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Katarina Build Guide by ReprobateReality

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League of Legends Build Guide Author ReprobateReality

ReprobateReality ft. Tiensinoakuma - 2600 ELO Katarina

ReprobateReality Last updated on October 12, 2012
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Standard/vs fed AP/ vs fed AD

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: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Why Katarina?

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Hello ladies and gents, this is ReprobateReality bringing you a Katarina guide featuring Tiensinoakuma (moba censors part of his name -_-). Anyways, he is basically coauthor of this guide as this is his playstyle. Here is his channel:

I implore you to not follow this guide like a bible or your grocery list. No one should follow an exact build order or max skills IN THE SAME ORDER every game as every game is different. There are situations that dictate what to build and when to build it or what skill to max over another. In other words, do not down-vote me if you just followed the builds above in the exact sequences. Actually read the guide and give me a good reason so I can make this guide better.

I would like to thank Tiensinoakuma for his knowledge and Jhoijhoi's guide on making a guide. Jhojhoi's template can be found here: here

I hate reading walls of text, so I'll try to keep explanations brief, unless I feel that it is a important topic I need to ramble about. If there is anything I should explain more, please comment and I will improve my guide.

And now, I present you, Katarina: The Sinister Blade

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For Newer Players: Laning, Last Hitting, Warding, Zoning, and Turret Facts

Learning the basics of Leauge of Legends equals a strong foundation. With a strong foundation, you can play any champion against any other champion. The moral here is that the Player is OP, not the champion. I've seen counter-picked players win their lane. The key is to play smarter than your opponent. We all know Katarina, like many other AP Mids, is countered by Leblanc. Tiensinoakuma shows how he turns this around as the OLD Katarina.

  • part 1 -
  • Part 2 -
  • Part 3 -
    Laning Decision - If you are dominating your lane, you have two choices. You can defeat your lane opponent and push the minions up to their turret, but don't attack the turret personally. By doing this, you extend the laning phase, meaning you "farm" the enemy champion and the creep, leaving them underfed. The second option is to take down the turret at the 15-20 minute mark and roam to help the other lanes if they aren't doing well.

    Please look at this video on last hitting by colbycheeze. Pay special attention to last hitting as that is where the majority of your gold income comes from! Minions give you the gold you need, help you kill your enemy, and tank tower shots for you. Love and hate'em! -
    sight ward Please look at this link on warding. Wards save lives and are worth the investment. In fact, wards win games and give you map awareness to catch the enemy out of position or to position yourself in an advantageous position.

    Please look at this specialized video on zone control by Shurella. It helps with denying the enemy levels, gold, and viability -
    Please look at this link on turrets. You'll find some interesting facts that may surprise you that WILL affect your gameplay such as how turrets deal more damage to you when minions are not around, or items/abilites that are capable of doing more damage to turrets, or even underrated triggers that cause turrets to target you. -

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Your Job Description

Your job is to assassinate the enemy carries, nothing more and nothing less. This guide is a AP CARRY Katarina guide. By AP Carry, I mean we are maximizing our damage output to kill them faster than they can kill us, and jump out before they even knew what happened.

As an AP Carry assassin, you will not be tanky, aside from having Zhonya's Hourglass, a Guardian Angel, maybe an Abyssal Mask to protect you. You will be squishy as hell. You will have no sustain, aside from Health Potions. You will have a small health pool. Instead, you will be incredibly nimble and mobile. And most importantly, you will deal "tons of damage."

To accomplish this, you NEED to smart cast. You NEED to know the mechanics of the game and most, if not all the champions in league. Why? Knowledge is power. If you know what they do then you know how to play against them and take calculated risks.

Know this and you will carry.

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What happened to Hextech Gunblade?

