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Xin Zhao Build Guide by Sir Wellington

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Sir Wellington

[7.7] BE A MAN™ - In-depth Xin Zhao Guide for Top Lane.

Sir Wellington Last updated on April 13, 2017
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Introduction



IMPORTANT: Only the cheat sheet above is updated. I will be rolling out updates for the rest of the guide throughout the summer.


Everything below is oudated, but most of it is still relevant.



"What am I reading?"

Welcome to the most thorough Xin Zhao guide on MOBAfire. It contains everything you need to know about how to carry and win games from top lane using my favorite champion, Xin Zhao. This guide is primarily aimed at everyone from level 1 to Silver I, but higher ranked players can still benefit from the more advanced stuff. This guide is also extremely in-depth - here you will learn more than just what to do or what to buy, you'll learn why and when so you can internalize the info in this guide instead of memorizing a canned build or playstyle. If you just want a concise overview, read the "Quick and Dirty" summary at the top of each chapter.

"Who wrote this guide?"

My name is Sir Wellington. My brother got me hooked on League of Legends way back at the beginning of Season 2. I reached Platinum V rank in Season 6 and have played 459 ranked Xin Zhao games at a 57.3% win rate (and 800+ normals at a much higher win rate). I've developed a highly successful playstyle with Xin Zhao, and I want to share what I know so you can play him more effectively :)

"Ok, but who is Xin Zhao?"

Xin Zhao (technically pronounced "Shin Jow") is the MANLIEST champion in League of Legends! Some would argue that newcomers like Braum stole that title, but Xin is the veteran who taught everyone how to be a man in the first place. He has a manly playstyle, manly lore, manly skins, a manly spear, and most of all, the manliest theme song ever:



In terms of actual gameplay, Xin Zhao has unbelievable amounts of damage front-loaded into his kit. He is strongest in the early/mid game and is meant to be played very aggressively. Most of his damage comes from empowered autoattacks via Q and W, but his flexible design provides both burst damage, relatively low cooldowns, and some sustained damage in between bursts. He's one of the best duelists in the game, a great splitpusher, an amazing assassin, and a reliable engager.

Most of the League community considers Xin to be a noob champion because of his simple kit, but that actually is to your advantage. You can learn his basic mechanics after just a couple games, which lets you quickly change your focus to how to play the game on a larger scale using his mechanics. This is what makes Xin a great champion for learning the deeper elements of the game.


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Pros / Cons



Powerful Pros

+ Very high damage early on

+ Crazy snowball potential

+ Top tier duelist

+ Versatile builds/roles

+ Multiple CC abilites

+ Immense sustain

+ Knocks down towers like a BOSS
Critical Cons

- AD scaling is unimpressive

- Damage falls off if he gets behind

- Limited escape options

- Zero poke/sieging ability

- Struggles against disengage comps

- No innate tankiness without his ult

- Poor waveclear without Hydra



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Runes

Runes

Greater Mark of Attack Speed
9

Greater Seal of Armor
9

Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction
6

Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction
3

Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed
3


Attack speed marks are the best, though flat AD makes for a good alternative. Attack speed increases your DPS, sustain/crits, and makes your knockup more reliable.

Armor seals are necessary because most of the damage you receive in lane phase is usually physical (autoattacks, AD-based champions, minion aggro, turret shots). Typically, your only armor item is 3rd or even 4th in your build order, so these help you get by until then. Scaling health seals make a good alternative only if you're facing an AP-heavy team (which is rare).

I always get scaling MR instead of flat, since Xin wrecks AP top laners like Rumble and Ryze. Scaling runes become more effective than flat runes at level 8.

These quints give you a bit more than a Dagger's worth of attack speed at level 1. Very nice. AS Quints are probably the best, but flat AD makes for a good alternative too.


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Masteries

Quick and Dirty:

18/12 setup. Take Fervor of Battle for your keystone.

I focus on getting as much damage as possible because I play a snowball-heavy hard carry playstyle and need all the damage I can get. While each damage increase is small and usually situational ( Assassin only gives 2% while target is alone), their total damage increase when combined is quite significant (15%).

Note: My mastery setup and recommendations are based on my ability to snowball often, because that's the playstyle you'll eventually learn if you follow this guide. If you're having trouble snowballing or you want to play it safe at first, don't be afraid to use Feast , Oppression , and Warlord's Bloodlust instead of Double Edged Sword , Bounty Hunter , and Fervor of Battle for safer results.


Ferocity:
  • Fury 's attack speed is more valuable than Sorcery 's damage increase since most of your damage is autoattack-based.
  • Double Edged Sword is risky (but better), so take it if you're confident you can snowball. Feast is always safe and reliable, so I recommend this for newer players.
  • Vampirism and Natural Talent are both pretty weak. However, the 2 flat AD from Natural Talent is always helpful at level 1 and it goes up to 10 AD by level 18. The ability power isn't wasted either; it adds 2-8 more health from his W.
  • Oppression is (again) the safer and more reliable choice, but provided you can snowball, Bounty Hunter eventually outshines it. After you kill just 3 different champions it surpasses Oppression's damage.
  • Battering Blows because you deal physical damage.
  • Fervor of Battle offers absurd amounts of on-hit damage (up to 112). While Warlord's Bloodlust can be better in certain situations where you need to outlast (not outdamage) your enemy, Fervor is generally the best option.


