Flexi Build - Early Core
Flexi Build - against mixed damage
Flexi Build - against full AD
Flexi Build - against full AP
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.
Threats to Jax with this build
|Nasus||Should be an easy lane, he just wants to farm so don't let him. Because he's so slow moving Nasus is easy to stun.|
|Pantheon||Pantheon is known as a strong early laner who falls off later. Even so, as an auto-attack reliant melee opponent Jax does reasonably well against him. Simply position behind your minions, to avoid his spear throws. From level 6 you will outscale him easily.|
|Jax is fun to play in Top Lane. He scales hard into the late game and you can pick up a lot of kills. He's a great comeback champion, you can have early deaths and still score an S+ ... his battle cry, "Now it's my turn!" pretty much covers his whole game!
This is a build guide for Jax in the top lane. This is not a full champion guide: for a full champion guide explaining his abilities and including Jax in the jungle, please read Dunk Master Jax's Purple Jesus Guide.
In ranked games in Season 6 you have to pick a secondary role. This creates the problem that you only get to be in your main role around 60% of the time. A lot of players select Top / Jungle in ranked. You want to have champions you can play effectively in both roles. Jax is a great choice to pick up because he works well in either top lane or jungle.
At high elo (platinum and above) Jax top has less than a 50% win rate, it was around 48% in Patch 6.11. At lower elo the win rate is over 50%. One reason is because games are more likely to last longer at lower elo, and Jax's win rate is good in longer games.
This guide is new from May 2016 for Patch 6.9 through to Patch 6.12. It focuses on alternatives to the Guinsoo's Rageblade hybrid builds which were popular before 6.9. Guinsoo's is now a very costly item which will put you behind. This guide strongly features Manamune which was changed in Patch 6.9 making it currently strong on Jax - a very good item for a low gold cost.
|Jax ideally needs to
Defence: Full damage builds with lifesteal can work if you are strongly ahead, like 2 or 3 levels ahead of your lane opponent. But assuming a standard game with an average start - or maybe you got unlucky and died from a gank, or you have a tough matchup in lane - some defence is required. Jax becomes temporarily very tanky when he activates his ultimate, but he can't activate it all the time. And his E ability only works against auto-attackers - it does nothing against single target spells. Therefore he does need to build some defence. Health is the best defence, you should aim to have 900-1000 health from items, that's also why we take scaling health seals.
Lifesteal: With his combination of an initial high burst, a stun and sustained follow-up damage from auto-attacks Jax can outduel most opponents. So why does he need lifesteal items? Lifesteal is important in lane, against poke damage and for duels against the toughest opponents who can survive your burst, and later for 1 v 2 situations. Lifesteal is Jax's main form of sustain once he has out-grown the starting Corrupting Potion (a.k.a. baby bottle).
|Attack Damage: As explained below, Jax scales much more strongly with AD than with AP. Therefore I do not recommend building full AP (after Patch 6.9, mages are currently strong and so most opponents will have magic resistance which counters a full AP build). In a standard game, Jax hits harder if he builds AD. Building AD also gives him strong bonus armor when he activates his R.
Ability Power (AP): Jax scales less well with AP. But his fast burst damage from the W - Q combo, used for assassinating retreating enemies, scales harder with AP: it's a 120% AP scaling against 100% for AD. Therefore it's a good idea to have some AP - if you can get it without going too far out of your build path to have it - it also boosts your MR when you use your ultimate. The recommended Hextech Gunblade gives 80 AP, this will be scaled up by any Fire Drake buffs your team has.
Mana: Most of Jax damage comes from his abilities. The ability cooldowns are short and he will want to be able to use Q and W when last-hitting minions (either for fast waveclear or under tower or in any tight situation). He also needs to reserve some mana for those times when he goes all in: Q + E + R consume a lot of mana, and he might need a second Q to escape. Therefore he is a mana-limited champion: with more mana, he can do more. This is why we start with Corrupting Potion and I strongly recommend some form of mana item as core - either an early Sheen or Tear of the Goddess. Mana is good on Jax for the same reasons that he is a God tier champion in URF mode.
Cooldown Reduction (CDR): Jax has some of the best abilities of any pure melee champion: it's abilities which make him special, so a CDR build which provides more opportunities to use those is strong. With maxed CDR he can use Q and W in quick succession on multiple targets, to take double or triple kills. CDR also helps Jax in lane, keeping him a threat to opponents even if he used abilities recently. We take scaling runes which give Jax up to 10% "free" CDR from his runes, it will scale up as his mana pool also grows (early game his ability use is constrained by mana). I recommend two cooldown items early, either Trinity Force components or Caulfield's Warhammer and Ionian Boots of Lucidity, and Spirit Visage or another defensive item later to max CDR at 40% without blue buff. In a long game you can swap the Ionian Boots for other boots, and still have 40% CDR with blue buff.
