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Akali Build Guide by Thatdudeinthecotton

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Thatdudeinthecotton

Tank Top Akali - The Unassailable Assassin

Thatdudeinthecotton Last updated on April 20, 2016
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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.


Natural Talent
Bounty Hunter
Battering Blows
Piercing Thoughts

Ferocity: 0

Dangerous Game

Cunning: 12

Tough Skin
Runic Armor
Veteran's Scars
Legendary Guardian

Resolve: 18

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Greetings fellow Shinobi, I'am ThatDudeInTheCotton
And this is my guide to Tank Top Akali: The Fist Of Shadow

Akali is a champion often played as a mobile burst assassin, who is unfortunately struggling at the moment in said role, but despite that she is currently seeing a lot of success as a tanky mobile bruiser based champion. As insane as that statement sounds, it's not without evidence as there are several Master/Diamond level korean players who have been using this build, most notably Taiwanakali who uses this build as his main with great success. The build focuses on dealing large amounts of aoe damage with Crescent Slash/ Sunfire Cape and using survivability items that provide health to increase her damage thanks to Titanic Hydra.

This build is very strong, especially against bruisers or tanks that Akali normally couldn't deal with in laning phase if she couldn't burst them down quickly enough, as it allows her to duke it out for longer while taking less damage and doling out more thanks to her items aoe effects and points in Crescent Slash. Conversely however it struggles against squishy ranged harasser's, while they aren't an issue in lategame once she has her items, without burst in lane she cannot zone them as easily as she could with a more ap orientated build. One should bear that in mind when choosing to use this build.

So without further ado, here is Akali, The Unassailable Assassin.

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Pros / Cons


+ High sustained AOE damage
+ High surivivability
+ Can engage and disrupt enemies easily and safely
+ Sustains hard with regen effects and energy
+ Can chase down almost any enemy
+ Can trade well early with Grasp of the Undying
Akali's Crescent Slash aoe dps when levelled is surprisingly high, especially when comboed with other aoes such as Sunfire Cape and titanic hyrda. Both of these items also make her very tanky, which combined with her already huge mobility gives her great survivability. Shadow Dance + Twilight Shroud allows here free reign to go where she pleases in team fights, disrupting the enemy and opening up chances for your team to perform a followup engage. The fact that she's an energy champion helps her sustain especially when combined with her health regen effects, such as Twin Disciplines.


- Has no hard CC
- Weak all-in pre level 6
- Can be mildly countered by Vision Wards
- Can run out of energy easily if not focusing
- Unintuitive at first
A lot of tanks need hard CC to help their team engage, while Akali has great mobility and dps, she lacks utility and peel. Pre level 6 Akali can trade single hits well with Grasp of the Undying, but any trades longer than that can fall out of her favor. Tank Akali is actually less countered by Vision Wards than normal, since her survivability is higher, however they are still a problem. Crescent Slash burns more energy when spammed than Mark of the Assassin, ergo tanky akali needs to manage her energy. Finally, the way items interact with her kit is a little weird, and may take some getting used to.

When To Pick Akali

The best time to pick tank Akali is when you're team already has CC but lacks a hefty frontliner to hurt and disrupt the enemy team. She does somewhat well against poke based teams since she has little to no issues closing the gap between herself and the enemy. She also does well against enemies that want to all-in as they tend to bunch together, this let's akali splash more targets with her aoe damage effects. All this being said, she struggles against ranged harass in lane very badly, and not offering any hard CC herself can be restrictive as a team without CC often lacks peel for its backline carries.

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Greater Mark of Attack Damage

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
* = Reccomended

* Greater Mark of Attack Damage: Early ad and ap on akali is super strong tanks to her Twin Disciplines passive, ergo having both ad and ap runes is a good idea. This is where we get the ad since it's got the best rune-to-ad ratio. Having these provides sustain and makes last hitting easier.
greater mark of hybrid penetration: In the case that you're facing a full ad opponent, you can run additional ap in the form of Greater Glyph of Ability Power. If your doing that then these will provide overall more dps than attack damage marks against champions and allow you to duel more efficiently early on. Also mildly increases Sunfire Cape's damage.

* Greater Seal of Armor: Pretty standard, they simply provide very good armor. They'll give you some bulkiness early on. You can also go for scaling armor if you plan on going passive in lane.

* Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: Generally take these over flat glyphs as most ap champs hit their stride at level 6.
Greater Glyph of Ability Power: Run if against full ad, preferably with greater mark of hybrid penetration.

* Greater Quintessence of Ability Power: As mentioned earlier with Greater Mark of Attack Damage, Akali's Twin Disciplines passive makes both ad and ap early on super useful, ergo we usually get a bit of both.

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The masteries taken here are used to give Akali some bulkiness and ability to trade while synergizing with the tanky items she'll be building over the course of the game.
The Cunning Tree:
Savagery is useful early on as it makes last hitting minions much easier with both auto attacks and Mark of the Assassin.
Assassin is good for dueling one on one. You could also take Secret Stash for more sustain if you feel you're against an enemy that you don't wish to fight in lane.
Merciless is taken over Meditation because Akali doesn't have mana.
Dangerous Game is taken over Bandit because Akali doesn't trade often enough early for the passive gold to be worth much.

The Resolve Tree:
Recovery is taken over Unyielding because it's more useful early and will synergize with other masteries and items.
Tough Skin is essentially a reverse Assassin which gives Akali some beefiness, and is taken since Explorer isn't all that useful.
Runic Armor synergizes with Akali's spell vamp, Recovery and Grasp of the Undying.
Insight lets you teleport, ignite and flash more often. You could make a case for wiki mastery=Perseverance since it goes with all the other health regen effects, but with how much power is put into summoner spells, having their cooldown reduced is very useful.
Swiftness gives tenacity, which is an incredibly rare and powerful stat that can save you at any time in the game. Legendary Guardian is only useful in teamfights and even then it can be outperformed by Swiftness in a lot of situations.
Grasp of the Undying allows Akali to trade early on without needing to get ap. The damage scales off of max health which is what tanky Akali will be building and the heal procs Runic Armor and Spirit Visage

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Summoner Spells

> Objectively the best summoner spell. One could make a case for Ghost being better for chasing, but that just doesn't change how powerful this spell is. Get it, every game.

> Its a toss up between getting this or Ignite. Teleport allows one to gank bottom lane during the early game and increases one's map presence for the rest of the game. The additional waves of farm from tping back to lane can make or break a lane, so if you go without tp you have an obligation to win that lane.

> A very aggressive spell, Ignite is generally to be taken when facing a matchup that would be very difficult without it. Certain enemies like Darius who are capable of out damaging Akali in trades consistently, as well as zone her away from farm, may require the use of this spell to even the playing field. Only take this in matchups where the enemy would normally be able to bully you away from farm to the point that teleporting back in isn't impactful, as it forces you to win the lane and costs map pressure.

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Skills and Gameplay

Passive: Twin Disciplines
> A relatively simple passive which gives out additonal spell vamp when building AD, and additional on hit damage when building AP. This passive is the reason that both ad marks and ap quints are taken in Akali's rune page, the early value is just great as it helps with both trading and lane sustain. That being said the only interactive element to using this passive is the spell vamp. There's a decent bit of ad in this build which bumps it up but if you're in a do-or-die situation you need to remember that aoe effects only gain 1/3 the spell vamp that single target hits get. So in those situations you may need to consider using Mark of the Assassin or Shadow Dance instead of Crescent Slash for the stronger spell vamp over better dps.

Mark of the Assassin
> Your first skill and the second skill you max. The reason one gets it first is that it helps with csing, poking and at level one is stronger trading tool than Crescent Slash. In early laning you want to be tagging your opponent with this regularly or sniping low health minions with it. When you successfully tag your enemy with it be aware of your Grasp of the Undying proc. The duration of Mark of the Assassin's debuff lasts for 2 seconds longer than it takes to get Grasp of the Undying up. Waiting for your Grasp of the Undying to charge before you proc your mark debuff will win you most short trades.

In terms of leveling up, this skill is maxed last, but with a second point taken at level 8. Afterwards we typically max Mark of the Assassin second unless, as mentioned below, the empowered slow from twillight shroud would be more valuable. For the most part however Mark of the Assassin is a better skill to max first.

Twilight Shroud
> This is an ability that's defined in a lot of ways by how it interacts with other abilities and items, though it does have some solo uses that are noteworthy. Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, Twilight Shroud is a useful means of survival. In situations where one may die, having a sudden burst of stealth and movespeed can save your life. The shroud also provides a slow, so if your team is backing off from the enemy it can be good to put down a shroud as an aoe slow in the enemies way, helping you team retreat safely. The shroud also provides vision of the area it's placed on, as such it can be used to scout brushes and over small walls.

