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KATARINA BUILD GUIDE: Every Blade Tells a Story by Sinisteel

by Sinisteel (last updated 4 months ago)

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9
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration(7.83 magic penetration)
9
Greater Seal of Scaling Health(216 health at champion level 18)
9
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power(27.54 ability power at champion level 18)
3
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power(14.85 ability power)
View Rune Details
Summoner Spells
View Summoner Details

Starting

4

Full Item Build

View Item Details
21
9
0
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 2/4
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 2 1/1
21 Offense
mastery 1 2/2
mastery 2 2/2
mastery 3 0/2
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/3
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
9 Defense
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
0 Utility
View Mastery Details
Player Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Voracity
QBouncing Blade
WSinister Steel
EShunpo
RDeath Lotus
View Skill Order Details

Introduction

My Stream
www.twitch.tv/sinisteel

My Twitter
@sinisteellol


Welcome to my Katarina guide. I'm Sinisteel, a Master Tier NA mid laner. This is my first guide on Solomid. I hope you all will find it very helpful and informative!

I am VERY obsessed with Katarina's under-appreciated strength. Many people disregard her as a viable champion because her ultimate can be disrupted and her reset mechanic is very hit or miss, but I am here to prove those people wrong. Katarina is EXTREMELY strong after level 6 and has insane teamfighting presence if you know how to use her properly, which I will explain later.

Pros
  • Extremely fun to play
  • Nearly ungankable with
  • Very strong after level 6
  • Destructive ultimate with very high base damage and scaling
  • Low cooldown abilities
  • One of the most powerful passives in the game
  • No mana
  • RED HAIR IS SEXY

Cons
  • Crowd Control destroys her if not played properly
  • Very weak early game
  • Easy to use, difficult to master
  • can be your saving grace or your bane in team fights

Statistics

HEALTH 425 (+80)
HEALTH REGEN. 6.95 (+0.55)
MANA N/A
ARMOR 17 (+3.5)
MAGIC RES. 30 (+1.25)
ATTACK DAMAGE 53 (+3.2)
ATTACK SPEED 0.658 (+2.74%)
RANGE 125
MOV. SPEED 345

Runes

Marks

very strong on an AP assassin. These are definitely my #1 choice for marks. works as well. However, you're not ranged so you won't be auto attacking much at all.

Seals

I like to take scaling health runes since Katarina has the lowest base health out of any melee champions at level 18. Since is one of your core items, you don't really need armor. Having 216 extra health at level 18 really makes a big difference.

Glyphs

I really like scaling AP glyphs. Katarina isn't a champion designed for the early game, especially with all of the nerfs she has received in the past few months. Scaling ability power glyphs help set you up for mid/late game which is where you will shine. However, if facing someone like or , or if the enemy team has multiple sources of magic damage, I highly recommend taking or you'll have a really bad time in lane and will not be able to farm efficiently.

Quints

pretty standard for an AP carry. Notable mention goes to . Since Katarina has very low base damages, 15 AP makes a significant difference in your early game trading and skirmishing.

Masteries

mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 2/4
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 3/3
mastery 4 1/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 3 1/1
mastery 2 1/1
21 Offense
mastery 1 2/2
mastery 2 2/2
mastery 3 0/2
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 1/1
mastery 2 3/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 1/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/3
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/4
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
9 Defense
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 3 0/1
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/1
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/1
mastery 3 0/3
mastery 4 0/2
mastery 1 0/1
mastery 2 0/3
mastery 2 0/1
0 Utility
Deal an extra 2% damage and receive an extra 1% damage with Double-Edged Sword. This is huge, especially on a champion like Katarina where 1 reset can determine the outcome of an entire team fight. This point is always worth taking on melee champions because of how much value it provides.

Take 2 points in Sorcery to move up to the next tier of offensive masteries. 2.5% CDR isn't too impactful, but there's really nothing better to take.

Put a point in Butcher to help you with last hitting.

Put a point in Expose Weakness to give your team extra damage in team fights. That 1% could decide whether or not you'll get a reset in a fight.

Take 3 points in Mental Force for a free 16 ability power at level 18.

Put a point in Arcane Mastery for 6 flat ability power.

Executioner is a very important mastery on Katarina. As an assassin, you prey upon the weak, so putting 3 points in this ensures a 5% damage increase to enemies under 50% health.

Put 3 points into Archmage for an extra 5% ability power. This mastery scales significantly into the late game, especially coupled with

Put a point in Dangerous Game for those clutch moments where you would've lived if you had it. This is probably my favorite mastery in the game. I can't tell you how many times it has saved me.