Quick Build Path
Just to be totally clear, this guide covers two different builds, the 'standard build' used by most players, and a build I am recommending called the 'flexi build' which needs less gold to get you to your first big item.
By the time of your first back you need to decide which of these two different builds you plan to follow. The standard build starts with Trinity Force. The flexi build instead starts with Youmuu's Ghostblade (normally). It's fairly simple to choose between them: if you are doing well in lane and you have an early kill then starting Trinity Force should work out fine, but if you are having a tough lane or an early death, then the flexi build will help you more.
Here's an early game walkthrough covering both builds - note that a lot is going to depend on your lane match-up, here I am assuming an AD opponent in lane.
- Start with Corrupting Potion and E as your first ability. Hide in the top brush and do some damage to your opponent at level 1.
- After level 1, focus on your farming. Save your abilities for occasional trades, you want to go all-in with 3 abilities when you trade.
- If you succeed in stunning your opponent, hit him with a basic attack and W then retreat from minion aggro - you can use Q backwards to an allied minion to retreat
- If your jungler pings that he is coming to gank, save your E cooldown so you can use the E - Q - E combo for an instant stun.
- Many opponents can out-damage you or out-sustain you at levels 2-5, so don't play aggressively, only trade when it is safe to do so like your opponent missed a skillshot
- When your Corrupting Potion is fully used, and you get low, go back
- If you get lucky against a dumb / greedy opponent, it's possible you can bait him to your turret when you get low on health, then use E to stun him for a turret kill
- On first back buy a Long Sword and defence appropriate to your lane, probably Cloth Armor
- If you have spare gold also buy one of these: Chain Vest Sapphire Crystal Dagger Vision Ward
- Teleport back to lane - if your opponent stayed in lane on less than full health, with advance planning you could maybe teleport to a ward in the brush and catch him by surprise
- At levels 3-5, concentrate on farming, this is the toughest part of your game
- On second back (if following the flexi build) buy Ionian Boots of Lucidity, tier 2 boots get you back to lane faster, and rush Caulfield's Warhammer - or (if following the standard build) complete Sheen and start on your second Trinity Force component, probably that's Stinger, and Boots of Speed at least (people following the standard build normally rush Trinity Force and only build basic boots at the start)
- In the flexi build, you also want to upgrade the Sapphire Crystal to Tear of the Goddess by around 12 minutes of game time so you can start stacking it
- From level 6 you can all-in when your ultimate is available - you should be able to get a kill or assist when your jungler comes
- If you get ganked, don't try to fight two enemies, retreat to turret - use Q, E and R defensively if you are attacked
- Complete either Trinity Force (standard build) or Youmuu's Ghostblade (flexi build) as your first big item - in a close lane, Youmuu's will give you the power boost to win all-ins, in a badly losing lane you may need to go early defensive instead so you can keep on farming
- Continue farming all game, levels 6-10 are a really big farming opportunity
- Use your second and third Teleports to roam and gank other lanes
For defences, you can build Chain Vest into either Dead Man's Plate or Guardian Angel as your first defensive item. Dead Man's Plate gets you back to lane fast.
Additional recommended items (flexi build)
Damage + Defence Items
Items giving combined damage and defence are all strong, and work well as part of any Jax build. They are mostly very gold-efficient items. However all these items are situational so read the notes carefully, I have explained which situations you should be looking to take these items.
The advantages of slows
You should try to fit one or two items with slows into your Jax build.
The reason is that it's very important to get the stun from E onto your opponent. But Jax's E ability is very visible - it's hard to miss that swirling lamppost / fishing rod / chicken-stick (or whatever skin you have - you know why Jax fights with those things? apparently the League Council decided he'd be too good a fighter if he had a real weapon...). E has a fairly small radius. Therefore smart opponents will move away from Jax when they see he has E activated, so as to avoid the stun.
Put simply, a slow means its going to be hard for the opponent to move out of the area of effect of E, so making it more likely for Jax to be able to stun the opponent. A slow is also useful for catching up to a retreating opponent for a kill, after Jax already used his leap.
The core item Hextech Gunblade has an excellent - and large range - slow on its item active, make sure to use it. But that's most commonly used on a retreating enemy, or one you are chasing - for example you can first slow with Hextech Gunblade and so catch up enough to use Q.
The following items also give good slows:
- Iceborn Gauntlet - area of effect slow, automatically, on the first auto attack after using an ability - so a Q - AA combo will slow, and the slow lasts for two seconds so that this timing works perfectly with Jax's E
- Frozen Mallet - even better than Iceborn Gauntlet, it's a slow on every auto-attack (or Q), so as long as Jax keeps on attacking, the target will stay slowed - and that's fine because Jax loves to keep on attacking. Great on Jax in every way, but a costly item.
