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[Guide] Meta's Guide to a Well-Rounded Akali

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Junior Member


I just tried out flash/ignite instead of my usual flash/heal, and it did wonders. first blood and i didnt even die that much, though probably since I played more defensively because i knew i didnt have heal.

not really on topic but how far is flash supposed to take you at most?

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Senior Member


Great guide!

I just bought Akali, since I haven't seen many people playing her recently, and had no idea where to start. I agree with getting Rylia first, then sheen, from my little experience. I've been playing really defensively as I learn her, but the slow and extra health really helps out. Also, once you do get that sheen you have the survivability to actually stick around and get a kill or two.


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Senior Member


I've actually been playing around with the order I buy the items in (had been following your item order pretty religiously before that), and have started buying Sheen before Rylai's. It's a lot cheaper and helps a lot with the burst.

Also, after experimenting with summoner abilities, I've really come to appreciate Ghost and Flash. It hurts your killing ability a little bit early game, but your escapability just goes up so much throughout all phases of the game, I think it's worth the tradeoff.


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Senior Member


Ever since Akali came out I've been extremely intrigued by the champion. She's interesting, exciting, lethal, and a ton of fun. There's a lot of debate over the best way to build her, but I find my build and playstyle give Akali several key benefits:

  • The survivability necessary to survive a team fight and be effective throughout.
  • The burst damage necessary to take out her targets.
  • The utility needed to chase relentlessly.
  • The ability to initiate a team fight when needed.
It’s important to read this entire guide, as playing Akali effectively takes a lot more than walking into a game with the right build. She requires strategy, timing, and very particular play in order to be effective.

I’ll start with the basic rune/mastery/skill/item build, and then get into some of the more complex strategies.

Summoner Spells:

My preference here is Flash/Ignite.

As a ganker, Ignite helps Akali get more kills early-on, and helps her counter healers later in the game. It’s great in situations where you run out of Shadow Dance counters, but need a little more damage on your target.

I take Flash because I find it to be the most reliable escape in situations where Shroud isn’t enough. Ghost is a valid alternative here, since ghosting out of a Shroud is difficult to predict/counter, but in my experience Flash saves my life more often. In the end, it all comes down to preference between these two.

Mastery Build:



Rune Build:

9x Greater Mark of Insight (8.5 Magic Penetration)
9x Greater Seal of Evasion (6.8% Dodge)
9x Greater Glyph of Focus (5.85% Cooldown Reduction)
2x Greater Quintessence of Fortitude (65 Health)
1x Greater Quintessence of Strength (2.3 Physical Damage)

Skill Build:

1. Mark of the Assassin (1)
2. Twilight Shroud (1)
3. Crescent Slash (1) or Mark of the Assassin (2)
4. Mark of the Assassin (2) or Crescent Slash (1)
5. Mark of the Assassin (3)
6. Shadow Dance (1)
7. Mark of the Assassin (4)
8. Crescent Slash (2)
9. Mark of the Assassin (5)
10. Crescent Slash (3)
11. Shadow Dance (2)
12. Crescent Slash (4)
13. Crescent Slash (5)
14. Twilight Shroud (2)
15. Twilight Shroud (3)
16. Shadow Dance (3)
17. Twilight Shroud (4)
18. Twilight Shroud (5)

Early-game, Mark of the Assassin will be your primary harassing and last-hitting tool. You should almost always get Crescent Slash at 3, the one exception being if you’re playing so defensive that all you’re able to do is last-hit using the ranged portion of Mark. In this case, you should grab a 2nd rank to make last-hitting easier, since you probably won’t be putting yourself in range to Crescent anyways.

