Let's Tank Akali | 'League of Legends'

A Guide to Playing an Assassin as a Tank, Because You Need One

Not everyone can be a tank, not everyone can survive a prolonged fight, some people are intended to get in and get out, and for many, fight or flight always terminates in flight. I'm of the opinion that anyone can survive a long fight, particularly so in the case of video games.

Role-Playing Games (RPGs) frequently allow players to select a role of choice. Generally, this means at the beginning of a game you will select a class and a background and play through the game with the aspects determined by these choices. In MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) like League of Legends (LoL), these decisions are made match by match, not by choosing a class, but by choosing a character. Some of these characters are “tanks” or “fighters” designed to go into a skirmish and remain there until the end, while others are marksmen, assassins, or mages, designed to fight from the fringes of the fray, aiming to take down their enemies with prolonged combat prowess. Me, I play tanks, but I don't think that only a select set of characters can be tanks. I'm of the opinion that anyone with the right build can become a tank. Today, I want to take a look at tank Akali.

Akali is the latest champion (as of August 8, 2018) to receive a rework. In my early days on LoL, I had favored the assassin in more of a fighter role, and today I want to return to that role with the new and improved Akali. Fortunately, new Akali has some utility skills that make her a slightly better tank than before. We'll have to start of course with a very basic idea.

“The Rogue Assassin” is, of course, an Assassin. She is designed to charge into battle, deal large amounts of damage to a target, and get out before the repercussions become too great. To assist with this, Akali has a series of movement spells and an ability that allows her to become invisible during combat, Twilight Shroud. These are tools we can take advantage of as a tank just as well as in the role of the assassin.

The key to turning a non-tank into a tank, or perhaps more like a fighter, is itemization, and this is the first basic idea we'll take a look at. Akali is a champion who relies on a hybrid pool of damage sources, mixing Ability Power and Attack Damage to optimize both her abilities and her auto-attacks. With this in mind, Akali can build one damage item and gain a significant amount of damage and utility: Hextech Gunblade. The Gunblade grants Akali healing on all of her abilities and attacks, boosts the power of every ability with a total 120 point stat bonus, and even grants Akali access to a single target slow with its active ability. A strong follow-up to the healing on Hextech Gunblade comes in the form of Spirit Visage. A near universally used defensive item, Spirit Visage increases Akali's healing from all sources, grants her extra base health regen, increases her defense against magic attacks, and allows her to use her devastating abilities more frequently. These two items together combine with other sustain potential in Akali's kit to make her nigh unkillable during sustained fights.

After picking up the core of Akali's offensive build, and the visage that will allow her to heal through most damage, it's time to optimize Akali's defenses. With LoL's extensive selection of tank items, one might have some trouble wading through all of the possible items, but there are a few simple choices that will make life easier for everyone. For starters, any tank worth his/her salt can benefit from a Sunfire Cape. The Cape will grant its owner a burning ring of fire that deals magic damage over time to nearby enemies. To compliment this damage during combat, the Cape also grants the user additional armor to defend against physical attacks and health, perfect for our Akali if she's facing aggressive physical fighters. Further compliments to physical defense can come in the form of Randuin's Omen, which will further raise both Akali's physical defense and health, with the added benefit of allowing Akali to slow all enemies in an area around her to help defend her allies. Against a less physical team with higher reliance on magic damage, she will benefit from an item like Adaptive Helm, which increases her magic resistance, total health, and health regen again, with the added bonus of reducing repetitive damage such as poison or abilities that strike multiple times, and further reducing the delay between her ability uses.

A last tricky item that can serve to keep Akali in fights for extensive periods of time should be looked at before moving on to other damage options. This last item is Warmog's Armor. This most powerful of regeneration items grants Akali an additional 200 percent health regen and 800 additional health, while also, yet again, reducing the delay between her ability uses. This, though, isn't the main goal behind building Warmog's Armor. The actual goal is to maximize the effectiveness of Akali's extremely powerful stealth in Twilight Shroud. At max rank, Twilight Shroud will last a total of seven seconds. Warmog's will begin regenerating 5 percent total health per second after not receiving damage for six seconds. This means that by maintaining stealth and avoiding damage for the total duration of Twilight Shroud, Akali will be able to regenerate at least 5 percent of her total health (plus the percentile bonuses from other sources such as Spirit Visage).