Put 3 points in Devastating Strikes for an additional 6% armor penetration and magic penetration.

Arcane Blade helps mainly with last hitting. You won't really notice this doing a lot of damage until late game, but I always put a point into it.

1 mastery point for 3% extra damage? I think it's definitely worth taking a point in Havoc this season.

Defense

2 points in Block means you'll be taking 2 less damage from auto attacks which may not seem like a lot but it's pretty significant in pre-6 laning.

Take 2 points in Recovery for an extra 2 health regen per 5. Like Block, it won't seem like a lot but it's pretty important.

Unyielding blocks 2 damage from champions. This means you'll be taking 2 less damage from auto attacks and spells. Take a point in this.

Veteran Scars Put 3 points into this for 36 free health.

16 extra health at level 1, 57 health at level 18. Not the greatest mastery point but there's not really anything else worth while.

Summoner Sets

Primary Set
is a very standard combination that works very well with Katarina's mechanics. Flash ensures that enemies will not get away. Ignite does the exact same thing. If enemies cannot escape your grip, that means you'll be getting resets. Flash is also very useful for re-positioning yourself if you're in a sticky situation.

is not a bad option either. I've used teleport many times and I really liked it but I feel like ignite is simply more versatile. Ignite helps tremendously with pressuring the enemy laner, but Teleport works as a crutch for your early game and a steroid for your roaming. Take whatever you feel suits your own play style.

is extremely useful if the enemy team has heavy CC. I've recently started picking this up instead of Ignite and it's been extremely satisfying completely negating the crowd control my enemies were saving for me.

Item Builds

Starting Build(s)
Starting Items
4
is a pretty standard and versatile start. Use these as your starting items if you're against an AP champion. Boots and 4 health pots will allow you to survive your very weak early laning phase while giving you the extra mobility to dodge skillshots and roam more efficiently if you see an opportunity.
Start the game with a so you can protect yourself from the enemy jungler. This is also a free ward jump in case you get into an unfavorable situation.
Final Build(s)
Standard Final Items
Very standard if you're not against heavy cc.

Very strong item when playing against magic damage. Not only does this give you AP and MR, it also has an aura that removes 20 MR from any enemy you're near.

staple AP carry item. 120 ability power and 30% ability power increase. Not too much to say about this.

immunity for 2.5 seconds. The 2.5 second window is usually enough time for your team to wound/kill enemy champions and get you resets without you dying first.

70 ability power and 35% magic penetration. Void Staff is a must-have. If your 6 item build does not include one, you're probably going to lose/probably lost already. As a carry, your primary job is to deal as much damage as possible and Void Staff will enable you to shred through magic resistance and do damage. Don't wait for your opponents to build MR, buy this as soon as you finish your core. Remember, you're Katarina. You don't bring any utility to team fights. You only bring raw damage.

is a great last item. If you get caught or don't manage to get a reset before dying, you'll have an extra life which will buy more time for your team.

is a very strong pickup on Katarina now ever since it received a massive buff. It now allows you to store 2 ward charges and only costs 250 gold to upgrade. You no longer have to spend money on every recall for wards because you can spend 250 gold and get a poor man's
Build Order
Early Game

should be your first pickup. The earlier it is in the game, the more of an impact this item will have since flat penetration is stronger when the enemies have lower magic resistance. It'll also provide you with a fair amount of HP and AP which will help tremendously in early/mid game team fights.

Versus an AP mid, you want to purchase as quickly as possible. It has two main components, and , with building out of .

If you're winning your lane, rush
If you're having trouble in your lane, rush

When you finish your , purchase . These will allow you to roam more efficiently and move around team fights more quickly. They also give you +15 magic penetration, which is primarily what we care about as AP assassins. At this point you're sitting on 7.8 magic penetration from runes, 15 from your , 15 from , 6% from your masteries, and the 20 shred from .

Mid Game

After you finish your , you'll want to get either or . If you think you'll get bursted hard in team fights, buy first. If not, get first. Next, purchase whichever one you didn't buy first.

Late Game

At this point, you'll want to work towards . Don't wait for the enemy team to build MR.

should be your last item in most situations due to its insane utility and notable defensive stats.

