Shen’s utility is respected across all elos in League of Legends. The champion is a fantastic tank with lots of defensive tools for keeping himself as well as his allies out of harm’s way.
And even though most players wouldn’t dream of building Shen AP in ranked matches, the twilight ninja actually scales incredibly well with ability power. With the right set of AP items, you can increase his overall damage as well as double the power of his global ultimate.
AP Shen has tons of flexibility and each build variation offers different strengths. And because it’s easy to get confused when it comes to making the best choices for runes and items, here I’ll give you the ins and outs of playing AP Shen successfully in LoL.
Welcome to the best AP Shen build for season 13 of League of Legends!
The Basics of AP Shen
What’s “AP” in Shen’s Kit?
If this is your first time trying AP Shen, I think it’s necessary to understand which of his abilities you’re actually going to buff by building ability power items.
First of all, the Q, Twilight Assault, is a spell with which Shen pulls his sword toward him. When he does, his next 3 auto-attacks are enhanced to have bonus range, deal bonus magic damage that scales with his AP, and the target’s maximum HP.
But if Shen’s sword passes through an enemy champion when he uses Q, his next 3 basic attacks will do even more damage. Not to mention that Shen’s sword slows down the enemy champions it passes through, making it easy for him to quickly auto-attack them.
The other thing that ability power items do on Shen is they increase the shield from his R, Stand United. Shen’s ultimate has a freaking 135% AP ratio which is honestly nuts on such a useful global spell as this one.
And so, AP Shen can protect allies much better because he can double the effectiveness of his shield.
Here are my top 5 reasons why Shen is so good at climbing in solo queue.
The Positives & Negatives of Playing AP Shen
I already mentioned that the two biggest benefits of playing Shen AP are more damage on his basic attacks and bigger shields from his ultimate. But how does this really play out in a regular game?
Well, let’s start with E + Q + W.
By dashing in with E and taunting the enemy champion, Shen immobilizes them for 1.5 seconds. This is the perfect time to use Q to guarantee the sword passing through the target. Once that happens, Shen can quickly auto-attack 3 times to deal huge burst of damage and cast W to protect himself after that.
This is your main combo throughout the game. When you have AP items in your inventory, you’re mainly looking to dish out 3 basic attacks in quick succession and disengage if the situation is unfavorable.
The great thing here is that if you play AP Shen in the mid lane, you’re effectively stronger than most champions there. Against assassins, you have enough health to survive their bursts. And against mages, you’re tanky enough to not get poked out of the lane.
AP also makes Shen’s ulti seriously broken. I’ve saved ADC players in the most unfortunate situations simply because the enemy couldn’t break through the extra HP.
On the other hand, building AP items on Shen also makes you squishier. By not going full tank, you essentially lose on lots of extra health, armor, and magic resist. So you need to be aware of how much damage you can take before you disengage, especially later on.
Also, even if you’re full build and you’re ahead of your opponents, don’t expect an abnormal amount of damage from AP Shen. Yes, he does pretty well against most champions but he can never be as effective as someone like Orianna or Syndra. Instead, AP Shen is more about being useful to your team, especially with your R.
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Laning Phase, Roles, and Matchups
Depending on the role, the early game is usually passive. For the first 2 levels, you’re mainly looking to survive and farm (especially if you’re mid and against ranged mid laners). Level 3 is when you can start trading with the enemy with your E + Q + W combo.
From level 6 onward, you need to pay attention to the entire map and see which ally needs your help. You can teleport anywhere with your R and turn around most fights which isn’t something many top and mid laners can do early on.
Because Shen can taunt enemies with his E, he’s good at teaming up with his junglers to gank other lanes too. This is what you should do especially when the laning phase is tough.
As for roles, you can play AP Shen in mid, top, support, and even jungle. The champion is super useful and there isn’t a bad role for him. However, you do need to be aware of some unfavorable matchups.
For example, top lane AP Shen struggles against Gangplank in particular. GP can cleanse Shen’s taunt and cast his ultimate on the bot lane when you use Stand United.
In the mid lane, Sylas is the toughest one to beat as AP Shen. He can steal your ultimate and follow you when you try to help a teammate.
As a jungle AP Shen, you need to ban Kindred. It’s simply too difficult to beat a good Kindred player, especially as a melee champion with an off-meta build.
And as a support AP Shen, champions like Soraka and Ezreal can be extremely annoying because they can avoid you all game long.
How to Play AP Shen?
- Grasp of the Undying
- Shield Bash
- Second Wind
- Cheap Shot
- Ultimate Hunter
Grasp of the Undying is Shen’s primary keystone regardless of which build you go for. It provides bonus damage and sustain in lane by enhancing your auto-attack every 4 seconds in combat. It synergizes with Shen’s Q so it also lets you do better trades early on.
I take Shield Bash because it gives me bonus armor and magic resist whenever I receive a shield from Shen’s passive. It also grants bonus damage on your next basic attack as well, so it’s an invaluable rune to have during the laning phase.
With Second Wind, you get increased durability in lane because the rune allows you to heal when an enemy champion first attacks you. And it’s especially valuable against ranged top laners and poke champions.
Revitalize is a supportive rune that boosts your shield power by 5% or 10% if your teammate is on low HP. And it’s a must-have for granting huge shields to your allies.
From the secondary runes, Cheap Shot is what I take in 99% of the game. It grants bonus true damage when you CC a target which is perfect for bursting enemies after you taunt them.
And lastly, Ultimate Hunter is the best rune for AP Shen because it significantly lowers the CD of his ultimate. And the more you can use Stand United the more useful you’ll be to your team.
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- Nashor’s Tooth
- Cosmic Insight
- Lich Bane
- Rabadon’s Deathcap
- Plated Steelcaps
There are 3 major AP mythic items for Shen – Riftmaker, Hextech Rocketbelt, and Night Harvester. In the majority of the games, you’ll want Riftmaker instead of the other two for the bonus healing and true damage buff it grants during combat.
However, with Hextech Rocketbelt you can do a lot of crazy plays, and Night Harvester is a good item for bursting down squishy enemies.
The second most important item here is Nashor’s Tooth. It grants bonus attack speed and on-hit magic damage which synergizes with AP Shen’s playstyle overall.
And the third core item for AP Shen is Cosmic Insight. It’s an invaluable item to have because it grants bonus AP and movement speed after you do the basic E + Q + AA combo. And its stats are super useful too.
Lich Bane is also an item that increases Shen’s overall damage because it synergizes with his Q. Besides that, it also grants lots of ability power and even movement speed.
In the late game, the best item you can purchase is Rabadon’s Deathcap. Since Shen’s R has such a big AP ratio, building Rabadon’s Deathcap can almost double the shield his teammates receive when he uses Stand United.
As for boots, Plated Steelcaps are the go-to choice against AD and Mercury’s Treads against AP.
Depending on the role, there are a couple of different Summoner’s Spell combinations that work on AP Shen.
- Top lane – Flash + Teleport / Ignite.
- Jungle – Flash + Smite.
- Mid Lane – Flash + Ignite.
- Support – Flash + Ignite / Exhaust.
Flash is pretty much a must-have for AP Shen because it allows you to do crazy plays such as E + Flash. But the other spells can vary from matchup to matchup and game to game.
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One player has perfected the art of AP Shen in League of Legends, even reaching Challenger tier with this off-meta build. His name is xPetu and you can find him on his YouTube channel. The build you see above is heavily inspired by him and it’s what he uses to climb in the majority of his games.
But definitely check out xPetu’s many videos on AP Shen to see how he approaches matchups, itemization, and even runes! Good luck!