Akali Build Guide by Yamikaze
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+11 Attack Damage or +18 Ability Power, Adaptive
Buy at Level 9
Hi! I'm Yamikaze. I started climbing in 800 elo in Season 2 (around bronze 5 0 lp) and am currently Challenger on the NA server. My peak is rank 96 on 4-25-18 with 484 lp.
This guide is a tiny bit outdated (by a few patches..) and I'm working on an update. This build should still be good but it's not the most optimal build currently. Sorry for the inconvenience. Everything else in the guide should be good.
Here are links to my stream and discord (yes, these are links!). I'm available for questions on Discord. However, since the current meta strongly favors Talon over other assassins at the highest elos, he's the only champion you will usually find me playing on stream.
|Electrocute - A must have for Akali. Very easy to proc in any combo and will increase your burst to secure kills throughout the game. Further, the long cooldown is no hindrance as Akali is an assassin that will snowball off of one kill in a teamfight with an additional stack on her Shadow Dance, making the first kill incredibly important (which is just what Electrocute is for).|
|Sudden Impact - Pretty obvious choice for an assassin like Akali. This will proc off of both your Twilight Shroud and Shadow Dance, both of which being your engage tools throughout the game. Further, since this rune grants both 10 lethality AND 8 magic pen, the fact that Akali does mixed damage throughout her combo allows her to greatly abuse this rune.|
|Zombie Ward - One of the most gold-efficient runes in the game. Not only can it (up to) double the length of your trinket wards in lane, but it also acts as a mini pink ward. If you place this in the enemy jungle, the enemy jungler will either walk past it or kill it. Either way, he will be seen. This allows you to easily track the enemy jungler's path throughout the game, allowing you to time your aggression throughout the game. Of course, the same goes for any bush this ward is placed in, meaning the (up to) 180 seconds of extra ward time is a lot more valuable than you might think. However, if you prefer more damage over playing the vision game, Eyeball Collection is also a fine alternative.|
|Ravenous Hunter - Unlike some other assassins who go in, kill a target, and get out, Akali is more of a fighting assassin. She will go in a fight, burst down a squishy, and stay in the fight with the healing from Hextech Gunblade and Twin Disciplines. Thus, Ravenous Hunter is incredibly important as it allows Akali to remain healthy throughout a fight.|
|Perfect Timing - Although most other assassins run some form of Sorcery or Precision tree as their secondary, Akali's most optimal secondary tree is Inspiration. Although this seems strange at first, it makes sense once you think about it. Akali all about gold leads and snowballing, meaning every little bit of advantage will help snowball the game into a win. Further, due to her high in-combat healing with Hextech Gunblade, Twin Disciplines, and Ravenous Hunter, she doesn't really need the healing from Triumph. Thus, it's more effective to run Perfect Timing as it will often prevent a death and allow for a faster Zhonya's Hourglass (and thus a faster 2 item power spike) to snowball the game in your favor.|
|Biscuit Delivery - Keeps you healthy in lane and is the current best alternative after Magical Footwear was moved to the same row as Perfect Timing.|
|This is a MUST HAVE for Akali. If you don't run this spell, you will die to ganks, miss out on kills, and you'll get flamed by your teammates. Also gives you the ability to Flash into Shadow Dance for a long gap closer.|
|You want to run this into nearly every matchup. This summoner spell lets you take a quick back if you either took a bad trade or survived a gank. Of course, TP is also used for mid and bot roams. Just remember not to use Teleport right in front of the enemy laner as they will either get a free damage rotation on you or stop your Teleport with hard CC.|
|Run this into weak top laners like Zed or Katarina. These players will usually be mains or one-tricks who didn't get their role and are forced to off-role their champion. You will want to take ignite to snowball these lanes as you're stronger in the top lane. Further, Mark of the Assassin into an autoattack will enable you to win most trades in lane.|
|Akali's first auto attack heals her and her second auto attack deals additional magic damage. This will be most of your sustain throughout lane. Importantly, the SECOND auto attack of Twin Disciplines gives additional damage. This means that it's best to hit this auto when trading. An easy way to do this is with Shadow Dance. You can auto attack a minion and then use Shadow Dance onto the enemy, enabling your next auto attack to do extra damage. Further, it is important to note that the damage from the second part of Twin Disciplines COUNTS TOWARDS an Electrocute proc.|
