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Irelia Build Guide by Glinting

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Glinting

Irelia - Balance in ALL the things!

Glinting Last updated on March 18, 2012
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Top Lane
Ranked #55 in
Top Lane
Win 51%
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Ability Sequence

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

Not Updated For Current Season

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



Offense: 0

Honor Guard

Defense: 21

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Hi there! Welcome to my first League of Legends guide, aptly written for the first champion that I ever played and thought "wow, this is awesome".

Irelia is an amazing champion - her sustain, her ability to jump around a teamfight wreaking havoc, and her true damage make her (in my humble opinion) one of the best tanky-dps/bruiser champions out there. In my experience, she can outplay most champions solo-top, and this is the only place you want to put her. The extra levels and farm are incredibly important for Irelia, as she is very item-dependent to scale into mid/late game.

I'm posting this guide both because I consider myself a capable Irelia player, and because I want to become a better one. I'm looking forward to comments that will point out what I do wrong, what I do right, and where I can improve. So without further ado...


24/11/2011 - Altered masteries and added more information on them, re-ordered sections to read better, split a 'gameplay' section off from the 'skills' section, fixed the runes from tier one to tier three.
26/11/2011 - Added Wit's End to alternative items.
19/02/2012 - Placed [wit's end in standard build, replacing shurelia's reverie/ Force of Nature. Added Wriggle's Lantern to alternative/situational builds. Altered skill sequence to improve early-game farming/sustain over burst damage (maxing Hiten Style first followed by Bladesurge). Altered laning-phase gameplay advice to match this. Updated standard masteries to 0/21/9 and explained this decision in the masteries section. Swapped flat MR glyphs for per-level MR glyphs.
18/03/2012 - Fixed error where I didn't upgrade the boots in item selection. Removed Force of Nature from specified build to leave final item to preference from section on items.


-Potential opponents

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+Strong harass against most top-lane champs.
+Punishes enemy mistakes hard.
+Amazing combination of tanking and damage.
+True damage!
+Farming is great, bouncy fun.
+Passive makes her very difficult to pin down.
+Dat sustain @_@

-Reliant on farm to start stomping.
-Squishy early on.

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Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Lethality

Greater Quintessence of Health

Greater Mark of Desolation: I go for armour pen marks for the extra damage - it makes your early game burst that much more effective, and lets you shred squishier top-laners.

Greater Seal of Armor, Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: The seals and glyphs are pretty self explanatory - you want to be able to take a little extra damage early game, however Irelia's magic resist per-level is slightly below par compared to her armor per-level, and so I go for per-level MR glyphs as opposed to a set of flat Greater Glyph of Magic Resist. The flat runes, however, are preferable against an AP toplane like Kennen.

greater Quintessence of Desolation: I usually go for armour pen quints for the same reasons as the marks, but the health from Greater Quintessence of Health is also a very strong option to help with your early squishiness.

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Summoner Spells

Good Options

spa You're solo top - you really want this. This means you can help your team take dragon, jump out of warded bushes and create a gank across the map from only a few seconds of MIA, save a turret and any number of fantastic moves. Take teleport.
spa Whilst not the godlike escape it used to be pre-nerf, flash is still an incredible buy. No minions on low health to Bladesurge to? Flash into a Bladesurge and burst down that cocky, low-health enemy hovering a little out of range. Combined with Ionian Fervor's CC reduction, flash makes you very slippery.
spa Ghost is a good pick on Irelia, as with Ionian Fervor you won't be as screwed by heavy CC without flash. Brilliant both for chases and escapes, ghost is a completely viable replacement for flash (but not teleport).
spa Feel like being particularly aggressive? Exhaust isn't a bad pick on Irelia, and can both grab you kills and save your life - I just feel the mobility from Flash or Ghost is superior.

Average/Poor Options

spa Why is Ignite consigned here whilst Exhaust gets a spot above? Simply because with Exhaust you can slow down a pursuit. Taking ignite leaves you with no hard escape, unless you drop Teleport. And see above for the argument against that.
spa You shouldn't need this if you have an escape spell, and if anyone were to take it, it would be the support, who'll be involved in all the teamfights while you sit and farm up top.
spa Buy a philosopher's stone, mana problems gone if you don't spam your skills.
spa Whilst a good escape spell, a little bit of overkill combined with Ionian Fervor, and thus not necessary.

