Leona Main Tank Bot Lane Guide
I've written this as a proto-guide to help players understand the meta-game breaking potential of a creating a main tank Leona on Summoner's Rift. Constructive criticism is appreciated as I refine it.
Various high-level players have called a farmed Leona OP (ex. stonewall008) - but ever since her release people have wondered: how do you actually get a farmed Leona? The conventional wisdom is that Leona has no place where she can reliably farm, and so her true potential is wasted. This guide should help you unleash that potential.
This guide is divided into six parts.
II. How can leona farm against the enemy AD carry?
III. What supports work best with Leona?
IV. Where to put your AD carry and other team comp issues
V. Item builds
VI. Spells, Runes, and Masteries.
I feel like Leona has been a bit misunderstood since her release. For a long time, people just thought she was bad. With the advent of more aggressive supports, she has been seeing play as a support recently. Support Leona is great, but as a support Leona never gets tanky enough to stay in the middle of a team fight for long. I've never seen her played competitively in her intended role: a farmed main tank. Farmed, Leona is almost impossible to kill, is an amazing initiator, provides great peeling/cc capacity, and does a huge amount of damage (for not building damage - since the damage comes from her passive, it is also often overlooked).
She has great initiation through her e and her ultimate. Her ultimate provides an AOE stun. Her q is a low-cooldown point and click stun. Her W provides a huge amount of armor and magic resist. Leona's passive is one of the best in the game, but is frequently misunderstood. It applies a debuff on targets hit by one of Leona's spells called "sunlight," any damage from your allies will activate the Most people don't seem to realize that about half of Leona's damage in team fights is going to come from her passive. Even in lane, its a huge amount of damage. But on the end-of-game screen, it will register as your allies' damage, so many people assume that Leona isn't doing damage.
The neat thing about Leona's passive is that unlike the damage from other tanks in the game, such as Amumu's cry, Nautilus' titan's wrath, or Seijani's northern winds - which essentially deal damage over time - Leona's passive can be chained to deal massive burst damage (If you coordinate well with your allies). Also consider that in a team fight, 3 of Leona's 4 abilities can deal AOE damage. Thus, with a good initiation, it's possible to quickly apply 10 marks of sunlight to the enemy team. If all those marks are activated, it would be equivalent in damage to an AP caster's ult.
Leona's weaknesses are that she is slow, has no escapes, and (the big one) her passive must be activated by an ally. This means that while Leona is amazing in 2v2s and 3v3s, she is probably the worst duelist in the game. As such, it is really only in bot lane that she can farm reliably, because the presence of a partner means she can trade harass effectively. This means that for Leona to shine as a main tank, you have to shake up the meta. The AD carry needs to go another lane, and a support needs to support Leona so she can farm.
There are two main objections I hear to this strategy. First, Leona won't be able to farm because she will be harassed out of lane by the opposing AD carry - I discuss this objection in part II. Second, placing Leona in the bot lane with a support will ensure that your AD carry gets less farm, meaning your team will always lose the late game - I discuss objection this in part IV.
II. How can Leona farm against the enemy AD carry?
The biggest complaint I get about this strategy is: "this can't work: you'll just get harassed out of lane." The reason why this is false is because Leona has an instant gap-closer (zenith blade), the range of which is 700: longer than Caitlyn's auto-attack range. Zenith blade also goes through minions. Thus, if the enemy AD carry comes within range to auto-attack Leona, a good Leona will be able to jump onto them and retaliate.
If Leona's support activates the sunlight marks, Leona is guaranteed to do more damage to the enemy than she sustains after level 3 or 4. Why is that? As Leona, you want to level your w first, which increases your armor and magic resist when it's active by a huge amount. Additionally, as Leona you will itemize for health and armor first, which are both much cheaper stats than attack damage. Thus you will gain defense much faster than the enemy AD carry can build damage. Plus, most of your damage is magical, and AD carries typically don't build magic resist items. (Note that because there are so many damage multipliers for AD carries - critical chance, % armor penetration, and attack speed - that itemizing for damage will beat out defense in the end game, but not before the laning phase is over).
By level 4 -6 you should be completely denying the enemy AD carry and forcing the enemy jungler to camp bot lane. You should have also gotten a kill or two. Remember the object of this strategy is not to beat the AD carry in farm necessarily, but to deny them enough so that your AD carry (located in top or mid lane) if ahead of their AD carry.
This strategy does have two weak points. First, since Leona is slow and has no escapes, she is vulnerable to jungle ganks. Multiple successful jungle ganks will put her far enough behind that she won't be able to trade successfully anymore, and will get harassed out of lane. Second, it requires close coordination between the support and Leona. If Leona attacks but the support doesn't activate her sunlight marks, or if the support attacks and Leona doesn't apply the sunlight marks, their combined damage is MUCH lower. Smart enemies will try to exploit this by killing Leona's support first.
III. What Supports work best with Leona?
In this strategy, the support has basically three jobs: prevent jungle ganks, activate the sunlight marks, and not die. High damage supports with cc also synergize well. I believe the best supports for this strategy are Alistar, Taric, and Morgana (yes, support Morgana).
