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Katarina Build Guide by HerrNIelson

AP Carry Spinnin' like a merry-go-round

AP Carry Spinnin' like a merry-go-round

Updated on February 15, 2013
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5 4 9,802 Views 9 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author HerrNIelson Katarina Build Guide By HerrNIelson Updated on February 15, 2013
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Hello everybody and welcome to my first guide, featuring Katarina, the Sinister Blade.

Katarina is an AP melee assassin who is mostly played in the midlane. She excels in taking down squishy targets with a single combo. She lacks CC and this is also a good counter. With the right teamsetup Katarina will be able to take out the enemy team in seconds.

Katarina's Lore

Katarinas Lore
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Pros / Cons

Really high damage output: Landing a full combo on your lane opponent can kill him fast (or at least force him to go back).
Awesome mobility: Thanks to Shunpo you can jump everywhere! With Sinister Steel you also get a pretty cool speedbuff.
Strong ganks: You may not have CC, but your mobility and damage output make your ganks strong like hell.
Great teamfight champ: With your Voracity you can use all your spells multible times, sometimes you can even use your Death Lotus two times at the same fight.
Easy escape from ganks: Due to your Shunpo you can easily jump to your minions or allied champ to reach your tower unharmed.

Katarina is really badass: Maybe the most badass female champion!

No CC: Except the slow from Rylai's Crystal Scepter you don't have any CC.
Hard to play against hard CC enemies: Sometimes it's difficult to find a good moment in teamfights to use your Death Lotus.
Easy to learn, hard to master: At the begining it's not easy to make use of Voracity and find a good moment to use your Death Lotus.
Laning phase can be tough: You are melee and you can easily get poked by champions like Orianna.
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Fleet Footwork
Phase Rush

Marks: Magic pen. is a good choice for every caster. After you have bought Haunting Guise and your Sorcerer's Shoes you can deal nearly true damage against the enemy midlane (if they don't pretend to be Galio).

Seals: I take armor seals. It will help you to deal with the damage of minions and autoattack harassment (you will always be harassed from autoattacks once you are melee).

Glyphs: AP per Leves glyphs will help you to deal more damage over the whole game.

Quintessences: Flat AP quints. Even more AP to dominate the lane.

Other Options

Greater Seal of Scaling Health is also a good choice if you don't want to go for a Rylai's Crystal Scepter

Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power If you feel like dealing more damage, you can take them.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist or Greater Glyph of Magic Resist Once you go Midlane as Katarina you will find other mages there. Magic Resist is a good choice. (At level 9 the "per level" glyphs will give you more magic resist than the flat ones. It's your choice which you want to take).

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed Is a good choice for caster. As Katarina you do not really need them. You already got Shunpo and Sinister Steel for your positioning, so i'd rather get that extra damage.
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In the offense tree there is only 1 really good path for casters.

Summoner's Wrath : It's giving you extra AP and AD when your Ignite is on cooldown. Because your sinister steel and your Death Lotus scales with both, it's a must-have.

Sorcery: Cooldown reduction is nice to have.

Blast , Havoc , Archmage and Executioner will increase your damage siginificantly.

Arcane Knowledge will give you even more Magic Penetration! It's great in combination with Haunting Guise, Sorcerer's Shoes and your Greater Mark of Magic Penetration.

Mental Force : Put only 2 points in here, that 2 more AP isn't really worth taking it.

Spellsword : I love this mastery. It helps you to lasthit and harass with autoattacks. Also if you are silenced in teamfights you can deal a little bit more damage with your autoattacks.

If you feel like you need some help with lasthitting, you can take some points in Butcher .


I recommend taking 9 Points in the defense tree instead of the utility tree, because you do not really need anything from there. You also need a bit of defense, because you need to stand near all enemies while using Death Lotus.

Perseverance , Durability and Veteran's Scars : A little bit of health, a little bit of health regeneration. Always nice to have.

Resistance : I take this, because you will have to deal with other mages. Magic resist is nice to have then.
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Summoner Spells

Best Choices

Bring Flash with you. With it and your Shunpo you can escape nearly every gank. It's also cool to surprise the enemy by flashing in Shunpo's range, jump on him and kill him.

Ignite is a standard pick for every caster. It will help you to finish enemies while laning, and kill the opponent carrys as fast as possilbe in teamfights (you will also get a faster cooldown reset with Voracity).

Other Options

Exhaust is also a good pick. Even if Ignite is way better, your team will need at least one Exhaust. If your support takes Heal, you can take Exhaust for him.