Item Build:

Doran’s Blade + Health Potion
Boots of Speed
Amplifying Tome + Giant's Belt
Mercury Treads or Sorcerer’s Shoes
Rylai’s Scepter
Sheen -> Lichbane

From here you have a few options:
Getting killed first in teamfights? Guadian Angel
Lots of enemy magic damage? Abyssal Scepter
Lots of enemy magic resist? Void Staff
Just want more damage output? Zhonya’s Ring (Comes with a great survivability active too)
Time to replace that Doran's Blade? Guinsoo's Rageblade (Getting the pickaxe first to keep your passive)

Doran’s Blade + the above listed mastery/rune build gives you enough Attack Damage to get the spell vamp portion of your passive at level 1. It might not seem like much, but it actually helps your staying power a ton. The additional HP on Doran’s is also great for lane survivability.

Once you get Boots 1, you’ll want to mostly focus on building your Rylai’s Scepter. I generally buy the Amplifying Tome first (to get the other portion of her passive), and then go straight for Giant’s Belt. People vastly underestimate the need for survivability on Akali, and getting the early HP allows you to take more risks which leads to more successful ganks.

You can get Boots 2 either at some point while building Rylai's, or wait until after. For me this is always situational depending on who I'm facing, how the game is going, and how much gold I have when I return to the shop.

I generally get Mercury Treads, even if there are just one or two crowd controls on the enemy team. Crowd Control can be a lot more devastating to Akali since getting stunned right before dropping a Shroud can be fatal. In the rare situation that there’s hardly any enemy CC, I get Sorcerer’s Shoes for a little extra burst.

Once you have Rylai’s, you should never have trouble pursuing people. Both Mark and Shadow Dance give the full slow on very short cooldowns. I honestly cannot emphasize how amazing Rylai’s is on Akali. It’s an absolute game-changer.

After Rylai's, I get Sheen and then build it into a Lich Bane. These items are amazing for Akali's burst, which is what she's all about. Some people opt to get Sheen before Rylai's, but I prefer getting the utility and survivability early on.

Of course, it’s essential with any champion to be flexible with your build. If you’re getting blown up by a specific damage type, be sure to grab armor or magic resist to counter it. If you feel a certain item would be more useful earlier in the build, feel free to buy it earlier. Always buy wards as necessary. Akali spends a lot of time in the jungle and moving around for ganks once she hits 6, so she’s a good candidate to spread wards around the map. Later in the game, use extra gold to buy Fortitude and Brilliance Elixirs.


Try to lane with a ranged champion if possible. Prior to level 6, Akali has very few ranged options. Her saving grace is that she’s very good at defending a tower by herself. However, there are certain champions that can make laning a nightmare for Akali, including Zilean and Soraka.

At level 1, you’ll mostly have to play defensive and last hit with Mark. Level 2 is where the fun starts. The wonderful thing about Shroud is that the cooldown is almost the exact amount of time between minion waves. As minion waves meet, drop a shroud over the enemy minions and move inside. If the enemies stay nearby, Mark the squishiest one and hit them for powerful harass. Smart opponents will usually move back to prevent this. In this case, use Mark on minions instead for last-hits. By using this strategy, you’ll prevent your enemies from last hitting and potentially get yourself very farmed. Shroud can also be used to check brush without being seen.

Akali is a phenomenal last-hitter with Mark and Crescent. There are many games where I’ll outfarm solo-mids early game. It’s important to harass when possible though, as this keeps enemies on the defensive and prevents them from farming.

Try not to auto-attack, and encourage your lane-mate to do the same. If you get too close to the enemy tower, your Shroud/harass strategy will become worthless. Akali isn’t a very good tower pusher early game, so I generally focus on harassing and farming.

In the event that you’re being out-harassed and cannot use the strategy above, simply stand back and last-hit using the ranged portion of Mark. As the enemy moves into your tower, drop Shroud on top of the enemy minions. If the enemy stays to damage the tower, harass them using Mark/Crescent. If they back up (as they likely will under the pressure) then quickly eliminate the minions to ensure minimal damage to your tower. Using this strategy, Akali can potentially hold a 1v2. However, I don’t recommend it, as smart opponents will use zone control to neutralize you.

