IntroductionKatarina is a melee AP caster who is fits most comfortably in mid lane. Featuring no mana, she is extremely vulnerable to harassment in lane due to her being melee as well as her abilities having long cooldowns or being short ranged. Katarina has terrible laning due to this, but thrives in late game teamfight where she can melt champions and after receiving an assit or kill she can continue to bring on the pain train with her ability refreshes.
Masteries21/9/0 is a typical runepage for an AP caster and is no exception for Katarina. By getting many of the offensive stats of the mastery pages Katarina can easily assassinate carries and melt tanks into the late game.
RunesIs a typical non mana AP caster mage page, featuring strong offensive stats while giving a small amount of defense. NOTE: Runepages for Katarina can vary due to player preferences.
Katarina's passive. The passive which allows her to dominate people in the teamfights and demolish teams through many cycles of her basic abilities which slowly melt the carries of the enemy team
Q: Bouncing Blade
Katarina's Bouncing Blades is a range skill and is her highest priority spell as it provides, long range damage, extreme burst potential as well as a safe farming/poking tool
W: Sinister Steel
Katarina's Sinister Steel is a short ranged AOE spell which damages enemies around Katarina. This ability does NOT interupt movement so use it to kite. It is also an extremely strong farming tool as well as minor range harass.
Katarina's Shunpo is one of the most versatile abilities in the game, being a strong escape tool as well as a damaging gapcloser. Use this to effectively win trades by dodging skillshots as well as damaging the opponent. Mastering how to use this ability in conjunction with your passive is key to Katarina play. Restrain from spamming the E button as if you acidentally double Shunpo you are left with no escape
R: Death Lotus
Katarina's Death Lotus allows her to pump out extreme DPS and melt people down late game. Learning when it is safe to cast the ability as well as positioning yourself to unleash her extreme DPS is key. Observe the enemy/enemies and win your trade by simply initiating a trade when one of their key abilities/crowd controls are down. It's extremely short cooldown allows you to use this to establish lane dominance by using it to force the enemy out of lane. Using this spell early in a fight allows you to hit almost everyone meaning that if they are killed by you, or your team you will be able to take advantage of you're passive. It also allows you to use it later in the fight to secure the last few people on the enemy team
- Boots + 3 Potions are preferred by me as starting items and are by far Katarina's strongest starting items, allowing her to be more mobile which is important as Katarina is a melee champion. Boots + 3 Potions give you move speed which is an important stat helping you in both offence and defence, by far Katarina's strongest starting items.
- These items are not preferred by me though they are viable in their own sense, as the extra AP will power up your early-game damage. Though this extra damage is at the expense of move speed which is a flexible stat which aids you in offence and defence as oppose to Amplifying-Tome + 2 Potions' all out offence.
NOTE: Itemising from here onwards, is aimed at maximising damage without the sacrifice of gold spent on defensive stats. Health is a much more favoured stat in itemisation for Katarina though preferably it should come accompanied by some sort of damage. EG
These two PRE-CORE SITUATIONAL items are mid game items which are completely up to the player's preference and judgement. Of these two items, I favour the Haunting Guise simply because of its great, low price and great damage.
- Haunting guise is a strong mid-tier item which i favour a lot on Katarina, purchasing it in nearly every single game of Katarina i play. The overall price is exceptionally low price is grants you 200 Health, 25 Ability Power and 15 FLAT Magic Penetration. These stats combined give you slight survivability which is always good but the extra damage is give is great, esspecially if the enemy mid laner makes the mistake of not taking defensive MR glyphs. Keeping this item as the haunting guise is common as it usually is not worth it to upgrade it into Liandry's Torment as the cost is just no worth it IMO.
