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Katarina Build Guide by nicki4321

AP Carry Katarina: Want to get a penta?

AP Carry Katarina: Want to get a penta?

Updated on July 5, 2013
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League of Legends Build Guide Author nicki4321 Build Guide By nicki4321 6 4 27,229 Views 11 Comments
6 4 27,229 Views 11 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author nicki4321 Katarina Build Guide By nicki4321 Updated on July 5, 2013
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Hey guys, I'm Nicki4321 and today we'll be learning why Katarina is one of my favorite champions and how to build and play her effectively.
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Pros / Cons


  • Great escape potential
  • Awesome burst
  • Great team fighter
  • Reliable gap closer
  • No mana
  • Good farm potential
  • Extremely fun and rewarding to play
  • High skill cap
  • Amazing pentakill potential


  • Requires some skill to play well
  • Somewhat short ranged abilities
  • Melee range leaves her vulnerable to harassment early game
  • Fairly squishy
  • Focused VERY fast
  • Shut down by heavy CC
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Summoner Spells

Summoner Spells

Ignite: A great choice on Katarina just as on any AP Carry. Securing kills, denying heals, and all of the beauties that go along with this spell.

Flash: Again, a standard spell that should be taken in most circumstances. Katarina, however, is a special circumstance in which another spell might be considered in its place.

Exhaust: Katarina is one of the few champions that I am comfortable taking Exhaust instead of Flash. The reason for this is her escape potential with Shunpo. Similar to Lee Sin's Safeguard / Iron Will, you can place a ward and quickly Shunpo to it, whether over a wall or simply in a lane. If you have the reflexes and the skills necessary to do this, Flash is not a necessity. Just carry a ward at all times! Exhaust itself is a great skill in combination with Death Lotus to ensure that the enemies are in the radius for as long as possible.

Barrier: Though not completely ridiculous, Barrier is not entirely useful on champions such as Katarina who should be ending fights as fast as they begin. Your mobility should be enough to keep you alive; Barrier seems a bit excessive.

Heal: Generally should not be considered as there are many more effective spells to take. You will be bursting enemies down and should, therefore, not be engaging in many long-term fights where this would be useful.

Promote: Gone D:

Clarity: Umm?

Smite: Although I've seen jungle Katarina, this isn't a jungle guide.

Teleport: I know some mids like to take Teleport, but I personally feel there are much more useful spells to use on Katarina.

Ghost: I really would only consider taking Ghost over Flash if you aren't level 12. But in general, Flash will provide you with more escape opportunities and kill secures.

Revive: Don't take this. Why are you preparing for death? In the best case scenario, you shouldn't die at all.

Surge: Gone D:

Clairvoyance: You aren't supporting, are you?

Cleanse: This spell is generally reserved for skilled AD Carries and I do not find it very useful on Katarina, since the CC would have cancelled Death Lotus by the time you use it, rendering you useless anyway.

Garrison: This isn't exactly a Dominion guide, but even if it was, Garrison is usually a spell reserved for the tanks.

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Ability Explanations

Voracity: Scoring a kill or assist will reduce the cooldowns of Katarina's abilities by 15 seconds.

This passive is what makes Katarina what she is. It works perfectly with her skill set and is what makes her such a great team fighter and assassin. No matter what level they are, Voracity will take Katarina's Q, W, and E completely off of cooldown. Her ultimate, Death Lotus, will have its cooldown reduced by 15 seconds. Voracity can be used in a variety of ways, most notably in team fights. It is very, very easy to kill the squishies on the enemy team with a simple repeated combo, but we will touch upon this later in the guide.

Bouncing Blades: Katarina throws a dagger that bounces quickly from enemy to enemy, damaging and marking them. Each subsequent hit deals 10% less damage. Bouncing Blades hits a total of 5 unique targets (4 bounces), each striking the closest next target. Striking a marked target with an ability or basic attack will consume the mark to deal additional damage.

This is Katarina's "main" ability. You will use it to harass, farm, kill, and everything in between. The fact that you don't use mana is great and, as such, you should harass and farm with Bouncing Blades whenever possible. The mark that is applied to the enemy when struck by Bouncing Blades also deals an exceptional amount of damage when consumed. Use this to farm minions (in combination with sinister steel) and to harass more effectively.