- Dead Man's Plate - slows the target if you have 100 momentum stacks before attacking, but it's hard to guarantee that you will - for example if the target CC's you then you will lose some momentum stacks
- Randuin's Omen - its active gives an area of effect slow over a small area, which may be enough to keep the target(s) in range of the E stun, similar to Iceborn Gauntlet in that way
- Blade of the Ruined King - its active slows and nukes a target, although this one is generally best used near the end of a fight, not the start of a fight.
Iceborn Gauntlet is the least costly option, kind of like a poor man's version of Trinity Force combined with Randuin's Omen (obviously without some of the benefits like attack speed and health, but at less than half the cost).
The standard build
High elo players since the mid-season patches are all following much the same early build path on Jax, like this:
Boots can be adapted to whatever defence is needed in the game, and the final three items can be defensive, it could be Guardian Angel, Sterak's Gage, Spirit Visage, Randuin's Omen, Dead Man's Plate, Wit's End, Frozen Mallet, whatever is needed.
Here are some example full builds, both decently tanky:
But when thinking about different ways to build Jax, it's best to focus on the first three items only, because many games do not last longer than 30 minutes - so players do not reach full build - and its probably the first three items which cover the most decisive phases of the game.
These first three items give 20% CDR, high attack speed, and moderate levels of AP and AD (80 AP and +65 AD). Jax will find it hard to one-shot enemies with this build, but he should win any prolonged fight. The strong Sheen effect on Trinity Force adds around 150-200 physical damage to his combo every 1.5 seconds (more realistically every 3 seconds allowing for the cooldown on W), so you can think of that as equivalent to around +35 or +40 AD on average, but only available as long as Jax has mana and cooldowns to keep using abilities.
The main problem with this build is that if you are having a tough time in lane, it gives few options early - once you have started on Trinity Force, you really have to complete the item to have the real benefit from it, and if you start to build defences then that is going to delay completing Trinity Force.
In summary, because of the high cost, Trinity Force is good if you are ahead, but a bad idea if you are behind. I suggest if losing in lane you will do better to buy a cheaper first item and extra defence - see next section for some ideas.
To see what I mean, here are three losing games at Master level with a Trinity Force start - Dyrus - Hashinshin - Hashinshin again - see especially the Hashinshin games where he starts 0/7/0 and 0/5/0 (don't do this!)
Flexi build explained
The flexi build is not too different from that standard build, but is intended to have more gold efficiency on the first item so that it is easier to attain a complete item in the early game. There are basically three different options for what that first item can be - so that you can adapt your build according to the lane you face. (That's why it's called the 'flexi' build.)
If, like me, you struggle to earn gold in a tough lane, this is going to get you rolling sooner because you can have a completed item sooner.
Basic rules of the flexi build:
- one item for 40% attack speed - the choices are Youmuu's Ghostblade (good in early laning), Wit's End (against an AP lane) or Trinity Force - or very rarely it could be Phantom Dancer (see Green Build)
- high bonus attack damage, we want at least +100 bonus AD as core
- 30% cooldown reduction from items
- 800-1000 health from items
- a lifesteal item - the choices are Hextech Gunblade or Death's Dance
- armor and MR as necessary, normally you want minimum +60 of both, and maybe more MR than armor
- a mana item, Sapphire Crystal at minimum
- some form of slow
The normal way I start this build is with Youmuu's Ghostblade and Ionian Boots of Lucidity as the first two items, and Hextech Gunblade. This gives broadly similar stats to the standard build, more damage but less health - for less gold. See full comparison between these two starts below. Instead of having permanent attack speed and movement speed from Trinity Force, we have similar benefits temporarily from the Youmuu's Ghostblade active. Instead of having the Sheen damage effect, we have constant +35 more AD from Youmuu's, and the armor penetration, so the flexi build is higher damage overall than the standard build.
You can think of the flexi build as trading 250 health for higher damage in early laning. But the Youmuu's + Ionian Boots start also has two other benefits which although they seems like they are small, are actually very helpful if you are having a tough time in lane (meaning, having to go back to Fountain several times): the cooldown on Teleport is reduced, and the Youmuu's active lets you run back to lane faster. Both these things are very helpful for any top laner.
As with the standard build, this build will be supplemented with at least two defensive items as needed, and looking for an additional +10% CDR from one of those defensive items if we want maximum CDR. The defensive items will need to give health, armor and MR, and a slowing effect is desirable.
Adapting your build to the game
This build is flexible and easily adapted to different situations - for example, if you need defence earlier, you can delay the Hextech Gunblade and bring forward the first defensive item, maybe that's Spirit Visage or an armor item based out of Chain Vest. It's OK to be building defence early with this build, because the Youmuu's Ghostblade already gives plenty of damage for lane survival and roaming, even without completing the Hextech Gunblade.
So the flexi build can easily be adapted, even early on, to counter AD or AP opponents, as shown in the example full builds at the top of this guide.
The most obvious adaptation is to take a different first item against an AP opponent in lane. Generally against an AP opponent, I recommend Wit's End due to its low gold cost for such a good item, making it a very gold efficient first purchase. But against specific problem opponents, you could instead look at Hexdrinker or Quicksilver Sash.