- Abyssal Scepter is an item which has been subjected to many changes, having its aura changed and such it became one of Katarina's snowbally and strong items to something that was still decent, but outclassed by new item trends like Haunting Guise and the addition/rework of items in the S3 patch. Abyssal Scepter grants you 70 Ability Power, 45 Magic Resist as well as an aura which reduces the Magic Resist of nearby champions by 20. These stats help you pump out a lot of dmge give you plenty of AP as well as making the enemy more suseptable to your damage. I would prefer having health over MR as, health is a much better defensive stat in lane. Though outclassed, Abyssal Scepter still offers great stats which still make it viable, though it's price may detour you from achieving much more important items. It is an overall great AOE damage item, which synergies with another AP champion on your team, but i feel spending the gold on a more single target damage item () can allow you to secure a reset and overall put out more damage.
This single LANE CORE item is a must have for Katarina in lane. The Sightstone is an extremely versatile item allowing you to be safe through warding your lane as well as be offensive with ward jumping.
- Sightstone is extremely powerful on Katarina, allowing her to escape easily as well as keep safe from jungle pressure. The Health accompanied with this item is just an extra, though it is extremely helpful, it is not necessary. The item would still be extremely viable on Katarina regardless if it had health on it or not. On the topic of the Health stat Sightstone provides 100 Health as well as the active of 2 wards and 4 charges. The price is extremely low and is worth it as you would have spent the same amount of money on wards. Purchasing this item while you are ahead is a safe choice, but it also viable to drop this item to allow you to purchase more high priority items early game to let you snowball through your early and mid game.
These array of items are extremely helpful as defensive options for Katarina as well as being a forgiving build which allows you to make small errors and get away with it. These items grant health making Katarina tanky and much more safe. NOTE: Purchasing these items may be safe, but you sacrifice a lot of money investing in defences resulting in lacking offensive damage to utilize your passive.
- Ruby Sightstone is a simple item and strong item, upgrading from the regular Sightstone it sports more Health and more wards. The price is still relatively low, 300 Health and defensive options it brings make this an extremely safe buy. As iterated earlier, Ruby Sightstone is also a strong offensive item as well, making it borderline with the CORE item build.
- Rylai's Crystal Scepter is an item I detest on Katarina, though I cannot denounce it as it is one of the safest Katarina items. Especially if you are a new Katarina and have yet to learn her mechanics and power, this item is for you as it allows you room for error with its stats of 500 Health, 80 Ability Power as well as the ability slow on enemies. The health is a great addition to Katarina, especially in laning, the AP minor and the slow is helpful, but the price is extremely high, which is one of the biggest turn-offs for me. Rylai's Crystal Scepter costs 2900 gold, and does not offer much offence which is what Katarina looks for in items. If you are unconfident with your play, this item may help, but otherwise, try to avoid it as it will set you behind a lot and it may not hold it's worth as an item.
- Liandry's Torment, built from the Haunting guise, you would think it would be a stronger Haunting Guise making it a much favoured item on Katarina. To your dissapointment, this is not the case, The health remains unchanged at 200 Health, the Magic Penetration remains unchanged at 15, the AP receives a substantial increase as well as introducing the passive which burns targets hit with your ability for 5% of their current health, which is halfed for AOE abilities but doubled if their movement is impaired. The cost of upgrading you Haunting Guise into a Liandry's Torment is around 1400~ gold, which IMO can be used to purchase much higher priority items like Deathfire Grasp. For 1400~ gold you get +45 AP and the burning passive which does minute damage. To me this isn't worth it. I have placed this item in the SAFE CORE item build simply because this item synergies with Rylai's Crystal Scepter with the bonus damage of the burn being proc'd by the slow of Rylai's Crystal Scepter. Apart from the small boost in damage, this item is by far one of the lowest priority items in Katarina's build.
HIGH RISK HIGH REWARD CORE
These 3 'Needlessly Large Rod' recipes are Katarina's strongest assassination tools. These items, may feel out of reach, due to their extremely high cost (total : 9300 ) but once you reach Katarina's battlefield of team fights, income will be the least of your worries. The balance of damage and survivability is extremely strong with this combination. The order in which these items can be purchased is completly up to the player preference as well as how far ahead/behind you are, and how the enemy team is teamfighting.
