Cho'Gath Build Guide by Ruin Sage
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I have created this guide simply because of all of the others I have read. So many come SO CLOSE, but never quite reach full potential. This guild illustrates all three viable ways to play my first champion
I play this beast daily, and I can play him with any team composition because of his capacity for variation.
No one build is right! His capacity for variation is great enough that you can play him to whatever style you find best suited to the team, or you just simply prefer. =)
In this guide, I will cover how to tank, mage and AS/hybrid with this beast. (Hybrid includes jungling =)
7/27/2011- Fixed my comment on QQS and Malz's ult. Also added a little more detail with the wards.
10/20/2100- Realized that my skill order was accidentally impossible and fixed.
Cho'Gath can be many things. Due to the nature of his spells, all three of the above mentioned roles are perfectly viable. Cho' has an AOE knock-up and an AOE silence, with enough damage to still make him a threat while tanking. He has a nice frontal AOE that works with his AA to make Hybrid AS viable as well. Finally, he may only have decent conversion ratios on his spells, but they are either AOE or True Damage, making a mage build work wonders as well.
Carnivore is Cho'Gath's passive ability. It makes him great at lane sustaining, provided you can last hit, and is what makes jungling possible. Carnivore also makes Cho'Gath a wonderful solo champion against most people.
Rupture is Cho'Gath's main disruption. AOE knock-up and damage, proves the hard CC that any tank needs. This is also great for dealing heavy magic damage to more than one enemy. With this and Feral Scream, clearing creeps (and restoring health/mana via Carnivore) is a breeze. This does have a delay and a clear casting animation, so practice hitting with it and use it from the bushes when you can.
Feral Scream is Cho'Gath's soft CC. Conic AOE damage and silence provide great disruption in the other team. It has the lowest conversion rate, and the lowest damage. The reason we max it out first is because of the increase in silence duration. This is a fairly easy skill, and should be used as frequently as possible.
This is the bread and butter of Hybrid Cho. When you AA, make sure you line yourself up so your spikes are useful. When pushing a tower, you may want to turn them off so you don't accidentally gain aggro. These are only of mediocre value to the tank and mage builds, but the Hybrid build capitalizes on these to do significant AOE damage.
Cho'Gath's signature move. This move is one of the best abilities in the game IMO. .7 conversion rate for an ability that does TRUE damage. This nuke is extremely powerful in all three styles and is the main reason I take flash with all three. Use this on creeps to gain stacks, but save it for champs only when you are full. If you are tanking, you should try to never last hit champs with this, unless no one else can- you are trying to feed the carries. Mage and Hybrid- feel free to nom some faces! Flash- Feast is a great way to initiate, or guarantee kills. Watch for the glow around someone that indicates you can 1 shot them with this ability.
Build 1: The Tank
Cho'Gath is a perfect example of a perfect tank- hard to kill, high threat, AOE hard cc and soft cc. This build brings out all of the best of the tank, allowing for full gamut of health and resists for maximum survivablity, while still being able to generate enough threat to MAKE people take you seriously.
The build begins with the two tanky gold/10 items (Philosopher's Stone, ), for better lane sustainability and generation of gold. As a tank, you should not be getting any kills early game- you should be letting your carries get them all, if you can.
This is your first choice in the build- Ninja Tabi or Mercury's Treads. I prefer Ninja Tabi in almost every case, because I have a lot of MR from my Runes and with Ninja Tabi I end up with almost 25% dodge. That's almost 1 out of every 4 attacks dodged. Despite this, if the enemy team has a bunch of cc, or an excessive amount of AP champions, I will change to the Mercury's Treads.
The next three items are not really negotiable. Warmog's Armor and Atma's Impaler are brilliant on tank Cho, anyone who says differently hasn't done the math. With about 200 Armor and MR, about 66% of damage is prevented. With this build, you end up with 4500ish life. With 66% reduction, you get about 7470 effective health. Take Warmog's Armor out and you have 3130 health. We have enough armor, so lets add a Banshee's Veil. That brings our health up to 3505 and our average % reduction to 70. Effective health = 5959 AKA MUCH LESS. We also lose some of our threat by not having as much life to fuel Atma's Impaler. With so much life, we need the % health regen from Force of Nature. The fact that it has more MR than any other item is just an extra benefit. =)
This brings us to our last choices in this build. I really like Randuin's Omen for everything about it. It is the ultimate tank item, provided you remember to USE THE ACTIVE. If you don't, it's almost better to get Frozen Heart instead. Abyssal Scepter is my last item, taken more for the MR and MRred than the AP, although more damage is never a bad thing.
Replacement items for these last two can include:
- Guardian Angel
- Frozen Heart
- Sunfire Cape
- Banshee's Veil
You should know when each of these is needed.
-I do not include Zhonya's Hourglass because it entirely defeats the purpose of being a tank. YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TARGET YOU. If you use the active, you are failing your team. Randuin's Omen has more armor, and so many other things that make it a better choice.
-I also did not include Quicksilver Sash because it is far more important than a replacement item. Quicksilver Sash SHOULD BE CONSIDERED FOR EVERY BUILD, PERIOD. It is far too good an item to be ignored for ANYONE's build. In all my games, I have seen it purchased by someone (other than me) perhaps a dozen times. This item is so good, I have begun referring to it as QQS (rather than QSS) because it makes the opponents QQ so hard. Mord doing well with his ult? QSS. Malz giving you the face laser? QQ more Malz- my QQ-Sash totally cancels your damage.
Runes, Masteries, and Summoners: 1
First the Runes-
I get the MR/lvl Marks and Glyphs because the items are a tad lacking in that department. The fact that they are /lvl is because early game magic damage is fairly low, and you wont have too much to worry about till level 6, which is when they overtake the flat Runes.
I get the Dodge Seals and Quints because my calculations of 7k effective health did not include dodge. Even a scary champion like Trynd will be like a fly when you dodge a full 1/4 of his attacks and mitigate 66% of the damage that he actually does manage to do.
0-21-9, making sure to grab Evasion and Nimbleness . If you don't want to get Fortify, don't get Reinforce either, move that point to Ardor or move it and the Ardor point to Defensive Mastery .
Picking up Good Hands , Awareness and Greed in the Utility Tree to aid in your effectiveness. Everyone says Greed is bad, but really it is very good! Getting several free wards throughout the game can easily change the tide of battle. As a tank, your goal is to die in place of your team mates, so getting Good Hands is very beneficial.
I vastly prefer Fortify and Flash to anything else on this tank. Every team needs a Fortify, and the tank is the best place to have it. Flash is a wonderful initiator/ chaser. Using a Flash- Feast combo is a great way to make their important targets easily destroyed by your carries.
Other choices may include:
- Exhaust for holding down the enemies while your team beats on them. Good to help you place your Rupture, but your carries should take this instead.
- Ghost for initiating and chasing. Can be used in place of Flash, but I vastly prefer Flash due to its utility and instantaneousness.
- Teleport is great for getting to lane and preventing backdoors, but once again I think a carry should have it.
- Cleanse good if the enemy has a bunch of cc, but I prefer simply getting a Quicksilver Sash and keeping the utility of the other spells.
- Clarity will keep you able to spam plenty, but I recommend this only if you are laning with someone who spams a bunch.
Not to get:
- Heal does pathetic amounts. Aside from ARAM, it is only even decent on two champions.
- Revive will let you come back faster when you die for your team, but if you are effective, the extra 1 minute of down time you save is not worth either spellslot.
- Ignite should be carried by your carries, not you. It helps guarantee kills, and you are not the person to do that.
- Rally is a bad spell all around right now. It doesn't help much, and only for a very short time. If anyone gets this, it should be the OT.
- Clairvoyance is a broken spell. Each team should have one for sure. HOWEVER, the best place for it is on your support champion, because they are not as SS or item dependent to do their job.
Play Style: 1
As a tank, you are the initiator.You are supposed to absorb as much damage and cc as you can, so your damage dealers don't have to. The optimum tank score is 0-0->9000, meaning you gave away no kills, but also took no kills from your carries and didn't skimp on the participation to make your score look good. A more realistic score would be 2-4-20, proving you died for your team, but still finished people when you had to.