In a tough lane against an AD opponent, one interesting adaptation is to leave out Hextech Gunblade from the build, and instead build Caulfield's Warhammer and Vampiric Scepter into Death's Dance as your first complete item. Death's Dance obviously does not give you all the benefits of Youmuu's Ghostblade + Hextech Gunblade which are two of the strongest items on Jax with their actives, but it gives high bonus AD and good lifesteal in a single item, so that you can take a more defensive item (for example Dead Man's Plate or Spirit Visage or Frozen Mallet) as your second item for a more defensive mid-game build.
The Sapphire Crystal is included in the core items because you need some form of extra mana item on Jax in early laning - that's one reason why the standard build starts with Sheen as the first item. Normally I will build that into Tear of the Goddess but sometimes it could become a later Trinity Force. The lowest gold gost build, shown at the top of this guide, has an Iceborn Gauntlet as first item for mana and the Sheen effect.
Applying these principles and following a defensive build path, here is an example tank build with around 4000 health on full build, a lot of damage and a perma-slow:
Guinsoo's build (not recommended)
You can alternatively build a whole build around Guinsoo's Rageblade, emphasising very high DPS from basic attacks instead of maxing CDR.
I don't really recommend this on Jax - even though it is still suggested in some other Jax guides, the Guinsoo's Rageblade item is far too costly since the Patch 6.9 update, and will give you a very slow start. Guinsoo's is now bad on melee champions even apart from the cost, because it now takes 6 attacks to stack it, when before the changes a melee champion only needed 4 attacks to stack it.
The Official Purple Builds
If you are a true Jax main, you will build like this, these purple builds are the only proper way to build him. Believe it or not, these are fairly strong builds - these are not pure troll builds!
Both purple builds offer high attack damage, high attack speed, high ability power, and very strong mixed physical and magic damage. 35% CDR with your runes and masteries (max CDR with blue buff). Luden's Echo gives nearly as much movement speed as boots would: more when you are close to turrets thanks to the Point Runner passive on ZZ'Rot Portal or Ohmwrecker. There are insane levels of flat armor penetration (30) and flat MR shredding (up to 25 or 50) which buff all of Jax' abilities, this is a damage monster. The MR shredding helps your whole team, so these are excellent builds for team fights if you have AP allies.
Purple Build 1: tanky and high sustain
We take Rod of Ages as the first item for the high sustain in lane (it builds out of Catalyst of Aeons, an excellent early item), and to have good burst damage on Jax' W and his ultimate passive. Wit's End is the second item, it is helpful for waveclearing and it buffs your magic damage against champions still further, very strong against typical top lane opponents who will not build MR against Jax. Against an AP opponent, take Wit's End as your first item for the high defence it gives, or at least build the Null-Magic Mantle component early.
Your third item, Ohmwrecker, makes for a very tanky Jax combined with those first two items, and gives nice movement speed buffs for getting back into lane. It allows for some nice tower diving plays which opponents may not expect. Note that all three of these first items - Rod of Ages, Wit's End, Ohmwrecker - have a fairly low gold cost, you can complete these even without having any early game kills.
Youmuu's gives much-needed Attack Damage, you are starting to scale very heavily now. Maw of Malmortius as the 5th item for another damage buff and to counter those full build mages, and finally Luden's Echo to replace any boots you bought.
This build is very tanky, with 800 health from items, and 50 armor and 100 MR from items, and a very strong amount of health sustain: even though you don't have lifesteal, using abilities gives you health sustain. When your ultimate is activated, you should have over 200 armor and over 200 MR.
Purple Build 2: incredible against AP
In terms of defence, this build has surprisingly high resistances, at level 18 giving around 150 armor and 280 MR. Jax often benefits from higher MR than armor, because he can defend against a good fraction of physical damage using his E, and his R active buffs his armor heavily. This build includes a 500 health magic shield on Maw of Malmortius, which is about the highest you will ever see: this build is insanely OP against mages.
But the build lacks health and mana, you'll be glad you took the scaling health runes! Before reaching full build, I therefore recommend the Catalyst of Aeons - you sell it when you reach full build.
In place of the Abyssal Scepter, you can also look at a Morellonomicon as the 5th item, against opponents with strong lifesteal (including ADCs with The Bloodthirster etc).
Permitted Purple Purchase Path
Obviously, you should normally only purchase complete purple items when following a purple build, with the following exceptions: these are permitted build path items:
For starting items, it can be the Corrupting Potion, that's mostly purple. Ionian Boots of Lucidity are your permitted boots, it would be unreasonable to have no boots at all, and the red straps combined with the blue background kinda makes for purple...
Please post up your wins when you follow a purple build, I want to see them!
Runes and masteries
The runes and masteries are taken to help Jax' early laning phase, otherwise he has a very tough time.