Cunning:
  • Very few players can last hit perfectly, so take Savagery .
  • Runic Affinity is best left for junglers. Secret Stash makes your health pots much more effective, which is nice, but Assassin gives you extra damage, which is what we want.
  • More damage from Merciless is obviously better than mana regen, which Xin doesn't need.
  • Bandit is cool, but Dangerous Game saves you from dying in so many close 1v1s (how many times after winning a duel have you died to that last tick of ignite, or those last few caster minions?).


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Summoner Spells

Quick and Dirty:

Always take Flash. Take Ignite for kills, or take Teleport for strategic advantage.




Flash is the best summoner spell in the game. For all but 3 or 4 champions, it is mandatory in every game you play because no other spell gives you this kind of utility and playmaking ability. It extends the range of Audacious Charge by 425. It lets you counter-Flash enemy Flashes. It lets you pull off sick jukes. It provides you with a much-needed reliable escape. It lets you blink over walls. It does everything. You get the idea.



Ignite is the official "I want to get fed and carry hard" spell. It gives you a fighting edge in tough matchups and lets you stomp easy ones even harder. I use it all the time to start snowballing as early as possible and keep the momentum going from there. Once you get a little ahead, you can usually 1v2 the enemy top laner and jungler if you have Ignite and your ultimate. Ignite also reduces healing by 50%, which is very useful against champions like Dr. Mundo, Illaoi, Volibear, Aatrox, etc.




Teleport gives you global presence and lets you set up big plays if you use it correctly. It takes a lot of global awareness and understanding of the game to use it most effectively, so I wouldn't recommend this if you don't have those skills. At the very least, you can simply use it to get back to your tower instantly early on. At best, you can pull off a sick Homeguard-boosted gank in bot lane that nets your team a double kill. It can also make splitpushing much more effective (more on that later). You can Teleport to almost any object in the game: minions, wards, Teemo shrooms, J4 standards, Rek'sai tunnels, even Zac blobs and Thresh lanterns. Note: whatever object you teleport to becomes invincible during the teleport channel (towers are an exception).


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Manly Abilities

Quick and Dirty:

There's an icon and brief description of each ability on the left side.
Long and Nerdy:

More detailed information and tips and tricks are on the right side.


Challenge (passive)



...............................


Challenge is a strong passive that your whole team benefits from. It stacks with other sources of armor reduction/penetration, and it has really cool synergy with his ultimate (more on that below).
  • Xin's targets are usually squishy damage dealers liks AD carries, which don't build much armor, but that doesn't make it useless against them. A target with 80 armor at level 18, for instance, would have 12 armor reduced.
  • If you Challenge a tank, 15% armor reduction then becomes MASSIVE.
  • Xin synergizes very well with other AD champions because Challenge + Black Cleaver reduces 40.5% of his target's armor, which is pretty scary.

Three Talon Strike (Q)


...............................



Three Talon Strike (TTS) is Xin's primary source of damage and hard CC. It has the shortest cooldown and lowest mana cost, so you'll use it often.
  • This ability is an autoattack reset. This means if you cast it just after you autoattack, TTS will reset Xin's autoattack animation and attack again, so you can double-tap your target. Practice this method often so you can get the timing down perfectly.
  • When you have TTS active, your three autos will have a noticeably faster attack animation.
  • This ability gives you more damage at level 1 than almost any other top laner, because of the high raw damage, autoattack reset mechanic, and knockup (which gives you a free auto while your target is CCed).
  • Since it scales off total AD, you can build tanky items and still benefit from the scaling.

Battle Cry (W)


...............................



Xin gains attack speed by yelling at his opponents. What a man. This ability is awesome because it gives so many passive stats (healing and guaranteed crits!). The active costs more mana that TTS and should be generally used for destroying towers, extended duels, and teamfights. Note that the crits are weaker than normal crits (125-175% vs. 200% damage).
  • The passive crits make for some crazy item combinations. If you get Essence Reaver, you'll receive 3% of your max mana every 3rd hit (not even taking into account your regular crit chance on your other attacks).
  • The hit count doesn't have a cooldown like Jax's ultimate does. You can hit something twice and wait 3 minutes, but you will always heal on the 3rd hit.
  • You don't have to deliberately press W after Q. You can press both keys simultaneously and still get the cooldown reduction from the first Q hit. It makes playing Xin a bit simpler.
  • Use it sparingly in the early levels (mainly for all-ins and heavy burst), otherwise you might run out of mana.

Audacious Charge (E)


...............................



Audacious Charge is an extremely reliable gapcloser that gives Xin fantastic sticking power and decent CC. This ability has double the mana cost of TTS and a considerable cooldown, so use it sparingly and try to save it for when you need it.
  • The AOE slow/damage doesn't diminish on the edges like Ravenous Hydra or Grand Skyfall. Everyone gets slowed and damaged for the full value.
  • Try to save your dash for when an enemy tries to escape via Flash, Arcane Shift, etc. It's usually not possible to do, but sometimes you can pull it off by simply running up to someone, hiding in an unwarded brush, or flanking them.
  • One of the reasons CDR is so good for Xin is that it lowers the cooldown of this ability to 7.2 seconds, which is then further reduced by Q to 4.2 seconds. That's what makes Xin hypermobile lategame.

Crescent Sweep (R)


...............................



