Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
My name is AdamMCE, I've been playing LoL since the beginning of 2012, since Lulu's release to be more exact. Until season 5 I was always silver, and I managed to reach my highest point of Gold 2, in which I decayed from down to Gold 5 now. I've been a Jungle/Top main for awhile. My play style consists of mostly bruiser/tank champions. Aatrox has been my main since mid-2014. Although he's my favorite champion, I also play a wide diversity of champions too! I would like to make other guides for champions I enjoy playing, just to share the knowledge I've collected from the past few years.
When should you pick him?
Aatrox excels at Split Pushing and Dueling. You can first pick him, however Aatrox doesn't see a lot of play so people may not know your intentions as Aatrox. Make sure they know you are a split pusher, and to pick around that. If you're towards the bottom of the pick list, make sure your team is able to handle 4v5 scenarios if necessary.
Don't pick Aatrox into an enemy team fight composition (Amumu, Wukong, Malphite, Maokai, etc.) because your team will be crushed without your presence.
Jungle Aatrox is more team oriented, besides the fact you'll be farming jungle mostly until your Devourer becomes Sated. However after that your build will shift towards a more team fight oriented build due to the lack of the Teleport summoner spell.
The most important thing here is the Attack Speed quints and the AD marks. Armor & Magic Resist seals/glyphs (respectively) are picked based on the assumption the enemy team's damage type is balanced. Change these two accordingly.
You can also change the marks to Attack Speed and the quints to Lifesteal. However Lifesteal quints were nerfed awhile ago, and aren't necessary anyway due to your W (Blood Thirst).
With the introduction of new Masteries in Preseason 6 I give you a new Masteries Explanation. I'm still experimenting with Aatrox in the new season, but I believe 18/0/12 is the best thing for you right now. Ferocity seems like the offense tree, Cunning seems like a caster/mage tree (mostly in the final 1/3 deepest of mastery options, some of the earlier mastery options look like just general jungler options), and Resolve is quite obviously a defense tree. I feel like pretty much all the mastery choices I made don't really need an explanation, they seem pretty standard. The only one I'm really split between is either Bounty Hunter or Oppressor in the Ferocity tree, only for Top (not jungle) because in top you don't come into contact with the more than half the enemy team most of the game until later, which at this point you'll only get 1-3 fights in before the game is over and the Bounty Hunter mastery wouldn't have even mattered anyway. However with the Oppressor mastery you'll have a guaranteed 2.5% damage increase as long as they're CC'ed (you have 2 abilities that will get you this bonus damage).
When laning Aatrox you should always take Teleport/Flash. This is pretty standard for any top laner, especially split pushers, to ensure they are able to contribute to team fights.
Jungle Aatrox should be Smite/Flash. Since you don't have Teleport in the jungle, you should be more team oriented, so keep that in mind as well with your item build. You could run Smite/Teleport to be able to split push still, but you'll only have your Q Dark Flight as an escape and this is primarily used to engage 1v1's/team fights, so it's not such a great idea.
Passive - Blood Well: Every time you use Q Dark Flight, W Blood Price, or E Blades Of Torment you use a portion of your Health. This charges your resource pool known as the Blood Well. The higher your Blood Well, the more Attack Speed bonus it gives. However when out of combat for 5 seconds the Blood Well depletes over time. After dying Aatrox will be untargetable for a short time and come back to life with a portion of his Health. This amount of health is based on how much was in the Blood Well when he died, the amount being higher the higher the Blood Well was. The revive portion of Blood Well has a pretty long cooldown, and you'll know when it's up when your resource pool is red rather than white.
Q - Dark Flight: Your gap closer. After casting a brief delay occurs and you'll slam down onto a targeted location. You can use this as an escape, and it also doubles as an engage tool. Enemies inside the center of the area will be knocked up.
W - Blood Thirst/Blood Price: Blood Thirst is your sustain tool. Every third auto attack will heal you for a flat amount and is increased by BONUS AD. You can toggle this ability to Blood Price. This will make it so every third auto attack instead deals an extra amount of flat damage increased as well by BONUS AD. However, Blood Price will cost Health every time it is used. Keep this untoggled when low in lane or in jungle. When near full you can use this to fill up the Blood Well, and only toggle it on again when trading or fighting your opponent with near full HP.
E - Blades Of Torment: This is your harass/wave clear tool. On cast it will send out a line that deals damage and slows everyone in the line. Use this early on in lane to harass your opponent. Use it during split pushing to clear the wave faster. Because of the slow you can use it to chase, or prevent others from chasing you.
