About the Author
(12/17/2016): i don't have the time nor motivation to revamp the whole guide, but i will update the cheatsheet and matchups. some stuff will be outdated. if you have questions about something, leave a comment in discussion and ill get to it eventually.
Hi, I'm H4xDefender, a competitive player of some renown in this game and formerly of some others. I have been a Diamond 1/Challenger player from seasons 3-7, and I have participated in multiple splits of the North American Challenger Series as a jungler.
Some of you may be wondering, "Why is this a solo top guide if you main jungle?" While I have now mained jungle for multiple seasons, when I first published this guide years ago I was a solo top main, and I have kept playing Darius a fair amount through the seasons whenever I'm forced into the top lane in solo queue.
I'm not known for pretty guides. I'm known for readable but effective guides that advertise information that is tried and true through rigorous testing at my elo, higher elo through teammates and friends, as well as tournament play and lane tests. If you don't like "ugly" guides, go find another one now. If you want to get better, read on.
I previously released this guide twice, got a lot of feedback, and changed a bit of every section at least a little bit from "version two" which can be found below. (Now archived)
Gotta have dem credentials.
EDIT: This is old. I've been Diamond 1/Master/Challenger for multiple seasons for many months now.
I've actually gotten a lot of messages about this regarding my Jax and Gangplank guides from people who can't read the about the author section so I find it necessary to add a bit of credibility here.
Why Play Darius?
Simple answer: he dunks.
Longer Answer: He's a champion that when played CORRECTLY, can absolutely destroy 95% of all champions he lanes against. His actual counters are very limited, and no matter who they pick against you, one mistake by them can win you a lane if you capitalize on it correctly. Darius snowballs insanely hard.
Yes he isn't the BEST teamfighter, but he ISN'T a terrible one compared to a good number of bruisers, and can offer utility/peel with Crippling Strike and displacement/catch with Apprehend, not to mention his absurd damage output with Noxian Guillotine when getting resetse.
If you like champions that can output a lot of damage while still being very tanky and difficult to bring down, I suggest you give Darius a whirl.
Now lets delve into the actual guide shall we?
Marks: Standard flat AD. Lethality isn't worth it. The loss of damage early game for the extra damage in the midgame isn't a good tradeoff. Especially because of how much harder it makes lasthitting. Attack speed marks are just inefficient mathematically vs AD. Nothing else is worth taking.
Seals: A mix of armor and Health per level is the most optimal choice. If you are vs someone who has a decent amount of kill pressure early, like Riven, you can take 9 flat armor seals instead. On the flipside, if you are vs a tank that does predominantly magic damage, you can forgo armor entirely and run 9 Hp/Lvl seals instead. Don't run anything else for seals.
Glyphs: Few different choices here. IF you are vs an easy lane you can take CDR, in hard lanes you can take armor. Normally this will be flat MR with some scaling, as it is the most consistent. It is extremely rare you will be against a team comp without any magic damage. Full scaling MR is fine as well, but may be a bit dangerous vs AP based top laners.
Quintessences: Biggest range of choices here, AD, Health Regen, Movement Speed, and Attack speed all are fine here depending on the lane. It is standard to take attack speed to stack passive faster and last hit with more ease in lane. In a normal 1v1 fight, the attack speed ends up helping out more than AD here, but if you don't have AS quints, AD quints aren't terrible. Health regen is super situational, usually only in lanes you will be getting auto attacked in constantly. Movement speed is only if you have a free lane and will be pushing to roam pretty much every wave. Lethality quints aren't worth the early game sacrifice.
Masteries are a lot more contentious and open than runes are.
As far as Keystones go, there are a lot of options.
Fervor of Battle isn't bad, but it is a bit overkill, due to the fact that if anyone is fighting you long enough for it to get stacked, you probably don't need the extra damage. In lanes where you are bullying for pretty much the whole lane phase, (i.e. Nasus) it is ok, but not my preference. It has very little use in most teamfights, as you tend to only attack once to apply your passive which gives you more than enough AD.
Grasp of the Undying would be my choice for 3rd best keystone. It helps in lane and adds a decent punch later as you keep it stacked really easily with Hemorrhage. It also lets you go down the resolve tree for extra tankiness. I prefer Courage of the Colossus simply because I value the extra damage mitigation when engaging with Apprehend over the extra burst damage of grasp, but in difficult lanes where YOU get engaged on more than you engage, this is a solid choice.
Stormraider's Surge is probably the 2nd best keystone overall on Darius. It outperforms other masteries in teamfights if you are ahead or get to execute someone with Noxian Guillotine, but it isn't consistent enough to be worth taking every game, as you can be kited to the point where you don't get to dunk anyone. It's best taken when you will be laning against a tank with low kill pressure on both sides, so you can run them down when you get a good engage or a gank, and also to run people down after you get a dunk off in a teamfight.
Thunderlord's Decree is pretty average as well. It's very easy for Darius to proc in lane, but you honestly don't need the extra damage. It's extremely overkill and suboptimal later in the game where you'll be wishing you had extra tankiness or utility from a different keystone. Skip it. Your laning is strong enough.