Bad Options

spa You aren't jungling!
spa The bonus attack speed is mediocre at best on Irelia, and the ability power isn't worth much at all.
spa You don't want to push much - keep the enemy minions in a safe place, and farm them. A giant cannon is likely to push your lane out of the safety zone, leaving you open to the enemy jungler.
spa Someone should take it, but not you. Where's your support?
spa I still don't see this being viable despite the changes. You shouldn't be planning for when you die, you should be planning to avoid dying.

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After testing both mastery setups over a period of months, I've decided that the extra CC reduction, bulk and utility (ironically) provided by the defense tree outweighs that of the utility tree. My standard setup is now 0/21/9 to utilise the powerful cc-reduction of Juggernaut as well as the strong utility from Initiator and Enlightenment . Whilst the utility tree is still strong for Awareness and Greed , I feel that these laning benefits are outweighed by the defense tree's late-game power.



The most beneficial masteries from each tree are:

Obviously, Juggernaut and Mastermind - Juggernaut makes you almost impossible to disable significantly, combined with your passive and your item build, whilst Mastermind significantly increases the frequency with which you can Teleport and Flash, which can make the difference between losing a turret/teamfight or dying to a gank, or saving/escaping it.

Resistance , Hardiness and Vigor from the defense tree are incredibly useful, and no matter which setup you choose, you'll always want these three. Whilst the numbers are small, for the points they cost and their position in the tree they're definitely worth it.

I choose Runic Affinity over Scout because whilst you don't often end up with a buff on Irelia, both buffs are very effective on her. 5% increased ward range makes very little, if any difference in my experience.

Summoner's Insight isn't totally necessary, but it costs a single point and has a significant cooldown reduction for your Flash (the benefit for Teleport is negligible)).

But what about offense?


Going 9/21/0 is also a perfectly viable choice, and I would recommend it if you choose to take Exhaust over Flash (for Summoner's Wrath ), or Greater Quintessence of Health over greater quintessence of desolation (for Weapon Expertise ). Since you've put your nine points into offense, I would recommend investing the rest in the defense tree, unless you plan to spread yourself over all three.
Additional Note: Don't be afraid to stray from traditional 9-21 mastery sets in this manner. The new masteries make things like 9/13/8 or 9/9/12 much more viable. You lose out on the powerful lower-down masteries, but you do pick up a lot of more varied stats in the process. If your playstyle calls for variation, then you should find a way to incorporate that into your masteries.

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Core Build

Philosopher's Stone spa Solo top gold. Literally. But puns aside, grabbing your philosopher's stone is a must for early game. As soon as you burn out your mana (try not to do this when you're pushed - if you can't get out of lane without taking tower damage, then play safe and save mana) recall back and grab your stone. If you've been farming well by this point you should hopefully be able to grab your tier 1 boots too. Once you have the stone, you should never have to leave your lane unless you get into a duel and end up too low to hang around in case of tower dive.
spa As well as some decent MR, the tenacity from these boots synergises really well with Irelia's passive. Once you have these, pinning you down is going to be a mission even for heavy CC characters.
spa This item is a godly purchase. It's expensive, but for a reason. Every stat it gives you benefits Irelia in some way - the Sheen passive is fantastic for Bladesurge (it triggers on hit effects), the slow from Phage works wonders with Equilibrium Strike to chase down an enemy and the movement speed from Zeal turns you into a nimble beast, Bladesurgeing around teamfights and laughing off CC with Ionian Fervor.

Standard Mid-Game Build - against a balanced team

spa Wit's end is a brilliant item on Irelia, because its high attack speed bonus increases the healing and damage your Hiten Style does in an engagement. It also brings a major spike in damage output due to the magic damage with each attack. I now buy this almost every game on Irelia. You can even rush it between your Sheen and your finished Trinity Force if you're against a top lane character like Cho'Gath or Vladimir who does a lot of magic damage.
spa One of the best armour items in the game, as well as providing a great active ability (Irelia is almost as slippery as Singed if she can use item actives well), I build Randuin's Omen before Force of Nature as most of the time I'll be laning against a standard AD solo top character, facing threats from the (AD) jungler.

