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Talon Build Guide by Vapora Dark

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Vapora Dark

Vapora's Competitive Talon

Vapora Dark Last updated on July 16, 2012
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Stream is Online

Team 1

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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Hey, I'm Vapora Dark, and this is my guide on how to use Talon in competitive play.
Talon is an assassin that delivers his damage all in bursts using his spells, but his spells scale on AD, so getting AP is the last thing you want to do. Literally none of his spells do magic damage, so if you get a Doran's Ring or something like that on him, I will slap you. Hard. The proper way to build Talon is to build straight-forward AD, with one or two defense items to help you stay alive. The build I display takes Banshee's Veil because it's the defense item I find the most useful most of the time, but it's just an example. Guardian Angel is the second defense item I buy the most, but your defense item isn't limited to just those two.

My guide here is going to teach you how to dominate mid, what your role is in team-fights, and how to build him.

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My History With Talon

Skip this section if you want

I saved up for Talon when he was first announced, when I was level 15 or something, because he looked like he was going to be really cool. After playing lots and lots of games with Warwick I finally had enough IP to buy Talon. So I played a match with him and...! I didn't like him. And so he was left untouched for ages. About a month afterwards the enemy team had a Talon on it, and he destroyed us all. His burst was too much for us to handle, and because he was roaming, he became more and more unstoppable as he kept killing us over and over again. We lost that match, and I decided to give Talon another go after being amazed at how well this person had done with him. I played him for a bit, but I wasn't doing well at all with him, so I locked him back up, and went back to playing Warwick.

I constantly dominated my matches with Warwick, then one day, my friend, who I'd introduced to LoL, reckoned he'd become a better player than me, so he challenged me into a 1v1 custom game. What can I say, Warwick was literally the only champion I ever played at the time, he didn't stand a chance. After I crushed him he said that it didn't prove I was better than him, because I was using a champion who's very good at dominating lanes, and I was very good with him. So he challenged me to a 1v1 using any other champion. I accepted and thought "This'll be easy! Now... Who else can I actually play?"

Talon being the only other character I'd ever tried out properly, I picked him. My friend was initially beating me with Teemo, but as I got more minion farm, I discovered just how much damage a Talon can do with just a few AD items. Eventually I won the game after he surrendered, and I started testing Talon in normal games again.

I started practicing, and while I did quite badly a lot of the time, I did have the occasional fantastic game. And when I tried playing him mid instead of on a duo-lane, the bad games became virtually non-existant. I played him for ages after this, and adapted from build-to-build until I reached what I now think is what the perfect Talon build would generally look like, leaving aside situational items. Now, enough of my nostalgia. Onwards!

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Pros / Cons

+ Can gank enemies very easily.
+ Strongest counterpick to almost any classic AP Carry.
+ Mobile champion. Good at chasing and escaping.
+ Great single target focus.
+ Strong auto-attack damage.
+ He's an AD Kassadin. :D

- Has a very hard time against bruisers.
- Not as strong vs. AD based champions early game due to low armor.
- Needs farm or kills, dependant on itemization.
- Easily ganked once Shadow Assault and Flash are on cooldown.
- Requires skill to play. Definitely not a right-click type of character.
- Mana hungry. Just like many AP carries, Talon needs the blue buff to act to the best of his abilities.
- AD mid. Either top or the jungler should be AP, for example, Fiddlesticks or Mordekaiser.

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Talon's Abilities


mercyMercy (Passive)

Talon deals 10% additional damage to any target that is slowed, stunned, immobilized or suppressed.

Not the best passive in the game... But at least you can always use Rake as the initiator to your burst for the rest of your burst to deal 10% more damage than it usually does.

Noxian Diplomacy (Q)

Talon's next auto attack will deal additional damage, and will make the target bleed over 6 seconds, dealing more damage over time and revealing their location to Talon for the duration.

Great spell. The damage can be enhanced by both cutthroat and using Rake to slow them first for Mercy to activate. With a small cooldown of 4 seconds at lvl 5 leaving aside cooldown reduction, this is very spammable in fights. It also happens to resets your attack timer, so by pressing Q just as you begin an auto attack, Talon will auto attack then immediately auto attack again, this time using Noxian Diplomacy. This is great as the spell can also be used on towers ( But the tower won't bleed :( ) so you can take towers down pretty easily.

