Tank Katarina - by Miyamiya

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Why should you play Katarina ?

Katarina is an extremely fun hero to play for a twitchy, aggressive, hit and run type playstyle. With blink every 5 seconds (3 with cooldown reduction), you are one of the most mobile heroes in the game. She is one of the best heros for running down fleeing enemies, and can put out massive AoE burst damage from her ultimate on low cooldown.
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On a side note, she quite possibly has the worst voice acting in the game.

Why should you play Tank Katarina ?

Most players assume that you should max out damage from Death Lotus. At low-level play this is a good idea, because you can honestly destroy their whole team on a 60 second cooldown. There are 2 problems with this:

1. Death Lotus has very short range and no natural slow, which means you have to be in the middle of multiple enemies to get it to work. If you go all damage, THEY WILL EAT YOU!

2. Death Lotus can be easily stunned/interrupted by just about everything out there. At high level play you will get stunned as soon as you jump into combat, cancelling all your damage. You are left in the middle of multiple enemies, stunned, and who again, would very much like to eat you.

Therefore, in order to maximize your damage and abilities, you actually have to be very tanky. Even if Death Lotus only hits for half its damage, you can use it multiple times in a battle and in a wider range of situations. With defensive gear you can chase down people deep into their own lines, and usually survive.

To summarize:

All Tank Gear = Extremely Aggressive
All Damage Gear = Dead = Extremely Passive

Skills

Q - Bouncing Blade - Katarina throws a dagger that bounces from enemy to enemy dealing her weapon damage + bonus magic damage. Subsequent hits do 15% reduced damage. The number of enemies hit and the magic damage scales with skill level.

This skill is extremely useful for the lanes and harassing enemy heroes. Use it to soften up heroes before putting yourself at risk with Shunpo, or to stack on damage to whatever target you are hitting. It can be used to last hit creeps, but compared to Shunpo it is slow and will not always get you the kill.

W - Killer Instincts - Passive: Katarina's attack speed is increased each time she consecutively hits the same target. Active: Katarina's next basic spell has a bonus effect. Bouncing Blade does full damage to every target hit and reduces incoming healing to the target, or after using Shunpo Katarina's dodge chance is increased for 3 seconds.

The thing you want to notice here is the increased dodge chance after Shunpo. Before diving into a dangerous situation, pop this off for a huge amount of dodge and ignore lots of damage. The reducing healing and extra damage to bouncing blade is rarely used, but not totally useless. The attack speed is useless, because you will rarely find yourself autoattacking targets for an extended period of time.

E - Shunpo - Katarina instantly moves to her target location. If the target is an enemy, she deals damage.

This is the reason you play Katarina. It does a hefty amount of damage base, has a 3-5 second cooldown at max level, and lets you teleport all over the place. You can jump into and out of combat as you please, chase down heroes, last hit, and proc the extra dodge from Killer instinct. Against melee heroes you can Shunpo to hit them and run away without them ever hitting you back. It gives no warning, and makes you extremely unpredictable. I refer to it a lot as “blink”. Max this skill first.

Also, you should note that you do need targets to use it on. If you don’t have heroes or creeps behind you, it will be very hard to retreat. When in doubt, I have lived from blinking to the person that is chasing me and heading the opposite way ^^.

R - Death Lotus - Katarina goes into a state of extreme focus, throwing daggers with unrivaled speed at one enemy champion per level of the spell. Channeling. 

This spell is extremely powerful. I often use it both to kill heroes, and for softening up groups of heroes. Even with a full tank build the damage output is amazing. At a 60 second cooldown it is very disposable. I have used it while laning just to soften people up a bit, so I can kill them 60 seconds later.

Also, it is easily broken by stun/silence and easy to just run away from if your targets are not slowed or stunned themselves. Try not to get heartbroken when it gets interrupted.

(Passive) - Voracity - Every time a champion Katarina has damaged in the last 15 seconds dies, she gains 50 gold and her cooldowns are reduced by 20 seconds.

