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Shen Build Guide by SmokedCarpenter

Tank Simply Shen: Top Lane

Tank Simply Shen: Top Lane

Updated on June 27, 2014
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League of Legends Build Guide Author SmokedCarpenter Build Guide By SmokedCarpenter 147 5 1,823,215 Views 85 Comments
147 5 1,823,215 Views 85 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author SmokedCarpenter Shen Build Guide By SmokedCarpenter Updated on June 27, 2014
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LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite


LeagueSpy Logo
Top Lane
Ranked #33 in
Top Lane
Win 53%
Get More Stats
Top Lane Ranked #33 in
Top Lane
Win 53%
More Shen Runes



Season 4 Update: I've modified the cheatsheet to fit the current meta but I might not be updating the rest of the guide for quite some time due to sheer laziness. Sorry for the inconvenience!

DISCLAIMER: The matchups section of this guide is horribly outdated and quite biased. I will eventually update it for Season 4 but for now please disregard the matchups as some may lead you astray.

Hello all and welcome to my second guide! This guide will focus on playing Shen as a tank/split-pusher in the top lane. I decided to make this guide after playing Shen almost exclusively for about two months straight, and I realized that the top Shen guides on Mobafire were actually different from my own personal build in a few key aspects.

Keep in mind that this build is a pure tank build with a few items to enhance your split-pushing capabilities whilst retaining your tankiness in teamfights.

Unfortunately Season 4 has been tough on Shen. He's not as viable as he used to be due to many indirect changes that weaken his laning phase, such as the absence of level 2 ganks due to jungle changes. However he can still be a strong top laner and easily carry games if played properly.

Unfortunately I can't give credit to the creator of the hilarious poster above as I was unable to figure out who created it. If anyone knows please PM me and I'll credit them ASAP

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Pros / Cons


  • Energy gives him great early lane sustain
  • Decent poke with Vorpal Blade
  • AoE 1.5 second taunt at level 1
  • Stacking HP inherently gives you more damage
  • This unit is a flippin' ninja
  • Global ultimate can save teammates and turn the tide of teamfights


  • Can have a weak early game against ranged top laners
  • Stand United at level 1 has a very weak shield and long cooldown
  • Sometimes killsteals due to his surprising damage output from his passive Ki Strike
  • Almost a guaranteed ban in ranked
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Fleet Footwork
Phase Rush


Greater Mark of Attack Speed -After incredibly extensive testing I stand by my orginal decision that these marks are better than magic pen. These allow you to split-push more easily as well as proc your passive Ki Strike more often.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration - If you prefer stronger early game poke with Vorpal Blade over split-pushing ability. Magic pen will also apply to your sunfire cape and on-hit magic damage from wit's end.


Greater Seal of Armor - By far the best runes to use in the top lane. Good against any AD bruiser and even in an AP lane to reduce minion damage.
Greater Seal of Scaling Health - Another excellent choice especially against an AP opponent. This will scale well with your passive and bolster your tankiness significantly.


Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist - My preferred top lane glyph. Use this in all scenarios except when against an AP top such as Rumble.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist - Use these against an AP top lane. I would avoid using these over the scaling version if you think you'll be able to bully an AP lane opponent even without the extra early resistances.


Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed - My favorite Quints in the game for most roles. This is really just personal preference; there are many other alternatives that are just as strong on Shen
Greater Quintessence of Health - Use these against a strong AP top laner, or just as a preferential replacement for MS quints. They give you more early game damage and durability, but do not scale as well as MS quints.
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power - If you really want to these will make your Vorpal Blade hurt a lot early on. I do NOT recommend these unless you're looking to have a little fun. They can also provide a nice boost to your rank 1 ultimate since Stand United provides a relatively weak shield at its first rank.
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Summoner Spells

Shen is a very versatile champion that can benefit from many different summoner spells. Most people believe Teleport is a requirement on Shen, however in my opinion it is really quite useless if you can't use it properly. Therefore I advise you not to take Teleport simply because people say it's the best. Learn to use it properly before using it in ranked.

Viable Summoner Spells

I personally take Flash 99.9% of the time on Shen. It is one of the strongest spells in the game and just because you have a blink does not mean you shouldn't have a second! Flash allows you to get a good position to taunt the enemy in teamfights as well as assist in ganks and clean up kills. Not to mention it is useful in escaping over walls, terrain, etc.

