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AP Leona: Something You Didn't Expect

Updated on January 8, 2014
Leona, the Radiant Dawn, League of Legends, copyright Riot Games, Inc.
Leona, the Radiant Dawn, League of Legends, copyright Riot Games, Inc.

A new take on the CC Queen...

I’ve been playing Leona for about a year now, and I’ve got to say that she probably my single favorite champion!

Leona is a very strong pick with an incredible amount of crowd control (or “CC”). Though she’s almost always played as a support, I played her as an attack-damage (AD) off-tank for nearly all of League Season 3. Though this worked well, Leona’s Season 4 changes have made her an incredibly viable top lane ability power (AP) tank

Now, AP Leona is hardly anything new. Many guides exist for different players’ takes on AP Leona. But typically, the end result is a very awkward, very squishy Leona that can’t help her team very well. She also ends up making poor use of her AP because of the low AP scaling of her abilities. I designed this build to fix these problems.

This build strategy allows Leona to be a magic damage-dealer and still be tanky for her teammates. Regardless of how you choose to play Leona it’s important that she is a tank. Leona must be beefy enough to sponge damage off her teammates, peel for her carries, and initiate team fights. Any Leona that can’t at least do these things without dying is not helping her team.

Leona using Eclipse, League of Legends, copyright Riot Games, Inc.
Leona using Eclipse, League of Legends, copyright Riot Games, Inc. | Source

So what's new with Leona?

Leona’s Eclipse has always granted her bonus armor and magic resist for the ability’s duration, but now these bonus stats have scaling. Leona will gain armor equal to 20% of her bonus armor and magic resist equal to 20% of her bonus magic resist. Leona’s base armor and magic resist were lowered by 5 from their previous amounts, but the changes to Eclipse more than make up for this reduction.

What does this mean? These changes incentivize building as a resistance tank—prioritizing armor and magic resist—rather than just building straight health as many Leona players do. The whole reason I adopted my build strategy is to play to the strengths of Eclipse.

Pros and Cons of AP Leona

Very tanky
Doesn't deal much damage early game
Sustained DPS
Has no burst potential--only DPS
Shreds enemy magic resist; hard to defend against
Requires mana management
Deals percent-current-health magic damage; good against other tanks
May require ganks to get kills in laning phase
Brings a lot of passive damage and CC to teamfights
Not as "damagey" as other top lane picks in late game
Recommended Runes
Recommended Masteries
Attack Damage OR Magic Penetration Marks
Offense: 4 (Attack Speed)
Scaling OR Flat Armor Seals
Defense: 21
Scaling Magic Resist Glyphs
Utility: 5 (Movement Speed, Mana Regen)
Magic Penetration Quintessences
ALTERNATIVE: 15/15/0 Masteries

What is the build?

My build’s aim is to let Leona deal magic damage from item passives and bolster this damage (and the damage of her abilities) by shredding enemy magic resist…all while building up as many resistances as possible—especially armor. For the full explanation of this build (and of my recommended runes and masteries), you can check out my official guide, but the basics elements of this build are:

  • Mercury's Treads / Ninja Tabi
  • Randuin's Omen
  • Sunfire Cape
  • Wit's End
  • Iceborn Gauntlet
  • Liandry's Torment

The items listed above are what my full build usually looks like, but there are a number of good situational items that also work with this build strategy:

  • Thornmail
  • Spirit Visage
  • Abyssal Scepter
  • Locket of the Iron Solari

As far as summoner spells go, I would strongly recommend taking Flash (or Ghost, if you prefer). Leona needs some emergency means of escape. For my other summoner spell I generally choose Teleport (speed in returning to lane or for ganking), Barrier, or Ignite.

So how does this all work?

Because Leona's abilities don't scale well with AP, the majority of her damage will be coming from the passives of Sunfire Cape, Wit's End, and Liandry's Torment. As you auto-attack enemies, Wit's End will allow you to shred through enemy magic resist, meaning your damage to an enemy will increase as you remain in combat with him.