Xin Zhao whips his long spear around in a circle like a boss, sending everyone around him flying backwards, and then stuns them after the knockback, like Alistar's Headbutt. A Challenged target won't be knocked back, so Xin can immediately start stabbing its face in.
  • Dashing to a clumped enemy team and ulting them is one of the most disruptive actions in the game. They are knocked everywhere like bowling pins, stunned, and if you caught more than one in the dash aoe, they're slowed too.
  • Don't be afraid to use it as an escape. If you're being chased by bloodthirsty idiots, simply press R when they get in range. It doesn't have a terribly long cooldown because your Q will shorten it.
  • Since it deals %current health damage, it's best used at the start of a fight for maximum hurt (usually).
  • Always try to use the knockback + stun part of it to your advantage (you can do this many, many different ways). Being able to fully utilize this aspect is what separates typical Xin players from dedicated mains, and every once it a while it really shows.


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Skill Sequence

Quick and Dirty:

Max Q first for damage. Max W second for more damage. Upgrade R at levels 6/11/16.


Level 1: Q, always.


Level 2: Usually E, so you can pull off a quick engage if you hit level 2 before your opponent does. However, if you can't/won't safely engage (especially true if your opponent wants to fight you), take W instead.


Level 3: Whichever skill you don't already have. In most cases it's W.


Level 6: R, always. This is a large powerspike, though not huge like the ones Riven or Darius get.


Three Talon Strike is your bread and butter ability, so always max it first.


Battle Cry should be maxed next because the stat increases it receives are much better than those from Audacious Charge.


Audacious Charge is maxed last because leveling it only provides slight increases in the slow and damage.


Crescent Sweep should ALWAYS be leveled whenever possible, which is at levels 6, 11, and 16.


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Ability Combos

Quick and Dirty:

Glance at the ability icons to see which ones to use. (AA means autoattack)
Long and Nerdy:

A detailed description is on the left and an example video is on the right.



> AA >

This is your basic trading combo in lane phase. Dash to an enemy, autoattack, reset with Q, then hit 3 times. Make sure to weave forward movement in between your attacks so you keep up with your retreating enemy laner. Unless you're going for the kill, it's best to back off after you knock up your target. Sometimes you'll want to back off after the first Q hit (like if the enemy dashes away or Vladimir uses his pool).

> AA > +

This is your all-in combo pre-6. Use this combo when you need to land your 3 Q hits quickly or when you know the other enemy champ will stand and fight back for more than a couple seconds. Again, keep moving with your opponent if he retreats back to his turret.

> > AA > +

This is your all-in combo after level 6. Keep in mind this combo will usually scare the pants off your enemies, so be prepared to chase them down if they run away. Sometimes I use this combo when I get back into lane after level 6. By immediately jumping on the enemy laner and dumping all my skills on him, I leave him at well below half HP while remaining relatively unscathed, and thus assert lane dominance.
This is also your teamfight initiating combo. Dash to someone in the middle of the enemy team, ult everyone, and maul your Challenged target while the enemy team is scattered. You don't always have to Challenge the AD carry either; sometimes displacing the rest of the enemy team is better than simply isolating the carry. You can also use it to peel for your own team if the enemy team has an all-in comp like Malphite and Yasuo.


> AA > +

This is a great combo for knocking a target where you want him to be (like under your turret) and then dumping QW on him. Once again, save E for any escapes. Ganking lanes with this combo almost always results in a kill because you knock your target away from his turret and closer to your ally, while still having your gapcloser up.

>

When you combine Flash with Audacious Charge, you basically have a gapcloser with 1025 range. It ALWAYS catches enemies off guard and sets up a sweet combo for you and usually a kill. Just make sure to cast both spells very quickly (almost simultaneously), and make sure your opponent is actually within range. Flashing and not dashing is the worst because you look like an idiot who just burned his summoner ;)

>

This combo's a lot of fun, but very difficult to do perfectly. If you time it right, you can actually press R a millisecond before you flash, which reduces the cast time a little bit. Practice this in a custom game until you get the hang of it (once again, press both buttons almost simultaneously).

> > >

This is the hardest combo to pull off, but it's the most rewarding: run up to your target (boosted with Youmuu's), flash behind him, press R to knock him forward and E to catch up to him. What a man.


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Manly Items

Quick and Dirty:

Xin loves AD, AS, CDR, and health, so get items with those stats. This build will work great for 90% of your games:

Manly Stats

Instead of talking about what items to get, I'll tell you what stats to get, so you can understand the logic behind choosing which items to buy.




The only stats that you should avoid are AP, magic penetration and excessive amounts of mana. While AP/AS builds are still kinda viable, Xin's AP ratio on his W got nerfed so it's not as effective as it used to be. Mana is a decent stat until you get 500+ from items; it then becomes redundant because Xin's mana costs are fairly low. Plus, if you get Essence Reaver then mana becomes completely irrelevant.



Boots of Mobility offer an absurd amount of movement speed out of combat. These let you roam all around the map setting up ambushes and ganks, which amplifies Xin's early/midgame power window and complements Bounty Hunter extremely well. These boots also help make up for the lack of Teleport.



Trinity Force provides 5 of the 8 stats Xin needs most, and it provides them in bucketfuls. Yes please. The powerspike you get when you finish this item is amazing.



Dead Man's Plate is a fantastic armor item for Xin. It's like Riot decided to put the roaming power of Boots of Mobility on an item with Randuin's Omen's stats, because why not. It also comes with a little extra damage and a slow, because....why not. I get this item when there isn't much of a crit chance threat on the enemy team (Kalista/Ezreal/Corki or any underfed/non-threat marksman).



