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Akali Build Guide by Nurse_Akali_NA

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Nurse_Akali_NA

How to Play Akali: The Comprehensive Guide by Nurse Akali.

Nurse_Akali_NA Last updated on April 4, 2015
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Ability Sequence

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

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 21

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

Threats to Akali with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Yasuo Every time his shield is up, pop it with Q. If you can dodge a skill shot, this is an easy lane.
Fizz Very easy match up. You can mitigate most of his Combo with Twilight Shroud while you out damage him in every trade. Plus, you can use Zhonya's Hourglass to negate his ult, once you finish that.
Karthus Stay with your minions to halve the damage from his Q, and when you engage for a kill, make sure one of HIS minions is alive BEHIND you. You can then use the refreshed ult charge to escape his passive.
Ryze Bully him out with near constant Q-> E combinations before 6, then enjoy the free kills. This should be a very easy match.
Nasus Another champ who you destroy early game. And for Nasus, you need to win early. If he gets rolling, it's hard to feed on him. Just be a bully in lane before he gets his ult. Make sure to hit 6 first!
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About me:

Hey there! I'd like to give you guys a little bit of background on who I am before we start this guide. I am Nurse Akali, a league of legends player since season 2, with around 1600 normal games as Akali.

This season I'm focusing a lot more on League, trying to become one of the forefront Akali players in North America (Huge ambitions!), streaming on Twitch TV from Tuesday-Friday starting at 10:00 AM Eastern Standard Time.

I finished season 4 in gold 2, with the least deaths/game of the top 20 Akali mains by games played and a spotlight in Protatomonster's Top 5 Pro plays in the middle of the season, And I'm bringing in season 5 with this guide, which has been a long time coming. Lots of hard work and long hours have been put into this, so I hope you enjoy the read!

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About Akali:

Akali is a situational pick who fills the role of assassin very well. Akali is a champion who relies heavily on being able to snowball into the later game. This means she needs a good early-mid game to set her up for full potential, and she makes great use out of the extra gold you get from kills. The flip side is her tendency to fall behind if she has a bad early game, which she sees more often when in lane against champions with strong early games, such as Pantheon, Renekton, and Jarvan IV.

Akali is very easy to pick up and do decently with, but every game you play, there is something you could have done better on her. She takes a while to master, and has a lot of room to outplay opponents.

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Pros and Cons:

+ Very strong burst damage
+ Easy to learn
+ Energy as a resource
+ Semi-flexible build order
+ All the pentakills are yours.
- Melee, with a hard early game.
- Below average wave clear, especially early.
- Falls behind against tanky enemy compositions.
- Pink wards and sweepers everywhere

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Runes, Masteries, and Summoner Spells:

Rune Choices:


Greater Mark of Precision

Greater Seal of Scaling Health

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power


Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration
Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration: This is your best in slot choice, as Akali outputs about 55% physical damage, 45% magic damage. These marks only give up a tiny bit of magic pen in exchange for a hefty chunk of armor pen.

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration These are fine if you don't have the hybrid pen marks. They make your spells hit harder on champions. They're pretty spiffy, but you do lose out on a little bit of damage overall. If these are all you have, they certainly work just fine!


Greater Seal of Scaling Health will be used in the majority of games that we play as Akali. They're pretty good defense against mixed damage, and the only kind of defense against true damage. Health. Compared to flat health seals, these end up giving more health pretty early in the game.

Greater Seal of Armor are what we take if we either don't have the scaling health seals, or the enemy team is 4+ AD champions, OR our lane is super duper heavy AD, like Riven or Zed. Otherwise, we just run with the scaling health.


Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power Are pretty much our best choice for glyphs. Starting at level 7, they give more AP than the flat AP glyphs. Since most of our power lies in level 7-15, these work perfectly for our goals.

Greater Glyph of Ability Power are pretty good alternatives if you don't have the scaling AP glyphs. They give you a stronger early game at the cost of a marginally weaker late game. No real harm in taking these if you don't have scaling AP glyphs.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist Are useful for a lot of champions, but I personally do not believe Akali to be one of them. The opportunity cost of losing out on all the glorious AP is just too much. If you don't have any AP glyphs, I guess this is your only choice. Still, get AP blues soon.


