Build Guide by taintedlight
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.
How I Learned to Stop Building AP Cho'Gath and Love the Tank
There are plenty of guides out there for Cho'Gath that utilize his high AP ratios for impressive amounts of damage stapled to extremely disruptive abilities. That is all well and good, but when I picked Cho'gath up again after a few weeks of not playing him, I realized that he has tremendous potential as a pure tank. Besides, an *** that fat deserves to be well protected. This build is the result of close to 50 games with the Tank the World build and will be updated as I learn more about how to tweak it.
My experience with runes tells me that their impact is only truly felt near the beginning of the game. Thus, I have chosen runes that maximize my early game potential. Cho's passive, Carnivore, keeps him in lane with plenty of healing and a modest mana replenishment rate if he can last hit effectively. You can use runesets that are customized to your preferences if you are more/less aggressive in your laning style. It's not a big deal.
Quints: I only own one flat health quint, so I use it and two scaling health quints to up my beef factor.
Marks: Magic pen marks help you to be more annoying with all your skills, especially Rupture and Scream.
Seals: More armor, more time spent in lane and resilience during teamfights. Gotta love 'em.
Glyphs: Same deal as the Seals.
As a pure tank, you should invest 21 points in the Defense tree to get the sweet 4% reduction. It doesn't seem like a lot, but you would be surprised how much damage it blocks over the course of a game. Likewise, the Archaic Knowledge mastery lets your Ruptures and Feasts punch through for respectable amounts of damage without stopping to shovel gold into AP items. Like your runes, the masteries are up to your preference, but this setup has worked nicely for me in the past.
Items: Tools of Tanking
A preface to everything in this section: Tanks should pay special attention to their items. Your job includes lasting a long time and being highly resilient against the main damage dealers of the enemy team, which means you should primarily be defending against their strengths. Don't blindly build Force of Nature because you think it's good when you're facing Xin Zhao, Gangplank, Irelia, Miss Fortune, and Rammus. What is listed in the box at the top of the page is by no means the only way to Tank the World, but it reflects a balance of armor and magic resistance that will be appropriate (but not necessarily optimal) for many game types. Let's go through the items in two stages: core and situational. I'll explain why I get each one and why I get it when I do.
START. Sapphire Crystal and 2 Health Potions: The potions keep you in lane for longer when you take damage that Carnivore just isn't covering. If you end up not needing them, you can sell them later, but it's better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. The Sapphire lets you harass your enemy more with Rupture during early laning and eventually builds into a Catalyst. You can start with a Meki's if you prefer, but I don't like losing the gold to the sale price. It won't do anything after the first few levels anyway.
1. Boots of Speed: Everyone gets these. Nothing special here, but make sure you get them on your first trip back. They'll get you back to lane faster so you can farm better.
2. Catalyst the Protector: This item is amazing. You get a bunch of health and mana to keep doing what you do best: harass and farm. Rupture without fear, my friends. You have the mana battery that keeps on giving. If the game goes late enough or you find that you are being focused, upgrade to Banshee's Veil (or, as I call it, the Crotch Bubble). I don't like Rod of Ages on Tank the World Cho'Gath, though. It takes a while to charge up to maximum strength and doesn't provide notably more tank besides a bit of health which you can get on a Sunfire Cape and Feast stacks anyways. Remember, you need no puny AP. You are the beast from the void, and your super-disruptive abilities will help the rest of your team demolish the opposition before they know what hit them.
3. Mercury's Treads: These are the only option, in my opinion. You want the MR and the tenacity is great since you plan on taking a lot of CC for the team. If the other team is really AD heavy and has very little CC, I guess you might be able to justify Ninja Tabi instead, but I'm skeptical. Those teams are pretty rare.
4. Aegis of the Legion: This is such a godly item. The amount of tank you get from it is *so* efficiently costed, making it a great deal for the price. The kicker is that it gets even better in teamfights, where your big fat *** is sharing the aura love with your squishier teammates. Even against teams that are lopsided on damage sources, this is a very strong contender. I would only really drop Aegis in favor of something more focused if there are at least three pure sources of damage on the other team and only as long as the other two did a substantial amount of their damage in that form as well.
