So, why did I decide to make this guide?
Well, I feel like Irelia is seeing less and less play, which is probably mostly due to her having so many playstyle and itemization changes from her S2 Dominance. Also I felt like there was no comprehensive and overall good guide I could agree with at the moment, so I decided to make one myself.
Who am I?
Well, I've been playing LoL for about 5 months now, prior to that I've played 6 years of DotA and a year of HoN, finally decided to switch to LoL and stay here for as long as I can. In my 6 months I've played LoL almost every day, been watching streams, competitions and trying to play as competitively as I can(So I do not lack knowledge..) I've been maining top lane ever since I started (also played similar roles in DotA) and will probably continue to do so in the future.
Irelia and I:
I've been playing Irelia forever, it was the first champion that I ever purchased and I played her almost exclusively from level 15-30. Since then I've played her a great deal and will continue to play her as long as she is viable. I played her a lot in S2 and continue to play her in S3.
I did not play much in S2 as I was just getting to lvl 30 and I did not want to play ranked before I had the necessary runes/champions. My goal for S2 was simply to reach gold (for the Jenna skin + champion).
For S3 I am currently 1700 ELO and I slowly climb the ELO-ladder, I have much bigger plans for the future though.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy my guide and I'm happy to answer any questions.
RunesFor Irelia, there actually are many options open as to what you can get.
However, the runepages I have ready for Irelia are:
Quint: Health Regen
The first one is the standard. I prefer AD over AS since 90% of the time your opponent will run away when you proc your W. Which means that you wont get to do sustained damage to them and AS will be worse for trades. AD also helps a great deal with lasthitting as is never really a bad choice.
The second one is for when the opponents dont really have any threatening magic damage and you feel like you could use the little boost of armour on lane. It's a good runepage to have.
The third one is extreme. However, it is really effective against Riven and Renekton. If you start with this runepage + Cloth Armour, you will have more Armour than they have Attack Damage. You will automatically win all trades and they can not do anything to you pretty much the entire laning phase. The downside is that you probably will not be able to kill them either - since you lack damage.
Whenever they engage you, just pop W and hit them.
The forth one is when you are 1v2, just gives you some needed additional health regen, which allows the lane to go much smoother. Also might be worthwhile to put points into Perseverance (T1 Defensive mastery) for even more health regen.
MasteriesMy preferred setup of masteries is as shown above.
It grabs all the necessary defensive stats from the defensive tree while giving you the armour pen and attack speed from the offensive. Overall I would always go 9/21 on Irelia - I dont think there is a need to go anything else as your main damage comes from your W.
Tier 1: Durability is the best choice here since Tough Skin no longer applies to lane creeps.
Tier 2: Get the Armour when against AD top, get the Magic Res when against AP top.
Tier 3: Always get Scars and Unyielding, simply too good not to. A point in Relentless because it goes decent with tenacity.
Tier 4: Block because it's amazing and max out both Tenacious and Juggernaut because of our itemization choices and Tenacity stacking.
Tier 5: Defender is simply good. In lane it's a flat +1armour and +1Mres, when you get ganked it's +2/+2 etc.
Tier 6: Amazing worthwhile point, get it cause it's fresh, free and fantastic.
It's not a bad mastery. However it only increases BONUS Armour/MRes and I've read that it first becomes really viable if you plan to get over 200 total in either ARM/MR. Since we are opting for more HP instead, we go with Juggernaut > Legendary.
Decent against lategame ADC, since you will often be focused down by them, however useless for most of the game.
Summoner spells + Skills---Summoner Spells:
Amazing Summoner spell, never a reason to not take it - even with the nerfs it's still amazing.
A good choice for 2nd spell. Goes well together with your R to finish off enemies from a distance and really necessary against opponents with any healing effects. Ironically insanely good AGAINST Irelia, if you ever plan to kill Irelia, you will need her ignited.
A good choice as well. Very good against Darius/Riven as they will often all-in you. Also amazing for chasing down lategame AD etc. Can even be used defensively for escaping ganks. Good for longer trades and all-ins, bad for short trades and bursts (unless timed perfectly).
Not a bad choice, very defensive/gank/split push oriented. Not much use for 1v1 but can crawl you back if you die, and save your teammates in a clutch situation.
Just a few words on the skill order;
You should always start with Q unless there is a level 1 invade and you are first in line and have to stun 1st. Q is simply amazing at level 1 for the CS and good for trades as well. The AA+Q+AA does insane damage at level 1.
Next you can either opt to get E at level 2, which is most common. This will make you even more safe and able to win trades at level 2 as well.
You can also opt to go for W at level 2+3, this gives you more sustain and lets you heal back up if you are against a ranged herasser.
