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Skarner Build Guide by TheSoupKitchen#99523

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League of Legends Build Guide Author TheSoupKitchen#99523

Skarner - Eeugh! Bugs are gross!

TheSoupKitchen#99523 Last updated on August 22, 2011
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Skarner - The Crystal Vanguard

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: 1

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 18

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

Utility: 11

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I. Introduction to Skarner - The Crystal Vanguard
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Builds posted above are...
  • Jungler Hybrid
  • Offtank/DPS
  • Hybrid Lane

Skarner - The Crystal Vanguard
He is definitely a unique character among many, and can be built in a Variety of ways. My personal favorite is a Jungler Hybrid DPS. Other Viable Options are AP Offtank, Hybrid (Without the Jungle) or even an AP carry. The builds I am presenting are the ways that I build him in a way that allows for an optimal amount of damage with some tanky-ness. Almost like a Jungle-Hybrid-DPS-Offtank. I think it makes sense when you look at the items chosen and the explanation in the guide. (Assuming you follow it)

As a Side note:
If you like this Guide please check out my Wukong Guide attached to the sidebar or accessed Here.

Granted this character is new and this guide is also new, I will perform updates to keep it in good shape, as long as it has enough views/votes etc. etc.
This is a picture of my recent match history
First 6 Games
As you can see the game at the bottom (i.e. my first game as Skarner aside from one cpu practice match) was rather upsetting to lose because I did so well. These games are also played in 5v5 Solo queue.

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Pros / Cons

II. Pros and Cons
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  • Decent Jungler
  • Great unique Ultimate for isolating Carries
  • Good chasing ability and escaping
  • Crystal Slash allows for a lot of quick damage output
  • Passive allows for some great QUICK combo's
  • Built in skill with some Health regeneration
  • Fracture and Crystal Slash allows for some good HP regen

  • Often Focused due to his annoying ultimate Impale
  • Rather Mana Starved early game
  • Not the best jungler (Not the fastest, most efficient, and not the best ganking capability)
  • Melee attacker disabling some early game harass, if laning

Skarner is a fun and unique champion that is really enjoyable to jungle with in my opinion, and his ultimate can be really interesting to play with. (Especially when you pick up a Cho-Gath with 6 stacks)

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III. Skill Explanations
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Each and every skill that Skarner has, has 2 effects an instant effect, and a sustained effect. Each ability essentially has 2 effects similar to Lee Sin.

Passive: Basic attacks lower the cool downs of Skarner's abilities by 1 second against champions and 0.5 seconds against non-champions.

Instant: Skarner lashes out with his claws, dealing physical damage to all nearby enemies and charging himself with Crystal Energy for 5 seconds.

If he casts Crystal Slash again while empowered by Crystal Energy, he deals bonus magic damage and slows all targets hit for 2 seconds.

Instant: Skarner receives a shield for up to 6 seconds. While the shield persists his movement speed and attack speed are increased.

Sustained: When the shield is destroyed by an enemy the bonus attack speed and movement speed are lost.

Instant: Skarner summons a blast of crystalline energy which deals damage to enemies struck and marks them for 6 seconds.

Sustained: Any further damage dealt to marked targets by Skarner will allow him to consume the mark to heal himself. Subsequent marks consumed will heal for 50% of the last.

Instant: Skarner suppresses an enemy champion for 1.5 seconds and deals magic damage to it. During this time, Skarner can move freely and will drag his helpless victim around with him.

Sustained: When the effect ends, Skarner's target will be dealt the same amount of magic damage again.

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Combo's/Skill Sequence

IV. Combo's and Utilizing Skills
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For a jungling route it is best to take a point immediately in Crystal Slash and then a point into Crystalline Exoskeleton for the best damage output and a good defense/attack speed. At level 3 you pick up a point in Crystal Slash Again and then Fracture at level 4/5 because even though Fracture allows for some health steal, the bonus is not THAT amazing at level 1 and absolutely diminishes your mana which you will need to excessively use Crystal Slash and ganks if you are Jungling.

This is your typical Chase harass combo, using Crystalline Exoskeleton To chase and Fracture and Crystal Slash to chase. Although Fracture and Crystal Slash are interchangeable and using Fracture will slow you down just a tad, so unless it will kill him continue to auto attack and use Crystal Slash to slow and stay in range.