|Akali throws her kama at a target unit, dealing magic damage and marking them for extra damage on her next auto attack. This is where most of Akali's insane burst and lane trading comes from. Against melee matchups, spam this off cooldown as harass. Against ranged matchups, be careful not to take too much damage when walking up to throw Q. It is important to note that the mark portion of Mark of the Assassin lasts for 6 seconds. However, the cooldown goes from 6 seconds to 4 seconds as you level it up. This means that when you have Shadow Dance, you want to throw Mark of the Assassin on the enemy laner, wait for your Mark of the Assassin to come off cooldown, auto attack a minion to proc the first half of Twin Disciplines, and then go in with Mark of the Assassin off cooldown for huge burst.|
|Akali blinks to a nearby location after a 0.25 second delay, leaving a smoke cover for 8 seconds at her previous location. While in the smoke cover, Akali gains movespeed and is invisible. This is Akali's primary disengage tool. Usually, you want to save the cooldown to escape from a gank or to safely farm a large wave under tower. However, it can also be used as an engage as Akali gains a burst of movespeed in Twilight Shroud. Keep in mind that Akali cannot cast any other ability for 0.5 seconds after casting Twilight Shroud, so don't try to immediately Shadow Dance after using Twilight Shroud.|
|Akali flourishes her kamas, hitting nearby units for 70 / 100 / 130 / 160 / 190 (+60% of ability power) (+0.8 per attack damage) physical damage. If Crescent Slash kills a unit, its cooldown is 60% refunded.|
|Akali flourishes her kamas, dealing physical damage to all enemies around her. Crescent Slash's cooldown is reduced if Akali kills an enemy with it. This ability is Akali's primary wave clear throughout the game. However, you don't want to spam it off cooldown. Since the cooldown is reduced if you kill a minion, you want to start your waveclear by getting one minion low so you can spam Crescent Slash until all the minions are cleared. However, keep in mind that Crescent slash costs between 60 and 40 mana per use (depending on how many points you have in it) and you will quickly run out of energy if you spam it quickly.|
Akali dashes THROUGH an enemy, dealing magic damage. This ability can store up to 3 stacks, with each cast expanding one stack. Akali gains one stack per kill or assist or passively once every 30 seconds to 15 seconds (depending on how many points you have in Shadow Dance). This is Akali's primary engage tool post-6. However, it doesn't actually deal very much damage (50 / 100 / 150 at levels 1, 2, and 3 with +35% AP scaling). Thus, we cannot simply spam Shadow Dance to kill an enemy.
Usually, in lane you want to combine Twin Disciplines and Mark of the Assassin to set up for a Shadow Dance as described above. In teamfights, you want to avoid using Mark of the Assassin before Shadow Dance as the travel time of Mark of the Assassin will cause it to land AFTER you have already auto attacked once Shadow Dance has finished. Remember you can also use Shadow Dance to jungle camps and minions. This can help if you are running from an enemy champion in the jungle.
Akali maxes Shadow Dance first as it is her ultimate ability and the reduced cooldown for stacks on Shadow Dance allows her to engage more often. Second, max Mark of the Assassin as it is your primary poke and burst in lane and throughout early to mid game. Then, max Crescent Slash for more damage and to quickly clear waves. Last, max Twilight Shroud.
|Akali almost always starts doran's shield as she's an energy based champion that doesn't need mana (so Corrupting Potion isn't very useful on her). The lane sustain is great for both poke lanes (such as Swain or Gnar) and surviving trading in lane (such as vs. Shen).|
|Another viable start is The Dark Seal and a Refillable Potion for stronger early lane damage. Run this if you want to go for risky early all-ins (I personally wouldn't recommend it but I see it once in a while, especially against weaker laners like Nasus). Don't worry about the mana that The Dark Seal gives. Plenty of mana-less mid laners will start The Dark Seal as it is still a cost effective item even without the mana.|
|On your first back, you want to start building Bilgewater Cutlass unless you plan on buying a Hexdrinker (see below). Most of your damage in early trades against top bruisers will come from autos, meaning early AD is more effective than early AP. It gives good lane sustain and AD to help win melee range trades. Further, the active prevents you from getting kited after you use Twilight Shroud.|
|Start building this item after you finish Bilgewater Cutlass. Good for lane trades, makes use of your AP ratios, and builds into Hextech Gunblade.|
|Generally, buy this item whenever you have the gold (for example, not enough gold for another Amplifying Tome or Long Sword).|
These are good into most bruisers top.