Youmuu's Ghostblade is an excellent play-making item. It offers a whopping 20 armor pen, on top of 65 AD and one of the best actives in the game. Not only does the active give you tons of stats for 6 seconds, it has a 45 second cooldown, which is HALF the cooldown of many other item actives (Zhonya's, Randuin's, BotRK, Merc Scimitar, etc).



Spirit Visage provides lots of magic resist and health, which is great. It also provides 10% CDR and a 25% increase in healing to yourself, which is awesome!



Sterak's Gage works well with Trinity Force because the increase in base AD increases the damage from the Spellblade passive. The shield passive is also great for teamfights because it makes it hard to burst you down and punishes the enemy for trying.

How do I know when to buy certain items?


Assess the weaknesses and damage output of the enemy team and what your team needs out of you, then choose accordingly. If you want to know the best situations to build a particular item, just open up the sections below for more details (Items listed in no particular order).


Stab things harder...


Stab things faster...


Ladies like armor plating...


Join the Resistance...


A health item per day keeps the Death Timer away...


Fill your boots, man...


Items to avoid

There are a small number of items that are simply a waste of gold or better alternatives. Unless you have some crazy build you want to try out (not in ranked, please), never buy these items. NOTE: this is a guide for AD Xin Zhao. Obviously any AP/AS builds are going to use AP items, so if you're going that route then of course these are viable.
  • Basically any item that gives you more than 30 ability power is off limits, with the rare and situational exception of Abyssal Scepter. AP Xin is a whole different beast that requires a full AP/AS build, so tossing a random Rabadon's Deathcap into an AD fighter build is a bad idea because you are't amplifying your other AP-related stats.
  • Manamune is a bad item because Xin wants damage NOW, not later, he has pretty much no mana problems, and he doesn't spam spells all the time like Ezreal or Jayce.
  • Iceborn Gauntlet offers good stats, but unfortunately the slow is redundant because you already have a stronger AOE slow (they don't stack). In almost every case, Frozen Heart is a better item. If you're stacking armor against a full AD comp, then Iceborn Gauntlet would be worth buying because the slow radius would be massive.
  • Last Whisper was a great general damage increase last season, but now it and its upgrades are exclusively designed for tankbusting, which is NOT Xin Zhao's primary job. Xin excels at deleting squishies and dueling other fighters/bruisers. He can fight tanks comfortably enough, but he shouldn't even be fighting them in the first place. I would only recommend getting a Last Whisper-based item if a high priority target that NEEDS to die is stacking armor.
  • Support items are off limits because they're support items, not top lane items.


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Example Builds

Quick and Dirty:

Read the build name on the left and look at the item icons on the right.


Build Name
Description
Items


Balanced
This is a general-purpose build that works with basically anything. You've got good damage and good survivability.


Heavy Armor
Use this build if the enemy team has 3-4 AD champions. Consider swapping Sunfire Cape for Thornmail if most of their damage comes from autoattacks.


Heavy Magic Resist
Use this build if the enemy team has 3-4 AP champions (only include the support if it's someone like Annie, Morgana, or Brand with an AP item or two).


MASSIVE CRITS
Do you want to blow people up before they can react? If you're snowballing hard, get these items and proceed to WRECK the enemy team! I would only recommend using this build once you've gotten a lot of experience with Xin and have a hyperaggressive playstyle, since you're very squishy.


Full Tank
Use this build if your teammates are carrying hard and need a front line. Start with a Doran's Blade so you'll have some sort of damage early on. You won't deal much damage, so you don't have much dueling power. Stick with your carries and either peel for them or initiate teamfights for them, depending on what works best.


Splitpushing
This build gives you enough waveclear to reach towers quickly and enough damage to drop them in a few short seconds (like 3-4). Assuming you're fed, you should be able to 1v1 or maybe 1v2 any enemies if they try to stop you. If you aren't fed...you shouldn't be splitpushing to begin with, and should use a different build.


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Gameplay

HOW TO SPLITPUSH:

Splitpushing is a strong lategame tactic that divides the enemy team's attention that works best when your team is ahead. While your team is grouped and there are no important objectives to immediately take like Baron or Dragon, you push a wave on the opposite side of the map until it reaches a tower. The enemy team must decide whether to push a 5v4 advantage and maybe get something out of it (but allow you to freely shove towers down), or else send AT LEAST one person strong enough to take you on to defend their tower, which leaves the rest of their team outmatched or outnumbered. It's a win-win scenario for your team, especially if you're fed because they'll have to send at least two players to stop you.

Here's what happens when just one person tries to stop a fed Xin Zhao from splitpushing:

Steps to Splitpushing:

1. Make sure all the necessary conditions are met. Your team must be able to deal with the enemy team in a 4v5 situation, and you must be strong enough to 1v1 anyone they send your way. You also need to clearly communicate your intentions to your teammates, and they must agree with what you're doing.

If your team wants you to stay with them to teamfight or prep for an objective, then do what your team wants you to do instead of thumbing your nose and ignoring them. The only exception to this would be if your team is making a terrible decision - in that case, (calmly) explain to them that your strategy is more effective and that they need to trust you and follow along. DO NOT flame or incite them; choose your words carefully. Teamwork is essential!


2. As you splitpush, watch the minimap like a HAWK. The enemy team's reaction will determine how effective your splitpush is, but if you aren't aware of what's going on, you might get ********ed by the entire enemy team. Constantly keep an eye on the minimap, and ward as much as possible (having wards out in the enemy jungle before you start splitpushing is ideal).


