Cho'Gath Build Guide by Claen

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This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Claen

A few role-filling Cho'Gath builds

Claen Last updated on June 14, 2011
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Team 1

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 0

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 21

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 9

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So, I've had a considerable amount of experience playing as Cho'gath, enough that I get judgemental when I see someone other than myself playing Cho. Their builds tend to fall a bit short when they are tanking, and many of them reference some guide on Mobafire or whatever when I'm politely asking who gave them that *cough* 'brilliant' *cough* idea to get a Warmog's as a main tank. (Note: It is my strong opinion that main tanks should not even look crosswise at Warmog's. There are so many better tanking items out there.) So I felt that I should interject my own bit of expertise to the topic.

The other build I have here is from a bit of whimsy, when I was not the primary tank, so I decided to have fun with Cho's build, to excellent results.

I'll probably add a third build, a proper off-tanking build for Cho'gath, but I'll have to actually test it out before I decide to share.

(Also, this is my first guide, so I would appreciate feedback on design, specifically on how I can streamline the design.)

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Summoner Spells

Good spells

For Tank Cho, the one you really need is Clarity. You aren't going to have a whole lot of mana on the base build, so it's important to have an effective way to recover said mana when the situation calls for the spamming of skills.

Just generally a good spell, given that it can be used both offensively and defensively to great effect, especially when that carry is *just* out of reach for your nomming.

Also a generally good spell, with wide versatility in and out of teamfights.

Okay spells
Nice to have when no one else does, especially when that low health champ is almost out of reach and you can't move toward them, but its limited use makes it less viable than other choices.

Excellent when you are jungling with AP/AS Cho. If you aren't jungling, it can be used to improve your creep score and gold gain as a roamer, but for laning, don't get this.

It is handy when you don't have a partner who can bush check (because your Rupture doesn't reveal enemies it hits), and has a good general utility.

A good second spell when you can't quite get there in time to save the turret normally. Excellent for countering backdooring. Also good if the enemy is trying to dive for a kill. Generally good for one character on the team to have, and a pain in the *** for the other team.

To me, this is essentially Flash's little brother, though it is handy to have the prolonged boost to speed in a situation where maneuverability and speed is the most important thing, especially if you need to charge through some minions in order to do it.

Useful for total map mobility, like when you need to be on the other side of the map in a hurry, but otherwise not needed. You should not have to go back for mana early game unless the other team is generally being stupid in your lane for easy kills, and late game, it will be rare for you to use up your whole mana pool.

You have a passive which heals you for every kill you get, creep or champ, so it's not as useful as it could be on a different champ.

Bad Spells
There are situations where you'd expect to die, but dying in general is bad, especially with Cho'gath, who has what is essentially a built in Leviathan with his Feast, minus the damage mitigation. This spell is used for nothing more than trolling, ever.

Do I really need to explain how bad this spell is?

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Skill Sequence

You may notice a marked difference in the way the skills are apportioned from level 8 on when you compare the two builds. That is because of the importance of each skill to the specific build type.

On tank Cho'gath, you're more worried about keeping your teammates alive than dealing damage, so maxing out his Feral Scream takes priority over his Vorpal Spikes, which is a throwaway point skill without a reasonable amount of AP behind it. Your early farming will be reliant upon pretty much the mage minions, in which you Rupture and Scream at them for a quick ~60 gold.

On the AP + AS build, you'll note I prioritise Vorpal Spikes instead, for two reasons. One, the rank 1 Feral Scream gives you a two second silence. That's more than enough time for a group effort to destroy an early or midgame group of carries that can't use their abilities. Point two, with your attack speed, you're going to mixing it up in there, and the more damage you deal while waiting for cooldowns to refresh, the better, so get those Spikes up (This point rendered moot if you've already eaten your target).

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My rune pages are a little funky, and I'll be the first to admit it, but I'll give my justification now. You don't actually have to follow these runes, since they are just guidelines, and affect your early game almost exclusively.

As a tank, the only thing I need to do on a rune page is do something about the weaknesses of the item build, and augment his overall threat level. For one thing, since his nerf he's been a little slim on MR for my builds. So that needed a tiny buff from Greater Seal of Scaling Magic Resist. His early game requires smart mana conservation, mainly owing to the cost of a Rupture versus his base mana, and the severe nerf to the mana bonus on his passive, so a bit of AP from the Greater Quintessence of Ability Power added to his ratios is helpful early on, as well as an extra chunk of mana from those Greater Glyph of Mana. This gives his choice shots some oomph to them early on, and allows you just a tad more leeway on missing, which will happen a lot if a player is smart enough to watch for the signature rumblings before the Rupture. The extra attack speed on Greater Mark of Attack Speedwill give him a bit more utility in a teamfight after he's burned all his cooldowns, or give him the extra edge he needs to sneak in a finisher Feast.

