I propose the tank support role. After saturating myself with games of Leona, messing around with many playstyles, I found that running a support role very similar to a Blitz or Alistar support yields the best results. There is an annoying caveat to this though.... you are highly dependant on your laning partner to produce the optimal results. I'll bring it up later on.
Why not Tanky AP or Pure Tank?
Leona has some of the worst AP ratios in the game. If you really want some AP tanky, go for Kennen or Vlad instead, champions who will be doing a lot more damage and still be durable. As for why not Pure Tank, I will explain later on in the guide.
I'm actually fine with CDR/Tanky build, but I do not like the lack of damage in most of those builds. Hence this guide, and let's jump right onto the....
The Mind-Numbing Details
9 x Greater Mark of Insight (Flat Magic Pen Marks)
9 x Greater Seal of Resilience (Flat Armor Seals)
7 x Greater Glyph of Shielding (MR/level Glyphs)
2 x Greater Glyph of Focus (Flat CDR Glyphs)
3 x Greater Quintessence of Avarice (Gold Generation Quints)
The magic penetration is for her skills and passive procs to improve her damage output. Flat armor (instead of per level ones) is for good early game harass (level 4 onwards). You don't want to wait before you start dishing out the hurt. Per level MR runes as my build will be running relatively low MR so you really need all the help you can get in this area. Flat CDR runes because my eyes glitter with tears when I hit the sweet sweet 40% CDR (Really! It's only for that. Feel free to run a full 9 x Shielding Glyphs). The Avarice Quints are to help you farm during the support laning phase of the game, and to escape the DREADED DEAD ZONE! <-- more on this later
Runes you can't go wrong with
The only runes that I can recommend swapping out are the Quints. The others are pretty essential to the build. For other optional Quints, you could either run 3 x Greater Quintessence of Swiftness (or the cheaper ones you lucky bugger!) to help her reach targets faster, or 3 x Greater Quintessence of Fortitude as HP on a tank is never a bad idea.
Why don't I go for either option?
Typically, I found that the extra movement speed does not help me catch people who are actively running away while I'm under CC attack. Or anyone who flashes. Zenith Blade is what I almost always use as a gap-closer.
And farming myself out of the DREADED DEAD ZONE is what I really want!
Mine is a (GASP!) 9/0/21 build.
3 x Deadliness
1 x Cripple
4 x Sorcery
1 x Archaic Knowledge
3 x Good Hands
1 x Perseverance
4 x Awareness
1 x Greed
3 x Meditation
3 x Quickness
1 x Blink of an Eye
3 x Intelligence
1 x Mystical Vision
1 x Presence of the Master
I will first explain why I build it this way, and secondly explain why I did not go (THE HORROR!) defensive masteries with Leona.
Offensive is self-explanatory, pretty much for the CDR and the spell penetration. As my build does almost nothing for AP, a free 15% spell penetration goes a long way in a long game. Cripple is for the off-chance that I need to get exhaust for their team comp. This will also help me out with my early game harass.
For Utility, again CDR is required. Increased movespeed and mana regen is also nice, lower respawn times is essential on a brave tank dying for the lads, and lower summoners mean more exhaust, CVs and flashes which is incredibly useful. Greed is for the love of god of farming, and for buying polish for the ridiculously ostentatious armor she wears.
Why not defensive masteries?
Basically because Leona DPS sucks. I mean, really really sucks. Try a solo lane with her and see how painful it is. However, once you just get a 15% spell penetration, suddenly she literally becomes the Radiant Dawn! All those passive procs that were putting a bit of a hurt now outputs A LOT of hurt. A full spell chain combined with ally harass start turning out dead bodies (unless it's another enemy Leona... she does this strange quicksand thing when she dies). At that point, it then became a question of either going 9/21/0 or 9/0/21. I went for the utility one instead as the high CDR and mana regen keeps her all important Eclipse up more often than the defensive build, and +70 MR and armor makes up for the lack of the defensive tree. Plus, since my build is already less tanky than a straight up tank Leona build, that little boost you get from going defensive is not going to be that helpful. Also, almost every support style play benefits greatly from going utility rather than defensive.