The reduced damage from autos will help in trades and most top laners deal physical damage, making the armor effective as well.
|Buy this when the enemy team has a lot of CC and / or if the enemy top laner deals more magic damage than physical damage (for example, Maokai or Malphite). Mercury's Treads also synergize well with Akali's playstyle. Since Akali dives the backline, she will often be hit with peel and cc. The tenacity from Mercury's Treads greatly helps to prevent being cc-locked to death.|
|This item should be rushed on Akali for numerous reasons. First, it gives Akali both AD and AP, both of which Akali needs for her burst. If she only buys AP, her Crescent Slash and her auto attacks in her combo won't do damage. If she only buys AD, her Mark of the Assassin and Shadow Dance won't do damage. Second, the active allows for additional single-target burst on Akali, who is a single-target assassin. Third, the passive on Hextech Gunblade allows Akali to heal from her burst, helping her stay alive in a fight. Finally, both Hextech Revolver and Bilgewater Cutlass are excellent item components in lane, meaning you are still hiting minor power spikes when you complete the components for Hextech Gunblade.|
|Always your SECOND item after Hextech Gunblade The reason for this is that, as Akali, your role in a teamfight is to dive the backline, kill a squishy target, and not be blown up in the process. The hard part isn't exactly killing the enemy squishy. Rather, it's surviving after your initial burst. Being able to kill the enemy ADC means nothing if you simply die right afterwards. Zhonya's Hourglass helps to solve this with an active that makes you invulnerable for 2.5 seconds after your burst. With Hextech Revolver's healing and Zhonya's Hourglass's active in a teamfight, your chances of surviving go up exponentially.|
|Usually, this is your THIRD item after Hextech Gunblade and Zhonya's Hourglass. With just Hextech Gunblade and Zhonya's Hourglass alone we can kill any squishy target in 1 combo. However, the problem is staying alive when being focused by the enemy team. Rylai's Crystal Scepter provides both tankiness (+300 hp) and a slow. However, the slow isn't for keeping up with enemy squishies. We already have Shadow Dance for that. Rather, it is for Liandry's Torment, which we will build as our FOURTH item. Read below.|
|As mentioned above, this item is usually your FOURTH item. Make sure to buy it AFTER Rylai's Crystal Scepter as the passive damage is amplified by the slow. Not only does this item give you further tankiness (+300 hp), but it also has a passive that deals % max health in damage-over-time magic damage. This is HUGE. As mentioned above, Akali will not ever have a problem 1-shotting squishy targets. However, what Akali struggles with is fighting tankier targets such as Maokai or Cho'Gath. This combination of Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Liandry's Torment completely solves this problem as not only are you tanky enough to dual tanks, but you can also shred them with the % damage from Liandry's Torment (which is amplified due to the slow from Rylai's Crystal Scepter.|
|Once we hit our FIFTH item, however, we will have to branch out. Generally, the choice will be between Guardian Angel and Spirit Visage Against heavy AD enemy compositions, we want to build Guardian Angel. This item has a nice build path that, once again, allows you to be a bit tankier with the extra armor. Further, the AD will help with the Twin Disciplines and Crescent Slash AD scaling. However, the most important part of this item is the revive passive. The revive passive isn't JUST a revive. It also gives you time for your cooldowns to come up and, most importantly, acts as a deterrent for enemies. Why would they waste their burst on you if you're just going to revive?|
|The other option for our FIFTH item. Buy this against mixed or magic heavy teams. Once again, we are looking to boost our survivability in teamfights. Further, Akali heals a LOT from her Twin Disciplines and Hextech Gunblade. Spirit Visage's passive will help her heal even more in fights.|
|A situational item that you usually buy as your first component and leave in your inventory. You buy this against heavy AP damage top laners like Swain. The reason you rush this item is so you don't instantly die to 1 combo in lane. Further, you don't upgrade the item as Maw of Malmortius is not a very cost-effective early item on Akali.|
|A situational item that should be bought as your FIFTH item. Buy this when the enemy squishies are stacking lots of magic resist and you are unable to burst them down. Tanky items like Spirit Visage and Guardian Angel are good, but only if you can already 1-shot squishies in the first place.|
|A situational item that should be bought against healing champions such as Dr. Mundo, Vladimir, etc. This is actually beter than Morellonomicon on Akali as it's way cheaper and her AP scalings aren't amazing, meaning building an item that gives AP won't be very efficient for your damage. Further, you already have plenty of flat health from the rest of your build so the flat health isn't very effective either. Note that both Akali's autos and E will proc executioners (as E does physical damage).|
NOTE: In this section, aa stands for auto-attack and Q W E R are abilities.
