League of Legends: Introducing Katarina & Some Thoughts on Gameplay

This was supposed to be a post on poetry, but the library closed at 6 today.

1. I am nowhere near a good Katarina player yet. I got run over by a much, much better one just now who built up massive attack damage (AD), ability power (AP) and armor & health. She had 25 kills and a few deaths; I had 2 kills and 14 or 15 deaths or something. However: my team won, even when we were outnumbered for a while because one lagged out.

The two guides I’ve been reading about Kat are at solomid and mobafire. I’m referring to them as I play more and more to tweak parts of my game. Still, the guides don’t talk straightaway about what you’re supposed to actually do with Kat. It took me a little bit to figure it out – she’s really weak and not good at laning. It is very easy for someone like me, who’s been playing LoL a couple of weeks, to fall apart with her fast.

So here’s what I’ve come up with that’s helped me survive:

  • Kat’s mobility is the key to her game, at least from what I can see. Despite being bad at laning, you still have to do well-enough in your lane and not cost your team the game. Since she moves fast, move in for last hits on minions and then move away. It is alright to be back at the turret quite frequently. Got Bouncing Blades, the Q skill? You can last hit multiple minions – just be patient with it.
  • Don’t forget to push minion piles. It’s really important to make your opponent have to fight minions when you’re squishy.
  • Don’t forget the dagger mark Bouncing Blades leaves. You frequently need to hit those with the mark to get the damage she needs to be doing. Q followed by W is devastating in lane once you have some decent ability power – Kat will level nicely then. Still, you don’t want to wait for that. I usually go mid lane and do a bit of wraiths and sometimes wolves when I’ve moved the pile.
  • Kat assassinates with burst damage. You throw the dagger (Q), move in via shunpo (E) which does some extra damage, hit Sinister Steel (W) and maybe the Ultimate (R). Thing is, you will never kill anyone who has a full health bar or magic resist with this. You’ve got to spend gold on upgrading ability power and attack damage. You need levels and almost always one or two on prey – Kat’s health is always a concern. And actually, you’re gonna find yourself kill stealing a lot, because finishing the weak is what Kat does best to charge herself up for more ultimates.

I know. This stuff sounds super basic. I’ll be telling you next to hide in the bushes and switch lanes for easy targets (I am telling you this, btw). But it really is important if you’re playing Kat and not changing your playstyle in bad ways. I always keep count of cs – never want to fall behind too much with levels or minions, the xp and gold are both necessary to have a solid endgame.

2. Which brings me to gameplay. I’m around a bunch of people who think killscore is everything. There are people beating me who never bother to kill minions and level up properly. They’ll beat me because I beat myself (or, more likely, people lag out and I quit).

I’ve had a few great games with Kat. They were all quiet and I dominated in more or less subtle ways:

  • One game with two friends who are newer at the game than I am went great. I used Kat to switch lanes frequently and gank their opposition. They were being picked on, so once Kat was leveled enough I spent a bunch of time pushing minion piles and killing overaggressive opponents. Once I had an advantage of a few levels, the game snowballed fast.
  • Another game I was accused by someone of feeding (dying too much and giving the enemy massive gold and xp). I died exactly once when this accusation was hurled at the 10 or 15 minute mark; I had 3 kills. Very quietly I picked up a bunch more kills and assists. Kat can be a great defensive player because of her mobility. Once you get Sorcerer’s Shoes, she can lure people to turrets and areas of ambush, then run full circle around to fight. The key to this one was moving from lane to lane watching for easy targets while coming back to move the minion pile in mid.
  • My best game was a defeat where we had one guy lag out. That guy should have been reported; he fed, dying 16 times in 10 minutes or so, and then he might have quit. He was level 6 and going at people twice his level. I didn’t kill everything in front of me. Rather, I worked with another teammate closely. Best kill was where Kat didn’t attack at all. I simply said in chat I’d lure out an enemy champ. I did, and my teammate hit him with everything he had. Enemy champ died and we got a turret.

Which brings me to something I’ve wanted to say for a while. I signed up for League of Legends because I like teamwork. A large part of teamwork is willing to do things that get no stats. There’s no stat for being a decoy and letting your partner hit the enemy hard because you’re busy trying to dodge, heal and stay alive. There’s no stat for using your ultimate to keep 4 rushing enemies at bay. There’s no stat for encouraging your teammates or sticking to your gameplan and consistently leveling, no matter how bad the fight is going.

What I want to see is more appreciation of the things that make smart tactics and strategy and less raw number crunching. On paper, after all, I had a horrible game against the better Kat player. We won even with just 4 for much of the game. I did something very right at some point. It’d be nice if someone else was there to witness it.


  1. This was a great read, having gone through very similar issues to the ones you’re currently having, I know how defeating it can feel to have people only look at the stats and judge entirely off that. Keep going, it gets better, and it gets easier. After 2 years in the League, I can say that what you describe will form you into a quality player if you stick to what you know and focus on the basic mechanics.

  2. Biggest from my experience so far is to trade lots in lane. You throw dagger shunpo and w to get that move speed to hi-tail out a there. Ofthen the bonus movespeed from w and the dmg reduction on e makes it really effective in winning the trade. after doing this every time you throw blade they will get scared. Then do it without blade to catch them off guard. Its really devastating to people to see their guy get nuked by a melee and see the enemy run out with little or no dmg. Clear wraiths when it is safe. I usually go with bouncing blade then my w so i can get an early clear on them. It helps for getting to lvl 3.

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