As a heavy melee damage dealer with only one attack speed item, a little buff on said attack speed can't hurt. Get those Greater Mark of Attack Speed. Given that you are Cho'gath, you're going to get big, thus, you're going to eat some misclicks in a teamfight if they don't focus you (or better, if they do). Dodge Greater Seal of Evasion and masteries combined will give you a better chance to make it out of the melee. Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction because Rupture and Feral Scream together make for one nasty AoE nuke that slows and silences, so the sooner the better, and a cooldown of less than 40 seconds on your Feast is something to be feared. Add some Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration to round it off, and make your early game hurt a tad more.

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Alternative items

-Tank Cho
The core items on my Cho tank are the first four, i.e. Mercury's Treads, Heart of Gold, Sunfire Cape, and Force of Nature. These are essential to building Cho as a tank, giving him the early levels of damage mitigation that he needs to at least off-tank, and be able to gain gold if he's not able to get a good farm going. The other items afterward are situational, though I usually recommend not reselling (translation: build that Randuin's Omen, it's a good item for both main and off-tank). The Abyssal Scepter and the Zhonya's Hourglass are purely because they not only make it that much harder to kill you, but you also deal some damage, generally the best choices when you're fighting a balanced team. In the event of an AD-heavy team against you, you probably want to invest in a Frozen Heart instead of the Zhonya's, and insert a Tear of the Goddess (which later becomes an Archangel's Staff) into the build early on instead of building an Abyssal Scepter (I'd suggest immediately after your Heart of Gold). That way you weaken their overall damage output, reduce your cooldowns, and still have a sizable AP pool to draw from. An AP heavy team? Kill Zhonya's again, and move back the Abyssal in favour of a Banshee's Veil. You can also slip in a Tear to Archangel's again if you decide against keeping Randuin's, since it does suffer from not having any serious AD in close range. Only downside to that is having to resell your Heart of Gold.

-AP/AS Cho
When pressed for gold, get a Wit's End (AP heavy team) or Malady (AD team/high resists) instead of Nashor's Tooth, and you can actually go with any boots you want, because they all have effective application on this build (even the berserker greaves that seem to be so unpopular with people who aren't AD/AS carries). You can also swap out the Will of the Ancients for a Void Staff, if you want, though spell vamp is happy when every auto-attack you make heals you. Yay Vorpal Spikes! I won't say no to a Hextech Gunblade either, given its potential to make solo ganks supremely easy for a nuker like Cho. It would just take the place of Will of the Ancients on the build order, and the only reason I didn't make it the primary item over Will of the Ancients was the prohibitively high cost on an already pricey basic build.

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Why you shouldn't ever take Warmog's on a main tank

This is mostly in response to being asked why I don't care for Warmog's Armor.

Warmog's gives you health and hp regen, with a nice little boost from the starting item after some creep kills, or champ kills. However, this does not contribute to anything else, making it an ineffective item for a character that is soaking damage, because there is no damage mitigation. Including it in a main tank build that has damage mitigation gimps that build, because a tank needs some ability to contribute to a teamfight besides being a damage soak (i.e. auras, effective and painful initiation, damage). This is augumented by a tank's ability to provide crowd control in a critical fashion (thus why Dr. Mundo is not a main tank, he doesn't have any serious CC, other than his anti-CC none of his skills scale off of AP/AD, and look at that, Warmog's is a core item for him). Randuin's Omen gives hp, a significant amount of armour, and an active that makes enemies running or chasing have a bit of a hard time. Sunfire Cape gives you health, armour, and a passive damage aura to make it a tad more dangerous to be near you for an extended teamfight. Banshee's Veil gives you health, mana, and negates a skill strike on you every 45 seconds, sometimes a potentially fatal/crippling one. Aegis of the Legion gives you health, armour, magic resist, and a nice aura to boot. It would also be silly to not note that all of these items cost less than Warmog's Armor, including Randuin's (given that you build piecemeal and get the Heart of Gold early). This small list neglects to include items that provide health and damage, whether AP or AD.

Warmog's is a bad item in a general sense, due to the fact that almost all other full build items that are considered good give you at least three functions to them (exception being Rabadon's Deathcap, whose AP bonus and passive are both in high utility). For a main tank in particular (whose primary job is to support their team), it is not something you want to invest in, in either terms of cost-effectiveness, or general team utility. Look at it this way: Warmog's Armor is an item that costs 3k, with only 2 utility points of above average usefulness (high flat health and high health regen), compared to the roughly equivalent cost of Randuin's Omen, which offers *6* utility points, 3 of which have medium utility (*low flat health, armour, *low health regen, *5% CDR, on-hit chance to slow, activated AoE slow).
{One of these days I'll need to make a chart on equivalent utilities, so this makes more sense. Note for now that the '*' indicates low utility bonuses.}

In addition, most tanky build characters have strong health progression, so don't need the massive hp boost from something like Warmog's, instead do quite well with a scant 1k hp bonus total from getting two tank items that have health and something else on top of it.