Bonus Items

If you get to this point in your build, you're going to start getting immensely strong. Hopefully here your farm is in the hundreds and your kills (or assists) approaching or in double figures. The items here come down to personal preference, and the composition of your team/the enemy team.

spa Kills in double figures? Feeling untouchable? Chances are the enemy are about to start focusing you hard (which, because you're building tanky, is a good thing - let your carry eat them alive while they try). Make all their efforts to bring you down for naught with this item. As well as providing some nice defensive stats, the ability to get straight back up after being focused down can turn the tide of any teamfight, especially on a bruiser like Irelia.
spa Even faster, you say? Indeed! Aside from the movement speed boost, Force of Nature is an incredibly strong defensive item against casters, and the regeneration from both it and Randuin's Omen stack up amazingly. This is a bonus item rather than core, as you already have a decent amount of magic resist from Wit's End and Mercury's Treads. Take this item if you're against an AP heavy team.
spa Whilst Spirit Visage is more a mid-game item than a late-game one, the additional synergy with Hiten Style's passive makes Spirit Visage very strong on Irelia, and is a viable alternative to Force of Nature to top off your magic resist.

spa Though we haven't invested in a Frozen Mallet or a Warmog's Armor, the health from Randuin's and your general beefiness still makes this a useful item. You might not gain a huge amount of damage, but that's still +45 armour and +18% crit chance - if the enemy team has a lot of AD characters, pick this over Spirit Visage to help you stay alive as well as gaining some bonus damage.

spa Upgrading your philosopher's stone, whilst not necessary, is something I would definitely recommend if your support doesn't have one. Shurelya's has some great CDR as well as an amazing active that means that you will never be caught in a chase again (disclaimer: never does not genuinely mean never). This is a good item to get alongside Atma's Impaler for the additional health.

spa For when that pesky Ezreal, Singed or Teemo just refuses to stand still, buying yourself this item means that there's little hope of escape once you latch onto someone with a jump, stun/slow and more frequent passive slowing than from Trinity Force. Again this works well if you want to take Atma's Impaler for obvious reasons (nom nom health).

Alternative Builds

spa I would feel neglectful if I wrote a tanky DPS guide and didn't include the obvious combo. Whilst immensely effective if not countered, it just takes the enemy carry buying a Madred's Bloodrazor and you're going to get shredded. Take this if the enemy carry is being shut down hard, or if (heaven forbid) the enemy team doesn't have one. Beware of non-carries ( Master Yi, Warwick, Lee Sin) carrying Madred's, if they latch onto you it can end just as badly.

spa If you're laning against a horrible AP caster such as Brand or LeBlanc (what she is doing in top lane I don't know..) then consider buying yourself one of these items instead of your Warden's Mail/ Randuin's Omen. Getting Spirit Visage early makes your laning incredibly strong against an AP character, and is good against any heavy-harass enemy. Banshee's Veil should only be bought as a replacement for Randuin's Omen if the enemy team is incredibly AP heavy, or an AP character is snowballing. Alternatively, you can replace Force of Nature with it if there's an enemy champion with a powerful burst/CC that you really want to negate ( sigil of silence, mage chains, Soul Shackles).
spa Whilst Irelia really doesn't need the sustain from a wriggles lantern, if you're taking a lot of heavy harass from a Gangplank or Talon, the armor and lifesteal from it can make you almost impossible to push out of lane. And hey, a free sight ward is always a good thing, as well as the active making farming like shooting fish in a barrel.

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Skills and How To Use Them

Ionian Fervor - Reduces the duration of stuns, slows, taunts, fears, snares, and roots for each nearby enemy champion.

1 Champion: 10%
2 Champions: 25%
3 Champions: 40%

It's this skill that makes Irelia nigh-on impossible to pin down in teamfights. Whilst you don't have to pay any attention to it, it's nice to notice when a stun wears off of you in almost half the time it normally would (less than with tenacity items), enabling you to run amok.

Bladesurge - Irelia dashes forward to strike her target. If it kills the target, Bladesurge's cooldown refreshes and refunds 35 Mana.

Bladesurge is a brilliant gap-closer, farming tool and burst skill. The primary non-obvious function of Bladesurge is to be used on low-health minions - as if you kill the target with it, the cooldown refreshes and refunds 35 mana. This means that you can close double the gap by using a minion between your and your enemy, or get twice as close to safety. It also means that you can use it to farm creep waves without blowing all your mana. Using Bladesurge well defines a good Irelia player - time it well and use it on the right targets to make it refresh.