Situational Items

Quicksilver Sash
Buy a QSS as your defensive item if you're against someone with a suppression or very heavy cc. If you're locked down, you're not doing damage which means you're useless.
Lich Bane
I guess this works too. Weaving autos into your combo increases your single target damage, but definitely slows down your AoE damage.
Twin Shadows
80 AP, 6% movement speed, 10% CDR, and an active that slows enemies. I've tried this as a 6th item and it's pretty nice when I don't need defense.
Mejai's Soulstealer
Very high risk high reward item. I wouldn't recommend getting this because it's extremely unpredictable.

Skill Order

Player Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Voracity
QBouncing Blade
WSinister Steel
EShunpo
RDeath Lotus
Max Q first. It's your safest form of harass and allows you to farm if you fall behind.

Max W second because it offers the most consistent AOE DPS in fights.

Max E last because it's really only useful for its utility.

Put a point in R at 6, 11, and 16.

Skills

Voracity
This passive is the reason why I play Katarina. Instant CD Refreshes for your basic abilities and a 15 second reduction for your ultimate allows you to be a deadly threat in team fights. You kill one target, Shunpo to the next one and assassinate him, and so on. You can ult more than once in the same team fight because of Voracity. It's also great for tower diving, as you can Shunpo out of the tower range as fast as you got into tower range. This passive is what makes Katarina so unique.
Bouncing Blade
Bouncing Blade is your ranged harass and is the only reason you won't get absolutely shredded every single game against ranged champions in the early laning phase. You can use this for farming or for harassing depending on how your lane is going. Remember, this ability bounces, so often times you might be able to get creeps and harass your opponent for free. Mess around with this in custom games and try to commit the bounce range to memory.
Sinister Steel
Sinister Steel is a spammable AoE ability that gives a slight movement speed buff. It has 375 range so it is very useful for last hitting if you don't want to leave yourself vulnerable while autoing a creep. In team fights, spam this whenever it's up.

This is what 125 range looks like:



This is what Sinister Steel (375 range) looks like:

Shunpo
Shunpo is a blink ability with 700 range. Very useful for gap closing/widening and setting up an advantageous position for your ultimate. You can Shunpo to both ally and enemy wards, as well as ally and enemy Thresh lanterns. You can also Shunpo to allied Jarvan IV flags, but not enemy Jarvan flags.

You can Shunpo over literally any wall in the game. Here are some big walls you can jump over if you don't believe me:






As you climb the ladder, you will notice that your enemies place more wards than before. Here are a couple of cool spots that will help you avoid river wards:


Death Lotus
Death Lotus is a high damage AoE skill that hits the 3 closest enemies and channels over 2.5 seconds. Its radius is 550. This is Katarina's highest damage output. At rank 1, this has a 90 second cooldown. Only use this to harass your lane opponent if you can push him out of lane and/or secure an objective for your team. In team fights, it's extremely important to keep track of enemy CC usage to ensure that your ultimate won't get canceled abruptly.

When channeling Death Lotus in brush or fog of war, you will not be revealed. Keep this in mind and your opponents will be in for a delightful surprise.

Champion Matchups

Ahri
Difficulty
Favors You
How do I beat ?

Abilities:

  • gives her sustain once it's charged up.
  • has two parts, magic and true damage. Do your best to at least dodge the true damage. Also makes her run really fast while the orb is travelling.
  • is very weak early on. Regardless, walk away from her when she activates it because it prioritizes champions.
  • charms you, making you walk towards her. This is a skillshot.
  • makes it easy for Ahri to get out of your ult and allows her to set up a more accurate .

So what should I do?

  • You're a very easy target once you burn , so use it wisely.
  • When channeling , remember that you're standing in one spot. Only use this if she burns or if you're going to preemptively cancel in anticipation of her .
Akali
Difficulty
Favors You
How do I beat ?

Abilities:

  • makes her autos do extra magic damage and grants her some spellvamp.
  • has two parts, similar to your . Make sure you never allow her to proc the second part when trading with her.
  • stealths her and grants her movement speed, as well as slowing any enemies who are standing on the shroud. All of your abilities can still damage her while she's in the shroud. and counter this ability entirely.
  • does physical damage in a circle around her, kind of like . However, outranges , so use this to your advantage.
  • high damage gap closer. She'll usually use this on you when she wants to harass you with a double Q or when she's trying to all-in you. It's smart to use when she uses her ult because you'll end up winning the trade.

So what should I do?

  • This lane is extremely snowbally. 1 kill on either side could potentially decide the game. Make sure you ask your jungler to gank and make sure you ward.
  • As long as she doesn't proc the second part of her , you will do more damage in trades.
Anivia
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
How do I beat ?