Courage of the Colossus is my preferred keystone since it makes you pretty much impossible to trade against in lane when you initiate, helps you survive dives, and gives you a big boost in tankiness if you want to flash engage later in the game as well. Even after the cooldown nerf, it still is the safest keystone for Darius.
Warlord's Bloodlust is kinda just inferior to grasp. You really don't auto attack enemy champions enough to make it worth it, and if you're low enough for the large lifesteal amounts to kick in, you're probably trying get off an ulti rather than auto attack. The sustain it gives in lane is ok, but just isn't worth what you give up in the other keystones. Skip it.
Skilling Order and Explanation
Hemorrhage (PASSIVE): This passive is insanely powerful and should be abused as much as possible when laning. The damage ramps up extremely fast, and with attackspeed runes and careful use of Decimate and Crippling Strike, you will stack it extremely quickly as well. The passive deals physical damage since the rework, so it will apply The Black Cleaver's stacks very quickly.
Remember that the damage of Noxian Guillotine is tied to how many stacks you have on an opponent. Casting your ultimate with less than 4/5 stacks will result in subpar damage, so do your best to get it stacked up fully before ulting so you get the reset. Every ability Darius has applies one stack, with the exception of Apprehend. (Noxian guillotine applies 1 stack, but it applies only after the true damage is applied.)
Decimate (Q): This is your bread and butter damaging spell. Try to learn the range and cast time of it well, landing a max damage Decimate or several of them can quickly turn a lane, even when behind. Take careful note of the aoe when casting it in teamfights, as hitting 2 or 3 champions with it in a fight for the heal can easily save you long enough to get extra ultimate casts off, especially if you have Spirit Visage completed. It's also extremely strong at shoving waves with. One cast usually will kill caster creeps, the second will finish the wave. This should always be maxed first.
Make sure to remember that whenever you proc Noxian Might and hit someone with the edge of Decimate, you instantly apply 5 Hemorrhage stacks and can cast Noxian Guillotine on them for the maximum damage.
Crippling Strike (W): Crippling Strike is one of your two CC abilties, this one being the "soft" cc of the two, meaning it doesn't disable enemy controls, only hinder them. Crippling Strike does respectable damage at early levels and when maxed, to both towers and enemy champions. When in melee range always trade to land an auto attack followed by this spell, as it resets your auto attack animation, granting you a quick burst of damage and two Hemorrhage stacks on your opponent.
This spell no longer has reduced cooldown when used on bleeding targets, nor does it retain the attack speed slow it once had. It does give you a bit of extra auto attack range, (20 to be exact) so you can use it to try to finish someone off who is just out of your normal auto attack range, if you don't have Decimate available. Note that if it kills an enemy unit, you get half of the mana cost and cooldown back, so don't be afraid to lasthit with it in lane occasionally if you need it. Due to the fact that the only benefit to this ability is the reduced cooldown for leveling it, it is maxed last.
Apprehend (E): This is your hard CC of your two CCs built-in to Darius's kit. This is mainly used to catch people to kill them or force an engagement, engagements that Darius wins against almost everyone quite handily, especially if you have Courage of the Colossus available.
This spell has many uses being a hard CC, whether it be forcing teamfight engagements, putting carries in unfavorable positions, or cancelling channeled abilities such as a Katarina Death Lotus or a Nunu Absolute Zero. There is no "right" way to use this spell every game, it's something you need to make a judgment call with based on the situation you are presented. This is usually only up once per fight until you finish The Black Cleaver and occasionally Spirit Visage, depending on the fight.
This ability is maxed 2nd now instead of Crippling Strike since the only benefit you get out of leveling W now is reduced cooldown, which just isn't worth it when compared to the reduced cooldown as well as armor penetration that Apprehend gives.
: Noxian Guillotine (R/ULT)
The famed "DARIUS DUNK." This ability is immensely powerful, dealing massive amounts of true damage throughout the game. Always use this as a "finisher" or execute type of move, as getting a kill with it gives you twenty seconds to use it again before it going on cooldown until level 16, when it "unlocks" and fully refreshes the cooldown. (The cooldown starts ticking from the first dunk, not when your twenty seconds run out.) If you dunk two people, lategame that is TWO-THOUSAND POINTS OF TRUE UNMITIGATED DAMAGE.
Always look to finish people off with this, the twenty seconds resets back to twenty if you score a kill with it. If there is nobody to kill and your time is almost up, just cast it on whoever it will do the most damage on before it goes on cooldown. This does max damage with five Hemorrhage stacks, refreshes the tick on Hemorrhage, and applies one stack of Hemorrhage itself. (Although if you have four stacks and dunk this will do damage of four stacks not five). This spell also shows its maximum damage when you hover over it, something to keep in mind if you need to do some quick math.