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Warding

Quick and Dirty:

Ward as much as possible. Put a pink ward out early and always keep one active. Ward as much as possible.


Vision control might seem like the least exciting and obvious aspect of League, but trust me: it's crucial. The vast majority of players below Gold don't know how to ward properly, so this section will teach you how.

_______



Stealth wards are invisible to the enemy and give your team normal vision for 3 minutes. Your Warding Totem carries up to 2 wards and regenerates them slowly. Placing these wards in the right spots gives you tons of information about the enemy jungler or roaming laners, which gives you the upper hand. Once you reach level 9, you have the option of changing your totem to a Farsight Alteration. I haven't found it to be more useful than the standard totem, so I rarely change it.

These two wards easily spot incoming ganks early game.


Killing the scuttle crab grants vision and a speed boost.

This ward reveals the enemy jungler's raptor camp.
This ward reveals the enemy red buff.

These two wards provide great vision for both you and your midlaner. Sharing is caring.




Drop a pink ward here after your first or second back.


This is also a good spot for pink wards.
_______



Placing wards is just half of vision control - denying enemy vision is just as important. Vision Wards reveal enemy wards and other stealthed things like Teemo shrooms. On the other hand, Sweeping Lens is great for destroying wards around objectives to more easily secure Dragon or Baron, and its upgrade, Oracle Alteration, can reveal stealthed champions (like Talon or Rengar) instantly. Usually the support and/or jungler gets this, but if nobody on your team has one you should get it. One final note: if your pink ward keeps getting found and destroyed, pick another spot to place it.


This provides great vision of the enemy blue side jungle.

Put one here to clear enemy vision around Baron/Dragon.


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Advanced Techniques/Random Tips

Quick and Dirty:

Just a bag of tricks that improve your skills.


Combat
Since Three Talon Strike's attack animation is so quick, you can consistently interrupt a LOT of abilities with cast times, provided you can anticipate them. This lets you win a lot of trades. It also lets you hit people immediately after they dash or blink away. As long as you land one autoattack before they blink away and you reset your animation with Q, that first Q will always hit. You can also hit targets who go into stealth this way, like Akali or Shaco.
Try to save Audacious Charge for when your target tries to escape. You can do this by hiding in bushes, using the fog of war, or simply running up to them if you're fast enough.
When you're trading with your opponents in lane, be aware of their ability cooldowns and work around them. If it's an autoattack modifier like Empower or Drunken Rage, make your opponent waste it on a minion.
If you're trying to kill a squishy with an escape, save R in case you burst him 90% down and then end up chasing him just outside AA range, with E on cooldown. If you can't catch up to him, swat him off the map with R.
Utility
A good farming techique mid-late game is to use Audacious Charge on the caster minions, then use one Three Talon Strike for each of them to finish them off. It's quick and efficient.
You can (sort of) ward jump in the jungle. If you're across the wall from a monster camp, you can toss a ward on the camp, then dash to one of the monsters to jump over the wall. Handy for escaping.
Just for fun
If you spam your joke (ctrl + 2) about 2 times every second Xin will look like he's repeatedly kicking the air. It's a good way to taunt someone.
If you right-click to move somewhere, then dance (ctrl + 3) for about 1 second, then continue moving, Xin does this cool flourish with his spear. You can also achieve a similar effect by pressing the laugh button instead (ctrl + 4). This is kinda buggy/inconsistent and needs a little practice to get down perfectly.


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Matchups

Quick and Dirty:

Read the ability icons if you don't know a certain champion. Difficulty = how hard it is to play against them. Threat = how dangerous they are.


- For each matchup there's a strategy/explanation, list of abilities, and difficulty/threat scales. Difficulty level means how skilled and focused you have to be to beat them. Threat level means how dangerous that opponent is, especially when fed. A fed Maokai can't really kill you, but a fed Rengar is a nightmare.

- Most of the things I point out in certain matchups are things you should be doing in every game, like asserting lane dominance, monitoring enemy ability cooldowns, harassing melee-range champs with Q at level 1, trying to dodge poke and harass from enemy champs, etc.

- Finally, remember that it takes several games facing each champion before you begin to feel comfortable playing against them. Don't lose confidence or feel bad if you lost a matchup you should've won - you'll get better with experience and make mistakes less often.


Aatrox



Aatrox has less damage and less sustain when above 50% health, and below 50% health you can burst him down too quickly for his healing to really pay off. Try to pop his passive early, and zone him from farming range to deny his sustain. If he misses his Q knockup, you will always win trades. Otherwise you'll go about even. Be wary of jungler ganks though - Aatrox has a strong knockup and slow, so you can get locked down easily. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 6/10

Akali



Akali is weak early, but she's tricky because of her shroud. If she gets in melee range, tap her a couple times with Q to show her who's boss. After level 6, you can knock her out of her shroud for a second or two by standing in it and ulting (make sure she's not Challenged). DO NOT feed her. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 8/10

Cho'Gath



His skill at landing Rupture will determine how much or how little he feeds you, because if he doesn't land it he's a free kill. If he's good, he'll save Rupture for when you jump on him and target the ground he's standing on so you get knocked up. To dodge this, jump on him and immediately keep moving forward or up/down. His on-hit damage is weaker than TTS so don't be afraid to duke it out right at level 1. Be wary of his ultimate; even when building full tank it does a scary amount of true damage. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10


