Cho'Gath Build Guide by shilver
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.
Cho'Gath, Terror of the Void, the big red lizard that towers over you in the team fights. With my guide you will learn all the ins and outs on playing Cho'Gath; Top Lane and Jungle. This is my first guide ever so bear with me!
My back story with experience with Cho'Gath goes back to when I started playing two years ago, I was playing a 3v3 and my team just got annihilated by what looked to be a giant red raptor. He could eat me, knock me in the air on whim and silence me for seemingly 8 hours. I ended up buying him with my IP I had and I've fallen in love since. I've done builds from using Boots of Mobility in my newb days to my now what I consider fully experienced and best builds I've been able to come up with.
This guide is not for the lazy, there will be a lot of stuff you just are going to learn through experience. Cho'Gath is not easy to play, the difference between a good Cho'Gath player and a bad one is the ability to use your Rupture, that's the simpliest way to put it. There are a lot of other small details that separate the [wo]men from the boys, but the ability to land a well placed Rupture can change a teamfight or catch an opponent blind as they run away.
Also a HUGE thank you to Jhoijhoi's Guide!!
Without further ado here is my NomNoming Guide to Cho'Gath!
Pros / Cons
As with all champions there is a Pro and a Con to go with each other. Cho'Gath is no different. That being said I believe his Pros far outweigh his Cons.
+ High sustain in lane
+ Naturally tanky with his ultimate
+ Has some of the best CC in the game
+ Can play almost any role on a team
+ Extremely powerful Mid Game
+ The ability to eat champions
+ Best ultimate skins in the game.
- Can be easily harassed early game
- Damage drops off Late Game
- Dependent on keeping Feasts stacks maximum
- Hard to catch up once behind in gold
You go down the Ability Power part of the Offensive Tree to maximize your early game AP damage and a slight boost for late game. Then go all the way down the Defensive Tree to make yourself as tanky as possible. Cho'Gath is all about dealing damage while being able to take it. The more tanky you are without items the more damage you can deal.
- Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: using movement speed quintessences make you catch up to the enemy that is barely getting away and makes ganks with Boots of Mobility almost inescapable with a well timed Rupture.
- Greater Mark of Attack Speed: I've come to the conclusion that using attack speed runes gives Cho'Gath a much easier time in lane auto-attacking champions and makes jungling Cho'Gath much faster with the new buff to the jungle creep health.
- Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: Gives a little boost to your late game magic resist with the absence of Mercury's Treads if jungling.
- Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Getting five of these makes the early game ganks a little less painful. Also helps early game laning versus AP tops or mids.
- Greater Seal of Armor: An early armor boost will considerably help you against those strong AD tops and/or jungle minions.
These runes aren't set in stone. But these are what I use.
Explanation of Abilities
- Carnivore: This passive makes it so laning against you is a nightmare and jungle creeps cowering in fear as you heal up to full health within seconds. Every creep kill you get health and mana restored. With this passive you can go from little health to full health by killing a full creep wave.
- Rupture (Q): Your skill that will make or break you. A well timed Rupture will change a teamfight in your favor. It knocks people up into the air then slows them after that. If hit on four or all five members of the team they are left defenseless for the next second and that's enough time for your team to unleash everything that have on them. It's also perfect for clearing out large minion waves. Learn how to use this.
- Feral Scream (W): A long lasting AoE cone of silence. This can shut down casters faster then you can say elephant. A well timed Rupture followed by this skill screams (pun intended) certain death for the enemy group.
- Vorpal Spikes (E): Perfect for clearing up minions and adding a bit of extra damage to your auto-attacks. This skill makes jungle Cho'Gath roll over jungle creep's faces. This skill is a very underrated part of Cho'Gath's overall damage; it all adds up.
- Feast (R): The only reason to play Cho'Gath; you can eat people! Each feast that kills a minion or champion adds a stack that adds health and makes him larger. It maxes at 6 stacks. This skill makes him naturally tanky and him walking into battle will scare even the bravest of champions. But seriously, the bigger you are the more scarier you are. You can make teams run away from you if you start getting fed; they just don't want to deal with your large arse!
Start off with Rupture for that early game harass and knock up. Then go for Vorpal Spikes to help ease killing minions and a damage boost to your auto attack. At level 4 you get Feral Scream and you alternate between that and Rupture, with the obvious Feast upgrades, until they are both maxed out. Both of those maximize your damage output. If you're jungling take a rank 2 in Vorpal Spikes at level 3 to make clearing the jungle faster.
Flash should be a staple of any build. Must have. For Cho'Gath it's perfect for getting out of sticky situations or flashing to a target to Feast them.
Ignite is perfect for early game top lane. Like said; your early game is considerably weak, with Ignite you get a lot of early game harass with a few Ruptures and hitting targets with the added auto-attack damage from Vorpal Spikes. Ignite is a good way to get them down early and with the extra ability power from the mastery it gives a nice boost to your early game.
It also helps you guarantee a Feast on a low health champion.
Smite is a staple jungler spell. Must have when jungling.
Other spells just aren't worth bringing. None of them bring as much to the table as the three above. But if you are really struggling and can't seem to harass your opponent well, Clarity is the right choice as if gives you tons of mana so your mistakes are a bit more forgiving early game. But late game Clarity is practically useless.
With the new season three items introduced Cho'Gath's build has changed around a little bit, but is practically the same.
: Doran's Ring is a staple item on Cho'Gath. It gives you much needed AP, Mana Regeneration, and Health. With the new update it's even more viable as you're allowed to grab two Health Potions or a Sight Ward. It adds a far amount of early game HP and helps your mana sustain in lane. If you want more a defensive lane going with Crystalline Flask is never a bad option!
: Staple Jungle item. No real explanation needed.
: It adds a nice boost to your low base magic resist and lowers the duration of CC on you. These boots will tide you over till your runes kick in and you get magic resist items like the Abyssal Scepter.
: These boots give so much movement speed it'll make a max stacked Cho look like a flying death machine. Ganks become considerably easier and you are the reason teamfights are started. I recommend these only jungling.
: Great boots top lane if you're finding yourself having trouble versus an AD top. But these boots are very situational, only get them if they are primarily an AD team with little CC. The 10% damage reduction on auto attacks make Cho even more beefier. I try to get these if I can, but as said; very situational.
: This is the item that defines Cho'Gath. It gives you a huge boost in health, mana, AP, and a very nice passive that restores mana and health each level up that basically ends all mana problems you will face for the rest of the game. Oh and it gets stronger as the game goes on. This item should never leave your build on Cho'Gath.
: Get this as soon as you can after the Rod of Ages. It gives you a huge armor boost, cool-down reductions to get your Feast on recharge faster, and enough mana to last you till 2090. Oh and that's not even counting the AoE attack speed slow. You can't go wrong with this.
: By this point when you get this item you'll be in a dire need of magic resist. Sometimes you might even have to get the Negatron Cloak before you finish your Frozen Heart. This item gives you a great boost in AP and your Resist to make your resistance more balanced. Add in it's amazing passive that lowers enemy's resistance around you; great item on Cho'Gath.
: This is a great item on Cho'Gath, it gives a huge health boost and a lot of durablity to boot. Don't forget to use it's Area of Effect slowing active to make sure no enemy is escaping you! You can swap this out early instead of a Frozen Heart if you really want, but I prefer Frozen Heart on Cho'Gath over Randuin's Omen for the early game.
: This is when the build gets a bit more tricky. Depending on how you're doing you may want to go more tanky. But I just can't turn down the Rabadon's Deathcap. It just adds a giant steroid to your damage and makes you a force to be avoided, but at the same time they can't ignore you because you are dealing too much damage and CC! A downside is it's cost, and some games you just aren't having your way. But if you can squeeze this in there, try to.
- or : By this point you are just an overkill on items. Pick what you want. Want more AP at the sacrifice of some defense? Zhonya's Hourglass. Want to be someone who has two lives and add a whole new layer of defense? Guardian Angel. You can't go wrong with either.
Now to the fun part: How the heck do you play this champion?
Like said many times, his Rupture is the bread and butter, and learned how to use it will make your life a lot easier. But there are some tips that I can throw at you that will make it easier. Always predict where the enemy will after they see that red circle of death pop up next to their champion.
You can usually tell after a bit how a player reacts to your Rupture, some are slower and don't react at all, some are always dodging it. Case 1 you just keep hitting them, Case 2 you have to shut down them getting CS. Whenever they start moving to get some CS you throw down a Rupture to where they will be going to auto-attack. It's either they move and lose the CS or they take the damage. Keep playing this game and trying to catch them off guard. A few hits with a Rupture and an auto-attack will dwindle their health faster then you'd think. Be wary of people who try to bait you into an easy Rupture and seemingly easy kill, but instead getting ganked by their jungler. Just always be passive aggressive with your Rupture unless you are just dominating your lane. If you are remember to buy a Sight Ward! Thousands go unsold daily, don't be another statistic.
In teamfights make sure you are targeting the squishy characters and the ones that are on your AD carry. Feral Scream as many people as you can, and use Rupture to either knock up their AD carry or their assassin whose on your AD carry. Also in teamfights it's OK to open with a Feast, not only is this OK; I recommend it. It instantly tells your team who to focus down and usually you Feast an AD carry and they are going to fall. No one likes a kill stealer, be a team player.
Jungling as Cho'Gath is one of the easier jungles in the game at the moment. You basically take away a lot of his early game weaknesses out of the equation, because by the time you should be done jungling and going into a teamfight phase you should have most of your items! He's a tremendous ganker that can near impossible to escape from if a Rupture is landed and the champion has no escape skills or spells. It does take a good player to be good at jungling Cho'Gath though, as you rely on your skillshots to get ganks off and help your teammates! So make sure you aren't jumping into this your first time playing Cho'Gath.
I personally prefer jungling Cho'Gath to top lane as you get the opportunity to step up easy kills for your teammates, while giving you spikes of gold to finish your items. You rely sometimes too heavily on teammates, but if you get good ganks off and your teammates respond well you will win lanes.
After a lot more experimenting with various builds, it comes out that just getting a Hunter's Machete and five Health Potions is the best way to go. But if you're feeling a little risky going Boots of Speed and upgrading to Boots of Mobility is an option, but it's not something I personally run anymore.
I use two versions of jungling with Cho'Gath. My Aggressive Build and my Beefy Build. Both work great, depending on your team composition and the other team's, you have to make the best judgement call you can make. If you can go the off-tank role with a tankier top, like a Shen, go more aggressive. If you're the meat shield of the team get as much early game beefyness as you can with my Beefy Jungle build. Experiment with both and figure out what works best for you!
My well drawn map is the standard path you should follow. If you get counter-jungled just start your jungle from point 2 or steal the other teams Blue Buff. With the new jungle changes changing the timers to a 1:55 across the board always get a smiteless Blue Buff from Point 1 then head right over to Red Buff, point 2, to get level 3 off those two buffs. If you can't gank mid right away, or top, take Wraiths, then try to get a gank off ASAP. After that just keep ganking and farming the minions in the jungle just like any other jungle path.
Cho'Gath is, to me, the most underrated champion. He's tanky, dishes out damage, and can control how another team works. I feel gimped when I'm not playing Cho'Gath because he just brings everything you need to the table! But for some reason I see other Cho'Gath players build differently then my build, and I just wonder to myself why are they building him in that way? I believe with my build you have everything you need as Cho'Gath and then some! Really your last item you don't need and you can keep an open slot for wards if you feel like it.
I hope my guide has helped someone and they learn a bit more about Cho'Gath, my favorite champion. He's what has carried me through ranked, hopefully he'll help someone else do the same!
11/16/12: Guide finished.
11/16/12: Few minor edits made to text and pictures.
11/17/12: Added comment to vote and fixed a typo.
11/18/12: Fixed masteries
02/02/13: Updated to Season 3. Changed Runes, Masteries, Items and Jungle sections.
06/16/13: Did some minor updates to the build. Accounting for the Doran's Ring change and updating the jungle build. Also updated Jungle section to account for changes.
08/13/13: Fixed broken images.
10/08/13: Added alternative jungling build, updated Runes/Masteries slightly, updated Jungle section to account for new build.
10/16/13: More broken images