Do expect to die a bit, but in return, you should see 3 - 4 of the enemies falling for your death.
And to answer that question, yes, I did also try a 0/9/21 and 0/21/9 build, but for the first one the little added durability did almost nothing to improve my tankiness, while the latter build hurt my ability to continually use CV as often as I would like (and lower CDR makes me sad as Leona). I did survive longer, but again, since my build is a bit skimpy on the tanky side, it didn't really help me a ton.
Already the eyebrows must be raised. Where could I be going with all of this?!
Passive - Sunlight.
Leona's damaging spells affect the target with Sunlight for 3.5 seconds. When allied champions deal damage to those targets they consume the Sunlight debuff to deal 20 / 35 / 50 / 65 / 80 / 95 / 110 / 125 / 140 additional magic damage. Leona is unable to activate the additional damage herself.
My take: This is why you want to be friends with your bot duo partner. Only by combining your powers!!!... will you get the most out of your damage output. The day Riot decides to make it so you can proc Sunlight by yourself is the day that Leona will become perma-ban in ranked and be nerfed to Evedom.
Q - Shield of Daybreak.
Leona's next basic attack will deal additional magic damage and stun the target for 1.25 seconds.
Cost: 45 / 50 / 55 / 60 / 65 mana
Cooldown: 12 / 11 / 10 / 9 / 8 seconds
Magic Damage: 40 / 70 / 100 / 130 / 160 (+0.3 per ability power)
My take: Worst stun in League of Legends. How many melee stuns are there in the game? Hmm... now that Eve is nearly worthless.... NONE. What is even more annoying is that the duration is fixed at 1.25 seconds, so Sion and Taric will just laugh at your shiny shield. Best synergized with Zenith Blade (in fact, most likely only time you will land your stun). <Some jerk whispers, "You forgot about Udyr!">
W - Eclipse.
Leona raises her shield to gain bonus Armor and Magic Resistance for 3 seconds. When the effect ends she deals magic damage to nearby enemies and prolongs the effect for a bonus 3 seconds if any enemies are struck.
Cost: 60 mana
Cooldown: 14 seconds
Armor & Magic Resist Bonus: 30 / 40 / 50 / 60 / 70
Magic Damage: 60 / 110 / 160 / 210 / 260 (+0.4 per ability power)
My take: Signature move. A Leona who doesn't max this first is a Leona that will die a lot. This skill gives the most damage, makes you nigh unkillable while its up and gives you really bad BO, cause all the enemies will run away while it's up. Go figure. Bread and butter spell that you should bring up BEFORE engaging.
E - Zenith Blade.
Leona projects a solar image of her sword, which deals magic damage to all enemies in a line. When the image fades, the last enemy champion struck will be immobilized for .5 seconds and Leona will dash to them.
Cost: 60 / 65 / 70 / 75 / 80 mana
Cooldown: 13 / 12 / 11 / 10 / 9 seconds
Magic Damage: 60 / 100 / 140 / 180 / 220 (+0.4 per ability power)
My take: Bandage Toss Lite. The range is really quite short (just a bit bigger than Tristana's max range), and do note that the animation is noticable so fast reflexes will dodge a direct shot. Learn to lead with this skillshot, and don't worry about minions; you'll phase through them! Be careful in using this in team fight situations as this skill will move you to your target, so don't do any silly 'flash and get insta-gib cause team was out of position' tricks, ok?
R - Solar Flare
After a brief delay, Leona calls down a beam of solar energy dealing damage and slowing enemies by 80% for 1.5 seconds. Enemies in the center of the beam are stunned instead of slowed.
Range to Center of AoE: 1200
Cost: 100 / 150 / 200 mana
Cooldown: 105 / 90 / 75 seconds
Magic Damage: 150 / 250 / 350 (+0.8 per ability power)
My take: Do note the pretty good range on this skill. This means you can easily cast this over walls, from ledges, or even catch someone who flashed away. Lead your target a bit when casting it as there is a tiny delay. This skill is also truly truly outrageous, and the most fun you can have with a babe in shiny golden armor (they are so rare!) for quite some time.
Skill leveling order: (explained why later on in guide)
Q > E > W > W > W > R > W > Q > W > Q > R > Q > Q > E > E > R > E > E
Clairvoyance - there is good reason why this skill is almost always essential in higher ELO play, but ignored too often in lower ELO. I will even dedicate a small section of the guide to how to use this skill. I was lucky in the sense that I already played a lot of support champs before Leona came along so I was already used to running CVs.
Flash - The best summoners escape ever. And... the occasional flash/Daybreak combo for a kill.
Exhaust - if the enemy team is running heavy AD, or has some uber scaling AD carry like Gangplank, Master Yi, Jax or Udyr, then this is a must. Drop the CV for this. Also, you may run into the rare occasion that someone else is running CV already. Then just swap over to exhaust.
Ghost - Almost never gotten, but if the enemy team is running a lot of speedy champs like Poppy, Gangplank, Ori and so on, then this will help you to catch them. Remember that if you do run this, edit your masteries and change that one point in Perseverance for Improved Ghost. Drop your Flash for this.
Why am I not talking about item builds right away?
For my build to be effective, you are going to be doing a lot of delayed building. This means you will be running around with all these bits and pieces and not a lot of completed items. If I just listed it out now, and people rush these items in a listed order, then things could go hairy very fast. Instead, I will talk about the laning and gaming portion of playing Leona, and point out the items you should be carrying at each phase of the game. My build (as all good tank builds should be) is highly situational, and it's not as simple as listing out a build list for say, a range carry. Once I've completely listed out all the items in the laning portion of the guide, then I will summarize the complete build list at the end for reference.
Whew, all that was boring... on to the real meat!
Note: If you are already used to playing a support type of role, feel free to skip the next 2 sections. They are for all those people who have never done support (or done support often).
As a Support
To the uninitiated, playing the support typically means playing not for the kills, but for the team. You should always duo lane bot with some farmer type champ (any range carry, or any carry that scales well late game), and leave all the cs to him while you pump out the harass on the enemy team farmer. You will also be getting more wards than you normally would, but for Leona, you will actually be getting a bit less wards than you would as a pure support. Imagine the number to be between what a non-support (normally only 1 every time they shop) and a pure support (typically 2-4 per shopping experience) gets.
Your other big time goal is keeping your farmer alive at all costs, and luckily, Leona is extremely well suited for this. Daybreak can stun anyone who tries to get your farmer, and don't forget that Zenith Blade temporarily immobilizes your target as well. That could very well save a life. Do not hesitate to use Solar Flare if it will save your farmer; keeping him alive is more important than saving your ulti for a possible kill.
And prepare to die for him, if it will keep him alive. Even if you think he's playing badly! You're Leona, not some cowardly tank like that Shen.... (you know what I mean! The Shen who shadow dashes away when they see the jungler coming for the gank, and you getting crushed as MF)
Also CV. A lot, and do it well... speaking of which....
In the early phases of the game, Clairvoyance is used very often, and is typically used to keep track of the enemy jungler. Use it immediately when the game starts at their fountain so you can see if they are planning some crazy level 1 antics. This is definitely true when someone on their team buys an early ward, and that person is not a support. That typically reeks of a ward at one of your jungler's buffs so they could attempt a kill/steal. Write it out in team chat, and takes steps accordingly.
Use it to also catch jungle invasions at level 1. (Almost a guarantee once they have some stun combo like Alistar, Bitz or double stun like Sion/Ryze/Annie)
Next, start keeping track of their jungler buffs. Most junglers gank once they get their red buff, so knowing when it's down will let your team expect that first gank. Good junglers can get red buff by the 3:30 mark easily, so save a CV for that. If down, warn the team about incoming gank. Then starting CVing around for that first gank. Focus more on lanes that are pushing from your side (including your own). Junglers like to focus on lanes where they feel a better chance of a successful kill.