There, all of those potential tank items aside (keeping in mind that players can only build a total of six items, and one of those basically must be reserved for a pair of boots), now we must look at Akali's offensive items. Realistically, after doing a pair of defensive boots (either Ninja Tabi against heavy physical teams or Mercury's Treads against magic teams or teams with a lot of crowd control), adding in Hextech Gunblade and Spirit Visage, plus one other defensive item (Sunfire Cape or Warmog's Armor) players are left with two item slots. These are probably best filled with one additional tank item to round out Akali's survivability, and the damage item that will add to her over all viability in fights: Liandry's Torment. Liandry's Torment, as with other mentioned items, gives Akali a little bit of everything. It increases both her health and ability power, while also granting her increased damage for staying in combat, and allows her to deal a percent of her enemies' total health over time. Another option, if one does not wish to run a near full tank suite, is to run Rylai's Crystal Scepter. This item again grants Akali health and ability power, but also adds a slowing effect to all of her abilities, very useful for peeling aggressors off of her teammates.

Whew, that's a lot of information just on what clothes to wear and how to accessorize. I guess we need to look at undergarments now? By undergarments I of course mean Runes, the special additional abilities that are selected before the game starts. Because we are going with a tank version of Akali, who will rely on in combat sustain to survive fights, we'll need to give her added beef-cakery in the form of Resolve Runes. Of the three keystones available in the Resolve tree, Akali's best choice in this case lies in the Grasp of the Undying stone, which grants Akali increased health simply for striking enemies with auto attacks. Generally this can be a bit hard to pull off, but with Akali's passive, which allows her to temporarily increase her attack range after striking an enemy with an ability, the Rogue Assassin can actually manage to claim these bonus hit points from relative safety. This keystone also pairs well with Akali's third ability, Shuriken Flip, which allows Akali to strike an enemy with her shuriken, then close the gap between them, allowing a few seconds to tick on her Undying Grasp's wait time. The second rune in the Resolve tree that we'll want is Font of Life, which will allow allies to heal for a portion of Akali's total health by attacking enemies whose movement have been impaired by Akali—wow, that's a mouthful. Basically any time that Akali slows or stuns an enemy, allies can attack them to heal. Conditioning is a no-brainer for Akali's third Resolve Rune, granting a percentile bonus to both her armor and magic resistance. The fourth rune slot is a bit more complicated. Here the Akali player can either choose Overgrowth or Revitalize. Overgrowth will grant Akali a percentile increase to her health based on the number of enemies that have died near her, while Revitalize will increase the amount of healing that Akali receives. While Overgrowth may seem like it would be the most beneficial, with emphasis on increasing Akali's overall health pool, the small bonus it grants hardly compares to the 5 percent increase to all healing effects that Akali receives from Revitalize.

After making these selections from the Resolve tree, it's time to look at the secondary runes. For this particular build we'll be relying on the the Domination tree for even greater survivability. The most important of the available Domination Runes is the Ravenous Hunter perk, which grants Akali permanent bonus healing from her abilities, again, adding to this idea that Akali can keep herself alive in combat simply from casting abilities. Her second rune is again, a bit more complicated, having to choose between increased damage from Sudeen Impact, improved vision with the Ghost Poro, or further survivability from Taste of Blood. In this particular instance, since Sudden Impact will increase Akali's ability damage, we'll favor it for its shorter cooldown and therefore superior prolonged engagement ability.

That actually about wraps it up. We could, of course, look further into Akali's skillset, choosing what order to level up her abilities in, but this can often be fairly situational. Generally speaking, I would recommend leveling her Q – Five Point Strike, as it offers both healing and a fairly good method of activating Akali's passive, again enabling her to get off more empowered Undying Grasp auto attacks. From there, one should always ensure to level up her ultimate ability when possible, and leveling Twilight Shroud before Shuriken Flip should be emphasized with a Warmog's build, while any other build would be better off optimizing Shuriken Flip first.

Now, get out there and rock the Rift with all-new tank Akali!

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Let's Tank Akali | 'League of Legends'
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