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Katarina Build Guide by Kazega

Katarina: Playing with Knives

Katarina: Playing with Knives

Updated on August 28, 2012
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Kazega Build Guide By Kazega 5 2 12,471 Views 17 Comments
5 2 12,471 Views 17 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Kazega Katarina Build Guide By Kazega Updated on August 28, 2012
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LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash



Katarina Du Couteau. She is a sneaky, underhanded, knifing, Killstealing, aggresive young lady. That is exactly why I love her. She ganks well, she excels in team fights, and when built right and farmed properly, she is a one woman army. This guide is a little something that comes from 400+ games with Katarina. She was my very first champion ever played and now she stands as the #1 spot on my list of mains. In all, I think I've played her 75% of the time. In ranked I have a solid win percentage above 60% with Katarina. I know how to build and play her to the point where I can do it in my sleep. So please enjoy the Guide. I have put a lot time and effort into this. Please leave a comment and/or critique and vote as well.

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Why Play Kat?

  • Excellent Ganker/Roamer
  • Good harrass and Farming power
  • Easily escapes from ganks
  • Manaless with lower Cooldown Timers
  • Snowballs extremely well
  • Squishy
  • Easily Focused and Shut Down
  • No Crowd Control Abilities Without Items
  • Reliant on teamwork, timing and positioning
    and a good early game

So this is what it all comes down to in the end. No matter what I have written past this point, no amount of pros and cons, build orders, or tips and tricks can help you unless I have answered this question to your satisfaction.


Well, the answer for me is pretty easy. I Play Katarina because she is FUN TO PLAY. I have more fun with Kat than I do with most other champions. Roaming for kills, tower diving a vulnerable bot, and snowballing to a 35/7/3 game are what makes Kat fun for me. Above all else:


From a strategic standpoint, Kat has two roles on a team. She is a Ganker, and she is an AP Burster. That's all she is supposed to do. She can Off-tank, but building her to be Off-tank hurts her Ganking abilities.
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What makes a Good Kat?

I feel I should get this out of the way early on. A Good Kat Player plays Kat like the Assassin she should be, not the off-tank assist machine that people make her out to be.


Gank whenever Possible

The keyword words are "Whenever Possible" if her lane is pushed back to her tower Kat is probably not available for a Gank. after her opponent is killed she probably is ready to get a gank. It's all up to Kat whether or not she can Gank. before making a decision there are somethings to consider, namely the health, positions, and mana levels of all parties involved as well as the minion positions of Kat's lane. But as you Play Kat you will learn her limits and capabilities and know how and when to gank.

Abuse Voracity

Voracity is what makes Kat dangerous in the end. It isn't her Shunpo, it isn't her Death Lotus, it is her Voracity. Learn it. Live it. Love it. Three Shunpos in three seconds? Yes, Please! Pantheon blue pilling under a tower at 150HP? Kill dat sucker!!

Run Clean Up

That's just what Kat does. After the initial CC Bursts in big Team Fights Kat is free to do as she pleases. The enemy Champs involved in the Fight will be weakened to a decent point and all the abilities will be on Cool Down for a good few seconds. Grab a mop, aim for the face.

Have great timing

Kat relies on two things in the game. Voracity is the first thing. The second thing is Timing. A good Kat finds a timing window and runs it into the ground. Ashe just shot her Enchanted Crystal Arrow at top? Punish her for not shooting it at you instead. Dr. Mundo is trying to retreat from Bottom's strength? Get at him from the side or even from behind. The possibilities are endless when you have great timing.

Be Threatening

That's the fact of the matter. A Kat that not only can kill quickly, but has killed two or even three champions quickly, is very intimidating and good posturing will help you be even more intimidating. 90% of the game is mental; the other half is execution

Be A Complete Dominatrix

So not really, the word I wanted to use is getting censored but it sounds like "itch." Kat is the Queen Bee when you play her right, and when you do, people will start being vocal about it. This is perfectly acceptable, and it is also tolerable to trash talk as well..... just don't over do it.

A good Kat is just that: a good Kat. She helps get the team on track with timely Ganks and a commanding lane presence. In team fights she hangs back and runs clean up, securing several kills at once to enable grabbing key points like Dragon, a tower, or Barron in the mid and late game stages.
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Kills and assists refresh Katarina's basics abilities completely and drops 10 seconds off of Death Lotus's already low cooldown. The ability to abuse, no not just use, is what separates a good Katarina player from a great one.


Bouncing Blade

This ability target fires a single enemy and bounces up to 4 times, leaving a mark at each hit for 4 seconds. Marks are triggered when Katarina attacks or uses an ability for additional damage. The nature of both the Ability, and the marks that are left on hits makes Bouncing blade a priority when it comes to leveling as the bonus damage from the marks also increases as you level the skill.

Sinister Steel SPACE

Sinister Steel

Katarina spins in place, dealing damage over a small area around her. If an enemy champion is hit with this ability, Katarina gains a movement buff for a couple seconds. The low cooldown makes Sinister steal Katarina's main damage source in team fights and a great tool for farming. This should be maxed second because the AoE is centered around Katarina and trying using this effective would easily put you in range of your opponent.



This is Kat's main engaging and escaping tool. It has decent range and coupled with Flash or Ghost allows for some easy escapes or wide gap closing. Anything that can be targeted works as a jump point. These include both friendly and enemy champions, wards, minions, and jungle creeps.


Death Lotus

Kat enters a state of focus and throws knives at up the three Champions she is nearest. Champions damaged by Death Lotus will also receive the Grievous Wound Debuff, halving all heals and Health Regeneration for a short time. This is the move that will win most team fights if timed right. Even if you don't land any kills with this the amount of AoE you can do is substanciial and the grievous wound will greatly hamper any healing. You can cast summoner spells (with the exception of Flash) with out interrupting The channel on Death Lotus. It is important to remember that Most Crowd Control afflictions can stop this, namely Stun, Suppression, Fear, Taunt, Silence, and Knocked Airborne. Snares and Slows have no effect on Death Lotus
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Summoner Spells



I like ignite because it adds an extra boost to your attacks. Whenever you Shunpo in for a Death Lotus in a 1v1 scenario, the other champion is running away. So I use this to make sure they will die or get close enough to go back to blue pill.



A second Shunpo, but without the hassle of targeting. This could come in handy if you really need to get away in a hurry or close a wide gap so you can target with Shunpo.



This is great for chasing and running away real fast. It does alright for chasing down Teemo's, Yi's, and champs that can run away in bursts. Otherwise it's simply assurance that you'll catch them or get away if you need to.



Another tool for chasing and not so much running away unless its a 1v1 situation. Just like Ghost it keeps one champ in range. unlike Ghost, Champs who have charge abilities can use them to their full range and you won't' be able to catch them.



A great tool for setting up Ganks, or to quickly return to your lane after an emergency Recall, but that's pretty much it.



This spell causes a lot of controversy. I don't really care about that. I used it once upon a time, so I am putting on here. Heal has one purpose for me: it is a fail safe that would allow me to start Snowballing in an otherwise death inducing situation. That being said I hate being Heal baited.



A good spell for Tower diving on Dominion or for high end defense, but doesn't have much more use than that.



A short increase in AP and attack speed. The AP is more appealing since you can increase your damage output for a short time.



Indirectly augments Katarina's laning ability. Kat already can farm minions just fine after level 6, and she doesn't need to push lanes either.
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Greater mark of Insight

This is the only Mark you have for Kat. All other AP marks are terrible, and AD marks don't work well with Kat since Kat isn't a brawler. These marks set you up nicely in the early game, with Bouncing Blades and sinister steel early on.

greater seal of vitality SPACE

Greater Seal of Vitality

This is the seal I like to run on Katarina. It never takes a long time for this to pay out over flat health runes, and the extra HP adds up nicely with Durability .


Greater Seal of Focus

This Seal is useful for those moments when they get away by the skin of their teeth. Although Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction is a primary rune over this Seal; there are better Glyphs to run on Kat. That being said, I don't really like it because Katarina's Passive, Voracity, makes it redundant


Greater Glyph of Warding

What this choice comes down to is what you need in your early game. More likely than not your opponent will be an AP mage, and most of them will have either target fire abilities or skill shot abilities. While you can dodge skill shot abilites, there is no guarantee that you will, and there is nothing you can do to stop target fire abilities. You will get hit,so minimize the damage.


Greater Glyph of Force

These are glyphs for when you need to overpower your opponent. Whenever I get matched against someone like Galio or Sion I take these. The scaling pays off quickly and it allows me ot cut through a lot of bulk quickly.


Greater Quintessence of Swiftness

Perhaps one of the most undervalued Runes out there. These runes are often over shadowed by something more tangible like AD or Health Quintessences. I run these Quints for Kat to increase her mobility and roaming ability.


Greater Quintessence of Potency

This is the Standard AP Quintessences. At 15 starting AP, it isn't a terrible choice for most mages.
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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

This is the standard Skill Sequence. Maxing Bouncing Blades ealry is important becasause of the farming ability that a maxed Q will give you. Not only does the damage increase with each rank, but the damage from the marks also increases. Shunpo comes at Level 2 instead of 4 for easier escapes from enemy ganks. Maxing Sinister Steel second maximises your Damage output in team fights in tandem with a maxed bouncing blade. Shunpo is maxed last now because it is now a utility spell for Katarina. While it's damage output is good, Bouncing Blades and sinister steel give you more damage which is more important.

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

This is the Dominion skill sequence. Maxing Sinister Steel is what will net you the most damage output for the early team fighting that often happens in Dominion. Several points in Sinister steel will give Katarina a strong pressence with effective AoE damage. Bouncing Blades is maxed second because farming is less of a focus in the game type. Once againSHunpo is maxed last.
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Core Items


Hextech Gunblade

I see a lot of Katarina's run Will of the Ancients. While it is a good item, Katarina makes much better use of the Gunblade because overall it is just better for her. Granting both AD an AP makes sinister steel and Death Lotus more powerful. The active ability on it has the same range as Shunpo and works several times better than Rylai's Crystal Scepter as it slows for a greater amount over a longer period of time.


Deathfire Grasp

A phenominal item. It builds from Kage's lucky pick, which is useful if you start falling behind your opponent for any reason. The amount of AP that it gives you as well as its active helps Katarina's burst, which is always good for an assassin mage.


Rabadon's Deathcap

The Best AP item in the game providing 140 AP before its passive. It is pretty impressive, but also giving you 3 extra AP per 10 you already have makes it a damned good Mid-to-Late game item on any mage.


Sorcerer's Shoes

These are the only shoes for Katarina. They help her kill with the added spell pen that they provide and that's all there is to it. More movement splus more damage equals a better Kat.

Other Useful Items


Rylai's Crystal Scepter

I rarely build this, but when I do build it, this item is almost always a 6th slot item. It's passive doesn't work very well as since 3 out of the 4 abilites Katarina has will only give the 15% slow as opposed to the 35% slow, and if you are in range for a Shunpo you can target fire with Hextech Gunblade for a better result. The Health and AP are good, but it wrecks the efficiency of this build


Zhonya's Hourglass

This is the second best AP item in the game. It also provides one of the best Passives and has a good Armor count as well. A good Item to have against AD heavy teams but like Rylai's, I prefer to have this later on and focus more on Damage output first.


Void Staff

This item is great for cutting through the Magic Resist that will be built to counter you. In lower ELO's most people will not build to counter the main threat, which should be you, until it is too late to do so. As a result I've gotten into a habit of building this later on. Unless the Non-Tanks build MR this is almost useless


Lich Bane

It doesn't make a lot of sense to invest in this item since it offers a stat that you will never see on Katarina: Mana. However I feel that in the right situation the other other benefits that this item offers will more than make up for that. Kat auto attacks after a Shunpo instantly, so you will deal a devastating two pronged attack.