Abilities:

  • gives her two lives. This has a 4 minute cooldown so make sure you time the egg.
  • will slow you when it touches you and stun you when it pops. Both parts do the same amount of damage. Make sure you never get hit by this (it's super slow). Always save and you will never have trouble dodging this.
  • puts up an impassable wall which makes fighting in narrow corridors very dangerous. It can also interrupt your ult by displacing you.
  • deals double damage if you've been hit by or .
  • AoE slow and DoT. Make sure you don't get slowed by this because it is by far the easiest way for her to proc the double damage on .

So what should I do?

  • You'll be able to trade evenly pre-6. Once she hits 6, you need to wait for her to use on the wave before you try trading or you'll get hit very hard by her .
Annie
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
How do I beat ?

Abilities:

  • this is a 1.25 second stun at level 1, 1.5 at 6, and 1.75 at 11. There will be a swirly smoke animation around her when her stun is up. Keep track of how many abilities she has used because every 4th one will be a stun whether you see the animation or not.
  • low cooldown, high damage, high scaling single target nuke with a 4 second cooldown. Don't get hit by too many of these.
  • AoE cone with damage similar to .
  • try to avoid trading with her while this is active since it gives her extra armor and magic resistance.
  • huge AoE nuke. She will most likely open with this in fights with her stun active so make sure you stay behind your team.

So what should I do?

  • Don't trade with Annie when she has her stun up.
  • A good time to go in on her is right after she uses her stun.
Azir
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
How do I beat ?

Abilities:

  • the more CDR he builds, the faster his soldiers will attack.
  • make sure you dodge this. Its cast radius is 800 units around Azir so it outranges . Not only will it slow you, it'll also put his soldiers in a good position to attack you.
  • will zone you very effectively. The soldier autos will not take minion aggro, so he can safely harass you from a distance.
  • try to avoid getting between Azir and his soldiers and you can avoid this knock-up easily.
  • will knock you back and cancel your ult.

So what should I do?

  • Be careful when jumping in on Azir. His will push you back pretty far.
  • In order to win trades you need to defensively very quickly after casting so you don't get hit by .
Brand
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Avoid his . When he lands an ability on you and hits you with Sear, you will get stunned. It should be very easy to dodge his skillshots, however. This lane shouldn't be difficult for you.
Cassiopeia
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
How do I beat ?

Abilities:

  • makes her scale extremely well.
  • applies a DoT to you and allows her to spam .
  • lays down an AoE poison field that slows and damages you while you're standing in it.
  • is a spammable ability that increases her poison damage on you.
  • stuns you if you're facing her, slows you if you're looking away.

So what should I do?

  • Do your best to avoid getting hit by any of her poisons.
  • Cassiopeia is a scaling monster whose build path gives her a lot of HP. Ask your jungler to gank for you early before she gets rolling.
  • When all-inning her, make sure you turn around before channeling your ultimate so you don't get interrupted.
Diana
Difficulty
Favors You
Some people say Diana is the counter to Katarina, but I'd like to respectfully disagree with that notion. In order to "counter" Katarina, you need to be able to shut her down early game. Diana is just like Katarina, a weak AP assassin pre-6, but spikes very hard after 6. You can out-trade her very easily pre-6 because her mana will eventually deplete after she Qs you a few times. However, you don't have mana, so you can consistently apply pressure to her and after a while she won't be able to trade back. It's very important to purchase an Abyssal Scepter in this lane.
Fizz
Difficulty
Favors You
Fizz can avoid most of your damage with his Playful/Trickster. You can out-trade him pre-6 but you won't win post-6 on even footings.
Galio
Difficulty
Favors You
Although this guy is hardly played, he's worth mentioning. This is basically a farm lane in which you need a lot of magic penetration to succeed. Make sure you have Sorc Shoes, Guise, and Abyssal and you should have no problems with this guy.
Gragas
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Pretty easy lane, just dodge his barrels which is extremely easy to do as Katarina.
Heimerdinger
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
You can't get close to him without getting wrecked. Honestly, this is probably one of the hardest lanes for Katarina. If you're gonna jump into him, you'd better be sure you can kill him.
Jayce
Difficulty
Favors You
How do I beat ?

Abilities:

  • gives him movement speed when he changes forms.
  • AoE slow in hammer stance/AoE nuke in cannon stance.
  • AoE magic damage in hammer stance/2.5 attack speed for 3 hits in cannon stance with damage modifier.
  • Single target magic damage knock-back in hammer stance/Gate that increases movespeed and empowers in cannon stance.
  • Allows him to switch between cannon and hammer stances.