  • I know change is hard, but the remake changed the viability of certain stats on her, particularly her early game AP and AD ratios, which is essential for snowballing into the mid and late-game. Because of this, gunblade is no longer as useful on Katarina as it was before.
  • Riot nerfed her early-game AP ratios, but buffed her late-game damage output, and spell-vamp gives health based on how much magic damage done. With weak early-game damage, you're not getting much health back.
  • Let's say you just get Hextech Revolver. You do no damage early-game, so you don't heal much either . . . probably like 300 hit-points between each time you go to lane and recall. 1200 gold worth of Health Potions gives you 34 Health Potions. Now, they heal 150 hit-points each. 150 multiplied by 34 health pots = 5100 total health healed. NO ONE gets 34 health pots every game. I get ten at most. Therefore, getting Health Potions is more cost efficient than hextech revovler. Use the extra gold to pick up more AP. like a Blasting Wand.
  • Old Katarina benefited equally from AD and AP, and her early-game ratios were higher than they are now. Because she benefited equally from AD and AP, rushing gunblade was viable. Her Bouncing Blades scaled off AD and AP, and her shunpo was full on AP. Also, her Death Lotus lasted for 3 seconds, and the active slow from gunblade allowed Kat to do her full damage by keeping her target slowed and within range of death lotus.
  • New Katarina's Bouncing Blades now only benefits from AP. There is no AD ratio and the AP ratio was reduced early-game.
  • Although killer instincts was replaced with sinister steel, which benefits from AD and AP, the AD ratio is negligable. AD Kat is definitely not viable in competitive play.
  • Shunpo is still full on AP, but the damage is low and cool-down is high on early levels
  • Death Lotus is still both AD and AP, but getting gunblade just for your ultimate, which can be interrupted, is a poor choice. It also lasts only for 2 seconds instead of 3, meaning you can get the full ult off without the need for gunblade's slow.

  • Rabadon's Deathcap gives you more ability power than gunblade, and large amounts of early ability power benefits remade Katarina more than pre-remade Kat, who benefited equally from AD and AP.
  • Hextech Gunblade, like many hybrid items such as Trinity Force, are geared toward the early-mid game. After that, they fall off.
  • The 50% damage from Deathfire Grasp after you get all your AP items > 300 damage from Hextech Gunblade active.

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Powerful Pros and Cancerous Cons

Pros / Cons


+ Marvelous mobility due to her sinister steel and Shunpo

+ Can chain off her skills through kills/assists for near constant dps due to Voracity

+ Deity level burst damage late-game

+ Can farm well due to sinister steel

+ Has no mana limits

+ Fun to play

sinister steel

- Weak early game compared to other AP mids

- No forms of CC

- Squishy

- Ultimate can be interrupted by any form of CC

- High skill cap

- Need to know how to smart-cast to play at full potential (reaction time)

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Mindful Masteries



  • I take different masteries than Tiensi, but it is still 21-9-0 and doesn't make a huge difference.
  • I choose Brute Force over Mental Force for easier last hitting as Kat's base auto-attack damage is really weak.
  • I take two points in Tough Skin to negate creep damage and put 2 points in Resistance to negate the enemy AP mid's damage. If you somehow know you're up against a AD mid, take two points in Hardiness instead of Resistance .

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Razor Sharp Runes


Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Scaling Health

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Tiensinoakuma's standard set-up for maximized AP damage mid-late game along with some survivability. It also helps you snowball easier because you do more damage. You don't have to take this rune set-up. Go with your preference. The runes below are alternatives depending on your play-style and lane match-up.

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
  • Greater Mark of Magic Penetration - The truth is that Katarina's early-game damage pales in comparison to other AP mids. These give you magic penetration to negate the enemy's early magic resist. Combined with Sorcerer's Shoes, you'll be dealing close to true damage early-game.

Greater Seal of Scaling Health

Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Seal of Scaling Armor

Greater Seal of Health

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
  • Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed - speed is essential in context of your survival as well as your opponents. Speed can mean the difference between running away or getting in range to cast a spell to catch a fleeing enemy. These are non-replaceable as you are an assassin. Get in and get out as fast as you can.

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Sinister Summoner Spells

Summoner Spells

: Katarina's early-game damage pales in comparison to other AP mids. This is essential for securing early kills.
: the most versatile escape/ganking spell in the game. Use this to surprise the enemy and to get in range to use your skills, or to escape space

You really can't change these summoner spells. They are a must due to their versatility and necessity. Ghost is not as versatile as Flash and Exhaust does not allow you to kill the enemy to get Voracity off. Ignite is simply too essential as it can secure a kill to have your skills reset to kill the entire enemy team before they kill you by subsequent resets. Voracity is Katarina's most important skill, so go get those pentas!

If you like Cleanse, don't get it because you can buy Quicksilver Sash. It cleanses more than Cleanse ever could.

