Grandmaster Garen Guide (12.13)
Every single matchup, and every single playstyle.
July 21st, 2022 ⸱ 111 min read
Hey everybody! I'm Palco, or ueotan by my summoner name on League. I have hit Grandmaster tier across multiple accounts with Garen as a one trick, and I have over 3 million mastery points on him.
I've been playing League for about 2 years now since Season 10, and I hope I can show and explain what I do to win consistently with this champion all the way into high elo. In this guide, I want to show off how I play every single top lane matchup as of patch 12.13.
I will explain the rune choices, item choices, wave management, trading, powerspikes, micro, and macro in depth to give you the best understanding of how to win your lane and game every time with Garen.
Here are some of my accounts that I play on in Season 12.
(ueotan on NA)
(bronze garen on NA)
Add me on discord if you have any questions at Palco#0691
Runes (Conqueror or Phase Rush?)
Here are one of the most important parts of Garen, the runes. Garen has had plenty of rune choices and optimizations over the years, but there are two that stand out the most for this current patch in Season 12. and are the best solid picks in their own situations and can be very strong if you change it up based on the enemy champions. All of the paths will be shown below. is picked when you want to run your
(E) for an extended period of time into a tankier champion. is picked to poke down opponents with low sustain. Matchup specific runes with reasons for why you go these rune sets will be listed in the matchup area of this guide. Judgment
(I personally enjoy going phase rush every game, but some players may prefer conqueror and that's totally okay too!)
General Conqueror Setup
General Phase Rush setup
If you don't know what champion you're against in a draft, you can go two adaptive force and a health rune to make sure you don't go armor or magic resist against the wrong champion! Second wind is also good with this pair of runes.
Summoner Spells (Ghost or Ignite?)
Now the summoner spell choice isn't really determined for what is the best. You can go or in each of your games, whatever you think works best for you.
Sometimes certain summoner spells may be a lot better into specific champions, which I will list later.
The whole idea of and is to simply scale into the mid game once you purchase and gain level 11
. You don't usually want to do anything too crazy in lane, and you just farm as hard as possible and try to survive until you're level 11. At that point, you can become a teamfighting machine with your ultimate doing around 600 true damage along with the active to create some utility for your team. You can also easily catch up to a squishy that would have otherwise kited you and sometimes it can help you do a dive against a ranged champion such as an adc like Demacian Justice or a mage like Ezreal . It also allows you to follow up your junglers ganks a lot easier since you will have a lot more movespeed to catch up and help. Syndra
is usually the go to for melee matchups that you want to win lane against since you may need the grievous wounds or the extra damage for the all in. It's especially good into champions you may want to punish early game so that you can snowball a lead into champions you may not be able to kill later. Other champions that may duel you will have some sort of healing or extra armor that you want to remove with s true damage and anti-heal so you can beat them in the side lane and in the 1v1.
You may ask, why not ? would be good on Garen if he wasn't balanced around his manaless kit. His abilities are on incredibly long cooldowns, even when maxed, and the reason for this is that he uses no mana. A usage of is not only to roam, but to have extra resources in lane such as HP and Mana. Garen doesn't really care about either of these, as he has his
passive and a manaless kit to deal with resources. Garen can usually get a solo kill in lane with , and even if his enemy s and comes back with an item and health advantage, Garen will be fine because of his passive. Garen also doesn't really have much utility to provide so going probably won't net you incredible results for roaming either. Perseverance
is also an option if you want to have the teamfight scaling summoner spell known while also being able to fight in lane against champs that have a lot of healing or dueling potential (
, Jax and Gwen ) Yone
Essentially, you go if you want to farm until level 11 for your
2nd point and teamfight, or you can go for more early game pressure and possibility to win harder with a level 6 all in when your opponent is chunked for some HP. Demacian Justice
MU = Matchup
Garen's upgrading of abilities is pretty straightforward, the only noticeable difference would be that you might want to opt for a few points in
(Q) for certain matchups (will be talked about in the matchup portion of the guide) so that you can catch your opponent or short trade with more Decisive Strike damage since you won't be using Decisive Strike (E) as much on them. Judgment
Typically just follow this Skill Path anyway and you should be good to go.
should be purchased nearly every game since it jumps in when your passive is down.
Rushing is very effective for spiking in the early game, particularly with the phase rush play style.
are the safest to buy every game. should usually be your purchase since it gives you a lot more spin damage. However if you think you do enough damage, skipping out on is fine to go for other tier 2 boots. This is typically only a good idea into very squishy teams, and are probably what I buy 90% of the time this patch. are also an option that I take when I know I will do enough damage to fight my opponent and that they have a lot of slows on their team. The boots are also cheaper which is a nice bonus.
When it comes to the components for , should always be prioritized. If you don't have enough for or the , you can build into first as well by buying a or a . can also be bought, but never upgraded into unless it's the last item you need to buy from the components.
2nd can be swapped out for sometimes and then can be built 3rd, but usually you will want to build 2nd to 1v1 and one shot people. You build 2nd if you think the enemy team doesn't have much healing and that you are going to be able to one shot people without the extra damage. You can also do it to start playing around the team more since you will have more HP and armor. It gets you extra movespeed as well so you will be able to go for more risky plays such as stealing the enemy jungle. If you are very behind as well, it can be good to go for some armor with the so that you can peel for your team easier. can also be bought 2nd item into heavy shield compositions and champions that build like
, Yone , Yasuo etc. If you are snowballing, you can buy a to start working on a while you have the you're building towards your . Vayne
At your 3rd item, if the enemy team has plenty of magic damage and they have a fed mage such as
or a Diana , going or is sometimes a great substitute for . I wouldn't ever go either of those magic resist items second. It would probably look like , , , / . If they have little magic damage, is probably better. If you are snowballing, 3rd is also an option for more damage. Viktor
Garen at his 4th item starts to fall off a bit since people start stacking armor. It can be a good idea to buy as your 4th item option into the bruiser champions like
, Xin Zhao , Trundle and champions in general that stack a lot of HP and armor. It makes your damage quite high and it's really strong with Irelia (E). is also an option along with if you haven't built it still. It really depends on the enemies team composition. is also purchasable here. Judgment
It's possible to buy on your last item here, if you want even more extra AD. However if you haven't built items like , , , or , those are all options here. is also a really good one for your last item since it gives you that massive tankiness for those last few teamfights. is also super good since it gets you a ton of armor and also the revive passive which works well for the final teamfights. It's up to you on what you want, but all of those items are probably good in the right situation. You can also go for into 3 critical strike champions, and also a if you have champions like
or Yuumi on your team for some crazy heals. Soraka
When you are at your full build, you aren't actually 'full build'. Garen has the option to sell his tier 2 boots for a item of his choice at 6 items. ( or ) You get movement speed from the and extra crit damage which works with your
(E) and Judgment (Q). You would probably go if you want to destroy towers and splitpush for a late game possible back door scenario, or for extra range on your Q for more teamfighting capabilities. Decisive Strike
Purchase last as well for some good frontlining potential along with free tenacity.
It's possible to go first item into the heavy roam champions like
top and then building normally after is fine. Janna
Garen's Win Condition and Gameplan
Obviously it will depend on what matchup you are playing, and what the other 9 champions in the game are, so it's difficult to give cookie cutter advice for what works each game but there are a few things that are important.
How to lane? One thing to realize when you start playing Garen is that his laning is quite weak in the first 3 levels. His extended trade damage is very poor, especially when you compare him to champions like
, Gwen , and Darius . It's important when playing Garen to realize that if you don't have your abilities up to get away from a bad trade (Q and W) it's not worth trading in the first place. This is why you typically want to let most champions push towards you as Garen since it allows you to go for more short trades such as auto Tryndamere (Q), and then you can run away really easily once you land the Decisive Strike since you can run to your turret right away. Sometimes in certain lanes though it can be good to be the one in control of the lane. When you're playing against a champion like Decisive Strike that is very weak in the early game, you want to just slowpush every wave and auto Q him everytime he walks up, sometimes even landing your full Nasus (E). Be careful using your E in trades because it can push the wave in when you may not want to sometimes. If you notice that your opponent is around half hp or at 75% hp, it's possible to Q E R for the all in. This changes based on what champion it is and what items you have, but it's usually possible to all in if you won a few short trades beforehand. Judgment
Garens role in a team? A common misconception about Garen is that he is a big tanky frontline who can run into the enemy ADC and tank for a long time because of his W and free armor. This is definitely not the case, especially in Season 12 with the amount of damage in the game currently. Currently if Garen tries to frontline into a fed ADC who has , he will probably explode. People may ping your and go, "why do you have no armor?? Crit on Garen what the heck?" But you can't really let that bother you. It's not Garen's job at all. It's possible to frontline and peel if you are fed enough if the enemy team can't chain cc you and then proceed to burst you, but it's typically better playing side lane since you can bring multiple people top or you can try going for a quick pick on someone with your team in a skirmishing 3v3 situation.
How to teamfight? Garen doesn't really have the best engage, he used to in the past before the dash removal, so nowadays you are hoping anyone else on your team goes in first. Garen doesn't have any hard CC at all so it's difficult for him to go in first when he will get slowed, stunned, and etc. If your
or Xin Zhao , maybe a Lee Sin or Nautilus dashes in, you can easily follow up with Leona (Q) and Decisive Strike (E) at that point since you will be able to get off most of your damage. Garen's damage is weird in the way that if he tries to go for someone with an advanced amount of armor, he will do no damage since he relies on base numbers typically which won't be enough into an armor stacking champion like Judgment . You want to focus someone you can 100-0 or at least chunk out very hard with your Q and E running on your enemy. Going for the ADC in a teamfight when you have is very doable, you just have to make sure your team is there to back you up. Past lvl 11, Garen can easily one shot an ADC with Q E R, but it's important to be thinking about what the enemy team can do to stop you as well. Remember to W any massive CC abilities like Cho'Gath Q. Morgana
How to splitpush/sidelane? Aside from the important teamfighting that can take place at the dragons and other objectives, Garen can side lane incredibly well. Garen has crazy damage once he buys since everything bursts together nicely. If you aren't behind your laner in gold, you can usually go for some kind of side laning. Of course into specific champions it can be dangerous such as
and Sett , but into champions like Fiora and Jax if you are ahead, you can easily one shot them with and . Sometimes you can also Wukong (Q) Decisive Strike (E) and then run away after you to prevent them from extending the trade once your cooldowns are gone which is really effective into champions that have a strong all in like Judgment . Tryndamere
Your goal when side laning into most champions that don't have a crazy amount of lifesteal and healing is to constantly poke them with a short trade of Q E and then moving away as you start your E. If you have or you can add in the active too as you move away with your E as mentioned above. You can do this under people's turrets as well while they are CSing which is good because then you can
(W) the turret shot after taking aggro to not get punished for it. There are some cases where you might not be able to damage your opponent in the side lane since you might not have vision to extend up or your opponent may be too strong. It's usually good to join your team and group if this is the case or you can farm the enemy jungle camps especially when you have because then you can run away if people try to catch you. Don't feel scared to extend very far when you have as well, you can easily escape ganks with Q E which will slow them and speed you up instantly. The main idea is getting their hp poked down enough with short trades and by kiting them so that you can go for the Q E Ignite R all in when they are at 50-75% hp and farming jungle camps when you can! Courage
How do I extend my lead if I stomp lane? If you are very fed, it's not impossible to one shot the hypercarry champions like
, Yone , and Yasuo because Garen's burst is insane with and level 11 ultimate. You can usually Q E R these types of champs and they will die instantly. I try to do this after I break my opponents tower by roaming mid or invading the enemy jungle and just immediately going on the person with the shutdown on them. Once I collect it, I go back to side laning and one shotting my laner under his tower after short trading him over and over. Viego
How to Phase Rush harass and dive under tower, (Ironspike Whip) works for simple trading too!
ALL the matchups and how to play them!
DISCLAIMER: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO THESE RUNES AND SUMMONER SPELLS IF YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH SOMETHING ELSE. THIS IS JUST MY PREFERENCE AND WHAT WORKS FOR ME!
Here is the matchup list for Garen that includes all of the necessary information needed to win. There will be some videos associated with specific matchups that I made where I go more in depth since those ones can be particularly difficult. In the runes for a matchup, if it says something like Conditioning/Second Wind, that means you can go either of those runes depending on the enemy composition and jungler and also what your preference is. Use CTRL + F on your keyboard to search for a champion name and then press enter and it will bring you to the matchup! (May be different on other devices.)
Darius Matchup Guide
A General Idea on how to Poke Sett
How to force Tryndamere Ultimate
Thank you for reading! Enjoy the updated 12.13 matchup information and keep spinning!