Greater Quintessence of Ability Power Are my personal favorite quints on Akali. They stay the best AP quints until level 11, but by then we should pretty much have taken off. They also give your early game a little bit more bite.

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed are a viable alternative if you've got them but don't have the flat AP quints. They'll allow you to harass in lane a lot easier because you'll be significantly faster than your enemy. Plus, we already have a pretty high base movement speed, so it's complementing that quite nicely. Still though, I wouldn't take them unless you lack AP quints.

Masteries Explained:


We want to kill things as quickly as possible, and these masteries help us do just that.

Double-Edged Sword Gives you 2% extra damage dealt in exchange for taking 1% more damage yourself. This 1% net positive is a better point spent than butcher, and so we take it.

SorceryFor the 5% Cooldown reduction. Akali already has pretty short CDs, but the 5% here certainly makes things that little bit easier, and we'll do better with it than attack speed.

Expose Weakness While it only increases damage by 1%, it does so for all allies that hit your target. This means in a team fight you are in best case scenario getting 4 additional people to do 1% more damage each. Since we go after high priority targets, this is a nice little bump in damage. You can leave this out in exchange for Dangerous Game

Dangerous Game is a mastery that can let us survive a lot of trades where we would have otherwise died to ignite. Since we don't have any use for the mana portion of it, you have to decide weather you want the 5% missing health from this mastery, or the 1% damage to your target from all team mates on Expose Weakness . If you see yourself having a lot of close trades, take this one instead. (Thanks, Bluekitty17 for bringing this up).

Mental Force is a nice little complement to our scaling AP blues, giving us even more AP at 18. It is also boosted by Archmage , so there is that.

Arcane Mastery Gives us 6 whole AP at level 1. This is almost half what we're getting from runes, which is pretty nice. Ends up adding about 5 total damage to our level 1 Q.

Executioner ends up adding a whole 5% damage to low health targets. 5% is one of the biggest buffs a mastery gives us as a percentage boost, so it should definitely be taken.

Archmage is another 5% AP. With our build, this ends up being around 35 AP later in the game, which is respectable for only 3 points into a mastery.

Devastating Strikes gives us an additional 6% armor and magic pen, which applies BEFORE our flat penetration from runes. This allows us to negate a significant portion of a target's mitigation stats when we go for harass or kills.

Arcane Blade is one of those masteries that feels like it was just made for Akali. This adds about 35 damage to our auto attacks later in the game, and is such a strong synergy with Twin Disciplines that it would be a shame to pass up.

Havoc . One point, 3% damage. No more really needs to be said, this is why we are so deep in the offense tree. All of these percentages add up quickly.

In order to help us win trades for kills early, we want a couple points down this tree.

Block protects us from 2 points of damage every time the enemy autos us. This applies after our other mitigation, which is a bonus.

Recovery gives us an extra 2 health back every 5 seconds. In the 12 minutes before we get Hextech Gunblade this adds up to 288 HP, which is almost 2 extra health potions.

Unyielding reduces all damage by 2. Also applies after mitigation. With this and Block , we reduce most early game damage by 4, which matters when you're getting harassed constantly.

Veteran Scars is a nice 36 flat HP. This could be the difference to walking away alive instead of dying to Ignite. Take all three points.

Juggernaut matches the +36 flat health usually by level 7, and only gets better from there. 3% is a deceptive amount in the mid game trades you make. Worth the point.

Summoner Spells:

Ignite is one of those spells that I take 100% of the time when I go mid, but very rarely when I go top. Basically, if you're mid, take ignite. You'll use it against your typically squishy lane opponent to pick up plenty of kills. Use it right at the end of a combo if you think it'll nab the kill, or use it once you've engaged against a high sustain target.

Teleport is my go to replacement for Ignite while I'm playing Akali in the top lane. It lets you get back to lane quickly if you have a hard lane, or lets you pressure the map for kills if you're ahead. Even having teleport off cooldown presents the threat that you could use it, if you wanted to. Just remember that the cooldown is reduced by 1 minute if you cast it on your own turret instead of a minion/ward.

Flash is the summoner spell that I take 100% of the games I play. Every. Single. Game. It lets you pull of some absolutely insane combos. Flash--> Shadow Dance for a gap closer that makes everything else pale in comparison. Or if you get ganked and really need to get away, you can use the combo Twilight Shroud--> Shadow Dance--> Flash to escape, ulting to the closest thing to your turret and then flashing that last little bit.

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Twin Disciplines
• Building AD gives you spell vamp, and building AP gives you magic damage on auto attacks.
• This passive makes last hitting easy in the early game, gives you a ton of sustain, and gives you a huge chunk of magic damage on hit later in the game. The damage stacks with Lich bane's proc for huge numbers, and this passive is the reason we build in the order we do (more on build order later).

Mark of the Assassin
• Medium range skill which does damage and marks. Auto attacks will detonate the mark for more damage!
• This skill is pretty much your bread and butter for laning phase. You can use it to harass enemy champions effectively, and should max it first every single game. Using it primes your lich bane effect, which does damage at the same time as you detonate the second half of Q. Seeing 1k+ damage end game off Q->AA is not uncommon.

TIP: The mark lasts for 6 seconds, which is longer than the cool down. Q somebody, wait for the CD to come up, then AA->Q->AA for insane burst in any stage of the game.

Twilight Shroud
• Grants stealth and movement speed, while slowing enemies and granting vision.
• This is a very complex skill with many uses. The primary use is stealthing yourself for a duel, or to escape an attempted gank. However, Twilight Shroud also grants you movement speed, which allows you to harass in lane phase, chase, or escape easier. You can also use W to get close enough to minions to last hit if your lane is terribly difficult.

TIP: Twilight Shroud grants vision. If an enemy flashes over a wall, you can W on top of their location, then ult to them if you're fast enough. This saves yourself the flash. You can also W->R around the jungle to save time later in the game.

Crescent Slash
• Deal damage in a small area around yourself with a slightly larger range than an auto attack.
• This skill does your only AoE damage, but more importantly, it triggers marks to get your Q damage completed. While auto attacks also trigger Q marks, using E instead allows you to Q->AA right after using E as a detonation, which is your main source of burst without your ult. As of Patch 5.2, Crescent Slash no longer triggers the marks from Mark of the Assassin.

TIP: Once you get Hextech Gunblade you can clear caster minions by auto attacking each one once and then using E. If this doesn't clear the wave, you are behind where you should be, which is useful information as well!

Shadow Dance
• Dash to an opponent and deal magic damage!
• This is really the skill that makes Akali the danger that she is. This skill has a relatively long charge time at the first rank, but by rank 3 is up often enough to use it to move around the map pretty safely. Note that this skill does NOT trigger your Q mark, so you need to use an auto attack or Crescent Slash after ulting, assuming a normal combo.

TIP: You are given 1 charge when you take your ult at level 6. In addition, you will respawn with max charges after death.

TIP: The dash from Akali's ult allows you some pretty amazing jukes. You can dodge almost any skill shot ultimate if you dash to the enemy and move to the other side of them the moment before they cast at where you were.
CLICK HERE FOR EXAMPLE: Stepping behind your target can often let you dodge an ult.

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Skill Combos:

Pre 6 Combos:

Mark of the Assassin --> Crescent Slash

This is probably our lowest damage combo. It's also very easy to pull off when they go to last hit a minion. I use it on enemies like Fizz and Katarina when they jump on top of you early game.

As of patch 5.2, this no longer works. This entire combo now just becomes Mark of the Assassin into an auto attack, which isn't really a combo. I hope and pray that Riot reverts this change.

Mark of the Assassin --> WAIT --> Auto Attack --> Mark of the Assassin --> Auto Attack.
Okay. So this one is a little harder. Q from a distance, and then wait until the moment your cooldown is back up. The mark lasts for 6 seconds, but CD is closer to 4. Then use an auto attack to proc the second half of Q. Immediately re-Q them, and proc with an auto. This does a massive amount of burst damage and can be done early.

