount of time and will make you ignore unit collisions
Ghost can be seen by a Garen player in 2 ways...
  1. A boost that will stack up with your Decisive Strike and an unit collision ignoring spell that will stack up with your Judgment, an all in all good chasing spell that has a lower CD than Flash and can be used to escape aswell;
  2. Something that will add up with your champion abilities but won't fix one of the cons Garen has: your engage. You already have a movement speed boost thanks to Decisive Strike after all, so another "walking" spell won't change your game much.
It's as usual a preference matter, though to me the instant teleport Flash can give you will make a bigger difference most of the time.

// Will reduce enemy movement speed, attack speed and damage output for a limited amount of time
Troll lanes exist, hard lanes exist and this spell can help you when trying to stick someone that always runs away to the ground ( Vayne, Teemo, etc...), so you can deal more damage and increase your kill potential. It works in very specific cases though, and sacrificing Flash for this may leave you with less possibilities in different situations, while sacrificing Ignite/Teleport for this also isn't lovely. You can use this spell if you want, but I generally don't recommend you do.
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    Sustain passive. If Garen doesn't take damage from Champions/Turrets/Epic Monsters for 7 seconds, Garen will regenerate a % of his maximum HP every second. Hover your mouse on the ability's icon to see the exact numbers. The regeneration is extremely strong in laning phase after level 4, it gets worse later on because realistically you'll be joining one single teamfight and the instances in which you can go in, get out and heal up thanks to it will be few. Still, if Garen's built tanky, he can be extremely oppressive thanks to this passive later on.
Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view

Decisive Strike: This is going to ALWAYS be your first unlocked ability because it's simply too good of a level 1: it will give you a 30% speed boost for a limited time, will deal lots of bonus damage and silence your target on hit, and will get you clear of ALL SLOWS (and slows ONLY) at activation (and at activation ONLY).

Keep in mind that damage and speed boost duration will grow with levels of the ability, however the speed boost's intensity and silence duration WON'T.

Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view

Courage: Courage is the reason why Garen is so tanky thanks both to its passive, and its active.
Passive: Garen gains 0.25 armor and magic resist permanently when killing any unit. He can get a maximum of 30 bonus armor and magic resist.
Active: For the first 0.75 seconds, Garen gains a shield equal to 10% of his maximum Health and 60% Tenacity. For the entire duration of the ability (the first 0.75 seconds are INCLUDED), Garen has 30% damage reduction.
Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view

Judgment: Judgment is your main damage source: activating it will make Garen spin for 3 seconds dealing AOE physical damage over those 3 seconds. The speed of the spin increases based on your attack speed gained from Items and Levels ONLY, its duration, however, doesn't change.
Judgment deals 25% more damage to the closest enemy you're hitting (minions count).
Garen ignores collisions while spinning.
Each damage tick of Judgment provides a stack of Conqueror.
Judgment can critically strike, dealing 150% damage.
Canceling Judgment earlier refunds part of its cooldown equal to the remaining duration (max 2 seconds).
Enemies hit by 6 ticks of Judgment lose 25% of their armor for 6 seconds, refreshing every time they are hit again by

Judgment is Garen's strongest ability. Getting close to Garen while he's spinning is hazardous and lethal!

Tips and Tricks
Spoiler: Click to view

Demacian Justice: Your Ultimate Ability is (in my opinion, but many will agree) the best finisher in the game, as it's impossible to dodge once channelled, deals damage based on something that can't be countered and is extremely cool to watch! ;D
The ability will deal a specified amount of True Damage (DOES NOT scale from AD/AP), plus more damage scaling from the enemies' missing health. I really recommend you check the ability's official page here to see raw stats and realize how powerful this ability really is!

You're going to max Demacian Justice every time you can, as it's one of the best abilities in your kit and one of the most powerful ones in the game.

Tips and Tricks

Spoiler: Click to view

Skill/Spell Combos

There are many possible combos that you can use, here are the most efficient ones that WILL include also summoner spells.

Spoiler: Click to view
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Possible starts (Universal)

UPDATED Doran's Shield
Doran's shield is a very strong early game item. Provides a good amount of defensive stats and its passives help you farm and keep your hp high enough to remain in lane through poke and early trades. Very valuable item, the best first one for Garen no doubt.

Cloth Armor
Because Garen won't receive bonus aror from his Courage, starting with this item isn't as effective as it was beore, but the truth is that it is still a ver reliable start against AD casters and basic attackers. Not only will it give you more armor to stack up with the flat amount you now earn from farming with Courage it also allows for amazing sustain in lane thanks to the 4 health Potions.

Long Sword
This start is mostly useful when your lane opponent tends to be tankier than you early game and makes you risk death due to him outtrading you (people like Shen or Malphite are in this category). It also helps you in last hitting which has a huge value. I normally prefer defensive starts but this start should not let you down regardless.

Boots of Speed
This is the main start you will want when you are fighting against a ranged enemy or a mage. You are melee and you need the speed boost to make sure your Decisive Strike lands, allowing a full burst to happen. They also to towards Mercury's Treads which are often the first item you will finish against a ranged/heavy cc enemy! Plus 4 pots are a great tool in lane, and this start allows you to get them!

Ruby Crystal
Healthy start which just turned more effective after the gameplay update. Due to Courage not boosting flat resistances anymore, getting early health to boost your resistance and passive is a great plan. Mostly effective against melee ap enemies ( Ekko or Akali and similars), the item goes towards Black Cleaver, meaning you can start with it when you know you will have a big advantage in lane too.

Items for the rest of Laning Phase and the Mid Game

Following the rework in patch 9.20, this item has become one of Garen's strongest first items in the game. It provides 2 extra ticks of your spin on buy, gives you CDR and is truly cheap. Rush this every single time you're ahead in lane. Rush defensive items listed below if you are behind.

Chain Vest
This is a great go-to item for AD lanes, it only gives you armor, and it builds into most of the defensive items you may need for the midgame and the lategame. Not much to write here, the item is good and you can pretty much build it every time you are facing an AD based toplaner.

Bramble Vest
Similar to a Chain Vest, costs more, builds towards a Thornmail ONLY.
I'll tell you what, this item is AWESOME when built against the right enemy. Anyone who mostly autoattacks will hate you if you have this item. Rush this when you're facing an autoattacker toplane like Aatrox, Irelia, Jax and similars, or if you are against an AD enemy and you know the enemy ADC will be a problem, remember, fixing something before it happens is great!

Warden's Mail
This item is similar to the Chain Vest but transitions into Randuin's Omen only and provides a basic attack slowing passive, meaning you should build it against enemies that are:
1) Basic attack/attack speed based, because we want the passive to be a factor, the 5 extra armor point aren't worth the extra coin if the enemy is an AD caster
2) Crit focused, because when we get Randuin's Omen that's what we'll try to counter
So in general you can focus on this item if you're facing enemies like Yasuo or Tryndamere to reduce their damage output by quite a bit.

Chain Vest vs Bramble Vest vs Warden's Mail.

  • Get a Chain Vest if you are facing an AD Caster like Riven, Renekton or Illaoi. They will basic attack, sure, but less than a Tryndamere or a Jax, don't you think? So get that cheap armor and focus on either a sunfire or a Dead Man's Plate :).
  • Getting a Bramble Vest implies you'll get a Warden's Mail too after, the vice-versa isn't always true, though! Before you read on keep in mind the following: THERE IS NO BETTER ITEM BETWEEN THE TWO. They both ruin autoattackers, I will just indicate when it's overall a better idea to prefer one over the other, but it really depends on you and what your enemy is building and playing like.
  • Get a Bramble Vest if an enemy autoattacker against which you are playing has autoattack based sustain, this is basically lifesteal, Darius's Q won't be hit by the grievous wounds because it takes about 1 second to happen, so don't even think about buying this item too early if they're going for attack speed/critical strike/AD only. An example is as follows: someone like Irelia or Trundle won't build lifesteal right off the bat, but they sustain via autoattacks anyway, so you get the Bramble Vest and ruin their lives easily!
  • Get a Warden's Mail if you are facing an autoattacker who's stacking up critical strike chance/AD/attack speed and has no lifesteal, or autoattack based sustain. Someone like Yasuo will hate this item, as it ruins his Q's cooldown and reduces his ability to damage you during trades.

Bami's Cinder
Health and an AoE magic damage passive. This item turns into Sunfire Cape and deals a fair amount of magic damage per second to all the enemies close to you. This means that if you buy it too early, you may end up pushing your lane alot, denying yourself farm and exposing to ganks. However, there are lanes in which this item is pure gold. For example, say you're fighting a Darius or a Renekton who's built a Chain Vest and clearly wants to go towards Dead Man's Plate or sunfire, this build will protect him from alot of your physical damage, by building Bami's Cinder you complement your kit with some extra magic damage which can help you greatly in trades. Or you're facing a very good Riven who always tanks your damage using her shield, by building this item you'll damage her whenever she tries to trade with you and counter her shield, because it only lasts a few seconds.
So in general, you want to build this item against an AD focused enemy who's building tanky to counter you.

Spectre's Cowl
Essential item against AP focused toplaners which provides great tanky stats and counters the poke/harrass tendency that APCs have with their abilities. You should build this item in every balanced game as it will turn into Spirit Visage, giving it priority if you're against an AP based enemy like Teemo or Vladimir.

This item is a good early game mixed one. Gives you a good amount of AD and a good amount of health to go with, plus a passive that further boosts your engage by activating after you land a Decisive Strike or a basic attack. Sometimes you can even basic attack, then proceeding with Decisive Strike for extra movement speed! This is the main damage source you will want because it turns into the Black Cleaver or the Trinity Force.

