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Leona Build Guide by Cinderfang

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Cinderfang

Shedding Light on Leona

Cinderfang Last updated on July 23, 2011
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Support Role
Ranked #4 in
Support Role
Win 52%
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: 0

Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 9

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Hello Fellow Summoners.

My summoner name is Cinderfang, and I'd like to talk about the latest and in my opinion greatest tank in the League, Leona. Leona, to me, is a tank and melee support character who specializes in soaking damage and cool-downs, as well as shutting down single enemy targets. She is very mobile when played correctly, and very difficult to focus down when built properly. This guide is intended to show players of all skill level tips, tricks, advice and ideas that will allow them to get the most bang for their buck, and the most fun possible while playing our lovely lady Leo.

This is my first ever written guide, and as such, I appreciate the time anyone takes to read it. I also encourage feedback, both compliments on the guide itself, as well as criticism on what you feel could be better about it, or any information you think might be missing. I'd be more than happy to answer personal questions having to do with Leo, her build possibilities, and play styles as well. As I only include information that I have personally tested and found to be accurate, I will add additional information as I come across it.

Now, without further Ado, let's shed some light on Leona!

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Innate - Sunlight: Leona's damaging spells affect the target with Sunlight for 3.5 seconds. When allied champions deal damage to those targets they consume the Sunlight debuff to deal additional magic damage. Bonus damage is 20/35/50/65/80/95/110/125/140 (upgrades every 2 levels).

Q - Shield of Daybreak: Leona's next autoattack deals an additional (40/70/100/130/160) (+(0.3)) magic damage and stuns the target for (1.25) seconds.

W - Eclipse: Leona raises her shield to gain (30/40/50/60/70) bonus Armor and Magic Resistance for (3) seconds. When the effect ends, she deals (60/110/160/210/260) (+(0.4)) magic damage to nearby enemies and prolongs the effect for a bonus (3) seconds if any enemies are struck.

E - Zenith Blade: Leona projects a solar image of her sword, which deals (60/100/140/180/220) (+(0.4 per ability power point)) magic damage to all enemies in a line. When the image fades, the last enemy champion struck will be briefly immobilized and Leona will dash to them.

R - Solar Flare: After a brief delay, Leona calls down a beam of solar energy to deal (150/250/350) (+(0.8 per ability power point)) magic damage and slow enemies by (80)% for (1.5) seconds. Enemies in the center of the effect are stunned instead of slowed.

As you can see from it's description, Leo's toolkit is jam-packed with AoE damage, control, and mitigation. Her largest source of damage lies in Sunlight, which limits you very much to duo lane. Leona should never be solo if it can be avoided, as she cannot consume Sunlight by herself in any way (not even using Ignite or an item, if the damage source comes from Leona, Sunlight will not be consumed).

Skill Order comes to personal preference and team composition. If you are the only tank, you are going to want to level Eclipse as soon as possible. If you are more of an off tank, level Shield of Daybreak first for the reduced cool-down so you can keep people locked down more often. If you are in the rare circumstance in which you are being asked to build offensively, Zenith Blade is your gap closer, so level that first.

My preference in skill order is as follows: Q,E,W, then level what you will need. Leo is one of the many champions that benefits from leveling her ultimate whenever possible (bit of a joke there =P), so make sure to grab a point in Solar Flare at 6/11/16.

Her largest source of damage aside from max rank Solar Flare is Eclipse, and that is also her best defensive spell. As such, I level W first almost exclusively. During Lane Phase, when people are throwing mostly base damage at you, this skill allows you to block tons of damage, and paired with the right starting items, makes Leo an immovable object. That's a good thing, because Leo needs a few key items before she can start doing her job exceptionally well.

Now we come to using her tool kit properly. More times than not, it falls to you to pick when and where to make a fight happen. This is a skill that can only be picked up through game play, however you can look for key moments. If you see an enemy is slightly out of position, try to get line of sight either through your own or your team mates, and pounce them if you see their mistake. If you see many MIA on the map (which actually means, if you don't see anyone on the map at all), call to your team to come together before exploring past your towers. If you feel the enemy has an area warded, let your team know and advise backing and staying away from that area. Little things like this will prevent you and your team from being taken by surprise, as well as let you get the jump on your opponents more often.

