LoL Kraken Priestess guide: builds, skills, runes setup, & more
Published: September 13 2023
Last updated: September 20 2023
Illaoi, the Kraken Priestess, is one of League of Legends’ most polarizing champions. Let’s see together how to master her skills and the best builds and runes setups.
Ever since her release in 2015, the champion Illaoi has arguably had the strongest laning phase in the game. Despite lacking popularity in most metas due to her inherent weaknesses in team fights, there have been several periods where Illaoi took over the top lane. So, let’s learn more about how Illaoi, the Kraken Priestess, works and how you can use her strengths to climb the ranks of League of Legends.
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The Basics of Illaoi - Abilities & Passive
Illaoi Passive Ability: Prophet of and Elder God
Illaoi’s passive Prophet of an Elder God ties the entire kit together. Throughout the game, Illaoi spawns these Tentacles that assist her in battle. The cooldown of the passive is between twenty and seven seconds, depending on Illaoi’s current level. The Tentacles can’t spawn truly randomly but instead spawn on fixed points on the terrain near walls and other structures. The benefit is that the spawn locations are predictable, meaning you can use their placement to your advantage by moving closer to where you want to set them up.
Illaoi Q Ability: Tentacle Smash
Q - Tentacle Smash is Illaoi’s main source of ranged damage and wave clear. In addition to increasing your Tentacles’ damage, the ability is a great tool to trade and deal damage to the copies spawned by E-Test of Spirit.
Illaoi W Ability: Harsh Lesson
W - Harsh Lesson is the toughest ability of Illaoi to master, as you need to learn how your leap causes your Tentacles to attack. Whenever you use Harsh Lesson to leap to a target, the nearby Tentacles attack, occasionally leading to unintended results such as pushing out your minions at an inopportune time or causing you to take tower aggression when you don’t intend to. In addition, Harsh Lesson is the majority of your damage during R- Leap of Faith, which many new Illaoi players don’t seem to realize. The cooldown is only two seconds (less with Ability Haste), so you must ensure you use it as much as possible during the eight seconds of Leap of Faith to maximize your damage output.
Illaoi E Ability: Test of Spirit
E - Test of Spirit is the single most annoying ability to play against in League of Legends. Whenever you land this ability, you cannot lose the following trade. Your opponent has to choose between a few miserable options. One, they take a trade where you deal significantly increased damage to them. Two, they try and break the chain, causing them to be slowed and marked by your Tentacles, which cause them to attack whenever they are nearby, in addition to spawning two or more Tentacles. Or three, they stay within range and take a notable amount of damage for the seven-second duration of the Spirit, after which the mark may still apply if you kill the spirit.
It is truly awful to play against.
Illaoi R Ability: Leap of Faith
R - Leap of Faith is a steroid for Illaoi’s overall gameplay, but it is also one of League of Legends’ most misunderstood abilities. First, the Spirit from Illaoi’s Test of Spirit counts as a nearby enemy. Second, the ability doesn’t do a whole lot if you don’t have any Tentacles nearby. With that cleared up, when playing against Illaoi, you should never try and gank a level six Illaoi. You will die, and your top laner will hate your guts. While it's unbelievable that still has to be said throughout the years, some Junglers don’t seem to get the message.
Illaoi’s best Rune Setups in League of Legends: Resolve and Precision
Players can choose between two primary rune setups for Illaoi in her current form, both using Resolve and Precision.
The rune setup with Resolve as Primary, utilizing Grasp of the Undying, performs best for Illaoi. The reason for this is that the rune's extra survivability is immensely beneficial in helping Illaoi stay relevant longer in the game. There is some variety for Illaoi’s Resolve path, as players can, instead of Bone Plating, use Second Wind against champions with an easy way to poke away Bone Plating. Those include everything from champions with Ranged auto attacks to champions like K’Sante or Gragas.
Similarly, utilizing Unfinching instead of Overgrowth as the third choice in the Resolve path against champions with a heavy reliance on stuns or slows is possible. A great example would be a champion like Riven or Nasus, who rely heavily on these crowd-controlling abilities.
The second setup is Conqueror, which has long been Illaoi’s go-to rune choice. The setup with primary Precision remains popular among Illaoi players despite it performing worse overall in most matchups. The main scenario where Conqueror outperforms Grasp of the Undying is against other bruiser champions like Darius, Jax, or Garen, as these champions are likely to drag out your in-lane engagements. The extra attack and healing that builds up with your Conqueror Stacks shine in longer fights. In addition, most consider Conqueror a better rune for team-fighting situations.
In the past, a popular secondary path for Illaoi to explore was Inspiration, with Time Warp Tonic and either Fleeting Footwork or Biscuit Delivery. However, ever since the latest nerf to the Corrupting Potion in patch 12.14, the rune fell out of favor when the health restored by each charge changed from 125 to 100. That said, it isn’t a bad option for those first starting to learn Illaoi, as the rune gives you a lot of room for error in your health and mana usage.
