How to Select the Right Runes and Keystones in League of Legends

Although Season 8 of League of Legends is almost over, many players are still wondering how to pick the right runes and keystones for certain champions and playstyles given all the changes runes received throughout the season. Here's an extensive guide to picking the best runes and keystones.

Before entering a game, players pick their runes and choose keystones from each of the five available trees Sorcery, Resolve, Inspiration, Domination, and Precision. Each rune offers additional stats or unique effects in favor of certain playstyles, so players should choose carefully in order to maximize a champion's potential.

Out of the five League of Legends trees, players choose a primary and secondary tree. From the primary tree, players can choose both a keystone and one rune from each of the three branches beneath it. Only two runes can be chosen from the secondary tree.

Domination - Champions whose playstyle relies on burst damage, like assassins, will often favor this rune tree. The first of three keystones, Electrocute, offers a burst of damage after hitting an enemy with three separate attacks or abilities. The second keystone, Predator, allows players to enchant boots with an effect that once activated grants players a 45 percent increase in movement speed, perfect for junglers like Hecarim and those like Gragas and Poppy who lack a unique ganking method. Lastly, Dark Harvest allows players to build adaptive damage by picking up shards from champions, large minions, and monsters throughout the game, working best for junglers who constantly clear large jungle spawns.

The next few branches offer options for warding, healing from abilities, and out of combat movement speed. These are all great additional effects for roaming mid laners who benefit from the movement speed. Likewise, junglers also benefit from the same effects as they make their way across the map, clearing out and placing wards for control over the enemy jungle.

Sorcery - Champions who rely on abilities often favor this rune tree. Unlike the Domination tree, the Sorcery tree doesn't offer as much burst damage, but does offer alternative options with Arcane Comet and Summon Aery, which damage enemies that have been hit by the player's abilities. The third of the keystones from this tree, Phase Rush, offers additional movement speeds for players after landing three consecutive abilities.

The following three branches offer sustain options, with choices including a magic damage shield, mana sustain, and additional cooldown reduction. The last branch offers a tough choice between three incredibly strong choices for the late game. The first, Scorch, allows players to burn enemy champions with a small amount of magic damage following an ability. The second choice, Waterwalking, is often a favored pick for junglers or roaming supports as it allows extra movement speed and adaptive damage while in the river. The last option, Gathering Storm, offers adaptive damage every ten minutes, which is perfect for carries in the late-game.

​Mages in the mid lane often favor this tree because of the damage it provides but also due to the Manaflow Band rune in the second branch and the Transcendence rune for the cooldown reduction in the third branch. Poke supports like Soraka, Karma, and Lulu can also run this rune tree with Summon Aery for the additional shield the keystone provides allied champions, as well as for the cooldown reduction and movement speed.

Precision - ​Champions like AD Carries who rely on auto attacks will often favor runes from this tree. The first of three keystones, Press the Attack, grants a player bonus adaptive damage towards an enemy champion after they are hit with three consecutive basic attacks. Lethal Tempo grants a player bonus attack speed 1.5 seconds after damaging an enemy champion. Fleet Footwork builds energy stacks for moving and attacking before granting a small heal and additional movement speed at 100 stacks.

In Patch 8.6, Riot Games added the fourth keystone Conqueror to the Precision tree. Conqueror works best on bruisers like Renekton or Camille, that grants additional damage after four seconds in combat. This effect works best for long, drawn-out trades or team fights.

The next few branches offer additional effects such as attack speed, tenacity, and life steal. There are a few sustain options rewarded for securing kills on enemy champions, which works best for allowing fragile AD Carries to continue fighting past the initial takedown.

Resolve - This tree benefits tanks in both the top and bot lane. From the three Resolve keystones, players can choose Aftershock, which grants bonus armor and magic resist for after immobilizing an enemy champion. The second keystone Guardian, which protects players and one nearby allied champions with a damage shield, works well with tanky supports like Tahm Kench and Braum who are often close to their AD Carries. The last keystone, Grasp of the Undying, deals bonus damage, increases health, and heals players after four stacks, offering the highest damage option out of the three keystones.

The next few branches include runes that increase health regeneration following enemy attacks, increased defensive stats as the game progresses, and increased shield strength. These runes work best for tank champions that rely on these defensive stats and health increases throughout the game.

Inspiration - Last but not least, the Inspiration rune tree works best for supportive champions and those who benefit from the keystone Kleptomancy, like Ezreal and Gangplank, who can quickly weave abilities and attacks on enemy champions to gain bonus gold and items. The second keystone, Glacial Augment, provides a slow when a champion auto attacks an enemy. Unsealed Spellbook works great for support champions that want to switch between summoner spells to help secure Baron with double smite or return to lane quicker with Teleport.

Other runes in this tree allow players to receive free items like Boots, Biscuits, Minion Dematerializers, or a Commencing Stopwatch, allowing players extra sustain in lane. Other runes include cooldown reduction, extra movement speed, or bonus health in exchange for decreased damage for the first 10 minutes of the game.

Photos courtesy of Riot Games