The massive amounts of resistances you build will greatly increase the duration of the Randuin's Omen active slow. Using this active while Eclipse is active will increase it further still. It's entirely possible to achieve massive slows of up to five seconds or more!

This is great for disrupting an enemy team or turning the tables in a losing fight. It also synergizes with Liandry's Torment, doubling your burn damage during the entire duration. Once you use the active, get off as many ability casts as you can to melt through enemy health!

Now, Leona's auto-attacks don't exactly hurt. They shred through enemy magic resist and apply the on-hit damage of Wit's End, but they don't really do much damage (especially in comparison to most AD bruisers). This is why I recommend getting Iceborn Gauntlet.

Leona's Shield of Daybreak is capable of resetting her auto-attack...twice! With every cast, you're guaranteed to apply Iceborn Gauntlet's passive. It's also very easy to active this passive after using Zenith Blade (Leona's gap-closer). This will give you some extra damage and an additional area-of-effect slow!

When does this build work?

I've found that Leona (when played this way) works best when your team's jungler is a tanky or a high-damage assassin. If the latter is the case, he will be able to deal large amounts of damage while you keep enemies pinned down with stuns. Leona works well with assassins in genera--at least this is my experience.

Some specific champions that I've found Leona to work well with are Vi, Nautilus, Jinx (Jinx and Leona together in a team fight is absolutely terrifying), Lissandra, Jarvin VI, Akali, and Zed.

Valkyrie Leona, League of Legends (China), copyright Riot Games, Inc.
Valkyrie Leona, League of Legends (China), copyright Riot Games, Inc.

Early Game

Because Leona doesn't do much damage early on, it's important that you get tanky. Trying to squeeze damage out of Leona too early is only going to leave you stranded in lane with no mana, totally defenseless.

Usually, I start with Cloth Armor and five health potions and build Warden's Mail, Giant's Belt, and Boots of Speed as my first three items. The order of these three doesn't matter so much.

Play defensively in lane and make farming your top priority (I find this very similar to the way in which Shen is typically played). Make sure you always have a ward down and don't push the lane--leave that to your enemy.

For your next item, work toward completing Wit's End. This will help with your last-hitting, give your auto-attacks some extra damage, and let you start shredding your enemies' magic resist. This item will give you most of your early damage.

Mid Game

If you haven't completed Wit's End yet, try to do that now. Your next goal is to get your Sunfire Cape. You still have to play carefully, but after you've gotten your Sunfire Cape, it will be much, much easier to make successful trades. With the passive magic damage, enemies won't be inclinded to stay in combat with you.

If laning phase hasn't ended yet, be watching to help your teammates. Don't let your lane opponent roam and get kills in other lanes.

If need be, talk to your jungler and plan a gank or two. Leona is excellent at receiving ganks because of all the crowd control in her kit. As Leona, you'll be able to keep enemies in "perma-lockdown" while your jungler gets in a lot of free damage.

At this point you'll want to purchase second-tier boots and, If you are able to get the gold for it, a Haunting Guise. Having this extra health and magic penetration is very nice. But don't upgrade this into Liandry's Torment until late game. Liandry's Torment is an excellent item in consideration of Leona's kit, but this item only shines in late game.

Late Game

By now (hopefully), you should have completed boots, Wit's End, Sunfire Cape, Haunting Guise, Warden's Mail, and Giant's Belt. Your next move is to complete both Liandry's Torment and Randuin's Omen.

Usually I get Iceborn Gauntlet as my final item (it's great for pushing over towers and give you some extra damage), but you could also put any of the situational items I listed in this slot instead. By this point in the game, you're already very tanky--it's not absolutely necessary that you finish this item (many times the game will already be over), but it is really nice should you happen to get this far.

Valkyrie Leona, League of Legends, copyright Riot Games, Inc.
Valkyrie Leona, League of Legends, copyright Riot Games, Inc.

A final verdict...

Leona is an amazing champion who is very fun to play. While she isn't "bursty", her potential to be a strong, melee DPS is largely underestimated. If you enjoy experimenting with new champions and builds, you may enjoy this rather different way of playing Leona!

Best of luck on the Fields of Justice!


© 2014 TwerkZerker


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