Max this second.

Rake (W)

Talon throws a volley of blades in a cone ahead of him, which then quickly return back to him. These blades deal damage each time they pass through an enemy, and slow them for 2 seconds.

I didn't always max this spell, for the simple reason that the mana cost was too high at later levels to be using for harassment. However, a few patches ago the mana cost on Rake was lowered, and now it can be safely used to harass every now and again without having to get mana regen items. It also deals the most damage of all your spells so long as you get it to hit them both ways.

We max this first.

cutthroatCutthroat (E)

Talon instantly appears behind his target, silencing them for 1 second and amplifying his damage against that target for 3 seconds.

This is a great initiator for your burst, as it silences them, which is good when you're playing against AP casters. When I want the safest burst I just initiate with this, use Noxian Diplomacy, then use Rake as they turn around around and run away. I take a point in this at level three, but the only noticeable difference after leveling i up is the shorter CD.

We max this last.

Shadow Assault (R)

Talon disperses a ring of blades outwards and gains stealth for up to 2.5 seconds while gaining 40% movement speed. When Talon emerges from stealth, the blades converge on his location. Each time a blade passes through an enemy, they take damage. Each enemy can only be damaged once at the start of the ability and once at the end.

This spell is one of my favourite spells in the whole game. It's always an awkward transition from Talon to any other champion for me because I'm so used to having this ult. This can be used for damage, for ambushing, for escaping, for rapidly clearing minion waves...

Put a point in it whenever you can.

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Why This Guide Maxes Rake

Alright, something that's changed from my old guide, is I'm no longer telling you to max Noxian Diplomacy. In this chapter I'm going to explain why, Q&A style!

- In your old guide you said Noxian Diplomacy does more damage than Rake. Do you mean to say you were wrong?
Well I sort of was wrong... But at the same time I was right. See, when you compare Noxian Diplomacy and Rake, both at level 5, assuming you have no items, yes, Rake beats Noxian Diplomacy in damage. When they're both at level 1 Rake wins by 12 damage, at level 2 Rake wins by 14 damage, at level 3 Rake wins by 16 damage, at level 4 Rake wins by 18 damage, and at level 5 Rake wins by 20 damage. Early-game, Rake narrowly wins the battle of who deals more damage. However, maxing Rake over Noxian Diplomacy only gives you a benefit of 2 more damage per burst at each level, a very small difference.
- So why did you used to say Noxian Diplomacy deals more damage than Rake then?
Well... Because it does. It scales on bonus AD 0.3 damage per bonus AD more than Rake does. Once you have 67 bonus AD, assuming they're both at level 5, Noxian Diplomacy will be doing 0.1 damage than Rake ( I know, lol ). When will you have 67 bonus AD? Well, 20 AD from double Doran's Blade's, 25 AD from The Brutalizer, and 3 AD from your masteries ( + 5 AD if you've used ignite ) brings your bonus AD to 53. So by the time you get your first BF sword you've got 98 bonus AD, and Noxian Diplomacy is already doing more damage than Rake. By the time you've got 300 bonus AD ( yes, that's possible, and this build can give you that much AD ), Noxian Diplomacy will be dealing 70 more damage than Rake. But bear in mind, you can cast Noxian Diplomacy 2.5 times in the time Rake is on cooldown, so that makes its damage output much higher than Rake's, technically.
- So bottom line... I should max Rake over Noxian Diplomacy?
Well actually... That depends! :D On how confident you are about landing Rake both ways every single time. If you only manage to land Rake both ways 3/5 times, then you'd benefit much more from maxing Noxian Diplomacy than you would from maxing Rake. It's easy to land Rake both ways when you're used to it, but if you're new to Talon then I recommend maxing Noxian Diplomacy at first, and just using him like that until you're confident about your Rake skills.

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Offense Tree

Summoner's Wrath - The armor reduction during Exhaust synergises well with the 10% damage boost from the slow.