FURTHER NOTE: P stands for passive proc, meaning you auto attack a minion to proc the first part of your passive so your next auto will do bonus damage. Remember that the second part of Twin Disciplines counts towards your Electrocute proc.
EVEN FURTHER NOTE: (GB) stands for Hextech Gunblade's active. I put it in parenthesis because you might not have this up or even have the item while using this combo.
Trading in Lane WITHOUT Shadow Dance
NOTE: This can also be done without the Twilight Shroud or Crescent Slash at level 1. Do this by simply walking up to the enemy if they get in auto attack range.
Stronger Trading in Lane WITHOUT Shadow Dance
NOTE: Throw Mark of the Assassin on the enemy laner, wait until Mark of the Assassin comes up again, and THEN go in so you can proc the mark twice!
*Wait until Q CD comes up
Lane Solo-Kill Combo With Shadow Dance
*Wait until Q CD comes up
Basic Teamfight/Skirmish 1-Shot Combo
NOTE: You can skip the passive proc if you aren't near minions for this combo.
Advanced Lane Solo-Kill Combos
NOTE: Use this combo if the enemy laner is standing behind his melee minions. Use Shadow Dance to the nearest minion, Mark of the Assassin and Twilight Shroud (make sure to use Mark of the Assassin first as you cannot use it after Twilight Shroud for 0.5 seconds), then auto attack into Crescent Slash.
* Use this Shadow Dance on a minion.
Versus melee bruisers, you want to spam your Q on the enemy laner whenever it comes off cooldown. Keep in mind abilities don't draw minion aggro, so you're safe to walk up to their minion wave and Q unless you begin to auto. If they walk up to trade, simply auto, e, q-aa again if your q is up, then back off with shroud. Be careful when trading if the enemy laner walks up suddenly, as there's a chance you are getting ganked. Although Akali's shroud is an escape spell, if the enemy jungler catches you in a 1v1 it's not going to save you.
Versus ranged top laners like Swain or Gnar, you want to be a bit more careful when harassing with Q as walking up to Q range also puts you in their poke range. If you're struggling to trade, simply back off and farm with Q. Let the wave push into you and hold it on your side of the lane. This way, the enemy laner has to play safer due to the threat of a gank and you can farm until your level 6 power spike.
Once you hit level 6 versus virtually any top laner (given you aren't too far behind), you can throw a Q, wait for your Q to come up, then ult in to almost certainly win the trade.
Mid Game Macro
Once you hit around midgame (when the first bot turret falls), you have a three choices. First, you can switch with your bot lane to farm if your bot lane took the enemy turret. This allows your bot lane to pressure the top lane tier 1 turret. Second, you can group with your team and push down mid. Once again, this is an option when your team is ahead. Third, if your team is the one that lost bot turret, stay top and continue laning. Your team will likely group, so tell them to drop flank wards beforehand if you have Teleport. If not, be careful when showing bot or the enemy team may force a 5v4. If you do have Teleport ready, be sure to watch the map and teleport within a few seconds of the fight starting.
When you splitpush with Akali, there are a few things to watch out for. First, you must make sure not to be exerting more pressure than the rest of your team. For example, if you're at their tier 2 turret and your team is on baron, it's ok for you to be there even though the enemy team can collapse on you. If they do, your team secures a free baron. However, if you're pushed up to their tier 2 turret and your team is in base, then the enemy team can just 5v1 you and baron while you're dead.
Another problem is when the enemy top laner is stronger than you and he's also splitpushing in your lane. Here, you will want to call for your top laner to match the enemy top laner and you can rotate to the other side lane or 2v1 the enemy top laner as he pushes.
Keep in mind that you can always sit in a bush flanking your team if you think a fight is starting and you don't have teleport.
