This League of Legends Season 10 Ultimate Illaoi guide is the only guide that you will need to play the Illaoi Top. This guide will include builds, combos, counters, synergies, keystones, and runes. Illaoi is the Kraken Priestess of Nagakabouros that seeks out individuals with great potential. She then challenges them with the test of Nagakabouros. With the power vested in her, this Kraken Prophet will not stop the will of her God. It was written by our team of writers along with the help of Challenger player, DirtyMobs, who is an expert in everything Illaoi. He is considered by many to be the best in the world at this champion and you can find him Streaming and uploading to YouTube.
Illaoi Overview Infographic
We put together an Illaoi overview infographic that has the best builds, runes, strengths, weaknesses, combos, skill orders, counters, synergies and anything else that you need to quickly learn the basics of Illaoi. Make sure to share with your friends and check back here to get the latest updates. We will be updating this infographic as changes happen so check back often!
Who is DirtyMobs
Michael, 26 years of age, is currently playing with summoner names DirtyMobs, CleanMobs, and HentaiMobs. He has over 2.9 million mastery points on Illaoi and he peaked at 750 LP in North American Challenger. He has a KDA ratio of 3.64:1 with a 75% Win Rate. He originally played a MOBA called Heroes of Newerth where he led a team in their version of LCS as a support main. During season 5, he switched from HoN to League because of IRL friends and Dota 2 feels terrible to play in his opinion. During his first season, he climbed to D2 as a Gnar main. He then played some Gangplank and found his way to Illaoi (he was unaware of the lore connection between GP and Illaoi, ironic). Basically, he told his duo “I promise I’ll int like 50 games. But by the end, I’ll use this champion like no one else” and sure enough that’s exactly what happened.
Table of Contents
Why Play Illaoi
Before we start on the Ultimate Guide to Illaoi we first want to tell you why you should play her. Her overall strengths and weaknesses are as follows:
- Can harass enemies under turret better than any other champion. You can land E and have the spirit outside of turret, avoiding turret aggro.
- Has extremely high AoE damage, when combined with Flash + ultimate combo can carry team fights.
- Excels in outnumbered situations, she basically wants junglers to gank her after level 6.
- Variety of viable runes (Grasp, Conqueror, Glacial Augment) and item builds (High AD, bruiser, or tank) provides for a lot of different playstyles.
- Her cast times can be a strength or a weakness, but they will be a strength by casting abilities right before any CC reaches you (they continue casting while stunned, in a sense reducing the “effective” downtime).
- High cast time makes her damage very slow at the beginning. Takes around 2 seconds for casting before her ability starts working.
- E (Test of Spirit) oriented, she basically loses half her power if she misses this ability.
- Dies to jungle ganks easily before level 6, susceptible to being camped.
- The enemy can run away at any time and most likely live. Therefore, she prefers 1v2s or 1v3s, the enemy will commit to killing her instead of running away.
- Her power scales with the number of melee champions in the game. So if you are versus a ranged champion in the lane you’re having a rough time, and if the entire enemy team is ranged you’re a walking minion.
These champions give Illaoi a hard time in-game due to having a kit that can stop Illaoi from doing what she wants to do. Here are some of the biggest issues and how you can try to overcome the challenges they bring.
Mordekaiser is considered a counter because his ultimate (Realm of Death) hard counters Illaoi. When he targets Illaoi, neither the tentacles nor the spirit transfer with her, making her an easy kill for Mordekaiser. Illaoi can cancel Mordekaiser ultimate by casting her own ultimate (Leap of Faith) at the correct time, but it is a very unreliable strategy.
Tryndamere is considered a counter because if Illaoi walks up for minions levels 1 or 2 Tryndamere will spin behind her, Ignite, and auto-attack you to death (you have to be very safe with positioning early, even giving up CS). Tryndamere’s 5 second ultimate (Undying Rage) is typically more than enough time to auto-attack Illaoi to death at level 6. In order to win, Illaoi must kite Tryndamere when he activates his R using her W (Harsh Lesson) and Flash to keep her distance for 5 seconds.
