Aatrox Build Guide by Staudi
Not Updated For Current Season
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.
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.
Welcome to my first guide on mobafire, it's about Aatrox, the Darkin Blade.
At first I want to apologize for the grammar mistakes you may find during reading this guide, since I'm not a native english speaker.
With this guide I try to explain essentinal knowledge about aatrox's abilities, what factors you have to consider while playing him and also the thought process behind runes and masterys. This is a guide which I created for people who want to inform themself and learn new things about aatrox and support you with this guide.
To clarify, this is no in depth guide which means it doesn't include behaviour in laning phase and teamfights or information about warding and objective controll.
This guide conenctrates on a tanky fighter style of build designed for playing on top lane. If played correctly with this build and rune/mastery setup Aatrox is a tanky sustain monster in the laning phase, a tanky part of your fronline while still having the potential to slay the enemy carry.
So let's start off with his Pros/Cons
+ Solid matchup against nearly every enemy
+ No resource like mana or energy
+ Can be played top, mid or jungle
+ Insane sustain through Blood Thirst
+ Gap closer with knockup
+ Integrated guardian angel as passive
+ Capable of split pushing
+ Can be build in many different ways
+ medicore waveclear with Blades of Torment
- Reliant on his passive (225s cooldown)
- His Q and E drain his life
- His only gap closer can be interrupted
- No natural tankiness
- Reliant on attack speed to deal proper damage
- Not one of the current OP champions
His passive got 2 effects and includes his resource Blood. Whenever Aatrox looses health through the use of Dark Flight, Blades of Torment or the on hit effect of Blood Price 100% of the lost health will transform into blood. The amount of blood which can be stored dependes on your level.
The 1. effect you have to notice is depending on many % of the blood well is filled, it increases your attack speed which means before u go brawl with your enemy fill the well to improve combat effectiveness, kinda the same as with Mordekaiser, Tryndamere or Renekton resources.
The 2. effect is on a 225 second static (no profit from cooldown reduction) cooldown. When aatrox would normally die he will get untargetable and will transform his stored blood into life the more his blood well is filled the more health he will regenerate. After this process he will revive and the effect will get on cooldown. Important to notice Guardian Angel and Chronoshift effects will get used before blood well.
Now let's move on to the active abilities and in which order you put points into them. But why would you level aatrox's skills in this specific order? To answer that let's see what effects his abilities have and what gives you the most benefit in leveling up.
+45 damage and -1 second cooldown per level
70/115/160/205/250 (+60% AD) Damage and the 16/15/14/13/12 seconds cooldown
Dark Flight is your initiate and your escape tool if the cooldown is 16 or on max 12 seconds will rarely give you a good option of using it a second time and only if you use it for offensive matters the damage will improve and if you actually hit your enemy is not certain therefore if Dark Flight is Lvl 1 or Lvl 5 won't really matter until larger teamfights, which don't happen before mid to lategame. Be aware that deposition abilities like Riven Broken Wings or Thresh Flay or Gragas Body Slam will cancel your jump, this has to be considered in laning phase and especially in team fight since this could shut you down completly
Dark Flight is least important to level 1 Point at level 3 (2 if you get that early minute 3 gank or 1 if u invade and see an enemy in range) is a must but not more then 1 point till later on.
+5/+15 heal per Blood Thirst procc and +35/+8.75 damage dealt and received through Blood Price per level
Bloord thirst is your passive sustain ability and blood price your damage boost if required. You profit from every 3. auto attack through one of those two abilities which means it synergies with attack speed. Early on you don't have a lot of attack speed leveling this ability first would result into a little bit more sustain but no waveclear neither good trade potentinal since blood price also damages yourself.
Blood Thirst In rare circumstances like farming under the tower against an agressive nidalee you may put a 2. or 3. point into this ability early, otherwise it is most effective to level it second.
+35 damage and - 1 second cooldown per level.
75/110/145/180/215 (+60% AD) Damage and the 12/11/10/9/8 seconds cooldown and 40% slow for 1.75/2.00/2.25/2.50/2.75 seconds.
