Akali quick-start guide: Items, runes, abilities, and counters

It's dangerous to insta-lock Akali in solo queue—take this.

Image via Riot Games

Akali’s update is here, as of today’s Patch 8.15 in League of Legends, and that means she’s suddenly much more badass.

Instead of just point-and-click slashes with her kama, she now has flips, and throws kunai. Her shroud looks infinitely cooler too, and her tattoos are some of the coolest we’ve ever seen.

Naturally after a rework, tons of players will want to play her. Some will lock her in right away into a ranked queue, and others will look up a bit about her before diving in. After all, she is pretty complicated now. If you’re here, you’re probably one of the players that wants to learn a little more—and we’ve got you covered.

Here’s a guide to Akali’s update, including items, runes, abilities, and gameplay tips, to get you informed on how to play her post-rework.


Image via Riot Games

Akali is much more of an assassin than she used to be. Before the update, she was definitely more of a diver. She could go into a big fight, but then she’d have trouble getting out without another enemy nearby for a dash, similar to Diana. Even though her playstyle is now much more hit-and-run oriented, her item build is still fairly similar.

Your core items are going to be the Hextech Gunblade and Zhonya’s Hourglass. The active slow and passive of the Gunblade provide Akali with a lot of chase potential and a decent bit of sustain, while the Hourglass makes her much harder to kill. Afterward, you can get a little more situational, but typically you’ll always want to go into a Lich Bane next if you can—although it isn’t as important as it used to be in her kit.

  1. Hextech Gunblade
  2. Sorcerer’s Shoes
  3. Zhonya’s Hourglass
  4. Lich Bane or Morellonomicon
  5. Void Staff
  6. Rabadon’s Deathcap

The Void Staff is always a great purchase on high-damage AP champions, and Akali is certainly that. The Deathcap has a little bit of wiggle room, though, due to its high cost. You can always build it before the Lich Bane for maximum damage—but we recommend only doing that when you’re super ahead, otherwise the gold cost can set you back.


Image via Riot Games

Primary path: Domination

  1. Electrocute
  2. Sudden Impact
  3. Eyeball Collection
  4. Ravenous Hunter or Ultimate Hunter

Secondary path: Resolve

  1. Bone Plating
  2. Chrysalis

Akali’s rune setup is pretty straightforward. She’s a high-mobility assassin, so she’s going to get a lot of mileage out of Electrocute and Sudden Impact. Eyeball Collection rewards aggressive gameplay with more damage, so that’s a given, too. You have some freedom on your fourth slot, though.

Ravenous Hunter will pair up nicely with the Hextech Gunblade to give you some serious sustain, but Ultimate Hunter gives her considerably more dashes form her ultimate ability when it’s fully stacked. It really depends on your playstyle here—you either like diving into mobs of enemies and need more sustain, or you like dancing around the backline. Either way works for Akali, so choose which seems best to you.

Bone Plating and Chrysalis keep her considerably safer in the early-game, before she has a chance to scale up. This is very important, because you need to scale up to really press the gas pedal with Akali.


Image via Riot Games

Akali’s abilities are dramatically different than they used to be. Even her Twilight Shroud ability is way different from her old one, despite holding the same theme. She’s rewarded by attacking, backing off, and then attacking again from her passive, so you’re going to want to level the abilities that reward this playstyle the most.

  1. Five Point Strike (Q)
  2. Shuriken Flip (E)
  3. Twilight Shroud (W)
  4. Perfect Execution (R)

Maxing our your Q first is very important on Akali, because it gives her both harassment damage and sustain for surviving the laning phase. This is probably the weakest part of the game for her, so getting points into this quickly will help soften that. Shuriken Flip puts you just out of range enough to trigger your passive after you’ve already engaged on an enemy. Since it’s so necessary for pulling off your passive combos reliably, you’ll want to max it second.

Finally you’ll max your W, because although it does give Akali a massive power spike when it’s up it’s still mostly just utility. You can get away with saving it for big moments, so you don’t need to put more points in it right away.


Image via Riot Games

Akali’s weak laning phase and early-game mean that she’s countered the most by those that can harass her out of lane. If she’s in the top lane, that means picking Quinn or Pantheon into her might help you out considerably. Unfortunately, though, she spikes hard when she gets only one or two items—so you’ll really only be delaying the inevitable if you try to pick for lane.

It’s later in the game, when she can sprint around the map and flip all over your face, that you need to worry about her. Akali’s mobility is more accurately described as “pseudo-mobility,” which just means she can’t actually use her mobility for all situations. Her passive forces her to use her mobility offensively, so when she flips onto you she’s actually open for a big counter-attack. If she chooses to hold onto her mobility to use it defensively she suffers in damage, so don’t be afraid to get in her face either way.

When she uses her shroud, the key is to get the hell away from it. It’s easier than it sounds, though, because the shroud is stationary and cannot follow her in combat. If she drops it, move away a few steps and either force her to come out of the shroud or disengage the fight entirely. Either way you need to focus on avoiding that big buff of black smoke at all costs, because she’s much stronger when she’s near it.

Akali is out today, and hopefully now you’ll be a little more prepared to lock her into a solo queue game. Don’t worry—if you have a bad game, you can blame it on us.