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League of Legends Build Guide Author Xeln

Irelia: Everything You Need to Know

Xeln Last updated on January 1, 2011
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Top Lane
Ranked #55 in
Top Lane
Win 49%
Get More Stats

Ability Sequence

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

Not Updated For Current Season

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


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 9

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 0

Expanded Mind
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 21

Irelia: The Will of the Blades

Last update: 1/1/11 - Formatted to look pretty. Tried to add a table of contents, but couldn't get it to work.


Despite what a lot of people think Irelia is not only a highly enjoyable character to play, she is also very useful. The thing about her is that builds and playskill are all over the place because she is an extremely difficult character to use. She has several different item paths you can take, many of which enjoy different levels of viability, as well as a very steep learning curve if you want to actually make her useful. I do some things a lot like some other people and some things a lot different, but I give you reasons behind why; subsequently this is a fairly long read so bear with me. Before we get into what I put together let's go over the basics.


Ionian Fervor
Each nearby enemy champion (to a maximum of three) reduces the effectiveness of Crowd Control on Irelia.
1 Champion: 10%
2 Champions: 25%
3 Champions: 40%

This pretty little passive is what Riot gave us as a defining characteristic of what they were trying to do with Irelia. Their idea was to create a character that could dive into the midst of an entire team, shrug off the CC, slaughter the carry, and then run like a scared little girl. Generally, it keeps you from getting stuck for too long, but honestly you don't have the HP to handle getting CC'd at all. Yay for some reduction anyways.

Irelia dashes forward to strike her target for 20 / 55 / 90 / 125 / 160 (+1 per Attack Damage). If it kills the target, Bladesurge's cooldown refreshes and refunds 35 Mana.

Cooldown 14 / 12 / 10 / 8 / 6 seconds | Cost 70 mana |

With a 1:1 ration for total attack damage (not just bonus attack damage mind you) this skill can pack a wallup. Keep in mind when using it that it is not a flash skill, it's a dash. As such you do NOT get to cross terrain, and you will get hung up on corners if you try to dash through them because she moves in a straight line. In addition to damage and dash, it will also refresh it's cooldown if it kills something, making it an excellent tool for last hitting and your only way of quickly clearing a creep wave without using your ult.

Hiten Style
Irelia is skilled in the art of Hiten, passively giving her physical attacks 10 / 14 / 18 / 22 / 26 health restoration. Activating Hiten Style adds 15 / 30 / 45 / 60 / 75 true damage to her physical attacks for 6 seconds.

Cooldown 15 seconds | Cost 40 mana |

Hiten style seems to be the ability that people focus on the most when looking at Irelia because it gives two of the most coveted things for characters: Lifesteal and True Damage. However, there are some issues with it. First, it's not lifesteal, its healing per hit, which isn't really a bad thing. This means that you heal every time you attack, no matter what you attack. Turrets, minions, creeps, inhibitors, everything heals you whether the ability is passive, active, or on cooldown. You never lose the healing. The True Damage on the otherhand, only affect minions, creeps, and champs. The only limiter on the power of this skill is attack speed.

Equilibrium Strike
Irelia's attack balances the scales, dealing 80 / 135 / 190 / 245 / 300 (+100% of ability power) damage and slowing the target by 60% for 1 / 1.25 / 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 seconds. However, if the target has a higher Health % than Irelia, then the blow stuns the target instead.

Cooldown 9 seconds | Cost 50 / 55 / 60 / 65 / 70 mana |

I'm torn on which of Irelia's skills is my second favorite, but this one is definately my first. With a 1:1 AP ratio and a situational CC attached I'd ask this skill to bear my illegitimate love child. The only problems with this skill are the short range and the long cooldown of 9 seconds. As for useage, well, the damage speaks for itself, but lets talk about the rest. The CC effects are based on the comparitive difference in health percentages between you and your target. If they have a lower percentage then they have to suffer through a 60% slow for the duration. If they have the same, or higher percentage then they get to be stunned. Best this about this is that you can stun Yi when he has his ult activated, so Hooray for solo killing a fullhealth Yi when I only have 50% health.