Teleport can be used to gank lanes, port into teamfights, or get back to lane quickly to ensure you don't lose out on too much farm. Many Shen players will ult to a teammate and then immediately teleport back to lane to protect their tower. I find this to be a waste of a summoner spell in a lot of cases. If you don't need to use it to save your tower then don't. Just recall and walk back if you are able.

I like to take Ignite as Shen top quite often because although Shen is not a carry top laner Ignite works wonders in getting you more fed than a tank should be. It is a good counter to many top lane opponents such as Volibear and Vladimir. I don't recommend using this spell in a competitive environment as you will likely steal kills with it late game by accident.

This spell works wonders on Shen. Used in combination with Stand United and Shadow Dash you can almost guarantee changing the tide of a gank or teamfight. Take this if no one else on your team has taken it. If you already have one Exhaust I wouldn't recommend it.

I have never found myself in a situation in which I would rather have Ghost over Flash. It can gap close over longer distances, sure, but the extra maneuverability that Flash gives you in combination with your taunt is incredible. This is not saying that Ghost is a bad spell, it is really up to personal preference and play-style.
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Which trinket do I choose?

Stealth Ward When starting Doran's Shield or Cloth Armor this will be your trinket of choice during the laning phase. I do recommend swapping it out for a Sweeping Lens mid-late game for baron/dragon control if your team doesn't already have one.

Sweeping Lens You could start with this if you coordinate with your jungler properly. Wait for your lane opponent to place their trinket ward (or normal ward if they have it) and then clear it out with your Sweeping Lens. This is an easy way to give your jungler an easier route to gank from. Make sure to let him know when top isn't warded. I recommend starting with a Stealth Ward if you choose this trinket.

Scrying Orb This trinket is pretty useless in lane because a Stealth Ward will provide more vision than this will. Only take this on junglers who invade and counter-jungle a lot.
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Skill Explanation

Ki Strike (Passive):
  • When available try to poke with it if there are few enemy minions around.
  • This ability scales with health, buying an early Giant's Belt increases your damage output by a great deal.
  • Attacking reduces Ki Strike's cooldown, so more basic attacks = more procs = more damage.
Vorpal Blade (Q):
  • Poke with this every time it comes off cooldown in the early laning phase, only CS with it if you would otherwise miss that creep.
  • Hit a minion and then basic attack it a few times to heal up if needed.
  • Keep in mind that last hitting with Vorpal Blade will heal far less than applying it to a minion and auto-attacking a few times.
Feint (W):
  • Try to time popping your shield to soak up enemy poke and skillshots (Think Jayce)
  • Basic attacking while your shield is active reduces Ki Strike's cooldown by 2 seconds per attack rather than 1. Use this to you advantage.
Shadow Dash (E):
  • Your taunt can hit multiple targets if lined up properly, but remember it has a very narrow area of effect. Try to use it down a long, narrow corridor.
  • Shadow Dash can reach over terrain and is the same range as flash. Use it to escape or cut off opponents.
  • Hitting champions restores energy, but if you miss you won't have enough energy to use your other skills. Energy management is important, so pay attention to how much remains.
  • It is possible to pull enemies into tower range with your taunt if you step behind them and then taunt backward towards your turret. They will be forced to walk into tower range and take a free hit or two.
  • Remember that you can close extreme distances by flashing before you taunt to either catch up to a fleeing enemy, or catch the enemy team off-guard with a long range initation (your team must be able to follow up or you'll melt).
Stand United (R):
  • Your ultimate is Shen's bread and butter. It has a long cooldown so it is important not to waste it.
  • Remember that protecting your AD carry and AP carry is your priority. Ult to other teammates if you must but try to save it for your carries.
  • Use your ultimate to counter-gank bot lane or mid. Wait until the enemy is fully committed to use it to ensure they can't escape.
  • Map-awareness is key when playing Shen. Remember to keep an eye on your teammates' portraits and look at their lanes when you see their health is low or there are lots of pings going off. Don't forget to pay attention to yourself however. It is easy to forget that your lane opponent can interrupt your ultimate if you don't get to safety before using it.
  • You can cancel your ultimate by flashing out of it. It will still give your teammate the shield. Do this if you realize ulting in would be suicide or you need to save your tower from dying.
  • Remember your opponents can cancel your ultimate with any hard CC, but the shield will still apply to your ally.
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Skill Sequence

Desired Skill Sequence

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

Stand United (R): As with most champions you'll want to max your ultimate ability at levels 6, 11, and 16. Shen's ultimate is the most important piece of his kit. Putting points into Stand United decreases the cooldown and increases the shield amount on whichever ally you cast it on.