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Ambitious Abilities + Sly Sequences

Ability Explanation

sinister steel

  • Voracity: this is your most important ability. This makes Katarina who she is. This is what allows you to score penta kills and have no need for cool-down reduction items/runes/masteries.
    • By getting an assist or kill, all your skills reset, except your Death Lotus, but the cool-down is reduced by 15 seconds.
    • If your team kills enough champions, you can use Death Lotus twice!
    • To take full advantage of this ability, learn how to smart-cast.
  • Bouncing Blade (Q): This is your harassment skill.
    • The damage is reduced on each bounce though, so try to land it directly on them. If they outrange you, throw it on the creep and watch it bounce on them
    • Beware: using this too much will push the lane and leave you open to ganks
    • you can detonate the mark with an auto attack or any of your spells.
    • Max this first due to the stronger harass, otherwise max it second
  • sinister steel Sinister Steel (W): this is your spammable ability that replaced killer instincts
    • this is a spammable aoe spell, so it dishes out "tons of damage" in teamfights
    • cool-down and movement speed buff goes down by rank
    • excellent at farming waves
    • Max this second, usually. But max this first if you want to farm better early (it evens out with Bouncing Blades in terms of farming capability at levels 8-9, which is why I max Bouncing Blades first).
  • Shunpo (E): this is your escape/assassination skill.
    • You can jump on wards, so always have one in your inventory
    • This increases your durability, so use it first on an enemy before blowing your kit on them
    • When most enemies are low use it to kill them all by abusing your passive
    • If you dive someone under the tower and kill them (or get an assist), Shunpo will reset so you can jump on an minion, ward, or champion to escape right after the kill.
    • If you're out of range to kill someone, Flash and Shunpo to them.
    • Never max this first. The cool-down is too long in the early levels, so your damage and farming capability will suffer. Just put one point in early and max it last.
  • Death Lotus (R): your area of effect damage ultimate.
    • Your ult is easily interrupted, so judge when to use it, like when the enemy already blew their crowd control.
    • Your ultimate applies grievous wound, so enemies will have reduced healing effects by 50% for 3 seconds. Use Ignite once Death Lotus is used to prevent Health Potions or healing abilities from saving them.
    • Although this does full damage to 3 enemy champions (throws a total of 30 daggers, and only 10 max can hit a champion), don't be cocky and jump in alone unless you know skills are down. You can be interrupted by any form of CC.
    • You can only use your ultimate when enemies are within range, INCLUDING IF ENEMY STEALTHED CHAMPIONS ARE IN RANGE
    • Because of the remake, your ult channels for two seconds instead of 3. This means you don't need the slow from Hextech Gunblade or Rylai's Crystal Scepter since you can get it all off now. Therefore, get more AP to snowball faster.
    • Max it at 6, 11, and 16

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Painful Purchases


: 20 flat magic penetration and increases base movement speed by 70.
: 25 flat magic resist and increases base movement speed by 70.
: 140 Ability Power. Increased Ability Power by 30%.
  • The Infinity Edge for casters.
  • Once you have this, you can force fights and effectively kill the enemy now. Weak, early game Kat is no more. This is your core item.
  • Get it as soon as possible.

: 100 Ability Power, 50 Armor. UNIQUE Active: Places your champion into Stasis for 2 seconds, rendering your champion invulnerable and untargetable but unable to take any actions. 90 second cooldown.
  • Gives you survivability and damage in one item.
  • The active is your saving grace
  • Buy this as your first or second major item if you are up against a heavy AD team, or are focused in every fight.
  • however, don't use it in the middle of your ultimate as it will cancel it because your ultimate is a channel.

: 70 Ability Power, 57 Magic Resistance. UNIQUE Aura: Reduces the Magic Resist of nearby enemy champions by 20. Range: 600.
  • A great item to rush if you are losing mid vs. the enemy AP mid, or if the enemy team is mostly AP, or if your team is mostly AP.
  • Do not get Void Staff with Abyssal Mask, ever! Explanation is further in the guide.