Post 6 Combos

Mark of the Assassin-->WAIT--> Shadow Dance-->Auto Attack--> Mark of the Assassin-->Auto Attack
Main post 6 harass combo. You Q them, wait for the CD to be up, then ult to them before finishing the main pre 6 combo. This usually chunks down about 40% of the enemies health. You can easily pick up kills with this one.

Hextech Gunblade--> Shadow Dance--> Mark of the Assassin-->Auto Attack--> Shadow Dance--> Crescent Slash--> Mark of the Assassin-->Auto Attack
May God have mercy on their soul. This combo is what I like to pretend was the reason Deathfire Grasp was removed in patch 5.2. Even still, there is no real counterplay to this combo, as you can launch it from pretty far away (the range on your ult is slightly greater than the range of your Q). If you can get the timing of this, it's a 100-0 kill. Add ignite if needed.

This still works as of 5.2, but is a little bit harder without DFG being in the game, and with the reduced range on our Shadow Dance post 5.2, that being said, we can also start doing this right around 12 minutes in the game.

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Items Explained:

First things first! I would like to quickly go over what gold efficiency is. For more information please check the wiki. Basically, gold efficiency is the ratio of the stats that you receive to the gold that you paid for an item. An item that is 100% gold efficient gives you no extra stats compared to base items (such as long sword).


Long Sword and Health Potion x3.

There is almost zero variation in this build for me.

The three health potions allow you to stay in lane a little bit longer, while the AD lets you last hit easier, and also gives you spell vamp thanks to Twin Disciplines.

In addition to that, taking long sword first allows you to get an earlier Bilgewater Cutlass

However, sometimes Cloth Armor and Health Potion x5 is a good start. If you're against heavy AD lanes that are going to be hard for you, such as Riven, Pantheon, and Renekton, then consider this start.


Why I take Bilgewater Cutlass before Hextech Revolver.

Lets look at the stats the we get from each item:

Bilgewater Cutlass
+ 25 AD
+ 8% Life steal
+ 4% Spellvamp (from Twin Disciplines)
+ Active effect: Deals 100 magic damage and applies a 25% slow for 2 seconds.

Hextech Revolver
+ 40 AP
+ 12% spell vamp
+ +6% of your AD as magic damage on auto (from Twin Disciplines)

Good! Now lets look at what that means for our laning phase pre-gunblade.

With Bilgewater Cutlass, we get +25 damage to minions, as well as a little more damage in our Crescent Slash and our auto attack. We also get a little bit of life steal, and some spell vamp. Since Akali's total damage output is about 55% physical, we make good use of the lifesteal.

With Hextech Revolver we get more damage on our Q and E, but the +6% on auto attacks is about 5 extra damage per auto. The sustain over time about matches what you end up getting out of cutlass, since only about 45% of our damage is magic. You also lose out on a strong active by taking revolver first, making you weaker in duels.

Akali's damage throughout a game is actually about 56.4% physical, 44.6% magic.
However, when going for kills, you do mostly magic damage. This means we make pretty good use out of lifesteal!

VERDICT: Taking Bilgewater Cutlass first gives you nearly the same sustain over time, but is a much stronger item to have for skirmishes and duels. You get more stats for your money, and the active can win you a kill early. Plus, since we started Long Sword, we're only 1040g away from having a Bilgewater Cutlass.

Core Items:

This is our lord and savior. Hextech Gunblade is roughly 125% gold efficient without even considering it's passives or actives. With the active, gunblade moves to an entirely new level of unfair.

This is our first item in 95% of games. Rush it. Then the moment you have it, you need to be going for kills. Even if the enemy has more farm than you do by time you get it, you're probably stronger.

Don't forget to use the active!

Tons of damage, an alright amount of armor, with an active that make you untouchable for a couple of seconds. This is now my second item. The duration of Zhonya's will usually let your Mark of the Assassin and Crescent Slash come back off cool down, allowing you do get right back into doing damage.

A whole lot of AP, with bonus AP as a passive. This is the must have item for pretty much any mage, but we end up waiting till 4th item (usually) to take it. If you go back and have 1600g after your core is done, start on this one.