R - Massacre: Aatrox will deal magic damage in an area around him and increases his Attack Speed for 12 seconds. This also increases his attack range by 175 for the duration. Use this ability when you're going in for the kill (Best used after Q'ing in to get the most damage off).
Wit's End: Strictly early game pick up against AP laners. Sell later for something better.
Blade of the Ruined King: This used to be considered the most essential item on Aatrox. It's got everything he needs (AD, AS, Lifesteal, dueling capabilities). However there are better options if the situation calls for it. Get this if the team is going to stack hp.
Maw of Malmortius: Spirit Visage should be your primary AP defense option, this can be picked up however if their magic damage is too much instead of an armor item.
Ravenous Hydra: Every split pushing Aatrox needs this item. It gives you sustain, wave clear, damage, dueling capabilities, burst. Just an overall excellent item on Aatrox.
Thornmail: You can take this as a secondary armor item if it suits better than Randuin's on the top lane build as a second armor item, or over Dead Man's Plate in the jungle build as a second armor item. It's a better choice against AA-reliant teams with no crit than Randuin's, and just a better choice than Dead Man's Plate against AA-reliant teams in general.
Spirit Visage: This is your go to Magic Resist item. Not only does it provide MR, it increases your sustain even further with it's passive.
Randuin's Omen & Dead Man's Plate: It's very simple whether you should take Randuin's or Dead Man's Plate (if not both). The biggest difference between these items is the single-target slow, or the AoE slow. This screams: Randuin's for team fighting, Dead Man's for split pushing. Randuin's can also be better to pick up against Crit/AA reliant teams.
Guardian Angel: I like picking this up to polish off my build, especially when there's nothing better to pick up. It can win you a 1v1 duel or team fight as long as you have the necessary attack speed/lifesteal to sustain yourself once you're healed.
Mercurial Scimitar: This should only be bought for the QSS active if the enemy team has hard CC that hinders you so much that you're entirely useless.
Last Whisper: This item I used to consider viable on Aatrox only if the enemy stacked armor, but I never ended up buying almost ever, and to be honest it doesn't fit into your build that well anyway. Your goal isn't to deal massive amounts of damage, you sustain for yourself and stay alive longer so your can team can deal the damage.
Banshee's Veil: The item explanation here used to contain "I've never bought this item on Aatrox". It was only here as a filler against Magic Damage teams. You can take Maw instead I promise it'll work much better! You shouldn't need more than two MR items against AP teams anyway, you need room for your other items which are much more viable!
Wit's End: This item is only viable on Top Lane Aatrox in my opinion. Wit's End is an early game item for sure, and works against some AP top laners. Jungle Aatrox can't build this item when it matters most, because he needs Devourer first, then Hydra to help with faster clears to stack Devourer. It just wouldn't make sense on Jungle Aatrox.
Early Game? It's pretty good if you play correctly.
Mid Game? As long as you don't fall behind and have a couple items under your belt, you'll be styling.
Late Game? This is where you shine. Your full build compared to other champion's full builds is amazing.
Valuable Stats? (Higher on the list is more valuable in my opinion)
Crowd Control? Not very good. Aside from Dark Flight's knockup you no have hard CC. That's ok though, you offer your team a lot of other good stuff!
Sustain? OH YES. This is what you're known for. Blood Thirst alone is the sole reason you're known to have on of the best sustain tools in top lane!
Wave clear? Not so good until you get Hydra. That's ok though, you don't wanna push your lane early anyway. If you get pushed into your turret however E offers a little early game wave clear.
Frontline or Backline? Well when it comes to team fights which only like 25% of your time will be used towards you will be frontline. Not to engage though if you can help it, it's better to let a tank engage if possible.
Focus on getting your first item ASAP. This would be either Ravenous Hydra (The standard first pickup), Blade of the Ruined King (Against high hp stacking teams), or Wit's End (Against certain AP laners).
Getting Ravenous Hydra first increases your split pushing effectiveness because without this you have no wave clear besides your E.
Your next best bet is Blade of the Ruined King. Because your kit is so auto attack based, BotRK is the most common item on Aatrox players, however I've preferred Hydra as a first pick up for awhile now. However this is a better option if you know the enemy laner/team is going to be stacking health.
Wit's End is the rarest item to see first built. I like to pick this up first against squishy AP top laners like Kennen, Teemo or Lissandra. I would NOT recommend this against tanky AP tops like Rumble, Singed, Vladimir etc. They all stack health early on, and BotRK is definitely a better first pick.
This is where you start to shine! Split Pushing is your primary role in the game, and by now you should have Hydra and either another offensive or defensive item. Either way if you go with an offense/defense item, win or lose lane, the best thing you can do is split push for your team. But it's not as easy as it sounds! Pay attention for a good TP opportunity. If a team fight is about to break loose, especially if someone is being sent to stop your split push, TP to assist your team! Don't forget to ward the enemy jungle on the side you're splitting.
If you're ahead you should have no problem taking on one guy they send to stop your split push, I've even 1v3ed when I'm far enough ahead against squishies because you're surprisingly bursty with all your AoE (Q+E+R+Hydra passive/active procs).
If you're dying a lot and far behind still split push! It's the best thing you can do for your team, and you're going to be useless grouping for team fights ESPECIALLY when you're behind. It's not a bad idea to pick up a defensive item after your first item if you're not doing so hot, but you definitely need that first offensive pick up.
You're going to be just as good here, if not better! Split pushing should still be your goal unless you've gotten all the enemy team's inhibitors. In this case you can choose to either group or back door. Backdooring is incredibly easy for you, try to get a ward in the enemy base and TP to it if you can, and you should melt the enemy nexus due to your high DPS.
Your goal here is to farm for Sated Devourer. Your jungle path should look something like this:
Blue Side - Krugs,Red,Raptors,BotSideCrab,RECALL,Blue,TopSideCrab,Gromp,Wolves,Raptors,Krugs
Red Side - Gromp,Blue,Wolves,BotSideCrab,RECALL,Krugs,Red,TopSideCrab,Raptors,Wolves,Gromp
This of course is just an ideal jungle path based on the ideal of no interuptions/invades/ganks. Your goal is to farm A LOT until you get that Sated Devourer. Ganking is still necessary of course if your team needs it, try and focus on both of these goals and keep a smooth flow in your jungle path.
Before purchasing Devourer, I like to get my boots and vision ward. Then one of the 2 key offensive items OR a defensive item.
Around this time you'll ideally be Sated, and it's time to kick some booty. You'll wanna focus on getting mid/bot fed since they're most likely they biggest carry potential, unless of course top looks like a viable carry this game. Bottom line: Focus on ganking and getting the person fed who looks like the most likely to carry.
Focus on team fights/objectives. You can still look for opportunities to back door, it just won't be as effective without Teleport and you'll likely be noticed sooner resulting in your time being wasted, and maybe even losing your passive for a failed backdoor attempt. Focusing on team fights outweighs the effectiveness of trying to split push/backdoor as jungle Aatrox if you're taking Flash instead of Teleport.
Aatrox is an AD Fighter who excels at longer fights due to his huge sustain, and is an especially great duelist. Due to his dueling capabilities he is best used as a Split Pusher in the top lane with Teleport/Flash. He can also succeed in the jungle because of his incredible sustain, and with the new Devourer enchantment he's better than ever in the jungle. He becomes less of a Split Pusher however in the jungle and more of a Team Fighter unless you take Smite/Teleport due to the lack of Teleport pressure.
Added Attributes section (will be used in all other guides created by myself).
Added Wit's End, Dead Man's Plate, Banshee's Veil, and Mercurial Scimitar to viable item options.
Added item explanation section.
Added Runes, Masteries, Ability, and Summoner Spell explanations.
Decided maxing W 2nd on lane Aatrox was more viable than Q 2nd.
Added Fun Build section with AP Aatrox.
Added change log. ;)
Removed Thornmail from viable items & item explanation.
Added Dead Man's Plate & Spirit Visage to essential items in top lane build.
Added Randuin's Omen & Spirit Visage to essential items in jungle build.
Removed Last Whisper from offensive item options. (Explanation for this in bottom of item explanations).
Removed Banshee's Veil from defensive item options. (Explanation for this in bottom of item explanations).
Added explanation as to why Wit's End isn't good on Jungle Aatrox in Item Explanations.
Added Thornmail as a defensive option again.
These items were removed from build due to being removed from the game: Zephyr, Stealh Ward, Greater Stealth Totem.
Updated Masteries for Preseason 6.
Added new Masteries explanation.
Slightly updated Introduction.
Removed Zephyr explanation.
Updated essential jungle items build path.
Switched 'Natural Talent' to 'Vampirism' in masteries, also took 'Insight' instead of 'Peserverance' in masteries.