Approaching a Teamfight
You will want to start every teamfight flanking both teams. A flank behind the enemy team is preferable but you just have to make sure the enemy front line isn't between you and the enemy squishies. Once the fight begins, watch and wait for the enemy frontline to use their CC (like Maokai's Twisted Advance or Malphite's Unstoppable Force). Once this has been used, watch for backline CC being used by anyone who can peel for the enemy squishy (usually a support, such as Janna's Monsoon. Although you can go in before the backline CC is used, it will be harder to kill your target. However, never go in before the frontline CC is used, as they will just use that CC on you and you will instantly die.
Teamfight Target Selection
Here's a hypothetical situation: You've made it past all the enemy CC. Now you can use your full combo to delete one squishy from the teamfight. Do you kill the 10-3-5 Ryze, the 2-3-8 Lucian, or the 0-1-10 Janna? Well, even I couldn't tell you which one to go for. Your mistake was not picking a target before the start of the fight.
Before a fight starts, you want to first consider which enemies you can even 1-shot. This list will usually include the enemy mid, bot, and support. From this list, you want to find the biggest threat to your team. This is usually the enemy that does the most damage but could also include the Soraka that keeps the whole team alive and makes it impossible for you to 1-shot the enemy carries.
Now, you've narrowed down your list of targets to 1 or 2 (in our hypothetical situation, this would be Ryze and Lucian). First, check for items like Guardian Angel, Stopwatch, or Zhonya's Hourglass. This is incredibly important as a well-timed stopwatch or hourglass often decides a fight. If your target has one of these items, reconsider whether it's worth burning all your cooldowns to pop either the GA passive or force the hourglass. So, let's assume Ryze has a completed hourglass. If you judge that forcing the 10-3-5 Ryze to stasis for 2.5 seconds is worth more than a kill on the 2-3-8 Lucian, then go for Ryze. However, if you judge that killing Lucian then going for Ryze as a team is the better option, go for Lucian.
Another factor high elo players consider are summoner spell cooldowns. This can be a bit overwhelming if you're newer to the game, but timing summoner spells are incredibly important once you get to around Diamond 1 or above. It's actually pretty simple. To do this, make sure to have your chat timestamps enabled. For example, if the enemy Syndra flashes, click on the flash on the scoreboard (lets say, hypothetically, she flashes at 13:30). Then, when you're walking to lane or backing, simply add 5 minutes to the flash timestamp. Afterwards, type something like "mid f 1830," with 1830 meaning 18:30. You can do the same with heal (4 minute cd), barrer (3 minute cd), teleport (5 minute cd), ignite (3.5 minute cd), and etc. Remember that Unsealed Spellbook and CDR boots reduce summoner spell cooldowns.
Proper Shroud Usage
- Use Twilight Shroud when you are ganked by an enemy.
- When using Twilight Shroud to escape, always begin walking in one direction then use Twilight Shroud and walk in a different direction. This will leave enemies confused as to which direction you are going. Generally, you want to walk towards the opposite side of the lane and then use Twilight Shroud towards your tower (or vice versa).
- Further, you can run away from the enemy minion wave and then Shadow Dance to the enemy minion wave to juke the enemy.
- Similar to Ezreal's Arcane Shift, you can use Akali's Twilight Shroud to negate the displacement of spells such as:
NOTE: This DOES NOT WORK on Thresh's Death Sentence
- This is done by casting Twilight Shroud right BEFORE you are about to be hit by the enemy displacement ability.
- You can use the blink and bonus movespeed of Twilight Shroud to help chase down an enemy champion.
- Remember that, once you cast Twilight Shroud, you cannot cast any other ability for 0.5 seconds.
Escaping Tower Aggro
- You can use the blink of Twilight Shroud to auto-attack an enemy champion under tower and then escape without being hit by the tower.
- Make sure you use Mark of the Assassin first for bonus proc damage.
- In order to not take tower damage, you must time your Twilight Shroud so you use it the instant the auto attack damage goes off. This takes practice to perfect.
Jumping Small Walls
- You can use the blink of Twilight Shroud go over short walls.
- A general rule of thumb is any wall that Riven can jump over with her third Broken Wings cast, Akali can also blink over with Twilight Shroud.
Thank you for reading. Please let me know if you notice any outdated sections or errors and I will do my best to fix them asap.
Special thanks to Jovy for banners and coding.
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