Threat level: 5/10

Darius



Darius likes to keep you at arm's length to hit you with his Q blade. If you can dodge it, you take half damage, no Hemorrhage stack, and you deny his heal. Avoiding that blade is 70% of winning this matchup. After he gets 5 stacks on you he becomes a LOT stronger, so short bursts are better than very long duels. If you lose lane dominance, you will get zoned and lose cs. If this happens, make sure to ask your jungler for ganks because Darius has no escapes. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 9/10

Dr. Mundo



Dr. Mundo is a tough opponent in lane because he packs a LOT of damage alongside an ever-growing health bar. To beat him, you have to avoid his cleavers and play around his ultimate carefully. Sit in your own minion waves as much as possible so you have meatshield between you and his cleavers. Keep in mind that he has steroids of his own, so he might straight up outdamage you in a fight if he consistently lands his cleavers. When he pops his ult, think: "Can I kill him within the next two seconds?" If not, let him go and try some other time. If so, make SURE to kill him as fast as possible before he regenerates out of control. ______________
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Difficulty level: 6/10


Threat level: 5/10

Fiora



Play this one carefully. Watch out for Fiora's passive - she'll try to maneuver around you to hit your weak spot. If she's bad, she'll just spam W when you start fighting, in which case you can simply use a regular AA to break it. If she's good, she'll block your knockup and stun you in return. If it looks like she's going to get all 4 parts of her ult, save ignite for when her healing zone appears to reduce its effectiveness. ______________
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Difficulty level: 3/10-9/10


Threat level: 8/10

Fizz



Play this one carefully. He can outdamage you early game with his stupid on-hit W. If you dash to him, he can press E to delay a second while you take minion aggro, and then Q you at point-blank range to escape. He's very annoying and very dangerous, so play safely and look carefully for opportunities to strike.
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Difficulty level: 7/10


Threat level: 9/10

Gangplank



Gangplank is a tactical pokey farmer siege type. That means his all-in is terrible, especially pre-6, so don't be afraid to get up in his face. Force him to choose between consuming his passive on you and using it to farm (much like Caitlyn's passive). Try to contest his barrels, too: your AA-Q reset can knock off two points faster than he might react to. At level 6, don't stand in his ultimate for the entire duration because you'll take a LOT of damage if you do. Pop ignite early to anticipate his heal. ______________
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Difficulty level: 3/10


Threat level: 5/10

Garen



All you have to do to beat Garen early is to pay attention to his ability cooldowns. If he uses Q or E to farm, jump on him immediately. His W can turn trades in his favor, but only good Garens will time it properly and it has a huge cooldown (24 seconds). Try to keep his passive down by trading often, because your sustain comes from fighting and his comes from staying out of the fight. ______________
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Difficulty level: 3/10-6/10


Threat level: 5/10

Gnar



Mini Gnar is annoying, but very squishy. Mega Gnar has more CC and tankyness than you, but less mobility. Try to dodge his Q at early levels, and jump on him at level 2. He'll probably hop away, but not before you can get an E-AA-Q combo off. The best time to engage is right before he turns back to Mini Gnar. ______________
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Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 6/10

Gragas



Gragas is tanky, so he's hard to kill. He also has a lot of poke and trading power. In other words, he's a hard lane opponent. If you use your EQ combo on him, he'll likely dash away with Body Slam, so try to play around that. He can also knock you into his tower with his ult, so watch out for that if your lane is pushed. ______________
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Difficulty level: 7/10


Threat level: 5/10

Heimerdinger



I hate Heimerdinger. You can blow him up easily, but he can also blow YOU up easily and completely zone you out. Once he gets Zhonya's Hourglass you can't really attack him without a magic resist item like Spirit Visage. Don't ask for ganks after level 6 if your jungler is below 60% health or squishy because Heimerdinger will probably get at least 1 kill. ______________
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Difficulty level: 8/10


Threat level: 5/10

Irelia



Play this one carefully. Irelia is tough, but beatable. She has slightly less damage than you, but has similar sustain and tankyness. In order to win you have to take the small things into account like minion aggro, summoner/ult cooldown timers, and whether you have more or less HP than her when you engage. Harass her with Q at levels 1-2 to assert lane dominance. ______________
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Difficulty level: 6/10


Threat level: 5/10

Jax



Jax is supposedly the perfect counter to Xin Zhao. Heh. Jax is designed for extended lategame duels, but Xin excels at short, early brawls.

- Short trades are better than long trades. You can AA + Q (once) while he's last-hitting a minion before he can react with Counterstrike, then back off.

- If he's farming your minions, just start autoattacking him (without Q). If he Counterstrikes, retreat and pull the fight towards your minions. Once he stuns you, proceed to destroy him with QW (save E for escape attempts).

- Counterstrike has a long 16 second cooldown.