Either way you should have 1 point in Q and E and 2 points in W by level 4.
The rest is pretty self explanatory, max out R-->W-->E-->Q.
When going in on an opponent remember a few things:
1. If you both have the same amount of HP (i.e. both have full hp) then you will stun him instead of slowing.
2. Your Q can gapclose onto him without using it, by killing a low nearby minion.
3. Your W procs on your Q
4. Your R heals you a lot if it hits the champion and creeps.
So when you go in for a trade or want to kill, make sure you are standing next to your opponent and initiate by stunning him and activating W. Then get as many hits off as you can with W and once he is out of range, wait for your attack animation to reset, then go in for a Q+AA (while your W is still active).
Item Build---Starting items:
For starting the game off, I've found there are two viable builds currently, that each have their weakness and strength.
Both of these are stable, get Cloth Armor against heavy AD opponents like Riven or Renekton and get the Flask against pretty much anything else. However, it's important to take a look at the opponents jungler as well. If you are expecting heavy ganks early on, getting a flask for the added ward might be an advantage as well - if you will need to play a bit more aggressive earlygame.
This will usually be your go-to boots. You should get these in most situations as you will usually be fighting an AD in lane, and mid/lategame you will be diving onto their ADC where they help out a great deal as well. You now get the Tenacity from Zephyr.
Get these for when they have heavy magic damage, or you do not plan to build Zephyr.
Situational, for when you feel like you are snowballing enough that you wont need armor or magic resist, and just want additional damage. I wouldnt recommend building it unless you already have an advantage.
Go-to enchantment. Works well overall with you relying heavily on auto attacks, also procs on your Q which can be amazing for chases. No real downside.
For the lulz.
Overall a very good item on Irelia, most people realized this since they saw the Item first time. It gives you basically everything you need with the offensive stats and you should build this early to gain the benefits, since Irelia scales on attack speed(more hits with W).
A personal favourite on Irelia. Works very well with the already ongoing Attack Speed stacking and gives you more sustain in lane when you are able to pick up an early Vampiric Scepter. The active is amazing as well on Irelia, enhancing your killing potential by a lot, It's simply a great item as it has no bad stats and the components are good.
Still a good item on Irelia, the same things apply that did in S2, however the item has been nerfed a lot and has higher cost, I often find it difficult to see a window in the game, for when i should buy this item - however it is still good.
Nerfed a lot (It costs more and gives less) and now Situational on Irelia, can still be good against heavy AP teams (double AP comp) however I find there are better options and that with some adjustment you do not need the additional MR normally.
Defensive Items should always be bought with care. You need to feel when you need to be more tanky and in which area.
Their AP mid is getting fed = Buy some MR
Their ADC is getting fed = Buy some Armour
Everything is going pretty standard and you already have a damage item or two: Buy some HP.
Still the king of defensive items. Amazing item which gives both Armor, Magic resist AND (potential) HP. Nothing much to say really, I often build it as my first Defensive item, however remember that when it is on cooldown, it drops significally in value - and therefor it can often be better to buy a Warmogs.
Often very underrated item. I try to build it on almost every bruiser. The combination of GA + Warmogs is amazing since they compliment each other, ad with 2 items you have pretty much all the defensive stats you will usually need. The health bonus is simply amazing - not much more to be said.
Currently an amazing item on Irelia. It is your go-to Item for magic resist and it has pretty much everything you need really. 50 Magic resist, a good chunk of +HP and the 20% healing applies to your W, R, Lifesteal + Blade of the ruined king Active AND passive. The item goes very well together with Blade.
If your opponents have any AP damage, there should be one of these on your team. It's simply amazing currently, it has the highest Magic Resist gain (60) of any item and shares 30 with your team - which is a lot considering how hard it is to build MR at the moment. Get this instead of Spirit Visage if nobody else is getting it, else I would always prefer Spirit Visage tho.
For when you need much more armour than you have. The active is great and it gives a good chunk of Hp as well. Overall good item on Irelia - however it can sometimes be overkill to get both this and GA and Ninja Tabi, unless perhaps you do not need MR at all.
Well rounded build, gives you pretty much everything you need. If someone has Runic Bulwark on your team you will have around 180 armour and 160 MR - which is perfect for a bruiser. You will have enough damage to be viable in fights and you will simply not die with all the healing you produce if you hit a few targets with your R.
Early, I like to pick up boots based on how well the lane is going, however usually it's ninja tabi - since the Zephyr provides the necessary tenacity and tabi seems like a good overall choice in most games, since you will be taking a lot of single target damage from the ADC later.