Specifically Vayne, Lucian, Cassiopeia and Teemo - are considered a counter because these champions bully Illaoi early and her E (Test of Spirit) is very easy to dodge as it is slow and very choreographed. If you do land E they just run away and wait it out. Good ranged players will sidestep your E aggressively and just kill you as your ability to win is almost 0% when you miss that E.
These champions work well with Illaoi and should be considered being picked alongside her if possible. Here are some of the biggest synergies and how you can abuse them.
Sejuani, Nunu, Alistar, Thresh - work well with Illaoi as she excels when she can enter the fight after other champions have started it. This takes the pressure off of her shoulder being bursted down. It also makes it easier for positioning or landing her E’s to the target.
Yuumi works well with Illaoi as the Kraken Priestess’ healing is fantastic and she is easily kited. Yuumi provides even more healing (Spirit Visage value), slow on enemies, and movement speed to her. This gives her the survivability to go in the frontline and face multiple enemies. With their abilities combined, Yuumi and Illaoi can 2v5 in many games.
Kayn works well with Illaoi because he is a good duo partner for Illaoi. Kayn in the jungle can get his transformation very early if he ganks a few times for Illaoi and hits her spirit. This drops more orbs for Kayn to fill up the bar of his passive (The Darkin Scythe).
Illaoi Summoner Spells
Illaoi’s recommended summoner spells are Teleport and Flash. You can cast her ultimate and, as she is in the air, Flash onto the enemy team. This causes the AoE and tentacles to spawn where she Flashed to, giving the enemy less time to react to the chaos that will ensue. Teleport allows you to split push and have a proper macro play on the map in the mid-late game. With the new speed buff after teleporting, you can also get into teamfights better after you teleport. You almost never use this spell to gank the bot lane early, as Illaoi is weak without a proper tentacle set up. Instead, use your first few teleports to get back to lane and keep the pressure on the top turret to try and draw the enemy jungler.
Illaoi Runes and Keystones
Illaoi recommended runes are Conqueror, Presence of Mind/Triumph, Tenacity, and Last Stand on Precision as primary and Taste of Blood with Ravenous Hunter on Domination as secondary. Conqueror provides AD and healing in team fights, it can be stacked off of the spirit in the lane. If you do not have mana issues, go Triumph. Otherwise, Presence of Mind should help. Legend Tenacity is a good choice as many champions have hard CCs that hold you. Illaoi needs tenacity to cast her abilities and not be CC chained to death. Illaoi typically gets low before her abilities start working due to her cast times, meaning that we get tremendous value from the Last Stand. Taste of blood and Ravenous Hunter provide more healing but limit your build options as you do not want to heavily rely on CDR.
If you are dealing with ranged top laners and you’re looking for a good/safe laning phase alternative that may be useful, you can consider use this rune page. Grasp of the Undying, Demolish, Bone Plating/Second Wind and Revitalize on Resolve as primary while choosing Taste of Blood with Ravenous Hunter on Domination as secondary. This rune setup handles the laning phase better and provides for more small trading as it combos well with W. However it has weaker healing than Conqueror in teamfights. Sorcery is an option, for secondary runes, that gives early mana (Manaflow band) as Illaoi typically runs out of mana early in the game. Transcendence also gives Illaoi the ability to go tank items like Frozen Heart/Iceborn Gauntlet and still have extremely high AD while being a beefy tank.
Both builds will use 1 Adaptive Force and 2 Armor/Magic Resist depending on the enemy composition.
Illaoi’s recommended items change depending on the situation. However, the following items will give you a good idea of what to build in different situations.
Illaoi starts with Corrupting Potion which provides the user health and mana regeneration once activated. It can also be refilled when you get back to base.
Illaoi starts with Doran’s Blade if you want to deal more AD in the early game while having the lifesteal and HP to trade hits.
Black Cleaver is core on Illaoi because it Provides her with all of the stats she needs - AD, Health, CDR, Movement speed and finally Armor Shred, all in a cost-efficient item. The Armor shred is great as Illaoi's damage is heavily AoE and applies the debuff to many champions. Also, the armor shred will apply to the main champion as you deal damage to the spirit.