In the mid-game, you start spamming CV less frequently. Now, it's used more to keep track of regions when your team is pushing past the river. CV one side of the jungle, and hopefully there should be wards on the other side. If not, your team should obviously hug the CVed safer side. It should also be used to check Baron and Dragon when their team has significant MIA and you don't have either objective warded. Basically, when there is a good amount of MIA on their side, think about what you would do in their shoes, and CV the area where you think they might be if they were attempting a gank, a free dragon/baron, or some jungle invasion.
End-game, CV does drop a bit in usefulness. By now, money is free-flowing, so people on both sides should be warding everywhere. CV does come in very handy when they have an oracle-clearer on their team destroying all the wards, but CV is now mostly to anticipate that game-ending teamfight. Done correctly, and you can bring the teamfight to the best possible location for your team, and avoid that all dreaded CAUGHT IN JUNGLE issue.
The other useful component of CV is the ability to negate juking. Juking is when your team is in pursuit of an enemy champ, and they start using brushes, weaving in and out to avoid getting caught. A simple CV on that region cuts out all that fancy skating the enemy Gangplank was doing and reaps a kill. Be very map aware for when you see your team attempting a gank/kill to help prevent juking. Remember, warding saves lives. Stopping juking keeps your team's blood pressure low.
Early Laning Phase
1st items: 1 x Health Potion, 1 x Regrowth Pendant
Go bot lane. Now. Don't fool around like Dyrus and go jungling, or forget that you are playing Leona and demand top solo lane. Leona was clearly designed to be an incredible duo laner (kudos to Riot for that, you don't normally see them design duo-laners), Now, for your partner....
If it is range, good. If it is not range, another really strong partner would be a champ with some EARLY jumping capability (meaning that Xin, Jax and childhood buddy Pantheon qualifies, but not Akali) and sometimes Poppy. The reason being that Poppy has this annoying habit of knocking them away from your Daybreak/Eclipse. Definitely try to encourage someone to get a good partner for your early laning phase during champ select. It will help in the long run greatly.
What you do now when you get down in lane is to camp in the brush. Park your delectable keister on the ground and wait. Inform your partner that the earliest possible time for a good kill attempt is at lvl 2, but optimally you should wait till lvl 3. The first skill you get should either be Daybreak or Zenith Blade, but not Eclipse (you have no way of ccing the enemy team so they will take the shield explosion). I normally get Daybreak so they can't jump my farmer at level 1. When you are level 2, get Zenith Blade, and then at level 3 pick up Eclipse.
Now you are ready to take control of your lane. The funny advantage about being passive at levels 1-2 is that the enemy duo lane now thinks they can be a bit more aggressive and typically start pushing the lane. Once you have your QWE combo setup, from your brush, first activate W while in it. This hides your intent for trying to kill, and at the same time sends a signal to your farmer to get ready to help you out. If you can catch them with Zenith Blade from the brush, you should definitely go for it, following quickly with Daybreak to hold them there a bit longer. If they are staying some distance from the brush (smart, aren't they?), then move out in a manner that would put you behind them so you can easily catch them with Zenith blade if they try to retreat to their tower. If they retreat up river, you can attempt to catch the other team member, or just move back into the brush. The optimal situation would be that you first catch someone with Zenith Blade, ally procs first Sunlight, follow up with Daybreak, ally procs 2nd Sunlight, and then Eclipse explodes and ally procs 3rd Sunlight. Done correctly, and you've just done about FIVE spells worth of Leona damage. That terribad DPS you seemed to be bogged down with suddenly becomes OMG SHE IS KILLING ME. Done correctly, and you will see even tanky dps like Renekton or Mord just lose half their HP in an instant.
Don't forget if you have a strong jumper like a Panth or Jax, their HP would melt away like ice-cream on a bald man's head in the height of summer. The good news is that this harass is so strong that you are not limited to focusing a squishy champion. Whoever you manage to catch will go 'Hello!' from all that pain, so if you can't get the squish, feel free to target the other fella. I've brought down other Leonas to half HP through their Eclipse with this tactic easily.
You essentially want to force their farmer to stop farming and start getting zoned. Don't be greedy and try hard for the kill. Zoning pays off more than a kill sometimes by firstly, preventing from going back to shop and get stronger, and secondly cuts off a goodly amount of experience. If you dive and die instead, you've just given them farm, exp, and lane dominance during your downtime.