Vorpal Blade (Q): I've never found myself in a situation where you wouldn't max Q first. Maxing Vorpal Blade gives you the poke, farming power, and sustain that you need in lane. Maxing Q decreases the cooldown and increases the base damage and heal amount. Always max it first.

Feint (W): Unless you're jungling never max Feint first; the shield is important to survive in lane as well as soak up damage in early teamfights. Similar to Vorpal Blade, the cooldown decreases and base shield value increases with levels. Always max second, but in some extreme cases you may need to alternate Q+W against a massive poke lane.

Shadow Dash (E): Although your taunt is one of the most important parts of Shen's kit, it is not necessary to max it first or even second. I always max Shadow Dash last because in my opinion, the damage from Q and sustain from W is much more important early on.

Note: It is acceptable to max Shadow Dash second if you have an easy lane. Also if you're against a gap closer without much poke it would be acceptable to max E second to disengage more easily.
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Warmog's used to be my bread and butter on Shen, but due to the recent nerfs and the rise of Blade of the Ruined King and Liandry's Anguish I am debating the viability of this item as the meta stands. It is still a strong choice against an AP heavy team but I suggest building some resistances before completing this item.

Sunfire Aegis is an excellent splitpush/tank item. Although it falls off a little late game it gives you a huge chunk of armor and health. The unique passive does a surprising amount of damage if rushed. It will also speed up your splitpushing exponentially.

I take Randuin's Omen against heavy AD/AS reliant teams. The active is game-changing if used properly in a teamfight. The base stats this item gives are also very impressive. I typically do not rush this item but will occasionally grab an early Warden's Mail.

In my opinion this item is incredibly strong in season 3. It shines on anyone who stacks health and has innate sustain. A relatively cheap buy that gives you everything Shen could want: Health, MR, and CDR. Purchase this against AP-heavy teams.

This may be one of my favorite items in the game. With a net cost of 2200 gold it is a relatively cheap yet oh-so effective item on Shen. I rush Wit's End after boots and Giant's Belt against an AP opponent. The bonus magic damage on hit and attack speed adds to your splitpushing ability, and the MR is nothing to scoff at; especially with full stacks up.

One of the best items in Season 3. This item has essentially been combined with Runic Bulwark and now builds out of Aegis of the Legion. It retains it's unique aoe shield active but now sports an aura similar to bulwark's. This basically frees up an item slot for some champs because they would typically buy bulwark and locket. This is an even better item on Shen now because ulting into a teamfight and giving your whole team a stat boost and shield can easily win the fight.

I've started to use this less and less. Shen does not benefit as much from the passive as many other champs do, and although it gives a lot of health, the overall cost of this item is a little too much for what it gives me. It is still a strong item but should only be used if fairly fed or you're having trouble keeping enemies pinned down.

An item I rarely purchase on Shen, however I feel it needs to be mentioned. 9 times out of 10 your jungler or support will build it, but in the case that they don't it is a good thing to pick up. True, the mana regen is useless, but the CDR, health, and active are pretty nice for what you're paying. The only downside is that you'll be squishier than you might want to be, but it's a trade-off that sometimes must be made.

Honestly not a fan of this on Shen. Against an AP-heavy team I tend to go Wit's End and Spirit Visage. However if you're fed, and you have an AP heavy team then certainly pick one up. The AP is a nice damage boost, and it gives a healthy amount of MR.

I've been toying with the idea of Twin Shadows Shen for a while now. If your team lacks vision and CC it's not a bad choice. The Kage's Lucky Pick is always welcome early game, and the MR isn't that great but it's enough against an AD heavy team. Any opinions are welcome, but I think it could have a place in Shen's kit.