Next off picking up an offensive item, I like to buid an early Bilgewater cutlass + Stinger + Kindlegem. This gives you a good and fairly cheap base for stats you need in lane and towards midgame.
Next off finishing up a blade of the ruined king for the added damage + heal effect is awesome, grabbing your first defensive item in the progress. Spirit visage works well here, because with ninja tabi you will usually have around 110+ armor and 60-ish magic resist. This gives you a HP bosst and gets your magic resist above the 100 mark as well.
Next based on how the game goes, the other items are built, if you are snowballing pretty well - go ahead and build up a zephyr/trinity force or if your team needs you to tank some more damage you can go for a Warmogs and GA. The great thing about Irelia is that you can adapt easily, so choose items based on how the game is going.
Match upsI will try to include most of the relevant match ups that you will meet and how to act/beat them, if you feel some are missing feel free to ask.
I will go through the champions alphabetically and add a difficulty score (1-10) where 10 is the hardest and 1 is the easiest.
You will find it nearly impossible to kill him. Once he gets Wardens mail you basically can not touch him unless you have a good advantage. However, you should be more or less free to farm, build some early mr/regen to mitigate his herass and you should be fine. If you are well ahead you can go in and try to combo him, remember to have ignite ready so he doesnt kill creeps with his AOE and heal up midfight.
A really, really hard matchup. It's even hard to farm in this matchup. Even if you are ahead of him item-wize you can still lose trades and get killed by him. So be very afraid when against Darius. Your best bet is to get your jungler to come help you out, Darius biggest weakness is that he is very, very, very easy to gank, since he will auto-push the lane when he goes in for herass with his Q. And since you're Irelia you can easily put him in a bad situation when you start off by stunning him with your E and letting your jungler get close.
It is also very important to get Exhaust in this matchup, you can actually beat him if you manage to get him to waste his Q, then stun him and proceed to fight. Near the end of the fight put exhaust on him to mitigate the last of his burst and hopefully kill him. Exhaust also makes it easier to gank him.
She is a good herasser in lane and can be difficult at times, but you should be able to win overall trades, take advantage of her lack of ultimate and go at her from level 6-ish. Bring as much sustain as you can to the lane.
Matchup is fairly easy, he does mostly physical damage and you should be able to out-damage him when he spins by simply atttacking him with your W. Not much to say.
A hard matchup, but it depends a lot on how good jax is. Basically the one who initiates a trade is the one who will lose the trade - He will proc Counter attack as soon as he hears your W activate and you will be unable to do most of your damage on him. However you can out sustain him in the long run with simple and quick herass - dont do long all-ins and farm as much as possible.
Good herass and can be hard to deal with. He is similar to Elise where he lacks an ultimate spell, you can take advantage of this if he tried to all-in you. You outscale him well, so just focus on farming and kill him with ganks - remember to dodge his Q's. If you want to kill him, you should gapclose to a creep, then stun him and hit - when he knocks you away you should gapclose to him with Q and proceed.
When you fight, always fight in range of creeps - dont let him lure you away from them and basically outsustain him. You win straight up fights with your W and you should be able to do quite well against him most of the game. Build some armour to mitigate all of his damage and you should do well.
One of the hardest matchups actually. If he maxes his E you will be unable to do ANY damage against him, because he will lower your attack speed insanely and you are very reliant on attack speed to get off W hits. Basically just farm the best you can, Lee Sin gets worse as the game progresses and you outscale him insanely much.
You should be able to outsustain all of his herass, when you trade make sure to use your W after his attack speed debuff wears off, try to keep his shield down by poking him and basically just beware of ganks when he reaches 6 since they can have a crazy amount of CC to keep you down.
She has a bit of poke and is hard to kill. You generally shouldnt be able to kill her, and might want to take teleport as summoner spell 2. This way you can outfarm her and follow her when she tried to split push, and generally just outscale her. She is very weak before level 6, so if you want to take her down that's when you have the chance.
Most people find this a very hard matcup, but I've found that you can trade very well with him generally through the entire laning phase. Make sure to always stun him and get some hits off before he can do anything (pre-6) and after that just make sure you have the creep advantage and dont let him herass you too much with his E - punish him if he tried to as it has a long CD at first. The difference here is that his true damage, does damage to himself - while your true damage heals you. Ignite is also very important in this matchup as he heals a lot when he gets lower in hp.
A hard matchup, he will forcefully herass you through the entire laning phase and be very difficult to take down once he hits level 6. What I usually do is that I go for the Runepage 3(AR/AR/AR/AR) which enables you to outsustain basically all his damage and just stand still and attack him if he tried anything funny. Basically the key points are: Build some armour, farm the lane and outscale him lategame. Renek falls off immensely at the later stages of the game.