Jaurim's fist
Good laning phase item that makes you go through the mid-game relatively well too. It provides health that scales up with every unit kill (exactly the same thing as your W's passive component) at a rate of 5 health points per unit killed. Is this an "every game" item? No. It gives 150 health off the bat (not that much) and only gets gold efficient provided you're managing to farm alot, and this just doesn't always apply, especially if you're not having an easy time in lane. However, as of patch 7.9, Black Cleaver has been nerfed considerably, making it not worth buying in every game, due to the armor reduction mechanic Judgment provides.
So when should you prefer to rush this item over the Phage?
If the enemy team has less than 2 tanks, you'll rush this instead of the Phage. This is because you'll rush a Sterak's Gage as your first damage item and not a Black Cleaver.

Serrated Dirk
AD + armorpen, that's the brutalizer (weaker) for you. This item goes towards Edge of Night or Youmuu's Ghostblade. It's a very good item if you get ahead a Low difficulty matchup, or when you get extremely far ahead of your enemies.

An item that basically merges damage with resistance and is very helpful against AP enemies top. Picking this item against low CC APs top is basically buying a ticked to win the lane (an example is Vladimir). It's a big amount of AD, a great amount of MR and a great passive (a shield) that will allow you to trade when you would normally have to back off (this often catches enemies off guard, and allows you to get free kills you'd normally not get). It's not ALWAYS the best damage item to pick against APCs but it's helpful in most lanes. MORE ON THIS IN MATCHUPS SECTION. THANKS TO USER "SREEN" FOR RECOMMENDING THIS ITEM!

Health + CDR. 2 stats Garen benefits from greatly, and because this item turns into Spirit Visage, this item is a true jewel. You can purchase it once you have some flat resistances (Armor and Magic Resistange) and an offensive item like those listed above in your inventory. Picking the item you want to turn your Kindlegem into can be situational because it now goes also towards Warmog's Armor which is a pretty neat item, and also towards the Ohmwrecker which I love if I get ahead. More on this below and in the Matchups section.

Giant's Belt
An item that provides lots of health, and turns into many defensive items over the course of the game, like Dead Man's Plate or Randuin's Omen. We normally prioritize flat resistances like Armor and Magic Resistance for the early game, but once those are set up, and you got a Phage or an Hexdrinker (depends on the enemy you're facing) in your inventory, you can build some extra health, taking this in case of an AD lane.

Executioner's Calling
Damage and Grevious Wounds to counter your enemy laner's sustain. Not too gold efficient and can be useless if you know how to manage your Ignite properly. Should you have Teleport and be against a heavy sustain enemy like Vladimir or Volibear, then this item is a blessing that you'll only be able to afford if you manage to get the coin to buy this AND a defensive item. As you may expect it's not that easy, but if you farm properly it won't be an issue for sure. I just don't think this item is a good "every game" item for Garen.
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Trinity Force
This is by far Garen's best offensive item in the game. It gives a huge number of stats he benefits from, now including the attack speed for the patch 9.20 rework. It's extremely expensive and has a rough build path, but it's very valuable and can actually work as a sole damage item for Garen.
You should prioritize the build path as follows
  1. Stinger: Stinger is the strongest component of this item. It gives you CDR, boosts your Judgment damage and is dirt cheap compared with most other offensive items in the game that can provide similar damage to it.
  2. Sheen: you'll naturally only buy the full Sheen with 1050 gold and not the Sapphire Crystal (since Garen is a manaless champion), but it's still a better buy than Phage early on, since it boosts your Decisive Strike damage by much more than 15 AD would.
  3. Phage: get Phage last. You can buy the Ruby Crystal early on if you need more HP, but don't get Phage before Stinger or Sheen. It's the most expensive item of the three and it's also the worst for Garen.

The Black Cleaver
The cheaper alternative to Trinity Force, which is still always relevant for Garen even after the various reworks both the champion and the item have received. It gives AD, health, cooldown reduction which are all gold perks for the G-man. Besides, the two passives are amazing aswell, the armor shred is a huge deal for enemies as they will be weaker to you and to all your physical damage based teammates. The "rage" passive is also perfect in your kit, as it will allow you to stick to enemies you engage much more easily, providing extra mobility! This item is pure gold on Garen and it's always safe. You can build it in any game in any condition should you need it.

Trinity Force VS Black Cleaver

Most of you may have already figured out which item to get when, but I'll give you some help. There are two factors to consider when choosing between the two items: enemy tanks and gold income. Let's figure out what I'm talking about:
  • Enemy Tanks: Ask yourselves this question: "how many tanks does the enemy team have?". Its answer will tell you what to get. Let me elaborate: if the enemy team has 3 or more tanks/bruisers, then Black Cleaver will allow you to do good damage to them and will make your other AD champions stronger, which will in turn benefit the entire team.
  • Gold Income: no one wins all the lanes. There'll be quite a few instances in which you won't have a lot of gold. Trinity Force costs about 3700 gold, while Black Cleaver is only 3000. If you're against squishy enemies but can't afford Trinity, go for Black Cleaver instead. The damage will be nice still, and you won't be called out by your teammates for trying to build the most expensive item in the game (Trinity) without a lead big enough!

Sterak's Gage
Complementary item. What does that mean? It means it's a great item to get AFTER you got one of the two core items above, worse if you get it on its own. Garen's base AD is quite high, being able to get 50% of it on top of your total is good, but Sterak's is expensive and only really provides HP and AD, with the other powerful stats locked behind a damage gated item passive. Don't get me wrong, this item is AMAZING for Garen, it'll almost always be a part of your build after you got your CORE item (Black Cleaver or Trinity force), but it can't be your only offensive option ever. The passive will give you a shield based on your maximum HP and 30% Tenacity if you take a certain amount of damage in a short window. It's a massive help when the enemy team's using burst damage on you, it'll almost always counter an assassin/mage's full combo and will allow you to more easily escape alive in close fights.

Phantom Dancer
After the 9.20 rework, this item has become a massive complementary item next to Sterak's Gage. It gives even more attack speed to bump up Judgment's spin count, critical strike chance that works on Judgment itself and a shield similar to Sterak's Gage's albeit weaker in size and minus the Tenacity. So why am I recommending it then? It sounds like it's good but still quite a bit weaker than Sterak's. Well, Phantom Dancer is much cheaper than Sterak's so you'll get it much earlier if the game allows you to.

Sterak's Gage VS Phantom Dancer

Here's another VS. Lot's of VSs in this guide!!!
Sterak's and PD are apparently as different as they can be, but in reality, there's similarities to take into account when choosing one of the two.
First off, Sterak's Gage makes Garen way tankier, both in its stats and in its passive, while Phantom Dancer is a massive damage boost. By this alone you can tell that Sterak's is to be preferred when the enemy team is more damage oriented (a 5 man squishy high damage team demands that you get Sterak's), while Phantom Dancer is better when you're facing teams with weaker damage and more resilience (like bruisers or tanks). One huge difference to keep in mind is that Phantom Dancer's shield will ALWAYS proc when your HP falls below a certain amount, while Sterak's shield only procs if you take enough damage, regardless of how much Health you actually have at a given point, this means that you shouldn't get Sterak's against teams with low burst damage since you could literally die without the shield even proccing. Note that the damage in League of Legends as of patch 9.20 is quite high, so the odds of Sterak's shield being useful are not bad, even if the enemy team isn't full damage based, but generally speaking the rule should be Sterak's into high damage teams and PD into high tankiness teams.
We're not done, though! Phantom Dancer is massively cheaper than Sterak's Gage, meaning if you're too far behind to afford Sterak's you can get PD and get access to the extra damage and the shield faster.
Finally, I'd like to state that, while all combinations between the CORE and complementary items can make sense (BC + Sterak's/BC + PD/ Trinity + Sterak's/Trinity + PD), the best two are Black Cleaver + Phantom Dancer and Trinity Force + Sterak's Gage, because BC and PD are generally stronger against tanks and are cheaper and Trinity and Sterak's are more powerful against high damage squishies and more expensive. It's possible in some cases to try combining 3 of these items, or even get all 4, but it's so rare I won't talk about it.

Youmuu's Ghostblade
Damage, cdr, armorpen, mobility. Pretty awesome right?
Sure we don't get any tankiness and that's why I don't think youmuu's is as important as a Black Cleaver, but it's definetly up there with it. If the enemy team doesn't stack up armor, or you are going for the flat armorpen build, get this item as your first main damage item. It's obviously not that great of a choice if the enemy team is too far ahead, due to no tankiness, in that case it's best to get the Black Cleaver, but if you're ahead, go on and get this item no problem.

Duskblade of Draktharr
Damage, cdr, armorpen and most importantly: vision control. Yes, this item isn't awesome for its base stats, but it's BRILLIANT for the amount of control it provides you.
I won't go into detail about the simple fact that if you show up after not being seen by the enemies, your first basic attack will deal an amazing amount of extra damage, rather I'd stick to why the item is such a great control item. At a moderate cooldown you'll get the chance to be warned about enemy wards being placed in the area around you, granted with magic vision to be able to dispose of them and also, and this is the real twist not many people know about, you'll get a buff indicator every time the damaging passive is up.
Let me explain this mechanic further, so that you can abuse it. When your empowered baisc attack is ready (and thus, it means you have been out of enemy vision for a couple of seconds), you'll be able to see it in your status bar. This means that the enemies don't know you're there, regardless of anything else. So if you don't have a pink, or a red trinket, and Duskblade's passive is not up, you'll still know when you're hidden. Finally,
if you see the indicator "depleting", indicating your empowered basic attack will soon be unavailable, this means that wether by wards or enemies themselves, you have been spotted and should either make a play or retreat out of vision. The item is basically a proximity indicator for wards and allows you to move around the enemy jungle with knowledge no other item in the game can give you. I'm building this item almost every game ever since I realized its incredible potential and you should too. It really gives you an edge on macro play since you can walk around with wards available but still be able to manage vision as if you had a red trinket! :D


Berserker's Greaves
Following the 9.20 rework, these boots have become Garen's strongest boots by far. They almost provide 2 spins on their own for the dirt cheap price of 1100 gold and will give you as much movement speed as their defensive counterparts. Rushing these boots before any other item can actually be extremely effective into high mobility champions or orbwalking ones because you get a massive movement speed buff early on and a colossal amount of damage on top of that, making you instantly a threat to your lane opponent. Outside lane, they are offensive boots so you'll wind up squishier than if you bought Ninja Tabi for instance, but the amount of damage and the threat level you'll achieve by buying these boots is so valuable that you should consider this boots every time you're far ahead of your foe.

Ninja tabi
More amor and auto-attack damage reduction is nice, and they cost less than Mercury's Treads, so in case you are fighting an AD enemy and you don't wanna wait for your next back to have boots, you can buy these. Maybe swap them for Mercury's Treads mid-lategame, because you need Tenacity for teamfights much more than you'll need auto-attack damage reduction. However this isn't true if the enemy team has 2 or more autoattack based champions like Tryndamere or Yasuo or Olaf

Mercury's Treads
Yes, they won't block auto-attack damage, but their passive will boost your resistance to hard CCs even higher than it is by default, making you almost unstoppable: when you decide someoene dies, SOMEONE WILL DIE. In addition, you also get some more MR, which is always nice ^_^. This is why I tend to prefer these over Ninja Tabi often, especially because Tenacity is just broken on Garen

Boots of Swiftness
These boots are golden on Garen when you're facing a ranged opponent, no matter if he's AD based or AP based ( Vayne, Jayce, Teemo, etc...). They'll make you faster than your enemy, allowing you to close the gap faster and hit them more often, leaving them with less chances of escaping, sometimes this makes up for the lack of defenses these boots suffer from. Regardless, after patch 5.17, with the base speed reduction and the Q's speed buff nerf, these boots turn more viable for lanes that favour you. ATTENTION, though! If your enemies have lots of CCs, Mercury's Treads beat these boots, Tenacity is better than raw speed in this case!

Core ARMOR Items

Dead Man's Plate
Brilliant item for Garen. Armor (a good amount too), Health, passive movement speed, a potential slow (huge addition on Garen's kit) and extra damage on a basic attack. If you have 100 stacks and activate Decisive Strike you will move as fast as a car and hit like a truck for a huge amount of damage, which is brilliant both in laning phase and in mid-late game. The item is also relatively cheap, this is also a great reason to build it first often, a cheap item with good stats and brilliant passives that make Garen get stronger in all his aspects fits the definition of first item in my opinion. Just read this full section as sometimes you may prefer other first items.

Sunfire Cape
This item is still very good on Garen, it will add armor, health and a magic damage passive, which is helpful on a champion entirely based on AD like Garen, as it will surprise opponents who'll build armor to avoid damage from you. As many say, and they're right, it's a core item for you and you should be building this in most of your games, but there are also games in which you may prefer other solutions, depending on the role you want to fill in your team. After patch 7.9, Sunfire pushes the lane extremely hard and doesn't damage champions as much as it used to. I believe it to still be very important for Garen, but keep in mind your gankability will rise if you push too hard, making it not the safest item in lanes you don't wanna push too much in!

Randuin's Omen
An item similar to Sunfire Cape in its base stats but different in its target, to help you choose between this and Sunfire there is a small paragraph below. This item has recently been nerfed and changed in some ways. The nerf on armor is not too big of a hit, as 60 is still a good amount to go with, but the nerf on health is a bigger deal, with it, Randuin's now gives less health than a full Sunfire Cape. The new passive that reduces critical strike damage stacks up whell with the masteries I choose, plus the AoE slow is now stuck flat at 4 seconds which is very good for Garen. You should build this item agains heavy basic-attack/critical strike enemies like Tryndamere, Vayne, Jax etc...

Sunfire Cape vs Randuin's Omen vs Dead Man's Plate.

  • Every matchup has its own solution and these 3 items are all brilliant choices regardless.
  • You can prefer Sunfire Cape against AD casters and enemies who don't rely on attack speed like Riven or Renekton, as the armor is enough and the damage boost the passive provides is considerable, especially because it's magic damage. Also you can prefer Sunfire against enemies who build armor against you, to boost your trading potential.
  • You can prefer Randuin's Omen against high basic attack and critical strike based enemies like Tryndamere or Yasuo, but it can work against all other AD based enemies too.
  • Keep in mind the three items are similar and swappable: building one instead of the other will have a bigger difference based on the enemy team's composition!

Thornmail is a very very good item when built against the right enemies, this is why although you won't build it every game, I consider it to be a core item in the build. It gives you 75 more armor, 250 HP and a passive ability that will give back 25 damage + 10% of your bonus Armor (including the armor you get from Courage stacks) to the attacker as magic damage, inflicting grievous wounds, negating healing abilities to your opponents. This item is the best anti-autoattacker item that exists. The reason why I didn't include it into the main build is that its passive is situational, because while it's always good, it's only GREAT when the enemy team has 2+ autoattackers (like Tryndamere and Ashe, for example) You can swap this item with Sunfire Cape or Randuin's Omen or Dead Man's Plate when the enemy team has 1 or more extra auto-attacker apart from the ADC, or when the enemy ADC is really fed and you want to stop him.


Spirit Visage
A great item for Garen in all of its stats: more health is good, more health regen is good, CDR is PERFECT, MR is PERFECT, and its passive ability will boost your Perseverance by 20%. After patch 7.13 and the non-viability of Abyssal Mask on Garen, Sprit Visage turns back into the CORE MR item for Garen, with Adaptive Helm being the secondary choice we go for when against a hard AP based matchup. Keep in mind the Spectre's Cowl can often be enough to go through lane especially if you opened up with Doran's Shield, but sometimes closing up the Visage can aid with your passive to a point where your enemy's harrass becomes a non-factor, and since Visage's a cheap item too, it's often worth grabbing early anyway, think it through and decide for yourself based on the game's look :)

Adaptive Helm
Amazing item into DPS based APCarries like Ryze or Cassiopeia. Building this item is recommended against any team containing a DPS mage, it'll do wonders for your durability and its stats aren't half bad either!
Building it in suboptimal cases WILL NOT break your game, so it's not a "bad" overall item, however, optimizing builds is a huge factor in higher elos, so you need to train on that from the start of your climb!

Maw of Malmortius
This item isn't as CORE as it may seem, but if you have an Hexdrinker in your inventory, you will want to turn it into this item without question. AD, extra magic resistange for lategame and a shield that scales based on your already high MR? What else do you want? CDR? Oh wait... You get that too! You should build this item when you have built an Hexdrinker in midgame, however, the time in which you should actually complete the purchase depends on the matchup and also on the enemy team's composition. Say you're against Akali top and you're winning: building this item makes her completely useless, and this obviously can apply to a Vladimir you just may have conveniently rekt earlier in the laning phase. Of note, the Maw isn't a good standalone damage item, so you'll always want to company it with a Black Cleaver or a Sterak's Gage for maximum damage and tankiness potential.


Mixed items are items that provide both defense and damage to a degree, or both Magic Resist and Armor, generally items that don't give you a single stat but more.

Gargoyle Stoneplate
A very good item that allows Garen to be tanky against both types of base damages,
with an active component that gives you a ticket out of jail. The way this item should work for you, is an instant use after your combo is done. So if you flash and then Q-E-R someone,
you activate this, stay in the fight for its entire duration (4 seconds) before finally getting away. What it'll do is allow you to escape without dying in most scenarios,
tank alot of damage for your teammates, allowing them to output damage AFTER you gave out yours, and also continue to shred the enemies's armor while you tank abnormous amounts of damage. Overall a must buy on Tank Garen, even with no HP in its base statistics.

Titanic Hydra
A beastly item for all fighters and melee attackers, I did build it a few times on Garen and it does increase his damage output by quite a lot. The problem is that it's yet another Health based item that doesn't really give too much defense, especially if you already have over 3500 health, the difference isn't too big. So I'd say you can build this item when you are ahead by alot, just after Black Cleaver for extra damage and offensive power, or as your 6th item if you feel like the enemy team doesn't have alot of damage and you can be tanky enough without having to fill your 6th slot with a fully defensive item. You can use its active right before a Decisive Strike for a huge amount of damage, as it will stack up with Dead Man's Plate's momentum stacks and your ability's already good base damage!
NOTE: this item is a CORE item in the Titan Garen Build

Warmog's Armor
Changes to Warmog's are relatively negligible on Garen, thanks to his passive. Besides the new Sterak's Gage is a very good replacement for this item in lategame. This does not mean that this item is uneffective. You should build this item if you had to purchase a Thornmail, if the enemy team has Darius/ Cho'Gath/ Shyvana, or when you are up against a squishy team with high mixed damage output.
Also, if you purchase a Youmuu's Ghostblade and end up with low max health, do consider this item.