Make sure you always put a point into your ultimate at levels 6, 11, and 16. Starting Crippling Strike at level 1 is usually preferred since using Decimate to harass at level 1 pushes the wave heavily and opens you up to ganks. In a straight 1v1 vs a melee champion at level 1, Crippling Strike ends up being more useful anyway as it stacks your Hemorrhage more quickly. Make sure you still max Decimate first though. Apprehend is usually best skilled at level 3, but you can save it for level 4 if you want to put a second point in Decimate at level 3.
There are only a few viable/possible spells so I'll run through them quickly.
VS AS MOBILITY SPELL
Very simple. If you don't see the champion in the matchup section below, take Flash. If you DO see them, check the summoner spell I advise you to take.
Flash: If you don't know how good Flash is, then I just don't know what to tell you. Flash Apprehend combos are super powerful for catching people off guard for initiates.
Ghost: Take Ghost against champions that generally kite you hard, or take Ghost themselves like Jayce, Elise, and Olaf. When you hit level 6, you can generally pop Ghost, run up to someone like a Jayce or Elise, force their Flash to be burned, and then keep chasing them with the movement speed from Ghost for a kill. The reason you don't take Flash in these lanes is because if you Flash aggressively or defensively, they will just respond with their own Flash 9/10 times. Ghost has a much lower cooldown then Flash, and covers much more distance overall. Be wary of the enemy jungler though, it is much easier to kill you in a gank when you have Ghost.
Ignite: When combined with Hemorrhage, the kill potential Darius has with Ignite is just off the charts. You can literally dunk someone with max stacks from half hp and Ignite them, and 9 times out of 10 they will die from the sheer power of DoTs.
Teleport: Since Darius has the power to crush his lane super hard even without a kill summoner like Ignite, you can take Teleport to try to make taking Dragons easier for your team, or simply teleporting in for a gank bottom lane if they are struggling to try to turn the game around. Taking TP over Ignite is largely based on preference.
Barrier: Nope. You win all-ins vs everybody and Ignite gives you better kill potential.
Heal: Nope. Same reasons as above.
Exhaust: This isn't bad vs bursty champions like Kennen, or for dropping it on champions with executes like Riven or Garen to make sure you survive, but you need to time it correctly which is the problem. Judgment call on this, although I never take it myself.
General Build Explanation
STANDARD BUILD VS AD:
Ravenous Hydra: This is the best choice to do maximum damage in teamfights as it has a strong AoE active that is strongest near the middle, amazing in conjunction with Decimate which is strongest near the edge, but the real reason we build this is because of the sheer amount of lane dominance it provides. The active makes it impossible to trade with you, and the passive gives you amazing wave control, allowing you to quickly clean a wave and go back to base to avoid a gank or buy an item, and also provides amazing sustain. Great item.
Sunfire Cape: This item is just tremendous in lane, makes trading with you once you have Ravenous Hydra absolutely impossible, and gives you the early HP you need to survive midgame damage from the AP and AD carries of the other team, all for a relatively low price. Darius does mainly physical damage, but with Sunfire's passive and Hemorrhage, you will be doing absurd amounts of mixed damage that are impossible for anyone to itemize against.
Guardian Angel: This item is amazing, especially on someone like Darius who has massive damage output. When Darius dives into a teamfight, he cannot be ignored, but all the tankiness from Warmog's Armor as well as the resists from GA make him so tanky, that teams will want to ignore him. Even if you somehow manage to die, having GA will ensure you will fight on. Just make sure you don't get caught, and the impact of this item will be extremely noticeable. EDIT: GA has even more resists now... my god.
Trinity Force: Gives you a little bit of everything really. Gives you mana, a slow (RIP) a speed up, more damage, movement speed, a bit of tankiness, crit, and attack speed. You can build this a little earlier if you are stomping and dont need armor pen and you want to chase people down. It provides deceptively large amounts of damage because of the Sheen proc and Zeal crits, despite the lowish amount of AD it gives.
Randuin's Omen: An amazing item to fight AD carries lategame. Both the passive and active are crippling to AD carries, and if you ever get in range to land Crippling Strike as well, you will completely nullify their damage which is huge. Not to mention it provides a nice chunk of health as well, which makes you an absolute monster when you have The Black Cleaver, Guardian Angel, and Warmog's Armor as well.
STANDARD BUILD VS AP:
Hexdrinker: Gives you complete dominance vs an AP champion in lane. The shield makes you practically unburstable, and it gives you a ton of MR and AD for the cost as well. Fantastic item vs APs.
Maw of Malmortius: Unfortunately, nowhere near as good as Hexdrinker, it is kind of just there to be an available upgrade to Hexdrinker. The passive AD bonus is nice when in conjunction with Warmog's Armor and Guardian Angel though, and the shield is always nice.
Runic Bulwark: EVEN if somebody on your team has this, having double bulwark vs a double ap team with some hp and a GA makes you virtually unkillable. If nobody else on your team is building this it is still very cost effective. EDIT: RIP
Mercurial Scimitar (SWAP WITH MAW OF MALMORTIUS LATEGAME IF THE ENEMY HAS TONS OF CC): The stats it provides aren't great, but the active is amazing on a melee champion like Darius. The only downside being that it is simply too expensive to build on an everygame basis, the ability to remove CC from a champion like Darius is just unrivaled though.