You usually do very well againts Riven. When she goes in for combo just proc your W and hit her back, stun her when you are at lower HP and keep hitting her. You win trades and outsustain her easily - if you want even more of an advantage go for the Runepage 3 and watch her cry herself to sleep. But beware that if you engage her, she can disengage you easily and if she engages you while your W is down, you're gonna have a bad time.
Build some magic resist with runes/masteries and perhaps get an early +MRitem and you should be mostly fine. Be careful that he doesnt kite you around but other than that - you should be able to win trades with your sustain and true damage and outscale him later in the game.
Can be hard to deal with sometimes, you can easily be ganked when they have a shen(because of his taunt) and you cant really kill him if he doesnt want you to. Best bet is to play pretty much the same as against nidalee, pick up Teleport and travel around with him for ganks, else just farm up and own him lategame.
You shouldnt pick Irelia against singed. It's that simple really, if he is a good singed player he will just make the lane unbearable for you. You cant kill him and he will just stand behind your tower and take all the creeps while you try and lasthit under your own tower for as long as you can. You have almost no pushing power to push the creeps back. Your best bet is to get your jungler(and mid laner as well) to gank him, CC him down and ignite him so he doesnt regen - and Kill him before it's too late..
Remember: Dont chase singed.
There is almost nothing you can do in this matchup after he reaches level 6. If you try and go for him he will just stand in the middle of the lane and heal up. Basically just farm (while avoiding his bind) and if you want to kill him, make sure that he is not close to any of your creeps and that you have ignite on him AND that you dodge his bind. Other than that, farm and outscale.
Fairly straight forward matchup. Gapclose him, stun/slow and just hit untill he pools then run away. Rince and repeat till his sustain runs out, ignite him when you plan to kill and you should be able to get away with it. Make sure you dont let him freefarm since he becomes a beast lategame.
Farmlane. None of you can kill the other - but be aware of his jungler, when WW reaches level 6 he will most likely ult you when his jungler is there, and they will try to combo you down. Other than that, just farm and outscale him.
A lot of physical damage, get some armour and dont be fooled by his invis. He wants to do quick pokes on you and go all-in once his ulti is up, basically just punish him and heal back up once he pokes. He falls of later in the game and if you play it right, you can even kill him on lane.
Same as wukong. Once he jumps you stun him, then W and just hit him, or if you feel like you are taking too much damage run around untill his Q+W is over, then engage on him with your Q+W.
Can be hard to deal with sometimes, but basically just sustain sustain sustain. Might want to get the health reg quints for this one - just farm and sustain the lane, he will eventually run out of mana if he spams you, you can dodge the ghouls by going into grass (if he loses vision of you the ghouls go to creeps). You might be able to all-in him at level 6 with ignite, never without ignite though. He is also easily gankable.
Might want to bring Exhaust for this one. He is an assassin with Herass, sustain his herass and if he all-ins you at level 6 just exhaust him and kill him. Not much to say other than watch out for his escapes and dont get hit too much by his E.
Stages of the game---Early game:
Most of early game is defined by your mathup. However similar for almost every case is that you should focus a lot into CS'sing properly. Remember to use your Q to get creeps, dont worry too much about "wasting" mana, it's better to use a Q to get a creep, that not get it at all.
Be careful of ganks, since most players have the mentality that Irelia must be stopped early. Therefor you will often get camped by the opponents jungler and you should be careful about overextending too much. Based on the opponents jungler, you should find a balance between going offensive(if the matchup dictates it) when the jungler is at mid/bot lane or spotted by a ward - and playing defensively when you feel like you might get ganked.
A very important note is to not worry about missing 1-2 CS if you really think you are about to get ganked, you can often tell by the way your lane opponent is acting. If you have zoned him almost the entire laning phase and he suddenly runs towards you, it's very likely there is a gank comming.
Mid game is where you should be doing a lot. If your team is starting to group up, go with them and in fights focus on getting priority targets down. Since you are fairly defensive and offensive and your kit allows you to be aggressive and not worry too much about CC, you should have a fairly easy time diving onto high-DPS carries. Else just keep getting your farm higher and higher while following your team and seeing where the game is going.
Lategame you unfortunatly start to fall off a bit. Your W no longer deals insane damage, but your biggest force here is that you are still pretty much unable to be CC'ed down. Therefor, you should still focus on getting high-DPS targets down and sacrifice yourself to save your own ADC/APC. Your biggest advantage through late(and some of midgame) is also that you heal an insane amount in fights, you will often be the last person standing in a fight if it is very even. Remember to always use the active from your Blade of the ruined king, as it gives a quick boost to HP in clutch situations. Good for escapes and closing down targets.