Titanic Hydra VS Warmog's Armor

These 2 items are damn good on Garen, all 3 of them. Sadly, in most games you'll only build one.
So how to choose?
When should you grab Titanic Hydra?
The new Hydra's damn good on Garen and on any fighter. The AD boost is neat and the passive and active are a huge deal when you're carrying, because they allow you to 100% - 40% a carry with just your Decisive Strike, especially if you also have completed your Dead Man's Plate, so its spot is obviously in a situation in which you are ahead by a lot. You already got 30 extra Armor and Magic Resistance from Courage and you completed Black Cleaver along with some Armor and MR from unfinished items? Buy Hydra and you will become a real Juggernout, high tankiness with flat stats, high health and huge damage output for your team to be carried with!
When should I get Warmog's Armor?
Warmog's comes in handy when the enemy team's damage output is ridicolously high AND mixed especially if you are behind, because they will get armor/magic penetration, making your flat resistances less of an aid in fights. Also, you can prefer this item in games filled with NOT max health based true damage, as it will give you much more time to live with. You can opt for a Warmog's when the enemy team is filled with pokers like Jayce, Xerath, Nidalee, etc..., so you can basically sponge all their pokes and then sustain them all back to full health in no time! Finally, you can build Warmog's when the enemies are full AD instead of Spirit Visage, so you don't loose the boost to your passive that item gives you.


The new Elixirs will be an important part of the new build, as the three you can see on top of this text are all useful on Garen for various reasons. You should build these in lategame after you are full build OR in mid-game if you see you are struggling at snowballing your teammates' lanes. To know if buying one in the mid-game was worth it, you should do some maths: gold spent = 400, gold earned = ?. If you don't manage to earn at least 2x the gold you spend BEFORE recalling, you didn't make a good call on purchasing a temporary buff. Let's talk about all of the elixirs you can choose from, now.

Elixir of Iron
The Elixir of Iron is probably the best elixir out of the 2 Garen can use. Why? 300 health for 500 gold 25% more tenacity to stack up with Mercury's Treads and the Tenacious mastery for a total of around 65% total tenacity, allowing you to stick to targets like you never could before!
The passive is also nice, your teammates will be able to follow up an engage you could create much easier, allowing for extra teamwork. You should build this Elixir in pretty much every game when you're full build.

Elixir of Wrath
The Elixir of Wrath provides 30 AD which is nice on Garen, especially in lategame when you may have dropped off in terms of damage by quite a bit. The passive provides in-fights sustain, which is definetly nice, especially because it applies to all the physical damage you deal, meaning your Judgment counts, so it's definetly helpful if you find yourself unable to 1v1 the enemy carry and need a boost in damage.
It's a great elixir, but generally speaking it's more situational than the one we've previously covered, meaning you have to pick the games when you use it more carefully, mostly depending on your role in teamfights (if you have one) and most importantly depending on how high the damage output of the enemy team is.

Elixir of Ruin
R.I.P. Elixir of Ruin. You will be remembered (item has been removed)

Other viable items

The brutalizer
The Brutalizer... An item I loved with my soul... It's now gone. Shame on Riot for doing this... It will always be in my heart.
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Early Game (Laning phase)

Garen's early game is what was mostly nerfed in patch 5.16. However, he still has great power, the only real difference is that because you won't get extra help from the old Courage passive, you'll want to trade more carefully, and farm well!

Last Hitting, how important is it?

Last hitting is priority in this part of the game, gold + Courage stacks are vital and even if the items you will focus on first are relatively cheap, because of the early game nerf, you will want to get as much money as you can.
You can aid yourself at farming by using Decisive Strike, as it makes you harder to poke or harass and helps you with higher damage output on a basic attack. Farming with Judgment is not recommended, though, as it will push your lane, making you easier to gank and giving the opponent more safety while farming! You can use Judgment to waveclear if you fear the enemy may dive you or if you are being ganked by a tank.

Trading, when, how and why?

Trading is another important part of early game. Dealing some damage to force your enemy off lane or maybe even to kill him is vital for Garen's midgame to be good, especially if we grab Ignite: outfarming, zoning destroying the tower and killing repeteadly the enemy toplaner will kick him out of mid-game, allowing you to roam, so even after patch 5.16, DO NOT PLAY GAREN LIKE NASUS, STACKS ARE IMPORTANT BUT YOU NEED TO TRADE. FARMLANE GAREN DOES NOT EXIST.
Trading is simple, but I would recommend you do not trade seriously until you unlocked your Courage at level 3. Start with Decisive Strike and then follow up with Judgment for a full burst trade, the damage will be high enough for your enemies to be afraid of this, allowing you to zone them more easily, also thanks to the sustain from Perseverance, which will refill your health in case they trade back. Proper use of Courage is also a key to winning trades harder: when you are using your abilities, most enemies will try running, in this case you will obviously not use Courage, but keep it for the moment when your abilities are on CoolDown, in case your enemy turns around and trades back after you're done dealing damage. If the enemy does not run but finds the courage (lol) to trade back while you are spinning, use Courage then.

Kills and ganks: how to

Killing your enemies when they are low is relatively easy thanks to Demacian Justice post-6 and Ignite pre-6 and also post-6, trade consistently every time you know you can win the trade, and you will quickly realize when the enemy is low enough for your burst to be lethal, paired with Ignite or your ult, or both. Also use Flash to surprise engage if your enemy plays too safe when he is low, your silence is still long enough for you to secure the kill with a surprise!
When playing Garen this aggressively, you will end up pushed almost constantly, purchasing Stealth Wards often will prevent enemy ganks from being too dangerous, use them often and keep vision on the river at all times.

What to do if you get ganked?
If you get ganked you have 2 possiblities: you can kill an enemy (or both) and escape, or escape directly. It usually depends on the enemy jungler and the items you have: if your enemy is AD based, you'll have armor, if the jungler is also AD based, chances are you'll be able to get a kill or two, or at least make them both have to run away from you, the same applies for AP. If the enemy jungler deals different damage, then you're 9 times out of 10 better off running, because your main strength (tankiness) won't help you. This ganking reaction applies in most cases, but variables exist and I can't cover all of them, experience will help you more than every guide in this sense.


When laners start roaming for longer time and skirmishes and small teamfights start happening, you are in the mid-game. This usually happens when you are around 15-20 minutes in the game and will last longer depending on how big of an advantage one team has over the other. This phase is your best phase. You will have great damage output thanks to the Villain mechanic and to your abilities' great scalings and because of our tanky build paired with Courage stacks (you should aim to have at least 20 bonus armor and magic resist at this point) you will also be able to tank alot of damage while doing your usual work: shutting down carries.

Focus the Villain at all times or not?

No. The enemy Villain is the one with the most recent kills, but not always will it be the enemy carry. It could be that an enemy Brand is on a killing spree but he's going 3/4/1 while the enemy Kalista is 7/2/3. In this case even if Brand would be an easy kill, you still want kalista dead, as it will help your team get an advantage in any successive skirmish until she spawns back. This, however, applies when you won your lane. If you lost your lane, you may not be strong enough to shut down an actual carry, or simply you may need kills to get gold, without being picky. In that case you could focus the Villain even if he's not a carry, because you get an easy kill for easy gold and XP, allowing for a comeback to be possible.

Other stuff a good Garen does

Also, helping teammates with your tankiness alone is often a good choice. A good example is to tank a turret to force it to be destroyed, giving everyone in your team gold, or helping them dealing with Dragons, as your presence alone can make the enemies afraid to try contest it due to silence.
Don't forget about your lane though, this isn't late game! Between ganks and roams, you have to put an eye top or your external tower may get destroyed. It could be protected by someone else while you work in other areas of the map, and it's just fine, all that matters is that you keep your tower up as long as possible.
In general, Garen can carry but it isn't like you will carry every single game. This means you may want to fill other roles rather than being a killing machine. That is why we build tanky. The build I suggest in this guide is mostly thought to make you next to unstoppable when you get ahead, thus carrying, but also to allow you to help your team even if you are behind. Garen can do this even after patch 5.16, so if you don't win lane, peel, tank and force objectives, this way you will be a great asset anyway.


When the game mostly reduces itself to assassinations and teamfights, lategame is up. This will usually happen around 25-30 minutes game-time and will last until the game ends. If you play Mid-Game well, mixing kills with objectives while also helping your teammates win their lanes, this phase of the game may be skipped thanks to a surrender. But most of the time you'll have to deal with it anyway.

Is LateGame Garen a good thing or not?
In the past, LateGame Garen was nothing too special. Damage tended to drop off making killing carries a little harder and all that remained was Garen's amazing tanky frontline.
After patch 5.16, we get %max health true damage on the enemy Villain and this changes everything. In the lategame, focusing the enemy carry and helping your team with tankiness is still your main priority, although, because the danger level of every enemy champion will be high anyway, you can take some more liberties than you would in midgame.
Your priorities will have to go in this order
  • Priority 1: Kill the enemy carry. If it is also the Villain, that is easier to do, but you must always attempt to get to the enemy carry regardless of the Villain.
  • Priority 2: If the enemy carry is far or you simply cannot kill him if he isn't the Villain (if you don't have enough damage or if he has too much mobility like LeBlanc for example), then you will want to Kill a dangerous squishy . An example for you: the ADCarry is fed as hell but he isn't the Villain and you cannot kill him on your own, you spot a lonely Annie while roaming or you simply see sge is overextended (maybe she is even the Villain): KILL HER.
  • Priority 3: If the enemy carry is out of your kill-zone and the other squishies are high mobility or simply too well peeled for you to take down, then you wanna turn on Courage (in-game and out) and engage on the Villain. Tell your teammates who the Villain is and then tell them you will engage, so they will follow, then jump in the enemy team like Leeroy Jenkins would do. An example for you: enemy Xerath pokes from afar and you can't touch him, while enemy Jinx crits on every rocket and deals tons of damage to your team's frontline while 2 tanks and a bruiser stand in the front between you and the carries waiting for a chance to engage. The villain is the enemy Irelia. Tell your mates you will go in on her, drawing attention, then ask them to follow and to FOCUS THE CARRIES while you try beating down the Villain, drawing as much attention to you. Chances are the enemy team will waste some of their strong skills on you, allowing one or more of your teammates to swarm the carry, winning the teamfight!