Akali isn’t the best candidate for protecting her lane-mate, but there are a few things she can do. If your lane-mate is getting charged, immediately drop a Shroud on or in front of the enemies. The slow is small, but it’s often just enough to allow your partner to escape. If you’re not in danger, immediately begin counter-ganking the squishier enemy. There have been many times where my lane partner has been doomed, but I’ve been able to use the opportunity to kill one of the aggressors.

Prepare yourself and your lane-mate as you near level 6. You can use the element of surprise to quickly ult into the enemy for a gank if they’re low enough. An immediate Shadow Dance + Mark + Crescent + Ignite is often enough to take down a squishy opponent. If there isn’t an easy gank opportunity, continue harassing/farming and allow your Shadow Dance charges to fill.


Usually between levels 6-8, I’ll start moving through the jungle. With her Spell Vamp passive, Akali can jungle very effectively. Take Lizard when possible, and try to get Golem for your teammates. Akali can take Golem, but I find it’s better suited on a caster. Generally you spend more time waiting on cooldowns and Shadow Dance charges than waiting on energy. Also, once you have Rylai’s, Lizard is generally better on a ranged DPS or someone who lacks a slow.

Akali can generally take dragon by herself around levels 9-10, but not without losing quite a bit of HP. You’re better off tanking it for allies whenever possible.

Basic Skill Combo:

Upon Hitting 6:
When possible, open up at range by using Mark on your target, then immediately Shadow Dance -> Auto-Attack (consuming the mark) -> Crescent Slash. If you open with Shadow Dance, then Mark, your target will usually be out of range by the time you try to auto-attack. However, sometimes it’s important just to get in range of the enemy ASAP (ie: as they’re going around a corner), so use your own best judgment.

It’s often tempting to spam Shadow Dance on your target when you’re waiting on other cooldowns, but try to resist this urge whenever it’s not necessary to secure a kill. You’ll never know when another enemy will approach, or when it’ll come in handy for escape.

Upon acquiring Rylai’s Scepter:
After getting a Rlyai’s, you can begin opening up with Shadow Dance. The slow will be enough that you won’t have a problem getting in an auto-attack after your Mark. Fighting and chasing becomes much simpler with a Rylai’s. You won’t have to worry as much about keeping in melee range, so you can generally just spam your Mark/Crescent every time they’re up.

Upon acquiring Lich Bane:
Once you have Lich Bane, try to pace your attacks out a little more so that you’re getting the maximum number of procs possible. Lich Bane has a 3 second cooldown, so try to use that length of pacing against tankier targets. Obviously when just beginning a team-fight against a squishy, your number one priority is to do as much burst as possible, so don’t spend too much time waiting on cooldowns in this situation.


Survivability is an important aspect of this build, but items will only get you so far. Twilight Shroud is your primary survivability mechanism. It can be difficult to be aware of when you’re stealthed and visible to the enemy, so this can take some time to get an appropriate feel for. The important thing to remember here is pacing.

When inside Shroud, try to blow your entire burst at once. Mark->Auto-attack->Crescent almost simultaneously, then stop auto-attacking and wait on cooldowns. Move around inside your shroud to avoid AOEs. Moving around between burst combos will also make you more difficult to target. Often enemies will queue up an ability to drop on you and try to hold their cursor over where they think you will be, so try to be unpredictable.

It can be tempting to run into combat immediately and drop Shroud, but often this will leave you vulnerable later in the fight. If you have another initiator, wait out the first few second of combat. Move into a position where you can quickly get to an enemy squishy, then jump in once you feel safe. Hopefully after a few seconds most of the AOE and CC will be blown. Use Shroud wisely, and don’t drop it until necessary. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been trigger-happy with Shroud, only to wish I had it later on.

Despite popular belief, Shroud is actually amazing for escaping. The key here is mind games. If possible, drop shroud near a corner or a piece of brush. This way, you’ll open up more than one exit and your enemy won’t be able to monitor both escape routes. Once you’ve dropped the Shroud, take a few seconds to watch your enemy and predict their actions. I can’t emphasize this enough: Try to be unpredictable. I can’t count the number of times where I was dead to rights, but managed to escape using trickery. It should be noted that there’s a short fade-in time after you leave your Shroud, so you won’t become visible to your opponent right away. Use this to your advantage, try to get around corners and get out of sight.