Transcendent Blades
Irelia summons 4 spirit blades which she can fling at her enemies. These blades deal 80 / 130 / 180 (+40% of ability power) OR +0.6 per bonus Attack Damage magic damage to enemies that they pass through, and she heals for 20% of that damage.

Cost 100 / 0 mana |

Everything about this skill is confusing the first time you use it, even the skill description. Here's the lowdown. When you first push R it activates the ability and charges you your 100 mana, but the only thing it appears to do is add four knives behind her head. You've got a few seconds to hit R four more times to throw those knives for 0 mana cost each. Here's the trick though, they in whatever direction your mouse is pointed. There's no blue lines, no circles, and no fancy aiming help. They also go through everything and have a pretty decent range. They aren't global, but they out range everything else you got. Their listed damage is PER BLADE, so it you manage to hit all four of them (not that hard) you can really stack it up. Now, the damage adds up based on 40% of your AP OR 60% of your BONUS AD. Tricky ain't it. Two more things about your ult. One, it clears creep waves in seconds. Two, it's cooldown is really short so use it pretty much everytime it pops up as long as you have something to shoot at.

Play Styles:

Irelia has four styles that you can play her, so let's do a basic breakdown of those.

Honestly not my favorite with her. I don't believe she's really got the ability to stay in and get beat on. Yes, you can build her this way with enough investment in items, but she's going to be pretty useless damage wise, and as a damage soak. You're damage will be virtually 0, and because she doesn't have tank stats she has to spend what little money she does get on armor to stay alive. Honestly, there are characters designed to tank, and you should let them do it.

Sustained DPS:
I think this is what I have seen most people playing. It goes back to what I was talking about with people loving Hiten Style. Most people don't seem to realize that to hit max attack speed with her requires full AS runes AND four to five items. Even if you do build this, you have to stay alive long enough to actually beat someone into the ground with your true damage, and your on hit effects. Maybe throw in some life steal too? That's fine but 80% lifesteal on not very much damage (magic and true damage don't give you life steal) is still not very much. It's certainly not enough to keep you alive against someone who has the burst to blast you down, or the brains to stay out of range. About the only thing you can really kill with this is tanks, and if you want to do that go buy Kog'Maw. The short version on this is that you won't be able to kill anything that you actually want to kill because they'll kill you before you manage to finish them off, and that makes you useless.

Now we're getting closer. Honestly, this is probably the most useful way to build her. You might notice that I didn't say play however. My reasoning is that standard burst requires you to do huge damage in a split second, and while Irelia can do this, I don't feel it gets you full useage of her skills, and it often doesn't result in a kill. Can you build her this way and have excellent results? Yes. Will you be able to kill people that need to be killed? Yes. Is there a slightly better way to do both of these things? Yep.

Burst + DPS:
Yes, I know I just bashed on the DPS idea, and praised the burst, and now I am sticking them both together and calling it "The Best" and you're confused. Trust me, I was too for a little bit. If you really want to understand a champion you have to do an in depth look not just at each skill seperately, but all of them together. In Irelia's case what you should specifically be looking at is the way her skills blend into each other, and how their cooldowns overlap. If she was meant to be a DPS character only all of her skills would be completely geared towards staying in the fight and dealing damage. Granted they can be seen that way, but they would have longer sustained effects if that was really the idea. What they really are is a 6 second window of destruction as determined by Hiten style. In otherwords, you have only 6 seconds of toe to toe time before your sustained damage drops and they need to no longer be hurting you. If you do it right, you don't even need half of that time. Dash in with Bladesurge for a fair chunk of damage, activate Hiten to start the bonus to auto attacks, and blast them with Equilibrium for more damage and a slow or possible stun. At this point in time anything other than a tank or a suicide case is trying to run away and you've been in the fight for a max of 2.1 seconds. If they got stunned because you were at less then full health (it's actually a good plan to stay a little under for stuns) then they aren't going to be able to do anything at all, and if they are slowed but running you can keep hitting them. By the time the slow or the stun wears off Bladestrike will only have a couple seconds left on cooldown before you can jump to them again, or there's always your rediculously low cooldown ultimate to finish them off. Either way, it's rare that someone lives through you attacking them. Generally the idea is to blast someone so hard they immediately run from you, and then rape them to death from behind.