So in general, while most of the works you'd normally do in mid-game can remain the same, in lategame you will want to choose more wisely what to do based on the situation you are in, the useful thing you will always be able to do easily is GET FOCUSED. If you find yourself unable to do anything good in lategame due to a bad early-mid, get tanky as hell and draw attention, giving your teammates a chance to make the difference when you are unable to do that.
Back to Top
As promised, this section will contain tips and tricks to win many matchups in toplane, As you may have noticed, many of these matchups come with a video from my YouTube channel to help you better understand how to win the matchups :)!

I have divided difficulty in three main sections, based on the enemy's threat level: Low, Medium and Hard, with some exceptions made in particularly hard/easy/funny lanes!
Keep in mind any lane can be won or lost, and it will always depend on you and your opponent's playstyle and capabilities, not to mention the importance of both teams' junglers, so don't think that everything I write here is holy, because variables exist and I can't calculate all of them! ;)
SPECIAL THANKS TO USER "SREEN" for the tip on the hexdrinker. I will add it as a recommended item in most AP matchups present here!

NEW Aatrox

Threat level: Medium

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NEW Akali

Threat level: Low

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Dr. Mundo

Threat level: Low

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: High

Click here to see how to win this lane!


Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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NEW Irelia

Threat level: Low

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Jarvan IV

Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: High

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NEW Kayle

"Vegeta, what does the Scouter say about her threat level?!"

Threat level at minute 1: Low

Threat level at minute 20: IT'S OVER 9000!

Click here to find out how this lane works now


Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Lee Sin

Threat level: Low

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Low

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Threat level: High

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NEW Pantheon

Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Low

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

Click here to see how to win this lane!


Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Low

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Threat level: Low

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Tahm Kench

Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Low

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Urgot (also known as Urgod)

"Vegeta, what does the Scouter say about her threat level?!"

Threat level: IT'S OVER 9000!

Click here to see why you won't win this lane


Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Low

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Xin Zhao

Threat level: Low

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Threat level: Low

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Threat level: Medium

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Threat level: Low

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Threat level: Low

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The most common toplane matchups are now included in the guide! Hooray!
With that being said I am not done with the guide itself. I will focus on some more alternative builds and troll builds for Garen and then I will proceed with adding less common matchups and videos for every single matchup in the guide, a very expansive project that will take a long time, sure, but I will commit to it, and I surely hope you guys will hold on and company me for the time being!

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Demolisher Garen

Following patch 9.16's biscuits nerf, this setup lost overall importance. While it's still a pretty good overall early game setup I don't think sacrificing opportunities from another secondary tree in favor of biscuits is worth it anymore. Stay tuned for more new setups soon!

What's this setup?

This setup isn't really too far from the main build I recommend, but it's gotten more emphasis on winning laning phase. As most of you who have climbed beyond Platinum will know, Garen struggles in winning the early game the higher you get. This setup has two primary objectives: to
  1. Give Garen more power in laning phase through extra sustain and maneuverability;
  2. Give Garen more room to snowball without having to chase kills via Demolish
I will now go over some of the core components of this build without explaining basics, since you should already have those in your mind after reading the rest of the guide :). Do make sure to pay attention to the top of the guide for a graphical overview of the items/runes you need, then come back here to read some details!

Here's the video guide for this build. Integrate this with this chapter for more knowledge and gameplay references that show the power of the build both in lane and outside!


Primary Tree

The primary Tree of this page is identical to the one recommended in the main build. I will, however, explain briefly why some of these runes are so critical for this setup.

Grasp of the Undying
Grasp plays into the early game core of this setup. Getting more damage off every 4 seconds is awesome, especially since it's magic damage that will help you push through the armor your foes may build. The healing is also great for Garen's early, since he doesn't really have any form of in-fight sustain. The +5 hp per proc is decent, although it really doesn't make a huge difference later in the game.

Demolish is the CORE of this build and the entity from which it takes its name. We want to win lane, and we can do that by taking kills, but we win lane WAY harder if we ALSO get Turret Plating. Turret Plating is a colossal part of the game now and playing around it not only makes sense, but it pays off in ways you can see easily.
Unfortunately, Teleport is usually better suited to abusing this new part of the game, but with Demolish, we get to crack some of that Turret Plating INCREDIBLY FAST, and still have just about enough time to go back and walk to lane without losing any of our own!!!
Additionally, it's worth considering that once you get tanky enough, which you will if you don't win lane early, you can push waves and bully Plating off your opponent while they helplessly watch you take their gold in front of them without being able to do anything about it :)

Second Wind
Second Wind
This rune is MANDATORY with this setup. Because we want to abuse some of the runes from the Inspiration tree, a Doran's Shield start isn't a viable option anymore, but then that means we'll miss its passive healing. Second Wind gives us back that healing and makes it scale a bit better, so it's the obvious choice from this tier.

This rune does 3 things we like a lot:
  1. It magnifies the HP gains we get from Grasp of the Undying, making our keystone a bit more relevant later on in the game;
  2. It provides a stat from which Second Wind and Demolish scale with, further empowering them!
  3. Gives more HP later in the game, constituting basically the only source of lategame scaling in this entire rune setup.

Another Resolve option if you want to be even more oppressive in lane

Unflinching can be a very good alternative to Overgrowth when you want to up the ante even more in the early game. As you get later in the game, Tenacity becomes less relevant generally, and Unflinching's aid will become less important in comparison with your Courage because you'll have CDR and thus that ability will be ready more often, making it outscale Unflinching's utility.
In laning phase against CC foes like Renekton or Riven, however, Unflinching makes Garen a lot more oppressive, since the CC your foe has will be diminished in effectiveness when your summoner spells are on CD, meaning you get a bit more room to breathe when you can't all-in, and it will deny them some more of their counterplay on top of your W when you attempt a Flash-Ignite play.

Secondary Tree

Biscuit Delivery
Getting 4 potions that heal you based on your missing health makes a COLOSSAL difference in laning phase. It will allow you to stay in lane longer, tackling the Teleport players you'll usually face and to generally trade more often since you have more sources of sustain to keep your health higher than that of your foe.
This rune is especially good for us because a biscuit gives champions 15% missing health and mana back, but if you're manaless, which Garen is, you'll get 20% of your missing health instead, which is huge, provided you pop a biscuit only when you're low on hp (high risk, high reward)

Time Warp Tonic
This rune is basically like a junction between many of the elements of this setup. Here's a list of the things it works with and does for us, so you can get better understanding on why it's so important:
  • Synergizes with Biscuit Delivery: Whenever you pop a biscuit, you'll get half of the HP the biscuit should give you IMMEDIATELY. That means we'll get 10% of our missing health back with the push of a button. Sounds familiar? Darius gets 12% per champion hit with Q, meaning you can turn trades around almost the same way he does! Naturally, we'll get the remaining 10% missing health back over 15 seconds too, meaning the remainder of the trade will still benefit from more effective HP. Note that you can't pop multiple biscuits at once because they will be put on cooldown until the healing effect from the previous biscuit is finished.
  • It works with Health Potions and Refillable Potions aswell, meaning you can get 75/63 hp instantly when you pop a potion or a stack of the refillable you'll almost always buy after you finish your normal potions ;). Note that the cooldown of different healing consumables is SEPARATE: this means we can pop a biscuit first and a potion right after for 10% missing hp + 75/63, which is HUGE!
  • It synergizes with the recommended starts. As you'll see more in-depth in the next section, we'll drop Doran's Shield in favor of starts that allow us to stack up on potions early on so we can fully take advantage of this rune and trade much more often than we would normally be able to!
  • It provides 5% movement speed while you're under the effect of any healing consumable, biscuits included. This may sound minor, but it's colossal on Garen and it can actually save your neck or make you stickier depending on the situation, not to mention it can be insanely helpful into ranged lanes. This is especially good later in the game, when we don't have biscuits anymore, but we hold on to our Refillable Potion: it becomes a +5% movement speed on demand, and it can really help.
I think it's quite easy to notice how this rune can make Garen's laning phase superior after reading that list :)

Rune Shards

We take 2x Shards of Adaptive force and 1 shard of Scaling Health. We don't need early Armor because we'll start with Cloth Armor into AD lanes and we don't need more early MR because Garen's early MR is very high as it is and magic damage is counterable with Health until later stages of the game. The Scaling Health is a very nice addition to Garen's poor base stat, and it synergizes very well with our Courage passive and the other runes we use like Demolish and Second Wind

I'll spoiler mark the next bit because this Runes section is already very long. If you want to know a little more, go ahead!
Some tips and tricks to abuse this rune page and win most lanes

Before we move to the next section of this Chapter, I wanted to specify that Revitalize DOES WORK WITH TIME WARP TONIC, but because it doesn't work with your passive and it's just generally a weak rune compared to its alternatives, I don't recommend you use it.