Post Core Options:

This is our replacement to Deathfire's grasp. It brings 120 AP, 7% movespeed, and gains charges from movement, which is pretty darn spiffy. Deals damage like Static Shiv on spell cast, which really helps our burst damage. For that extra 100 + 15% AP burst, this for sure takes a spot on our core items page, and I really appreciate the extra burst it brings to the table. By time we have it (3rd or 4th item) it does roughly 175 damage when it procs, which makes our full combo that much more lethal.

Oh Lich Bane. This item was pretty hard for me to place. You're paying so much for the mana and the active components of it, so you really need that passive to have some punch. To justify buying lich bane, I usually want to have at least 650-700 AP before buying. This usually places lich bane at 5th or 6th item. Allows you to hit insane numbers with the second half of Q. I've seen 1.5k's before, which are always fun. After patch 5.2, this item is more useful since we are forced to auto attack to proc Mark of the Assassin. Still though, I normally don't pick it up until after Death Cap, as the extra AP really marks this item pack a punch.

If 4 or more enemies have over 80 Magic Resist, you want this. Alternatively, if at least two of them are above 150 Magic resist, you still want this. If neither of those conditions are met, delay this item a while. The percent magic penetration gets better later in the game, as enemies start stacking magic resist against you.

Like most boots, these bad boys are 100% gold efficient. That means you are getting exactly what you paid for. Sadly, you don't get anything over that. Boots are a pretty situational pick for me, and hear me out. The 15 Magic penetration is nothing in the face of any other huge AP item you could take. The damage you get from having boots in a slot is just wasted potential. Yes, they give you movement speed, but once you get used to roaming (and your sense of timing improves) you find your ult more than enough for sticking to people. I'll take them if we're getting behind and I fear homegaurds need to come out soon.

Quick edit for patch 5.2: After the range of Shadow Dance was reduced by 100 units, I find boots to be a bit more useful in closing that last distance I need to do my long range engage combos. It's still a situational pick, and if the enemy has a few ways to negate stealth, I typically just use Twilight Shroud offensively for the movement speed and skip on boots for a little while. Still much more common for me to take boots right after Zhonya's Hourglass now.

Oh, you don't have boots? Well thank god for this item. This is your excuse to not need boots. Paired with your almost non-existent cooldowns on Q, and your gap-closing ult, you don't even miss the movement speed any more. I mean, their boots arn't doing anything for them now. Plus, this delightful makes you a lot tankier and packs a wallop with a delicious 100 AP.

Do you have 1 to 2 deaths and it's mid-late game? Do they have a couple of people on their team that make you say, "Wow, I wish I had armor AND magic resist!" Well this is your item. Go ahead and pick it up if you're destroying their team and don't need more damage. If you're behind in gold, this item is just something I'd skip over, as the revive is often wasted.

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Early Game:

Level 1:

Go ahead and buy your start (either Long Sword/3 Health Potion or Cloth Armor/5 Health Potion depending on match up), then look at where your jungle is starting. If your jungle doesn't need the little bit of extra damage from you, go stand on the other side of the jungle to make sure it doesn't get invaded.

For example, if your jungle starts red, go stand in the brush between your Blue Golem and Mid lane.

Try to be in mid as soon as the minion waves meet. You want to get as much early gold and experience as you can before the other mid shows up.

Pre 6:

Your job before level 6 is basically to get as much farm and experience as you can. If you can land a kill before you even hit 6, great job! The rest should be easy.

Most of the time, you won't be getting many kills before you have Shadow Dance. Just try and keep a good creep score (CS) and watch out for ganks. I usually take Twilight Shroud at level 2 just in case I need it for a quick getaway.

Harass your enemy with Mark of the Assassin as soon as you see them, and don't stop spamming it. Detonate it for bonus damage whenever they get close enough to hit with an auto attack. You should be able to last hit just fine with your autos attacks. If you absolutely have to, use the energy on either Q or E to get that minion. Every creep matters!