- Deathfire Grasp grants the extreme burst potential that Katarina loves, to absolutely melt an enemy squishy and continue on her resetting spree. The CDR is also extremely helpful allowing you to both output 'tons of damage' and also mitigate plenty through the damage mitigate of shunpo. This item is extremely useful as a first buy as the burst and damage output from this item is extreme, and usually outweighs the passive of the Rabadon's Deathcap early game, damage wise.
- Rabadon's Deathcap is a must have on any AP champion, this provides a substantial increase in AP through its high AP as well as it's great passive which allows your damage to spike to insane amounts. (NOTE: If you have enough money to buy Rabadon's Deathcap, it may be better to buy it instead of fighting.) I prefer to purchase this item second or third after Deathfire Grasp, as the passive works much better if you have other AP items to accommodate it. It is also a viable first item, though i feel it requires other items to make the passive much more useful.
- Zhonya's Hourglass is a AP champion's strongest defensive item (IMO) due to the insane active. Mastering the use of this active (or actives in general) takes time and concentration, because sometimes people may forget about their actives. Zhonya's Hourglass has many versatile uses:
- In the assassin kit, it can be used in the midst of battle to disorientate the enemy as well as wait for cooldowns, by simply jumping in and blowing all your abilities and then activating the item.
- In the initiation kit, it can be used in the initiation of a battle to draw out abilities. By jumping in fearlessly into the enemy team and instantly activating the active, people may have turned to fight in hopes of catching you out by counter initiating, little do they know they have just wasted their abilities on a GOLDEN KATARINA.
Katarina's late game consists of two priorities.
- Staying alive
- Killing everyone
- Void Staff doesn't need any reasoning, it is a late game magic damage dealer's secret weapon. Granting the highest Magic Penetration in the game, it is a no-brainer to pick up this item. Swapping out the Haunting Guise/Liandry's Torment OR Abyssal Scepter which you have incorporated in your build (if you did) and replacing it with the Void Staff is the strongest option at late game.
- Guardian Angel is a very risky item. Normally, people do not pick it up for the stats, but rather for the strong passive which allows you to defy death and revive after dying (on a cooldown of course). This item is extremely risky because of the way the passive sets up a situation. The optimal use for the passive is to jump in a teamfight and blow all your abilities, once you die from the enemy team's focus your team should have engaged and started destroying the enemy. Using the revive you can continue to snowball the fight and eventually ace the enemy team. Though this perfect scenario is extremely hard to come by as in many cases such as getting caught, your team not engaging fast enough or the enemy enduring your team and continuing to focus you after you revive, the passive is useless.
Early Game / Laning Phase
Katarina has a very weak laning phase due to her being a melee champion as well as having high cooldowns which cannot keep up with the harassment of a ranged enemy mid champion.
Playing Katarina's Laning
In my opinion, there are two ways to play Katarina's laning:
- Offensive- Playing an offensive laning phase is extremely rewarding if done successfully, though the chances of you succeeding in lane offensively can vary depending on the playstyle of the enemy team as well as the playstyle of your own team. EG, An offensive enemy jungler who continually camps your lane will cripple you if they catch you making an offensive play and capitalize on it. Alternatively, having an offensive friendly jungler who continually camps your lane granting you several kills will promote your offensive play to allow you to snowball.
- Passive- Playing a passive laning phase is very straight forward. Simply minimize your chances of dying and farm up to become a force to be reckoned with later in the game. This method is extremely safe as you have strong farming potential with your ranged Q as well as being able to secure minions in a short range with W.
There are many tricks that can be used in the lane to assist you in recognizing opportunities to harass or safely farm.
Tricks to use in the laning phase to help win trades / help lane are:
- Minion health - Monitoring the health of minions of both friendly and enemy minions is needed. By monitoring the health of minion you can force the enemy to miss creeps to harass you or you can get free harass while they go for creeps.
- Skill Avaliability - Knowing the rough cool downs of the abilities of the enemy champion can allow you to force trades which will result in you being ahead as you have the skill advantage.
