More importantly, It’s been the most successful too.
Here’s everything I can offer on why this build works, after over one-hundred games I’d like to think I know the ins-and-outs.
But, first… Let’s talk about why it works in the first place.
A Leona Top Lane Build? Why?
In short, Q and Conqueror is why it works.
Leona’s Q Ability is insanely strong. A lot of Support and Marksman players have learned to fear it, through death a lot of the time, and for good reason. It stuns for a second, but also adds a double basic attack reset.
This lets you land a total of four attacks for the price of one, if you count the Stun. With Conqueror, this all means you’ll hit eight stacks in no-time.
The lesser-considered perk of this spell, however, is the cooldown. It’s 5s at every rank, meaning it can usually be used multiple times in a fight. This gives Leona excellent trades both at both ends of her levelling.
Lastly, her W Ability. It was changed to reduce all damage taken by a flat amount in addition to it’s resistance bonuses. This was meant to make it more of a specific counter, however it also nullifies minion damage for 6s per use.
Level 1 Solo Kills are kind of commonplace.
With this Leona Top Lane Build, the combination of the above makes Level 1 First Bloods pretty common. The Q Ability’s Double Attack reset, the cooldown, and the Conqueror… It all falls into place.
Leona Top Lane Build – The Runes & Items
The Runes here are pretty flexible, asides from Conqueror and Presence of Mind. Domination is another good option for the Secondary Tree. You get damage in exchange for safety.
Triforce and Titanic Hydra are essential to this Leona Top Lane Build. They should be bought right away. Both give you the chance to take out a weaker opponent in one combo, with sustained damage to help against bruisers and juggernauts.
Everything else is situational and will depend on the game. However, Sterak’s Gage is a popular choice and should be considered.
Both Ignite and Teleport, are good choices… And Flash is as useful as ever.
How To Play This Build?
In The Early Game…
At the start of the game, while in the Laning Phase, you need to be looking for trades against melee enemies. Stay in front of your minions, initiate as soon as you are in range. This will give you the Q Ability reset.
Keep attacking and use Orb Walk to get behind opponents. You might feel like you’re losing, with your health going down quickly, but the second Q Ability should turn the tide. If you’re still not going to get the kill, use Flash and reset.
Level 2 works similarly, with an Engage Tool granted alongside. Level 3 makes this Leona Top Lane Build bulkier and allows a continuation of the early-game aggression.
If you chose Ignite, play more passively after your first back. Well, at least until you’re more even in levels. This may mean you’re playing on the back foot until Level 5 or Level 6. But, from here on in you can fight again.
This pick becomes much deadlier after Level 6.
Solar Flare bursts prevents enemies from running and fighting back. It works as a way to initiate from longer ranges, compared to Zenith Blade, or as a finisher. The combination of the Q Ability and R Ability will stun-lock enemies for long enough to finish them.
This means you can be a lot more aggressive with Leona in the lane. Don’t be afraid.
It’s worth noting, if you can trade early on you should. This will give you an additional 100 Mana through Presence of Mind. This is something Leona needs early on. Plus, the kill should bank you an extra 140g.
Your Role Throughout The Game…
As the game goes early on, Leona excels at one-on-one fights. She can easily assassinate both Mages and Marksman enemies, with a chance to win extended fights against Bruisers and Tanks.
Her weakness, however, is being picked off when out-numbered. She hasn’t got the best survivability, so make sure you keep Vision up and avoid over-extension.
That being said, as long as Vision is taken care of… She can swap between Split-Pushing and Roaming. If you were successful in the early game, you should be able to carry this on into the later stages of the game.
Alternatively, Leona is an excellent initiator and can look to find picks. Grouping with other teammates can also translate this into objective play.
With this Leona Top Lane Build, you can play Leona in multiple roles.
Assassin: Use your ultimate on the backline, follow up with a Zenith Blade and take down a carry during the stun. Afterwards, find another target quickly, and cause as much damage as you can. This is much more difficult against an enchanter support.
Front line: Fight front to back and focus on what’s ahead of you. Your ultimate can be used either on the enemy front line to ensure they die, or on the back line so that they can’t retaliate (or get killed by other members of your team). This lets you not get bursted down, and dish out sustained damage and repeated stuns.
Support: Stay by your carries, and use your stuns to lock down any threat that’d try to get onto them, be it up close or from range. And then, follow up with your damage to take them down with the help of said carries.
Trading deaths to put the team ahead is common for Leona players and isn’t the worst strategy here. She makes great use of each items and the first two you should get will help her to function while low on resources.
Match Ups – As Of S10
This Leona Top Lane Build has a few excellent match-ups. There’s also a handful of Champions that you never want to face.
S-Tier Match-ups: Quinn, Rengar, Ryze, Tryndamere
Leona beats Tryndamere in almost all Level 1 fights, in situations where he should excel. She’s also effective past Level 6. Solar Flare, Ability Q and Ability E prevent him from getting away after he uses his ultimate.
Rengar is a similar case and Ryze is too weak to fight back in the early game.
As for Quinn, Leona’s E Ability can place her behind the target and allows her to extend trades for a while.
A-Tier Match-ups: Darius, Fizz, Illaoi, Irelia, Jarvan IV, Jayce, Kayle, Kennen, Mordekaiser, Ornn, Poppy, Riven, Teemo, Yasuo, Vladimir
Leona should, in theory, do well against all of these Champions. It may take a bit of practice, but without any miss-plays… Leona should have an edge against them.
These are Leona-favoured match-ups, but more elements of the strategy can be countered and go wrong. Leona is also much more vulnerable to being ganked against these Champions. She has less manoeuvrability and will need to push to win.
If possible, an early-game countergank can be important in her winning any 2v2 match-ups.
As we continue down… Leona is not the most viable pick. She might be able to get one or two early kills against these Champions… However, she might not succeed as much as you’d like. She can get out-scaled quickly.
F-Tier Match-ups: Akali, Dr. Mundo, Fiora, Kled, Tahm Kench, Vayne
Fiora can prevent Leona from using her ideal combos through Riposte. The Attack Speed reduction and sheer damage output make her a tough opponent.
Tahm and Mundo do a lot more damage, too… Vayne often stays out of reach and Akali’s entire kit lets her dismantle Leona quickly.
If you’re a Riven player, you wouldn’t call these combos. And that’s fair, they aren’t really. This section is just here to present how the abilities are used, and when.
AA > Q > AA: Simple, but mandatory Leona knowledge. Shield of Daybreak resets the basic attack twice, both for the Q itself and for the attack coming after. The only two cases in which you don’t use a basic attack before the Q are if you’re out of range, or after dashing if the opponent could use an escape spell.
AA > Q > AA > Titanic Hydra: An extension of the combo once you have this item, for a third AA reset.
E > Flash: Leona can displace her E by flashing during it. Always use Zenith Blade then Flash (during the E’s cast), rather than flashing first.
R > E > AA > Q > AA: To go on a target that’s far away and that would run upon seeing you. If your opponent has a dash, don’t hesitate to flash and ult behind them, as they’ll try to use their movement spell to get away in response.
E > AA > Q > AA > R > AA: The combo giving the maximum damage output. It’s always the best one to use if the E is in range to connect, and if the opponent has no dashes.
E > AA > Q > R > AA: The max damage combo leaves a very small time interval during which the opponent would be able to cast one ability, most of the time a flash or a dash. Ulting right after using Q ensures that the Solar Flare can’t be dodged and that they’re fully stunlocked. Use this if their flash is up, if they have a dash, or if they could kill you in one hit.
That should be all there is to it, without getting in the details of each match-up. What do you think about this Leona Top Lane Build?
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