Leona's Q is her ease of use stun strike. It adds a bit of damage to her next hit and stuns the target, marking them with Sunlight. The stun is a bit short, but it's good enough to whack someone out of position and stop their damage out put long enough for them to get pounced. This skill should not be spammed until you finish Frozen Heart, as the cool-down can be long prior to having that item. Save it for when you can chain CC on a single target, or to prevent a runner you think you and your team can kill. Q can be chained with Zenith Blade for an instant stun. Another useful tip to know with this skill, is that it reset's her attack timer. This means that you can attack, immediately press Q, and then issue another attack command on the same target, essentially allowing her to attack someone 3 times in one attack. While her damage isn't amazing, this add's up quickly in the lower levels. The third attack may be a bug in how her timer reset works, so it could be changed in the future. This tip is useful for jungler's as well.

W is your tank skill. This skill needs to be up as often as possible for the sake of spreading damage and taking less. Hit W before Zenith Blade so that you can zip into the middle of the fray and nuke everyone while absorbing their cool-downs. This gives your team free roam time for the most part. Eclipse is also part of her farm combo, as this and Zenith Blade can take out ranged creeps pretty well by around level 7-8. It should be noted that when you are planning to skirmish, you must activate this skill slightly before you begin the fight, as if you wait, you will miss the damage portion, and cut your buff duration in half.

Zenith Blade is a skill shot, and right now it's animation is a tad misleading. Only shoot it when you know you can hit past the tip of the animation. The damage it deals is low like most of her skills, but it does have a width to it so it can hit multiple people. This paired with Eclipse is her best farm tool. You can also press Q before hitting someone with the skill to auto stun the last target hit, as Leo automatically attacks the last target.
It is important to note that while this skill does root the last target hit, the root duration is based on the distance Leona needs to travel to the target. It cannot root for any longer than approximately .75 seconds. The good news is this root is not effected by Tenacity at all.

Solar Flare is her game changer. With practice, you can stun clumped groups of enemies long enough for your team to mop them up. A good use when laning with this skill is to hit W in brush, wait 1 second, Zenith blade in, stun the target, then almost immediately cast Solar Flare on the stunned target. The delay will be just about long enough for the target to be stun locked for 2.75 seconds total before Tenacity, and that is usually plenty of time for you and your lane partner to throw a-lot of damage. The damage this ability deals on it's own currently is pretty low for an ultimate, and while it's cast range is pretty significant, it does not make for the best last hit tool.

Once a team fight looks ready to begin, pick the closest AND easiest target and mark them. You do not want your team to blow all their cool-downs on a tank at the start of a fight. Do your best to get into the thick of it without using Zenith blade or Flash/Ghost, however try to line up multiple targets to mark them with Sunlight and spread some damage around. Also try to make sure your Zenith Blade lands on your focus target last, as this puts you right next to them for a nice stun combo, and if your team is following you, should end in a nice kill. Only use Eclipse when you are sure you can absorb a large amount of damage, AND hit many people with it's pulse. You should always attempt to chain Solar Flare on your Q's stun target, but you also want to make sure it hits as many people as possible. If absolutely needed, use it to finish a runner, but more times than not, you will have an ally better suited at that than you.

If you are against heavy CC teams, trade blows with your Q on their carry, and watch who they go for. You may need to retreat to defend your own team using your Ult + Zenith Blade + Q spam. Remember that every form of CC they throw on you is one less thrown on your carry, and that's a good thing.

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As a tank there is no real reason to ever stray from a 21 build in defense. While your last 9 points can be placed as you wish, I have found the best success with 0/21/9, making sure to grab any damage mitigation and increases to regeneration you can, and improving Teleport or Ghost if you decide to take those spells. You also want the increase to gold per 5, and experience, although you will not likely take a solo lane.

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For Runes, however, you have a few options.

Red: The marks I like to use most often are flat MR to help your lane phase sustainability. Other options include flat armor, Armor penetration, and flat damage. Armor Penetration would help your damage in the early - mid game, as well as sysnergize well with any offensive items you build on her. Flat Armor is essentially the same as MR, however only take these to stack with Flat Armor yellows if you do not have or do not want to use dodge yellows. Flat Damage should only be used for jungling. Leo can jungle, and I will cover that later in the guide.