Shadow Dance can also be used to escape, but it’s very situational. Enemy minions can be a good target, as well as jungle minions if there’s not a risk that they’ll kill you (Wards can assist with this, since they can allow you to see jungle creep on the other side of walls). In situations where a team-fight is spread out, you can use Shadow Dance to move from a dangerous opponent (such as a melee dps) to a less-dangerous one (such as a support champion).


Akali is actually a viable initiator in some circumstances. If you have another initiator on your team (ie: Ashe with her ult up), then you should usually allow them to do so. However, if you see a good opportunity or don’t have any better options, Akali can get the job done. Shadow Dance to your target and IMMEDIATELY drop Shroud. Many opponents will react by quickly dropping AOEs and Crowd Controls on you, which allows your teammates to move in safely. This might get you low, but since you’ve got a lot of HP from Rylai’s it generally won’t kill you. If your team takes control of the fight and you have a fair amount of HP left, feel free to come out of stealth and begin nuking.

However, there are some situations where you’ll need to move backwards behind your team, and simply wait to finish off runners. If you find yourself having to initiate a lot for your team, getting a Guardian Angel can make this job much easier.

Frequently Asked Questions:

I’ve seen elsewhere that Attack Damage builds are better. Is this true?
Attack damage builds will provide increased sustained-damage, but inferior burst. You’ll have to put yourself in more risky situations, spend more time-autoattacking (ie: Not stealthed), and generally won’t have as much survivability. I find that Guinsoo’s provides me with all of the AD/AS I need.

What about Haunting Guise?
I used to take Haunting Guise when I first started playing Akali. It’s actually really great item on her, since it makes jungling even easier and gives her some early survivability. However, the problem I have with it is that there’s just that much more time before you get your Rylai’s. After Rylai’s, it’s not really worth getting since Magic Pen is more of an early-game stat, and jungling becomes trivial after level 10 or so.

What about Boots of Swiftness?
I've tried Boots of Swiftness, but I honestly don't usually notice them. With Rylai's, I always move faster than my target anyways.
The one thing I could see Swiftness being useful for is catching up to a fleeing enemy that's out of range of my Shadow Dance. I actually toyed around with Boots of Mobility once for this functionality, and it had some cool moments (coming out of Shroud very quickly, catching up to enemies, etc) but it just didn't seem that great most of the time.
If I were to pick up Boots of Swiftness, it would only be in situations where I would otherwise be buying Sorc Boots. I would never substitute them for Merc Treads.

What about Hextech Gunblade?
This item looks appealing for Akali, but I feel that it's VASTLY overrated. If you're already getting Rylai's, the slow functionality is fairly pointless. Even the 300 damage is pretty meager compared to the damage output you'd get from a Lich Bane. The fact is, this item accomplishes the same things that all the other items in my build do, but not as well. It's also very expensive for what you get out of it.

What about Snowball Items?
A lot of people recommend Soulstealer or SotO for Akali, but I don't. My reasoning for this is that if a game is going so well that I'll be able to quickly stack a snowball item without any sort of survivability or utility items, then it's probably a game I would have won anyways.
However, in close games I feel like these items don't end up being worthwhile. For example, many close games result in both ranged physical carries getting farmed enough to be EXTREMELY potent. In this case, it's Akali's job to try to take the opposing ranged carry out of the fight. If Ashe is 3-shotting my team's squishies, and I can sacrifice myself to kill her, I'll do it in a heartbeat.
The one situation I would take a snowball item is if I was getting extremely fed and had already purchased my Rylai's. In this situation, I might grab a snowball item to speed the process along.

Is Akali effective in 3v3’s?
The vast majority of my games have been on Summoner’s Rift, which is why this guide is tailored for that map. I’ve played several games with Akali in 3’s, and find that she can be effective on that map, but I wouldn’t recommend her over other champions. That map is much more about having champions that are strong fighters at all points in the game, and I find her too weak at levels 1-5. With that said, I could be wrong here since generally 3’s aren’t my strong-suit.