OTHER Items (AKA YOU RARELY/ONLY SOMETIMES BUILD THESE OR DON'T BUILD THEM
(Unrelated note, I typed ALL this up, but my browser crashed and I lost all of it, what you see here is the SECOND time I am typing all this up FML)
I will explain every item I build relatively in-depth here with a short explanation. I will not repeat items, CTRL-F it if you cannot find it.
Ninja Tabi: Great item in lane if you need armor but you don't want to invest gold to buy a major armor item. Make sure to sell lategame if you need tenacity and you didn't build Zephyr.
Doran's Shield: Very strong laning item, get if you are struggling in a lane where you are facing lots of auto attacks, i.e. Irelia, Jax, Jayce.
Thornmail: If the enemy has auto attackers in every single lane AND jungle and they start snowballing, buy this. i.e. Tryndamere, AD Kayle, Vayne, Xin Zhao.
Frozen Heart: Same deal as above, but buy this BEFORE they start snowballing to ensure they DO NOT snowball.
Locket of the Iron Solari: Extremely cost efficient, if nobody else on your team is buying this and you need armor you should grab it. It is very cheap too, at only 2k gold in price.
Atma's Impaler: If as a last item you need more armor after Randuin's Omen and Guardian Angel but you need damage as well, generally outclassed.
Wriggle's Lantern: If you need sustain armor and damage all at once in a lane, and if you need to stomp lane in order to win, sometimes used in jungling, but generally outclassed. If you ever buy it make sure you trade it in for a more slot-efficient item lategame.
MAGIC RESIST ITEMS:
Banshee's Veil: When you are facing strong initiate magic damage CC such as Gragas's Explosive Cask, Orianna's Command: Shockwave, or Galio's Idol of Durand.
Mercury's Treads: Good bit of MR to help you survive vs AP until you finish Warmog's Armor/ Guardian Angel, and the tenacity helps a ton.
Spirit Visage: If you need a quick burst of MR and a bit of tankiness to do your job in fights this is the item to build because it is cheap and cost effective. Provides a bit of CDR as well so you get a tiny bit more damage, but unfortunately the passive is a bit wasted, so this shouldn't be built all that much.
The Brutalizer: A nice chunk of CDR, as well as a huge damage boost with the armor pen and AD it provides, all for a pretty low price. An incredibly cost efficient item that provides a big spike to Darius's damage in lane.
EDIT: Brutalizer is no longer core due to it being only OK against heavy stacking armor tops, but still works great against someone going heavy damage. i.e. Lee Sin.
The Black Cleaver: Percent armor pen when combined with the percent armor pen from Apprehend is just super strong, not to mention it gives a whopping 50 AD, as well as some extra CDR and tankiness. A strong item on Darius overall, and the armor pen you provide will benefit the rest of your team a lot as well, especially on AD carries who need to do the most damage lategame and typically do not build cleaver and would normally miss out on the extra shred. Read tbe "WHY I BUILD THE BLACK CLEAVER SECTION" below if you aren't convinced yet.
EDIT: No longer core since brutalizer isn't. Still is good if your team needs penetration.
Blade of the Ruined King:
With everybody stacking HP, this item gives you a lot of extra damage, and all for a pretty low price of under 3k gold, not to mention it gives you lifesteal to sustain in fights, and it has a good active for sticking to a target like the AD carry and bursting them even faster if you ever get to jump on them. ALSO, remember that lategame you are simply a bruiser, and BOTRK softens up targets very quickly for AD carries. Don't forget Darius has an auto attack reset in Crippling Strike that applies on-hit effects as well.
EDIT: (After BotRK changed to add Attack Speed, then subsequently nerfed) AKA READ THIS TO KNOW ABOUT WHEN AND WHEN NOT TO BUILD BOTRK/BORK ON DARIUS
I used to have BotRK in the main build as the final item, but it isn't worth it anymore. The attackspeed is wasted, and the active and on hit percent damage aren't enough to justify it as a buy, especially now that it is super expensive. (over 3k gold). If literally EVERYONE is buying HP and not armor for some unknown reason, buy it over Trinity Force, but ONLY under these conditions.
Zephyr: Extremely underrated item, provides a nice bit of AD, some attack speed that is partially wasted, a TON of useful movement speed, and tenacity as well that lets you go items like Ninja Tabi, and Boots of Swiftness/ Boots of Mobility without having to worry about being overly hampered by CC. Really good for splitpushing as well. Buy this IF you need the mobility of different boots, or the auto attack mitigation of Ninja Tabi.
Last Whisper: If the other team is building absurd levels of armor and you simply need to do more damage to carry the fk out of your noob team. Don't be afraid to buy this with cleaver.
Youmuu's Ghostblade: If you need only some armor pen and you need a gap closer as well, this is the item to buy. If you feel like you will need this, pick up an Avarice Blade as soon as possible for maximum efficiency. Remember to USE THE ACTIVE as it is the only thing that justifies this to be bought at all. Would replace Trinity Force in the main build.