Alistar - this is probably the best combination. Alistar can initiate with flash-pulverize-headbutt into Leona, and Leona can follow up with her q, and if they flash away, her e. Alistar simply auto-attacks to activate the sunlight marks, and if they focus him he can pop his ultimate and not die. His heal, while small, is more than adequate to recover from trades and/or harass, and his headbutt can also be used to prevent a jungle gank. If you are running this strategy, you should either take Alistar or ban him, as his headbutt can ruin coordinated attacks between Leona and her support.
Taric - this is a good combination of damage and healing. Either taric can initiate with a stun, or Leona can initiate with an e-q combo. Taric does a lot of damage for a support, and the best way to run this combo is to stagger each of Taric's abilities to come right after Leona's abilities. If done correctly, you will both have blown through 7 damaging spells and 4 marks within less than a second - and chained 3 stuns on the target. Combined with an ignite this usually means insta-death for an AD carry. If an enemy jungler comes, Taric can stun it while running away.
Morgana - Morgana is very good in the mid lane in the current meta, but is also a very good support for Leona. While Morgana does not have a heal, the her combined damage and cc with Leona is just ludicrous. Morgana should initiate with a dark binding, followed by a pool. If it hits, Leona can e-q the enemy to stay on the pool. Morgana ults, Leona ults, and the enemy is dead. That's 3 stuns, 2 snares, and 1 slow on top of a lot of damage! Plus, Morgana's black shield means that Leona can't be cc'ed. If the enemy has an Alistar support (because you didn't ban him - shame on you!), I would take Morgana to counter - use the black shield to prevent Alistar's cc from taking effect.
Other supports can work -
- Lux has good lane control and damage, but a high skill cap (especially when coordinating with Leona), and is very squishy. Remember, if the support dies, no one can activate the sunlight marks, and the lane loses.
- Sona has good early harass, a nice heal, and her aoe stun is a big deal, but she is simply too squishy and if the enemy is smart, they will just kill her when she moves forward to activate the sunlight marks.
- Soraka needs to move close enough so that her starcall can activate the sunlight marks, putting herself in danger. While it is common to win trades as Leona/Soraka because of her great heals, very rarely will you actually get to kill the enemy because she provides no cc.
- Lulu - I haven't tested this out too much. Lulu's ult is a great complement to a Leona initiation, and she has an awesome slow, so this could work. I'm just worried that Lulu is too squishy: I need to test more. Also she provides no heals, so Leona might get harassed out of lane.
- Blitzcrank provides great cc and burst, if he can land his hook. I could definitely see this match-up working. I don't pick him because I want to leave him open for the enemy to pick: Leona/Alistar for example will hard counter any Blitzcrank lane. We WANT to pulled closer to the enemy AD carry.
- Janna is too squishy and doesn't do enough damage. Don't pick Janna: you will lose.
- Nunu has little to no synergy with a Leona lane. I wouldn't do it.
IV. Where to put your AD carry and other team comp issues
The second biggest objection people have to this strategy is: without a support, the AD carry will be unable to farm effectively and the team will lose in the late game. Nevermind that the meta has shifted away from a sustain bot lane to a kill bot lane, the truth is that even if a solo lane AD gets less farm than would be possible than in a passive bot lane, if the enemy AD gets hard zoned and denied by the Leona/Support combo in bottom, it's still a win for the team. Denying the enemy AD carry relative to your team's AD carry should mean you will win the late game.
Not all AD carries can go to all lanes. In general, Urgot and AD Kennen can go mid or top. Sivir, Ezreal, and Varus can go mid. Vayne, Graves, Corki, and Caitlyn can go top. There are also several "hard counters" to consider: Vayne, Urgot, AD Kennen, and (possibly) Caitlyn are going to hard counter melee fighters in top lane without an instant gap closer, such as Udyr, Olaf, Volibear, Trundle, or Garen. But they will do pretty badly against assassin-type champs such as Talon, Akali, Fizz, or Katarina, and will have trouble against instant-gap closers such as Jarvan, Jax, Renekton, Irelia, and Wukong. In mid lane, Sivir (properly played) hard counters Morgana and Le blanc. Varus has enough harassment to win against most AP mids, and Ezreal has decent harass combined with his arcane shift, while makes him hard to kill in mid lane.
Besides where to put the AD carry, another issue concerns what type of team comp would synergize with a Leona/Support bot lane? Since Leona is building full tank, you want both your top lane and jungle to be high damage champions. Here are some potential team comps that make sense with a Leona/support bot lane:
- Leona/Alistar bot lane, Sivir mid, Vladimir top, Master Yi jungle
- Leona/Morgana bot lane, AP Kennen mid, Vayne top, Fiddlesticks jungle
- Leona/Taric bot lane, Urgot mid, Riven top, Karthus jungle
- Leona/Lux bot lane, Varus mid, Rumble top, Riven jungle
As Leona, you need to start boots + 3 pots. Early boots are almost required for Leona, otherwise she is just too slow and vulnerable to jungle ganks. The boots will also allow you to position to successfully connect with her zenith blade. The pots are required to deal with harassment pre-level 3, when you can start unleashing your full combo against the enemy.