Yellow: The seals I prefer for Leo are dodge. Dodge is a very useful stat for Leo, especially since you will want Nimbleness out of the defensive Mastery tree. Nimbleness helps greatly in making up for Leo's low base speed, not to mention that a dodged attack means you take 0 damage from it. If you do not like dodge, then I recommend either flat Armor or MP Regen / 5 per level. The Armor keeps to her tanky nature, while the regen adds to her offense by allowing you to be less conservative with mana. While the build I will detail takes care of the problem in most cases, more regen never hurts. Junglers can take flat damage or Attack Speed in addition to the Armor, that comes to personal choice.

Blue: Glyphs are just as important as any other seal, and the best ones you can take for a tank are either flat MR or MR per level. I personally take the flat, because you need the early mitigation far more than you do later in the game. When coupled with flat MR reds, flat MR Purples, and the defensive tree boost, you can start a game at level 1 without items with as much as 72 MR. That's about 44% reduction in Magic damage taken at level 1. Suddenly laning against people like Zilean / Annie doesn't seem so bad anymore. There really isn't any other option for her Blues aside from AP, but her current ratios are too horrendous to bother. The exception is junglers, as flat damage or attack speed can be beneficial to this.

Purple: Leo's quintessences should be defensive in nature, making your best options Health, Health Regeneration, Dodge, flat Armor, or flat MR. I personally roll Health Regeneration to stack with my builds early Philosopher's Stone. Jungle exceptions are flat damage and attack speed.

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Leo has many options when it comes to her item paths. However, the build I will entail is specialized for her, and not exactly a typical tank build. I have tailored it to fit Leo's specific needs across the boards, from accentuating her strengths to covering her weakness'.

Your item order should be as follows: Regrowth Pendant + Mana Potion, Philosopher's Stone + Boots, Mercury Treads, Heart of Gold, Glacial Shroud, Frozen Heart, Sheen, Phage, Trinity Force, Shurelia's Reverie, Randuin's Omen, Guardian's Angel.

The reasons for these items is simple: Damage mitigation, Regeneration, damage out-put, and cool-down reduction. Leo absorbs lot's of damage on her own, but while her W buff is not currently active, she is just as vulnerable as anyone else, even more so when you consider she has to be in her opponents face to do any work. By itemizing for Armor, MR and Regeneration, you can safely move into harms way on purpose to protect your allies without putting yourself in any real danger. Because her cool-downs are naturally long, maximizing her CDR stat is a must for her to be effective in her role. Lastly, we come to her damage. Currently, Leo's damage is sub-par to most other champions. This is due mostly to her innate, Sunlight, being her highest source of damage, even though there is no way for her to benefit from it on her own. Trinity Force gives her stats everywhere she needs it, and no where she does not, all while boosting her damage to a respectable level.

Other item options include Ninja Tabi when fighting more than 1 AD carry, Frozen mallet, Aegis of the Legion, Force of Nature, and Banshee's Veil. Unless her ratio's are increased some time soon, I do not recommend building AP items on her.

Note: If you decide to take Ninja Tabi, consider purchasing an early Eleisa's Miracle out of your Philo Stone. While you will miss out on Shurelia's Reverie, you MUST build Tenacity on Leo, or you will not be able to do your job even half as well.

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Summoner Spells

Summoner Spells play key roles in what you want to do with your champion. For Leona, it is important to cover her low movement speed and low damage potential wherever possible, and be sure to be around for team fights. As such, the spells you will want to look at most are Exhaust, Flash, Ghost, Ignite, and Teleport. Any combination of those spells work well for Leona. The ones I personally use are Teleport to get my early Philo Stone and boots at the start of a match, as well as Ward porting and quick purchases before a push, and Flash to quickly close distance for locking down a single target rapidly, or escaping an otherwise fatal encounter.

Exhaust is an excellent option if you know you will be dealing with more than one DPS opponent.

Ignite is a good offensive option if you think your team will lack damage out put, and can take people by surprise once you finish your Trinity Force, as your damage becomes much more meaningful at that point.

Ghost is likely the most common-use spell in the game, due to it's versatility in it's use. A flat increase to movement speed is something that benefits everyone.