The suggested 12/18/0 Masteries help with all-ins, because any combo of your Q and W abilities and a basic attack will trigger Thunderlord's Decree .
Other Masteries layouts like 0/18/12 or 0/12/18 or 6/18/6 also work, there is no "right" answer because Masteries are small benefits, and all give something good. Some people suggest Fervor of Battle as your keystone. That can be better than Thunderlords in the late game because its bonus applies to every attack, but Thunderlords is better early which is when Jax needs most help from masteries. Fervor of Battle is strongest with a high attack speed build.
12 points in the Ferocity tree: Attack speed helps in any duel - maybe even to get a Level 1 kill - you get more attacks in ahead of your opponent, especially during that time while your opponent is stunned, and attack speed scales well on Jax because each extra attack brings even more attack speed thanks to Jax's passive. Feast is essential to have enough sustain in early laning. 2% lifesteal from Vampirism is small but the cumulative effect over time makes quite a difference to your sustain in lane, and this could save your life in a duel. Jax scales so well with both AD and AP that Natural Talent is nice, especially since Patch 6.12 when this now gives some early game stats as well, and the lifesteal from Vampirism is almost irrelevant to the early game when your only damage is last-hitting minions. The Oppressor mastery gives its buff while your opponent is stunned by Counter Strike, and works even better with a build which takes Iceborn Gauntlet or Frozen Mallet for a slow. Oppressor is better than the Bounty Hunter mastery on Jax in the top lane unless you are planning on roaming a lot (for a Jax in the jungle, Bounty Hunter is better).
18 points in the Cunning tree: Biscuits are hardly relevant if you have a Corrupting Potion as your starting item, so instead we take Assassin which helps any top laner, as you are normally alone in lane. The flat hybrid penetration from Precision is excellent on a mixed damage champion, in early versions of this guide I took Intelligence for early CDR and to be able to max CDR later at 45%, but that extra 5% does not make a huge difference in practice, and flat hybrid pen is a very good benefit from a mastery - it's especially strong combined with flat hybrid pen runes and a flat pen item like Youmuu's or Wit's End, meaning you can eliminate most of an early game opponent's resistance for much higher real damage from all Jax's attacks and abilities. Precision is such a strong level 5 mastery on Jax that it's one of the justifications for choosing Thunderlord's Decree as your keystone.
On the rune page, 3 armor quints gives higher protection (around 13 armor) than 9 armor seals, and allow you to take scaling health seals for a surprisingly tanky build all game, even before you have defensive items - this is important if your first two items will be damage items. Attack damage quints are relatively weak compared with attack damage Marks, and full attack speed quints are not necessary for early game last-hitting most of the time (except in difficult situations under turret). If you are happy to mix your quintessences, you can take 2 armor quints and one attack speed quint.
Scaling health seals are the most defensive seals possible, like an 8% increase in the damage you can take for most of the game (maybe not level 1, but you won't be spending much time at level 1 ...). These seals are better than flat health seals from level 6 onwards. You will be very glad you have them if - due to lack of early gold - you have to build Guardian Angel as your first defensive item, so you have no health from items. But, if not taking the suggested armor quints, flat armor seals are essential for any top laner.
Early MR is not usually required as you won't be facing early magic damage from most top lane opponents, so a top laner can usually take scaling MR glyphs (if you have an AP opponent, buy an early Null-Magic Mantle on your first back - or maybe you can set up a custom rune page with flat magic resist glyphs for when you are facing an AP opponent). My build also takes some scaling CDR glyphs so that on full build (with 30% CDR from items) you can max out CDR at 45%. If you don't care about CDR so much, then take full scaling MR glyphs for a good defensive rune page.
Greater Mark of Hybrid PenetrationMost Jax builds take attack damage marks - Jax scales strongly off AD, even at level 1, so these are a strong help to your early game. For an alternative idea, look at Hybrid Penetration Marks because Jax does not really need attack damage from runes for last hitting, his last hitting is pretty good without them. Flat armor and magic penetration helps with his damage against champions on all-ins, these Marks are surprisingly strong in the early game when opponents' armor and magic resistance are low, and remain strong late game against squishy opponents who are Jax' main targets.
Lane control: In laning, your E can be used to control minion waves - for example, if you need to last-hit three minions which are all on low health at the same time. It can be used to "freeze" a lane - meaning stop the incoming enemy minion wave before it reaches your tower and hold it there: to do this, just stand in a good spot and soak up all the enemy minion aggro so that the wave does not advance any further, you activate E so you can soak up the aggro without taking any actual damage.