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Mid-Late Game:


You just went back and picked up Hextech Gunblade? Good. Early game is over now. As long as you grab this item between 12 and 15 minutes, you are the strongest champion on the map (assuming nobody has a ton of kills already, but usually nobody is fed by 12 minutes). Push your advantage the second you get back to lane. You can usually manage to 100-to-0 the enemy mid the second you get back to lane, given you have ignite off cooldown.

Once you've gotten into this stage of the game, immediately look at your other lanes. If you can manage a gank in bottom (either off Teleport or just walking) it can often end in a double kill for either you or your AD carry. Both situations are massive wins, and you can then typically take dragon right after (if your jungle is nearby).

Your focus mid game is to put yourself as far ahead as you can, and try to get your team fed in the process.

Late Game:

When late game starts is a kind of tricky thing to place. Once both teams are organized and moving as a group, or executing a split-pushing strategy, you are usually in the late game. At this point in the game, you want to make sure you have as much vision on the map as possible, especially around dragon and baron. The more wards your team has out, the better your chances of catching somebody alone are.

As an assassin, Akali can sometimes find trouble getting a lone target to kill at this stage in the game. In these instances, wait for the team fight to be well engaged (you typically won't initiate one yourself, unless you can catch a carry alone).

Once a fight has started, try and jump on their highest priority target as soon as the enemy team has blown their crowd control on your tank (or anybody other than you). Remember that Shadow Dance gains a single charge for every kill or assist you get. You could feasibly pull off 7 shadow dances in a team fight if you tag each target, which shouldn't be too hard with the AoE damage from Crescent Slash.

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Detailed Matchups:

All of the following match ups are strictly my opinion. There will be match ups you might disagree with, but this aims to provide information based on my experience against each champion.

I'll be adding more match ups (particularly for top lane) over the next couple of weeks.

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Tips and Tricks:

Flash Can be used as an aggressive gap closer pre-6 to get you a surprise kill while you don't have Shadow Dance. The following combo is an example, the actual timing of flash changes base on how the enemy reacts to your aggression.
Mark of the Assassin->WAIT->Auto Attack-> Mark of the Assassin-> Flash->Auto Attack-> Ignite. Sometimes you don't even need ignite. This takes practice to ensure a kill. Be familiar with your damage!

• The movement speed from Twilight Shroud can often get you in range to proc the second half of Mark of the Assassin early in the game. Be wary doing this too much though, as it does leave you vulnerable to ganks.

• If you are chasing an enemy and they Flash over a wall, you can quickly cast Twilight Shroud and Shadow Dance to them to prevent from having to burn your own summoner spell. You do need a pretty quick reaction time to manage this though.

• When trying to escape in the jungle, cast Twilight Shroud such that it overlaps a brush or one of the jungle camps to give yourself easier outs. You can either Shadow Dance to the jungle camp, or simply walk out through the brush if the enemy moves far enough towards the other side of your shroud.

• The range of Shadow Dance is actually a fair bit longer than the range on Mark of the Assassin. If the enemy is playing overly safe, you can reverse the order of your main combo for a longer range engage: Shadow Dance-> Mark of the Assassin-> Auto Attack and then walk away for some great burst damage with usually very little retaliation.

• Boots are optional. Seriously. If you need movement speed, tenacity, or the homeguard enchantment, then go ahead and grab them. Otherwise, Rylai's Crystal Scepter provides enough slow for you to stick on most people until you get the kill.

• As stated earlier in the guide, if you get ganked and their jungler is closer to your tower, you can Shadow Dance to them to escape easier.

• Keep an eye out on the enemy items. If they have a couple vision wards or upgraded sweeper trinkets, try to bait those out before committing to a fight, or at least realize that you will not be able to rely on Twilight Shroud.

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Closing remarks:

Akali is by far my favorite champion, and I hope that this guide helped explain some of the item choices and play styles for her.

I would like to thank all of you who took the time to read this guide. Many good days went into making this what it is, and I will be updating it regularly!

If you enjoyed the read, have any questions, or have spotted anything incorrect, please let me know! And if you are interested in chatting about Akali or League of Legends in general, or just watching the game, you can catch me streaming on Twitch from Tuesday-Friday starting at 10:00 AM Eastern Standard Time.