Thanks for reading my guide, I hope it was helpful. If you have any questions, suggestions, or criticisms please feel free to post them here. I feel I do very well with Akali, but there’s always more to learn and I am always open to feedback. I’ll try to keep this guide updated as I learn more and as future patches come out.

My guide is also on Leaguecraft, for those of you who prefer that format. (http://www.leaguecraft.com/strategies/guide/2542)

Too bad flash is getting removed.

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Too bad flash is getting removed.

Good thing it's not anymore.

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Too bad flash is getting removed.

Why did you quote the entire guide to say this?

Anyway, Meta, your Akali guide is great and started me playing her. My problem, I guess, is that I feel she isn't very strong compared to other champions at times.

Her burst damage is incredible and her chasing ability is almost as good as Kassadin's. But she shares many of Kassadin's faults, too.

Her early game is incredibly rough: I find her difficult to lane with since her harass ability is so low. Kassadin's Null Sphere hits hard and has a silence, whereas Akali's Mark (unless she commits to a melee hit on it) does relatively little damage. The threat of Kass' Force Pulse allows better zoning than Twilight Shroud -- using Shroud aggressively I sometimes start to feel like I've zoned myself, actually, since opponents tend to wait nearby to punish you when you leave it. She relies very heavily on having a lane-mate who can harass and CC since she does both so poorly. Of course, with a teammate like that, she does truly amazing.

Akali excels best in the midgame before people start stacking HP items. Going after a squishy carry in the first team fights and seeing them crumple is quite satisfying, and though her ability to escape after a burst isn't as good as Kassadin's, stealthing in the middle of their team is great for sending them scattering and refreshing your CDs. However, if you become a danger then I find it isn't uncommon for someone on the other team to get an Oracle's, which shuts you down as surely and efficiently as it does Eve. Without your Shroud you have no way to avoid being CCed and gibbed.

And lategame, of course, if you didn't have a good early or midgame you don't add much to your team. A chaser and ganker has a very hard time turning the tables of a team fight: your AE damage is low, and when you appear you'll be the first to get burned down.

Anyway, I think she's a really fun character and I enjoy playing her. Also I think yours is the definitive guide to playing Akali. I just feel that there's a reason she isn't very popular sometimes.

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Anyway, Meta, your Akali guide is great and started me playing her. My problem, I guess, is that I feel she isn't very strong compared to other champions at times.

I agree tbh. I haven't touched Akali for ranked games because I feel like any role she can fill, someone else can fill better. I'd much rather have a Xin, Warwick, Shaco, etc. Additionally, Corki counters Akali REALLY hard so in a draft environment there's always the risk of getting counterpicked.

Even still, I'm glad I wrote this guide and I'll still keep playing Akali for fun in normal games. She's a blast to play, just not viable at the highest levels of play.

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Junior Member


I actually really liked your guide. I'm usually pretty good with Akali and have played her various ways. We just played a game together and our team was doing horrible, you felt the need to point out my errors which I was quite aware of.(probably my worst game yet, it helps to be in the right mind state) I was not the only one making mistakes however. I realize it can be frustrating when team mates decide to slack off in ranked matches but **** happens, you obviously enjoy picking on others. Thumbs down for your disrespect in game and thumbs up for some good ideas in your guide.

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awesome guide!

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to play akali u gotta be a BEAST, early game prior to lvl 6 u can almost burst people to death in 2 hits. they will not wanna keep near you. anyways u build towards AP akali, which is also good, but u gotta build her depending on the players you are gonna feed off of. i personally dont have any problems being in solo lane. or even takin mid. even with ash againts me, the only one its a bit difficult is Karthus. but other than that akali isnt weak prior to 6,

my games usually go 15-25 kills a game and about 5-15 deaths. because by mid game i just wanna kill and dont care about dying