After Aegis, it's time to look at the biggest problem people on the other team. The build above, as I said before, works fine versus balanced teams. Getting the right items for the right game is really about intuition sometimes. Learn how each of the tank items helps you to counter your opponents' strengths. Master Yi and Xin Zhao sit down and shut up when you buy a Thornmail and casters can't do much about your Force of Nature besides Void Staff. My thoughts on some possible item choices:
Force of Nature: This is kind of the only way to go if the other team is AP heavy. You have all the hitpoints as Cho'gath because Feast gives you a free Warmog's Armor, so the health regen will be very useful as well. Buy this against casters, in short.
Thornmail: This is a lot of armor for 2000 gold. That said, its passive is actually not very good unless you're facing down a lot of attack speed champions. In that case, laugh as Yi beats himself to death on your hide, then eat him for his trouble.
Frozen Heart: Love this thing. It's a lot of armor, like Thornmail, but it works against a wider range of champions with its passive. Furthermore, it gives you a lot of spare mana to toss around Ruptures and Screams in battle. You can even do it more often with the cooldown reduction, and more Feasts make you scary. REALLY scary.
Sunfire Cape: This item provides a pretty substantial chunk of health and armor at the same time while putting a nice damage aura on you. The damage is not that great, but it IS pressure on them to finish you off quickly. When you've got 3-5 enemies running around your bulk, you're dishing out around 300 damage a second without even clicking. If you don't need to achieve TRULY insane levels of armor or if they are not buying much armor penetration, snag this. It also helps against true damage with the HP buffer.
Warmog's Armor: I don't get this until item number five most of the time. Cho'Gath has a tremendous amount of base health with Feast stacks, which add up to 900 health at level 16. You don't often need this, but you can get it if you're taking a lot of true damage (unless it's Vayne, in which case you're **** out of luck for tanking HER). Most of the time, the EHP granted by more defensive stats is going to help you out. The other reason is that Warmog's, unlike the items listed above, doesn't really do anything besides make your fat *** fatter. Then again, sometimes you just have to say "**** it, WARMOG'S,"
Zhoyna's Hourglass: Take this if you don't want a Sunfire Cape but feel like your team needs more damage. Rupture scales at 1.0, so this will add substantial oomph to your skills.
Banshee's Veil: The Crotch Bubble, or Crotch Rocket. I call it that because it will only encircle your monster crotch when you've reached maximum size. This is a nice way to boost your magic resist by building on an item which you already have, Catalyst the Protector.
Guardian Angel: The aura is huge on you! This is a good choice versus balanced teams because it give a bit of both, but it's armor heavy. The passive is great too, because they have to kill you twice and you still tank like a boss.
If you find that you need more magic resist or armor quick and on the cheap, Chain Vest and Negatron Cloak are very efficient.
About Rod of Ages
This item is very good on AP Cho'Gath. However, I feel like you can do a lot better on tank Cho'Gath for a couple of reasons.
Tanky Cho'Gath wants to maximize his survivability above all else. When you get a Rod of Ages, about two thirds of the effect is comprised of mana and AP. Firstly, you are not going to have serious mana problems if you last hit well and manage your mana well. Even if you do have trouble with those things, they'll disappear after about level 8. As for the AP, it's just going to boost your damage and you can get that much AP for about half the price in a Needlessly Large Rod. You don't want that either, because it's not your job to be either the burst damage or the DPS. If you really must get more AP, Zhoyna's Hourglass gives you even more than Rod of Ages and it gives you armor to boot.
Secondly, more health does not equate directly to harder to kill. Consider the number of %health damage effects that you could be up against. Malzahar's Null Zone will chew through your massive health at the same relative rate with high health and low MR as if you never bought health to begin with. The same is true of Madred's Bloodrazor, Kog'Maw's Bio-Arcane Barrage, Deathfire Grasp, and a whole host of other effects. You are far better served by making your already impressive hit points harder to do substantial damage to with resistances.
Skills and Tank Cho'Gath Playstyle
Rupture is the skill I usually start with because it lets you harass the opponent and last hit a group from a distance. These are both very useful things to be able to do at first level. Just be careful about spamming it; you get a lot of mana from the crystal, but it's still only about 500. Your mana is not unlimited until you at LEAST snag a Frozen Heart :D. In teamfights, you can disable entire teams for a whole second. This is HUGE; the fact that you are disruptive like that makes up fully for your somewhat lackluster damage. Even then, it isn't so little damage that they can just shrug it off without a second thought.
Next, snag a level of Vorpal Spikes. This helps your last hitting out quite a bit since it's 20 free damage. You don't have to think about using this except in one particular circumstance: if you want to beat on a tower and there's an enemy nearby, try not to draw tower aggro by inadvertently spiking them. Press E as a courtesy to yourself and others when it is appropriate. If you happen to have Sunfire at any point, don't bother. You're drawing tower hate by being there. You won't revisit this skill until late in the game.
Take Scream at level 3. The silence is pretty sweet and it just gets better in teamfights later. Additionally, once you have enough mana to support it, you can Rupture/Scream a group of creeps to farm very quickly. In teamfights, silence a group of enemies after knocking them up to keep them from responding. That combo forces them to focus you or risk not being able to act effectively, which is exactly what you want. Let the Runeterran creatures attempt to kill you, the Terror of the Void revels in the carnage his allies create as weak attempts to fell him fail.
Feast is godly. Even with no AP, your ultimate skill is a powerful nuke with many uses. It's the best smite in the game, meaning you can last hit Dragon or Baron Nashor quite reliably and without much fear of the enemy team stealing it. Furthermore, you get a lot of free health from using it. Don't be too conservative with Feast, though. If you're not at maximum stacks, eat creeps. In fact, you should not have to back until you've got at least one stack and three is preferred. If you have less than 6 stacks, you cannot kill-steal. I repeat, a Cho'gath with 5 or fewer stacks is incapable of committing a kill-steal. By the way, did I mention that it's a super-powerful last hit button? Enemies will be terrified of being at low health in teamfights because you can insta-gib them very easily.
As the tank, you don't have priority as a solo laner unless your team needs a strong 2v1 at top. Carnivore keeps you on the creep line all day with the health and mana replenishment, and it just gets easier to do when you've got Vorpal Spikes to aid in last hitting. You have a pretty fair chunk of health at this point, so don't be afraid to put the hurt on if your lane partner is up for it. Don't spam your skills though, because you don't have very much mana regeneration. Rupture hurts, so make it count. After getting a couple of stacks of Feast, you can back if you have at least 1300 gold. That should get you basic boots and your Catalyst. After that, you lane basically as long as you want to.
After the laning phase ends, you should start focusing on helping to gank and being the beef when your team engages. By the way, it is YOUR decision to engage. You are going to be taking the brunt of the damage, so you get to choose when that's going to happen. Use your disruption liberally when you do and make sure your bulk gets very much in the way of their efforts to take down your squishies. Yes, you heard me. You're a tank, so you have to be a team player. It is NOT your job to rack up a 34/3 score. You're there to ensure that someone else will do that, and ensure you shall. Don't worry too much though. Feast is so good at last hitting, you'll probably get a pretty satisfactory number of kills. You're as tanky as anything, so your deaths should be quite low too.
Cho'Gath has the unique quality of being LARGE AND IN CHARGE. Use this. I've had Teemos hide behind my character model, totally untargetable, and it does wonders for downing carries quickly. They can't hit him, so they have to kill me first. That's not happening if my items have anything to say about it. You eat Ashe arrows with a shrug, Nidalee spears bounce off, and you're just a general nuisance by being in the way of everything. I'll be damned if that isn't the biggest Exhaust cage I've ever seen.
One last note: don't die. Besides the gold for the enemy team and the inconvenience of the death timer, your team (and you personally) lose a valuable resource. Your job is to take all the damage and initiate teamfights. If you're dead, you can't do that. Furthermore, you lose half of your Feast stacks, which means you're down a bunch of health and need to farm them back up for a few minutes. Take care to not let this happen.
Exhaust: This is really good for slowing someone down enough to Feast them. Exhaust followed by Rupture basically ensures that they have to turn and fight, then drop a silence so they are totally out of options. In a teamfight, you make the AD carry on the enemy team a minor inconvenience for just long enough to snack on him.
Flash: I am addicted to this summoner spell. Maybe it's the fact that it lets you pop over a wall to escape a horrible fate. Maybe it's the ability to pop in for a quick Feast. There are so many ways to use Flash and all of them are good for Cho'Gath.
If you have any ideas that you feel might improve this guide, please let me know about them in the comment section. I'll be updating it periodically. Thanks for reading, and happy tanking!