Past level 3, your skill order setup should be to max out R (Solar Flare), W (Eclipse) second, Q (Shield of Daybreak) third and lastly E (Zenith Blade). You may choose to swap Q and E around in the skill order (if you are having trouble landing the Zenith Blade, so you want a lower CD), but W needs to be maxed first definitely. It is your highest spell damage (other than R), and it is also your main source of durability in the early stages of the game.
If you are instead getting beat up more than the enemy team when you try to harass, just pull back and tower farm. Use your Eclipse to help soften up waves for your farmer and also soak up any harass they will attempt to put out.
Your first shopping trip should come around the 800 - 825 gold mark. On your first trip back you should:
2nd: Upgrade Regrowth Pendant into Philosopher's Stone, 1 x Boots of Speed, 2 x Sight Wards, As many Health Potions as you feel necessary
Come back, use wards to prevent jungler ganks, and carry right on doing what you were doing before. A great timing to try for a kill is once you hit level 6. Once you have it, the combo is as follows,
W - activate Eclipse prior in brush, E - catch with Zenith, R - Put the center just a bit into the target's retreat path, Q - lock them so they can't avoid the incoming R stun.
That is of course optimal. Most times you will find that you can hit them with Q first and still catch them easily with R, and this alternative would actually be better if they still have flash up.
Now you have a rough idea of what to do in the early laning phase, I will list out the order of items you should be getting every time you shop, till the mid-game phase.
3rd: 1 x Heart of Gold, 2 x Sight Wards, Any number of Health Potions you feel necessary <975 gold minimum>
4th: 1 x Phage (or pieces of it) <1315 gold> + Sight Wards (Up to you)
Either at 4th or 5th trip: Upgrade Boots of Speed to Ionian Boots of Lucidity <700 gold>
5th: 1 x Negatron Cloak, 1 x Chain Vest <1470 gold>
The early trips are cheaper because you have no gold generation items. Later ones are more expensive because you have your 2 gold per 10 items.
Note that this is not set in stone. If you find you are having difficulty absorbing either AP or AD damage, feel free to pick up Nega or Chain first before attempting a Phage.
Welcome to the DREADED DEAD ZONE. This typically occurs around the 20-25 min mark of the game. By now, some form of map control has shifted. Turrets should be down in some fashion, and the laning phase has moved on to the roaming phase. You should start farming at this point in the game (you will need it!) but still give way if a farmer comes for a rich lane. A good option would be to jungle a bit yourself as your jungler will also by now be roaming a lot.
Why do I call this the DREADED DEAD ZONE? Observant readers will note that by shopping trip 5 listed above, you are now... item maxed. Yes, you have no more space in your inventory. You can no longer buy wards for your team (never a good thing as a support), and until you can afford to upgrade one of your pieces, you will only get stronger by levelling. Hence the title. You are literally dead center in your build in terms of damage, durability and CDR.
But don't despair. Let us see what you currently get from your items, stats-wise:
You are definitely durable (once you add a maxed Eclipse, your +Armor is 115 and +MR is 118), but you are not as tanky as a pure tank Leona. Be aware of this and not put yourself in situations that you could survive as a pure tank.
Rule of Thumb: You can still easily tank 2 people damage, 3 people damage with team support, 4 and above must be full-out teamfights where you expect to die
Your priorities have shifted as well. Now you are no longer a babysitter for bot lane, but a roaming ganker with very good single target lockdown. Feel free to help hold turrets when other lanes want to gank as this will give you ample chance to farm yourself out of the Dead Zone. You will also notice that at this point your damage is really too low for you to kill most healthy targets by yourself, so always wait for teammates when pulling off a kill.
In teamfight situations, don't try to initiate in a fashion where you will be taking all 5 champs worth of damage/cc. As I mentioned above, you can only reliably soak up 3 champs worth of pain. 5 will drop you pretty darn fast. If necessary let them initiate on you, Eclipse and Solar Flare after they clump and let your team clean up. By letting them initiate on you, you won't be taking the full brunt of 5 champion damage as they have to move in first, and they will also be wasting 1-3 CCs on you to start the fight.
Breaking it down:
1 - 3 enemy champs: you can initiate
4 - 5 enemy champs: let them initiate on YOU (not a squish teammate)
Note: Towers at this point count as 1.5 champs for the purposes of diving. Meaning that if you are diving 2 healthy enemy champs at the tower, you better have team support, and be prepared to take one for the team.
If you are lucky and there is another tank on team who built tankier, then let him start the teamfights, and you play the off-tank role.
Getting out of the Dead Zone
There is an advantage to being dead center in your build. This lets you easily branch into whatever you really need for the moment. I will list out the possible scenarios and what you should focus on for each.
Note: BV = Banshee Veil. Before finishing up the other items mentioned lower down in the guide, I strongly recommend converting the Chain Vest into a Warden's Mail. I've been rushing it earlier in my recent games and noticed a marked improvement in durability.
Against Heavy AP: Finish up Negatron into a Force of Nature (FoN). If still not enough, Finish Omen, Get 2nd Negatron and then build into BV. Then finish Shurelya's, followed by Trinity.
Against Heavy AD: Rush Omen. If insufficient, build up a GA, Thornmail or Atma's (one of the 3). Finish Shurelya's, Trinity and FoN at your own pace.
Against Both Types: Finish Phage into a Frozen Mallet, finish up Omen and FoN. If still insufficient, go for a BV, then Shurelya's.
When your team is behind: Frozen Mallet first, then whichever damage type is the more dangerous one. Look above.
When you are constantly kited: Shurelya's, then Omen. Follow up with FoN & Trinity then Atma's/BV.
When teams are even, your team is in lead, or only slightly behind: Trinity Force. Then FoN, followed by Omen into Shurelya's, finishing with Atma's/BV.
I always recommend last option first, and only the earlier ones if you are having difficulty tanking a particular damage type, or if your team is losing the game so far. The last option will maximise the farm you get from your Philosopher Stone and Heart of Gold..
Given the comfortable choice between Atma's and BV, go for Atma's.
I should now answer this question...
Why not a pure tank Leona build?
Essentially boils down to: Sucky DPS. Leona's true strength is disruption, hence you will note that in any option, you will achieve the glorious 40% CDR that will make you mess around with the enemy team like a Singe does. If you build just pure tanky, that would get you through the lower ELOs where they have a tendency to hit whichever target comes first, but higher ELOs will look at your build and completely ignore you. They will know that if you didn't build any damage at all, you are not a threat to their squishies. If you build tanky (like a Frozen Mallet) for my build, then the max CDR must be achieved, so that you will still get them to note you due to your extremely disruptive nature. The damage output from a Sunfire will simply not cut it in higher ELO guys.
My build only focuses on 2 damage items, Trinity Force and Atma's, but in my play testing, I've discovered that it is sufficient to take down unguarded squishies 1v1, so they will have to do something about you. Any pure tank build and you will see the squishy kite/ignore you 24/7.
Normally most games before you can finish any of my options. Most of my games end shortly after I finish my Trinity Force or FoN, so I don't really get to see my Shurelya's, Omen or Atma's. If you do reach critical mass (the 5 items sans Atma's/BV), you will be able to tank like a normal tank, and you will bring a lot to the table. Maxed CDR lets you become disruption city, Omen and Shurelya's will solve any kiting issues for your team, you put out enough hurt that they can't ignore you, and you have a nice move speed increase that lets you catch most champions.
Here are your level 18 tanking stats with the 5 items threshold:
159 Armor (229 with Eclipse)
125 MR (195 with Eclipse)
With maxed CDR, the CD on Eclipse is 8.4 seconds, so in teamfights there should only be gaps of 2.4 seconds when it is not up.