Teleport tip: if Jax is ambushed by enemies when he has his Teleport up, quickly Teleport to any safe location. You can activate E after your Teleport channeling starts: activating E does not interrupt other orders, so it will not stop the teleport channeling. The use of E will dodge most of the damage and maybe also stun the opponents, giving you some nice protection for 3 out of the 4 seconds of the teleport channeling (and any damage you do take does not interrupt teleport). The same thing if you are backing using B: if an enemy or minion comes to attack you and interrupt your backing, a well-timed E might be enough to make sure that your backing is not interrupted.
|Jax' full combo is:
Q (leap) - Auto-attack - W - Auto-attack (procs R passive)
You also want to activate E exactly before pressing Q to leap, so that you take less damage from your opponent when you engage. You can then either let E play out its full 2 second duration for the best defence (good in a 1 v 2 situation), or shorten the duration by activating E a second time, good if you see that the opponent is well-positioned for the stun. See below for a trick you can use to get the stun off sooner.
Using W as shown for the attack timer reset gives you basically two attacks very quickly after landing your Q. It's then the third attack (the second auto-attack) which procs the passive on R. You can also maybe have R proc sooner, on the first auto-attack or the W, if you were last-hitting minions or a turret before leaping onto an enemy champion. Expert Jax players keep track of their R count by looking at the rings, and use Q when R is already on 1 or 2 counts.
The full combo described above, including two auto-attacks, scales with 450% of AD and 190% of AP. This scaling means that Jax scales more than twice as hard off of AD as compared with AP.
An AP build can feel like it is high damage because you can spam magic damage onto minions and jungle monsters with Q, W and the R passive (those targets also have low magic resist, so the magic damage hits them hard). But against champions, this magic damage is not enough: it's really E and basic attacks which provide the largest element of Jax damage against champions, and those scale with AD only.
Jax therefore deals out higher damage if he builds AD. However, AP should not be totally neglected, it's also good and results in bonus magic resistance when the ultimate is activated.
Tips and tricks: Fast Burst
For a fast burst of damage, especially on opponents like Fizz and Master Yi and Zed who might go untargetable or move away if you attack them, you can quickly:
You can press both buttons almost together, because W has no casting time, but it's important that the W activation is before Q. If you do this, then W applies its extra damage immediately when Q hits, so that the damage of both abilities applies together. This may be enough to kill a low-health target.
To secure a kill, you could even burn your Flash: so press W, then use Flash-Q.
Even if the target has good reactions and Flashes away or goes untargetable before your leap lands, the target will still take damage from you using Q on him - which can give you some hilarious and surprising kills. How this works: Q is a targeted ability, so just pressing the Q button on a champion will activate the ability and apply the single target damage. Once the ability is activated, the champion will take damage from it, even if he somehow moves away from the spot where Jax lands. (Apart from death, the only exception to this is a target with a spell shield - though a Sivir or a Morgana will need amazing reaction times to beat the speed of Jax' Q!)
Note that if the target has high health, this fast burst is usually a worse way to start Jax' full combo, because it delays the time when Jax' R passive will proc. With a high health target, it is better to save your W until after the first auto-attack, to get that auto-attack reset as shown in the full combo.
Tips and tricks: Instant Stun
Usually Jax players will activate E when they anticipate receiving a lot of damage, so just prior to engaging on a melee bruiser for example. If using E like that you don't want to activate E too long in advance of engaging your opponent, because you want its defences to last for as long as possible during the fight.
But against squishy, evasive targets - or anyone who might walk away when you leap on them, or anyone who does most of their damage using targeted abilities - it's more important to have the stun from E than the basic attack dodges. If that's what you need, you can have the E stun activate instantly after your leap lands. Here's how:
Step 2. Wait a short time (around 0.75 second) - needed because there's a cooldown of around a second before the re-activation at step 4 is allowed
Step 3. Leap using Q
Step 4. As soon as the leap lands, immediately re-activate E (pressing it a second time) for the stun.
It's not too hard to pull off as long as you pre-activate E at the correct time. You can then pretty much just press the buttons W-Q-E (in that order) for the leap-stun.
Pre-activating E like this has advantages and disadvantages. A leap-stun can be a powerful assassination tool - there are very few champions in the game who can apply an instantaneous stun at range, Annie is one example. This trick is good against mages and squishy champions in general, or any champion who is retreating and being chased by your team. It is not so good for solo fights against bruisers and tanks because you are giving up some of your defence time that you would normally have from E, and the E damage is less if you didn't take any incoming damage.
This trick works even against opponents who know how to play against Jax properly and will move out of range of Counter Strike when they see it - watch videos of some high elo games, you will see everybody move away from Jax whenever he activates Counter Strike.
If your opponent is good (or you did this trick to him already in the game) then the next time he sees you pre-activate the E, he may guess you are about to leap on him. In that case do Step 1 and 2 in a bush, then he can't see what you are planning until it's too late for him...
|Jax can use his Q to jump to a ward, as well as living targets (including allies and allied minions).
Because Q is on low cooldown, this basically gives Jax one of the most spammable barrier jumpers in the game, but only so long as he has wards. He is similar to a Lee Sin in this way. (Other champions like Nidalee and Kha'Zix have jumps which don't require wards, but at least this gives you a chance of following them.)
On Jax in the jungle, this ability makes Tracker's Knife a fairly interesting option.