This passive is amazing. In 5v5 it will often mean that you can Death Lotus twice in a row if your team gets a few kills, or even just proc some extra dodge/shunpo. Think of it like a Master Yi, kill the first person and you get a chance to kill everyone ^^.

Summoner Spells


I always take Heal and Flash. Out of all the summoner spells, Heal allows you to be extremely aggressive and even bait heroes into duking it out with you. It gives you extra time to survive until cooldowns are up, and can heal your allies for a push.

Flash is a defensive spell mainly, as you can always Shunpo into combat, but not always out again. Its great for the jungle where there are not many creeps around, and you don’t have line of sight to the places you want to be. The cooldown is rather large, but I find it saves me enough.

Cleanse might be a nice alternative, and sometimes teleport can be useful. In general though I find the first two to be the best.

Runes


I haven’t been able to test out runes for a while now, so this is open to speculation. Dodge, Magic Resist, and Cooldown Reduction are always nice to have. Damage/AP runes are a bit weak, or else they might be an option.

Since most of your damage comes from your abilities and not auto-attack, crit/attack speed/ armor penetration aren’t especially good buys.

Masteries

9/21/0 is my personal preference. The cooldown reduction and magic penetration from the offensive tree are amazing, but the later abilities are pretty lackluster. I don’t find much to be useful from the utility tree, at least not more usefull than surviving about 20 percent longer in combat. Cooldown reduction is much easier to get from runes and the offensive tree.

Items

This is the most important part of any build, and getting the right items for your character will make or break the game. Our motivation here is to get massive amounts of hp to survive daring hit and run attacks, while having a bit of speed and utility to chase people down. By the time you complete all the items you will be invincible, and you will hurt just enough that people will need to try and kill you anyway.

So without further ado, here is the basic build for tanking with Katarina:

1. Regrowth Pendant -> Warmog’s Armor
2. Boots of Speed -> Mercury Treads
3. Phage -> Frozen Mallet
4. Atma’s Impaler
5. Guardian Angel
6. Banshee’s Veil

Some exceptions can be made. Mercury treads can be changed to Boots of Swiftness or Ninja Tabi. Atma’s Impaler is a good deal, but it can be traded out for another damage item like Infinity Edge or Maldred’s Bloodrazor.

I have not tested an AP/Tank build for Katarina simply because phage is so nice to have early game for getting kills, and Atma’s doesn’t have a good spellpower equivilant. 

The early game plan is to have Warmogs + Mercury Treads + Phage which has everything you need to start running people down and escaping afterwards.

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Early Game


You should have picked up your regrowth pendant, and either Bouncing Blade or Shunpo. Taking Shunpo level 1 gives more damage, last hits, and ability to chase, but you can also be shut down pretty hard against heroes like Ashe and Teemo. Try to pick a lane with a partner, and preferably an enemy you can hit and run over and over. 

I usually get a kill before level 6, the trick is to keep harassing them and using you summoner abilities at the right time. It also depends heavily on which heroes you are fighting and how conservative they are. Try buying Boots of Speed and Ruby Crystals to start on warmog’s. An early Giant’s Belt is a massive advantage. If you are damaged, just sit back and let the regen take care of it.

Mid Game


Once you hit level 6 you have the ability to gank. Even if you don’t kill them yourself, you can easily Shunpo to them and proc phage letting your team finish them off. Hopefully you get a frozen mallet going and a scary amount of hp. Characters like Ashe and Teemo aren’t so much of a problem when their attacks hardly move your healthbar. If you do get slowed/stunned you can easily escape before you run out of hp.

Push with the team, keep pressing Death Lotus, and usually people start falling over. If you have low health, go back to base, you need to start fights at full if you are going to use your hp advantage to its maximum effect.

Late Game

You will find it extremely hard to push as Katarina, but defending should be easier due to your ability to fill up your massive health pool at the fountain. The best you can hope for as far as towers are concerned is to wait until the other team tries to take out your ranged, letting you get the jump on them. If worst comes to worst, you do have enough hp to sit in front of the tower doing Death Lotus on all the defenders, just make sure you have flash or shunpo ready to get out of there when you are done. Most of this is really common sense though for a non-pushing melee character.
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