Rylai's is an excellent choice to build when you're doing well but feel like you or your team as a whole lacks CC. If you're taunt is on cooldown or you don't have enough energy hitting your opponent with Vorpal Blade will allow you and your teammates to stick to your opponent fairly easily. The health is always welcome on Shen and your Stand United and Feint will benefit from the ability power in particular.

I typically take Trinity Force when extremely fed or farmed and when splitpushing is my strategy for that game. In a match where splitpushing won't work, do not build Trinity Force because your teamfight strength will be severely weakened.

A possible replacement for Wit's End. This gives you bonus MS to close gaps and the AS helps immensely in splitpushing. The only downside is that it provides 0 defensive stats. Take this over Wit's End when splitpushing against a mobile, AD heavy team comp.


Possibly the strongest boots in the game. These are always an excellent choice on Shen; sometimes even against a CC-heavy AD opponent. I choose these in most scenarios, because most good team comps tend to have a decent amount of CC.

The second best boot choice on Shen. Take these against an auto-attack reliant top laner with little hard CC. Take them against any AD top if you're losing the lane; regardless of whether they are an AD caster or not.

Boot Enchantments

I don't buy boot enchantments often, but when I's usually because we're losing and I need homeguard BAD. One of the strongest enchantments in the game, homeguard helps tremendously when defending your base and getting back into the fight quickly and without delay. Most of the time I purchase these, or I don't purchase enchantments at all. Games typically never run long enough for me to purchase any others.

I am quickly realizing the strength of these boots. Shen is your typical tank that leads his team into the fights (when he isn't splitpushing), and is therefore a perfect candidate for this enchantment. The ability to engage/disengage more quickly as well as chase can turn the tide of a teamfight. Take these if you find yourself in-between major items and are lacking in gap closing ability.

Not the optimal choice for Shen, but if you get fed this enchantment combined with Frozen Mallet will keep you stuck to the enemy ADC like glue.

If you're running both Teleport and Flash you would be getting the most efficient use out of this enchantment. The 25% CDR on both your summoner spells is nothing to joke about. It reduces the CD of both Flash and Teleport by 75 seconds! This would allow for more constant splitpushing pressure as well as early lane teleport ganks. this enchantment is quickly becoming a favorite of mine on splitpushers in general.


You'll want to be purchasing at least 2-3 of these each time you recall for the early stages of the game. Just remember to use them!

This item is so ridiculously OP riot nerf immediately plz. But seriously, if you don't buy wards you'll lose the game. Period. Buy 1 every time you recall if you can during the laning phase, and pick up a few here and there throughout the rest of the match to ward around objectives and chokepoints.

You typically won't need to buy these if your support/jungler is on top of things. Don't be afraid to pick one up and clear baron yourself if no one else does.

Other than buying as a starting item and purchasing in super drawn out games in which you already have your full build you aren't really going to need this. It is an excellent bait tool to get your lane opponent to commit too hard or tower dive you. Early game it can save your life and even net you a kill.

This elixir can be quite useful if you remember to pop it right before you ult into a fight. It will reduce the CD on your ultimate and provide a bigger shield for your ally. If you have the cash on hand and are looking for a quick boost buy one of these.
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There are essentially 2 different tools Shen can use to farm. His basic attacks (empowered by Ki Strike preferably), and your Vorpal Blade. In an easy lane you should be using Vorpal Blade to poke the enemy, not to farm. In a difficult lane where you get zoned more easily you should be using your Q to farm as much as possible.

When last-hitting with basic attacks it is much easier to last hit while Ki Strike is up because you will deal more damage. When learning to last hit as Shen (or any champ really) it is easiest to look at how much AD you have, and then click on the minion to see its health before attacking for the kill. Eventually you will learn to last hit efficiently without having to check the numbers beforehand, but it is an easy way to get used to things.

Laning Phase

Aside from farming minions in lane, there is quite a lot to keep track of while playing Shen during the laning phase.

While farming it is important to constantly poke the enemy with Q while avoiding their return poke. Sometimes trading poke is inevitable but if you time your Feint properly you should win most small trades.

