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Build Guide by Bunnybunner
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I put this guide on Mobafire because a baby penguin dies every time a Akali builds wrong. With this build you will have arguably the highest damage output in the game, and I will prove this throughout this guide (not the penguin part).
Hybrid? - She is an Ability Power champ. Akali's intended design was obviously a hybrid champ, just briefly look at her skills, and take a look at her suggested items. However this is just another champ that got away from RIOT, and this guide will show that she is far from a balanced hybrid, and should not be built as one.
Burst Damage or DPS? - Akali is a massive burst damage champ, not an auto attacking melee DPS champ, so she should be built to focus on that. She could arguably have the highest burst damage of all champs, with her damage bursts rolling in waves that repeat more frequently than other burst damage casters like Kassadin, Ryze, or Annie. Never ever confuse her with an auto attacking melee DPS monster like Jax/Yi/Tryndamere.
DO NOT always follow the combination with Crescent Slash, unless you have Rylai's Scepter. Some champs can run far enough away while you spin immobile on the ground, that you can't hit them with a second mark. Always make judgment on their escape ability before adding Crescent Slash to the combo. Rylai's Scepter's slow allows you to connect easier with Crescent Slash, and just remember it will eat your energy faster as well.
Delayed Trigger of Mark of the Assassin Technique
This is extremely important. Notice is that the mark lasts 6 seconds, which is the same duration as the level 1 Cooldown.
If the target is marked initially but combat and attacks are delayed and timed correctly, two auto attacks in a row can set off two Mark of the Assassins dealing very heavy damage. This cooldown decreases as you level it (6/5.5/5/4.5/4 seconds) making this task easier to do at max skilling.
This technique is key to maximizing initial burst damage. Combat can be avoided by kiting, hiding behind creep, hiding in a Twilight Shroud, etc. To maximize chances of using this technique, you must appear non-threatening, or even weakened. Lure them into a sense of comfort, or even better, into overconfidence. Then tear their face off.
This combination is brutal even at level 1 with no Ability Power or Attack Damage. After the initial 50dmg from Mark of the Assassin, an additional 282dmg can be done within the first 2 seconds of combat taking nearly every starting champ to half health or lower, and the numbers are even more shocking with the Recommended build.
Notice that this is not including any of the other damage skills. Including that damage would be an additional 516(1x Shadow Dance) + 217(1x Crescent Slash) + 2713(original damage) = 3446dmg total (363dmg from the initial mark, and 3083dmg in the first 2 seconds of entering combat). 3083dmg in 2 seconds? It's this shocking burst damage that sends nearly all champs fleeing nearly instantly, of which Akali excels at taking down runners.
For these Marks, I use 9 x Greater Mark of Insight, which produce the highest Magic Penetration, more than 3 x Greater Quintessence of Insight, 5.67 Magic Penetration. This is the best combination of runes to accomplish simple high Magic Penetration.
Early game she benefits from health regen, which is needed even more because they lowered the HP and lifesteal from Doran's Blade. So 2 x Greater Quintessence of Vigor creates 5.4hp/5sec, more than 9 x Greater Seal of Vigor = 3.87hp/5sec. This allows me to choose 9 other Seals.
My rune combination selection chooses the most efficient use of all types of Runes, giving me the most bang for my buck so to speak.
DETAILED EXPLANATION (MASTERIES):
My masteries build is Defensive focused, which has much needed Durability as well as good Damage. Now I know at first this doesn't seem to make sense, but the problem is efficiency. The Offense tree has too many near-worthless masteries to Akali that you must take to reach the bottom. Remember she is a burst damage AP champ, not a physical damage auto attacker. Notice that I have retained three very important masteries in the offense tree, Cripple, Archmage's Savvy, and Archaic Knowledge, so there is little reason to go further down just to get Havoc.
(Yes now you can activate her passive with Brute Force and a Doran's Blade, however it's still a waste of 3 points to get there)
There is far more benefits in the Defense Tree than the Offense Tree. Everything taken with the Defense focused build is directly beneficial to Akali. What you must understand is that while maximizing all damage is nice, boosting her weaknesses can be just as good. When you throw in efficiency, the choice is obvious. There is no way to get down to Brute Force or Havoc without wasting 3-5 points to physical damage focused masteries.
Exhaust - I prefer Improved Exhaust over Improved Ignite because of the resistance reduction, damage reduction, but mostly the slow. Akali has no viable slow at low levels before she finishes Rylai's Scepter. Since they removed the blind effect and only gave it 70% reduction in attack damage, Ignite has regained some appeal, but again, no slow until you have Rylai's. (On the bright side, you cannot be blinded with exhaust, and left unable to activate your Mark)
Typical skilling order, all you need to remember is to max out Mark of the Assassin as quickly as possible, take Rank 1 Twilight Shroud at level 2, then max out Twilight Shroud last.
I take Twilight Shroud early because Crescent Slash is very weak at Rank 1, and you will harass and defend far more with an 8 second duration Shroud at level 2 than a weak AoE. Level 1 Crescent Slash will only do 40dmg per target, and spell vamp 1hp per target, at that level.
Akali can solo mid and also hold the 2v1 lane, however it is not easy and I don't recommend it unless you're very comfortable with her. It is almost always a bad idea to be over-aggressive with her when she's solo. Usually the best tactic is to hug the tower, last hit creep, and harass the champs when they go for the tower... that is until you're 6! It is extremely important to fully utilize her Twilight Shroud as a harassment/defense tool in a solo lane, so before you try this, I highly recommend that you wait until Twilight Shroud becomes second nature. You'll need to be able to react very quickly with it, and thinking about it takes too long.
Here is an example of Akali holding the 2v1 lane while Fiddlesticks jungles. She has to hug the tower at all times, so never push out of it, just stay within exp range, and close enough that you can last hit creep from a distance with Mark of the Assassin. Pay extra close attention to how I am able to harass both champs even with a 625 range champ present.
Akali again, is very squishy, and I cannot say this enough, yet the best way to play her early game is by aggressively harassing enemy champs. She is very good at pushing them back off the creep, robbing them of experience and gold. If you can get your partner to stop pushing the lane forward, and only last hit creep, you will cripple your opponents in your lane.
Your lane partner makes a massive difference to you doing very well or just plain terrible. If the two players have no synergy, Akali harasses but her partner retreats/partner is far too aggressive Akali retreats, Akali will die, over and over and over. Notice I said players... She works fine partnered with any champ, so what matters most is the players. So many times I will feed early game because I am harassing, yet for no reason my partner will retreat to the tower when they have full health. Or better yet, my partner will dive in on full health champs for no reason, and I die trying to save them. If you notice your partner doing this, immediately stop aggressive harassing, because you cannot count on them to support you. Focus on last hitting creep, and that's it. My cutoff is 2 deaths/near-deaths. It should be apparent how bad your partner is by this point. You will make up for your feeding once you leave the lane, patience is key...
She does very well in the jungles, so be sure to take out the jungle creep between swapping lanes. It leaves more gold and exp to those laning, and overall more gold and exp for the team. But obviously, don't spend all of your time in the jungles, Akali is an assassin, so go do some assassinating and take out unsuspecting champs in lanes. Spending some time in the jungle after the laning phase intimidates all lanes while you're MIA.
In a group fight with Akali, knowing when to jump in is the most important decision. She should never ever initiate the group fight as she will die in a split second against a prepared group. It's a different story if they are unprepared...
Once the group fight starts and you see a decent amount of sparks fly, immediately Shadow Dance to the squishiest highest DPS champ and take them out with your high burst damage. With her burst DPS it will only take a few seconds. If the team is good, most of them will quickly turn their DPS to you and you will see your HP start to fall, but since you waited, most of their skills are on CD and their DPS will be lower, so immediately drop Twilight Shroud and do nothing. This is very important because you will stealth in combat and it will temporarily confuse them. They will blindly throw in skill shots, and waste AoE's, hopefully saving your team from most of that damage.
This confusion is critical to Akali in a team fight. With her speed and intimidating burst damage, enemies will want to hold their skills to use on you, yet the longer they hold them, the less DPS and CC they are doing to the rest of your team. In a short moment, the confusion will quickly turn to panick, and their team cohesion will weaken. They will be less likely to focus on one target, and will spread the damage more evenly across your team.
Again hold your actions until you see a few sparks fly, then burst damage down the next highest DPS squishiest champ. If their team is good, you will likely not survive the next wave of damage, however you alone took out a large chunk of their DPS. My Akali is frequently the only casualty on our side of a 5v5 group fight, with a total wipe on their side. Absolutely worth the death in my opinion.
If you are utilizing this tactic effectively, very often your opponents will buy an oracle potion or a vision ward! Pay attention to this counter tactic, because unfortunately, it works very well...
When she encounters a very large creep wave, Crescent Slash can obliterate them very quickly. This skill does the best spread of damage on the wave when the wave is mobile. Once the ranged creep fan out across the lane it will not hit them all. Sometimes it is best to wait for the wave to push through your creep and become mobile again. Once they group up, Shadow Dance to the creep at the center and immediately spam Crescent Slash.
Remember when soloing the golem or lizard, level 8, rank 2 Crescent Slash, and Sheen makes a very big difference. Before this, be careful to have near full HP when getting the buff. Without Smite you will be left with only around a hundred HP.
Mark of the Assassin
Total Damage Comparison
Unfortunately these are FULLY STACKED theoretical builds, and I'm comparing them to a realistic and dependable build. My recommended build doesn't count on stacks, and it doesn't matter how many times I'm killed in a group battle.
Here is a comparison of my recommended build against different stack levels on the Ability Power build.
As you can see, once you drop below 10 stacks, Ability Power build has completely lost its edge on damage. If you die and lose all of your stacks, it is probably beneficial to replace your Mejai's Soulstealer with a Will of the Ancients.