Sterak’s Gage is core on Illaoi as 2 items is roughly the time you start teamfighting or handling more champions when splitting. Sterak's provides high AD due to Illaoi's high base AD (highest in the game at level 18), health, and a shield that kicks in as Illaoi is casting her abilities to provide burst protection and tenacity. Illaoi's high cast times means she is susceptible to being burst down before her abilities go off, this item prevents that.
Death Dance is core on Illaoi as the item recently received armor and magic resist, rounding out the 3-item core build very well. The item provides AD, Armor, Magic Resist, and more burst protection through the DoT bleed as well as heavy healing passive. Illaoi makes great use out of the healing passive to survive longer.
Use Mercury Treads if you are versus a team with lots of CC and strong AP threats (Mages, AP assassins)
Offensive Situational Items
If you want to replace Black Cleaver, you can build Trinity Force. This item gives up AoE damage potential (less AD and no armor shred) but gains targeted damage potential through the spellblade passive which works well with Illaoi's W. Also, Trinity Force gives 5% movement speed helping lllaoi to keep up with mobility or ranged champions. The spellblade passive also boosts split push potential on Illaoi as it greatly increases tower taking speed. The downside is how expensive the item is, stalling your item spikes.
Defensive Situational Items
If you are using the Transcendence rune, you can build Frozen Heart. This utilizes the overcap CDR to become a high attack damage tank. This item works great versus all AD teams, it's cheap with a slow attack speed, provides an insane amount of armor, mana, and 20% more CDR. Some people prefer Frozen Gauntlet, it’s fine as well if you'd rather have the small AoE slow and damage. Though DirtyMobs does not find the slow to be useful enough and the armor loss is too much to give up Frozen Heart.
If you want protection from AP champions, you can build Spirit Visage. Illaoi's healing is supreme and made better with the healing passive increase from this item. This is an effective item when facing AP threats as it gives health, CDR, MR, and increased healing.
Full Build Example
An example full build for Illaoi can consist of:
- Black Cleaver/Trinity Force
- Mercury Treads
- Sterak’s Gage
- Death’s Dance
- Spirit Visage
- Frozen Heart/Randuin’s Omen
This is the most recommended build path for Illaoi as these are well-rounded items that provide CDR, Health, Resistances and plenty of healing options. It brings tenacity, a large shield, all that while being very cost-efficient. This transforms Illaoi into a strong frontline that pulls the spirits of her targets and shreds their HP. Having the ability to sustain her healing can keep her alive in teamfights and continuously smack enemy champions with multiple tentacles around her.
Passive - Prophet of the Elder God
Illaoi passively places a tentacle every 20 – 12 seconds (scaling with level). These tentacles do significant damage and heal Illaoi for 5% of her missing health. Learning how to properly set up tentacles is a core concept that you will need to optimize. You will always want to play around at least one tentacle, however, 2 or more is preferred. Tentacles are stored by standing near tentacles already placed, allowing for counterplay to enemies who start off fights by killing the tentacle at the beginning of fighting.
Q - Tentacle Smash
This tentacle is a player-controlled ability. It is mainly used as a filler when W or E is on cooldown. As we max Q, all our tentacles will have increased damage. You will occasionally max Q, however, not our default skill order. Q is a pivotal part of CSing early in the game.
W - Harsh Lesson
Illaoi’s W makes her next auto attack deal % max health damage, resetting your auto-attack timer, and causes all nearby tentacles to slam onto the target. The auto-attack reset means you need to do your best to weave in auto-attacks before your W’s. Using the reset mechanic allows you to quickly take turrets.
This ability has a special mechanic, allowing its use in one of two ways:
- While in melee range, you are unstoppable therefore you can only be stopped by death
- While not in melee range, you leap onto the target. A useful gap closer.
E - Test of Spirit
Illaoi pulls an enemy’s spirit, creating a spirit that copies the target’s current health and transfers a % of damage to the champion. Once broken, the enemy is shortly slowed and becomes a “vessel” causing all tentacles to attack the champion. The spirit is coded similarly to a champion and will spawn a tentacle if hit by your ultimate.