Starting Items

Starting items have some detailed descriptions in the top section of the guide. To see that section, you have to scroll back up to the very top of the guide, and then click on "DEMOLISHER GAREN". Hover your mouse over the "NOTES" text and you'll be able to read information on the starting items and when to pick one instead of the other :)

Midgame Goals

Dead Man's Plate is basically a mandatory first item into AD lanes. There are some cases (AP lanes) in which you'll want to get MR first, and in that case Spirit Visage will be your first item. A defensive item guarantees safe and winning trades, boosts your HP and thus boosts the power of TWT + Biscuits, and it helps if you get ganked especially if the jungler's damage type is the same as your laner's. Let's talk about why Dead Man's Plate rush is exceptionally good with this setup. The item gives you room to move around the map, effectively replacing Teleport, good defensive stats and a bit more damage on top of your Q's already good amount. The idea of this setup is to pressure the game as hard as you can, being a bulldozer wherever possible, DMP can help you rotate and abuse Demolish in more areas of the map earlier on than you would be able to otherwise (even if you had TP). Obviously, when rushing Spirit Visage, you'll be delaying DMP by quite a bit and that is not great, but the core mechanisms of the setup remain the same.
With that out of the way, let's very briefly discuss offensive items.
You'll want Black Cleaver when you're either facing a tank top, like Sion or Malphite, or when your enemy team has 1 or more tanks that you need to kill. If the enemy team's only tank is a Leona, you won't need BC, because you won't be trying to kill her unless she's low, but then you'll have enough damage with your Ultimate and the armor shred won't be of any service. Of note, you can ALWAYS back down on this item when you're far behind, since it's considerably cheaper than its alternative.
You'll want Trinity Force whenever you don't get Black Cleaver. Don't rush a Sheen, though, rush Phage: you need the AD, you need the HP and you most importantly need the possibility to change your mind and build a Black Cleaver, should you lose your lead for any reason (gank, misplaying, foe outscaling faster than you anticipated, etc.). Note that because we rush a defensive item, Trinity Force's build path being poor in terms of defensiveness is a lesser issue since we'll be tanky already by the time we are going for the item.
Sterak's Gage is insane on Garen, since his base AD is one of the highest in the game, and he's one of the champions that benefits the most from bonus HP to add on top of his W's passive stats, along with the shield this item provides (and the tenacity, too!). I'd only replace this with Maw of Malmortius when facing a heavy AP foe like Vladimir, but only if the midlaner/jungler (preferably both) are also AP based. It's really not worth getting Maw over Sterak's if there's not 3 or more AP threats on the enemy team.
Adaptive Helm is huge. Spirit Visage owns the crown for best item into burst magic damage right next to Maw of Malmortius because it buffs your passive, meaning if you survive a burst, only a few seconds will be necessary for you to sustain it all back and make it irrelevant, but Adaptive Helm offers protection from DPS mages like Cassiopeia or people that build magic damage on hit. Think of a Kai'Sa with Guinsoo's Rageblade for example, or a fed Corki. DPS/DoT mages are common, and Adaptive Helm will reduce their relevance by a lot, while giving you generally good stats and a bit more CDR to help make you more oppressive.
Maw of Malmortius is the alternative of choice to Sterak's when the enemy team is full AP or close to full AP. It gives CDR, which means you'll get to have 40% when you build it, which is something quite big to consider when choosing between the two based on enemy team composition.
As for boots, the choice is yours. I personally get Ninja Tabi unless they have 3 or more CC based champions on the enemy team.

Full Builds

The two Full Builds I proposed in the top section of the guide are generic and very good, but they're not universal. There's quite a few changes you can make and the usual "Garen Itemization Rules" apply here (Do I need more MR/Armor? Am I the damage dealer of my team?). I generally get an offensive item, then a tanky one, then another offensive one, then another tanky item and so on. I don't want this chapter to be longer than the guide itself, so I'll leave any variations to you, assuming you're an expert on this matter after reading so much of this guide and hopefully playing lots of Garen :). The only input I'll give you is that this setup is more objective focused than kill-focused, so if you have enough damage dealers on your team, being a powerful frontliner that can threaten towers with Demolish and then back off and heal back up with Perseverance is your best option and you should build according to this.

Skill Order and Playstyle

This setup requires a specific skill order due to the nature of the playstyle it tailors to. I will explain how to exactly spend the points (although as usual, it can come down to preference or matchup), and then I'll briefly explain how I usually play the game with the setup. Again, to not make this chapter too long, I'll let you develop your own playstyle, but not before giving you a solid knowledge base to create it off of.

We get Q-E-W at levels 1-2-3, then we max Q. We spend points into E at levels 8 and 10, and then we max W by level 15. E is finally maxed last. The reason this works is because three points into E guarantee sufficient damage over its duration, and because Q max is necessary to have any lane pressure. The reason we max W by 15 is that we want to play around the 9.7 buffs Garen has received and the subsequent increase in CD reduction based on W's points. W's cooldown being lower implies that you can tank a lot more often, and that you can use W while forcing plates under tower by using demolish!

The ideal early-mid situation is when you can get First Tower at level 9-10, by around minute 12. You then have a 2 minutes window to go either mid or bot to further snowball the lead you have, by trying to get more Plating off the Turrets in the other lanes. This gives gold to yourself, the teammates you're helping (mid/bot) and it can even pull lanes back from a disadvantage. I've often gone bot, forced summoners off the enemy botlaners and then simply ignored them to destroy their tower before their sorry faces, giving a huge amount of gold to myself and my teammates who were losing earlier.

So in short, your early midgame target is to get as much Plating off the enemy Towers before minute 14. After minute 14, when Plating is gone, your next objective should be the Rift Herald (unless it's been already taken) along with abusing demolish to destroy all Outer Turrets as fast as possible, opening up the map for your team to roam around freely and generally giving more pressure to the entire team.

As Midgame ends and Lategame starts, if everything has worked nicely, you'll have a considerable turret advantage (you may have lost a couple turrets yourself, that's not a problem), along with a good gold lead over the enemy team. At this point you're most likely not the biggest damage dealer on your team, even if you have Trinity Force and Sterak's Gage, the time at which you'll have both the items is likely too late for you to be a 1-shot champion unless you're targeting a squishy, the Villain, or both! What you most likely will be is a good frontliner that's dangerous enough to turrets to potentially splitpush thanks to Demolish, but also tanky enough to join his team and force summoners/ultimates off the enemy team, or perhaps peel for the fed ADC/APC. The rules for lategame are impossible to write down and I won't have the arrogance to do so in this chapter.

My general tip is choose what's best for your team composition and gold distribution. Sometimes your team will need you to do the hard work while they provide a diversion, giving you room and time to push down towers with Demolish, sometimes they'll need you to be there for them and tank damage that would otherwise push them out of position and force a fight they would lose.


Even though this setup is clearly lane-centered, it ends up being a very balanced setup for Garen specifically. Garen's Lategame isn't among the best ones in the game, and there's really nothing you can do about that, since it isn't really lack of damage or tankiness forcing you into a worse spot, but rather kitability and lack of reliable gap-closes or CCs. Garen's Earlygame, however, can be worked on, and because games tend to be quite quickly decided, an early snowball/pressure machine is all Garen needs to be for his team in higher tiers, even at the cost of some kill-pressure. I personally climbed from Gold 1 to Diamond 4 in less than 100 games without duoing once, with a moderate LP gain: I was getting -20 for a loss and +22 for a win, even before the soft reset due to low MMR in Preseason, what this means is I didn't get to abuse the early season as much as many others did, and yet I still hit Diamond 4 with a 67% winrate on Garen. This should prove that the setup is effective.

Try this setup in your ranked games, adapt it to your playstyle, improve and let me know how it works for you!

Lethality Garen

Yep. It's as sad as it sounds. Lethality Garen simply doesn't work anymore. Since this build was aimed at experts to begin with, I'm sure those of you who used it alot are probably super sad but also super aware of why it is being left behind. I'm not removing it because it could come back in the future, but in League's current meta, there is no place for such a glass cannon build for Garen. The new Bruiser Build that I will talk about in the next chapter is the best possible replacement for this build that you can ask for.

Click here if you want to read about Lethality Garen anyway

Titan Garen

I'm discontinuing this build because its viability is too limited in the current Season (9), maybe in the future I will bring it back, but as of right now I'd only run it as a 4fun build in normal games, and not as an actual setup for ranked play.

Gameplay and effectiveness

You may be wondering the **** this build is.
It's a new build I'm working on in close coop with MarineRevenge (best Garen on the NA server and a main since season 2). His original idea focused on Frozen Mallet as its core. I've decided to change things and get Titanic Hydra as its core and I'm positive that it's as effective but much easier to use for all levels, though it is still harder than the average build, hence why it's not the main focus of the guide. The build aims at making Garen tanky and damaging at the same time in exchange for a bit of simplicity. It essentially gives as much damage as the Lethality build with similar tankiness to the ordinary tanky build recommended here for beginners. The build's core is the autoattack cancel chain you achieve with a simple aa-Q-Hydra active combo. That combo is 50% of a squishy's hp in less than a second and the Q-Hydra combo that's better suited to a teamfight's rythms is still amazing burst damage.



You can see what runes you should take right on top of this page by selection the 4th Garen icon


The start with Long Sword is recommended for lasthitting, though a Doran's Shield can come in handy in rough matchups.
Let's use graphics to make this clear allright... Titanic Hydra must be the first thing you complete!
You can buy a pair of boots in the meantime, you can buy a CDR item in the meantime but the first full item you want is the hydra. Without the hydra you miss on exactly 50% of the power of this build and that's bad. Really bad.
Once Hydra is complete, that's where you must show your skills with Garen. It's decision-making time RPG style!