- After level 6, start autoattacking him, wait for him to use Counterstrike, then hit a minion and ult him away from you to dodge the stun. Then jump on him with your combo.
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Difficulty level: 4/10-9/10


Threat level: 8/10

Jayce



Jayce is squishy. Try to take as little harass as possible at level 1, then jump on him at level 2 like usual. If he's not a complete idiot, he'll stay in cannon form until you jump on him, then switch to hammer form and knock you away. Depending on his reaction time, you can get 1-2 or maybe even all 3 Q hits off before you get knocked back. Just rinse and repeat this process while dodging his Shock Blast and you'll win the lane. ______________
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Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 5/10

Illaoi



I haven't actually faced Illaoi top yet, but I know how she works. Illaoi is a juggernaut version of Heimerdinger. Do not get close to her tentacles, respect her zone, and don't get baited into doing something foolish. If she misses Test of Spirit, that's a cue to engage on her. Even if she lands it, still engage on her because she'll be damaging you either way and you force her to choose a target (you or the spirit). If possible/convenient, kill any tentacles you see. ______________
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Difficulty level: 8/10


Threat level: 9/10

Lissandra



She'll use W when you dash to her, but as long as you don't take too much Q harass from her you'll win trades with E-AA-Q. Watch out for her burst when she reaches level 6, especially if you're being ganked. If you see her using E to escape, you can ult her or knock her up to cancel it. ______________
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Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 6/10

Malphite



Malphite is another hard counter because of his attack speed slow from Ground Slam. However, it has a pretty short range so he might miss it if you aren't right next to him. He is also NOT tanky early on - the only thing he really has is his passive shield. Consider taking Crystalline Flask, because to win lane you need to repeat short trades over and over. ______________
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Difficulty level: 3/10-9/10


Threat level: 5/10

Maokai



Maokai actually has a decent amount of damage and sustain if played correctly, so don't play recklessly thinking you'll auto-win. It's hard to dodge his sapling explosions, but at least dodge the damage from the initial toss. Other than that, it's the usual: tap him with Q if he gets in AA range, jump on him if he's not sitting in a pile of minions, and assert lane dominance early. ______________
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Difficulty level: 5/10


Threat level: 3/10

Nasus



If you don't kill him at least 1-2 times before he gets his first complete item, Nasus has officially won the lane :/ . He's SO frustrating because you can't just take lane dominance or zone him under his turret, you actually have to force him to recall multiple times via poking (impossible with Xin) or get multiple kills during lane phase to truly shut him down. If you don't, you won't be fed coming out of lane phase and it'll be much harder to snowball midgame, and everyone knows about Nasus's lategame. Wither has a 15 second cooldown at level 1, so try to force him to use it on you w/o using your full combo, then jump on him right as it finishes its duration. ______________
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Difficulty level: 3/10-9/10


Threat level: 4/10

Pantheon



Pantheon is another one of Xin's counters. His passive lets him win trades, and he can viciously poke you at level 1 with Spear Shot. This lets him assert lane dominance right from the beginning, so the only way you can get the upper hand is if he makes a big mistake (like getting W or E at level 1, or simply not poking with Q) or if your jungler ganks and nets you a kill. DO NOT feed him. ______________
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Difficulty level: 9/10


Threat level: 9/10

Poppy



Poppy is weak early game and loses every trade and every all-in before level 6. After 6, she has a giant touch-me-not ability which kinda sucks. Try to avoid getting shoved into a wall with Heroic Charge, and don't let her harass you with Staggering Blow without giving her 1-2 taps with Q as well. ______________
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Difficulty level: 3/10


Threat level: 6/10

Quinn



Quinn is really annoying. She has a blind, she has a get out of jail free card (ultimate), and she has a "don't touch me" ability she uses the instant you dash to her. If her blind is on cooldown, use your E-AA-Q combo to damage her a bit before she jumps away. Rinse and repeat. After level 6, you'll have to burst her down FAST before she flies away with her ult. Make sure to explicitly signal that she's missing from lane after 6 because her ult gives her fantastic roaming potential. ______________
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Difficulty level: 7/10


Threat level: 6/10

Renekton



Just like Garen and Lee Sin, watch his abilities and engage after he uses one of them. You can win trades during levels 1-2 so don't be afraid to fight, but from levels 3 and up you have to be wary of his rage bar and only engage when it's low or when he just used an ability. Don't forget his ult is an instant heal, so don't dive him under his turret, etc. ______________
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Difficulty level: 7/10


Threat level: 4/10

Riven



Play this carefully. In order to win this matchup you have to take advantage of every mistake and make none yourself. Focus hard and play smart, and you'll win every time assuming she's not a diamond smurf. Level 1: try to not let her hit you with Broken Wings all three times. You can knock her up during her 3rd cast (while she's in mid-air about to knock you back), which completely cancels it. This is hard to do but definitely possible, and it'll totally win you the trade and make you feel like a boss. Level 2: If she gets her stun second, don't just jump to her because she'll stun you and dash away with Q. If she gets her shield first, then jump to her and stay with her as long as you can, then back off. By this time you'll have complete lane dominance and you can zone her from farming. DO NOT feed her. ______________
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Difficulty level: 3/10-8/10


Threat level: 10/10

Rumble



Rumble is tough if you let him harass you with E and Q, but if you force hard engages often, you'll win lane because you have a better all-in. It's very important to pay attention to his ability cooldowns and hit heat levels. After level 6, watch out for The Equalizer because it deals massive damage if you stay in it. ______________
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Difficulty level: 3/10


Threat level: 5/10

Shen



Shen is a nightmare because he's tanky enough to mitigate your damage enough to win trades. You can still win this though, provided he makes a few mistakes. His W and E have long cooldowns during lane phase (18 seconds), and his Q and E cost quite a lot of energy (180 energy each). Watch the position of his Spirit Blade, because you need to avoid getting hit by it if he calls it to him. Don't get close to his turret for any reason if he's hugging it because he can taunt you into it. After 6, try to knock him away or up with R or Q to interrupt his ult channel. If you can't do that and don't have Teleport to follow him, push top like a madman to get a tower or even two. ______________
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Difficulty level: 9/10