For your reference, with max CDR, your CDs are:
Q - 4.8 sec
W - 8.4 sec
E - 5.4 sec
R - 45 sec
Most time in teamfights endgame what I do is initiate onto their carries, kill one ASAP, Zenith + Daybreak to save one of my own carries, then Zenith + Daybreak onto another carry, drop it and then the teamfight pretty much ends around there. During this time Eclipse is continually spammed, and my R is saved for that clutch moment (either to help kill 1st or 2nd carry or to break up their charge into my carry). The one great advantage that Leona has over say, a tank like Amu, is that since Zenith Blade is a penetrating flash, you have very little worries about positioning yourself to catch people. You'll be zipping around the battlefield like a glorious butterfly dropping 200 ton anvils of pain. When executed well, truly a thing of beauty.
This guide is not meant to make Leona the best tank you will ever play, because she is not. She is strong, yes, and pretty balanced, yes, but she is still not the best tank in the game. That award is still a tie between Amumu and Alistar, 2 tanks that are more disruptive, deal more damage, and still soak up more damage even when not running pure tank builds (especially Alistar).
That is why I run Leona as a support/tank. You need to bring some advantage to playing Leona for your team, and providing good early lane dominance + farming is something only Alistar/Blitz can mimic (not Amu). You are stronger in early game though, so abuse that.
The best advantage of Leona is that she doesn't get banned at all in ranked. So if Alistar and Amu get the shaft, you can always fall back onto.... The Radiant Dawn!
I've considered doing something like this, because her early game zoning and harass is certainly top-notch with an attentive partner with strong follow-up burst.
The item build is similar to what I usually build on her every game, although I prioritize Glacial Shroud for the CDR since I still like Merc Treads on her, and Frozen Heart is a better lategame buy to counter heavy AD overall than Thornmail IMO.
She's also capable of tower diving quite early in the game and opening up those kill opportunities since Eclipse makes her so tanky by default so early.
Clairvoyance is always nice to take, and I'm definitely going to try that.
I don't use same runes/masteries, but I can definitely agree with you on the fact I feel most influential with Leona when I build tanky/cdr.
I use mr reds, flat armor yellows, a mix or flat and per lvl mr blues, and 2 flat mr quints and 1 flat armor quint.
I go 0/21/9 with masteries. But in hindsight I should probably start running 21 points in utility.
I start with doran's shield. My core items normally consist of miracle, cdr boots, sunfire/banshee's (depending on how match is going and enemy team comp). I also like getting that cdr support item, the one that has the active that increases movement speed by 40% for 3 seconds (can't remember the name off hand, picture is a crown).
I use flash and cv summoners as well.
I don't see how anyone can argue that Leona going cdr isn't one of the best ways to play her, when you get near max cdr, you are able to almost always have your w on which makes her VERY tanky.
This is actually a pretty nice written guide. Just for the sake that it explains in detail the order to but the items. Whether the items are the best or not, who knows, even so it gives a good pathway for the types of item needs and when/how to get them for each phase.
That said, I agree with most of the item build few tweaks here and there with runes, but nothing critical. Lately I've been going with Philo Stone/Lucid Boots/Heart of Gold/Kindlegem as my first items, since the kindle gives some heath and the cdr you need. I'll try the phage thing next time see how that goes.
Normally, I prefer frozen heart over the Omen, but with the armor/damage buff Leona gets, and knowing you'll be going full tank, you can get up to 500 total defense stats, getting that omen to be a 4.5 second debuff to speed and attack speed. Which can be the majority of the team fight. So works really well on her.
Thanks for the comments so far!
I'm really glad that your brought up Frozen Heart, as I actually did strongly consider making a build around that for it's CDR. Since I buy Mercury Threads for all my other tanks/tanky dps classes, I actually tried my hardest not to exclude it for Leona. There was an alternate build I ran for a while:
Philosopher > Shoes > Kindlegem > Phage > Negatron > Glacial Shroud and the rest is the same from my build written in my guide, with 2 exceptions; FH instead of Omens, Mecury instead of Ionian. I also then got BV as my last item as you will need to increase your HP.
What I found in general was that you will delay your TF by a good margin of time. I'll run the numbers for you: (I'm a math major I love numbers!)