Brute Force - More AD for more damage on all our attacks.

Butcher - Makes it easier to last-hit minions.

Demolitionist - The faster that tower goes down, the faster you can safely gank other lanes.

Alacrity - A useless choice for Talon, but necessary to take for the next mastery.

Weapon Expertise - More ArPen for more damage on all our attacks.

Deadliness - 4% chance for a crit is small, but it's worth it when it does hit.

Lethality - More crit damage is useful, as our ending crit chance is 40%.

Sunder - More ArPen for more damage on all our attacks.

Executioner - Makes last-hitting minions easier, and reduces the chances of "OMG LUCKER, 1 HP."

Defense Tree

Resistance - More Magic Resistance to take less magic damage.

Hardiness - Killing your enemy and barely surviving their minions' attacks is so satisfying.

Durability - More HP makes it harder to kill you at all times.

Veteran's Scars - One of the strongest Masteries in the game IMO. The countless times this will allow you to survive with 20 HP is priceless.
- Wtf, you take 4 points in Sorcery and then don't even take Arcane Knowledge ? What's the point in that?
Okay then smart guy, look at the Mastery tree. What Masteries would you take to be able to get Executioner , huh? Bearing in mind that the first build doesn't have any crit chance so Lethality is useless; Deadliness only gives you 9 extra AD at level 18 which is quite pointless, because by then you'll have 200 / 300 AD and 9 is going to make 0 difference; Havoc is useless for the same reason, if you do 300 damage it increases the damage by... 4.5. Which is useless when you're already doing 300 damage. Lifesteal is useless because he doesn't need to sustain himself. You obviously aren't gonna take any of the AP masteries, and that only leaves Sorcery , because at least it's useful for Talon as he's a champion that relies completely on his spells, so the sooner they're back up, the sooner he can kill.
Another possibility is to go 21/0/9.

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Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Scaling Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
  • Greater Mark of Desolation. We take this so that throughout the whole game, we attack them as if they had no armor at all, unless they specifically choose to stack armor. Flat AD Marks would be better for early game, whereas these will suffice for early game, and are better in late game. Your call which you want to pick.
  • Greater Seal of defense. Gotta watch out for them jungler ganks, man. Don't wanna lose too much HP with each gank or your enemy will screw you over. Not to mention, minions will attack you after you burst the enemy if you're close to them. Always good to take less damage, even if it is just from minions. I recommend per level ones because they come in handy more in late-game than early game anyway, but flat are good too.
  • Greater Glyph of Magic Resist. More resistance to magic damage is important, as we have to go right behind our enemy to burst them. Flat CDR glyphs can also work, though.
  • Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed. Movement Speed is good for an assassin like Talon, he needs to get in the fight quick, and get out of it even quicker. For that he needs movement speed, and because none of the items we take gives him passive movement speed, these could save your butt instead.

    Optional Runes

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Core Build

- Boots of Speed + x3 Health Potion
Along with your speed quints this will give you some very good starting movement speed, which is very necessary against certain match-ups. It's also viable to start off with Doran's Blade or Long Sword + 2 Health Potions.

- Doran's Blade
Talon benefits very well from this item. +80 HP offers more survivability, and the +10 AD is a nice addition to your burst, and makes last-hitting easier. If I started off with Boots + 3 HP pots I usually get this on my first time back at base, and then get another after upgrading my boots.

- The Brutalizer
This item is taken on almost all Talon builds, and it's easy to see why. It grants more damage and more spell spammability. Also builds into Youmuu's Ghostblade.

- The Bloodthirster
It offers a great amount of sustain, which, if somehow you're still in the laning phase, can be quite useful, and the most AD any item can give you. All of Talon's damage scales with AD, so this is one of the best items, if not THE best item, you can get on him.

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Your Other Choices

- Mercury's Treads
You have 2 reasons for wanting this item. The first being that you're going mid against what is presumably an AP carry, so by getting magic resist you'll be lowering their damage output. The second is that CC reduction is incredibly useful for someone like Talon, because he's very squishy. Getting stunned in front of 5 enemy champions without any tenacity will get you killed 90% of the time. Mercs are my prefered choice for Talon, but they're not the only choice. However, because you'll be targetted with CC quite a lot in ranked, I recommend these above all other boots.