At the first trip back, I recommend grabbing a heart of gold and additional pots. Since your first priority is to deny the enemy AD carry, not to farm, the passive gold generation will help make up for any missed farm. (Since Leona only needs enough farm to get tanky, it is permissible for the support to also grab some of the farm)
After that, I rush aegis of the legion. This is such an amazing defensive item that synergizes with Leona well. First off, its cost-efficient even for an individual champ. If you through in its aura, its the most cost-efficient defensive item in the game. Since Leona should always be around her allies (she needs them to activate sunlight marks), the aura should always be used. Usually, supports will pick up and aegis late in the game. Getting one early on a main tank Leona practically ensures dragon control through the early and mid game.
After that I will pick up a glacial shroud and a kindlegem (in that order). Cooldown reduction is so good on Leona. At max CDR, Leona will be able to keep your defensive steroid (eclipse) up 80% of the time, do a point and click stun every 4.2 seconds, root every 5.4 seconds, and use her ultimate every 36 seconds. Being able to use your abilities more also means that she can apply more sunlight marks, increasing her damage.
In terms of boots, you have options. Since your first priority is to dominate the enemy AD carry, ninja tabis are generally the best boots to get. They are cheap, give you armor, and makes it very easy to zone the enemy carry. In certain situations where you are very far ahead but the enemy AP carry is also far ahead, it can be good to just rush mercury treads.
By the late mid-game, you should have 5 slots filled (boots, heart of gold, aegis of the legion, glacial shroud, and kindlegem.) Help out with the wards, and get an oracles at this point! To finish your build, upgrade the kindlegem to either a shurelya's reverie or a zeke's herald (depending on your team comp and whether your support grabbed a shurelya's) and upgrade your glacial shroud to a frozen heart. You should be CDR capped by this point. Finally, upgrade your heart of gold into a Randuin's Omen for massive control and armor. Besides the aegis of the legion and perhaps the mercury treads, I don't recommend building magic resist on Leona, because her w already gives you 110 magic resist; any more magic resist will be wasted because the enemy AP carry shouldn't be focusing you until everyone else is dead.
You might have noticed that all of my recommended items provide either an aura effect or AOE active. The reason is because Leona is the ultimate team character: her passive really requires you to stick with your allies, and her W makes her tanky enough to stay alive, in the thick of the fight, while providing these aura items to your teammates. In a 5v5 team fight, these items are extremely cost-efficient, giving your team a huge stat boost vs. the enemy (assuming the enemy team doesn't have these aura items - if they make their support buy all the aura items, they will get them much later in the game).
VI. Tactics, Spells, and Runes/Masteries
The first rule of Leona is: never leave your allies. During the laning phase, stay near your support at all times. Remember Leona is a bad dueler, but an excellent skirmisher in 2v2-5v5 fights. After level 3 or 4, go hard on the enemy carry, but watch out for jungle ganks. After the first towers go down, your support should migrate to following around your team's AD carry and peeling for him, while you take on the job of zoning and initiating team fights.
Leona's q (point and click stun) is pretty self-explanatory. Just remember to not accidentally stun the minion. It resets your auto-attack timer so for max damage, remember to auto-stun-auto. It can also damage towers. Leveling it reduces the cooldown, so max this spell second so you can stun more in team fights.
Leona's w provides armor, magic resist, and damage. Level it second. The duration on the armor/magic resist is doubled if you are near someone when eclipse goes off, so stay in the fight.
Leona's e is interesting. Like I said, it outranges the auto-attack range of every AD carry. But there is a small delay between when you cast the spell, and when the projectile reaches an enemy. Thus, you must have some prediction skills to land your e successfully. For best results, position yourself behind exactly where they are likely to run from, rather than coming at them from an angle. If you hit the enemy with your e, Leona will always travel to them, even if they flash away or Leona is pushed away.
Leona's ult has many uses. In lane, you will normally use it to stop an enemy from escaping, after you have already initiated on them with an e-q combination. If they are playing super passively, try and initiate with the ult (it can be tricky to land as an initiation). The range is immense: if you stun them with the ult, you can immediately run up and follow up with an e-q combination. In team fights, people tend to me much better at dodging skill shots before a fight is initiated, so I normally wait to use my ult until the fight has begun. There are times though when it is beneficial to use your ult to start the fight (if they are all hiding in a bush you have warded, for example). Lastly, the ult can also be used to secure an escape for yourself or an ally, as it can stun a pursuer.
For runes, I go AD marks, Movespeed quints, flat armor yellows, and magic resist (flat or scaling) blues. For masteries, I find 9/21/0 works best. In the offense tree get both brute force and butcher to help you last hit, and then sorcery (for CDR) and arcane knowledge (for spell pen). In the defense tree, grab hardiness (for armor), durability/veteran's scars, enlightenment (for CDR), and juggernaut. You have some leeway on other filler masteries to take in the defensive tree.
Hope this guide helps! Have fun breaking the meta.