Threat level: 5/10

Teemo



Every melee top laner hates Teemo with a burning passion, and Xin Zhao is no exception. When fighting, jump to him, auto him once, wait out the blind, then unload all your pent-up hatred on him. Bring lots of health pots to lane so you won't get poked to oblivion, and kindly ask your jungler for a gank (before level 6). Rush Mercury's Treads and Phage. If you're behind or feel like you're outmatched, you can either try to farm under turret or buy Mobi boots and roam (I usually do the latter). You eventually outscale Teemo, and once you finish Youmuu's Ghostblade you can crush him at any point after lane phase. He wins 1-6 or even 1-9, but you win after that. ______________
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Difficulty level: 7/10


Threat level: 5/10

Tryndamere



You have to show him who's boss right from the beginning. If he got E at level 1 you'll win a straight up fight, and if he went Q it depends on if he gets a lucky crit or not. Keep minion aggro in mind when you fight him, because you'll be fighting each other often during lane phase. You should be able to win most trades though, and once you get Youmuu's you can burst him down with the active and your ult, which will allow you to tank his damage until he's forced to use his own ult and run away. Just follow him and jump on him with E (use Flash if necessary). If you think he's about to use W, make sure you're facing him so you don't get slowed (try to predict it). Your build is very important here. After your first damage item, build Frozen Heart and Randuin's Omen, because to beat him after level 6 you have to outlast his ultimate, which means building tanky. ______________
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Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 7/10

Vladimir



There's a few champions who just totally shut Vladimir down in lane phase, and Xin is one of them. After you suffer through whatever level 1 harass he sends your way, jump on him and start attacking. When he uses Sanguine Pool do your best to stick with him and keep Q active (hit a minion if necessary) so you can knock him up after he comes back up. Lategame he'll outscale you and be quite tanky, so you won't be able to walk all over him then. Get Phage first. ______________
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Difficulty level: lol/10


Threat level: 4/10

Volibear



Volibear is really tough. Most of them start with W at level 1, which gives him good dueling power. Trade blows at level 1, but back off once you knock him up. Once you reach level 2 you have two options: if you have slightly less health you can get W second and pop his passive (back off after you knock him up) so that he's at ~40% health or so. Kill him with ignite and flash if necessary when Q comes back up, or just wait for level 3. If on the other hand you're feeling confident and you know you can survive, get E at level 2 and go ham. Ignite him as he reaches 30% health to mitigate his healing, and blow everything you have if necessary to secure the kill. ______________
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Difficulty level: 8/10


Threat level: 5/10

Wukong



Wukong relies on deception to survive. Play smart and don't be fooled, and you'll win. He has a great EQW combo that's supposed to deny retaliation, but you know better. If he jumps on you, attack him till you see him "freeze", then walk forwards and jump on the real monkey once he leaves stealth (it only lasts 1.5 seconds). If he plays passively, do basically the same thing. Jump on him and he'll use Decoy, but he'll be slowed so he can't get far. Decoy also has an 18 second cooldown, so it's not always available. ______________
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Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 6/10

Xin Zhao



I hate mirror matchups. Try to be the first one to start the fight at level 1, because if you land your knockup first you can walk away and he has no way to catch up to you (yet). You MUST get level 2 first. If you want to go ham, get E at level 2 and do your thing. If you want to play with your food, get W at level 2 and beg him to jump on you with Q and E (you'll win). If you're ahead, you can wipe the floor with him because Xin doesn't really have an escape, but if you get behind you have to play super passively, which sucks. ______________
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Difficulty level: ??/10


Threat level: ??/10

Yasuo



Unless he's a smurf or otherwise highly skilled, Yasuo is easy. Everything in your kit counters everything in his kit, because you aren't a squishy mage who's countered by Wind Wall or mobility, you have sustain, and you can completely wreck his face whenever he comes within dash range. Just don't take 3-4 unanswered pokes from his Q during level 1 and you'll be fine. ______________
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Difficulty level: 3/10


Threat level: 7/10


Guide Top

Conclusion

I've put all of my knowledge into this guide, but ultimately it comes down to your own experience and game knowledge to truly play him effectively. You know which items to build and some tricks to pull off, but in order to consistently do well in your games with Xin Zhao, you need good judgement, instincts, and timing. This can only be achieved by playing the game for many hours. You have all the tools necessary to succeed in top lane except the experience, so go out and get some! Go queue up and try out Xin Zhao in the top lane, and see if you can get first blood by 2:35 like I usually do :)


Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave any feedback or comments in the discussion below. If this guide was useful or helpful, I'd really appreciate an upvote or a +rep!

Big thanks to jhoijhoi for her Making a Guide guide.

Thanks to Kevin Crosby (oooStoneooo) for patiently helping me with one of the combo videos (and putting up with me taking all the kills when we play together ;).

Thanks to Emikadon and utopus for their insightful reviews.

I will always be updating this guide and adding more content periodically.

10/20/15: 100,000 views! When I first published this guide I was hoping for 10k. Wow.

4/1/16: 1,000,000 views! (Actually not a joke, despite the date.) This is absurd O_o

Up next: Massive summer update. Expect some artwork, custom headers/TOC, lots of in-game pictures, GIFs, videos, and pretty much every section to be revamped to some degree.