Blades of torment is early on your main damage ability. With it you can wave clear poke your enemy and the slow helps when your jungler ganks your lane or youself get ganked. With a 8 instead of 12 second cooldown chances aren't to bad you might be able to use it a second time during fights in lane ganks or smaller skirmishes. In close range it is a secure hit.
Blades of Torment your all-purpose ability, you start at level 1 with it and should max it immediatly.
+100 damage and 10% attack speed
200/300/400 damage 40/50/60% attack speed and 325 attack range
Your ultimate ability, initial damage + attack speed steroid + extended auto hit range. As soon as a fight starts to get serious and you are close to your enemies your ultimate improves your combat effectiveness for 12 seconds for quite a bit and deals some initial damage.
Massacre as your ultimate ability it should be no surprise that you give a point into it whenever you can, means level 6, 11 and 16
Let's continue with masteries. In top lane you want either 21/9/0 masteries or 9/21/0 for nearly every champion,there are a few exceptions like ryze though. Most of those classic mastery setups are the same, they only differ in a few skillpoints which partly come down to your prefferences and playstyle.
This is my suggestion for most matchups or blind pick. I generally prefere 21 points into defense as aatrox since his natural sustain + Perseverance and Second Wind will turn him into a sustain monster combined with defensive stats which will come in handy at teamfights.
If you play draft pick and know your enemy is ap the points into Resistance will make your lane more comfortable and Evasive is truly strong for 1 point, since it can't be taken without Resistance it's not worth against AD matchups.
This is an offensive way of playing aatrox. With this you can kill your enemy faster while getting killed faster yourself. The 12 extra points into offense synergy not to bad with his skill kit but even tough his Blood Thirst gives him sustain if your enemy full engages on you your passive may procc or you might even die because you can't profit from your natural sustain like you could with more defense. If you really want to go for the kills take Ignite and offensive masterys and go for it
Greater Mark of Attack Damage
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed
Greater Quintessence of Life Steal
Nothing much to explain: It scales off your Dark Flight and Blades of Torment your attack speed from your passive Blood Well and ultimate Massacre and the hits you need for your Blood Thirst basically his whole kit.
It also helps him getting last hits early on and since Blades of Torment (and also Massacre) deal magic damage I wouldn't take armor penetration on aatrox. Hybrid penetration might also be viable but in the early game where runes have the highest impact they are simply not as good
They recently got nerved, why would u still use them?
What about Greater Seal of Health?. Flat health is good especially for the first few levels they might even be better, but after a few level they get overshadowed by the health you get for every levelup, also since aatrox Blood Thirst helps him recover fast I think preventing damage > being able to receive more damage.
Unless you go for early agression and all in fights at around level 3 I think Greater Seal of Armor is even after they got neved the better option
And what about Greater Seal of Scaling Armor? Those are good seals which are used by quite alot of top laners. Past level 6 they are stronger and before level 6 they are weaker that's it. At max level those give u 27 armor instead of 9 so 18 more.
After Blade of the Ruined King you normally go for a Randuin's Omen which gives you 70 armor, and during you build that you have a Chain Vest which gives you 40 armor. That said I think the little advantage they give you past 6 are minor if you look at your stats overall but pre 6 they can very well mean the difference between live and death, thats why I'm mostly using flat runes in general.
However if you like to go for a passive lane and concentrate exclusively on mid and lategame take Greater Seal of Scaling Armor.
More protection against magic damage. If you play draft pick however and know you will lane against an AD enemy rather take Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist. Still do not forget that even against some AD enemies you might prefer flat magic resist. Shyvana Burnout and Flame Breath, Jax Empower, Irelia Equilibrium Strike are some examples for magic damage on AD Champions. If you choose scaling or flat glyphs, it's mostly up to you and your matchup.
There are alot of choices for quintessences here is my thought process behind this.
Greater Quintessence of Life Steal after Doran's Blade got changed it's really not that good as first item anymore this helps you being the sustain monster even early on. Since life steal is just sustain and not combat effectivenes we don't want to invest 2 or 3 quintessence slots 1 is just fine.
Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed 4.5% attack speed for 1 quint slot is insane especially since it scales so well with aatrox. If there wouldnt be the fact that in early levels you rarely get an extra hit in it's more of a midgame rune and together with Blood Well it gives you the attack speed to get 2 hits in on those caster minions which just don't wanna die from 1 hit after the tower already hit them
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage bascially the same as with Greater Mark of Attack Damage. Just that a little bit of attack speed and life steal is really good and quintessences are the best slots to put them in so only 1 slot for AD is left which isn't tragic. For early all in fights feel free to take 3 of those.
If u play draft pick and see a Riven, Pantheon, Wukong or some other full AD as your laning enemy my secret tip is Greater Quintessence of Armor these give u tons of armor where those champions will bite their teeth out. If you have 1 or 2 extra runepages to spare fill one with 2-3 of those.
Summoner Spell Tier 1
Flash is love, Flash is live. With flash you can close gaps to secure kills, safe yourself from ganks, simply said it's the difference between life and death. It's bascially a get ouf of jail free card which can be used in many different situations. It is the strongest and most diverse usable summoner in league and if you not already use it you really should learn how to. The only downside is the 5 minute cooldown.
Always take flash!
Summoner Spell Tier 2
Teleport is the most used second summoner spell as top laner in competitive play, for a good reason! With teleport you can go back regenerate and buy items and after a few seconds you are back in lane with only minor gold or exp losses. You can also safe your teleport up to join for a botlane gank or a dragon fight to make it a 4v5.
A matchup teleport vs ignite may be hard because your at the disadvantage in pure strength. You will sometimes have to abandom some farm for the sake of not getting full engaged or don't get a kill you otherwise might have gotten.
With teleport you are capable of split pushing and before your team starts a fight you are already back there. You can flank the enemy team and jump at their ad carry. There are a lot of possibilities you otherwise wouldn't have.
Teleports cooldown is 4 minutes if you use it on a tower and 5 if you use it on a minion/ward or other things (you can teleport on thresh lantern or zyra plants for example)
Use it if you feel comfortable with using teleport, preferably with some premates in teamspeak/skype if you go for a kill lane better take ignite.
Ignite, deals true damage over 5 seconds and reduce healing effects by 50% pretty straight forward. It's especially good in early game to get those kills you otherwise wouldn't have gotten. Later on it's more about the 50% heal reduction then the actual damage, since it counts for live steal and healing effects like Transfusion, Sadism or your Blood Thirst. For the later stages of the game there should be a mid laner or support with Ignite a second one surely can come in handy but isn't necessarily required.
Take ignite if you go for a kill lane or perhaps if you see a enemy champion like Dr. Mundo in draft pick but if you go for split pushing or objective controll I would recommend Teleport
Summoner Spell Tier 3
You can use those if you are comftable playing with them or simply don't like ignite or teleport. But I highly recommend learning how to use the Tier 2 summoners but nevertheless if you want to use those instead here my opinion on them.
Slowing decreasing damage and attack speed and shredding resistances not too bad. In early game ignite is better for most fights, exhaust gets stronger later on especially against hyper carrys.
Exhaust doesn't give you the kill potential ignite does and not the play making abilities teleport gives you. In teamfights exhaust can be pretty usefull but you will probably profit more from teleport or ignite
More or less the same as with exhaust. No kill potential no play making abilities. It heals you and an ally and gives a 30% speedbost for 1 second which sure can be pretty usefull in smaller and larger fights but it's currently just not as good as teleport or ignite as a top laner.
Probably THE offensive item for aatrox. Every stat and effect it gives you is usefull for aatrox and fits his ability kit and the role he has to fulfill in the game. The attack speed synergies well with his Blood Thirst, the lifesteal with his already existing self heal, the on hit passive with the attack speed he gets from Blood Well and Massacre. The active is for hunting down enemies and in teamfights it's especially usefull against the enemy adc.
In my opinion it's the best offensive item for aatrox which should be either build as first or second item (boots excluded). For this kind of build it's the only real offensive item you actually need to be effective even with 4 full defensive item after this you still have the potential to kill your enemies. Until you finish it in most cases only having non upgraded boots is recommendet.
Until the blade is finished the Bilgewater Cutlass and Dagger aren't bad but not to good, so untill you finish the blade you might be at a disadvantage in your matchup, but as soon as you finish it you hit your damage power spike.
Even tough it got nerved recently it's still the first defensive item you want to buy. It gives quite some health and armor which you really need at this point since after finishing Blade of the Ruined King you still are a squishy. After finishing randuins your second item smaller fights or even teamfights have probably already started in which you don't want to get shredded like a squishy.
Depending on your team setup you or your jungler are probably the ones who will intiate. If you have the chance to Dark Flight hit and knock up a squishy enemy with your team behind you go for it afterwards the enemy team will probably jump at you activate your Massacre and Randuin's Omen after this the fight should already be at your advantage.
I wouldn't always go for randuins as first defensive item. If your enemy mid and top lane is AP or your enemy jungler is a offensive AP jungler like Fiddlesticks or simply a offensive built Elise you rather want some magic resist. Depending on how well your lane went you have to decide if you go for the whole Spirit Visage a Spectre's Cowl or simply a Negatron Cloak before building your Randuin's.
A relativly cheap magic resist item especially good on champions with self healing effects like aatrox. In teamfights even if not getting focused receiving some magic damage is unavoidable and the stronger the enemy ap carry is the more you will receive. The extra health is always usefull and the cooldown reduction neither helps your Blood Well nor Blood Thirst but it's still not too bad on aatrox since it's only 10%. You will hardly notice the health regeneration since your Sustain is already good but the amount of stats this item got for it's price it's eligible.
The reason why this item is better for aatrox then other champions is the 20% increase in self healing for Blood Thirst making the heal you receive <50% health from it ridicilous high.
The overall stats of this item fit aatrox pretty well. Since this build goes toward a tanky style of build Maw of Malmortius isn't ideal since it doesn't give you any health. Banshee's Veil is also a viable option which in some cases might even be better but the 20% extra self heal is simply that powerfull that unless the enemy team got some key spells you want to block with your banshee's, spirit visage is the better option in my opinion
You will buy them sooner or later in a match since everyone loves those boots. They give you the movementspeed you need, top lane is the position in which you might be able to drag out the purchase of boots the longest possible since they don't give you any comabt effectiveness.
There are matchups in which you want to buy boots pretty early, bascially against most ranged champions. Besides the matchup the jungler activity at top and surroundings is also essentinal for when to buy boots. Enhanced movement speed increase your chances of a gank with kill result when your jungler ganks and decreses the chances of you dying when the enemy jungler ganks.
Even tough they are cheap and essential I wouldn't buy them to soon since if you would buy a Long Sword instead for example you might win a fight which else you wouldn't.
The longer the game goes on the less the 325g will be for you and the more important they will get timing on when to buy them is essential.
In general I recommend buying them somwhere between Vampiric Scepter and Blade of the Ruined King in terms of build progress.
Ninja tabi are probably the most common boots on aatrox. Even tough I wouldn't upgrade your boots to early against a lot of AD heavy matchups those will bring a significant damage reduction.
Later on in teamfights you will also receive significant less damage from the enemy adc since most of there damage comes from auto attacks.
With those boots you will miss out tenacity and might be vulnerable against the enemy ap carry but they will be especially usefull in the later phases of the laning phase and against the enemy adc.
Until you start building your Spirit Visage the only magic resistance you will have is from runes and maybe masteries. Therefore when fighting against ap enemies those 25 magic resist will bring a lot. Also the tenacity is extremly usefull in team fights together with Tenacious it will reduce the time you are unable to do anything significantly.
I recommend those boots against AP or crowd controll (stun, root, snare,...) heavy teams.
The offensive type of boots for aatrox. Those give you the extra little attack speed for a higher damage output but is this really necessary? Blood Well, Massacre and Blade of the Ruined King all give you attack speed, which actually should be enough.
The tenacity and magic resist from Mercury's Treads or the armor and auto hit reduction from Ninja Tabi are both better choices for team fights.
The reason to buy these boots could be 1. you go for a split push style of game or 2. you are really fed and know you will get your defensive items sooner as usual.
Consider these if you are either really fed or plan on split pushing.
Rounding up your build
You still have 2 item slots to fill, or you don't want to build Randuin's Omen and Spirit Visage in 100% of the games. Here are items which fit aatrox.
Most straight forward magic resist item. Gives you health magic resist and a shield which blocks 1 spell. It's as simple as that and a really strong item in late game especially if they have 2 or more AP based champions. In some cases like I already mentioned you can replace Spirit Visage with this.
You can build it as your second magic resist item as 5. or 6. slot if you want to get more tanky and don't require the damage from Maw of Malmortius.
I see thormail more as a offensive instead of defensive item... wait what?
Thornamil gives you a lot of armor which reduces damage taken and also reflects some damage dealt as magic damage back. The thing is this item doesn't give you any health at all. This means that it's a item you only build if you already have some health items and want a extra bunch of armor and deal more damage.
I recommend thornmail as 5. or 6. item against AD heavy teams.
Guardian angel gives you some magic resist and armor and another revival effect. Together with your
Blood Well it makes you so annoying that your enemies really want to ignore you but somehow can't. However with the revival effect on cooldown this item is close to useless since you already should have plenty of defensive stats by now. The defensive stats of this item get more relevant the more offensive your build is because your damage output is higher.
Buy guardians only in late game as 5. or 6. item and you know a very important probably game deciding fight is coming up especially good with a second damage item besides Blade of the Ruined King since your enemies can't ignore you that well if you deal more damage.
Good mix between offenses and defenses. This item gives u plenty of damage and also magic resist and a magic shield when hitting low health. What makes this item pretty good on aatrox is that the lower your health gets the more damage you deal. Since your self heal <50% is pretty high and you have Blood Well revival or maybe even a second one with Guardian Angel the time you fight with low health is longer then most other champions.
A solid mix between offenses and defenses, a good item for the 5. or 6. slot against a team with more then 1 AP damage oriented champion, especiall good in combination with Guardian Angel
Gives you a lot of health, little bit of damage and a unique slow effect. This is an item which helps you shutting down enemies out of position. It's a pretty nice item but nothing extraordinary or especially good for aatrox.
Buy it as 5. or 6. item if your enemies are out of position sometimes and the slow would help you to secure a kill
A item which helps your whole team against a enemy AP composition. This item is by far not as good as it was in the past. If the enemy team got 2 or more AP damage oriented champions it can prevent quiet some damage for your team.
Buy it as 5. or 6. item if the enemy team deals a lot of aoe magic damage and no one else in your team plans to buy it.
A solid choice for a second offensive item. The cooldown reduction isn't that good but also not required, but if you don't have the tenacity from Mercury's Treads this is another way to get it. The attack damage and speed boosts your offensive but by not to much.
If the enemy team is ad based and you therefore don't bought Mercury's Treads and won't buy Maw of Malmortius this is a possible choice as second offensive item for your 5. or 6. slot if you want tenacity nevertheless.
More or less the same as with Zephyr with the difference that you don't get attack speed, movement speed or tenacity but pure strength and life steal. This item is pretty nice if you dive into the enemy team with Dark Flight and use the active effect in combination with Randuin's Omen active effect. If you are not capable of doing that, you don't feel like building more tanky and they don't have enough magic damage for Maw of Malmortius to be effective try it out.
Offensive item for the 5. or 6 item slot against ad based teams which tend to stick close to each other.
Hopefully I was able to help you improving your knowledge about aatrox and maybe you learned one or another new thing.
Anyway thanks for reading my guide and if it was helpfull feel free to give it a upvote and share it with other people who might be interested and perhaps also leave a comment if you like to.
If you didn't liked it also feel free to downvote and I would appreciate if you leave a comment and tell me what you didn't like and where I can improve my guide.