: 70 Ability Power. UNIQUE Passive: +40% Magic Penetration.
  • Last Whisper for casters.
  • It greatly increases your damage output because it ignores 40% of the enemy's total magic resist, meaning you hit harder.
  • Still, don't focus the tanks ^_^

: 80 Ability Power. UNIQUE Passive: Reduces ability cooldowns by 15%. UNIQUE Active: Deals magic damage to target champion equal to 25% of their current health (+4% per 100 Ability Power) with a minimum of 200 damage. 1 minute cooldown. (750 range).
  • Get this early if you need more damage before or after Rabadon's Deathcap.
  • Note that your single target damage will be awesome, but your AOE damage will suffer, unless you already rushed Rabadon's Deathcap.
  • With full build, runes, and masteries, you will nuke down 50% of the enemy's hit-points, especially with Void Staff.
  • Use it right before you cast your own abilities as Deathfire Grasp deals damage based on their current health.

: 68 Armor, 38 Magic Resistance. UNIQUE Passive: Revives your Champion upon death, restoring 750 Health and 375 Mana. This effect can only occur once every 5 minutes.
  • Your second chance at life - don't waste it.
  • It a back up to Zhonya's Hourglass.
  • It also gives you armor AND magic resist. Sweet, but no ability power :/
  • Since it doesn't give ability power, this is why we get Zhonya's Hourglass before Guardian Angel to maximize damage output.

: Click: Grants 140-235 Health (based on champion level) and 10 Attack Damage for 4 minutes. Stacks 3 per item slot.
  • Your summoner Heal in a can. Use it to bait and turn the tables on your opponent when they go in for your death and then laugh.
  • Note: DO NOT use elixirs when you are channeling your ultimate as they WILL CANCEL Death Lotus.

: Click: Grants 20-40 Ability Power, based on your champion's level, and reduces cooldowns by 10% for 4 minutes. Stacks 3 per item slot.
  • You have reduced cool-downs and more AP. Pot up on this before a major team fight that can decide the game.

sight ward: Wards save lives . . . especially yours since you can Shunpo to them. Always have one or two to lay down to escape from the enemy or to catch up to the enemy.

: 48 Magic Resistance. UNIQUE Active: Removes all debuffs from your champion. 90 second cooldown.

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Situational Item Breakdown (cheat sheet)


Early-game core:
Mid-late game:

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Poisonous Purchases

  • It isn't a bad item, but it is not that viable on Katarina
  • Death Lotus now lasts 2 seconds instead of 3, so you don't need to slow the enemy for them to stay within your full ult. You now get it all off.
  • costs too much and is a worse than Hextech Gunblade in terms of damage output, utility, and survivability (pre-remake AND post remake) than Hextech Gunblade.
  • 500 health is nothing without mitigation (armor/magic resist)
  • 80 AP . . .we can get a Needlessly Large Rod for half the price of Rylai's Crystal Scepter for 160 AP
  • This is a 2600 elo build and Katarina's job is to be the AP CARRY, not a support. Your job is to not slow, but kill. Getting this item is like saying, "hey, guys! I'll just slow them down and you kill them, okay?"
  • You don't want to slow the enemy. You want to kill them. IF you want damage, pick up Rabadon's Deathcap
  • If you want survivabiliy, pick up a Zhonya's Hourglass
  • Guess what? We pick up both Rabadon's Deathcap and Zhonya's Hourglass EVERY game

  • Pre-remake Katarina did not get Will of the Ancients.
  • I explained why new Katarina should not get Hextech Gunblade. What makes Will of the Ancients any better for this style of play?
  • Unless you're support Katarina with a team full of AP champions, don't get this item.
  • You'll probably heal 300 hit-points max early-game because your damage is so weak, meaning you heal less. You can spend 70 gold on Health Potions to heal 300 hit-points.
  • There are better items for your damage output and Zhonya's Hourglass's active is your survivability.

  • It is more of an item for ranged casters with incredibly short cool-downs
  • Katarina has to get in the middle of the fight, and staying longer to space auto-attacks between spells is dangerous for a melee caster
  • You don't really need the mana and you already have movement speed quints, along with Shunpo
  • More for the lols, but if you activate sinister steel, you can proc Lich Bane's extra damage on inhibitors and turrets . . . everything. LOL
  • I would get it if I had a seventh item slot, or if I really didn't need my boots. But we don't have a seventh item slot and speed from boots is faster than the speed from Lich Bane
  • Tenacity from Mercury's Treads or magic penetration from Sorcerer's Shoes is important, so we keep boots over Lich Bane.

