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Strategy and Tactics
There are a multitude of small interactions that Katarina has between each champion whether foe or ally, it is impossible for me to list all of them because new champions are always being added, and patches are always being made. The best way to learn how to handle Kat is from experience, or from watching more experienced Katarinas play. By watching high level play you can notice and learn exactly what makes them more successful with the champion. I always update my youtube channel with Katarina play so feel free to check them out for the latest play.
When playing Glass Cannon Katarina, always go mid. There really isn't any real alternative as you aren't effective at all in the bot lane and Katarina will get massacred by bruisers in the top lane. Moving on, Katarina suffers a fate similar to Kassadin’s in which she must either take damage to farm or use a nuke. Although Kassadin has a silence so he can Q -> farm, Katarina can just use her Q to farm creeps that you know you won’t be able to auto attack without taking damage. By not having a mana pool, Katarina can farm without too much difficulty, but don’t count on getting any kills before level 6; you’ll want to be avoiding exchanges as much as possible. Throw Q’s on the enemy when possible/safe, but try to not miss any creep kills while doing so. Be wary as to the consistency of which you throw Q's, since Q's bounce and hit other creep, you are automatically pushing the lane every time you cast it, putting you at risk for ganks. Always hold wards for jumping in addition to vision.
Once you hit level 6, your presence in the lane increases dramatically. If the enemy champion has a stun that they have to build towards, like Annie, try to time her stun so that she won’t be able to cast it at all (after she burns it by using a Q on a minion, for example) and Q > E > R her. This will almost always either cause the enemy to go back or burn a summoner spell, or sometimes both - either way, you’ll either gain a superior advantage in lane or open an opportunity for your jungler to gank. When going against champions like Brand, who have skill shot stuns, simply wait for them to burn their cooldowns and then jump on them - if they end up not opening an opportunity like this, keep farming the lane and either wait for a gank or farm passively. On the other hand, if you are counterpicked by champions with easy to use hard Cc (kassadin, leblanc, etc), simply farm whenever you can, and call the jungler to gank whenever they can. (Remember that jungler's cannot gank successfully at all times, you have to set up ganks for them).
Remember that in the laning phase, your top priority is abusing mistakes the enemy makes. If these opportunities don’t come up, either push out the lane and gank another lane or ask for a jungler gank if you really want early game kills. Don’t try to force kills when you’re uncertain of the success rate, as Katarina’s damage can either be fatal or easily negated.
When you're against a player/champion you cannot beat, just focus on farming.
Strengths: Death Lotus
Although Katarina has a fantastic AoE ultimate that you just want to immediately follow up initiates with, you need to take into account that the enemy team can always just switch agro from your tank right onto you and CC you down to stop your ultimate entirely. Unlike other AP carries such as Xerath, Cassiopeia, and Annie, Katarina must get in the face of the enemy to really let her damage shine. As such, you should try to ult in these scenarios:
- After you see the enemy team has burned some of their CC, but is still relatively clumped and you have your tanks/bruisers in the front lines
- If your team has an exceptionally good initiate that leaves the other team disabled/clumped so that your team can chain all of their AoE/CC/focus damage on it
- If your enemy has no vision of you and will not be able to stop you when you ult
If none of these scenarios ever really happen, as much as it hurts to say, you’ll have to stay back a bit and throw Q’s while waiting for the right opportunity to ult. Sometimes you’ll get caught and be forced to blow your R to maximize your damage output before you die. Sometimes you’ll get blamed for just sitting back and follow up on your bruisers only to get immediately CC’d and die. Timing your ultimate is something you gain from experience
Strengths: Cleaning Up
Because you usually won’t be arriving at the front lines until 5 seconds have passed throughout the battle or so (again, unless the opportunity presents itself), you’ll usually be doing most of the damage that will be killing the enemies rather than whittling them down. This is where the synergy from your passive kicks in: every time you’re involved in a kill or an assist, all of your cooldowns are reduced by 15 seconds. This is phenomenal: your Q, W, and E are all immediately reusable after 1 kill, while after 3 kills (assuming you used your ult when you joined the fight) you’ll even be able to use your ultimate again. That’s right, twice in one teamfight.
As you get kill after kill, spam your Q on whoever you can hit it on without going too suicidal but while also prioritizing squishies over tanks. In addition, use your E as extra burst damage on squishies or do position yourself for your next ult. If the entire enemy is relatively low when you join the fight, it’s surprising how fast you’ll be using your skills - I once even E’d in and ulted, got a double, E’d two more times for a quadra, then ulted again for the penta, all in probably 3 seconds real time. You may want to consider smart casting with your E during team fights to maximize the speed you can move around with, while also remembering to keep that W on so your resistances stay up each time you shunpo.
Farming with Katarina
As stated earlier, farming in the laning phase may be a bit daunting as many AP carries in mid are a lot stronger than you in exchanges and are ranged. Try to mainly focus on positioning yourself in the lane so that the enemy isn't able to land any harassment on you without taking minion aggro, in which you should try to retaliate in order to at least get equal footing in the exchange. Besides this positioning, use your Q only to kill creeps that you know you won’t be able to get with an auto attack without getting into an exchange. If you have to, auto attack ranged minions and E back to the melee minions in order to avoid getting hit by the enemy. Make sure you conserve your E, it is your escape skill in case of incoming ganks.
Tips and Tricks
Using Death Lotus (R) in Bushes
One way to gimp enemy champions is to ambush them in bushes, much like Nunu does. For example, if you see the enemy mid making his way to top and you’re in a position to intercept him, make your way to a bush on the way to top and use your R as he walks into the bush to get the most daggers on him as possible. Follow up with your Q and E to him once he uses his escape to keep chase and hopefully snag the kill. AOE spells cannot be seen from the bush, so they will not be able to target you with single target spells whilst you are in the bush.
As I mentioned before, there are a ton of ways to juke with your E, one of which being warding on the other side of a wall and jumping over. Another way: say the enemy chasing you is near a wall and you’re running in a direction that just leads to open area, like a lane. If you’re fast enough, E into the enemy and immediately flash over whichever wall was by him.
There are tons of other ways to juke, such as jumping to allies, hiding in bushes and E’ing the other way, creeps in the lane, enemy champions, etc. Be creative with your Shunpo! Jumping to creeps when getting back into lane will help speed you into the lane faster.
Using Kat to Clear wards without Oracle
Synergies and Counters
Because she needs the enemy’s CC to be burned, Katarina synergizes best with tough, tanky champions that can initiate and disable groups of enemies at a time. In addition, champions that can chain this CC while you start spinning synergize just as well. A few examples of this would be Amumu, Malphite, Galio etc.
Katarina has three counters, tanky champs, champs with easy to use hard CC, and champs with mobility. Though Soraka lacks mobility, her passive magic resist and ability to heal teammates can basically make any champion too tanky for Katarina to kill.
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