Akali’s old moves used to be pretty boring to look at and frustrating to play against. In most cases, you would go up against an Akali that was utterly useless or would one-shot you before you could even see her coming. In some cases, you could have those same two feelings about the same Akali in the same game.
The new Akali isn’t only sleeker and cooler looking, she now has one of the more interesting kits in the game. Akali now lives up to her identity as a very scary ninja, and can is quite mobile.
Let’s take a look at what she can do and get you started with some runes and items before your first match.
Passive - Assassin’s Mark
What it does:
After damaging an enemy champion, Akali will mark the target with a ring. When Akali moves out of the ring, her next basic attack will gain damage, range and restore energy. When moving toward the ring, Akali will gain a burst of movement speed. Once the ring has been consumed, Akali will gain a burst of movement speed toward enemies.
Akali is a duck-and-weave kind of champion. After hitting a champion, your first move should be activating Assassin’s Mark, as it accounts for a large percentage of Akali’s damage. Once activated, you need to weave back in for the attack.
Akali’s passive makes her a deadly assassin, just like she’s always been. However, it’s now a lot harder to just jump in and delete someone if you have your ultimate up. Instead, you’ll need to do some work to get that damage out — it’s all about positioning.
Thankfully, Akali has a few tools to make Assassin’s Mark easier to use.
Q - Five Point Strike (level first, max first)
What it does:
Akali throws tiny knives in front of her, which deal damage and slow anything they hit. When Akali’s energy bar is nearly full, it’ll turn dark orange. Casting Five Point Strike with a dark orange bar will cause Akali to heal herself. When maxed out, the ability will deal extra damage to minions and monsters.
Five Point Strike acts as a simple damage skillshot — a tool found in the kits of many assassins. Aside from some light healing and wave clear, this ability isn’t very interesting beyond its ability to proc Assassin’s Mark.
However, Five Point Strike does very high damage, and is an easy way to deal damage on the go. The problem with this ability will be its very high energy cost. You’ll need to mitigate that with effective use of your passive and Twilight Shroud.
W - Twilight Shroud (Level third, max second)
What it does:
Akali throws a smoke bomb on the ground in front of her, regaining some energy. The smoke will radiate out in a circle, becoming progressively more clear in the center. If Akali enters the smoke, she’ll become obscured, meaning she cannot be targeted. She will also gain bonus movement speed inside the shroud and extend its duration each time she moves in or out.
Twilight Shroud is Akali’s most important and interesting ability. First, it’s a very powerful tool for regaining a heap of energy, which is why we’ll max this ability second. But Twilight Shroud has other, more important uses than just being an energy tool.
Dropping the shroud can be great for Akali in a teamfight, but it really excels when tower diving or playing very aggressively. Good Akali players will be able to juggle turret aggro while inside of their shroud. This tool will also keep the tower from ramping up damage over time.
When playing Akali, you should always be moving in and out of encounters to use Assassin’s Mark. Not only will Twilight Shroud keep you filled with energy to cast your deadly abilities, it’ll also keep you secure and safe while moving.
E - Shuriken Flip (Level second, max third)
What it does:
Akali flips backward while throwing a shuriken in a line. If the shuriken hits an enemy or Twilight Shroud, they will be marked. Akali can recast the ability to dash to her target and deal some damage.
Shuriken Flip is like a Lee Sin Q with a bit more movement. Because this ability flips you back, you can use it to cross walls and do all sorts of other fun stuff. More often than not, the flip is useful for pushing you outside of the Assassin’s Mark circle, activating the extra damage for when you fly in.
Shuriken Flip can be used to engage, but it’s best used to follow. If you’re in an enemy’s face, you can use your E to reset your own location while also procing Assassin’s Mark. It’s like a re-positioning tool combined with a chase ability. When combined with Akali’s ultimate, nothing can ever get away from her.
R - Perfect Execution (level and max whenever possible)
What it does:
Akali gains the ability to dash and then dash again. The first dash deals some damage and stuns. The second dash deals far more damage, which increases based on the target’s missing health.
Perfect Execution is a rotational ultimate, meaning it’s not really going to be one of those abilities you save for a big moment. Instead, it’s more like Ahri’s Spirit rush, asking you to weave it in-between your normal abilities in appropriate situations.
The mini-stun can be extremely powerful in a normal fight, but it’s mostly just useful to keep your enemies in place while you reset for your next attack or activate Assassin’s Mark. The second dash does extremely high damage, and is perfect for finishing off low health targets.
Fed Akalis will likely be able to kill a target with dash one and use the second dash on a completely new target, creating a double kill machine.
Domination tree with Electrocute, Resolve is secondary
Electrocute is the clear winner for Akali, she’s all about that tempo and flowing in a fight. She’ll never burst you in one and electrocute can essentially guarantee a kill on three abilities — assuming you have enough gold. As seen above, the rest of the runes support Akali’s mobile and aggressive playstyle, with Sudden Impact, Ghost Poro and Ultimate Hunter.
In the resolve tree, we want to keep Akali healthy as she dives in to take targets out. Bone Plating is great, as it keeps her safe in a short window — the only window she really needs. Chrysalis helps Akali survive her ramp-up window without having to sacrifice damage in the late game, making it perfect for her.
- Amplifying Tome
- Sorcery Shoes
- Hextech Gunblade
- Zhonya’s Hourglass
- Lich Bane
- Void Staff
While she may be a ninja, Akali isn’t really a champion about tips and tricks. Instead, Akali is all about mechanics. Her kit is tight and relatively simple, but she has the tools to do so much in such a short window of time.
Akali can’t be mastered by reading about what she can do, or even watching someone else play her. Similar to a champion like Lee Sin, Akali requires failure to get better. But once you’ve failed enough on her, she has the potential to be one of the most satisfying — and fun — characters to play in League.
For more on Akali, check out the slick breakdown by Patrick Scarborough.