On Jax in top lane, Warding Totem is an essential part of Jax's kit and I recommend that you hold onto it all game. I also recommend carrying a spare pink ward at all times when you have a slot free for it, you will need it for vision if you are using standard wards for ward jumping.
Even though Jax has this skill, for people knew to the champion I recommend taking Flash as well. Your reaction time with Flash is much faster (you don't have to place a ward first), so you can use it to follow an opponent who flashed, you can also use it for double jumps either for engaging or escaping. And the recommended Ionian Boots of Lucidity reduce the cooldown on Flash. More experienced Jax players can take Ghost or Ignite instead of Flash.
One neat trick is to place down a precautionary ward on the safe side of a wall, before you head into a dangerous area - then you know you have an escape route.
Walls which Jax can ward-jump
- Any sidewall between lane and jungle, except for the thickest parts - for example he can very easily jump from lane into Gromp even if running
- The walls around Red Buff and Blue Buff, but not the thickest parts
- All the walls into / out of the enemy base (easy)
- The river walls on either side of the mid-lane brush (easy, but with a thick wall make sure to place the ward beyond the mid-point of the wall so that it ends up placed on the opposite side from you)
- The Dragon or Baron pit walls (easy if you have time to place the ward carefully, difficult in a hurry)
The laning phase
Jax has a tough time in early laning against some top lane opponents, his early game is very match-up dependent. This is not too surprising: he is a late game champion, not an early game champion. Tough match-ups include: high CC high mobility tanks like Rammus, Trundle and Poppy; high sustain opponents like Renekton, Vladimir and Olaf (take Executioner's Calling against these); and any ranged opponent with single target abilities (Graves, Quinn, Caitlyn) as they can poke you down with auto-attacks and then kill you even when you activate Counter Strike.
Against a tough match-up, you can expect to be farming under your turret, going back often, and probably killed at least once. This makes Jax' early game extremely dependent on getting good ganks. His opponent should be vulnerable to ganks because of pushing the lane to Jax' tower. Jax is one of the champions who benefits the hardest from a good gank: an early kill or assist, and the opportunity to farm two or three minion waves uninterrupted, will put him back in the game enough that the rest becomes easy. He is also useful in a gank, with a gap closer, a stun, and high burst damage. So perhaps its more accurate to say his early game is very jungler dependent. It's worth being nice to your jungler!
Don't be shy about going back to Fountain if you are getting low and your opponent obviously out-damages you. It's better to go back than to die, and you can return to lane quickly with Teleport or your new boots. You have an advantage when you return to lane, with full health and mana bars, new items, and all your abilities off cooldown.
Even in the worst games at levels 1 to 5, don't worry about it, don't go on tilt, don't get all salty, and try to let your teammates know you will be OK (or just mute them...) Jax is a strong late game champion even if he has a bad start. He should start to turn the balance of power from level 6 onwards. And even early, he's strong against most of the opponents found in bot lane, and he has Teleport ...
|If pushed down to low health, Jax can bait an opponent under turret. Pre-position a stealth ward in a place you can safely jump to (for example on the opposite side of your turret, or further back in your lane). Alternatively, if the opponent is chasing you, pre-activate E, so that you can re-activate it for the stun any time the opponent comes within turret range.
In a tough lane (against physical damage) buy Cloth Armor and Chain Vest early, for 1100 gold you can have Boots of Speed + Chain Vest, which is more defensive than Ninja Tabi and also doesn't take you out of your build path: the Chain Vest can later be built into Dead Man's Plate, Guardian Angel or ZZ'Rot Portal, all are good. Obviously against magic damage take a Null-Magic Mantle on first back. If things get really bad, you can even rush Guardian Angel as your first item, Jax abilities naturally do damage as he levels up even without items.
Against a relentless opponent, if you are not getting the help you need from your jungler (some junglers can't or won't do much before level 6, or may be ganking mid and bot lane if they see those as easier ganks), then the best strategy may be to abandon your tower until you have level 6, and instead go to gank other lanes like a jungle Jax would. Use Teleport for this. You can pick up some free kills and assists that way, instead of feeding your top lane opponent: if you stay in top lane you can't stop him eventually pushing the Outer Turret anyhow, so it doesn't matter leaving the lane if you can accomplish more that way. And if your top lane opponent decides to roam, then get back to lane and enjoy the free farming.
Tips and tricks: High Sustain Start
The standard or popular (meta) way to start on Jax in the top lane is with Corrupting Potion. That gives repeated good sustain every time you back. If you back early - and return to lane using Teleport - it's probably the best start. It's like having a whole Giant's Belt + Sapphire Crystal at the start of the game - and that's pretty nice! Explanation: using the potion gives +375 health +225 mana in laning, and refreshes every time you back. Giant's Belt + Sapphire Crystal gives +380 health +250 mana, topped up to max every time you back. That's about the same, assuming you use the potion wisely.