Always remember that when an enemy engages on you or you engage on the enemy to keep the encounter short. Once you use your Feint, Vorpal Blade, Ki Strike combo you really have no reason to continue trading auto-attacks since yours are most likely much weaker than your opponents. If you don't need to taunt to engage then don't. Save it to escape if the enemy was baiting you into getting ganked, or to chase and finish off your opponent if you're winning the engagement.

Once you hit level 6 and gain your ultimate, Stand United, you will need to broaden you map awareness to encompass all three lanes. One nice trick is to look at the portraits of your allies on the left-hand side of your screen to see if any of them are at very low health. If this is the case you should probably switch the camera over to their lane ASAP.

Don't be afraid to hold onto your ult until the last possible second in order to get the enemy to commit as fully as possible. This can backfire rather easily however if you wait too long and 1) your teammate dies before you ult, or 2) your teammate dies despite the fact you ulted them. It will take a great deal of practice and knowledge of champion damage and survivability in order to time your ults correctly.

Mid Game

Shen begins to shine during the mid game as a strong tank/initiator during teamfights. As long as your ultimate is off cooldown splitpushing should be your primary objective in most scenarios.

It is important to remember that just because you have your ultimate, it does not mean that you never have to be with your team. If a dragon fight is brewing and you have time to walk there/tele there it is better go before the fight starts as your taunt is a great tool to initiate a teamfight.

You can always use Stand United in the midst of a teamfight to protect your carry if necessary, although if you have the choice between ulting and taunting the enemy away from your carry then you should taunt them first, and ult after if it is still needed.

Late Game

Your role in the later stages of the game does not change much from mid game when playing Shen. You should still splitpush when possible, and pick up a [[vision ward] when necessary. Always be present in teamfights unless splitpushing would be more advantageous (ex: You get their inhib but your team loses a 4v5 by a kill or 2)

Your team's job while you splitpush is to distract the enemy and try to keep them from recalling to stop you, but if they fully engage they will most likely lose. Try to finish your objective before ulting into the fight if you can.


If you're running Teleport, it is important to know that it can be used for more than just teleporting back to lane after recalling. Here are some of the most important uses of Teleport:
  • Teleport ganking
  • Returning to lane after using Stand United in order to not lose out on CS or to defend your tower
  • Splitpushing
  • Saving towers or stopping a splitpush
  • Joining teamfights when your ult is on CD

Standard 1v1 Combo: ---> ---> --->Auto-Attack(s)--->
(You can Shadow Dash first if necessary)

Standard Teamfight Combo: ---> ---> ---> --->Auto-Attack(s)
(This should be placed onto the enemy AD carry or AP carry, but if you have a chance to taunt onto multiple enemies, then feel free.)
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Lane Matchups

My matchups were terribly outdated and biased, not to mention there is a new matchup format thingy to use! I'll try to get this updated ASAP!
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Well folks, I hope you enjoyed and got a lot out of this guide. If you have any questions, criticism, or comments leave them in the comments, I'm looking forward to your feedback!

I'll be updating the guide regularly, no worries (the Lane Matchups section in particular)!

Good luck out there everyone, and I hope my guide has helped you in one way or another!

P.S. I realize the coding for the "Gameplay" section is lacking, so if anyone has suggestions for a better format please PM me with the details, I'd really appreciate it.
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Change Log

  • Simply Shen: Top Lane is released!
  • Added a tip regarding Stand United
  • Clarified "typical final build" in notes
  • Added the option to max E second in some situations.

  • Fixed Satella's various "nitpickings" :P

  • Added Ghost to the "Summoner Spells' section
  • Improved "Gameplay" section's organization.

  • Added new champions to the "Lane Matchups" chapter.

  • Fixed various typos and grammatical errors! Woo!

  • Made some general alterations according to PsiGuard's list of observations :P

  • Teh Grazzh0pper's guide review came in and I made changes based on her observations
  • Preferred marks are now Magic Pen instead of AS
  • I take Ignite over Teleport on the cheatsheet now
  • Added Zephyr and Trinity Force to situational items

  • Hmmmmm....must have forgotten to list my updates in the change log for the last 6th months...ah well!
  • Season 4 updates are ready! I've revamped the cheatsheet and MOST of my guide, but I probably missed a few thing that are now non-existent or changed, etc.

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide