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Skarner Build Guide by GnatBane

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League of Legends Build Guide Author GnatBane

Hybrid Skarner - GET OVER HERE!!!

GnatBane Last updated on August 21, 2011
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Ability Sequence

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

Not Updated For Current Season

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


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 0

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 9

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

Utility: 21

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Skarner is a melee DPS champion that is centralized on picking an enemy and sticking to that enemy like glue. His skills have great synchronization with his innate and provide all you need to drive fear into your prey of choice. Due to the current tanky DPS metagame, Skarner struggles to survive 1v1 against other melee DPS champions. On top of that, Skarner is easily mana starved early game which forces the player to use skills wisely instead of spamming constantly to gain farm. This build focuses on building Skarner as a hybrid DPS with just enough durability to take more than just a couple of hits. By building him this way, his utility is maximized which only makes him stronger.

Note: This guide is not the end-all be-all of Skarner. Build around it to fit your playstyle and share your knowledge in the comments down below! :)

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Pros / Cons

+ Great kit synergy.
+ One of the best candidates for a hybrid build.
+ Good jungling.
+ Easily denies enemy champs from running away.
+ He's a scorpion, mofo.

- Squishy melee.
- Mana starved.
- No instant gap closer.

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Greater Mark of Desolation

My choice of runes focuses primarily on Skarner's early game. It is quite easy to alter these if you feel a later game synergy is required for your playstyle.

Desolation Marks
Skarner benefits heavily from having armor penetration. Though he is built hybrid, the majority of his damage is physical. Also, Skarner is less about burst and more about suspended damage, making the armor penetration even more beneficial.

Resilience Seals
Since this build doesn't focus on tanky Skarner, flat armor benefits him greatly during the laning phase of the game. If you feel you need later game survivability, grab Greater Seal of Defense instead.

Warding Glyphs
The same story applies here from the seals; flat magic resistance is better for his early game where he struggles. If you feel you need later game survivability, grab Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist instead.

Swiftness Quintessences
Since we want Skarner's utility to be optimized, I grab movement speed quintessences. This will ensure not only that you stay on your enemy, but that you can pull your enemy even further with your ultimate. Nothing is better than surprising your enemy at how far you can move in 1.5 seconds.

If this doesn't fit your playstyle, I recommend Greater Quintessence of Desolation to stack with your marks for more damage output or Greater Quintessence of Health for even more early game survivability.

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Offense Masteries - 0
"wat u noob, dps build w/out offense masteries?! *downvote*" ~anon
Now hold on, Mr. Pubstomper. My item build isn't for a tank nor does it incorporate a super tanky DPS build, so we need to find our survivability somewhere.

Defense Masteries - 9
I've found that grabbing three points in Resistance and Hardiness gives Skarner a good amount of early survivability paired with my rune choices. I also grab Strength of Spirit for a little bit more health regeneration. Another option would be to put two points into Resistance and Hardiness , four points into Evasion , and a point into Nimbleness . If you do this, I recommend building Ninja Tabi instead of Mercury's Treads to maximize your evasion utility (maybe Greater Seal of Evasion, also). Another alternative, because I do know that Strength of Spirit is somewhat weak on Skarner, is to put three points into Archmage's Savvy over in the offensive tree.

Utility Masteries - 21
Since I grab the Teleport and Ghost summoner spells, I grab both upgrades for them in the utility tree. Good Hands is almost always better than Perseverance, so put two in here to complete the first row. Put four points in Awareness to help Skarner with leveling (especially if you do a delayed jungle). I do not recommend Expanded Mind due to Skarner's low base mana pool. Maximizing Meditation and Utility Mastery will help Skarner's mana starvation problems (grab blue buff when you can, but don't be greedy). Speaking of Greed , drop a point in that mastery to gain a little bit of extra income. Skarner's early build is fairly inexpensive, so this synergizes well. Maximize Quickness because movement speed is wonderful on Skarner. Cooldown reduction compliments Skarner's innate ability, so maximize Intelligence . To finish things off, put that last point in Presence of the Master so you have more map mobility with Ghost and Teleport.

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Summoner Spells

I grab Ghost to maximize Skarner's movement speed for chasing, running, and maximizing his ultimate's potential. This is an absolute must on Skarner.

I feel that Teleport is largely underappreciated. I find that being able to teleport to ward or minion in another lane is a great way to gank an oblivious enemy. It also gives map mobility to stop towers from falling due to creep waves.

If you feel that Teleport is unnecessary, then by all means grab a recommend summoner spell below.

Sometimes you miss with your slow from your Q ability. Exhaust is a great way to ensure nobody can get away from your deathly hold.

Skarner has no instant gap closing ability. Flash is a great way to jump on somebody and ult them from getting away.

Having trouble getting that last hit in? Grab ignite and laugh as your enemy only gets away with a sliver of health before being popped by your ignite.

Note: Your masteries may need to be arranged if you drop Teleport for another summoner spell.

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Skill Sequence

Grab Crystal Slash at level 1, Crystalline Exoskeleton at level 2, and Fracture at level 3. At level 1, Crystal Slash might help in getting first blood by having the near permanent slow. Grabbing Crystalline Exoskeleton at level 2 allows you to take a hit or two without taking health damage and increases your DPS. By level 3, Fracture comes in handy as it will give you a little bit of lane sustain early game.

After this, maximize Crystal Slash, then Crystalline Exoskeleton, then Fracture grabbing Impale as it becomes available. For laning, this may seem counter intuitive being that Fracture is the only way to poke your enemy. However, since the item build doesn't focus on grabbing ability power early, you want to worry more about farming and less about harassment. Crystalline Exoskeleton and Ghost will get you to safety if the enemy initiates and a well placed Crystal Slash can slow them if they chase you. So, for this, Fracture is lowest priority after level 3.