Hiten Style - Irelia is skilled in the art of Hiten, passively giving her physical attacks health restoration. Activating Hiten Style gives her basic attacks true damage for a short period.

Hiten Style is what makes Irelia so deadly as a solo top character. The combination of amazing sustain from its passive and an active that can cut through tanks like butter is not to be underestimated. Whenever you go for a kill, activate this skill - there's not a lot more to it than that, aside from using it for your Sheen passive on towers.

Equilibrium Strike - Irelia's attack balances the scales, dealing damage and slowing the target. However, if the target has a higher Health % than Irelia, then the blow stuns the target instead.

This skill is your burst and harass. Relatively intuitive to use, the main point you need to consider is whether you are about to stun your opponent or slow them. A well timed stun can win an engagement, and so you should always keep an eye on your opponent's health relative to yours. Don't dive in expecting a stun when you have the health advantage - but don't hesitate to use it to slow an opponent you know you can beat without the stun, or to stop them from escaping a gank, as the slow in itself is very powerful.

Transcendent Blades - Irelia summons 4 spirit blades that she can fling to deal physical damage and siphon life from enemies they pass through.

This is one of my favourite ultimates in the game for several reasons. Number one would have to be its cooldown - only a minute at maximum, down to forty seconds at rank three. This means that you can use it to clear creep waves, throw out damage to ready the enemy for a burst in a minute's time, and have it up for every team fight. And it's in team fights that this ability really shines, my second reason - if you can cast it to hit enough enemy champions, not only does it have a brilliant overall damage output, but it keeps you alive through insane amounts of focus. The third reason is the sheer number of situations it can be used in - I've already mentioned clearing creeps and teamfights, but it's brilliant in chases, in harass-heavy escapes, and (one of my favourites) surviving ignites by tossing them backwards into enemy creeps/champions. It may take a few games of practice to get targeting them down, but if you know how to smart-cast, it's a doddle.

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Skill Sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

I max out Equilibrium Strike first in order to maximise Irelia's early burst. Maxing this means people tend to underestimate the damage you can do, and how quickly you can do it, providing you with great harass.

Whilst the order of Bladesurge and Hiten Style might seem random, there is reason to my madness. You want to level your W because of the sustain, but leveling your Q improves your burst and farming. I find that you don't lose out all that much if you upgrade them alternately, or two points at a time alternately.

Though this is my standard sequence, I'll vary it depending on the enemy champion(s). If I'm laning against someone with powerful harass, I'll prioritise Hiten Style over Bladesurge for the added sustain - but if I'm laning against someone squishy, leveling Bladesurge means that I'm better able to burst them down.

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Basic Skills - How to Solo Top

Last Hitting

This is an essential part of every lane, but particularly for the farm-dependent Irelia. Last-hitting describes the process of running backwards and forwards like a headless chicken until a minion is low enough for you to finish it with an auto-attack. Run in and hit it, smile as the yellow number floats up. If you don't get the last hit on a minion, you get no gold for it. You can use Bladesurge to last hit (see next chapter) when you would miss some if you simply auto-attacked each one.

This is one of the reasons why you want to avoid pushing, or being pushed. If you're under the enemy tower, you can't get in there to attack their minions without risking tower hits or harass from the enemy with impunity. If the enemy is under your tower, you're losing last hits to your tower.

Avoiding Ganks

sight ward sight ward sight ward sight ward sight ward sight ward

Ward. Always ward. If you leave the pad with more than 75 gold and no wards in your inventory, you're doing something wrong! Be aware of the enemy jungler - where were they last seen? Have they walked into ward vision lately? What time does that champion normally start ganking?

If your enemy is acting overly aggressive, or deliberately letting you push, then you know something is up. Don't push, or engage - fall back and play defense. Let your jungler know you could use a hand, get your support to use Clairvoyance or alternatively, spam /t and trollface in all chat. c:

Below are a few guides that explain the laning phase and warding really well. Credit goes to the videomakers - I didn't make any of these.