Sinister Steel: Katarina damages all enemies in range. If she damages an enemy champions, she gains movement speed for 1 second.

This ability is great in a lot of ways. The fact that it consumes the mark applied by Bouncing Blades means that the AoE damage dealt by the two is great for farming. Fairly early in the game you will notice that a simple Q + W combo takes out all the caster minions in a wave. The movement speed boost granted by this ability also helps to escape and chase effectively.

Shunpo: Katarina teleports to target unit and gains 15% damage reduction for 3 seconds. If the target is an enemy, the target takes damage.

This, in my opinion, is what makes Katarina such a great assassin. In combination with her passive, Katarina can dash around the fight without the enemies knowing what hit them. A well timed Shunpo to a ward, a minion, or a teammate can also be the difference between life and death. Shunpo is also the difference between a skilled Katarina and a bad one, whether it's escaping or getting a penta kill.

Death Lotus: Katarina throws up to 30 daggers at the closest 3 enemy champions within range during the 2 second channel, damaging them and applying Grievous Wounds. Grievous wound reduces incoming healing by 50%. Death Lotus can hit a single enemy champion no more than 10 times.

Death Lotus is another amazing ability, working very well with both Katarina's passive and all of her AoE. While I would consider Death Lotus to be what makes Katarina so good, it can also be her downfall. Any hard CC (stuns, silences, knock-ups, suppresses, pulls, etc) cancels Death Lotus, quickly rendering her useless. I will talk later in the guide about how to use this effectively and even get a penta kill.
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Ability Sequence

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

Why max Bouncing Blades first?

This ability is what Katarina uses for everything from poking to bursting to farming and should thus be maxed first. I, personally, see no room for negotiation here in terms of maxing Bouncing Blades first, though some would argue that you should max sinister steel before it. In my opinion, that should only be an option for AD or Jungle Katarina, neither of which are relevant to this guide.

Why max sinister steel next?

It is logical to max sinister steel next, since it will be your next source of farm and harass.

What about Shunpo and Death Lotus?

Just as you would any other champion, take a point in Death Lotus at 6, 11, and 16. Shunpo, however, should be maxed last as it is purely a utility spell. Using the recommended combo described later in this guide, Shunpo will be used only for mobility, initiation, and occasionally detonating the mark applied by Bouncing Blades. (note that this consumption damage is not effected by Shunpo's damage in itself.)

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Item Explanations and Alternatives

Primary Items

Boots and pots are what I go for on Katarina first no matter what. The early game mobility and sustain are just too much to pass up.

These level 2 boots are what I will get 100% of the time on Katarina. These boots are simply the most viable and logical choice to upgrade to. (Note: You will want to get a Blasting Wand before building these boots, just for some added ability power.

As any AP Carry, you should always get a Rabadon's Deathcap. If you are new to AP or the game, I'll explain why. Rabadon's Deathcap gives the highest base AP of all items in the game and its passive gives 30% extra on top of it. This means that you are getting more and more AP stacking with your other items as well as the original AP granted by the item itself.

This item is great on Katarina as it gives you tons of AP and a fair amount of armor. Its active also works great with Death Lotus, as you are always going to be right in the middle of the fight, often getting focused. (Note: Do not activate Zhonya's Hourglass during your Death Lotus unless you wish to cancel it!)

After multiple suggestions (both friendly and condescending), I have decided to move this to the primary items section. The aura, though nerfed recently, will still help you kill your enemies very fast. The fact that you are always in the middle of fights also makes this item very useful. The magic resist when you are against an AP mid (which will be most of the time) will be useful in the extra tankiness provided.

Void Staff's ability power and magic penetration bonuses will help you tremendously.

After considering the other options, I decided that Guardian Angel is an item that belongs in the Primary Items section. It will put a big "DON'T FOCUS ME" sign on your back and, as long as you are smart about it, will save your life multiple times. Don't be afraid to get a Situational Item in place of this, however, if you feel you need the offensive stats more.

Situational Items

I have decided to move Liandry's Anguish to the situational items section because I find myself building it less and less on Katarina. The raw damage from an early Rabadon's Deathcap seems to secure more kills and I feel that a Void Staff's ability power and magic penetration are superior to a Liandry's Anguish's health benefit. By no means am I saying not to build this - just build it when it is beneficial.