This ability is core to Illaoi’s kit when combined with her passive tentacles. Tentacles that are near the spirit will attack the spirit when pulled, new tentacles spawned from your ultimate will also attack the spirit once spawned. The beautiful part of the spirit is it gives a spot where tentacles are guaranteed to hit something, providing secured healing. In lane, you want to go for high-percentage E’s as missing it will punish you greatly (you basically AFK until it is back up). Knowing when not to throw your E is also pivotal and will be investigated deeper in the laning phase section. In team fights, landing E on a tank can help your team destroy the front line (and is usually a high % chance to land). Landing E’s on multiple targets in a row pokes down your enemy quickly, winning a team fight before a brawl even occurs.
R - Leap Of Faith
An AoE ability that deals damage, spawns a tentacle for each champion (including spirit) damaged by the ability, sets your W to a 2-second cooldown and speeds up your tentacles slam speed by 50%. If you were to just cast this ult, on its own not much will happen. However, this ability is what turns Illaoi into her raid boss form when combined with W, E, and Flash. An important mechanic of Illaoi’s R is that she is unstoppable while ulting. Great use of this mechanic is to dodge knock-ups by casting your ultimate as their knock-up is being applied.
Ability Skill Order
The skill order for Illaoi is R > E > Q > W.
The E max versus Q max is very contested in the Illaoi community. DirtyMobs typically prefers E max as Illaoi is reliant on this ability and the lowered cooldown means if you miss your E you do not have to AFK as long. You do lose some damage on your tentacles but you also gain damage on the spirit.
Q first so we can get the creeps safely early in the lane. Many champions are much stronger levels 1 and 2, they will be looking for trades. W second lets us utilize tentacles to get creeps as, hopefully, the lane will be closer to your turret or crashing under it. After E, we max Q as you want our tentacles to be stronger in teamfights. Max W last as it is just a tool to cause tentacles to slam and the increased damage on W is lackluster.
A power spike is when a time champion reaches a level or builds an item that makes them a lot stronger than other champions in the game.
First: level 3. This is when Illaoi gets all 3 of her abilities which are all necessary to properly lane as Illaoi. This allows her to land E next to a tentacle, W, Q, W and hopefully kill the spirit. Early on we use E as a poking tool and to regenerate some lost health.
Second: level 6. Illaoi’s ultimate is one of the largest power-increases in the game at level 6 when used correctly. This is when we go from passive laning to aggressive laning. Defend Illaoi’s tentacles and use them to quickly push the lane under the enemy turret. What we want is to get the enemy jungler to come top and try to gank us, Illaoi exceeds in 1v2 situations and this alleviates your team of jungle pressure. You can win a 1v2, giving your team the ability to 4v3 the rest of the map.
Third: first item. We are still strong vs our laner, but still weak to teamfighting. Try to keep splitting 1v1 and baiting the jungler to gank us.
Fourth: 2 items. Once we have our first 2 core items (Black cleaver and Sterak’s Gage) we can start grouping and transform our laning lead to a teamfight lead. Try to teamfight with Flash up so we can combo it with ultimate. The Sterak’s Gage is important to allow us to get into teamfights and cast our abilities before being blown up (remember, we have long cast times).
Final: 3 items. Our last hope is once we have added Death’s Dance to our build and can deal damage while sustaining our health. After this point, we will start to fall off as ADCs and AP mages begin building items that shred our health pool.
Illaoi's Cast Sequence
The first situation where you’ll wonder “How should I structure my abilities?” is when you pull your first spirit in lane at level 3. The sequence is simple but sneaking in the auto attacks quickly before casting each ability optimizes your damage potential. Always pull spirits next to tentacles. Once you do try to use the following cast sequence:
When you cast your ultimate, your W cooldown is set to 2 seconds, and casting as many Ws as possible is your highest priority. Spell priority becomes E – W – Q and while we would like to get auto-attacks off when possible, it is not a core focus at this point. There should be a significant number of tentacles, so more Ws mean more slams, damage, and healing.
Illaoi is not a very combo-oriented champion and a player who wants to maximize her damage potential should focus on practicing these two cast sequences.