Now while all of this is fine and dandy, Twilight Shroud isn't just a survivability tool, it's also a tool for aggression once combined with the rest of Akali's repertoire.

In lane Twilight Shroud serves as a means of stopping and starting trades as you see fit. Once you begin a trade and use both Mark of the Assassin and Crescent Slash you'll find that their early cooldowns are relatively long, so using twilight shroud after the initial couple of hits is a great way of letting your cooldowns come back up before restarting the trade. This also combos well with Grasp of the Undying as it reduces the amount of trading needed to get to your second damage proc. [[twilight shroud can also be placed directly on your opponent in preparation for a gank, as the slow will make it that bit easier for your jungler to catch up to them.

Lastly, Twilight Shroud has a major item synergy in the form of Bami's Cinder/ Sunfire Cape. The damage from these items is rather high since it's balanced for relatively short exchanges. However Akali can stretch fights out without receiving damage thanks to Twilight Shroud, essentially giving the ability a damage aura.

In terms of leveling up, this ability is taken at level 4 and maxed last, or situationaly second. The additional levels in the mid game help in teamfights as the movement speed allows Akali to effortlessly move between her targets while also slowing them down a decent amount, helping her team out position them. This can legitimately be very helpful depending on how high the need for a powerful slow is, but it also reduces potential damage output from Mark of the Assassin, so take that into consideration when putting additional points into it.

crescent slash
> Thanks to its short cooldown and ad scaling, this is tank Akali's bread and butter dps tool. Compared to Mark of the Assassin the level one damage output is pretty lackluster, but with the rapidly decreasing cooldown per level it quickly becomes very efficient. There's not much subtlety to this abilities usage beyond occasionally using Mark of the Assassin before it for the energy refund and making sure that if you wanna run you keep enough energy for a Twilight Shroud. The aoe dps on this ability is not to be underestimated, as combined with Sunfire Cape and Akali's ad scaling it quickly turns into 200 aoe damage per second at level 9. This goes even higher when Titanic Hydra and further AD from level ups are brought into the mix. Because of this high amount of aoe damage it's great for clearing waves quickly. Though she won't be a dedicated splitpusher like Tryndamere, this gives Akali the tools to take mid-low health towers relatively quickly.

Due to Mark of the Assassin's longer cooldown and lack of scaling, we max Crescent Slash first, taking 2 points in it early to help with trading, before getting a point in Twilight Shroud.

Shadow Dance
> While not as big a damage tool as with ap Akali, the solid base damage on this spell makes it a significant powerspike for Akali's dueling potential. It allows Akali to remain on top of her enemy for long periods of time, which is especially useful in a build orientated around extended damage via auras and Crescent Slash. It also works well defensively, letting Akali jump to minions to escape certain death when ganked or simply outmaneuvered. In teamfights this ability gives Akali the tools to get to, and then rip into, the enemies backline very quickly. A quick Shadow Dance followed by a Twilight Shroud can really disrupt the enemy team and give your allies an opening with which to engage. After that further Shadow Dances can be used to stay on a target and wear them down with a combination of tankieness and aoe damage effects.

Being an ultimate ability, this is leveled up at levels 6, 11 and 16.

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This is for when you're up against an AD opponent. With Cloth Armor you can get 4 health potions, giving a great amount of sustain before your first recall. It also builds easily into more armor in the form of Sunfire Cape or Ninja Tabi.


You're against an ap opponent? well then this is for you. It won't provide as much sustain as the Cloth Armor start but it builds into the defenses needed after your first back in the form of Spectre's Cowl. It can also be built into Bami's Cinder instead should you wish to be more aggressive.

VS Harass

Are you against a lot of single target harass? Then this is a very powerful defensive item. +it even gives health! Huzzah, very mild benefits! But really this is a very good generic defense item to start with.


Sunfire Cape
> Your go-to anti AD starting item and one of the two core items of this build, though it can be delayed if you're against an ap laner. Though in the case of ad laners, this will be rushed in the early game as that's the point at which it's aura does the most damage. Akali is capable of not only sticking to her opponents but also avoid taking damage while doing so thanks to Twilight Shroud, converting the aura into free damage while stealthed. Then once she gets Shadow Dance her combined stickiness and aoe damage output from Sunfire Cape and Crescent Slash makes her a very threatening and difficult to escape problem. Having such high mobility while also having strong defenses means that Akali can drag out fights for long periods of time, and the longer she drags them out, the more value she gets out of Sunfire Cape's aura.

Spirit Visage
> Your go-to Anti AP starting item. This is pretty much excellent at any stage of the game if you're against AP. It gives big Magic resistance, 10%CDR, 400 health and a very powerful sustain passive. The sustain passive synergizes excellently with all of the regen masteries in the resolve tree as well as Akali's spell vamp passive from Twin Disciplines. The health synergizes with the Titanic Hydra we have/will be getting afterwards. Simple but effective.

Titanic Hydra
> This is what gives tank Akali her late game scaling by converting her total health into damage. Combined with Grasp of the Undying Akali gets some pretty excellent damage for how tanky she becomes and a lot of that damage will be in an aoe making it excellent for cramped teamfights or pushing waves. It also helps that the active on it is very strong, giving Akali some sweet front loaded damage to go with her aura effects. Without this her damage will fall off as the game goes on, ergo it's core.

> A followup to Sunfire Cape vs ad enemies as a secondary damage aura. That's all it does, though it does it very well. Generally you won't be having trouble sticking to your enemies because of Akali's huge mobility, so other armor items like Dead Man's Plate and Randuin's Omen aren't as necessary as with other tanks. In match ups where you find yourself lagging behind your enemies you can pick them up, but in most cases you won't need the added chasing potential that badly to merit choosing them over Thornmail. It's main weakness is that it provides no health, which helps against all damage. So if the enemy has a good mix of damage going for them you'll want to get a solid amount of health beforehand from other items.

Banshee's veil
> The follow up to Spirit Visage, Banshee's Veil lets you tank CC without a worry, it has health which'll scale into damage thanks to Titanic Hydra and it has some regen which'll work with Spirit Visage's passive. A solid all round item for solving your mage based problems.

Rylai's crystal scepter
> The go to tool for when you're ahead and just wanna murder people. The combination of damage from the ap and health aspects of this item, as well as the slow, make it great for dishing out lots of damage and forcing your enemies into prolonged engagements/retreats. Unlike other slow based items like Randuin's Omen, the slow is not frontloaded and will last for the duration of any fight Akali finds herself in, making it much stronger when it comes to chasing and helping your team catch out any poorly positioned opponent.

Dead man's plate
> Gotta go fast. IT'S, ok. Useful if the enemies mostly ad with some magic damage on the side. Also kinda handy for positioning before a teamfight or chasing particularly mobile enemies down. Not great early on by itself since it makes your damage dip before you have Titanic Hydra, but around the mid game it's good for dealing with really mobile ad opponents.

Abyssal scepter
> A great alternative or followup to Banshee's Veil. Abyssal Mask is primarily useful against ap opponents who specialize in damage over time like Swain or Malzahar. It also synergizes nicely with Sunfire Cape. Though it's usage isn't as flexible as Banshee's Veil, if you just need raw magic damage+defense, then Abyssal Mask is a fine choice.

Zhonya's hourglass
> Another pickup for when ahead, worth getting if the enemy has a lot of frontloaded damage+cc. Akali's already great at diving into a team and causing disruption, this allows her to do that without taking damage. Great for opening up opportunities for your team to perform a followup engage, but the build path is awkward to the point where there are other items that'll be more consistently useful just because they aren't so awkward to finish.

zz'rot portal
> Probably your 5th item after all of the core stuff and boots. Good if your team needs more map pressure and the enemy has an even spread of both physical and magic damage at their disposal. It also lets you move through lanes more quickly and has regen which synergizes with Spirit Visage. Since void spawns scale with health, which you'll have built by this point, they'll hit fairly hard and be capable of pushing pretty competently. This item's somewhat less useful than others in team fight scenario's since it has absolutely no damage at all in it, but it makes up for it somewhat thanks to it's nice spread of resistances and the ability to sprint down lanes quickly for catching fleeing enemies, or making your own escape should the need arise.