Some people also say this item belongs in the Primary Items section, although again, since the recent nerf, it isn't as good. I do feel that this item is good, especially against that tank that inevitably has Warmog's Armor on the other team. The active, though not as strong, still helps a lot and the amount of ability power given is also very helpful.

This item makes me sad. It used to be so good. But alas, after the major nerf on AoE spell vamp (as if it wasn't weak enough!) I hardly ever build this on Katarina. The small amount of sustain it provides might prove useful, however, against an obnoxious lane opponent like Ziggs or Nidalee.

I like to get this item fairly early on (if I decide to get it) mainly due to its health and passive. The health is very useful against most mid laners who are bursty, and hence I generally get Giant's Belt first. Its passive adds a slow to each of Katarina's abilities, which is very helpful as Katarina has no natural CC.

This is a great item to upgrade Hextech Revolver to if your team has a second or third AP champion. It can replace Hextech Gunblade if you do not want the bonus AD or if you do have more AP on your team.

While I included this in the alternative items section, I do not think it is really viable as of Season 3.

What Not To Get

I do not feel that this starting setup is very viable on Katarina. You have plenty of starting ability power with the correct runes/masteries and this leaves you with no mobility and little sustain.

Seeing people start with this item on Katarina makes me nauseous. The mana regen is wasted on Katarina and it is completely unnecessary.

Ohhh Lich Bane. I really hate this item on Katarina. The mana aspect is so wasted on her, regardless of how well the passive fits her kit. I personally just don't like wasting any part of an item (I don't even like Trinity Force on Lee Sin). If you really need to utilize this item's passive, fine. I just don't feel it is a good choice on Katarina - you should be bursting the opponents with little time for autoattacking in between.

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Early Game

Katarina's level 1 isn't the best. Simply farm and harass with Bouncing Blades as much as possible until you get Shunpo and sinister steel. Once you have these abilities, you can start harassing more.

Possible Scenarios:
1. If the enemy allows you to safely get close, use Bouncing Blades and sinister steel to harass.
2. If the enemy used his/her abilities that could potentially cause problems, you can use Bouncing Blades, Shunpo to him/her, and finish off with sinister steel for the speed boost to run away.
3. If the enemy is zoning you or doesn't let you get close, simply harass with Bouncing Blades until level 6 or until an opportunity arises to engage.

Combo: Q + E + Wsinister steel

Mid Game

Mid game is your opportunity to get fed. Wait for an opportunity to jump in and unleash your full combo on whoever you're laning against.

Possible Scenarios:
1. If you are having an easy lane, zone your opponent and let him know that you will kill him if he gets near you.
2. If you are going against a somewhat tanky opponent (ie. Galio, Nunu & Willump, etc.) poke with Bouncing Blades as much as possible before going in for the kill.
3. If you can't get a kill or are being zoned, roam to top or bottom lane and pick up some kills/assists there.
Combo: Q + E + Wsinister steel + R

Late Game

After getting fed (hopefully) during mid game, you will dominate team fights.

Possible Scenarios:
1. If the enemy team has a lot of CC, wait for them to use the majority of it before going in.
2. If the enemy has no CC/has wasted it all, wait for your tank (preferably someone with a good AoE initiation such as Malphite or Amumu) to go in and unleash your combo.
3. If you have bursted the AD Carry and the AP Carry, proceed to repeat your combo as many times as possible to finish off the team.
Combo: Q + E + Wsinister steel + R

Note that you can repeat this initial combination as long as you get a kill or assist. Also note that you may be able to use Death Lotus multiple times in a team fight, provided you get enough kills/assists.
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Well that's my guide on playing Katarina. She is currently one of my favorite and most played champions, so I felt i would share my joy and expertise (sort of) with others who might want to utilize it. Remember that all guides are open to interpretation and subject to change, and as such nothing I say/have said in this guide should be taken as "set in stone". Thank you for reading, and I appreciate any and all suggestions, criticisms, etc. I know some people disagree with what I have to say and I love to hear all feedback. Thank you!
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  • Guide released



  • Returned for some Season 3 updates and changes
  • Updated runes and masteries to be more modern
  • Changed around some item purchases
  • Made a few minor wording changes

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide