Champion Check Up: Morgana, The Fallen - a League of Legends Guide
Sat 27th Jun 2020 - 10:00am
Morgana has been my favorite champion to main in solo queue for multiple seasons, and I believe she can be played in more roles now than ever before! Our discussion today will center around how she is being played in three roles: Support, Mid Lane, and Jungle. She has traditionally been played as a utility-focused support or ability power mage, but is now a viable jungler due to a recent change in Patch 10.6 increasing her damage to non-epic monsters.
One of my favorite aspects of Morgana in her current state is the high level of variance in her builds and play patterns based on what role she is in. Although her champion kit has remained very consistent over the years, the flexibility in item choices, leveling patterns, and mastery builds can truly make it feel like you're playing a different champion each game. I'll discuss each role in descending order based on Morgana's play rate in each position.
Morgana is still mostly played as a support focusing on maximizing utility with strong crowd control in her Dark Binding ability, and shielding her allies from opposing crowd control with her Black Shield. In the laning phase, Morgana is able to offer strong poke damage and gank set up by maxing her Dark Binding, increasing its damage and root duration with each rank. Leveling her Black Shield is often prioritized after Dark Binding, enabling Morgana to disrupt key crowd control abilities, rendering enemy supports unable to successfully execute their play patterns. The most common instance of this interaction is against "hook" champions like Thresh or Blitzcrank. Black Shielding their target completely nullifies the crowd control component of their abilities providing safety for allies while also enabling them to continue outputting damage. Committing one point to her Tormented Shadow ability also allows her to help shove minion waves and provides valuable healing through her passive, Soul Siphon.
Item builds for support Morgana prioritize cooldown reduction, additional shielding or crowd control, and the item most common in her build regardless of role: Zhonya's Hourglass. Hourglass tends to be the first item on the build path as it offers an incredible amount of utility through its Statis active ability. Items in its recipe like Seeker's Armguard offer armor and ability power which allow Morgana to better absorb punishment from attack damage carries while also increasing her damage potential. Morgana is also one of the best champions for opting into the Inspiration branch of the Mastery Tree for access to a free Stop Watch. The third component of Zhonya's Hourglass is Fiendish Codex and offers cooldown reduction and more damage via additional ability power. The combination of a powerful active ability, armor, ability power, and cooldown reduction makes Hourglass the perfect item for Morgana and the best option for her first item in many cases. Following Hourglass, items like Redemption and Locket of the Iron Solari offer powerful activatable abilities and additional tank stats, helping Morgana survive for longer periods of time if engaging with her Soul Shackles. An example of a support Morgana item build can be seen below:
Cooldown Reduction (CDR) is the most prioritized stat in support Morgana mastery builds as it allows her to have her key abilities in Dark Binding and Black Shield available more often. The majority of Morgana builds opt into the Sorcery and Inspiration trees for mastery choices, as they offer the strongest CDR options in Transcendence and Cosmic Insight. Transcendence grants 10% CDR upon reaching level 10 and converts excess CDR into adaptive damage. Cosmic Insight increases the cap on CDR to 45% and even offers Summoner Spell and item active ability cooldown reduction. An example of Mastery choices for Morgana prioritizing CDR is as follows:
These choices synergize heavily, enabling Morgana to cycle through her abilities multiple times in teamfights in the later stages of the game. Support Morgana is an excellent choice for setting up ganks and picks as well, with a maximum rank Dark Binding rooting her target for 3 seconds. Her Black Shield can nullify key crowd control abilities and completely disrupt enemy play patterns in critical moments of the game. This combination of potent crowd control and protection capability make Morgana an incredibly powerful Support.
My favorite way to play Morgana is still as an ability power-focused mage in the Middle Lane. This is how I first began playing her and the additional kill threat offered through solo lane experience and economy makes her feel like a completely different champion than in her other two roles. One of the distinguishing features of Mid-Lane Morgana is her ability to increase her chances of landing her Dark Binding ability through her item build and Mastery choices.
Two items that have become very popular in Morgana builds for this role are Hextech GLP-800 and Twin Shadows. Both items have active abilities that slow down enemy champions for a short duration, making it significantly easier to land Dark Bindings and ensure Soul Shackles deals maximum damage. In addition to ability power and powerful active abilities, these items also offer cooldown reduction, mana in the Hextech GLP, and movement speed in Twin Shadows. This package does a great job of supplementing Morgana's overall play pattern and goal of locking down an enemy champion inside of her Tormented Shadow pool.
In Middle Lane, Morgana most often prioritizes ranks in her Tormented Shadow during the laning phase. This enables her to clear minion waves quickly and shove enemy laners under their turrets, creating a potential opening for a roam to other parts of the map. Tormented Shadow provides a large percentage of her damage and is also one of the most efficient methods of leveraging the healing from her Soul Siphon passive, which heals Morgana when she damages large minions or enemy champions with her abilities. Morgana shines brightest against opposing Ability Power mages by making use of her Black Shield. Many Mid-Lane mages like Twisted Fate and Veigar only have one method of crowd control to lock down targets or prevent attacks. If timed correctly, Morgana can utilize her Black Shield to remain unaffected by those types of abilities and push forward with her onslaught. Black Shield also provides a great deal of safety against ganks from enemy junglers, nullifying key abilities like Elise's Cocoon or Amumu's Bandage Toss.
Morgana also has the option of further indexing towards crowd control in her Mastery Tree choices. Some players opt to take Glacial Augment as her Keystone ability to provide an initial slow with her auto-attack, increasing her chances of landing her Dark Binding. Glacial Augment also synergizes with items like Hextech GLP-800, creating a Freeze Ray after striking an enemy with a slow from an item active ability. An example of the Glacial Augment variant of Mastery choices can be seen below:
This build opts for Cheap Shot and Ingenious Hunter in the Domination tree as secondary choices. Cheap Shot deals additional true damage to movement impaired units and Ingenious Hunter offers active item cooldown reduction which synergizes heavily with Glacial Augment's Freeze Ray component. This build is incredibly potent against enemies with limited escape tools as failing to dodge Dark Binding often means certain death to many squishier carry champions. Against champions with limited mobility tools and with solo lane economy, Morgana can feel absolutely oppressive in the laning phase.
Jungle is a recent addition to Morgana's arsenal of roles due to a change in Patch 10.6, adding 50% bonus damage to non-epic monsters with her Tormented Shadow ability. This new effect enables Morgana to kill jungle camps like Raptors and Murk Wolves more efficiently, in terms of both clear speed and remaining health in the early stages of the game. Similar to Elise, Morgana offers strong crowd control from long range with her Dark Binding and has the added benefit of shielding her allies to help them win trades or disrupt enemy play patterns. She is best picked with allied champions that index heavily into attack damage, diversifying the types of damage provided and offering powerful minion wave pushing assistance. Runic Echoes is a great item for Morgana as it provides valuable cooldown reduction, mana, and ability power.
Morgana is also one of the best champions for leveraging Chilling Smite, slowing enemy movement speed while increasing her own. Not only does the slow synergize with Dark Binding, but it also plays a critical role in boosting Morgana's movement speed during Soul Shackles, often enabling Morgana to keep her targets within range and maximizing her damage. This synergy is amplified when selecting Nimbus Cloak in the Mastery Tree, offering additional movement speed and the ability to pass through units after casting a Summoner Spell. Chaining Chilling Smite with Nimbus Cloak provides a massive amount of movement speed and all but guarantees the second instance of damage with Soul Shackles. An example of common Mastery Choices for Jungle Morgana can be seen below:
Dark Harvest is the most common choice for Keystones in the jungle role. Morgana's damage potential is greatest in the early and middle stages of the game, enabling her to stack Dark Harvest quite effectively. Cheap Shot dealing true damage to champions with impaired movement also fits in quite nicely with her champion kit. Morgana is a new option for ability power junglers and is especially potent when paired with poke-heavy attack damage carries like Jayce and Varus.
I suspect Support will still be Morgana's primary role in the upcoming seasons, however her ability to flex into other roles makes her a great champion to learn for solo queue. Her champion kit is packed with utility, with long range crowd control, heavy amounts of damage in extended fights, and the very unique ability to shield her allies from crowd control. She is one of the very best champions for leveraging active abilities of items and can be played with a myriad of Mastery Tree choices. With the addition of the jungler role, I believe we will see more of her in professional play as poke compositions with Jayce, Ezreal and Varus become more popular. Try these Morgana builds for yourself and see what works for you! As always, thank you for reading and GL HF!