- Ionian Boots of Lucidity
These are what I always used to buy before I discovered how useful Mercury's Treads could be. Talon is a burst champion who relies on his spells, so naturally, the sooner his spells are back up, the sooner he can continue to deal damage.

- Boots of Swiftness
These boots are the best if you intend to play Talon as a roamer, where you should be ganking a lot. However, they lose effectiveness once teamfights start, and you should then sell them to get a different pair of boots.

- The Bloodthirster
Yup, you heard right, another one. It's a very good item for Talon, and I always have 2 in my regular Talon build. And I ain't ****tin' you when I say a good Talon build is boots and 5 bloodthirsters. It may not be the best Talon build there is, but it's effective, and "the best build" is always a matter of opinion anyway, there's no mathematical formula to figure out which one is the most effective.

- Banshee's Veil
Whether you take this item or not, you're still going to be a glass cannon, it's just how Talon works... But it won't kill you to have just a little bit of survivability. It gives you more HP, more magic resist, and the deal-breaker, it cancels out an enemy spell used on you.

- Youmuu's Ghostblade
Later on in the game you have the choice to either sell The Brutalizer, or upgrade it into this item. Here are the reasons for which you might want to upgrade it: You'll have 5 more AD, 5 more CDR, 15% more Crit chance, and 5 more ArPen. Not a very convincing argument on its own, but then when you take into account the active, things change. It gives you more movement speed, making it great for ganking in combination with Shadow Assault, and more Attack Speed. Attack Speed is usually a poor choice for Talon, but considering all of this item's other stats are good for his burst, this item is one worth getting with Talon, and the Attack Speed is just an added bonus which will come in handy in a few situations.

- Last Whisper
This item is quite under-rated by lower level players. 40 AD is almost as much AD as a BF sword gives you, and 40% ArPen is massive. Never under-estimate how much of your damage is being canceled out by the enemy's armor. So while the AD isn't as much as an Infinity Edge or a The Bloodthirster would give you, a lot of the time it provides more damage output than either of these items.

- Infinity Edge
Your choice is usually between getting either this, or a third The Bloodthirster. This item has the advantage of having 20 more base AD than The Bloodthirster, and that you don't need to get any stacks back up after you've died. The passive makes your crits do a LOT of damage, more than twice as much as they usually would, and if you take Youmuu's Ghostblade, then you'll have 40% crit chance, meaning the crits will happen often.

- Guardian Angel
No, this item isn't only good for tanks. It offers some really good resistances, and every five minutes it'll revive you when you die. It's easy to waste this passive though, so be careful. There's no point in dying, and reviving a few seconds later just to die again because your team isn't there.

- Frozen Heart
In case they've got a lot of AD and they're giving you trouble. Trust me, Frozen Heart > Thornmail, or any other large armor item for Talon. It lowers your cooldowns by 20%, lowers their team's attack speed by 20%, and gives you 500 mana. This item was practically made for Talon.

- Trinity Force
This item is... efective, at least. 150% of your base AD included into your burst, a crit every now and again, a random slow, more AD... I personally think you benefit more from an item which gives more AD, seeing as all of Talon's skills scale off of AD, but Trinity Force isn't a bad choice at all.

- Atma's Impaler
You may think this is an unusual pick for Talon. And well, personally, I've never really had to take it. But if their AD carry is fed and giving you trouble, this item is a great choice to lower their damage without having to sacrifice an item slot that could have been used on damage.

- Frozen Mallet
If you've taken Atma's Impaler then this is an... effective item, to follow it up with. A massive 700 HP, 20 AD + whatever bonus you get from Atma's Imapler thanks to the new HP. I see people getting this item purely because of the slow. I'll tell you right now that if you want it for that reason, then just don't bother getting it at all. 3250 gold for a slow is just simply not worth it.

- Maw of Malmortius
Good pick against a heavy AP team. It offers a decent amount of AD, increases your AD the more HP you lose, gives you more magic resist, and gives you a shield against magic damage every time you get hit by a spell which would otherwise leave you at less than 30% HP.