So what should I do?

  • Avoid his harass in cannon stance and you'll go even or maybe win this lane.
  • His in hammer stance will interrupt your ultimate.
Karma
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Dodge her Qs and you'll be fine.
Karthus
Difficulty
Favors You
Easiest lane ever. He literally can't do anything to you. When Karthus uses his ultimate, find something to which you can quickly Shunpo in order to mitigate 15% of his ultimate damage.
Kassadin
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
How do I beat ?

Abilities:

isn't this dumb. He gets a free 15% magic damage mitigation.
  • Throws a ball at you that does magic damage and gives him a magic shield.
  • Bonus magic damage on hit, restores mana and does even more damage on its active.
  • Slows in a cone when he charges this up.
  • 700 range AoE magic damage blink. Lovely.

So what should I do?

  • You have to wait for the shield from his to fade before trading with him.
  • His will interrupt your ultimate.
  • Don't let him use his active on you or he'll gain a ridiculous amount of his mana back.
Kayle
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Pretty hard lane. She can punish you very hard for coming close to her and her ultimate stops all incoming damage for a short duration. It's definitely possible to win this lane though, but Kayle's kit is just really strong against melee assassins.
Kennen
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Kennen is a very strong lane bully and can stun you with 3 marks of his passive. Farm safely until level 6 while harassing him with Q in your creep wave so he can't trade back with anything besides an auto or two. If you decide to all-in him post 6, make sure you're not marked with his passive. He'll either have to blow his ult to stop yours or flash away. Also, once Kennen puts a point into his W, every 5th auto attack will deal additional magic damage and apply a mark of his passive. You'll see his lightning glowing around his shuriken when he has his proc, so make sure you sit back until he uses his auto.
Khazix
Difficulty
Favors You
Not too hard of a lane if you're fighting in the creep wave. Kha'Zix does a considerably higher amount of damage to enemies who are isolated, so make sure you're fighting in a crowd of creeps when you duel him. Don't let him Q you unless you're surrounded by allied minions or champions because it'll hurt a lot.
Leblanc
Difficulty
Favors You
Since she got her silence taken away from her, this lane isn't too bad. She can still burst very hard, but you'll be able to answer with your own burst now. Try to predict when she'll use her W (usually after Q) and shunpo away to avoid the damage and burn her mana. When all-inning her, make sure you use your spells before she hits 40% health or she'll go stealthed for 1 second which is enough time for her to walk out of your range.
Lissandra
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Her abilities have a pretty short range. Just keep poking her with Q until you're ready to finish her off, but be very careful for her ult.
Lulu
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
You can't really do anything to Lulu after 6 so ask your jungler to come mid before that happens. Don't bother all-inning her by yourself because she'll just ult herself and polymorph you, leaving you in a really bad position.
Lux
Difficulty
Favors You
Lux is a very easy lane for Katarina. All of Lux's abilities are skillshots, so there's no excuse for you to get hit by a binding and combo'd from there. Don't underestimate her though, as her shield is the reason everyone dies when they tower dive her. If you think you've scored a kill on her, you probably haven't because of her shield. Never walk away until she's dead. Barrier is a very popular summoner spell on Lux as well. If she has barrier, definitely don't dive her without an ally.
Malzahar
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Not too hard pre-6 because all he has is his E so you should take advantage of 1-5 and abuse him extensively. Be careful once he reaches 6 because his ultimate suppresses you. Just like with Annie, if you see him walking up to you for no reason, you're probably getting ganked and you should get out of there immediately.
Morgana
Difficulty
Favors You
Another easy lane. All Morgana can do is push. You should never get hit by her Q and if she ults you it's very easy to get out of it with Shunpo.
Nidalee
Difficulty
Favors You
Very easy to harass Nidalee with Bouncing Blades. As long as you don't get hit by her spears, this lane should be yours.
Orianna
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Orianna is tricky because she has incredible harass and her shield can negate a lot of your damage. Her Qs and Ws really add up so be especially careful in avoiding those. Her autos do magic damage as well so her harass is extremely potent even if she's out of mana.
Pantheon
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Pantheon does a lot of damage but the key to winning this lane is out-sustaining his Qs until he's out of mana. For this reason, I'd start cloth armor and 5 health potions against him. You shouldn't have a hard time because you'll out-sustain him and force him out of creeps.
Riven
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Riven is extremely powerful so I would just avoid getting close to her without Shunpo available. Keep harassing her with Q but be very careful when going in for the kill. Even if she's low, she has two ways to cancel your ultimate, as well as a very large shield.
Ryze
Difficulty
Favors You
He got nerfed to the ground. This is basically as free as it gets for you. Don't let him Q you for free.
Swain
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Swain can harass very well and has massive amounts of sustain post 6. Your best bet against him is to either all-in him as quickly as you can or farm because he has sustain and you don't.
Syndra
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Syndra can bully you very hard in the early laning phase and she can nearly one shot you if she stuns you post-6. Play this lane with your finger on your E key ready to blink out of her stun.
Talon
Difficulty
Favors You
He lost his silence so this lane isn't too bad anymore. Make sure you don't get hit by his W and make sure you get a very early .
Twistedfate
Difficulty
Favors You
Twisted Fate is pretty easy. He can't really do anything to you. His wild cards are very easy to dodge and if you see him pick a card, you can just move back until it fades. Keep your lane pushed after 6 and follow him whenever you see him leave lane because he'll most likely be ganking a side lane.
Veigar
Difficulty
Favors You
Veigar is another easy lane. He can't 100-0 you until mid game unless you mess up horribly. Make sure by late game you have or .
Viktor
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Viktor can harass very sufficiently with his Death Ray (the laser) and his Power Transfer provides him with a shield that negates any trading so you'll need to be quick with your Bouncing Blades. His ultimate can silence you, so be cautious when you use your ultimate because he'll use his immediately after.
Vladimir
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Vladimir is very weak when he has no items. Harass him very hard before his first recall because he won't be able to trade efficiently without sacrificing his health bar because of his E.
Xerath
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
Xerath can harass you from very far away, so far that you literally can't do anything to him. Just play this as a farm lane because any good Xerath will never let you jump on him. You should be able to pressure him with your Q but don't let him poke you for free and never let his stun land on you.
Yasuo
Difficulty
Favors You
Start Cloth 5 Avoid trading too heavily with him before level 5. Max your W.
Zed
Difficulty
Favors You
Zed's a pretty easy lane for you. He plays very similarly to Katarina but his Q is a skillshot while yours is not, so use this to your advantage. Also, your W has 85 more range than his E, so in theory you should be able to hit him with your Sinister Steel without him being able to hit you with his E.
Ziggs
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
He can push you very hard and harass you while you're farming under tower. Pressure him early with your Q and make sure he isn't able to push you without being punished first.
Zyra
Difficulty
Favors Enemy
As long as you don't get snared you'll be fine. Zyra excels at pushing and has an exceptional damage output. Do your best to avoid her Q and make sure you use Shunpo to avoid her E if you know you're about to get hit by it.

