Katarina is one of the most lethal gankers in the League of Legends and is feared by many. While her prominence has waned a bit due to better understanding of team dynamics and the experimentation of other champion combinations, she is still a force to be reckoned with in any fight.
The sudden withdrawal of interest in her is due to her lack of versatility, seeming like someone who can only shine in one-on-one. Against beginners, she would seem like an absolute monster. But against a decent team, she can fall into mediocre status if the user only expected to gank randomly. This is mostly the problem when it comes to her design, but it can be overcome. While she may not be attractive to those who value efficiency, it’s still crucial to learn how to use her since she can be a major killer for any team, but that is if she’s used properly with the team.
The debate with Katarina is whether to concentrate on ability power or attack damage. While the latter is obvious enough, her abilities are substantial enough to merit more focus. Therefore, it is important to understand more about her abilities to master her. Her best skill is Shunpo, which many argue is the point for choosing Katarina in the first place.
Ability power gives a large bonus damage to Bouncing Blade and Shunpo, which is one of the good reasons to boost it. Another is that one can get around double the amount of AP over attack damage while spending the same amount of gold. For those who have enough diligence and patience to do the math will see that this is mostly true, so perhaps AP is the way to go with Katarina.
However, there are still those who play her like a carry, using her skills only to bolster her high AD. Perhaps this is dependent on the player’s style and handling, which is fair enough. However, the case for an AP-centric build is strong, especially with the sheer number of factors that support it. You can gain roughly around 800 AP with the correct build and gain over 750 more with full stacks on Mejai’s Soulstealer. That’s more than enough reason to consider this.
The effectiveness of Shunpo is undeniable due to its ability to both teleport and nuke a target enemy. When Katarina is played with the correct build, she can have a mere 4-second cooldown with this skill. The implications of this is tremendous since you can hit target after target with a good casting range and high damage output of between 650 to 800.
Cool thing about Shunpo is that you can pass through walls if the range permits. You can use it to get to teammates and escape from enemies when your HP is low. There are a variety of ways that you can use for a good number of situations. It is definitely a tad bit more useful than Flash, Teleport, and perhaps even Ghost since they have such huge cooldown times.
Then, there’s the Shunpo-to-Ward trick that you can use to gain extra advantage. Always take advantage of your empty inventory slots during early and mid game to stock up on potions and wards. Of course, you should go overkill with those extra items, but a few should give you more surivivability in the long run.
When combined with Killer Instincts, along with the proper masteries, runes, and items, you’ll also take a lot less damage after your Shunpo as long as it’s activated. This is to counter the common problem of Katarina users getting caught flatfooted after a Shunpo. The damage reduction is very helpful for both turret diving and when being chased.
While Katarina isn’t really that good in farming during the early game, still try to last hit as much as you can without dying. When a bunch of minions are in the red, kill them off with a Bouncing Blade to get all that gold. As you approach the mid game, things get easier and you can start to really save up for those items.
Katarina’s effectiveness increases with the presence of supportive teammates who would allow you to have them be in range of your Shunpo to either enter or escape a fight. This can really be a lifesaver in that you can Shunpo to them, then to either the target or the way out of a sticky situation. Buffs and heals are also welcome, especially since you’d want to take middle lane if you’re playing this champion.
She is a very good mid laner since she needs no mana, deals a solid amount of damage, and can harass the hell out of the enemy while still being able to survive most situations with her dependable escape tactics. Soon enough, you’ll be able to gank champions left and right with the right items and split-second timing.
Voracity – After a champion kill or assist, Katarina gains 25 gold and her cooldowns are reduced by 15 seconds.
This is a very good passive ability since it lets Katarina follow up on ganks with more potential ganks due to the CDR. Imagine having a lot of CDR, then killing someone with Death Lotus. It won’t be long before you can do that again.
Bouncing Blade – Katarina throws a dagger that bounces from enemy to enemy, dealing magic damage.
This is your primary farming tool as it is great for getting last hits on multiple minions. It’s also quite useful in the late game during team fights, dealing significant damage against multiple enemy champions. Along with the low cooldown rate, it is something that you’d max out after Shunpo as it is Katarina’s second most damaging ability.
Killer Instincts – Passive: Katarina’s attacks deal increased damage. Active: Katarina’s next basic attack has a bonus effect. Bouncing Blade deals full damage to every target hit and reduces incoming healing to the target, or after using Shunpo Katarina takes reduced damage for 3 seconds.
This gives bonuses to both Bouncing Blade and Shunpo, which makes it a good passive skill. While you may want to max it out third, that is merely because the other two skills are also very good. This is also your main source of defense, letting you survive reprisals after your Shunpo. By the late game, you’ll find yourself having more close calls as this skill gets maxed. You may not become a tank, but the damage reduction is enough to keep you out of danger.
Shunpo – Katarina instantly moves to her target’s location. If the target is an enemy, she deals damage.
This is the reason why Katarina is good. Just like in the anime Bleach, Shunpo is basically a quick flash then a nuke to a target. When you’re able to reduce the cooldown significantly, your ability to be a threat multiplies incrementally. Just remember to use Killer Instincts as you use this skill to gank as you’ll need the damage reduction after coming out of a Shunpo. If you go AP, this skill becomes incredibly deadly.
Death Lotus – Katarina goes into a state of extreme focus, throwing daggers with unrivaled speed at up to three nearby champions.
For an ultimate skill, this has a really low cooldown. It deals a significant amount of AoE damage that may get kills or assists, which then takes advantage of Voracity, lowering its cooldown and lets you do another one shortly. This really shines during the late game during team fights. Max this out whenever you get the chance.
Exhaust – This is a great compliment to your ultimate skill early on and lets Shunpo catch up whenever it’s in cooldown. Great when used in combination with other skills and can also be used for escapes when things get tight.
Ignite – A skill used for ganking enemies with low health. The extra damage ensures less close calls for enemies as you’ll get more chances to take them out.
Teleport – Lets you get back into the fight quickly if you ever die or Recall. It is crucial for Katarina to maintain presence in the lanes as the enemy team may take advantage of the lack of offensive power from your team for the time being when you’re not there.
Flash – This may seem useful, especially against CC-heavy teams. However, it’s not that crucial for players who are good with Shunpo. This is recommended in the jungle though as there are less opportunities to Shunpo in there. This spell starts becoming a good idea in such situations where you’re being chased down by several enemy champions through the jungle.
Mejai’s Soulstealer – Getting full stacks give you tons of AP, which is the point of this build.
Rylai’s Scepter – HP and AP bonuses, plus the slow that is helpful in ganking enemy champions. Along with Shunpo and Exhaust, this gives you more CC to use in various situations.
Rabaddon’s Deathcap – Lots of extra AP that boosts your offense. It gives 155 AP plus 30% of total AP.
Zhonya’s Hourglass – AP and armor, which doesn’t hurt at all.
Void Staff – More AP, 70 of it in this case.
Hextech Gunblade – Extra AP plus AD and lifesteal. Also has a unique ability that slows enemy champions down.