As long as you have the Mana remember to mash Crystal Slash Because it really help in team fights and really surprises the enemy how much damage you can really do in seconds. Which will really be aided by your passive Energize and a Guinsoo's Rageblade

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Summoner Spells

V. Summoner Spell Explanations
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: Ghost is good with Skarner because it allows him to stay on his opponent without losing chase, which in turn allows you to get more hits from his Crystal Slash along with some auto attacks as well.

: This is a must if you decide to jungle with Skarner Which is what I am mostly focusing on in this particular guide. It allows you to burst down blue/red buff and steal dragon. It's an obvious great skill for junglers and is mandatory on Skarner if you decide to start at blue with a leash.
Considerable Summoner Spells

: Flash is a great spell in any situation allowing you to teleport though a wall to extend that distance between you or your enemy or even close the distance for that last auto attack you want to ensure to grab that kill that almost got away. It is also great to get into a fight and use Impale and then quickly run out with Ghost, if you decide to lane instead of jungle. Negating the need/use of smite.

: Another great skill to consider for Skarner If you need to chase your opponent and pick up the kill whilst spamming Crystal Slash. Exhaust is a great skill I use with many champions because it can really turn the tide in a team fight and is also a visual focus on to who the team should really focus with you.

: Last but not least Ignite, it is not the best skill in my opinion for Skarner but it can really help rip someone to shreds with that tail of yours. Combined with Guinsoo's Rageblade and Crystal Slash the damage you deal per second with ignite and his harass is through the roof. Still there are other better spells to use in my opinion for Skarner thank ignite, but if you for some reason ALWAYS use ignite it is not a stupid choice in any way.

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VI. Runes and Explanation
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Greater Mark of Desolation Greater Quintessence of Desolation

Greater Mark of Desolation
Greater Mark of Desolation
+1.66 Armor Penetration

I chose this rune for a little extra armor pen when jungling so that you can kill Jungle monsters a little faster, and some more damage with auto attacks.

Greater Seal of Resilience
+1.41 Armor

These runes are almost a must for Skarner When jungling to allow for maximum defense when taking blue and fighting in the jungle.

Greater Glyph of Alacrity
+0.64% Attack Speed

These runes are good to synergize with Skarner's passive Energize, and allow for a slightly faster jungle.

Greater Quintessence of Desolation
Greater Quintessence of Desolation
+3.33 Armor Penetration

This is just for some more penetration with auto attacks to help with killing monsters in the jungle.

For alternative runes look at the other suggested builds for a laning Skarner at the top by clicking on the other face portraits.

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VII. Mastery and Explanations
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With my 1/18/11 Skarner is able to utilize his defenses and withstand the jungle.
With other builds such as 21/0/9 You lack defense and may be unable to jungle efficiently or at all.
With 0/21/11 you will lack some mana regen and the specialization of smite which is always nice to have. (Especially for a jungler)

The focus for Masteries was placed on to the defensive tree because Skarner, when jungling can die rather easily compared to other more sustainable junglers. Therefore I put most mastery points in this tree to counter act his lack of defenses. The other part of emphasis was placed on the utility tree because greed helps you pick up those items early game, and 2 points into Meditation to help with his early game mana starvation. 1 point is used in the Offense tree to grab Smite

If you want to play Skarner as an offtank I suggest a 21/0/9 or a 0/21/9, depending on which you want more of early game, attack or defense. (Most likely 0/21/9)
For a hybrid Skarner that plays in lane I suggest a 21/0/9 build for a point in greed and a well-built offense tree for some extra damage.

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VIII. Jungling Route
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This is the jungling route that I execute with Skarner, personally it is the optimal one for him. To start as depicted in the picture you begin at blue buff and work your way through according to the numbers, you will need a leash for blue because Skarner, is as I said before, not the greatest jungler.

Leash:: For those of you who do not know what a leash is... Leash is a term that was coined to define the person who goes over to help you start at blue buff, what that person does/should do, is attack the Golem when it spawns at 1:55 and simply run away after 1-2 attacks. The golem then chases that person leaving you "The Jungler", unharmed for the first couple of hits whilst the golem attempts to chase the person who started the fight or "Leashed".