Early Game

When the game begins, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What summoner spells does my opponent have?
  • What items did my opponent start?

A popular mid lane summoner spell set is . However, you don't want to get baited by , , or because people do take these spells frequently, especially against assassins.
You always want to keep track of what the enemy started. Your harass is far more meaningful if your opponent has . You'll want to avoid trading too frequently if your opponent has because this start offers an insane amount of sustain.

In the early game, you want to focus on two things:

1. Using to harass your enemy whenever it's up
2. Farming minions.

Make sure you're watching the map. If fights break out in the jungle, make sure you're there. If you ever see the enemy mid leave lane, make sure you call it out and follow if you can. Your roams aren't too strong before 6, so don't try to force anything unless you're certain you'll get your team some kills.

Mid Game

Mid game is all about towers and dragon. At this point you should have a few core items so you'll be dealing some nasty damage. Make sure you're constantly roaming and applying pressure around the map, but don't forget about your lane. Remember that you have a tower to defend.

I cannot stress how important dragon is as a global objective. Make sure you're buying green and pink wards and using your to clear enemy wards to ensure that your team secures the dragon. Not sure why dragon is so important? Here's what each stack of the dragon buff does:
1. DRAGON'S MIGHT: +6% attack damage and ability power
2. DRAGON'S WRATH: +15% damage to towers and buildings
3. DRAGON'S FLIGHT: +5% movement speed
4. DRAGON'S DOMINANCE: +15% damage to minions and monsters
5. ASPECT OF THE DRAGON: Doubles all previous bonuses and your attacks burn for 150 true damage over 5 seconds. This stack only lasts 180 seconds.

Late Game

Late game is pretty similar to mid game with one exception: any mistake on either side could potentially mark the end of the game. Vision is your most important resource in the late game. There's no room for error. Anyone who gets caught throws the game. Make sure you never facecheck anything.