Shurelya's Reverie: If you fall behind in the jungle, you really like farming, or you are in a complete farm lane at top for some reason and end up building Philosopher's Stone, this item isn't bad for forcing initiates on people, but it is pretty heavily nerfed from S2 and is generally better on supports.
Zhonya's Hourglass: MID AIR DUNK FLASH PHOTO FREEZE SON. (if you are skilled and understand the advantages over zhonya's over every other defensive item in a certain game this is actually OK to build). i.e. You are getting ****ed up by Karthus, Nautilus, AND OR Amumu ult every fight, to the point where you can't do your job at all, buy this as a 6th item ONLY if you need armor as well. YES I HAVE ACTUALLY BUILT THIS ON DARIUS IN RANKED GAMES AT ~PLATINUM ELO.
Zeke's Herald: Decent stats, but not enough to buy unless you have double or triple ADCs for some reason and they all need lifesteal or something and you want to be a bit tankier. Provides a good bit of CDR.
Warmog's Armor: I shouldn't need to explain how good Warmog's Armor is, not just on Darius, but on almost every bruiser in the game. A ton of tankiness and sustain, all for a relatively low price, even after the added cost of an extra Rejuvenation Bead. EDIT: Not as good anymore, but still alright if nobody on the other team can build Liandry's Torment and they have a lot of AP.
JUST DON'T EVER BUILD PLS:
Wit's End: Inferior to Hexdrinker and Mercurial Scimitar in every way on Darius.
Malady: Even worse then Wit's End since it provides no tanky stats at all. Only good for making your passive hurt more trololololol
Iceborn Gauntlet: Darius doesn't have problems sticking onto people, only getting to them. Iceborn is all about sticking power and has some undesirable stats.
Statikk Shiv/ Phantom Dancer: These items are similar and both provide undesirable stats. Darius doesn't need attackspeed or crit without any other tanky stats.
Hextech Gunblade: AP is wasted, if you want a slow build Blade of the Ruined King instead of this.
Guinsoo's Rageblade: Same problem as gunblade, inferior to Blade of the Ruined King in every situation pretty much.
Nashor's Tooth: No lol, CDR isn't THAT useful on Darius, the AP is completely wasted and the attackspeed isn't that useful either.
Sword of the Divine: Too much gold on attackspeed only, if you buy this early the crits won't even do much damage. Leave it to Rengar and ADCs.
Spirit of the Elder Lizard: Strictly a jungling item, and not even an item you would buy everygame on jungle Darius if you were jungling him.
Sword of the Occult: Simply not reliable enough, if you are stomping refer to the big ticket damage item section and pick one out.
Muramana: You don't have significant enough mana problems to need this or a Tear of the Goddess, and the damage the passive provides isn't as much as you think. Skip it.
Any more item questions, leave a comment or PM and i'll get back to you, although I pretty much cover every item even remotely viable, and even some that aren't on Darius here. (HE HAS 0 AP SCALINGS).
Early Game (Start until first tower break or 20 minutes)
Play aggressively, land Decimate, and make sure you ward up. Darius has a strong earlygame, you need to abuse it so that you get your items before champions who are strong lategame get theirs, or the game will get much more difficult. You aren't as bad if you lost lane as someone like Teemo per se, but you don't want to play a 60 minute game as Darius most of the time either.
You have IMMENSE kill potential at level 6, especially if you hit it before the enemy laner. Try to get close to 6, go back and buy, come back and kill a few creeps, hit 6, and then immediately go for a kill. This works a lot in lower ELO, and even sometimes in higher ELO, if you are smart about it.
If the jungler ganks you and you are level 6, check if he is squishy or not full hp, you can usually grab a quick kill and try to run after. Gauge situations carefully before choosing to run or go aggressive!
IF you know the enemy laner has gone back, always push the lane into the enemy tower to deny creeps. (BUT DON'T MISS CS EITHER OR IT DOESN'T WORK). Always make sure to have what you want to buy queued up while you are backing so you buy quickly and get back to lane fast as to not miss any CS of your own.
IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO ROAM INTO ENEMY JUNGLE, MID LANE FOR KILLS, OR EVEN DRAGON WHEN YOU PUSH TO ENEMY TOWER INSTEAD OF SITTING THERE TRADING A HIT OF Decimate FOR A TOWER SHOT, UNLESS YOU ARE POSITIVE YOU CAN KILL THEM WHEN THE NEXT WAVE HITS THEIR TOWER.
Mid Game (First tower break or 20 minutes to second baron, first inhibitor
Once the first tower goes down or it is around twenty minutes, try to break your tower at any opportunity if you haven't already. You should be finishing your first couple big items at this point. Group up with your team to collect all outer turrets, and start getting wards around the map, as well as Dragon if you haven't already. Darius is great at pushing towers as Crippling Strike absolutely destroys towers.
Breaking mid outer is the most important turret of all the outer towers to break. Why? Breaking it gives unparalleled map and jungle control compared to the other towers. Once all the outers go down, your team has two choices.