You have the following options:
  • Black Cleaver: Buy this if the enemy team has 2+ tanks, or generally if you are not sure how to proceed. This item is a jack of all trades on Garen after all and its HP stacks damn well with Hydra's passive.
  • Trinity Force: If the enemy team doesn't have many tanks this item is actually damn good, especially to compensate the lack of CDR the other ones suffer from (Except black cleaver mind you). I'd overall say you can get this in any case without being left useless. It's a jack of all trades but the master of none, so if you want to be safe you can get either BC or TriForce.
  • Frozen Mallet: Buy this item if the enemy team lacks tankiness but has mobility that you want to rid yourself of via slows and a bit more damage.
  • Sterak's Gage: Buy this item if the enemy team has insane burst damage.
  • Youmuu's Ghostblade: It doesn't synergize that amazingly with the Hydra but it's fine to take this if you are far ahead to get the best of both worlds (worlds being assassin Garen and the new Garen we're attempting to create)

Once you got the 2 "offensive" items, you can start getting tankiness. Your damage will not drop off because hydra continually scales with your HP, making each tanky item you get an empower for your burst until the very late, if someone's stacking up armor. But it isn't suppoused to be a problem if you chose the right second item.
Let's put this in perspective with some examples. Hydra is the core of the build, but your second item defines the real future of the game. If you get the right one you'll carry, but if you buy the wrong one you can throw the game out of the window. You must be able and mature enough to foresee how the game may go when choosing the second item or you could be the reason for a throw.
Rest of the build is generally tankiness. But with some extra care for the CDR. The build is either average on that regard or worse. If you have a BC or a TriForce as your second item you don't necessairly have to get Abyssal Mask but say you have Titanic Hydra and Frozen Mallet: that's a NO CDR midgame. Now, we want our burst to be the real core of the build, and obviously the hydra makes our autoattack fights much better overall so that we don't depend on our abilities too much, but having 0 CDR is flat out bad. In that case, Abyssal Mask is a mandatory implementation in the build. An Ohmwrecker can also be an extremely good pick as a second armor item, extra CDR, more HP and HP regen, along with its amazing active component that makes you unstoppable when sieging with you teammates or splitpushing as a one-man-army.

Early Game

Early game is standard, if you have enough lethality in your runes you should be able to bully your opponent if you started Long Sword and 3 health potions (which you should do). The Q max allows for nice burst damage and mobility, opening up a lot of trading options to go for.

Here comes a bit more complexity.
  • Winning/Easy Lane: Tiamat rush. Stats are nice and its passive allows for easy bullying, harrass and waveclear. You can activate Tiamat while spinning for extra damage and waveclear. Do it all the time when trading..
  • Losing/Hard Lane: Jaurim's Fist rush. HP that scales, some AD to fight back and good gold efficiency make this item a very good first rush for a lane you are unsure of.

As you can see, the same first full item ( Titanic Hydra) has a buildpath that allows us to choose if we want to be offensive or defensive while still being the best first item. This makes the build extremely reliable: you'll never do wrong with a hydra rush unless you're flat out bad and feed.

Finish Titanic Hydra as soon as you can but DO make sure you get a pair of boots based on their team composition in the middle!

To trade, the best combo you have is the autoattack-Q-Titanic Hydra active combo.
That's 3 autoattacks in 1 second, and each does a ****load of damage. Even when Hydra isn't fully completed, you can autoattack, Q and then spin, activating Tiamat's active component for extra damage. All this happens after you get quite some more AD from Fervor of Battle and makes trades very favourable on your part. It's huge, believe me.

A generally good killing combo is the following. Autoattack -> Decisive Strike -> Titanic Hydra active -> Judgment -> stop spinning after 4 hits are applied (Armorshred applied) -> autoattack -> Demacian Justice + Ignite.
Things die quickly with this, and it's really really easy to do, don't let the amount of arrows shown up here scare you. This all happens within 4 seconds and it's simple to do when compared to many other combos. Besides, we're giving Garen more depth, that is good huh?

Mid Game

Mid Game is the usual stuff you'd normally want to do. The only difference is that you need to be able to choose wether you want to use 3 autoattacks/Q-hydra or simply using the normal Q-E burst Garen has to fight. This decision needs to be made with reason. Example: Jinx is the villain. Do you need to use auto canceling? I don't think you would. Your Q-E-R combo is enough to kill her, no need to waste time on other stuff. If she isn't on her passive, you can Q-Hydra and then ignite-ult but in general you won't want to get 3 autos on her unless she's bad.
It's all about understanding time and positioning in order to not overcommit to a fight or waste time on an assassination attempt that could simply happen via the normal combos.

Late Game

Same as MidGame, the only difference here is that you'll be tanky enough (over 4k hp in most cases) to be frontline in case your team needs you to do it, and this is something you couldn't do with Lethality Garen :)

Video Example (more examples on my channel/stream)

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This build was created in close collaboration with AdamReformed, who is one of the best Garen mains ever!

Before we get into this, I'd like to provide some context. To begin with, I'll explain the name of the build and then I'll go over some imporant details that'll leave you speechless considering how the build works.
The build is called Bruiser Garen because its goal is not to make a tanky ArmorShred champion like the main build of this guide, but an all around carry capable of pushing wins with pressure and offensive potential. The core offensive item we'll look for in game is going to be Trinity Force, pros and cons of which I'll evaluate in the following paragraph. If you're going to blindly trust my advice, you can skip this paragraph and go straight to the runes, otherwise, take a read and allow me to try convincing you why this build makes sense! Just remember that it's possible and sometimes advisable to get BOTH Trinity Force AND Black Cleaver

Why is Trinity Force better than Black Cleaver?


  • As shown in the 3rd build on top of the guide, we take Predator as our keystone. This rune is a major part of the build. It's super weak in the early game and can prevent you from being able to try offensive plays early, which is absolutely ok. In fact, our objective with this build is to just get through laning phase, but more on this later.
    Using Predator can be quite hard and will definitely take some time before you master it, but once you do, you'll understand why it's the only viable option in higher elos to solocarry.
    During the early game, you'll use it to get back to lane faster. It's not a waste. Your offensive potential with this build will come later in the game, so using the keystone's speed buff to get back to lane will help you build a cs and xp lead, manage waves and generally speaking it allows you to put pressure on the lane. Obviously, Predator can be used as a roaming tool in lanes that are too hard to win, or an engage tool into ranged matchups or when your opponent is below 50% HP and you want to 1burst them to death.
    In midgame, you'll want to use Predator to get picks and kills all around the map, stacking up Ingenious Hunter and Eyeball Collection and generally snowballing a lead across all lanes, which will then allow your team to push for the win fast and perhaps skipping lategame.
    In lategame, you'll use Predator in similar ways to midgame, trying to flank, you'll try to get to carries in the backline with it, killing them super fast, and the build's tankiness will do the rest, provided no enemy is particularly huge, you'll be able to also charge in from the front with Predator, trusting your team to follow you. It's possible to simulate Teleport with Predator, using it to go from one side of the map to the other at insane speed, allowing for more pressure to be on the map thanks to you!
  • Taste of Blood is straightforward, it heals you every now and then. In games in which you'll get Spirit Visage the healing can be quite big, but it's mostly just there to help you get through laning phase, which it does a great job at :)
  • Eyeball Collection is very simple and straightforward too. Get permanent AD with takedowns and ward kills. It may take quite a while to stack it up fully, but I prefer it to Zombie Ward and Ghost Poro because even though you need to build it up, its benefits are consistent and permanent, unlike the other two.
  • Ingenious Hunter is actually super good, it lowers the CD of Predator itself (which is obviously HUGE) and all other active items too, WARDS INCLUDED! You can get immense amounts of vision control thanks to the reduced trinket CD and, should you build a Randuin's Omen or an Edge of Night or a Youmuu's Ghostblade, their CDs will be reduced too, so it's clearly the best option out of the 4 there.
  • Celerity is just perfect for Garen. It makes us start with 345 movement speed, allows us to get more damage on our Judgment while the Decisive Strike bonus damage holds (which is a fair amount since we max Q) and generally gives Garen a bit of utility and a bit of damage just like that!
  • Gathering Storm may be useless until 20 minutes (5 AD at 10 mins isn't that great lol) but since our early offensive items don't really provide an immense amount of AD, this is golden to keep us relevant until the lategame, which is amazing, you can actually 1shot carries at 40 minutes like you were in midgame: this rune fixes Garen's damage drop off issue basically on its own, which is super good!

It is possible to replace some of these runes. Changing the Sorcery Tree in favor of the Resolve Tree may be a good idea in some hard lanes, but I generally recommend you risk taking this exact page for reasons you'll understand in a bit!

Playing Bruiser Garen (Items and Playstyle)

Before I go in depth on items, I want to stress the fact that this build follows the same path that Tank Garen follows and then switches towards a more hybrid/offensive playstyle, that moment is when things change. The build is aimed at getting the best of both worlds, by joining the great tankiness Garen can provide with a consistent and high damage output. As a result, the Might of Demacia will end up with nearly 400 AD and about 200 armor, plus a nice 3700 HP with the Elixir included. Overall a very good build all around that will provide enough stats to do well with.

Early laning phase

Starting with a Doran's Shield is simply the best way to ensure a safe and consistent laning phase. If you take Predator, which you should, you'll have a hard time escaping ganks, so you may want to play the early game safely without trying too many offensive plays. Your focus early is to punish mistakes and farm: don't look for offensive trades unless the enemy makes a mistake you can punish, like using a core trading ability to cs. Remember, however, that while punishing mistakes is nice, forcing trades, even if you win them, isn't. Wave management is still the best bet to win a lane and secure a lead, and I would still recommend you don't overextend in any case. This early setup is aimed at surviving and getting to midgame even or with a gold advantage derived from farm. It's obvious if you get ganked by your jungler or the enemy towerdives, or generally, whenever a clear and easy opportunity for a kill happens, you'll want to take it, but don't FORCE anything!

First back

On your first back, you MUST go for Boots of Speed first and maybe some components for Dead Man's Plate. Your main objective for your first item should be a defensive choice, nothing new here. This means that in any AD matchup, you'll aim to get Dead Man's Plate, while in an AP matchup, you'll go for Hexdrinker (if the lane is easy) or Spectre's Cowl into Spirit Visage if it's hard. Completion of your first defensive item is core, don't get offensive potential (apart from the boots, which you should try completing early aswell): you won't need it yet.