Warding as a Mid Laner

Wards are probably the most important items in the game and they always will be. Vision is undeniably the biggest advantage a team can have because of how much information even a single ward can provide. Knowing where your opponents are and where they are headed allows your team to prepare for fights, catch people off guard, and secure objectives. Just because you're a mid laner, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be buying wards. Everyone on your team is obligated to buy and place wards. Trinkets alone won't win games; you need to be willing to spend gold and purchase real wards in order to put your team in the most advantageous position.

You may be wondering, "where should I ward, Sinisteel"? Here are some great spots to drop stealth wards:






These ward locations are very easy to reach and usually will not put you in a bad position.

Let's move on to pink wards. Pink wards remain visible now and take 5 hits to kill, so you must place them very strategically, even more so than stealth wards. Here are a few locations where you can drop pink wards as a mid laner. Keep in mind you can also place stealth wards in these spots but I prefer pinks because people usually don't check these bushes:




These two spots ensure great vision control on the river. Not only will you be giving yourself vision, you will also help out one of your side lanes tremendously.



This is a great ward to drop in the early and middle phases of the game because it allows you and your jungler to roam freely to bottom lane. If you get kills bot, you can swiftly turn that into a tower and/or dragon kill. The mirror location of this ward spot is behind the purple side red buff. It isn't smart to drop a pink ward there during the laning phase because Baron doesn't spawn until 15 minutes and even then it's very risky to attempt it early. It's much safer and more efficient to put emphasis on dragon control in the early and mid game. As the game progresses, that spot behind Baron becomes increasingly important, but you shouldn't worry about that until roughly 20-25 minutes into the game.

Team Fighting

I already talked about this briefly, but the key to acing the enemy team is your own personal judgment. Your ultimate is still your strongest damage output, but one tiny mistake or misjudgment can render your ult worthless. You can't jump in and start spinning too early because you'll just get CC'd. However, you can't jump in too late when everyone else on your team is dying/has died. Throw / Use your until the time is right for you to . You still deal considerable amounts of damage with your basic abilities, but your ultimate is what truly decides a team fight. It might take a few games, but you will most likely understand what I'm saying when you get put into that situation soon enough.

In regards to your team, WAIT FOR THEM TO INITIATE. As stated before, you should never be the one starting any fights. Period. Also stated before, pay close attention to that or . Make sure their CC is down before going in. The worst feeling EVER when playing Katarina is going in to ult and getting a fraction of a second worth of channeling, then getting CC'd and losing the fight. It happens to all of us and it's horrible. I've encountered that feeling multiple times, but after playing Katarina for a really long time, it happens much less often now. Keep all of these things in mind when you're team fighting.

Roaming

If there's one thing Katarina performs exceptionally well in, it's roaming. She has very high mobility and movement speed, so you can catch out the enemy side lanes very easily and transition those small victories into global objectives like towers and dragons. When roaming, make sure you won't be losing any gold/xp in your lane. If creeps end up hitting your tower, ask your jungler to cover mid for you. Roaming is very high risk/high reward so make sure you know where all of the enemies and their wards are before making a move. The last thing you want is to get counter-ganked, die, and have your lane opponent 2 levels higher than you. Awareness is the key to roaming.

In simpler terms, push mid and roam. You'll win games. Remember, this is a TEAM game. Help your team so they can help you.

Change Log

2/18/15:
  • Changed item builds.
  • Refined laning/skills chapters.

12/30/14:
  • Refining older chapters.
  • Making everything more structured and organized.

12/29/14:
  • Doing a massive overhaul of matchups.

12/27/14:
  • Changes to build path
  • Updated some champion match-ups.

8/30/14:
  • Slight changes all around

7/27/14:
  • Updated runes

6/21/14:
  • Added Yasuo match-up (sorry this wasn't on here before)

6/18/14:
  • Updated masteries and lane match-ups for patch 4.10.

4/13/14:
  • Minor updates to masteries and items.

4/3/14:
  • I'm still alive don't worry, updated the guide for the 4.5 patch.

1/6/14:
  • Updated some screenshots to look more modern.
  • Updated some skill explanations as well as adding some screenshots to the Sinister Steel explanation.
  • Added a new chapter, Warding as a Mid Laner.

1/4/14:
  • Changed masteries again.
  • Apparently I left a couple of champion match-ups blank. Sorry!

12/29/13:
  • Changed masteries a bit.

11/29/13:
  • Completely reformatted the guide in alignment with the new guide beta. This should make the guide much more reader friendly and easier to navigate.
  • Updated the guide for preseason 4.