So to Summarize Leashing for a Jungler:
  • An ally attacks Blue buff taking away his attention
  • The Jungler then attacks the golem "With its Back turned" so to speak.
  • The ally can leave after attacking it whenever Best "leashers" can include Maokai's Sapling Toss, Heimerdinger's H-28G Evolution Turret, or Shen's Vorpal Blade.
  • Then the jungler kills blue while the "Leasher" is already off in their lane (Not leeching any experience from the kill.)

Poor Leash:: There are a multitude of people who don't know what "Leashing" is, and these people may...
  • Attack blue with you until it is dead (Which is not good because then exp is shared, reducing your lvl)
  • Attack and remain in the vicinity for too long. (This causes the golem to chase too far prompting him to return and heal health while you "The Jungler" are trying to kill it)
  • Or the rather rare occasion when they plainly take blue. (On purpose or by an accident, it's happened to me folks.)

The not so "Blue" route.
In the instance where you don't feel the need to be reliant on others to leash, or your team simply does not comply/understand. Remain calm and go to the bottom golems if you must. You can start at the golems (Numbered 4 on my map), which is possible although you may NOT make it to blue in time to kill it (i.e. it was stolen) or you may be too hurt. (Which was in my case once) Another and probably better idea is to go the "Sustainable Route" which is typically starting at wraiths, smiting the big one. Or starting at wolfs and still smiting the big wraith after getting the wolves. I have yet to try the "Sustainable" route, as my jungling has been provided with a leash except for the 1st game when I had a slow start at golems.

When you reach level 4 and you pick up your Fracture you can gank if you wish, sometimes flashing/ghosting in is the best option because Skarner does not necessarily have the best ganks, but his ultimate can really help pick up a kill with ease. When level 4 and preparing to gank try to cut off their path and block them in between you and your ally. Typically using a skill order of Crystalline Exoskeleton, Crystal Slash, and maybe a Fracture if you feel it won't slow you down. Another point I need to make is how to utilize Crystal Slash, when you start chasing the opponent you want to gank, try to use Crystal Slash on your way to your opponent in minions. If you sucessfully hit minions with the first strike from Crystal Slash then you can use the second strike when you are close enough to slow them down. See what I'm saying, so by intercepting them and prematurely hitting minions you are able to use the second effect to slow them down. Mastering this is great for aiding in Skarner's ganks.

Gank: for those who don't but should know by now is a term coined to express an "Ambush" usually by hiding in a bush unseen and then catching an opponent off guard.

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IX. Core Item Build
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This is the core set of items that I build for Skarner and is usually what I end with for a long game.

Wriggle's Lantern: This item is great for any jungler for obvious reasons, it has Armor built in with some attack and life steal not to mention an occasional BURST of magic damage when jungling. Also It has a ward built in! Which is great for jungling because you are usually your teams main source of wards and map sight. I usually lay one down every chance I can in the river slightly overlooking dragon.

Mercury's Treads:
EDIT: Everyone needs shoes and Mercury's Treads add bulk, it was suggested that merc treads are optimal for Tenacity. Tenacity reduces crowd control such as stuns, slow etc. Skarner Is really susceptible to CC so these are a definitely good for staying alive as Skarner

Trinity Force: This item is controversial for me, I see MANY people build this item or rather rush this item for their character. I personally think this item is good but the price and the need to get a Phage and a Zeal don't bode well for me when I play Skarner, I think there are better items to get early-mid game, I do however pick up the sheen early for some mana and extra damage. Grab this item late game when it becomes a little more neccessary.

Guinsoos Rageblade: Personally my favorite item to synergize with Skarner, it is a great weapon and with each consecutive hit increasing AP and Attack speed, it really is great to have when you are bursting down your enemy with your auto attack and repetitive Crystal Slash. I grab the Blasting Rod before the Pickaxe for some AP, but either one is fine. This should be bought as early as possible.

Hextech Gunblade: A great item to get with Skarner because it helps with his Fracture to heal for more, and adds some lifesteal on top of that, allowing you to be constantly healing little bits in a fight. This will also help you 1v1 some sinister champions like Xin Zhao, or Warwick. Obviously this is probably not a good idea to 1v1 them though. I grab this item after Guinsoo's Rageblade by getting Hextech Revolver First.