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The "Best" Talon Build

Now, all of the items I displayed in the last chapter are items that work on Talon. But some work better than others. Like I explain in a chapter ahead, The Bloodthirster does more damage than Trinity Force, despite popular belief, so even though Trinity Force is a viable item to take on Talon it's better to take another The Bloodthirster. All the items I have displayed in this chapter are items that can be viably used on Talon, but are not necessarily the best items for him. There's no such thing as the best build for any champion, only opinions. And as someone who has mained Talon since about 2 months since his release, and played him since his release, my opinion is that the best build for Talon is anything similar to what I've displayed on the cheat sheet.

Mercury's Treads; The Brutalizer; The Bloodthirster; The Bloodthirster; defense item of your choice; either build The Brutalizer into Youmuu's Ghostblade, or get Last Whisper. If you built Youmuu's Ghostblade buy Infinity Edge, if you bought Last Whisper sell Youmuu's Ghostblade and buy a third The Bloodthirster.

The reasoning behind those last two item paths is that if you get Youmuu's Ghostblade there's no need to get another ArPen item, and seeing as you've got some crit chance from Youmuu's Ghostblade, you can get Infinity Edge for amplifying your crit chance and the damage from the crits. Chances are that you're going to crit at least once in your burst with these two items. Sometimes you'll get lucky and crit on both your auto attacks. However, if you choose to build Last Whisper then like I said, there's no point in having 2 ArPen items, so you can sell The Brutalizer and get another high damage item. But without the crit chance from Youmuu's Ghostblade, your Infinity Edge crits won't happen often enough to make it worth buying that item, so imo, it's better to take a third The Bloodthirster.

But this is just my opinion. The only thing you need to understand is that every individual item included in my cheat sheet is one of the best items to get on Talon. You don't necessarily have to build them in that order. Some people prefer to get their defense item before their second The Bloodthirster, whereas I find it's not necessary until later on in the game. Whatever works for you, is fine. So long as you understand what the best items for him are. Just because stuff like Frozen Mallet and Trinity Force work on him, doesn't mean you should build them. Talon is an assassin who's skills scale on AD, meaning neither of those items work to the best of his abilities, because they're not giving him enough AD to be truly effective.

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What Lane To Play Talon In

Every champion has their place in League of Legends. They either jungle, go bot, go top or go mid. As for Talon, he goes mid and ****s up the enemy AP carry's day.

Why not use him solo top instead? Because he's easily countered there. Any champion that's naturally tanky holds an advantage over Talon. Whereas in mid, Talon counters most of the champions there. In the current meta, AP carries go mid. An AP carry is a champion that relies on their spells which scale on Ability Power for damage output, and are generally very weak without their spells. The majority of them also happen to be very squishy. Talon was practically made for killing them. His E, cutthroat, applies a 1 second long silence and brings him right up to them, allowing him to safely use the rest of his burst while they can't counter attack. The standard reaction to being silenced and attacked by Talon is to run backwards. Few people realize this is a stupid thing to do. Running backwards allows Talon to easily land his Rake both ways, and then get away without a scratch. A second burst applying Ignite usually kills them, and if not, forces them to recall in fear of you doing the Flash + cutthroat combo to kill them from afar.

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Why Trinity Force Isn't In The Main Build

There are lots of people out there in League of Legends, that think Trinity Force is the item for Talon. They think it was simply made for him, and that no other item can come near to supplying as much damage as it does. Right here, right now, I'm about to show you why The Bloodthirster, an item that costs 1070 gold less, dominates Trinity Force in damage output. Let's do the maths:

Trinity Force proc = 150% of base AD
Base AD at lvl 18 = 105.8
150% of 105.8 = 158.7
So the Trinity Force Proc adds 158.7 damage into your burst. Seems like a lot, right? Now, a fully farmed The Bloodthirster has 100 AD in it. Let's do the maths of how that much AD scales with all your abilities:
Damage from attack 0.3 per bonus AD + damage from bleed 0.2 per bonus AD per second for 6 seconds = 1.5 damage per bonus AD
100 x 1.5 = 150 damage
0.6 damage per bonus AD each strike ( strikes twice )
100 x 0.6 = 60 damage
60 x 2 = 120 damage
0.9 damage per bonus AD each blade ( can strike twice )
100 x 0.9 = 90 damage
90 x 2 = 180 damage
50 + 120 + 180 = 420 total damage
So the oh-so-precious trinity proc, the biggest reason for buying Trinity Force, doesn't even supply as much damage as The Bloodthirster. Granted though, I didn't calculate the extra damage on your abilities from Trinity Force's 30 AD. I won't bore you with any more maths, but the full bonus damage on your abilities from it is 114. When you add up that with the trinity proc, The Bloodthirster's damage still comes out on top by 147. And, this is without taking into account the damage that each item's AD adds to your burst in the 2 auto attacks that you use in a standard burst. If you take that into account, then that adds 200 more damage onto The Bloodthirster's damage, and only 60 more damage to Trinity Force's damage. I hope you realize that not even Trinity Force's 15% crit chance is enough to compensate for the massive difference in damage between these 2 items. There is no doubt in my mind about which item deals more damage, and I hope you can see the same now.

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At the start play defensively. Try and get as much farm as you can, but not at the cost of a lot of your health. Once you reach level 3, you can begin dealing damage to your enemy with your burst. You can burst either by using Rake > Cutthroat > Noxian Diplomacy, or Cutthroat > Noxian Diplomacy > Rake. The first burst deals more damage as Rake will slow your enemy, causing you to deal 10% more damage with the rest of your burst thanks to your passive, but is harder to land Rake with because they might see Rake coming and move back, or just move back out of pure luck. I always use the second burst, but bare in mind when they're too close to miss Rake that the first burst will deal more damage. After either burst you move back behind your minions, wait for your burst to come off CD, then rinse and repeat until they're dead.


I classify mid-game as the part of the game that begins when you take down your first turret, and ends when teamfights begin. After taking down your first turret, you should aim to gank the other lanes as much as possible. Talon's ganks are phenominal, so go to whichever lane's enemies are most pushed and gank. Once the enemy/ies are dead, recall for items, HP and mana, and go gank another lane. If your opponent is trying to rush down your tower while you're gone, just return to your lane and gank them. Hopefully by this point in the game, you should be able to kill them with one burst. After you've done this, keep on ganking.


I classify late-game as the stage in the game where all champions have abandoned the jungle and the side-lanes, and have all begun to push mid as a team. When the fight begins, and everyone on the enemy team has already picked their targets, you enter the fray and burst down either the AD carry or the AP carry, whichever you find more convenient. By this point in the game one burst should be all it takes to kill them, then get out of the fight before you get focused down. When your burst comes off of cooldown, burst down the carry you didn't kill earlier. After this, use your head to help your team out in any way you can. But mainly, you've done your job by taking out their biggest damage outputs. What happens next in the fight depends on your team.

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Guide = Over

That was my guide, folks. I hope you liked it and you learnt something from it. Don't worry if you don't do too well with Talon straight away. It took me months to get good with him!

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Section O' Scores

This is the part where I brag about my scores with Talon using this build / builds I used before adapting to this, to both show this build works, and to give me a massive ego boost. Post any good scores you've had using this build in the comments and I'll add them into this section. Once I've got enough scores from other people, I'll add in a Hall of Fame section to show what players have had the best scores of all the people to send me their sores.

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Special thanks to albableat, who for all intents and purposes, was my co-writer for this guide. :) Like me, he reached the conclusion that Trinity Force was not the best item for Talon, and so he started making a Talon guide based on what he believed to be the correct way to build Talon. Until he saw my Talon guide, and realized we shared the exact same views! He told me he didn't want to dump all the work he'd already done, but it would be pretty stupid to release a guide that would be an exact copy of mine, and that he'd love to see my guide become the top Talon guide on Mobafire. So he offered to help me with my guide!

So we talked a lot over PM about Talon, and he's been a great help to me in making this guide. Big round of applause for this guy! :)