Also, when someone says HP tank, they're basically saying (even if they don't realise it): Character that exists solely to take damage, and is actually pretty useless because they pose little to no actual threat to the enemy. The point of a main tank is that you *are* a serious threat, and are difficult to ignore as well as difficult to kill without a concerted effort. With my basic build, unless someone on their team is fed beyond all reason (i.e. full stacks on a Mejai's Soulstealer/ Sword of the Occult), it takes at least a 3 man focused effort with one carry (unless all of them have Last Whisper/ Void Staff, then it takes two champs, which still means 3v4 elsewhere) to kill my fully munched Cho'gath, and that's with enough risk that the carry has a fairly high chance of dying if I can reach them, as well as at least a ~20 second time sink, sufficient for anyone on my team to get there if they aren't completely on the other side of the map/in a separate teamfight/backdooring a turret), especially if I'm able to start kiting. A 'health tank' does not pose that kind of threat, and is easily countered by an AD carry with Madred's Bloodrazor, though they are typically just ignored. A proper main tank suffers from Madred's, but it would not pose such a hard threat because not only are you mitigating the damage taken from the passive with your MR, but you're also able to respond in a threatening manner, rather than either running like a little girl or beating your fists uselessly against a enemy that is taking your health away far faster than you can theirs.

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Basic tips


If you find yourself in a postion where you are certainly going to die, and support is not in a position to help, turn around and fight. Deal some damage before you go, rather than not dealing any and just being run down.

If allies are coming, and you have a chance to make it, kite them into your allies as best you can. A properly carried out kite can win a 2v5 when you're on the side of 2 (I've seen this happen with a Veigar and a Nunu. Veigar drew them out of the base with low heath, toward a bush where Nunu popped Absolute Zero, Veigar pinned them in his Event Horizon once in the bush, and dropped his Dark Matter, quadra for Veigar, with a Nunu Ice Blast for the ace. lulz were had.)

-General Cho'gath (because he wasn't badass enough before, right?) tips

Mana conservation early game is a *must*. Make sure that your Rupture either hits a champ or scores you some last hits, preferably both. Practice leading your Ruptures, because they are generally easy to avoid if launched from a standstill. And for the love of all that is good in this world, don't take lessons from Cho'gath bot. He can't lead for ****.

As long as you have an effective partner, you can waltz right in and take last hits, because early game pokes are going to be doing the same amount of damage to you as you recover from scoring those last hits. Take full advantage of this. You should never end a game that lasted longer than 40 minutes with a creep score under 200. That's at least 10 champion kills worth of gold there.

If you're low, Feast is up, and an enemy that doesn't have a bush check skill is chasing you, try breaking his line of sight by going in a bush, Rupture where he will enter the bush, Feral Scream, and Feast on his disoriented champion. If this doesn't kill him outright, he or she is going to be a lot more cautious about chasing down a low health Cho'gath in the future.

In a teamfight against enemies that have nasty AoE ults, save one of your interrupts just for them. Fiddlesticks channeling for an ult? Rupture or Feral Scream say, 'Suddenly he has a nice long cooldown, and no damage dealt. Mmm...' Katarina Shunpo's in and pops Death Lotus? Pop her up or silence her, and she's no longer a threat, and probably a tasty target. Nunu? Piece of cake. The list goes on.

Feast on minions to get your stacks up, so you can use your Feast more freely as a damage spell. That said, never initiate with Feast, as that's called being an idiot. Use it to guarantee a kill, or to bring an enemy low enough to be finished off by anyone in the vicinity.

-Tank Cho

Your primary method of farming is going to be skill-oriented rather than auto-attacks. I mentioned it before, with the Rupture + Feral Scream yielding a fast ~60 gold from minions. Don't use this when you're expecting a gank or a teamfight though, as this combo is also Cho'gath's primary method of initiation. Once you get your Sunfire Cape, however, it becomes a moot point, given the stacking between the cape and your Vorpal Spikes, making your auto-attack considerably more effective for farming.

You should be the primary initiator on your team, not only dealing the first bit of damage, but also drawing as much attention away from your carries as possible in the process.

-AS/AP Cho
Be careful when wading into the thick of a teamfight, as your effective health is not buffered with any significant amount of mitigation.

Melee attacks with Vorpal Spikes are going to be nasty to sit in. In the cooldown of both Rupture and Feral Scream, you have time for 12-15 auto-attacks. You'll be able to get a good chunk of those in with the amount of slowing the enemy champ will suffer under the influence of Rylai's Crystal Scepter.

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If you have the skins for this, you should always do it. EVERYTIME. EVER.

Tank Cho: Who better to defend his allies than a Gentleman Cho'gath of good standing?

AP/AS Cho: *Loch Ness Cho'Gath comes charging out of the river, bearing down with speed and fury* OH GOD, LOCH NESS MONSTER! *enemy champs scream like little girls after they've been popped up, until they get silenced and eaten*

Nightmare Cho would be fun too... if it wasn't just a recolour of the basic skin. I hate recolours.

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Change log

*Made minor grammatical corrections and syntax issues
*filled in Randuin's Omen where I forgot to put it in the tank build. That was a significant loss of armour on the base build.
*Inserted links to items, skills, runes, and champions.
*Additional grammatical corrections
*Addressed my disdain for Warmog's Armor