If you have good siege/poke? Go down middle lane, and poke/siege the enemy tower down, trying to get a pick/cheese kill if possible.
If you have bad siege/poke? Get pinks all around Baron Nashor and bait the enemy team into facechecking into a terrible team fight. This can turn a game around extremely quickly if the fight goes very well.
In midgame teamfights as long as you aren't behind, you are an absolutely menace. It is a judgment call whether you peel or go for the ADC, but at this point of the game, you doing things in teamfights is incredibly influential on the outcome of the game and fight. ADCs usually aren't all that dangerous, and mid laners aren't 100-0ing most people yet either, but you can. And you are tanky to boot.
If the enemy team doesn't have much CC, its usually better for you to just dive the squishy targets or just focus down whoever is most fed, whether he is squishy or tanky. Nobody is particularly tanky to Darius at this point in the game. (If you are level 11 and have level 2 ultimate at least, which you should have). I
If the enemy team is packing heavy CC, just sit with your squishies and kill anyone who comes in the same area code as you and them. You do plenty damage at this point to kill anyone, factoring in a teammate's damage makes kills happen within mere seconds.
Late Game (Second Baron Killed, First Inhibitor Broken, or 40-45 minutes to
This is where things are tricky. If you have a downed inhib, you can't really push, and you are pretty confined to your base. Travel as a team as much as possible if this is the case, do NOT overextend to farm lanes and get caught, it will probably decide the game if someone is caught. If one inhibitor is down only, you can probably contest
if you have been repelling creep waves, but if you haven't you can't even do that, except maybe the jungler going solo for a steal attempt.
If YOU have an inhib kill, push all the lanes you DON'T have the inhib killed in, and put pressure there. The lane with the downed inhib will always push favoring you, eventually forcing the other team to commit a champion to stop it, which is when you fight with a numbers advantage. I CANNOT stress this enough. DO NOT KEEP PUSHING THE LANE WITH THE DOWNED INHIB IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AT LEAST ALL INNER TOWERS YET. You can bait/rush Baron Nashor as well.
You should almost definitely be sitting back with your squishies at this point, namely your team's ADC. You aren't as tanky at this point, but most champions who dive the back line aren't usually looking to kill because they don't build all that much damage, only soak damage and disrupt. Focus these targets down quickly, so the enemy team has no tank line and is forced to retreat.
If CC is incredibly light on the enemy team, and or the squishies on the team don't build any defense items, you can probably Flash in and try to burst them quickly, forcing you to be focused and (hopefully) allowing your team to mop up after you die. If you care about winning you shouldn't care about your KDA.
Dragon MEANS NEXT TO NOTHING AT THIS POINT. DO NOT GO FOR IT AT ALL UNLESS IT IS COMPLETELY SAFE,GOD FORBID YOU GIVE UP Baron Nashor FOR FREE AND THROW THE GAME.
General Lane Matchup Info (Why I have no super detailed matchup section con
Darius has pretty standard gameplay overall. Poke people down with Decimate, go for all ins with Apprehend, and add Crippling Strike as well as Ignite to the combo somewhere, while trying to get five Hemorrhage stacks to finish them off with a dunk from Noxian Guillotine. This is a tl;dr of how you play 90% of lanes. I will cover the in-depth the lanes you do not/cannot play like this, and the controversial lanes as well. (The ones people have massively differing opinions on).
Because Darius has immense damage output and is melee, obviously playing against other melee
champions is easier. This makes him have a lot of favorable lanes overall because of the nature of top lane being a melee bruiser sent up there. Believe me, I tried writing up an in-depth matchup section as it is something I like to do, (Check my Jax and Gangplank guides if you dont believe me) but when I tried doing the same for Darius I ended up repeating myself a ton of times, which I simply found redundant.
HARD/Unfavorable/Skill Lane/Controversial Matchups (Updated Periodically)
Read the chapter above before reading this one if you are looking for a detailed matchup that is not here. If you still want to hear about it PM me and I will add it in here.
Starting Item: Cloth Armor, Elixir of Fortitude, or 9 Pots 2 Wards.
Summoner Spells:: Ghost, Ignite.
Pick Against? Player discretion.
Ah, Jayce. The standard counterpick for 90% of league players to Darius for the longest time. I've played this matchup around ~100 times with about half of those being challenger tier/diamond players and I used to nearly always get my face stomped in to the point where I almost gave up playing this lane. One day though, I was counterpicked (as always) with a Jayce. I decided to try ghost cuz yolo and I ended up crushing him. I quickly experimented running lanes with some high elo top lane maining friends of mine and I actually won a good amount. It doesn't make this lane easy to the point where you should pick Darius into Jayce every game, but it isn't a bad matchup with Ghost instead of Flash.