Your Impale is what makes Skarner shine. When laning with somebody, hiding in the brush and harassing is a good way to deny your enemy farm. When Impale comes up and your enemy is getting low on health but not going back to base, hide in the brush and grab them if they get near. Pop your Ghost and Crystalline Exoskeleton for more effect and make sure your ally knows what you are up to. By doing this, you will more than likely get a kill/assist.

A neat trick to keep in mind is to use Crystal Slash immediately before Impale, pull the target, and just before the suppression ends turn back around to become an obstacle your enemy must go around. Use another Crystal Slash to proc the slow effect for maximum utility.

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Early Game
Start off buying Boots of Speed and three Health Potions. You can swap a Health Potion for a Mana Potion if you're prone to spamming, however I find that if you use your skills conservatively and play a passive early game, mana is not too much of an issue.

After farming for a while, return to base and upgrade your boots to Mercury's Treads. If the farming has gone well and you've gotten a kill/assist or two, grab a Sapphire Crystal/ Sheen if you have the gold. Mercury's Treads give you Magic Resistance and Tenacity which Skarner desperately needs due to the lack of other majorly defensive items in this build. However, if the enemy team is going primarily AD, grabbing Berserker's Greaves or Boots of Swiftness provide more synergy with Skarner's kit. If you've decided to run dodge chance on Skarner, I recommend Ninja Tabi to maximize the effect and they also provide armor. We've grabbed Sheen early because it helps with Skarner's mana and has an amazing passive that utilizes Skarner's high AD and takes advantage of his spammable Q and attack speed due to W.

After this, you may notice that Skarner needs a little bit more durability. I work on grabbing a Wriggle's Lantern not only because it gives armor and lifesteal, but the passive allows you to help take down dragon very quickly and also allows you to transition into a jungler/roamer. Welcome to a new high ELO metagame; Wriggle's Lantern is all the rage.

Mid Game
So we've built up a decent amount of magic resistance and a little armor, but you might be wondering where your damage is despite Sheen. Not to mention, your mana problems are probably becoming more apparent as you are being forced to spam more often now that we're entering the midgame. The next item that should be in your core list is Nashor's Tooth. I worry about the Fiendish Codex first, then Stinger. I know grabbing Stinger first is tempting, but that mana problem needs to be fixed pronto. Once you've got these, drop another 500 gold to upgrade to Nashor's Tooth. AP and AS are amazing on Skarner and this guy grants both, not to mention the mana regeneration and CDR.

Nashor's Tooth was a bit pricey, so it may have taken you a while to get this far. Your survivability should be okay if you are playing patiently. If it isn't enough, now is the time to grab some survivability items. I will cover that later and assume you're roflstomping at this point. We need more damage to remain a threat. The cure? Guinsoo's Rageblade. Look at this item; AD, AP, and a stacking effect that buffs your AS and AP with every ability you use. Skarner says, "Yes, please!"

Late Game
Most games won't make it this far, but when they do it's time you upgraded that dinky Sheen you bought so long ago. Now, I oppose the Trinity Force fad, but I understand its allure. But I find that the Lich Bane synergizes better with this hybrid build of Skarner. It gives magic resistance and movement speed buffs which are great on our scorpion. It also gives a nice AP bonus and some mana, which is always good on our spammy Skarner. The passive is great as 100% of our AP at this point is better than the additional 50% AD that the Trinity Force enacts. Lich Bane is also cheaper which is a big bonus due to Trinity Force's outrageous price. It's truly, truly outrageous.

Finally, we're going to work on the Hextech Gunblade because it provides AD, AP, lifesteal, AND spell vamp. This adds some wonderful survivability to Skarner since he attacks so quickly and spams skills so often. Don't forget that this item gives you lesser version of Ignite which only adds to the scariness of your champ.

Survivability Alternates
Mentioned in the Mid Game section, Skarner may need some more survivability depending the skill of your allies and enemies, the composition of the two teams, and if you're being focused or not. My recommendation is to postpone your later items, effectively replacing them with some survivability items.

If your enemy is going primarily AD:

  • Thornmail will make those fools regret having such a ridiculous team composition.
  • Sunfire Cape will give you a slight armor buff with some health and also add some more DPS to your arsenal.
  • Frozen Heart will slow the attack speed of your enemies, grant the necessary armor, and give you a healthy chunk of mana.
  • Randuin's Omen is great and has an even better active that will guarantee nobody gets away.

If your enemy is going primarily AP:
  • Force of Nature will not only give you a huge magic resistance bonus, but also a nice health regeneration buff. We also will take that movement speed buff.
  • Abyssal Mask will give you magic resistance and AP while taking your enemies' magic resistance away.
  • Banshee's Veil has a nice magic resistance bonus, but is also great for CC heavy teams.

If your enemy is nicely balanced:
  • Aegis of the Legion is the most cost effective tanky item in the game. Take it.
  • Guardian Angel will give you a plethora of defenses and revive you. What's not to like about it?

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Final Word and Change Log

Remember, this is not the only way to play Skarner nor am I the greatest player ever. I've found personal success with this build and I recommend everybody to try it at least once before knocking it. Share your successes and failures below in the comments. We all are curious about your war stories! Good luck and thanks for reading!

Change Log:
08/21/2011, 20:25 PDT - Began sprucing the page up.
08/19/2011, 21:53 PDT - General editing.
08/19/2011, 21:24 PDT - Rough draft published.

'To Do' List:
In depth description of abilities.
Jungling guide.
UI updates.