How to Play Illaoi
We want to set up tentacles in key spots under our turret as soon as we get to our lane. These are important as when we pull the lane back under our turret at level 2-3, we will want to use these tentacles to help secure our CS. On the Red side, we put a tentacle in the tri-bush for when we need to leash Red buff to our jungler. If the enemy top laner is cheesing us in the bush, they will typically kill the tentacle alerting us of their presence. If you notice the tentacle is gone, go the long way around to get to your wave (routing by krugs).
The highest importance is setting up the wave to pull into our turret. We cannot afford to give up deaths before level 6 as our reliance on 1v2s means slim margins. Illaoi is also immobile, which means that if we push up, we must waste Flash, or we will die. One technique to achieve this is baiting AoE abilities from enemies. Walking near the wave will trigger a Darius or Riven to use their damage abilities to hit you. Keeping good spacing will dodge their ability and the enemy might even damage your minions and push them, pulling the lane into your turret. This means the enemy will typically hit level 2 before you, and that is okay. Illaoi doesn’t do much until she has all 3 of her abilities, while many others have great level 2’s (Akali, Irelia, Jax). We can give up a few minions to ensure we don’t make a bad trade.
Remember, lost CS will be made up later in the lane. CSing on Illaoi for the first several levels consists of using Q with precision. Let’s say we are versus a Riven, and there is a melee minion to grab that is near the Riven, do not take it. Riven is going to Q + AA + Q + AA + Q and chunk you for 250 health, and you get a fantastic 20g. When you reach levels 3 -5, don’t get overzealous though as we are not quite able to leave our turret safely yet. We want to keep the wave positioned in front of our turret. Land E between tentacles to regenerate any lost health and to do significant poke at a safe distance. E is perfect between tentacles, far away from the enemy top laner, and not hitting the minion wave. You are going to lose wave position though, and when we do, we must be extremely aware of the mini-map.
After hitting 6, we immediately turn up the tempo. Use the threat of your E to defend tentacles and poke the enemy. If you have your ultimate available, you want to shove the enemy under their turret. Once under their turret, you will use your E to make them decide which minions to go for and which ones to give up. This fun mental mini-game is how Illaoi can get substantial CS leads over her enemy, even with giving up CS early. Keep using this strategy until we get the tier 1 turret. We do not swap with the bot until the Dragon is killed and either yours or the enemy bot turret has been killed. If we are rolling and Bot isn’t ready to swap, we will push towards the tier 2. This strategy works incredibly well if the enemy Top, Mid, and Jungle are all melee champions as it is likely you can 1v3 them.
- Split Pushing – As a top laner, your macro responsibilities are to push out the “long” lane (lane on the side of the map opposite the next key objective). This is important to keep your farm numbers up and you’ll have Teleport to join anything, anywhere on the map. As Illaoi, you want to avoid teamfighting until we build our 2nd item Sterak’s Gage. Sterak’s Gage is important to have when engaging teamfights because the health, shield, and tenacity of the item are crucial in staying alive as we cast our E to Ultimate combination.
- Objective Control – Our ability to teamfight spikes in the 2nd to 3rd item range. With a core of Trinity Force/BlackCleaver, Sterak’s Gage, and Death’s Dance we are ready to carry. Teleport to the Dragon’s pit or Rift Herald if your allies plan on contesting the buff. However, there wouldn’t be tentacles in place when you land. An ideal team fight starts with an E pull into Flash Ultimate onto the enemy team. This will provide you with the tentacles that you require in the fight. Higher priority E targets are usually the highest carries, however, sometimes tanks can be the highest percentile pull targets. When you win the teamfight, you’ll likely take the buffs/souls.
The sad reality is you will begin to fall off as mages and ADCs get stronger and outpace your scaling. The later the game goes the more the game becomes you helping your
teammates and letting the carries do their thing. Try to E high-priority targets and use Flash + Ultimate to get as much damage on as many targets as possible. Focus on teamfights where you are able to get as many tentacles as possible. Play with your allies’ strengths as they will be dealing the most damage and your focus on the late game is to distract the enemies’ attention with your tentacles. When you have the opportunity to prepare for the Baron and Elder Dragon, place tentacles around the area so you will be ready for the teamfight. Workaround the enclosed space of the soul as this will benefit your playstyle. Hit as many enemies so your healing increases. Watch your carries’ movement and try to be as close to them. Protect them as assassins will likely focus their attention on deleting them. When you have successfully taken the Baron and Elder buffs, sieging wouldn’t be difficult anymore and structures will be easier to destroy.