- Minion Count - The amount of minions that are currently in lane can play a huge favor in trades, so having a more dominating minion count can result in unfavorable trades for the enemy champion.
My Preferred Playstyle
My preferred playstyle for Katarina mid is an aggressive style, looking to spam Q harass on the enemy mid when the spell is off cooldown and establish my presence in lane by using the above tricks. Q harass as well as out trading the enemy mid will lead to health differences which eventually lead to kill potential in your lane. I choose the offensive path for Katarina as her kit is suitable for this task, and that i feel Katarina feels sub-par compared to other mid champions if they go even.
Caution:This playstyle is the playstyle that junglers thrive on, and will often try to catch you making an offensive play and kill you. Hinder their plans by itemizing against it with a sightstone.
Katarina's Mid Game
Katarina's mid game is where she begins to ramp up in damage. At this point, with proper income and itemization, Katarina should be an extremely important asset to the team. Playing cautiously and seeking opportunities to engage and disengage are key to staying alive and aiding your team.
Playing Katarina's Mid Game
In my opinion there are two ways to play Katarina's Mid Game:
- Lane- this method of playing Katarina's mid game is simply stay in lane. Similar to the 'Passive' playstyle of her lane, this method is extremely safe, granting you guaranteed income to prepare for the teamfight phase where Katarina truly shines.
- Roam- this method of playing Katarina's mid game is to roam and force fights at objectives, bait free kills or pressure other lanes. Similar to the 'Offensive' playstyle of her lane, this is a high risk high reward strategy, which has the potential to allow Katarina to continue snowballing.
My Preferred Playstyle
Preferably, i like to play a mixture of these two playstyle. I will constantly look around the map to find opportunities for roaming as well as check the behavior of the enemy mid laner to see whether kill potential is present. Depending on how far ahead you are as Katarina making the decision to roam of stay in lane is trick, based on the enemy team composition and your team composition usually decide which method i will use
Late Game / Team Fights Phase
Katarina's Late Game
Katarina's late game is her strongest phase in the game.Full on 5v5 fights allow Katarina to fully utilize her passive receiving up to 5 skill resets every fight. At this point in the game, Katarina's decisions and impact on teamfights can decides whether you win a game, so play patiently and wait for opportunities to clean up everyone.
Playing Katarina's Late Game
Late game completely consists of teamfighting with some down time between fights to defend/push or obtain objectives. Because everything besides teamfighting is the same on every champion i will only detail Katarina's teamfighting.
- Katarina's teamfighting is extremely delicate, due to her being such a big contribution to your team's damage. Any mistake which results in Katarina being killed, or even chunked can result in less potential to ace the enemy team. Many other casters are able to spend all their abilities and pump out a lot of damage while being safe at a range, with Katarina this is not the case, her Q has decent range, but the ranges on the rest of her kit, are HORRENDOUS. Katarina needs to jump into the middle of the enemy to deal her highest potential damage. Playing super cautious and looking for opportunities to secure a kill for the ability reset is key.
- Advancing in too early will result in a change of focus to you and your death, and is never worth it, even if you kill someone.
- Advancing in too late will result in no kills or assists to utilize her passive, or your team will be killed, because you did not contribute to the fight, which then results in your death.
- Advancing in at the right time is extremely rewarding. Being able to secure a reset will allow you to cycle through your abilities once more and rack up even more kills.
Using your Resources
Katarina has plenty of resources through her items and her kit. Learning to use these resources can instantly change the outcome of a teamfight which may not be going in your favour. Examples of Katarina's resources are:
- Ward Jumping (Sightstone + Shunpo)
- Baiting Abilties (Zhonya's Hourglass)
- Baiting Champions (Zhonya's Hourglass)
- Securing Kills/Resets (Deathfire Grasp)
- Detecting Stealth Targets (Death Lotus)
Final CommentsKatarina is an extremely fun champion to play, sporting fantastic damage with her abilities and an extremely high skill cap on her abilities. She may be challenging to learn as her laning is abysmal but despite that, her endgame and snowball potential make her a joy to play