  • Your early damage is horrible, what makes you think you can snowball early?
  • Getting this item paints a target on your head that says, "kill me now so I can't stack this and score a penta every time I sneeze."
  • Feel free to try in normal games, but in ranked . . . you're dead, bro.

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Never Get Abyssal Scepter AND Void Staff . . .

Their passives conflict and make Void Staff weaker. Why?

  • You need the other item slot for Guardian Angel, which provides more survivability than getting both Void Staff and Abyssal Mask.
  • Flat magic resist reduction from Abyssal Mask is accounted first
  • Then percentage penetration from Void Staff is accounted for.
  • Let's say the enemy champion has 100 magic resist.
  • With Abyssal Mask, you reduce their magic resist to 80.
  • With Void Staff, not accounting for Abyssal Mask, you reduce their magic resist to 60 because of the 40% magic penetration.
  • With both, you first refuce their magic resist to 80 due to Abyssal Mask being accounted first because it is flat magic resist reduction. Then you penetrate 40% of that due to Void Staff, leaving them with 48 magic resist.
  • To account for the effectiveness of Void Staff, without Abyssal Mask, you reduced the enemy magic resist by 40.
  • With Abyssal Mask, Void Staff only reduced the enemy magic resist by 32 (since 40% of 80 is 32).
  • Just get one of them - if ypu're doing bad vs. AP, or are running a double AP team comp. get Abyssal Mask. If you are the only AP on your team or are doing well, get Void Staff for maximum damage output.

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Early Game Preparation

Your early-game is one of the worsts in the game compared to other AP mids, especially after the remake.

  • Leash and go to your lane
  • Don't push the lane too much with your skills. Just last hit with auto attacks
  • If you are up against a pusher like Malzahar, Sion, casseopia, or Morgana, feel free to last hit with your abilities to avoid being pushed to your tower and lose creep
  • Also, if the enemy left the lane, feel free to push the lane to make them lose exp and gold
  • When you have no creep to farm, it is okay to gank other lanes if you know you can secure a kill
  • Try to farm 80-100 creeps every ten minutes. You need items or you'll be useless.
  • Do not take free damage. If they damage you, pop Bouncing Blades and sinister steel on them if you can. Do not use Shunpo if the jungler is MIA as they could be waiting for you to use it so you'll have no escape outside of Flash
  • When you hit six and get Death Lotus, don't be afraid to use it to harass the enemy to force them out of lane, which you can capitalize on by pushing the lane to make them lose creep and experience.
  • If you want to maximize your damage, make sure to land Bouncing Blades and proc it with your abilities or auto attacks, if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, bounce it off creep so it will hit them.
  • Call MIAs and don't be afraid to ask for ganks if you need help

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How to Assassinate and to Prevent YOUR Assassination (Ganking)

How to Assassinate Your Mid Counterpart 101

  • First method is the easiest. Ask for a gank.
  • Second method is more sneaky. Your counterpart just went bot or top to gank. They are coming back to mid to farm.
  • You hide in a bush and ult them when they come into range. You have the element of surprise and they can't see you, unless they have a ward in the brush. Proceed with Shunpo, Bouncing Blades, and sinister steel. Proceed to chase as you'll probably have more movement speed due to quints and Flash
  • Note how I did not say Shunpo out of the bush before you Death Lotus. The enemy not having vision of you is imperative as they cannot retaliate with their own CC to stop your ultimate or cast any spells on you if they don't have vision.

      Preventing your assassination 101
    • Always have wards to foresee ganks, so you won't be caught with your pants down
    • You can pop a sight ward down and Shunpo to it. If need be, Flash
    • Since we want to save Flash, DON"T EVER use Shunpo to last hit. It is on a high cool-down until fully maxed. And we don't max it first because the damage is low and you can't farm or harass with it effectively without getting harassed back. It is your utility spell, which is why we max it last, regardless if you maxed Bouncing Blades or sinister steel first.

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After Laning Phase

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Tiensinoakuma's Katarina Guide (Pre-remake, but the info is still useful un

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Tiensinoakuma on the New Katarina (explains why Rylais, and Hextech Revolve

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I hope this was an informative guide based on a 2600 ELO player's play-style and build.

Just remember to farm until your knives rust and to use your Death Lotus at the right moment.

If you have questions, post them below and I'll get to them as soon as I can.

Until then - FOR NOXUS!

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10/12/12 - publication of guide