Illaoi Tips and Tricks
- Junglers tend to be easier targets for your Test of Spirit especially in 1v2 situations.
- Use tentacles on the walls near a turret or set up a tentacle directly on the turret, and bait enemies to all-in you.
- You can jump over walls with W if you can see your target.
- Use W first to gap close then E to secure the skillshot.
- You can use the pulled spirit as an escape by using W after you chase the enemy.
These below videos are great game play examples for how to play Illaoi.
Frequent Mistakes/Noob Traps
These are things most Illaoi players do that shouldn’t be done at a high level ELO.
Mistake #1 – Wasting mana on the spirit if it will not kill it. When you pull the spirit, you either want the spirit to break from the enemy leaving range or from damage. In the early levels, you may not be able to kill the spirit or the enemy is going to break the tether anyways. Don’t waste too much mana on the spirit if it will be broken by the enemy leaving range or if it will time out anyways. Casting spells on just the spirit only does ~35-50% damage to the champion, so don’t damage with abilities just to damage it, that’s mana inefficient.
Mistake #2 – Throwing E without tentacles around. When you throw E, you want to have a reasonable chance of killing the spirit before it times out. To do this you need to have set up 1-2 tentacles. Throwing E with no tentacles in lane is a complete waste.
Mistake #3 – Casting our W right before we Ult. When you cast your ultimate, it sets your W cooldown to 2 seconds. However, if you use W THEN cast ultimate, the W will be on the 4 second cooldown for the beginning of your ultimate wasting precious time. Always try to cast ult, then use W (You’ll also have more tentacles slamming this way too!)
Mistake #4 – Throwing lanes before level 6. Illaoi’s level 6 power spike is one of the strongest in the game. To make up for this, you are one of the weakest in the game before level 6. Luckily, it only takes about 6 minutes to get to level 6. DO NOT THROW by taking risky fights before level 6, if you land some E’s and poke them low, go for a kill. Otherwise, relax and farm until 6 (being within 10 CS difference by level 6 is perfectly fine), THEN put the pressure on the enemy laner and bait the jungler top for 1v2s.
Mistake #5 – Splitting too much. Many people believe Illaoi is a core split pusher while being very weak in teamfights. This simply isn’t true, her ability to poke with E or Flash ult unto the backline creates signficant damage and chaos in team-fights. If you destroy your lane, try to group at baron or dragons to take your win-lane into a win-game
Similar Champions to Illaoi
Listed below are some champions you can use to replace Illaoi. As a bruiser smashing enemies. When she isn’t available either banned or picked by the enemy team. This will give you a variety to choose from. Safeguarding your LP from going down and keeping your games awesome.
Tanky damage dealer, Lane bully and Great carry killer. Very similar strengths and weaknesses to Illaoi. Low mobile bruiser that can 1v2 using his ultimate and is reliant on his E to begin fights. Mordekaiser tanks pretty well using his shield when he goes in. When he is in trouble, he can quickly choose a target and go into the Realm of Death. This will give him the time to kill a single target safely in his zone.
Snowballs really hard, Can win entire teamfights and Difficult to be killed. Another bruiser but has a significantly stronger early game. If you want to switch it up and stop being bullied levels 1-2, then Darius lets you play a similar style without the weak early game. Darius does have to be more careful entering a team fight as getting those 5 stack passive takes a bit longer. Be sure to check out Dragoon's guide on Darius 😉
Great sieging champion, Ultimate is versatile and Brings a lot of objetive control to the team. While DirtyMobs doesn’t personally play Heimer, this is basically the ranged AP version of Illaoi. Highly recommended as it may fit into team compositions better and provides better handling versus ranged champions than any melee bruiser can.
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