The thing about Ghost is that once you hit 6 you can simply run up to him with Ghost if he pushes past the middle of the lane and dunk him even if he flashes, since Ghost covers way more distance over the duration of the spell. All you have to do is sustain through his auto attacks and poke with his shock blast and gate combo until level 6. When you hit 6 or are close to it, go back and buy your items and then come back and immediately force an all in, hopefully killing him, resulting in a snowballed lane. There is NO way Jayce can match a Darius's raw damage matchup in a 100% hp to 100% hp fight, always try to force all ins. If he jumps on you and doesn't immediately knock you away, you are probably getting ganked.
Force trades early and often, and this lane becomes winnable.
Starting Item: 9 Pots 2 Wards and some lube.
Summoner Spells:: Ghost, Ignite.
Pick Against? No.
Elise is a huge *****, and extremely frustrating to play against. She has stupid amounts of poke with her Q, and there is almost no counterplay to it. It has lowish mana costs, is extremely spammable and hurts like fk. She also doesn't need to build big AP items, she has percent of max health and percent of missing health damage, making sure she just needs magic penetration to make that percent damage really count. Unlike other difficult champions for Darius to lane against, she actually can stand a chance in some all ins.
To make matters worse, she is ranged and can generally stay away from your pull. Try to hit her with free Decimate casts if she gets overconfident and go in with an all in with Ghost. If she switches to spider form her Q changes to percent of missing health damage, effectively making it an execute, and basically telling you she is going to try to kill you. She has no hard CC in spider form thankfully, her stun is limited to human form. In spider form she can also heal up and go untargetable, landing right back where she jumped or to a targetable ENEMY unit. Most Elise players will use it to escape and juke over walls and such. She DOES take damage from DoTs such as Hemorrhage and Ignite will in the air though.
Starting Item: 9 Pots 2 Wards or Rejuvenation Bead.
Summoner Spells:: Ghost, Ignite.
Pick Against? Generally no.
Me as well as 99% of the league community hate teemo for a specific reason. He is annoying as fk. Teemo has 2 main builds, an AD and an AP one. The AD one is generally quite tanky and usually builds Frozen Mallet to kite. The AP one relies on Noxious Trap and auto attacks as well as Blinding Dart to harass with. The AD build is usually the easier to deal with, although it can be very irritating to fight as well. Make sure you play accordingly to how he builds. If he his AD make every Apprehend combo count. If he is AP, try to force all ins constantly, and avoid Noxious Trap.
There is 0 chance that Teemo, AD or AP can win a 100% to 100% HP all-in fight with you, so use that to your advantage. Your Apprehend is actually the exact same range as his auto attack (550) so try to use that to your advantage as much as possible. Just know if you are fighting Teemo whether it be AP or AD, if you miss an Apprehend he will absolutely destroy you with harass until it comes back up, so try your very hardest not to miss any. Your best chance is to destroy him when he has no kiting abilities, which is usually levels 1 and 2. If you don't first blood him early, be ready for an obnoxious yordle constantly shooting you with darts.
Starting Item: 9 Pots 2 Wards, and pray for good measure.
Summoner Spells:: Ghost, Ignite.
Pick Against? No.
Another ranged champion that will harass and kite you to death. Seeing a trend? :P Kayle is extra gay because she has a massive slow in Reckoning not to mention a speedup that doubles as a heal. To top it all off, Intervention serves as a massive counter to your ult, not only in lane if you go for a kill, but in teamfights when you try to dunk low hp targets as well. Contrary to popular belief, you can win a level 1 fight if you hit a good Decimate, and you can win level 2 as well easily with Crippling Strike. You can win with Apprehend as well, but make sure you don't fight with creep disadvantage. At level 6 if you go for a dunk try to dunk early so she doesn't completely nullify it with Intervention and turn around and destroy you. Be wary she can go AP or AD as well.
Starting Item: Crystalline Flask or Rejuvenation Bead
Summoner Spells:: Ghost, Ignite.
Pick Against? Yes.
Yorick is the prime example of a few high elo people spreading the word that Yorick beats Darius and everybody else simply agreeing. I'm here to say that is COMPLETELY ****ING WRONG. As in many other "difficult" lanes for Darius, taking Ghost is a godsend. Yorick CANNOT 1v1 Darius unless you accidentally target all your autoattacks, Ignite, and Crippling Strike on his ghouls and or his *******ed clone. He doesn't have the mobility to kite a Darius with the movespeed from Ghost, just destroy him at level 6 while trying not to get utterly destroyed with his poke. If you don't kill him though, you will get outsustained and raped, but this goes with pretty much any lane Yorick is in.
Starting Item: 9 Pots 2 Wards, Rejuvenation Bead, or Cloth Armor.
Summoner Spells:: Flash, Ignite.
Pick Against? Generally no.