I play Irelia as a Burst/DPS and so I build to help with this style. I've put together a build that might look to be a bit everything, but it is shockingly powerful. The build ends out with max CDR, a bit of AS, some AP, decent AD, and two more item slots to build some more game conditional items, or a ton more damage.

Well that's the basics finished, so lets get to the fun stuff.


I roll a fairly standard 9/0/21 mastery set. Make sure to get magic pen and ability power in the offense tree, and then mana regen, move speed, CDR, and neutral monster buff duration in utility. I looked into doing something different for a while, but in the end the utility tree just has too much to offer and covers a broad spectrum of usefulness. Defense is mostly about survivability, but the whole point of how I play Irelia is based around an in and out strategy that would make it pretty pointless. The rest of the offense tree would only get a little bit of damage, armor pen, and AS, and the numbers aren't high enough to justify it.


Strangely enough for an Irelia build, there isn't a single Attack Speed rune in the whole set, and I swear it's not just cause I can't afford them. I take MPen marks because they help the most with the burst part of my playstyle. ArPen would work juest as well here. Hiten style's true damage isn't affected, nor is Bladesurge, but the Trinity Force I build is, as well as Equilibrium Strike and her ultimate. The MP5 seals are mostly for the early game, because I have a tendancy to play a bit aggresive and I burn through mana pretty quick. I also usually have a few kills by 6. Even if all you are doing is focusing on last hits, you will still burn mana using Bladesurge to last hit under fire, or Equilibrium to stop people trying to jump you. CDR blues to hit max, and health quints for early game.

These are my personal rune choices, and while they work for me, I know people like to use what they already got sometimes. If you don't have all of these runes, don't just go buy them on my reccomendation for using them with this build, or any other. Try the build first to see if you like it, and if you feel the runes will give you that little extra boost to make it more effective.

Summoner Spells:

Personaly preference on my summoner spells is Flash and Exhaust, but summoner spells often times are a personal preference no matter what someone else thinks.

Flash is nice with Irelia to jump you just within range of bladesurging that runner, or to jump over terrain when the other four team mates of the guy you just killed show up to stomp you. Ghost is perfectly OK to sub for this if that is your preference, but I would recommend one or the other just to escape and chase.

Exhaust keeps runners from getting away if everything else is on CD, or it's really early in the game. It also shuts down champs like Yi when they try to get up front and personal with your person. It would be a lot like throwing beer in some skeezy guy's face at a bar when he tried to hit on you. Saw that happen once, it's hysterical. Personally I prefer this over Ignite because while both skills will help you to kill a runner, exhaust is more of a garuntee and it doubles up to keep you alive against physical damage. Take ignite though if you ever plan to try and kill Mundo (not your job). Cleanse is the only other thing that might be useful, but I still think it's a waste. Half the CC in the game is skill shots that can be dodged.

Other stuff is pretty pointless I think. Teleport if you're a junky for it. Clarity and Heal are both things that I find useless. If I need health or mana that bad I can bluepill, or wait a bit. Clairvoyance, sure, if you know what you are doing with it. Fortify is uterly useless no matter what. Rally should be carried by a tank to initiate team fights, not an assassin picking off idiots by themselves. Smite: just say no to jungling. Revive makes me want to vomit. I think that covers all of those.