Typically get a HoG by the 8-10 min mark of game. By 30 min of game (my typical spot for getting my TF), I will have gotten a minimum of 600 gold from my HoG towards helping me finish the TF. That is several minion waves of gold (considering that you last hit perfectly), or quite a bit of jungling. You will know by now that Leona is one of the worst champs for minion wave farming, even with maxed Eclipse and Zenith. You will take about 3-4 seconds more time than most regular champions to clean up, and while that doesn't sound like a lot, consider your tank arriving at a teamfight 3-4 seconds later. Yeah, not good 8p. The earlier HoG is also a good boost to any support type play.
I wanted to make my build leaner and more efficient, so eventually (with much heartache), I dropped Mercury threads from my build and made this current one.
I will consider adding it as an alternative build in my guide for people who don't mind the slower farming.
I going to try running some games with Eleisa's Miracle (against heavier CC) now that your brought it up and see how it fares. I actually never really considered it before because all my other tanks got Mercury.
I however can't recommend that you stay with the Sunfire as a tanking item for Leona. I'll explain:
Sunfire requires you to stay near your target for prolonged periods of time to truly shine. This is awesome on tanks like Amumu or Singe, champions that tag and stick onto a carry like old bubblegum slowly wearing them down. Leona is not like that though. Her damage comes in bursty chunks with ally harass, so either your target drops dead in less than 5 seconds, or he/she gets away. This translates into very little damage done by your Sunfire. The other issue of course is that Leona is constantly tagging multiple targets in a team fight (essentially every time her Zenith Blade comes back up), so that damage you will be doing with Sunfire will be too spread out to really be effective. I do recommend that you swap over to HoG > Omens. Don't worry if you no longer have a 'Sun' item, you're still A Radiant Dawn!
Oh yah, that CDR item you are thinking of is Shurelya's 8p.
Hearts to the rest of the viewers and commenters!
In light of possible further discussion, and the fact that my guide is too frigging big to add any more characters to it (I've hit my character ceiling!!!), I'm putting this in a seperate comment. I've added a new skill section to my guide btw and a note about Warden's Mail.
Alternative Build Sets
There was a slower farming set that I ran for some time before I used this one. Its:
Force of Nature
In place of getting an early Heart of Gold, I instead got a Kindlegem. Otherwise the build order was very similar to what I stated above. This build gives you a bigger amount of MR with the added bonus of Tenacity. You will lack the option to upgrade your damage with Atma's (your HP is really too low without the Banshee's), and you will farm slower.
Anomandar has a 'risker' Leona build that focuses more on damage while giving barebones tanking stats. His item progression is also solid for gold farming. Here is the link (should be somewhere in middle/bottom of page). While he does have that 'dreaded' Sunfire that I'm encourging people not to buy, in his case it works due to the early Ghostblade and Shurelya's allowing her to lock on.
After watching Chaox play Leona once, I felt that his randomly thought up build was pretty decent too. It will be low on the dps side though, but it does leave a blank spot for a lot of wards, which is pretty vital to true support play (it leans heavily towards pure support style).
Philo > Shoes > HoG > Merc Threads > Either Omens or FoN, depending on the game.
I normally get a negatron, pick up a warden's, then work on my FoN. It is more gold efficient that way. This build allows you to skip even more farming and stack up mega wards, though you had better be really good at landing your skills as your CDR is quite low.
I cap off with a Shurelya's and typically you don't get further by then as your gold generation items are gone. You will be pretty tanky with some CDR. This build does run the risk into long-term redundancy, so make sure you win the game fast!
This section will also include any builds that I've read and think is also viable. So feel free to discuss your build too! Don't worry, I'll acknowledge whose build it is 8p.
Well written guide but I have to disagree with a lot. First you do not play Leona as a support, the way you wrote and laid out things are toward her damage and CDR which you do not need. She is meant to cc and take damage. Relying on W for tanking is a bad idea. I would much rather be tough as nails before and after I hit W.
I have over 50 games by now and I have tried all the builds and styles and I found that pure tank is the way to go. I agree with the Quints though, the gold/10 is incredible specially when you rush a HoG and Phil Stone. The reason I find pure tank the way to go is teamfights do not last long enough to make CDR worth it. By the time you unleash all of your abilities one time the fight is either over or nearly over.
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