MidGame Goals

By midgame, your dream should be to have Ninja Tabi or Mercury's Treads, Dead Man's Plate or Spirit Visage and maybe some pieces for Trinity Force, with Sheen being the first you get EVERY TIME. Ideally, your Courage will be nearly fully stacked up, you'll be level 11 and your best stage of the game will have started. With Trinity + Dead man's and these requirements met you're hitting an enormous powerspike you'll have to abuse to max if you want to win the game. MidGame is the stage in which your presence in a specific point of the map can unbalance things in an advantageous way for your team or not which is another reason why Dead Man's Plate is so huge, since you can move around the map faster. This is sadly the part where my words will never help you enough and more than your experience. Generally speaking, by now you'll have two main options. I'm not going to go in depth on WHEN you should pick one of the two, but I will describe them both accurately for your understanding:
  1. Stay Top: Staying top now means that you'll want to do the following things. You want to get Tier 2 tower and ensure your team gets Herald. Both objectives must ideally be completed for this strategy to work, though Sheen + Dead Man's empowered Qs are actually a big big source of damage to towers, which is very very good as it allows you to pressure objectives better than ever. Most of the time, you'll be taking Herald to make sure you can destroy Tier 2. Doing this opens up the map to your team and allows you to put inhibitor pressure in toplane, forcing the enemy team to rotate quickly to save the objective and giving your team room for breathing. I do NOT recommend doing this if the enemy team has a single champion who can stop you from performing this strategy. For example, an Ornn can clear your waves with 2 abilities while still being able to join the fray of a teamfight by using Teleport, so generally, tanks with waveclear will nullify your pressure with their presence, meaning there's something better you can do elsewhere on the map.
  2. Don't stay Top: Taking Herald should still be your main focus since it provides the main toplane advantage and generally allows for plays in conjunction with your team that are almost always going to result in gold earning (towers are a major gold source!). After you got it, you should then join your team. At this point you can focus on either getting objectives or stalling the game to get someone else fed, whether you yourself are fed or not is not important, because the objective is to get someone else to be able to carry you while you buy time. Garen is good at this, because he can kill or lower Villain's Health Bars with relative ease while still being somewhat of a raidboss thanks to his passive's healing. So going mid for example and taking some damage in exchange for dealing some damage to the midlaner, then healing back up and either repeating or going botlane to do the same can provide quite a big advantage for your midlaner/adc and this in turn will create more pressure on the map. Objective play should be your main focus regardless, so pushing for towers whenever possible is always a good strategy, just remember you need everyone on your team to work properly around this strategy so make sure you guys have some communication going for you or it'll just all be useless. Of note, and this is why this build is so great, with Trinity Force + Sterak's Gage + Conqueror primed, it is possible to use Flash -> Decisive Strike -> Ignite -> Demacian Justice to kill a squishy. This my seem crazy, since I didn't mention Judgment in there, but most squishies will fall to the Sheen empowered Q and ult's true damage provided by conqueror. After the ult lands, you can actually still activate Judgment to get some more damage off, sometimes this is enough to secure the kill if they're escaping with 10 hp or something like that.

As for my personal preference, I used to be big on Garen splitpushing, but right now and with this build, along with the amount of pressure and intimidation Predator gives me, I personally prefer to stick to my team and get the pressure where they most need it. If your team is good enough (remember this build is good in high elo, so I assume it is), they'll understand what you're doing and trust your calls, following you when you go in and backing off when you're gone. I've had a lot of fun going in 1v3, getting a kill, escaping barely alive because my support Nami healed me to 100 hp and then walking back in on the re-engage my team pulled off immediately after. Garen's just a teamfight monster right now and I really recommend you abuse that!

As for the item build in this stage, you can aim for a Sterak's Gage if you feel the need for more safety, or you can go for a Stormrazor, although I personally avoid this item due to the lack of defenses it leaves you stuck with for quite a long time, its damage is incredible, and if you're far ahead enough to get it quick, then it's going to serve the purpose of deleting their carry damn well. That all said, Sterak's Gage's shield is enough to counter most magic damage burst but now that TriGage interaction is dead, it's definetly possible for you to replace Sterak's with a good old Maw of Malmortius for extra damage, more durability aagainst magic damage and extra CDR. Note that it's possible to get 40% CDR with some of the variations of this build, even though it is NOT a main focus. Following that, a Guardian Angel is always a viable choice for more armor, but a Randuin's Omen can prove to be quite nasty in some situations, as it allows you to control the enemy team with its slow all the while rendering many crit adcs less of a threat to you. Should you build GA, you may even get a Stopwatch. I recommend using this interaction with it: Garen's spin CONTINUES WHILE YOU ARE IN STOPWATCH MODE and it's called The Golden Spin, which means you can flash into a 5 man and spin on them, shredding their armor with no retaliation to be taken. I don't always get to do this (sometimes I don't even get to use the stopwatch because I buy GA right off the shop), but it is definetly one of the most interesting interactions with the item that Garen can have.


LateGame with this build is kind of funny, all things considered. You're tankier than most bruisers (3k+ HP, 230+ armor), but you actually outdamage an assassin in most cases JUST with a Q-R combo, which is INSANE. Garen's weakness with this build may still be dps when compared to champions like Jax,but Trinity Force allows us to output a little more consistently outside of our abilities timers. Of course, you're still easily kited, but thanks to the movement speed from Trinity Force, Celerity and Dead Man's Plate and obviously Predator, you're fast enough to get to some targets if they take the wrong step.
Your focus at this point should be to close off the game by continuing along a similar path to the one you followed during midgame. If splitting paid off, you can continue to do it and it usually will continue to pay off, but sometimes it is important to also switch your focus on other things. Often times your team will win 4v5s by picking someone off, giving you the impression that you can split forever and they'll never be in trouble, but if the person being picked off is on your team, you'll end up with a 3v5 in midlane for example, and you're far away and can't tp to them. This can happen ONCE in a game and you'll probably lose all the advantage you had. So lategame is basically a midgame in which a single mistake by either team escalates insanely fast, and even faster if you split without Teleport.
Am I saying you should never split to force rotations? NO! But I say do it in a smart way, only when your team virtually cannot lose the 4v5 or 4v4 you are forcing.

As for the items you want in lategame, you can opt to continue with hybrid items by grabbing the armor item you havn't gotten yet (if you have GA, you get Dead Man's, or vice-versa) and then finishing off with a Lethality item of your preference. An Edge of Night is a good option to keep your tankiness up, but Youmuu's Ghostblade is always nice to have if you prefer that, I don't really think there is a "BEST" Lethality item to close up the build but having some of that Lethality can actually do wonders for your lategame burst on squishies. Surely you can opt for a late Black Cleaver or maybe a Mortal Reminder if the enemy team really has too many tanks, but those items are very situational with this build. You can then instead go for a tanky 6th item like Thornmail or Frozen Mallet or an Adaptive Helm in case the enemy APC is dps based. It is worth keeping in mind that HP and sterak's shield are great against burst magic damage, but sustained magic damage will still ruin you, so if you are against a Cassiopeia or maybe Rumble, Adaptive Helm is a big middle finger to them and will really help in lategame!
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Hang in there, I will soon fill this chapter with important information regarding Garen Jungle!
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The guide is "complete" in that it covers all everything you need to have a very good experience with Garen, but it doesn't mean it's finished, because I plan to add more content to it, so here's a list of the things that I'll add over time:
  • Matchups Section Rework. I plan to go over all the matchups with time.
  • Jungle Garen (now it's possible!)
  • Less common Matchups (to be located either in the same section or in a new one)
  • More Matchup Videos and montages
  • More Trollbuilds?!?!
  • CONSTANT updates to make sure the guide never becomes outdated

Make sure to check back every now and then to improve even further your Garen skills!
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12/10/2019 - Holy, the Changelog has become quite big. I marked all the changes except for the last one as spoiler, so it doesn't fill unnecessary space. Click on the spoiler if you want to see the full Changelog :)

Click here to see the full Changelog!

12/10/2019 - GUIDE REWORK. Removed unnecessary build paths to better use MOBAFIRE's new interface and guide layout. Discontinued builds and chapters collapsed in a single DISCONTINUED chapter for people who are curious about the past builds of the guide that aren't viable anymore. Reworked the Runes, Summoner Spells, Items and Playstyle Chapters.
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OKAY, SERIOUSLY: This is just incredible. It's been many years since I first created this build and I've been enjoying keeping it alive and up to date a lot, there are some sections I'd like to update soon and I'll do my best to work on those as fast as possible. Until then I'll continue being grateful for having my guide be the top 1 for Garen for so long now.

Also a HUGE thank you to all of the readers who chose to support me and my work via commendations:

  • StigmariaMT
  • Zephyrchaos

Thanks for showing so much interest in my guide mates! I am really happy and thankful to all of you who spent even a split second of your time to read this guide, I find myself often insulted even by my own friends who judge me negatively for maining the G-Man, seeing how many views and votes this work of mine is getting makes me feel much better about it all! Please keep sharing the guide and maybe leave some feedback through votes and comments! I will always make sure this guide is up to date, providing as much useful information as I can!

So that's it! I hope you'll get to have an amazing experience with Garen thanks to a certain extent to this guide and the tips it offers! Make sure to give me suggestions on how to improve the guide, I'll follow them as good as I can in the future!
A vote would be very nice, and comments are also appreciated 'cause feedback is the way to know how this guide is doing and how much improvement it requires!

The guide is almost 5 years old! I remember when I was writing it and hoped it'd serve a purpose for other Garen players like me and now that it's so high up there and still holds its spot I can't possibly explain how I feel at the moment. Thank you so much for this!