Longer term, as long as you have a free item slot to keep it in (and don't need that 200 gold back to complete a major item) the Corrupting Potion makes a very good investment. Its small +15 damage over time is a nice bonus for free.
Some people prefer to start Doran's Blade but the sustain you get from Corrupting Potion is way more, and the Corrupting Potion gives you stronger trades the 3 times that you can use it, thanks to the 15 damage over time.
For alternative starting items, you could start Long Sword and Refillable Potion against an easy opponent so that you can build later items sooner, or Null-Magic Mantle against an AP opponent.
Tips and tricks: Level 1 kill
At level 1, if you start E, you can all-in on your opponent and chunk away most of his health, forcing a flash or if you are lucky getting a kill and first blood. At the very minimum it forces your opponent to play defensively for a while so you can farm up to level 2, and it may also cause your opponent to over-estimate Jax' early damage (which is good for you as it keeps you safer).
The secret of this is to use minion aggro on both sides to help you. So you do this when the enemy walks in to the centre of both minion waves, to last hit the first row of minions. At level 1 you can usually walk right up to your enemy as he expects you to last-hit a minion, not him - level 1 attacks on a champion are normally suicide when full minion waves are present. (If you're smart, you can target a minion to move towards it, then switch targets at the last second.) You want to do this as early as possible while all minions are still alive. Just before activating E, you start to auto-attack your opponent, this will draw all the enemy minion aggro onto you which powers up your E damage while doing no harm to you, it also lets your own minions live longer. If the opponent is dumb enough to attack back - most will instinctively, especially if he didn't figure out yet he is playing against Jax (he doesn't even yet know you started E) - then he will draw a full wave of minion aggro onto himself, which will continue when he is stunned at the end of your E. Meanwhile you carry on basic attacking, giving you serious damage on most opponents, and taking no damage at all.
Make sure to attack your opponent champion three times, to proc Thunderlord's Decree for extra magic damage on the third attack. This combined with the E area of effect damage should also be enough to kill 2 enemy minions if you are standing near them. This is good, so you didn't lose out on last-hitting and it reduces the minion aggro you wil take after this - there should be only enemy caster minions left to attack you when your E wears off. (Even with only caster minions attacking you, you need to gtfo fast, otherwise they will seriously damage you at level 1.)
If you took a Corrupting Potion start, you can also use a charge of Corrupting Potion while doing this, for about 20-25 extra magic damage burn on the opponent - it's not much, but it all adds up.
If you are playing in a team or with people you know, try to encourage your jungler to come and help get this level 1 kill, before he takes his first jungle camp. If the jungler is hiding in brush, and Jax stuns the enemy with E, between the two of you you should normally be able to get a kill.
Here is a high elo Patch 6.11 Jax game with some commentary from SickMotion, which I recommend you watch. He gets kills by roaming, once at 4 minutes following a teleport to bot lane, once around 12:30 with a nice E - Q - E combo onto LeBlanc.
Against an AP opponent the build is Trinity Force -> Bilgewater Cutlass -> Mercury's Treads -> Hextech Gunblade -> Spectre's Cowl. He also takes Executioner's Calling because he is against a high sustain team, including Mao'Kai top.
Pay close attention to his extremely controlled farming mechanics, from mid game generally he farms minions which are not being attacked by his own minions, then finally kills the minion which is receiving minion aggro from his own minions. He makes plenty of use of W and Q for farming.
A recent casual game from TrAce, a top laner on the Korean pro scene. Here he is against Trundle, a difficult top lane opponent for any Jax, and he handles him masterfully. Look for the perfect gank at 02:45 on the video timeline, Lee Sin comes exactly when Jax hits his level 3 to take the kill with a quick Q. (This game is also incidentally interesting for one of the best Bard supports I've ever seen...)
A strong game from Hashinshin, a Master level player from the US who streams regularly - Hashinshin is probably the highest elo Jax main you can find. (Check the video links on Youtube for many other Jax games of his.) Here he is against Swain. Hashinshin always seems to build the exact same way, with Trinity Force into Hextech Gunblade - so here he does not take any early Null-Magic Mantle, against a Swain, which seems a bit bizarre. He still does OK, but is forced to farm under his turret most of the time in the early game. At 22:10 on the video time line look at him using the E - Q - E, activating E from inside a bush where he can't be seen, for an unavoidable kill on the Riven.
Here is a rare game with Faker jungling as Jax. The reason to watch this is for the mobility mechanics, see how often Faker uses Q on an allied minion or for ward-jumping.
I am a gamer and a game developer. I like to study League of Legends in depth. It's an amazing game with the variety of champions and the very high skill cap - experienced, high skilled players can do so much more.
I'll be adding some more to this guide as time passes, looking at a more detailed Match Ups section next.
You might also like to check out my popular Shyvana guide and my Kha'Zix guide.
If any of my guides helped you, please let me hear about it in comments, and don't forget to vote!!!