Skill Order:

If you studied the chart up top for a bit and have looked at any other Irelia guides at all then your first reaction was probably something like, "WTF?" I know everyone feels you have to power max SOMETHING immediately, and they always seem to put the second priority as Hiten Style. Well, I focus mostly on Equilibirum, but I don't take Hiten farther than 3 until the end. The reason why is because I don't build enough attack speed to really make Hiten worth maxing early, and I'm more interested in getting the CD reduction on Bladesurge maximized. I do, however, like the bonus healing off of Hiten just to keep me topped up, so I take it to three first. The only changes to bladesurge are minimal damage increases and a fair CD reduction, making it less important for early game, but good to start working around mid. Equilibirum SHOULD be maxed first for the stun/slow duration, and it's got some hefty damage on it. Also, getting all three skills by level 3 helps keep me healthy, and lets me kill people before they realize it.

Finally, the only part most people care about.


Try and stick with the order to this, instead of just grabbing each full item immediately. I do have the full order entered at the top, so take a moment to go over it again either before or after you read this section to help you understand it better. Also remember there is one empty item slot, and you can sell your Doran's, but I will go over that in a bit.

For starting I always take a Doran's Shield and a Health Potion. You could sub the shield for the ring, but they dropped the mana regen and hp on it, so it is less useful now. I know some people like to rush their first item, but I find the added survivability right in the beginning helps me get more kills early on than taking the Tome for Sheen would. Either way...

First time back (hopefully) pick up a Sheen, and then Boots of Speed as soon as you can. By this time you shouldn't need health pots ever again. The whole purpose of Sheen is to provide that initial burst as much boost as we can, and the extra mana and AP don't hurt. Bladesurge rolls the Sheen proc straight in, so you don't have to worry about getting an auto attack off to use the proc. The AP goes straight into Equilibirium as well, and if you are patient you can get the proc to activate on activation of Bladesurge, Hiten style, and Equilibrium strike all in the same fight. The increase this provides you scales well while leveling and allows us to focus on building something else for a while. Boots 1 is obvious.

Next up is Stinger followed by a Vampiric Scepter. Stinger gets us some good attack speed and a small amount of CDR, and we will be building this into something else shortly. Once you buy your Vampiric Scepter you can stop leveling Hiten Style. Usually this is around two or three points in Hiten, so take your pick. Either way, it will keep you alive in rough fights.

When you go back next, finish off your Nashor's Tooth. If you have to do the second piece before you can finish it that is perfectly fine. Nashor's gets us max CDR, a little more AS, more AP for Equilibrium, and a little MP5 to keep us topped up on mana if we don't always have blue buff.

Boots 2 falls here. Personally I take Berserker's Greaves because that little extra AS helps a touch, and they are cheap. Ninja Tabi is pointless because I don't stack dodge at all, and I make it a point to not get hit often. Sorc shoes can actually be useful because magic pen helps you more than you might think, but I get it in my masteries and my runes, so I don't bother getting more. If you have a need for speed then you can take Boots of Swiftness or Mobility; pick your poison. Merc Treads boost your CC reduction to rediculous heights. Yes, CC can crush you, but I feel getting these is overboard when stacked with her passive.

After you finish your boots go ahead and get a Trinity Force, starting with Phage. I questioned the wisdom of a TriForce for a while myself, but ultimately I have stuck with it. When you finish your build and compare numbers you might think that a Lich Bane would provide better damage, and it might give you a little more, but you would lose all of the stats that are on the TriForce (which are it's best part), and you would have to build a Phage or Frozen Mallet to get some slow. TriForce gets you the slow off of Phage (25% is enough chance to slow honestly), a damage proc for 160, AD, AS, AP, Crit, Move Speed, Health, Mana, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. Trust me, it's worth it.

Follow this up with a Hextech Gunblade for large AD and AP numbers, as well as 20% lifesteal and spellvamp. The active is also pretty nice because it outranges your Bladesurge and will slow them enough to get you the kill. Sometimes I will finish the Bildgewater Cutlass after I get my Phage just to get the Active a bit earlier. However you do it this finishes my core build, so lets look at options from here.

