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League of Legends Guide: Marksman Kennen

With a little hard work and perseverance, the Heart of the Tempest can stir up some trouble in Summoner's Rift bottom lane.

League of Legends is currently seated comfortably within the "tank meta," meaning that the game's community has shifted into favoring champions that deal sustained damage while barely taking any themselves. Many people have been disheartened by this shift, but I've recently taken it as an opportunity to revisit some enjoyable, unorthodox champs and playstyles.

Here's a quick guide to having a little fun in the bottom lane with League's very own electric rodent.

Just a few games I played today that inspired me to write this guide.

Let it be clear that Kennen is not designed to be played as a marksman. He is normally a mobile mage with immense magic damage potential. So why do I play him as a physical damage dealer? Well here are the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • has an on-demand speed boost that gives him extra defense for the duration
  • one of his spells does magic damage based on his physical damage
  • able to stun enemies during both chases and escapes
  • can easily participate in most of his team's kills
  • building him this way gives him both sustained damage and some burst
  • does not use mana, meaning he can stay in lane for as long as he chooses 
  • it's FUN.

Cons:

  • lacks the innate tank-shredding capabilities of Vayne and Kog'Maw
  • no natural physical damage steroids - Infinity Edge is mandatory.
  • falling behind early on will effectively gimp him all game
  • failure to communicate well with his support can cost them their lane
  • more commitment heavy than most champs – often needs to go all-in
  • this build requires the player to know the game well to succeed
  • even if you know what you're doing, some players will treat it like a total fluke 

Kick-ass Kennen artwork by Skence on DeviantArt!

So our understanding is that Kennen can be a highly mobile, hybrid damage dealer by only building physical damage stats. His ability to stun multiple enemies while opening up high-priority targets can be godlike. However, he's not meant for this role and is easily outclassed unless played amazingly well.

If the probability of crushing defeat hasn't scared you off by now, I'm happy to share with you the basics of my marksman Kennen build.

Runes and Masteries!

Masteries: taking all physical damage masteries, including Spell Weaving and Blade Weaving, maximizes Kennen's attack damage potential. It's important to remember that unless you plan on auto attacking 15 times during the course of a trade, his spells are necessary for achieving a timely stun.

Runes (all tier 3):

  • Marks: attack speed
  • Seals: flat armor
  • Glyphs: scaling magic resistance
  • Quintessences: movement speed

With my masteries and runes combined, I start the game off with a total of 20% bonus attack speed and 6% bonus movement speed. This allows Kennen to position himself without immediately needing to use Lightning Rush, and also helps him proc Electrical Surge more often – I'll get into his skills more in a bit. The armor and magic resistance help keep him alive in both the early and late game.

Ability Order!

Marksman Kennen will not be maxing his basic abilities in the order he normally does. Your job is instead to keep your opponents as immobile as possible while you chuck countless shuriken at their faces. I personally prefer this particular order:

  1. W (Electrical Surge) - it's going to be your main source of damage, seeing as it strengthens your auto attacks, and you're *almost* guaranteed two procs towards his stun if you hit an enemy with the passive. 
  2. Q (Thundering Shuriken) - makes last hitting minions easier early on when your damage is low, helps proc your stun from a distance
  3. E (Lightning Rush) - this is your escape, chase, and overall reposition tool   

This ability order makes it easier to farm both minions and champions early on, so long as you and your support are on the same page. I do not – I repeat, do not – recommend using Lightning Rush to engage at lower levels, unless absolutely necessary, because it is never 100% safe.

As with all ultimate abilities, level up Slicing Maelstrom whenever possible, as the extra lightning strikes in conjunction with Electrical Surge's active will still be able to cause mass chaos during team fights.

Itemization!

Itemization is pretty straightforward for the  marksman role. I actually began playing this build solely because of Statikk Shiv, as failure to recognize the thematic cohesion between Kennen and the item would be a complete and utter travesty. It's more lightning for your lightning. What is there not to support about that?

Youmuu's Ghostblade is a great pick for this build as the active adds to Kennen's already high mobility. It also rounds out his critical strike chance at 50% after having purchased Infinity Edge and Statikk Shiv. As a bonus, using its active along with Lightning Rush makes him a bladed ball of electrified potpourri. It makes no sense at all and I love it.

The combination of the Bloodthirster and Guardian Angel provide a solid defense, especially with Lightning Rush active. Another aside, all of these visual effects combined is pretty hilarious.

Supports!

Leona, Nami, and Taric are my personal favorite supports for marksman Kennen. All three of them have a stun of their own, allowing Kennen more time to land his. As for the differences:

Leona: the perfect frontline, no need to worry about going in before she does. She also provides extra burst through her Sunlight procs.

Nami: more magic damage, a slow, a heal, and extra movement speed. The real synergy is in her Tidal Wave, which can cover Kennen as he rushes into the enemy team. Also elementally cohesive. Just saying.

Taric: a shared heal is nothing to dismiss, but, then again, Sona can do the same. The real differences here are Shatter and Radiance, providing this lane with constant bonus defense and temporary bonus offense when needed.

And we're all done!

As previously stated, marksman Kennen is in no way my invention, but with a little practice it's a ton of fun to play. Feel free to adapt my runes, masteries, and item sets to your liking – and let me know what you come up with!

In closing, I have one last suggestion which pertains to playing any and all off-builds in a game like League of Legends. For the love of all that is non-toxic, please just tell your teammates who and where you intend to play during champ select. Instalocking or making it a surprise may just get you reported.

Published Jul. 4th 2015

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