Will of the Ancients

I don't like WotA. It is one of the most misused items in the entire game. This serves as an alternate to build Hextech Revolver into. Although it is cheaper than the gunblade, it is by no means a replacement. Just remember that you get what you pay for, and choosing this item over Hextech Gunblade will make Kat weaker in the long run.


QuickSilver Sash

The "Get out of Jail Free" card. While stuns and snares don't last a such a long time long time that it doesn't warrant this item. Instead it is better suited to combat agaisnt Suppressions that come with Warwick, Skarner and Malzahar to cut them short.


Mejai's Soulstealer

The Mage's Snowball Item: the more you kill the better it gets. while Kat does kill effiecently, it won't take much to stop a Snowballing Kat, especially if you get overconfident.


Prospector's Ring

A Great Dominion Opening item: give you a fair chunk of health, and a nice AP boost for your opening. It's a tad expensive for my tastes and it supplies some unneeded mana regen but if you are feeling squishy this is your opening item.



These help out Katarina by adding a cheap power boost. Katarina most notably benifits from Elixir of Brilliance for its AP boost and Cool down Reduction bonuses. Elixir of Agility has almost no benefits for Katarina so it should not be bought. Oracle's Elixir is useful for finding wards that would normally detect your ganks and roaming stealth champions, but that money would be better spent another elixir unless you have a full build going.

A Quick Talk about Cool Down Reduction

Cool Down Reduction on Katarina is redundant because of Voracity. Since all of Kat's Cool downs are refreshed on each kill and assist already. This means that all the money, IP, and mastery points you spend on CDR is wasted. Ionian Boots of Lucidity loses it's edge, and you waste a bit of that 700G to upgrade to that. Is it ok to have some? Well yeah, you need a little to get to Arcane Knowledge , and Deathfire Grasp gives a fair bit as well. But don't go overboard with it. Katarina's cooldowns are low enough to not need that kind of CDR and Voracity reinforces this way too much[/color]
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Summoner's Rift


Your Opening is straight forward: buy Boots with three Health Potions. This will make it easier to avoid skill shots and you can outrun anyone else with the help of your Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed. put your opening rank In Bouncing blade and post up in your half-moon bush near the river to spot invades if you are leashing Blue. For Leashing Red hang out near the Wraith camp. Leash blue Golem or Red lizard by throwing Bouncing Blades through the wall and lead it to the bushes. Make your way to your lane focus only on farming a this point. As you Level Bouncing plade your Harassing will come naturally. At level 2 put a point in Shunpo to escape early ganks, and at 4 rank Sinister steel. If you push your opponent back to his or her tower, roam for a little bit or go back to the shop. If you roam, try to cooridnate with your jungler to set up a two man gank or hit a lane yourself if it is possible. If nothing else works, ward the enemy wraith camp and possibly steal the big wraith. I make it a strong point to not push against towers too early because then a lot more team fights will start happening before the rest of the team, or even you, are ready for them to happen. You want ot keep Katarina where she does the best, and that is in oppertune moments with weaker enemies ot pick apart.

When it comes to ganking you need any three of these four things to successfully do so:
  • Good support from the lane
  • favoravble position
  • Low health Enemies
  • excellent damage output
While all of these things are ideal you woning't have them all most of the time. For example you might decide to gank top after your top laner died, but did considerable damage to warrant a try. So you have points 3 and 4, but you do not have point 1, and point 2 might not be present by the time you arrive. You have two of the four points, so you might be able to ge the kill but scareing him away would do you just as good to stop the opponent from pushing.

Mid Game

Hopefully at this point you have performed a couple of Ganks. It is important not to Gank too much. The opposite team will have to increase their awareness and your ganks will be less effective. You should also be aware of incoming ganks. The best way to be aware of that is to drop a ward in your bushes. sight wards are preferable being cheaper and will serve most of your basic needs. Vision Wards offer more, since they allow you to spot the enemy wards and pick them off. If you can, buy Pickaxe over Vampiric Scepter, The Life steal that Vampiric Scepter grants doesn't help Katarina much, if at all. In fact I have gotten into the habit of either buying another Amplifying Tome, or even Kage's lucky pick before buying Vampiric Scepter or Bilgewater Cutlass.