-Early game, you focus on last hitting and lane sustaining, so that you have enough tanky to survive the next game phases. Harass when you can, but your main goal is money generation. Your preference is solo top, but if you are laning with a carry, your main goal becomes to feed them. You still want last hits, but don't take any that your carry are looking at. With a lane mate, you can harass a lot more and potentially get kills. Alone, I would recommend simply playing safe and pushing them out of lane, instead of going for any kind of risky kills.
-Mid game, you want to be mobile and helping your team get kills and push lanes. You want to gank for kills or to push them from lane, then stay and deal significant damage to the tower. Your job here is to protect your team mates from anything too risky, while netting them as many kills and as much tower damage as possible.
-Late game, you are there to stop the enemy from getting to your team. Be careful with your spells, because any tank's worst nightmare is having everything on CD while the enemy burster annihilates one of your team. You should stand in the most strategic position to block enemy spells, while still letting your carries do damage. When the time is right, it is your job to jump in and cripple the other team while yours blows them up. You must make sure your team is ready to go in though- if you dive alone, your team no longer has any protection.
Build 1: Tank Conclusion
Building Cho'Gath as a tank is quite easy, and has great advantage to your team. You won't deal super significant damage, but you do have enough threat and high CC to be a wonderful asset to the team.
As you can see, once I knew we would crush them, I picked up more damage via Rod of Ages. I was playing with my friends, and they refused to last hit because I told them I would be taking pictures for a guide. Sigh. But as you can see, it was almost impossible to kill me after the early game had ended.
Build 2: The Mage
Cho'Gath makes a powerful AOE mage. All his abilities but Feast are AOE and everything has a good conversion ratio. This build keeps him tough and powerful, to nuke hard with his smaller range.
I usually begin with Doran's Ring. It is an all around good starting item for most casters. The reason I didn't put it in the item list is that it is in no way an endbuild item. I have seen so many people claim to be full build while still holding onto a Doran's Item, and I laugh at them. After that, I pick up a Catalyst the Protector for its sustainability and RoA later.
Once again, the first choice of the build is the boots. Don't worry- it will be again! I prefer Boots of Swiftness, but Mercury's Treads and Sorcerer's Shoes are acceptable, Mercury's Treads more so than Sorcerer's Shoes.
Rod of Ages is absolutely not a choice. It keeps you tanky, gives you mana for spamming and AP for damage. I personally think that Abyssal Scepter and Zhonya's Hourglass are also non-negotiable, but I suppose you can change them for the optional items below if you really really really want to. So why is Zhonya's Hourglass in this build, but forbidden from the first? You no longer are trying to MAKE people focus you, so you need to be able to survive when they do.
Rabadon's Deathcap Is another very needed item, but only once you have your survivablity and some AP to increase. This will cap off your build, giving you a huge damage burst on everything you do. This is your last item to get, as I prefer survivablity- dealing low damage is better than being dead and dealing none.
Banshee's Veil is included in the build. I placed it at last so I could explain a bit. This is an item you NEED, being a melee caster. It should not be your last item, but it is up to you where you get it. I often get it right after Rod of Ages, because I quite enjoy staying alive.
- Archangel's Staff, providing more damage, Mana and Mana regen for more spamming higher damage spells.
- Lichbane, giving Mana, AP, Magic Resist. But the real reason anyone gets Lichbane is for the extra damage active. This is a decent item to get, considering as you are a melee caster and feast is practically just melee range.
- Morello's Evil Tome, CDR and Mana Regen is the main goal of this item.
- Void Staff- For more Magic Penetration only, its AP isn't really worth the cost.
Items not to get
- Rylai's Crystal Scepter. You have an AOE slow via Rupture. The other stats are not as useful, considering the other survivability you posses.
- Will of the Ancients. You should have enough Health Regen via killing creeps. The aura is nice, but someone else should pick it up.
Always consider- Quicksilver Sash
I went over this in detail above, but when you are not as strong, it becomes an even greater priority.
Runes, Masteries, and Summoners: 2
I take the Magic Penetration Marks, because we don't get much penetration from items. Feast does true damage, so we also don't need to go overboard with penetration.
I take Mana/5 per level seals, because you want to be able to have the mana to spam plenty.
I take CDR Glyphs and Quints to actually give you the ability to push more buttons. I take one as /level and one as flat, so both early game and late game are benefitted. No CDR items and we already have 13%. Pick up a blue buff and find you are at 38%- thats almost the cap without even trying.
Because we are playing a caster, we go a basic 9/0/21. This leaves you more squishy, but greatly increases your damage and utility. If you find you are too squishy for your liking, a 9/21/0 build is also acceptable, but your impressive utility will suffer.
I make sure I put points in each of my Summoner Spells, ( Insight , and Blink of an Eye ) so if you decided to change those, change the masteries too. You definatly want Awareness , Meditation , Quickness and Intelligence - making these masteries fairly common. I still pick up Greed for the wards, and go to Archaic Knowledge in the offence tree.
My Summoner spells are designed to help me early game( Clarity), and still be very usefull late game ( Flash). Later in the game, I find Clarity loses its benefit, but if you have a great early game, it should make your late game easy. Flash is more for survival and, of course, the Flash- Feast combo that will net you many kills every single game.
Other choices include-
- Ghost for chasing and escaping. It helps you get to where you need to be much quicker than anything but Teleport, which requires a warp target. I still vastly prefer Flash, but it is up to you.
- Exhaust for locking down enemies while you land Rupture, Feral Scream and Feast. This is only single target, so your AOE abilities will be of less use, but at least it does guarantee a hit on Feast.
- Teleport is great for getting back to lane, but I think an AD champ should take it, to prevent backdoors and to do some backdooring themselves. This gains far more use if you are going to be solo lane, especially if you end up 1v2 for whatever reason.
- Cleanse is another good option, because you are far more squishy now than the tank build, and you still have to be in the same range.
- Ignite is good on this build because it can guarantee your kills in lane and shut down a super healer in the teamfights.
Not to get-
- Heal still does pathetic amounts, still don't bother.
- Revive you are more squishy, but if your tank does his job, you will be fine.
- Rally you are still not an AD champ, or a support with nothing else to take. This is not for you.
- Clairvoyance once again, you are not a support, and that is where this spell belongs.
Play Style: 2
Your job is to deal burst AOE damage, bringing their entire team low enough for your AD's to rip through them or your Feast to 1 shot them. Here, you should try to last hit everything with Feast, you need to get nice and fed throughout the game.
-Early game, you should focus on last hitting and harassing the enemies, trying to get enough gold for your items while preventing your opponunts from doing the same. You want to lane solo top, but if you are laning with someone else, you should try to split the creep kills so that the more important person gets the most, but still allowing the other to get some. (AD > AP > OT > Tank > Support) Don't let any creeps get by though, those are wasted gold.
-Mid game, you are helping gank and getting kills. You are not very good at pushing towers with this build, but every little bit helps. Your focus is on getting kills, and feeding your AD champion; pushing towers is a far lower priority for this build.
-Late game, you should all be grouping up and it should be very easy to hit with your AOE abilities. You should be dealing a lot of damage to the enemy team, while shutting down their ability to do the same to you. Once someone gets low enough to Feast, you should be very careful when you go to take the kill. You do not want to dive in alone and trade 1 for 1. You should be able to get a lot of kills here, and get people low enough for your team to feel comfortable initiating on.
Build 2: Mage Conclusion
Cho'Gath is a powerful mage. He has great AOE damage, and a HUGE single target nuke. This build focuses on being able to deal heavy damage, and still survive taking some return fire.
That game I was laning with our AD carry for some reason, so I made sure he got fed instead of me. A very good Cho'Gath can almost always insure who gets the kill, and sets the right person up so it always happens.
Build 3: The Hybrid
Definitely the rarest Cho'Gath build, I think it is the most deadly (but also the squishiest). This build starts in the jungle, so you can get lots of ganks off as soon as you get Rupture. You will have to be much more careful with this build than with the other two, but you can deal far more damage than the other two. You will still have plenty of AP, but you will also have high attack speed for Vorpal Spikes.
I begin with a Cloth Armor and between 3-5 Health Pots, with the rest of your gold in wards. The actual jungling path is explained below, but you don't need anything else specifically for jungling for the rest of the game.
First choice is boots again. (Told you it would be). Your choice is Berserker's Greaves or Mercury's Treads and I prefer Berserker's Greaves but if the enemy has lots of CC, Mercury's Treads it is.
I pick up Philosopher's Stone after that, for more sustainability. This, combined with your passive, will insure that you never have to recall between ganks and can just stay in the jungle till you need to buy things (which this helps you do as well).
Most of the items in this build are pretty solid, given that it is not the same style any other way. I pick up Malady first, because it is the cheapest and reduces the Magic Resist of the enemies, making your other items more useful.
The next choice is Hextech Gunblade or Guinsoo's Rageblade. The Rageblade is, again, cheaper and provides very good stats for the Gunblade to build on. The thing you want to consider is that Hextech Gunblade provides Lifesteal and Spell Vamp, which is the only real survivability this build has.
After that I grab Nashor's Tooth. This rounds off the build nicely, giving you more speed and AP. The Mana Regen and CDR are nice, although not the specific focus of the item.
Banshee's Veil is in this build as well. Once again, it does not belong at the back. You need to pick when best to get it, the earlier the better with this build. It usually comes after I have Malady, or even after Philosopher's Stone if the enemy has been preventing ganks with nice CC.
-The major item change you can consider is Rylai's Crystal Scepter. This is good if the enemy is good at dodging Rupture, your team has very few slows/stuns or you need more health for survivability.
Other items you may consider are just changing things up for survivability.
- Abyssal Scepter will provide you with some Magic Resist, while still providing you damage.
- Guardian Angel gives you much greater survivability, but provides no damage at all.
- Madred's Bloodrazor provides more Armor, and AS but the main reason to get it is to destroy people like Tank-Cho and Vlad who stack up a ton of health.
- Randuin's Omen gives you much greater survivability, and provides a slow. This is a good substitute for Rylai's Crystal Scepter if you want more survivability than damage.
- Rod of Ages will provide survivability and AP. You are not spamming so much, with this build, so the Mana isn't as necessary.
- Sword of the Divine should they have dodge *****s like Jax Nidalee and my first build of Cho'Gath
- Wit's End can replace Malady to give more MR and higher On-Hit, but lower AS and no MR reduction.
- Zhonya's Hourglass will give you armor and damage, but you lose AS and the active will give the enemy time to get away. This is BARELY on the optional items.
Things not to get-
- Lichbane as I said, you are not spamming much so its passive isn't so great.
- Phantom Dancer will increase your attack speed by a bunch, but you don't use crits and you can get the same bonus with some AP.
Always consider - Quicksilver Sash
I know I have said it in every single build, but I am a HUGE advocate of the QSS. It is far too underutilized.
Runes, Masteries, and Summoners: 3
I grab the Magic Penetration Marks because we don't get much penetration with this build. I would insert a sex joke here if i thought anyone was actually reading in detail.
The flat Armor Seals and the flat Health Quints are to help the early game jungling.
I take Attack Speed Glyphs to help with jungling and to give even more damaging capacity later in the game.
I take mostly Defensive masteries because this build is so squishy. I grab Plentiful Bounty to make jungling even easier and up to Awareness in the Utility tree. Ardor really is this build's best friend while everything else ( Defensive Mastery Veteran's Scars ) really help the early game.
I take Smite because of how hard jungling is without it. If you don't want to jungle, don't take it. I take Flash because of all the reasons I have said in the previous two guides. In this build, it is best used as an escape mechanism.
Other options are-
- Ghost for the chasing ability. I really like this ability as a second choice, should you not be very good with Flash.
- Exhaust for shutting down one opponent. This is very good for you to get, provided your team doesn't already have two.
- Teleport onto a ward for easy ganks. This is not as useful to this build because it is in the jungle, but having the extra ability to gank and prevent backdoors is always nice.
- Cleanse is VERY useful in this build. You are a lot more squishy and are still in melee range, you need to be able to prevent the CC on you.
- Ignite is, again, quite good if you find yourself against major regen players ( Dr. Mundo, Vladimir, etc.). It will also be nice early game to secure kills.
Not to get-
- Heal no matter how you look at it, it still heals very little and has no other function.
- Clarity isn't good for this build because you are not spamming very much. You will also have blue buff throughout most of the early game when it would matter anyway.
- Revive you are more squishy than before, but you still should use other summoners that will keep you alive, rather than bring you back from the dead.
- Rally is still bad. Don't get it.
- Clairvoyance is still awesome, but not on you. You should be asking your support to use it in the enemy jungle, so you can counterjungle safely.
Play Style: 3
You start out in the jungle, and you can gank as early as level 2! Cho'Gath is a great counter jungler, because of his stun/slow/fast AA combo that this build uses. You should be able to get quite a few ganks off, because the best junglers take a while to start ganking but you can almost immediately.
-Early game you start out in the jungle. You will be spending the majority of your time ganking, but do make sure you don't get yourself underleveled. You should wait in bushes until you can safely predict and land Rupture, then just do your thing and kill people. Don't give away any kills by doing stupid things though, that hurts you far more than just letting them recall. You will want to go back and buy things, but you shouldn't have to recall for Health or Mana due to your passive and Philosopher's Stone.
-Mid game is where you really shine. People are not doing crazy amounts of damage yet, so your lower survivability is not an issue. Ganking is basically the only thing you are doing at this point, but do be sure to stick around and push towers, seeing as you will have high attack speed and be good at it.
-Late game you need to start being much more careful. If you can, run in with your OT (Right after the MT and to the side) for maximum damage output and survivability. You want to hit as many people with Rupture as possible, because that is what will let you sit and pound them for a while. Feral Scream should be focused on the enemy AP burster or anyone with heavy CC ( Amumu, Kennen, etc.) or someone with an ability that you REALLY don't want to happen ( Crowstorm, Absolute Zero, etc.). You should be focusing on killing the squishiest person, or the person who will deal you the most damage- whichever you can get an advantage on first.
Basically start at blue and work your way down. You want someone to tank blue for about 1/4 of its life if you can. I would only recommend going that far if the tanker has a good heal they can rely on when they go back to lane. You will want to pop health potions whenever you need, but you shouldn't need all 5. I say to take 5 however in case a gank goes badly, but you don't want to take the time to recall. You will want to save red buff for last though, so you can have it for as long as possible while you gank.
You should get help every time you dragon, just to be safe, but you should be able to solo right after you get the Hextech Gunblade.
As the jungler, you should be warding all of the important places with Vision Wards (Purple marks) and some of the less common places with sight wards (Green marks). The provided map shows my recommended places for each.
The Vision Wards are placed so that you can remove the other team's wards on important places, like Dragon, Baron, and the Gank bushes.
The Sight wards are placed so that you can see people coming through the enemy jungle. You have to be much more careful placing these, but they can be much more beneficial than anything else. These let you see the enemy red buff, blue buff and both major gank lanes for the top half and the bottom half of their field.
Build 3: Hybrid Conclusion
Hybrid Cho'Gath is a very deadly force. However, he is also the squishiest and is also the most easily shut down. Played correctly, you should have no problem gaining the upper hand and crushing your opponents.
As you can see, playing carefully can net you a lot of kills, but without a good team to back you up- you will be focused. Playing in random queue, I still managed to pull this score because of the raw damage I dished out.
I have enjoyed parting my wisdom on Cho'Gath- the Terror of the Void to you all. I hope you understand that each build has a place where it should be used, and no one build is wrong. I have done my best to explain everything to the greatest extent of my ability.
If you have any other questions, comments or concerns, feel free to comment- I will answer each in a timely manner.
Try before you rate! Anything less would be uncivilized...