Everyone's favourite Rogue Assassin, Akali, has been in and out of professional play a ton since her rework in late 2018. She has been through a ton of buffs, nerfs, and overall changes, most recently an overhaul to her kit. This new iteration of Akali has once again caused her pick priority within professional play to rise, and as such, we’re making this guide to help all of you aspiring Akali players!
SK Gaming toplaner Toni “Sacre” Sabalić, known for his strong Akali play, has been kind enough to give his take on The Rogue Assassin and gave us some tips on how to play her. Let's dive in.
Strengths and weaknesses
One of Akali’s biggest strengths is her playmaking ability. Her kit allows her to create kill opportunities that most other champions couldn't even imagine. Once you hit the level six mark, you can look to kill pretty much anyone with a good combo with minimal risk of dying. A skilled Akali player will always look for the opportunity to kill their opponent upon reaching six and will often do so.
Akali is often frustrating to play against due to her slipperiness. She has multiple dashes in her kit alongside an AoE lurking obscurity, which she can duck in and out of allowing her to deal massive damage without giving much of an opportunity for the opponents to fight back. She is an assassin with the capabilities of wiping a whole team if left unchecked. Her laning phase also got a big stronger with the recent changes, which was her biggest weakness previously.
As for weaknesses, Akali doesn’t have all that many. She did have her sustain nerfed early game, being shifted to Q at max rank rather than being tied to your energy bank. One other weakness is that she is somewhat dependant on snowballing. If you don’t get an advantage around level 6 and start getting rolled on, you will fall off pretty hard around the mid game and will have a tough time getting back into the game.You also have a rather weak pre-level 6 compared to other champions, meaning you can get bullied hard against a smart opponent.
There are three main keystones used by Akali players currently with the most widely used choice being Electrocute. You want Electrocute for added burst damage with your combo which helps in securing kills whenever you decide to go in. Fleet Footwork can be taken in matchups where you need the extra lane sustain. Conqueror is taken in matchups where you are likely to take extended trades.
“You’ll normally only see Conqueror against the likes of Sylas or Irelia where you can take long extended trades and make good use of the keystone.”
With all that in mind, you should choose which Keystone will be right for you depending on your game. Here is an example of the rune page you’d use if you opted for Electrocute.
As mentioned above, the keystone of choice, Electrocute, is useful for added burst damage in trades. You generally want Taste of Blood for some form of sustain when trading with the opponent, Ghost Poro for the additional safety with vision and the added adaptive stats granted when your Ghost Poro is spawned or spots an enemy, and Ravenous Hunter which gives additional healing on ability damage.
Take Resolve secondary with either Second Wind or Bone Plating and Revitalize. These will help you sustain after trading
Passive: Assassin’s Mark
This is a large chunk of your damage especially pre-level 6. You should proc Assassin’s Mark as often as you can in order to pressure your opponent out of lane and gain control of both the lane and the map.
Q: Five Point Strike
This is your main way of proccing Assassin’s Mark. If you land Q at max distance, the enemy is slowed and you instantly get out of the Assassin’s Mark ring, or are on the very edge of it. The slow makes it easy to proc and chain passive procs one after another.
W: Twilight Shroud
This is your main way of weaving your way in and out of fights and part of what makes Akali so slippery and hard to kill. You can dip in and out of invisibility easily within Twilight Shroud making it easy for you to win trades at all stages when you have it available.
E: Shuriken Flip
This is one of your main gap closers and sticking tools against more slippery enemies. You can use Shuriken Flip and have it hit your Twilight Shroud, allowing you to jump back to the shroud which can make for some crazy escapes and outplays.
R: Perfect Execution
It’s important to remember that Perfect Execution no longer has a mini stun on first cast. Remember that this ability is an Area of Effect, meaning you can dash through and execute multiple enemies and potentially wipe a whole team if they stack up.
"Try to use Perfect Execution as a repositioning tool to weave in and out of danger during a teamfight. You can look to engage onto an opponent with it and follow up with Shuriken Flip. This will bring you out of the Assassin’s Mark circle and can allow you to stick to your target easily if they try to escape."
Doran’s Shield helps you to get through your difficult laning phase. Being a melee champion, you have a harder time in lane and can be poked out by ranged opponents. Doran’s will aid you in staying in lane against annoying opponents like these. Use your extra 50 gold on a Health Potion.
Aim to complete Bilgewater Cutlass as early as possible. This will give you more sustain in the form of lifesteal and makes farming a lot easier. Akali scales well with attack damage so this is a great early item that helps to cover your early weakness.
Turn that Cutlass into a Hextech Gunblade. This item gives you spell vamp which grants healing on spells. This means you can take big trades and heal back up off of the minion wave with your now max rank Q. After that you either grab a Zhonya’s Hourglass so you can fight and be at a much smaller risk of dying, or Morellonomicon for more burst damage and anti healing. You’ll also want to get your boots finished off after gunblade. You’ll almost always be getting Sorcerer’s Shoes for the magic penetration, but sometimes Mercury Treads can be good.
“Sorc shoes and Morello help you with assassinating squishy targets as these items give flat magic penetration.”
Void Staff is incredibly strong, especially if the opponents are building magic resistance. Void adds a ton of damage and has one of the strongest passive effects in the game. Rabadon’s Deathcap also adds a boat load of ability power, grating more based on the amount of AP you already have. Grab this after you get a few AP items and want a large chunk of damage.
Laning as Akali
You want to look for opportunities for advantageous trades whenever you can. Level two and three can be good times to try this, depending on matchup, as the enemy might not be expecting you to deal so much damage this early into the game. If you manage to proc your passive a few times, you should be able to get control of the lane and leave the opponent vulnerable to a gank. If you can’t gain control, try to farm up safely until you have your Cutlass completed.
“Try to make good use of your passive as it does the majority of your damage during laning phase. Play around your cooldowns and energy pool. Abuse the fact that you can dodge your opponents abilities with E and the invisibility from W which is hard to play against.“
Mid / Late game
Akali has strong side lane presence, being an extreme threat to anyone in a straight up one on one fight. The enemy will have to send their strongest member to try and deal with you, and often that still isn’t enough. Gain pressure and force the opponents to react to you, or take their towers for free.
If you opted for Teleport, you can look for a TP flank in a teamfight in order to surprise and wreak havoc on the opposing backline. Your team fighting is strong as the opponents are forced to focus you down, but you’re extremely hard to focus while weaving in and out of your shroud invisibility. Landing an R-E combo onto a squishy target is a death sentence at almost any point in the game. Aim to land this combo and take out a high priority target ensuring the team fight victory for your team.
“Remember that you are still squishy and can get blown up if you get locked down. Make good use of your Zhonya’s and W to buy yourself some time. Look for an opportunity to find a pick and help your team win the fight.”
Akali’s recent changes made her more healthy for the game and gives her some much needed counterplay options. If you are after a new solo lane assassin with tons of unique gameplay patterns and a high skill ceiling, then I highly recommend you to try out Akali. Big thanks to Sacre for giving us his thoughts and opinions on Akali!