10/12/13:
  • Doran's shield + 1 health pot added as a starting set.

9/12/13:
  • Added Banshee's Veil to item list, removed Warmog's Armor.
  • Lots of minor updates to the guide.

8/21/13:
  • Revamped guide a bit.

7/8/13:
  • ONE MILLION VIEWS!

6/27/13:
  • Updated some older information.

6/25/13:
  • Guide is now featured!

6/22/13:
  • Diamond now ^^.

6/20/13:
  • Fixed some numbers on Void Staff. (It gives 35% MPen, not 40%)
  • Added more description for starting items.

6/19/13:
  • Polished some of the wording to remove ambiguity and more accurately express what I wrote.

6/8/13:
  • Little bit of editing, nothing major.

6/7/13:
  • Moved around some Summoner Spells

6/3/13:
  • Organized the guide a bit more with more explanation on items
  • Removed from Item Builds (should have done that when they nerfed it)
  • Added to Item Builds

4/22/13:
  • Reworked masteries a bit to better reflect what I currently find to be most efficient.
  • Organized the guide a little bit.
  • Tidied up Runes Chapter.

3/28/13:
  • Took a break from League but I'm back now. Did some minor editing to the guide.

2/8/13:
  • Added Mercury's Treads to Item Builds chapter as a potential option.

2/1/13:
  • Added Elise to Match-ups

1/20/13:
  • Added Barrier to Summoner Spells, removed Promote and Surge.

1/19/13:
  • Added AD Casters and Bruisers to the Mid Lane Match-ups chapter.
  • Added Sightstone as an optional item to build.
  • Slight textual revisions.

1/13/13:
  • More variety and insight on Item Builds

1/12/13:
  • Major update to the entire guide. (sorry I haven't updated in a while)

12/9/12:
  • Major rework to Item Builds chapter because of the December Preseason 3 patch.
11/24/12:
  • Added "Alternate Runes" to Runes chapter.

11/23/12:
  • Completely revamped guide. (sorry for not updating in a while)
  • Removed When to Rush DFG and When Not to Rush DFG chapter.
  • Removed Abyssal Scepter or Zhonya's Hourglass? chapter.
  • Added much more detail to Lane Match-ups chapter.
  • Changed recommended runes.
  • Haunting Guise is now a core item.
  • Redid Item Builds based on the DFG nerf a while back.
  • Updated guide to better suit the new, upcoming S3 mastery page.

10/24/12:
  • Added many pictures to Skills chapter.
10/23/12:
  • Slight fix to Item Builds chapter. (Haunting Guise classified as optional)
  • Added a new chapter, When to Rush DFG and When Not to Rush DFG

10/21/12:
  • Added to Lane Match-ups.
  • Minor fixes.
  • Added an informative paragraph to the end of Lane Match-ups.

10/20/12:
  • Minor textual fix to make the guide appear more appealing.

10/19/12:
  • Rewrote Late Game chapter.
  • Slight fix to Vladimir lane match-up to be more consistent with the rest of the guide.

10/18/12:
  • Slight Change to Masteries with reasons.
  • Added Katarina's Base Stats to Introduction.
  • Added Scaling/Damage to Skills.
  • Added an About the Author chapter.
  • Remade the Early Game and Mid Game chapters.

10/6/12:
  • Made some changes to the Lane Match-ups Chapter.
  • Made Item Builds Chapter a bit more clear with more detailed explanations.

10/3/12:
  • Slight fix to text to remove ambiguity.

10/2/12:
  • Minor fix to Shunpo ability description.

10/1/12:
  • Added Mid Game and Late Game chapters.
  • Added more detail to several chapters.

9/30/12:
  • Added arguments for/against certain popular AP Caster items.
  • Tidied up the guide a bit, made it an easier and more organized read.
  • Added two new chapters to the guide: Argument Against Gunblade and Abyssal Scepter or Zhonya's Hourglass?

9/29/12:
  • Completely revamped item build based on a month of experimenting.
  • Touched up upon explanations and made them more clear.

Final Comments

Thanks for taking the time to read my guide. If you enjoyed reading it or learned something from it, please like my guide. I love positive feedback. I stream occasionally, so be sure to follow me at www.twitch.tv/sinisteel if you want to see me in action! If you have any questions or are unsure about something I said, feel free to comment or tweet me @SinisteelLoL. Be sure to follow me on Twitter if you found this helpful or need further help with Katarina!
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