Last Hitting and Lane Control



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Your strategy as Irelia in lane is to constantly keep your opponent on edge. Depending on who you're against, the specifics will vary, but the tactic that usually works is quite easy to apply. Focus primarily on last hitting - it isn't worth losing a last hit to harass - but whenever you get the chance to, Bladesurge onto your opponent and immediately follow with an Equilibrium Strike before retreating (as mentioned in the skills section). You should start this burst-harass once you reach level three, and have a comfortable mana pool as well as high enough damage to make it worthwhile. Bladesurge also serves as an easy farming tool, as described above, and so use it that way.

Around about level six, you will likely want to consider going back. If all goes well, you shouldn't need to until you have at least enough gold for your philosopher's stone and your Mercury's Treads. Those are the items you need to make your lane sustain its most powerful, before you start building into damage through Sheen/ Trinity Force. Ideally, before you go back you want to push your opponent out of lane so that they don't pull ahead in farm.

If you've been harassing well, then your opponent should be on around half health (if this is not the case, then don't engage -- Irelia's dueling power doesn't hit it's max before level 9 with a maxed out Hiten Style). If they are, you want to jump on them suddenly, and so a strong tactic to use is to wait near the back of your minions for an enemy minion to reach low health, and Bladesurge to it. The cooldown will refresh, allowing you to instantly Bladesurge again to your opponent and burst with Equilibrium Strike and Transcendent Blades, all the while attacking with [hiten style. If this doesn't kill your opponent, it should at least force them to go back - leaving you with a free slot to follow suit, or an opportunity to get damage onto their tower (while being extra wary of a jungler gank).

Enemies that I find hard to fight as Irelia are champions like Cho'Gath, Udyr and Sion. These champions can absorb your burst/true damage very effectively, either through sheer bulk or skills - Turtle Stance and Death's Caress - followed by a painful lock-down ( Rupture, Bear Stance, Cryptic Gaze) and counter-burst ( Tiger Stance, Death's Caress's detonation, Feral Scream/ Feast. Ideally in lanes like this you want to focus on farming - don't dive into a stun or a Rupture, play it safe and wait for your jungler to gank before going in for a kill.

Irelia's strength in the laning phase is sustain, so if you don't feel confident engaging your opponent, then don't! If you hang back and focus on last-hitting creeps, harassing only when it's safe, then you'll still become extremely powerful late-game. Irelia doesn't need kills to pull ahead, just a lot of farm.


In teamfights, your role is something of a mix between off-tank and assassin, primarily the former due to your build. Once the engagement begins, you want to use Bladesurge to dash past the enemy front lines and latch onto their carry or mage, forcing the enemy to focus you whilst your team tears them apart. Irelia's ability to soak up both damage and CC effects makes her excellent at this, and her damage output is enough to seriously threaten any squishy champion. Generally, you want to use your [equilibrium strike to burst and lock-down the enemy carry or mage, but alternatively you can shut down their tank/off-tank to allow your team to run riot. If their tank is someone like Udyr, Cho'Gath or another Irelia, who can consistently disrupt a fight for your team, then stun them out of things for a couple of seconds - but if it's someone like Malphite or Maokai who lack that consistent damage output, it's generally safe to leave them to focus a squishy.

You will need to alter your playstyle depending on the enemy team composition. For example, if an enemy Akali jumps onto your carry, you need to get onto her fast - her jump outranges yours, but she can't handle being focused in the same way, especially with Equilibrium Strike's slow on her. If the enemy carry or mage is fed and sporting a full build, and you're still squishier than you'd like, then don't be an idiot - diving onto them to initiate will just get you killed. Make sure that there are multiple targets for them to focus on, and you have backup to focus them down before they can put out a lot of damage. Remember: you take a lot of focusing to bring down, but it's useless to have that happen whilst your team fail to focus the carry you just jumped on. Communication is key.

Apart from this strategy, general team-fight rules are to keep your Hiten Style up whenever you can, and use your Transcendent Blades to keep yourself alive and take down fleeing enemies as described in the above skills section.

And try to avoid stealing kills from your carry. It's hideously easy with Bladesurge, but you want to feed them more than you want to feed you, as scary as you are.

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To End...

I hope you enjoyed my guide. I look forward to comments on how to improve it! Also, infinite thanks to jhoijhoi for her brilliant guide to making a guide!