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Lane Phase

Leona's Lane Phase is particularly strong for a tank, and that is due to both her Innate, and her CC. If your team has someone such as Annie / Sion / Garen / Jax, lane with them. You make a good baby sitter through keeping your opponents off your ally, and more times than not your chained CC is more than enough to land you both a few kills so long as you don't push to the enemy tower. At level 6, Leona makes an excellent tower diver, soaking up a couple extra tower hits during her W, and then flashing to safety. Just be sure you and your partners damage out-put will be enough, and that they don't have any fancy get-away options open to them.

If your team has a jungler, make sure you are not the solo lane. You want to be at bottom so you can aid with an early dragon if possible. Leona can take lot's of punishment from the Dragon while your jungler smacks it down. Her skill spam also helps the dragon die faster too. Just be sure to activate Eclipse once the dragon is angry with you, so you get the full 6 seconds of damage mitigation each use.

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Mid Game

By 20 minutes, you should have your Gold per 5's, Rank 2 boots, and nearly completed Frozen heart if it isn't already done. At this point, it's time to start picking fights and pushing. Lead your team through brush into a lane, and push a tower. Keep an eye out for split pushes, and try to force your opponents from their defense to meet them in a nearby brush. If possible, steal their jungle buffs, or ward around Baron and try to jump them around it. If you have a properly geared champ or team comp, you can attempt an early Baron, but try to be sure that you won't be jumped at it.

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Late Game

As mid game ends and late game begins, you should done with Trinity Force, and looking to finish Shurelia's Reverie and Randuin's Omen. Once those items are finished, your last item should be based on what your team is in need of. I more times than not end with Guardian's Angel, just because it makes you that much tougher to take down, and if you do go down it does not matter quite as much. Once your last item is finished, if the game is STILL going on, Christmas tree (Buy all three elixirs), and plan your next team fight well, because it's going to be the last one.

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Creeping / Jungling

Leona can jungle just as many other champions can. While she is not particularly fast about it on her own, with a Leash she is able to clear Golem and quickly make her way to Lizard after clearing all the minor camps, ganking as early as level 4. I personally do not like to jungle with her, but I do know her route choices and the builds you will want.

No Leash

Level 1 Item: Doran's Blade

Runes: 3 Damage Marks 6 Armor Pen Marks, Armor Seals, Attack Speed Glyphs, Damage Quints.

Masteries: 16/3/11 taking Armor in Defense and ArmPen/Damage in Offense, while maintaining XP and Buff Duration boosts in Utility.

Skill Order: QWWE if you plan to gank at level 4. QWWQE if not. Leona is not a strong ganker.

Camp Order: Start at Wraith's, smiting the blue one and stunning the nearest after an auto attack on it, clear with this and move to wolves. Slay the big wolf first using your stun when you can, taking and activating Eclipse as soon as you level. Make your way to Small Golems, and kill a small lizard as you past Red. Once at golems await your cooldowns if they are not ready yet, and Smite focus the nearest one, stunning and blowing it up, then kill the last one, and B, picking up Cloth Armor and 2-3 Health Potions. Level W again and return to wraiths, then wolves, saving smite for the small golems again. After they are finished, B a third time to heal and get boots, then head for Blue Buff. As you fight him, Smite should come off cooldown just in time to last hit him. After blue is slain, mop up wolves and Wraiths again. This should be easy thanks to blue buff. Fight the lizard, using smite when it comes off cooldown to last hit him as well, then take down golems. Beyond that, you should B, and look for gank targets, since you are now level 6.


Level 1 Item: Cloth Armor and Health Potions X 5

Runes: Same as No Leash

Masteries: Same as No Leash

Skill Order: QWWE

Camp Order: Have your team knock Golem around and leash it when it spawns, leaving when it's at about half health. Only stun it if you know it will still chase the leash target. Use smite to last hit it once it turns to face you, and use Q to clean up the lizards. Move to Wolves, using health potions during the camp to stay healthy, taking W when you level from Golem, then Wraiths, putting another point in W when you level from them and using another potion during this camp. Clear the Red Buff with Q and W spam, making sure to last hit with Smite. Use a health pot during this fight as well, and another when it is over to stay healthy during small golems.
B if your health is low and you are out of potions, otherwise look for a gank.

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Again, I thank anyone who reads this for their time, and encourage you all to please leave your feedback in a comment. More information will be added as I discover it.

This guide can also be found on the NA forums:

COMING SOON: In-depth guide and builds for Twisted Treeline play, Offensive Leo Build