Itemization choices for champion Illaoi explained
In terms of Starting Items, Illaoi’s options are quite simple. Due to her frequently using her spells in the laning phase, the Corruption Potion remains a popular choice. Then, for Illaoi’s Ranged matchups, you can use a Doran’s Shield instead to survive the first levels of the laning phase.
Fun fact: earlier this year, Illaoi was among the champions to abuse the triple Rejuvenating Bead start before the nerfs in patch 12.4. The item is likely to see a redesign in next year’s item changes, so it may be worth remembering to see the possibilities a new version provides.
Illaoi’s Primary Item Choices
While Illaoi technically has two options to choose from in terms of Mythic items, the Iceborn Gauntlet is miles ahead of the Divine Sunderer build in their current form. The component items for the Iceborn Gauntlet are easier to purchase, and the total item costs 300 gold less than the Divine Sunderer, allowing for a much quicker power spike. Aside from your mythic item, Illaoi loves two items above all others. The Hullbreaker, but more on that later, and the Black Cleaver, an item that helps Illaoi fight through the armor of her lane opponents.
The Black Cleaver is especially powerful on Illaoi as all her abilities can apply the item’s passive effects, with several even applying the armor-reducing effect to multiple targets. In addition to the item's powerful passive, the stats the item provides are ideal for the bruiser playstyle. Health, damage, and ability haste. What more can you ask for?
Aside from your damage items, Illaoi has a few options for third-item defensive tools. The choice between these items depends on which characters are causing you trouble on the enemy team. The main few include Sterak’s Gage, which reduces Illaoi’s weakness to burst damage and improves her teamfighting capabilities. The Spirit Visage is an item that increases her healing provided by Conquerer and her passive, in addition to its health and magic resistance stats. And last, in terms of defensive options, are the Gargoyle’s Stoneplate and Thornmail, though these items are rarely worth picking up unless you are far behind in the game.
The Hullbreaker x Illaoi
The Hullbreaker, aka the split-pushing item, is a favorite of Illaoi and one of the main reasons for her prevalence in today’s League of Legends ranked meta.
Since the Hullbreaker’s first release, Illaoi has found new ways to use and abuse it despite its continued nerfs.
The item perfectly fits Illaoi, as she can’t play team fights. The item makes her much tougher to kill, makes her damage to towers much more potent, and all of its component items suit Illaoi well during the early laning phase. Despite how perfect the Hullbreaker is for Illaoi, you can’t just build the item every game. The item is useless from behind, so instead, pick it up as your second or third item whenever you feel strong enough. That said, in the rare situations where you get an early kill or face a significantly weaker player in the top lane, you can choose to rush a Hullbreaker as your first item.
Illaoi Boots Choice
Illaoi's boots choice is exactly as you would expect. Plated Steelcaps outperform everything, with the occasional Mercury Threads when the CC of the enemy team is overwhelming.
Gameplay and tips & tricks for Illaoi in LoL
The way you counter Illaoi, particularly Leap of Faith, is to start a fight when Test of Spirit misses, forcing her to use ultimate before your teammates join the brawl.
Against multiple coordinated players, the champion doesn’t stand a chance.
On the other side of the equation, your best bet for escaping multiple opponents when you are too far from safety is to hold onto Test of Spirit and Leap of Faith for as long as possible. Your threat is real, regardless of how many opponents are coming for you, so even if you are dead, you can always try and take some enemies with you to the grave.
Illaoi struggles against Ranged Champions, but running them down is sometimes an option if they go too far up in the lane due to their fragility. Try and hold Test of Spirit for as long as you can, and try to time your passive to spawn a new Tentacle around the time you start combat to deal the most damage you can.
To add more advice for Junglers, with or against Illaoi, just leave the lane alone. Your other lanes need you more, and unless specifically asked for, you will likely do more harm than good. I can’t even count the number of times Junglers come to fight Illaoi, where the only result is a dead jungler, a dead top laner, or a dead jungler and dead top laner, while Illaoi just walks off with a big bag of money.
Illaoi Matchups Explained
In terms of lane matchups, Illaoi follows a very simple theme. Ranged matchups are rough, with the worst being against champions like Heimerdinger, Askhan, Quinn, and Kayle. The only melee champion that could take on Illaoi for some time in the laning phase was pre-nerf Naafiri, which since received several nerfs already.
Overall, Illaoi loves her melee matchups. During the laning phase, most of those can’t do anything, as they are out-traded, killed, or bullied around. Even traditionally strong laning champions such as Renekton and neutralizers like K’Sante and Gragas can’t have fun playing against the Kraken Priestess, Illaoi.
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