Essentially you have two item slots left to work with because you can easily sell off your Doran's item. Your basic options are offense, defense, or both. Lets look at offense first. If you are going to stack something onto what you already have there are basically three ways to do it: AS, AD, AP.

If you choose to go AS make sure you never tell me about it, but get either a Madred's Bloodrazor, or the new Malady for your first AS item. Follow that with the second if you actually do two of them. Nothing else is useful unless you are fighting Jax. Madred's has the 4% max health damage (useful late game for HP stackers) and Malady has the Magic resist reduction that will help your whole team. Both of these items are DPS, not burst.

Between you and me, stacking more AP is pointless. Sure I could make a case for it, but honestly it is just better to do AD. Both AD and AP each have one skill that they boost directly, and they both affect your ultimate. However, AD has a bigger impact on your ultimate than AP does, and it has the added benefit of increasing your melee damage as well. Despite that, if you must, make sure at least one AP item is Zhonya's Ring.

For AD there are essentially four choices, although one of them is a Hybrid style item. The first three are the items that build from the B. F. Sword: Infinity Edge, The Bloodthirster, and The Black Cleaver. IE will give us 80 AD, and a total of 35% crit with increased damage. Not a bad deal if it wasn't so costly. If you take this, stack some more crit with your next item. Bloodthirster gives us 60 - 100 AD and 15 - 25% lifesteal, depending on wether or not you ever kill anything. It takes 40 kills to max it, and the bonus goes away if you die. Personally, I don't kill that many minions during end game. Either you are winning, so you are killing turrets and champs by the nexus, or you are losing so you don't have time to kill enough stuff to power it up because you have to kill their whole team by yourself. The Black Cleaver brings 75 AD and some armor reduction to your current target for your whole team to enjoy. This can help you kill pretty much anyone because everyone has some armor. It's also the cheapest of the three. Personal choice if going all offense is The Black Cleaver, and AD item #4, the hybrid, and repeated Hextech Gunblade. 60 AD, 75 AP, and an additional 20% lifesteal and spellvamp make this lovely little toy the hybrid beast of bursty destruction. Honestly if you wanted to you could just build two more of these and wander around filling your life to max by giving people mean looks. However you do it though, your ultimate will pump out serious pain. Remember that the numbers up top are for EACH of the four blades.

Defensively your options are based around what is killing you or your team. If it's a mix then the first thing you should buy (or as one of the best single defense items in general) is a Guardian Angel. Armor and Magic Resist, not to mention a revive. For magic damage protection you can take a Banshee's Veil, or even the new Hexdrinker. The major differences on what these two do for you in the form of their procs is that the BV front loads your protection, and the Hex back loads it. Both will save your life, but you will notice the Hexdrinker doing it because you are already almost dead. You'll also notice it failing to save you more for the same reason. PS: BV has more bonus health than the Hexdrinker's shield ever does. If it's endgame, just buy Banshee's, not Hexdrinker. Other choice is Force of Nature. Huge MR, HP/5, and some move speed. For armor you can take a Sunfire Cape, Thornmail, or Randuin's Omen (start with Warden's Mail). Sunfires will keep the minions to a dull roar, and Thornmail helps take people down AND keep you alive. Randuin's has a nice active to keep move and attack speeds down.

Also feel free to mix and match between these two categories. Like an IE and an Atma;s Impaler work well together because Atma's boosts crit, damage, and armor.

