Skarner bruiser guide - season 12
Best Overall Runes
Best Overall Build
My name is Alejandro, going by the nickname Hazardis in League of Legends. I've been playing since season 7 and at the moment my peak is Diamond II (last season) and I am currently in Diamond III in the Latin America North server. I started as a main support but over time moved to the jungle, which is now my main role.
Skarner has always seemed like one of the funniest champions to play as in the jungle due to his "fast kidnapper" playstile and that's why I decided to OTP him. He is a champion worth picking up because he is always secured to remain relevant in your games even if you are at a disadvantage, while also being opressive if you are ahead. Every team comp likes a frontliner that is good at engaging, setting up picks in side lanes and soaking up damage in teamfights while also disrupting the enemy team.
Given his current subpar spot in the meta, he is difficult to pick up and thus his skill floor is higher than other similar champions such as Udyr and Hecarim, but he certainly has a higher skill ceiling than those two and other off-tank junglers thanks to his versatile playstile, build and rune paths, so you are warranted to not get bored of trying to get better with him over time.
Sadly I don't have many recordings of my own games but I'll drop a couple that I have saved, to help highlight the capabilities that my proposed build has.
This guide is a work in progress, I will be updating it over the next month and especially so if the jungle/bruiser meta keeps changing considerably.
The best keystone I can recommend to you is Conqueror, as it boosts your dueling potential by a very considerable amount as well as provide a little but nifty amount of sustain in extended fights, with sorcery as your secondary tree taking Celerity for inscreased movespeed boosts from your W and spires, and Waterwalking for better skirmishing and objective solo-taking potential. Resolve as secondary can help your survival at the cost of mobility.
Predator is the more preferable choice when you are against compositions that won't go all in (think 5 squishies with predominantly ranged attacks). Phase Rush is my least favorite, but you can pick it up if you prefer the speed boost during fights as it's viable to a decent degree.
- Phase Rush
- Conqueror with durability+
The general idea is that you want to go for the red smite when you will be dueling a lot (against mostly melee comps and targets that won't permanently run away from you), and blue smite the rest of the time or when you want to be less independent in skirmishes and play more towards setting up your teammates. Flash is the best in most scenarios but ghost is very viable too if you don't mind not being able to go through walls to chase or escape.
- Standard Flash
- Standard Ghost
As bruiser, you will prioritize Q as it's your main source of DPS at all times of the game, then your W for the increased movespeed and shielding which also synergizes well with the AP item that you will build. As a tank, you swap the priority from Q to E as the stronger slow on a lower cooldown will boost your disruption capabilities a lot, which is what we want when playing tank.
- Bruiser build
- Tank build
Even after the 12.3 fighter item changes, Trinity Force and Divine Sunderer remain the best bruiser item for Skarner as everything that they provide is incredibly useful to you: AD, health, a Spellblade active, healing/passive AD increase and movespeed. Rylai got its cost reduced to 2600 which makes it a great item to pick up for your second purchase, but you can rush Black Cleaver instead if you prefer the ability haste and armor-shredding. For the current strongest build we will opt for Divine Sunderer into Black Cleaver, and then round out with either Demonic Embrace if you prefer the extra AoE damage, or Rylai's if you prefer the utility of the slow.
After these 3 items, you will look to round up your build with defensive items depending on the game in particular: build MR against AP (ignore Abyssal Mask), build armor vs AP and lethality (ignore Deadman's Plate), or pick up an Anathema's Chains if there is only one fed member on the enemy team providing most of their damage, or simply if you want the large amount of HP it provides for the low cost. A Sterak's Gage as 4th purchase might be contextually good if you have bought enough Max HP items previously and you're worried about being bursted in teamfights.
At the very start of the game, you should move with your team to secure the river spire closest to where you will start your route. For example: if you are going to start with a bot lane leash, head to the bot side river pinging your teammates for help. Capturing it grants you gold, a larger zone of control and a way to track the enemy jungler. Alternatively, you can go to the opposite side's spire, capture it and then go back to your planned starting side. This will mean that the spire will be already captured at the time of a likely skirmish for the scuttle.
A full clear of your jungle (6 camps) is the most generally advisable strategy for your initial clear. Be wary of possible enemy invades or counterjungling, and also plan your route optimally. The best way is to do Buff -> Krugs -> Raptors, or Buff -> Gromp -> Wolves, then move on to the other side of the map.
Analyze the state of your lanes during your first 3-4 camp clears. If none looks easy to gank, move on to the other side of the map to keep farming. Skarner has weak pre-6 ganks so it is wise to focus on farming as much as possible before the first scuttle crabs spawn, but at level 3 you are still capable of impacting a lane if needed.
Post 6 you can become more proactive with your ganks as your ultimate is great for locking down a target. Also, be on the lookout for your winning lanes about to crash waves into the enemy tower and setting you up for a dive, which are somewhat simple to pull off as Skarner.
If the Drake is alive or the next one is coming up, move to the bot side to capture the spire and gain vision control around it. Use your sweeper lens and control wards to scout for enemy vision, and try to prepare a surprise ambush from a bush if possible. If the Rift Herald is alive, play around top side on your next rotation.
If you are at a disavantage and your team lost all of the Tier 1 towers, go into your own jungle more carefully from there on. You can keep track of the state of your spires to identify when the enemy has snuck into your jungle, so you can avoid ambushes and react to counterjungling. Check the enemy team's itemization regularly as at this stage of the game, it is likely that one of them built a Quicksilver Sash to counter you and knowing whom not to Impale will save you from a misuse of your ultimate.
If your team has lost two or all tier 2 towers, be cautious of staying behind and helping control the vision line for your team to avoid picks from the enemy. Inversely, if your team has taken down the enemy's tier 2 towers you have several opportunities to look for picks in the side lanes or in the jungle that will help secure nearby objectives or structures, or even the game at this point.
Outside of that, Skarner is good for sieging towers as long as he has his ultimate available to punish any enemies overextending. If your ult is not available and your team is grouping up near an enemy turret, it is a good idea to either enter the jungle to farm or prepare an ambush, or go to a side lane to push the wave and help apply pressure.
In this dropdown list I will look to offer you advices on how to play certain matchups that you are bound to encounter with varying popularities, but may interact with Skarner's kit and capabilities in a way you are not used to with any other champion.
26 years old. Diamond 3 main jungler from the LAN server.