You can take Barrier against burst-champions like LeBlanc or Annie and activate it before they will try to get you. Always remember, Ignite has a duration of 5 seconds, Barrier has only 2 seconds. so it can't block the whole dot.

Teleport is a great summoner spell. You can gank any lane with it, save your teammembers when they are getting ganked, or simply counter split-pushing champions like Shen or Twisted Fate.

CC is your worst enemy. With Cleanse you can remove any stuns and use your Death Lotus after that. Keep in mind that you are not immune to stuns after activating Cleanse, it will just reduce the duration of incoming stuns. Even the shortest stun cancels your ultimate!

Bad Choices

If you want to troll hard, this Spell is perfect!
(Don't forget to bring Clarity when taking Revive)

The enemy mid champ will take Ignite and your heal will be useless when you need it. Leave that spell to your AD carry or support.

Smite is a summoner spell for jungling. You won't go in the jungle with Katarina.
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Skill Sequence

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

Sometimes I take an early point in sinister steel as soon as I hit level 2, if I am laning against a melee champ like Gragas or Evelynn to harass them better already on level 2.
Normally I take Shunpo at level 2, because it's way safer if the enemies surprise me with an early gank. You can survive with the movement speed buff from sinister steel too, but you may take a lot of damage from your opponents, making continued laning impossible.

Take an early second point in sinister steeel, because if will double its damage.

> > sinister steel >

Skill your ultimate Death Lotus whenever you can, like with all champions. It has a 175% ratio for AP and a 300% ratio for your AD which is huge!

You should max Shunpo last, because its mostly for the utility. The damage reduction isn't increased when you skill it, so leave it on level 1.

sinister steel VS. Bouncing Blades

Why dont i max sinister steel first is pretty easy. You wont to more damage when harassing your enemy with Bouncing Blades, sinister steel and Shunpo, because the total damage is increased by 40 on both spells each level.

sinister steel will also give you more movementspeed when taking a point in it. Its not that important while laning.

Bouncing Blades will reduce the cooldown. You will need it to take lasthits you won't get with autoattacks. You will also deal more damage when you want to harass with Bouncing Blades only.

I would max sinister steel first, if I lane against an enemy melee champion like Gragas or Evelynn, because you will be able to hit them with sinister steel even if your other spells are on cooldown. But mostly you will lane versus a ranged enemy, so it will be better to max Bouncing Blades first for the ranged poke and less cooldown.

How to use your abilities

Vorcaity (Passive): Scoring a kill or assist will reduce the cooldowns of Katarina's abilities by 15 seconds.

This is maybe the coolest passive ingame. Every spell from you (except Death Lotus) has a lower cooldown than 15 seconds. That means if an enemy is dead, you can use all of those abilities again. You can use it by towerdiving enemies and use the reset to Shunpo out of the tower range, or simply use it in teamfights to get to your next victim as fast as possible .

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

Use this spell to harass the enemy constantly while laning. You can also push your lane fast with it in combination with sinister steel. Be careful if you want to harass the enemy on your lane. If you throw Bouncing Blades on him, followed by Shunpo and sinister steel and run away with its speed buff, you may execute it too fast and you won't trigger your mark on him. To prevent this, use Shunpo first, then Bouncing Blades and sinister steel, because the animation of Bouncing Blades will be much shorter. You can practice this at bots.

sinister steelSinister Steel (W): Katarina damages all enemies in range. If she damages an enemy champion, she gains movement speed for 1 second.

This ability is really cool. It's damaging every enemy who stands close to you and will give you a speedbuff if you hin an enemy champion. Use it to harass the enemy and run away with the speedbuff. Also this spell has an AP (0,25) and AD (0,6) Ratio which is pretty cool when you got your Hextech Gunblade. sinister steel has only 4 seconds cooldown, so feel free to spam it on lane if you want to push or simply take a lasthit you won't reach with autoattacks.

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

Shunpo is your main-positioning spell. It will help you to chase enemies, escape ganks and jump in teamfights with that 15% damage reduction. Use it when you want to ult, because you are really vulnerable while you channel your Death Lotus.
It can also help you to lasthit under the tower, but be carefull. Do not Lasthit too much with this spell. It's like writing in the all chat: "HEY GUYS I WANT TO DIE!!". When the enemies want to gank you and they see, you just used your Shunpo they will engage and you will only have your Flash (if it is not on cooldown). Shunpo has a really high cooldown at level 1 (12 seconds) and you save it to max last. So the cooldown will remain high.
A common trick to use Shunpo is, in combination with a sight ward. Place a Ward over the wall and jump on it to escape sticky situations.
Because I really love smartcast, I changed my keybindings at "Smartcast Item 2" to SHIFT+2. That means if my sight ward is at the 2nd itemslot, I place it instantly with SHIFT+2. Then I use E immediately to get to my ward.

You can also jump to Jarvan IV's Demacian Standard or Teemos Noxious Trap with your Shunpo. This does only work if they are in your team.

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

While channeling your Death Lotus you have to be really careful! Only use it when there are no enemies who can stun or silence you instantly (like Feral Scream from Cho'Gath). Just stay in the back and wait until they used their abilities which can stop you. If you use your Death Lotus it is your strongest and weakest moment at the same time. The damage is just insane, but you can't move! Thats making it easy for the enemies to focus and CC you hard. The most important thing when you use Death Lotus: DON'T MOVE! It will cancel your ultimate! You can still use Ignite while channeling it.
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There are a lot of cool Items on Katarina. In this section I will take a deeper look at the Items.

Start Items

Boots of Speed


This is my favorite start with Katarina. You are melee and movement speed is cool to dodge skillshots (there are a lot of skillshot champoins in the midlane like Kennen or Anivia). This start also gives you a good sustain early with those 3 healpots (450 bonus health!).

Cloth Armor


When playing against an agressive AD Champion, you can start with Cloth Armor and 5 heath potions. It will give you a bit armor and nice sustain. You can build it into a Seeker's Armguard to get a bit armor against them.

Crystalline Flask


To be honest, I never start with a Crystalline Flask. But it might be good if you face a champoin on your lane who can poke you to death like a Kassadin or Orianna. The sustain is great and you will safe a lot of money you might invest in healpots instead.

Amplifying Tome


I don't recommend getting a Amplifying Tome as first item. You already get about 15 flat AP from your quintessences and getting only 1 healpot can force you to recall way earlier as you want.

Doran's Shield

I also don't recommend getting a Doran's Shield. The stats arent that good and you don't have any sustain. Even if there is an enemy AD caster on your lane which is popular at the moment (because Black Cleaver op) you will only get 5 bonus armor... this won't help you dealing with them.

Earlygame Items

Haunting guise

Its a great earlygame-item. The flat magic penetration will increase your damage significant. The extra health is also cool. You can either turn it into a Liandry's Anguish or sell it to get a free slot for another item.

Sorcerer's Shoes

Get them after your Haunting Guise. It will give you even more magic penetration!

Hextech Revolver

This item is just great on Katarina. It will give you good sustain on your lane once you don't have any sustain inbuilt. Later on you can turn it into a Hextech Gunblade. Try to get this item next.

Seeker's Armguard

Get it as your first item when you lane against an AD Champion. It will help you a lot and you can build it into a Zhonya's Hourglass later.

Core Items

Hextech Gunblade

You already bought a Hextech Revolver before. You can build it into a Hextech Gunblade. Why shouldn't I turn it into a Will of the Ancients? It will give more AP! Yes, but your sinister steel and you Death Lotus will both benefit from that AD. The spell vamp will be the same and the slow from its active is also great.

Rabadon's Deathcap

Rabadon's Deathcap is a must have on every caster! It will increase your AP significantly, allowing you to deal tons of damage! I always get it after my Rylai's Crystal Scepter if I do well. When I am behind I often go for a defensive item instead. Keep in mind Rabadon's Deathcap is a MUST HAVE!

Zhonya's Hourglass

An amazing item for Katarina. Use its active to dodge any incomming CC spells (like Rupture, Solar Flare or Curse of the Sad Mummy) or simply dodge finisher ultimates (like Requiem or Ace in the Hole). If you are focused, use it to get them off you and hope your team will kill someone to get the refresh from Voracity. It will also give you a nice armor and AP boost.

Abyssal Scepter

Also a great item for Katarina. You will have to stay near all enemies, so the aura will hit them while you channel your Death Lotus. It also gives you a bunch of magic resist. Get it if the enemy AP champion is annoying or they have simply alot of AP. Don't buy it when the enemies are full ad, its no use to invest in magic resist when there is no magic damage to block.

Other Options

Will of the Ancients

Get this Item if you are really behind and you need a cheap itemset. Even if Hextech Gunblade is better for you, it's no use trying to get an expensive item that you won't get in years. It's also an option if in your team are many other caster that will benefit from its aura, like Vladimir or Mordekaiser.

Mercury's Treads

Also a good choice. You will need it if your opponents bring a huge amount of CC. If you want to buy Sorcerer's Shoes for the earlygame, you can sell them and get mercury's when your itemset is complete.

Deathfire Grasp

This item is also a good pick for Katarina. It will help you burst the most dangerous taget down. It also helps you to get a faster cooldown reset with Voracity. The 15% cooldown reduction is also sweet.

Void Staff

Get this item when the enemies are stacking magic resist, or you will end up dealing nearly no damage to them. A Void Staff will help you out there.

Guardian Angel

Even if this item has a great passive, I don't get it really often. A good placed Zhonya's Hourglass is way better, because it will give you even more AP and the same amount of armor. You can still buy it if there is an enemy Veigar who can kill you in an instant.

Liandry's torment

Its not the best item for Katarina, because normally you will sell your Haunting Guise later. If the enemies are stacking health, it might be an option, but there are many items that are way better for Katarina

Rylai's Crystal Scepter

It will give you a bunch of health, AP and a slow. Your damage output wont be that much when getting it, but i recommend getting a Rylai's Crystal Scepter when you are new to Katarina. It's not easy to play her with a squishy build when you never played her before.

Warmog's Armor

I see alot of Katarinas buying a Warmog's Armor. This item is really strong at the moment. If you feel like you are doing enough damage and only need a bit tankiness, this will give it to you.
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At the beginning you will only try getting as much lasthits as possible. Use Bouncing Blades to get the caster minions and your autoattacks to take the melee. You can also use sinister steel when you try to get a lasthit with an autoattack, but the minion has about 1hp left. This spell has only 4 Seconds cooldown, allowing you to spam it whenever you want. When you hit level 3, you can try to harass the enemy with a combo.

How to harass!

First of all, watch who will be on your lane and how can he harass you or prevent you from harassing.

Lets take as example Anivia. Before she gets her ultimate, she can only poke with a Flash Frost + Frostbite combo. Without hitting you with her Flash Frost, Frostbite won't do that much damage. If you jump on her, she can easily hit you with that combo. So what will we do to prevent this? We poke her with Bouncing Blades only, until she uses her Flash Frost. The animation of this ability is really slow. We can simply dodge it with using Shunpo on her and giver her a full combo! But be careful with incomming ganks! When Anivia hits level 6, this won't work that easy. When She misses her Q and we jump on her, she can simply use Glacial Storm + Frostbite to deal a decent amount of damage. At this point wait for your Jungler to gank or wait untill Anivia is out of mana to harass/kill her.

Another option to harass an enemy with skillshots is simply Shunpo on him and use the movementspeed buff from sinister steel to run away. Run a little bit to the side, because the enemy will try to hit you with their skillshots at this moment. Here is a little video how to execute it.

How not to harass!

Harassing the enemy with a full combo can end into a kill sometimes...for them! Using Shunpo on your opponent will make the enemy jungler initiating if he is about to gank you. If your Flash is up, try to escape with it. Like in this video I wanted to harass Xerath even if i knew Cho'Gath is missing and i had no idea where Nocturne is. I overextended and it ended up into an easy kill for the enemies.

Killing your lane opponent

When you poked your enemy long enough and they end up with about 300-400 health, it's the perfect moment to kill him! He will stand passively on his tower and trying to get as much lasthits as possible. When you want to get into Shunporange they will back off. So what will we do? We will use our Flash to get in Shunporange, using Bouncing Blades, sinister steel, Death Lotus and Ignite on him. Even if you are under their tower, you can shunpo immediately out of it with the cooldown reset from Voracity. Katarina is a really good towerdiver!
Note: Do NOT try this against champions like Gragas which can CC you instatly or if the enemies got a Soraka which can heal them with her Wish! It will just end up wasting your Flash and maybe a death for you!

Here is an example video. I did it vs a Xerath who couldnt stun me once his Arcane Barrage was on cooldown and tried to poke me with this Arcanopulse, he had no spell left to activate his Mage Chains in order to stun me. Also my team told me the enemy Nocturne recalled after a gank.

This allowed me to pick up an easy first blood.

Getting ganked

The enemies are trying to kill you? If they are smart, they waited untill your minions are on lane. This will prevent you to simply use Shunpo on them. You can use the sight ward- Shunpo trick to escape or use your Flash.

Or maybe... you can kill both? Katarina is a great champ to kill 2 champions at the same time. Simply wait untill they used their CC and then use Death Lotus.
I did it in this video against the Nocturne and Xerath. After Xerath used his mage chains and Nocturne his Unspeakable Horror, I just tried it. I knew, Xerath is squishy like hell and I also knew Nocturne still has his Paranoia ready, so running away wouldn't help me. I dodged his Arcanopulse with using Shunpo on him and fighted them. See what happened:
/league-of-legends/champion/nocturne-72 I do NOT tell you to try it every time you get ganked. It's nearly always better to run away!


Your lane opponent recalled or is dead, but you don't have to go back to your base? It's time to gank!

First of all ask your team where the enemies warded. If you spawn at the top right position, run through the enemies jungler when you want to gank the bot lane, because they will mostly ward at dragon.

Push your minions into the enemy tower with your Bouncing Blades, sinister steel and a few autoattacks. You don't want to lose a tower because you were ganking. Maybe ask your jungler to hold your lane.

Now run to the lane you want to gank. If you gank the bottom lane, it's in the most situations better to kill this one first, who has the lowest health. You will get that cooldown reset from Voracity and you can jump easily to your next target.
In this video i first killed Blitzcrank because he was instantly dead. With the cooldownreset and Death Lotus it was easy for Vayne and me to take out Corki, even if he was already under his tower.

You should try to gank as much as possible. Your ganks are really strong.
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Mid- and Lategame/Teamfights

The laning phase is over and everyone from the enemies are missing. Don't run arount when you are alone or you might get caught! You maybe can't carry a ward with your for the sight ward- Shunpo trick and you don't want to waste your Flash for that needless mistake. Just group with your team and push all together. When the teamfights are about to start, stay at the back and wait for the right moment. When your or the enemy team is initiating, try to Shunpo to their most important target. But you still must be carefull with CC. Once you get hit by Rupture for example, this might be your death. The best is, to wait untill the enemies used their CC for the rest of your team or dodge it with Zhonya's Hourglass. When your first target is dead, but you still channel Death Lotus, there are 3 options you can do now.

Your next target is also hit by your Death Lotus. Just wait untill it's over and use a combo on him again.

There are no other enemies near you. Use Shunpo to get back in the fight and kill the next target.

You are low health. Try using Shunpo to get out of there. The fight is still not over? Stay in the back and wait for a good moment to get back in. You might be low health, but if there are no enemies how can kill you that fast, try jumping in, kill one of them and jump out again.

Maybe your target didn't die. Every spell is on cooldown and you can't do anything to survive? Use your Zhonya's Hourglass now, if you already bought it. While you are invulnerable your team maybe managed to kill someone, which will give you an assist and a reset from Voracity. If you try to kill another enemy or run away because you are low health is situational.
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A good team setup

Katarina has no CC, so thats why you need a team that bring some CC.

I personally love getting the folowing champions in my team:


You will need someone who can initiate a teamfight. I love getting an Amumu or a Malphite in my team, because they got the maybe best ultimates to initiate a fight and got a nice amount of CC.


Especially your support should bring CC with him. Leona is a good pick for this job. Also Taric is a good combo with Katarina. He has only 1 stun, but his fabulous ultimate Radiance will give you both AP and AD. Its great to have that aura while canneling your Death Lotus.


If you don't have a fulltank as jungler, try getting a Malphite or Cho'Gath at top. Cho'Gath is also a great combo with Katarina, because his Feast will allow him to deal a lot of damage on a single target, which will give you an even faster cooldown reset with Voracity.

AD Carry

Standard AD Carrys don't have much CC ( Ashe not included). But instead of CC your AD Carrys can also bring something you also don't have. Poke. Champions like Ezreal Corki or Kog'Maw are good for that job.
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Katarina and the blue buff

You might wonder if you will need bluebuff when playing Katarina. You won't need it while laning. Later on when the teamfights start, you can ask for taking it. It will give you 15% cooldown reduction! With it you only need to kill 3 enemies (instead of 4) to get your Death Lotus back.

It's is nice to have. But in your team someone else might need it too (especially spamming champions like Ezreal, Corki, Kog'Maw or Yorick), leave it to them. You will still deal a lot of damage without blue buff.
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I hope you enjoyed my guide and have as much fun playing Katarina as I have.

Feel free to comment, give me a feedback or ask questions in the comments.

Special thanks to my friends who helped me creating this guide.

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