Early Game:

The short version here is stay alive. Try to focus on last hitting without using Bladestrike because even with the mana refund it can get costly. Equilibrium Strike is an EXTREMELY powerful tool early game, so abuse it a LOT. It will get you first blood a fair bit of the time. Once you hit 3 and have all three skills you should be able to immediately drop one of your opponents. If you can't just walk up and use Equilibrium Strike (E) on them, go ahead and Bladestrike (Q) in, followed by Hiten (W), and then E when they run. They should go down fast. It helps if they are already beat on a little of course. Don't forget exhaust if E's slow/stun wears off. Don't be afraid to die to get first blood. At level 6 you should be able to clear your lane, or at least severly damage your opponents and force them to retreat behind the turret, or bluepill. Try to kill them without using your ultimate so if they stop at the turret you can kill them with it there. Drop the turret and head back for shopping. At 6 you can get both the red and blue buffs, and should do so on your way to or from buying your Sheen.

Mid Game:

Gank, push, gank, push, gank, push, gank. This is pretty much what you will do now. Gank someone, and then clear the minions in the lane to get your health back, then go gank someone else. Remember to grab the red and blue buffs. Try and get them from the other teams side, and leave yours for someone else. 1v1 you are pretty much unstopable. If it starts looking bad, run away until Equilibrium comes back up then stun, rape, laugh. Honestly you can go into fights at half health or less and have an extremely good chance of not only winning, but walking away with even more health than you went in. Even if they send two people at you you can drop the squishy one immediately, run till you cooldowns come back, and then re-engage the second one. You don't really even have to wait for your cooldowns most of the time due to CDR, and the fact that you drop squishies in about half a second. Keep in mind that your ultimate heals you, so try and throw it through whoever you are fighting, AND an entire creep wave. I love giving myself full health when I am on my third victim in the same fight.

End Game:

This is where it can get scary. If you can find someone alone, they're dead. Even two people. Threes you should probably avoid though. As for team fights, you can help more than you have any right to considering you are a one woman slaughter house of 1v1 fights. This is where Flash really gets used by me. Once the fight starts (try not to initiate, cause you'll die) pick a squishy and Q straight to him. Pop W and E immediately. If you don't get focused or AOE'd to death go ahead and finish the squishy, and then move onto the next. However, if you do get targeted, or soak too much damage flash or run out and then throw your ult into the middle of the fray. Again, aim for the squishies. You will most likely drop the one you were already abusing, severly damage some others even possibly killing them, and get all your health back. Once you're healthy hop back in and clean up. Feel free to scream, "Aces, *****!!!"


When trying to kill someone hiding behind a minion wave you can double jump with Bladesurge as long as you can kill a minion with it. Pick one that is half dead, Q to it, then Q to the champ and destroy it. If there aren't any within jump range of the target with low enough health throw one blade of your ult at your target, hitting the minion on the way through, then Q to the minion, refresh and Q to your target. Remember to dump the rest of your ult blades either straight into your target to help kill it, or back into the minion wave for health.

Yi's ultimate makes him immune to the slow portion of Equilibrium Strike, but not the stun. Wait until your health is lower before you drop it on him.

With full CDR your cooldown on your ultimate is 24 seconds. This is further reduced by the blue buff. Basically nothing. Use it every fight where it will help.

Each blade of your ultimate will proc Trinity Force as long as it is off of cooldown. You can use this to stack large amounts of damage in a standup fight, but be careful to use all the blades before the timer ends.

People will bash you for taking Irelia. Ignore their whining. Gank their lane opponent every chance you get to prove you are better than them. Make sure you win, then ask them how much Irelia sucks.

Watch out for channeled spells and ultimates such as Katarina's, or Nunu's. All of these can be stopped with Equilibrium strike if your health is lower. This will always result in a kill against Kat because killing her is as easy as breaking a 90 year old's hip by pushing them down the stairs.

Say No to Rageblade. A lot of people seem to think it's great for her, but in a burst build it is useless seeing as how you don't focus on standing there to hit people enough to fill it. Also, she doesn't use her skills or attack often enough to keep it at full strength. Additionally, it stacks AS and AP, neither of which do you need more of.

If you only get to pick one Elixir, pick Red.

Buy the Ninja skin. Seriously.

Thanks for taking the time to read it all through. I will modify it if anything strikes me as being needed.