Why Finish Hextech Gunblade First?

Finishing Hextech Gunblade before moving on to another item like Rabadon's Deathcap gives Katarina several advantages. The first of which is that is grants Katarina an active that provides some much needed Crowd Control, and adds a bitto her bursting ability. The second reason, is that Katarina's AD ratio's are simpley too great to ignore. Death Lotus gains 3 damage for every point of bonus AD.. That is a substantial amount of damage. Pickaxe alone adds 75 damage to Katarina.Finally, it is more efficient, econimically and damage-wise, to finish it.
The Next cheapest I owuld build at an early point in the game is Deathfire Grasp. Costing 2600G total and adding 80AP, it provides 140 Damage to Death Lotus. Finishing Hextech Gunblade adds 40 AD for 120 Damage and adds 30 AP to Hextech Revolver for an additional 52. Just the AD alone nearly adds as much damage to death lotus than Deathfire grasp and the remaining recipe cost at this point is 175G Cheaper than its competitor. There are simply more reasons to finish the item than there are to move on and finish it later.

When team fights start, positioning is a key factor. Always hang out in the back until the initial CC is used up and that's your queue to use Shunpo to get in the enemy team and then spin to win. Larger team fights fought in the same way. It's important not to engage too early, Kat is easily focused and suffers from a terrible case of squishiness. If you kept up with your farming in the laning phase, as well as landed a couple kills, you should be able to run up excellent damage output and rake in 2 or three kills. Don't forget to abuse Voracity in tandem with Shunpo and sinister steel

Late Game

At this point the team is fighting to get up the steps and ready knock out the first inhibitor. most builds are almost completed as well. Some argue that this the hardest part of the game. I tend to agree against a good team this is the hardest part. It is incredibly difficult to tower dive, even as Kat, and the team can easily shift it's focus from pushing to defending due to the close proximity to the fountain.

Stay strong and keep building. Most importantly stay alive. If you die trying to play hero then you jsut made the game a 4v5 and they can overpower your team easily. If you do find that the enemy team is clinging to their tower then you should prompt a movemnt to get them away from that. Attacking Baron Nashor or Dragon are likely ways to coax the opposite team away from the tower and if they don't come out to stop you a 5v5 with baron buff whoudl turn out favorably even if they all are under a tower.

If your team is the one backed down, stay positive. losses happen andwhat is important is to learn from them. Maybe you could've helped a lane a little more or maybe you were outplayed in your own lane. It doesn't really matter so long as you learn from it.
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Dominion Gameplay

Kat's Role

There are four main Roles in Dominion:
  • Capturing: Pushing into a defended point, idealy with another teammate or two
  • Taking: Backdooring points
  • Disrupting: stopping the other Taker from taking: also stops pushes
  • Defending: being rooted at a tower and defending against capturers

Kat can't really take points: she is squishy and very vunerable to the Crowd Controls that come with most Disrupters. and on that note she can't really disrupt since she has no Crowd Control of her own. Kat can't really Root herself to take a tower because she is too squishy to actually hold a capture team off for more than 3 seconds. Finally she can only be on a capture team with some good support. But the reality is this: Kat does what she does best in Dominoin:


Remember Kills don't win games, towers do. So everyone's job in Dominion is simply that: Make sure your team keeps and takes towers. The best way to do that as Kat is to eliminate the enemy presence. By eliminating the enemy presence near towers you allow your team to do their job that much better, and you maintain the fact that Kat is a serious threat.


A Put two ranks into Sinister steel and one into Shunpo. Kat excels in team fights and can also solo very well. The Downside is most Dominion Solos are very bulky and more than likely better when it comes to pushing a lane. So instead, I recommend that you run her to the Middle point: Refinery or Drill depending on your side. After taking Drill/Refinery you'll hit level 4 quickly and can get into the team fight at Windmill. Kat can also run to the Windmill with two other champions. Running straight to the windmill means you can assist in the team fights with Shunpo and Sinister steel. However, taking the middle point first guarantees better bursting as you hit level 4 enroute to windmill.