Force of Nature: This item is rather interchangeable, I usually get it because I lack magic resist at this point but it really depends on who you are fighting, this item really helps you against some devastatingly fed AP carries.
Alternative Items
Here are some items you may decide fit better in your build.
Thornmail To counter AD carries
Banshee's Veil For resisting some attacks first used like a Blitzcrank's Rocket Grab.
Sunfire Cape To add some health and bulk.
The Bloodthirster Can be used instead of Wriggle's Lantern if you wish to sell that item.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter Great for getting health along with damage, and the spell slow really helps Skarner's chasing capabilities.

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Game Phases

X. Early, Mid, and Late Game Phases
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Early Game Phase
Jungle Skarner
For starters if you are in fact jungling, you will get your Cloth Armor and Health Potion's and start at blue with a leash, like discussed. Keep following the jungle route until about level 4. Then go around looking for Ganks, try to make sure that...
[*] Teammates are not hurt
[*] The enemy is not close to the turret/turret hugging
[*] Teammates are not "Oom" (Out of Mana)
[*] You remain unseen and can cut off their running path and predict if they will flash/ghost.

At this point you may pick up a kill, if not then don't worry. Head back to your jungle or try to do the process again for a gank somewhere else. Now this is around the time when you are in need of more mana and if your blue has not yet spawned (6:00-7:00) then try to take blue. This can be done with ease if the enemy does not have a jungler. But stealing their blue can be crucial to hurting their jungle.
DPS/Tanky, Hybrid Skarner
For early game as these builds, you will want to stay out of the fight as much as possible, try to use your Fracture on occasion to harass, (If you want pick this up at lvl 1 instead). Stay map aware and if you can gank around level 6 to help out middle, (As you will probably not be laning there).
Mid Game Phase
Jungle Skarner
At this point you are beginning to come out of you sheletered jungle and preforming more ganks, and establishing a lane to push. It is ok to go into the jungle on occasion to kill and take buffs but always pay attention to your team, if there is a team fight, you should obviously not be off fighting wolves. I have caught myself doing this on occasion, try to not be the focus of teamfights and not initiate them. When your tank initiates a fight try to isolate the carry by using your Impale and drag them into the fray of your team. When you do this your team should visually see who you want to FOCUS. That is a good thing about Skarner once that angry scorpion is dragging someone, your team might click in to help kill that person. Try to push some turrets in this phase carefully by yourself or with a teamate.
DPS/Tanky, Hybrid Skarner
This is the same for each build but you probably wont be off in the jungle as much, just maintain a balance in pushing and helping in teamfights.
Late Game Phase
Jungle, Hybrid Skarner
At this phase you probably have hextech and maybe a FON (Depending on the build you follow) try to stay out of the fight until the tank initiates for team fights. When he does do the same thing you do in some mid game tam fights by isolating the carry. (I personally go for the AP carry, because they are usually easier to kill and dish out more BURST damage than an AD carry). If you are getting pushed too hard in middle lane try to maintain power in the other lanes and maybe backdoor with a tank. Also keep an eye on Dragon and Baron Nashor they can really help your team succeed, suggest taking Baron Nashor rather early. I notice many games sometimes ignore Baron until the final seconds of the game. (Not talking about ranked play^^)

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To summarize, Skarner Is a fun champion to play with an acceptable capability to jungle, despite his need for his leash if you manage to pull off a gank with his ultimate it can be incredibly satisfying. He can be built in a variety of ways, its up to you which one is best although I think jungle hybrid is the greatest. Learning how to utelize his skills is crucial to chasing an opponent, and using ghost can really help in those chases. The rune setup suggested is some armor penetration along with armor runes to maintain a strong jungle route. His masteries can be built in different ways but keeping smite spec'd and having a split of Utility and defense can help keep you alive and strong in the jungle and in the game. Building offtank can really prove useful if you constantly get focused because of your ultimate allowing you to take focus as well as focus their carry and turn the tide of a team fight. All in all Skarner is a great character. Hope you like this guide, quite a bit of effort was put into it.
If you like this guide, please check out my Wukong Guide on the side bar or refer to the introduction for a link. Also leave a comment about anything related, such as fixes, typos, or other improvements.


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  • 08/12/11 - Mercury Treads incorperated into each build to replace Berserker's Greaves, upon testing them and getting feedback.