Guardian angel.
> This is the last resort. Games about to end, death timers are brutal, next fight determines the outcome. If the enemy is relatively slow and can't escape you thanks to Shadow Dance, Twilight Shroud and whatever slow based items you have, then it's seriously worth considering selling your boots to get this item. The stats on it are somewhat lackluster compared to it's cost but the passive can determine life or death, and it only gets more valuable the longer the game goes on. Pick this up when you can't afford to die even once.


Get these at some stage, preferably early on. Ninja Tabi will help you deal with ad opponents and Mercury's Treads are good for dealing with lots of magic/crowd control effects. Boots of Swiftness are good for dealing with highly mobile teams, as the superior movespeed and passive will make chasing favorable for you, since highly mobile teams tend to lack hard cc.

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How to play

Making A Mark

At the start of the game akali's play pattern is fairly simple. Focus on csing, occasionally throw out Mark of the Assassin to either grab a cs or tag the enemy champion. If you tag the enemy champion, then wait for Grasp of the Undying to come up before cashing in on Mark of the Assassin's proc. If you just trade a single attack with your enemy then chances are you've won that trade, but if the enemy can force fights to be longer than that you should just use Mark of the Assassin to harass and go passive. There's no point to taking trades you can't win, especially this early.

After you hit levels 2-4 you can trade a little better. Your sustained damage will be higher and you'll be able to trade well compared to other champions that are "meh" pre level 6. Remember that Mark of the Assassin gives a free Crescent Slash worth of energy, which you'll need for sustained dps. Twilight Shroud will let you setup a Mark of the Assassin + Grasp of the Undying proc mid fight, which can really help keep things in your favor. Of course you can also use it to just bounce. Now while all of this is great, akali can still struggle against some early game champs before 6, so if need be you can simply go passive and just use Mark of the Assassin and Crescent Slash to clear waves.

Post level 6, assuming at this stage you've gone even until this point, you can now start fighting pretty much any lane opponent. Shadow Dance is a huge damage and mobility boost, giving Akali an extra 300 damage to work with in a fight when fully stacked. You also have the option now of fighting your enemy on their side of the minion wave so that you can use their minions to Shadow Dance to safety. This is ideal when you just want to pull of a quick undying + mark trade then get out. At this stage you will be a strong dps threat just off of your base stats, but if you've fallen behind from earlier levels be respectful of your enemies damage. You just need to go even in lane to be a threat to the rest of the enemy team, so if you don't feel like you can take the enemy laner, stop trying to beat them. Instead focus on not-losing to them.

Once you hit team fight stage it's all about timing your engage on the enemy back line. You can still assassinate squishier enemy champions with this build in one vs one situations, but if the target has backup you'll need backup of your own as you can't burst them instantly before making your escape. Akali has a bunch of tools to move super quickly during teamfights and her goal is to get to the damage threats, normally the mid and adc, and either kill them or force them away from the fight by being an immediate threat to them. Even if you go in and take some focus fire from the enemy team this can open up an opportunity for the rest of your team. Since you're tanky, taking some damage or cc will likely not kill you immediately and tanking said abilities prevents them from being used on your squishier teammates. The main goal with tanky Akali isn't necessarily to kill the enemy, but to disrupt them. Normally Shadow Dance into Twilight Shroud will be enough, but occasionally it'll also require tanking some hits, which is what this build is made for. Other than that, once the teamfight's in full sway Akali's aoe damage reams her enemies, especially if you're lucky enough to have them all bunched up together, though she can also run particularly nasty troublemakers into the ground if caught out by themselves. However, when fighting for prolonged periods of time Akali will begin to run low on both energy and Shadow Dance procs if you aren't paying attention. Remember to utilize Mark of the Assassin's energy refund and Shadow Dance's kill/assist reset to keep Akali relevant for as long as possible.

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Roll the Credits

Credits to JhoiJhoi, Who I yet again leaned on for formatting purposes. I would feel bad about it but since everyone does it I like to feel my laziness is justified.

Also credits to TaiwanAkali who made me interested in playing Tank Top Akali, and who's playstyle was the original basis for this guide.

Finally thank you the reader for getting this far (unless you skipped to this part like a dirty cheater), I really appreciate that you took the time to read this and hope it brings you good fortune :)

Oh and if you like this guide why not give it a +1 or a commendation, which is kinda like a +1 but different for some reason, whatever, would appreciate that, yup.