During the Mid Game you should do you best to fill your Role: be the Slayer. Your positioning should be near the middle so that you can run the inside roads without being seen and kill when you get the chance. Never engage in a fight with more than two people without backup. Just run clean up while you finish Hextech Gunblade. Then pick off lone travelers after you upgrade your boots. I still like Sorcerer's Shoes on Kat but Mobility Boots or Boots of Swiftness might work out better thanks to the Crystal Scar's Aura. After that, build Deathfire Grasp

The late game is the part of the game where every move matters since one or both teams will have less than 100 health on their nexus, this is the point where having three towers is crucial. It is also important to not overextend and stay alive since losing a single point can mean 10 seconds or more of a disadvantage. Disrupt and kill what you can, but stay alive when you do it. Kat shines the most now since the respawns are pretty long, but not as long as summoners rift, but 30 some seconds is enough time to take or lose a point. Focus on capturing more than slaying at this stage: if things went well in your Mid-game you will have enough power to be a part of an effective capture team.
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FAQ's and Comments That Need a Response

Q: I Strongly disagree with your choosen Summoner Spells

A: Ignite with Flash is a staple AP Mid set up. I thouroughly explain viable summoner spells on Katarina to give you a better informed perspective on what works and what doesn't

Q:You say Rylai's Crystal Scepter doesn't really work with Kat. Why is that?

A: Rylai's is bad for Kat. Most of Kat's abilites fallinot the lesser 15% slow of Rylai's, and for the most part takes the focus away from assasination with its Health boost. This build is about a streamlined killing machine. When I build many of my champions I try to focus on what I feel is the most importnat aspect and go from there.

Q:WHile we are talking aobut items; What about DFG??

A: Well, I have had nothingbut good esperiences with Deathfire Grasp. Everything about the item tells me that itis made for AP assassins. It gives 80AP and 15%CDR right out of the gate. The Active ability is great, not jsut for Tanks but for any target that needs to be killed quickly. It Adds so much to not just Katarina's burst, that I find it to be reliable and essential to any mage who does nothing but kill.

Q:What's wrong with Cool Down Reduction?

A: Nothing is wrong with Cooldown Reduction. I do feel that it is a highly overrated stat though. In regards to Kat, Cool Down Reduction is redundant. Voracity makes it redundant because of the fact that all your main abilities are Reset at each kill and assist you net. Bear in mind that "redundant" is not the same thing as "unreasonable." Redundant just means you are cover the same base twice.

Q:Why do you max Bouncing Blades first and not Sinistersteel on Summoner's Rift?

A: Bouncing Blades maximizes your farming and Harassing potential. Sinister steel on the other hand while it does maximize your bursting potential also makes you a target. Using sinister steel effectively will put you in range of your opponent evertime. So it is best saved for when your are ready to go in for the kill.

Q:You make several assumptions in this guide, you almost make it seem like what Kat touches should die instantly.

A: That is the goal of this particular Kat build and guide. While I try not to make too many assumptions, what I do assume is that the player handling Kat has read this guide and practiced my guidelines to what makes a good Kat above, namely to have good timing and Gank whenever possible, enabling the "Death Touch Kat" this question implies.
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Closing Notes


While I do havevarious Katarina Videos on my Youtube channel/ however most of them are extremely old and no longer apply to Katarina. Please be patient and I will get some up soon.

Katarina is Pretty much 75% of my League of Legends Experience. I know what she can and probably will do if you play her right. As always Comments and Critiques are welcome, Upvote if you found this guide useful and I will try to answer any questions in the comments below. And feel free to post some Kat shenanigans as well

Special Thanks to

Zemiazas and his Dominion Guide Your guide really helped me craft my Dominion chapter and many thanks for Linking me

Zedera For challenging my builds and the guide in general. It makes my Guide that much better when I have to think and justify why I write what I do and "because it's just what I do" isn't going to cut it anymore. Thanks a bunch. I look forward to future debates with you

Remember: This isn't a rulebook on Playing Katarina, it is a GUIDE. Feel free to experiment with these builds. Please Upvote and +Rep if you found my guide useful and leave a comment.

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