Nidalee is more irritating then dangerous because she kites you to death, but that doesn't mean you should pick Darius against her. She doesn't really have the damage to challenge you unless you play really stupidly after her armor and mr nerfs, so just go for hooks whenever possible which isn't too hard because her range isn't so good. All you really have to be scared of is eating 10 spears in a row if she goes ap, or getting harassed down 1-5, her hitting 6 before you, and then you getting cheese executed by a quick flash combo from her. If you don't get ahead before she finishes tank items such as Sunfire Cape, Warmog's Armor, and or Iceborn Gauntlet, you can't really kill her as you will just kited all day, not to mention she will be tanky, but she can't really kill you. Sustain through the spear storm early if shes AD and just farm up enough to be a threat in teamfights. If she goes AP just start wrecking her from level 1. Just beware of her kiting through bushes if shes AP and you getting chunked hard followed by being swiftly executed if you hit a spear and a trap. (not necessarily in that order)
Starting Item: 9 Pots 2 Wards, Elixir of Fortitude, or Cloth Armor.
Summoner Spells:: Flash, Ignite.
Pick Against? Judgment call (haha get it i'm so funny)
Garen isn't really a counter to Darius, at best I would say it is a skill lane, but I personally feel this lane should never be lost by a Darius who plays correctly. Avoid Garen at level one, since Decisive Strike gives him one of the best level ones in the game. At level two you can win trades against him with Crippling Strike and Decimate, do not take Apprehend level two if you plan on trading with him, you will lose unless he does not have either Cloth Armor or an Elixir of Fortitude. If he does not start either of these, you should be able to win trades handily no matter what skill you take level two, assuming you started with one of the aforementioned items.
The thing people don't realize about Garen is that he loses the lane if at any point you can outdamage Judgment which honestly isn't that hard to do. Tank it like a man and auto attack him to stack up Hemorrhage, hook him with Apprehend when he tries to run, (which 99% of Garen players will do after their cooldowns are burnt) and then either dunk him if you are level six, or just back up when his cooldowns are back up if you do not have dunk. YOU WIN ALL-INS AT LEVEL 6, PROVIDED YOU DON'T RUN LIKE AN IDIOT FROM Judgment WHILE GETTING HIT WITH IT ANYWAY. ALWAYS try to force trades on him if he uses spells to farm, his damage in straight up auto attack fights cannot hold a candle to yours. Even if you fall a bit behind, it isn't hard to come back in this lane. Avoid trading with him when he has Courage active whenever possible, and it's always nice to have an Elixir of Fortitude handy to survive execution attempts from Demacian Justice.
Random Useful Tips/Tricks, And Some Things to Keep in Mind.
Your ult does true damage, so it does not apply Black Cleaver stacks. Your passive does apply black cleaver stacks, and so do all of your abilities. Apprehend gives you passive armor penetration. NOT bonus armor penetration.
Remember your ult applies one stack of your passive, but you still need to have five stacks on the target you are dunking to get max damage.
Hemorrhage does NOT apply a healing debuff, so it can be mitigated by a health potion rather easily.
Apprehend does NOT apply a stack of Hemorrhage, only damaging auto attacks and spells do. When you are blinded, you do not apply stacks of your passive on auto attacks.
Learn the range of Apprehend well. It is slightly deceiving. Remember you can hook over walls if people are close to them, but most of the time hooking people who flash over a wall will be unsuccessful.
Crippling Strike has lowered CD and cost when killing a unit with it, so lasthitting champions with it in fights can be very helpful.
Darius is very good at sticking with the AD carry lategame and killing targets that try to dive them. This can win you many more fights lategame as opposed to diving the enemy AD carry as Darius is seriously hampered by crowd control, even with tenacity.
Darius is a counter to pretty much all melee bruiser top laners, it is usually safe to pick him vs anyone with a melee auto attack, refer to the matchup section for more info.
Pushing with a creep wave and then hooking someone in with Apprehend with minion advantage is very beneficial for winning trades, and can be used to reclaim a lost lane.
Remember to always get as many Hemorrhage stacks as possible in trades, even if your Noxian Guillotine is not up, the damage is immense.
REMEMBER, you do a TON of damage, but you are NOT the AD carry! You do NOT need to be the main source of damage output, and this is something you need to keep in mind when building.
CHANGELOG (don't need to read this, for historical display only).
3/3/2013: Version 3.00 Released!
3/4/2013: Version 3.01: Initial Matchup Section Completed.
3/5/2013: Version 3.02: Black Cleaver Section + Ultimate Nerf Section Added.
3/7/2013: Version 3.03: Earlygame, midgame, and lategame sections completed.
3/12/2013: Version 3.04: Small coding mistakes fixed, BoTRK/BoRK information updated, holy trinity section added.
3/13/2013: Version 3.05: Midgame and lategame sections updated, Garen added to matchups.
4/2/2013: Version 3.06: Small changes made to tips and item section.
10/14/2013: Version 3.07: I've actually been fixing lots of things and adding little things like the Trinity Force changes, but haven't put them in the changelog. Changed order of item build.
12/26/2016: Rewrite begins.
1/4/2017: Rewrite continues.
1/6/2017: Deleted some obsolete chapters.
Darius is a fun champion with a lot of potential, in my opinion he is definitely worth the 6300 to new players because of how dominant he is in top lane. He isn't a bad jungler per se, but being a jungle main myself, I can't say he is quite up to snuff with other top tier junglers at the moment. If this changes somehow, I'll be sure to add a jungle section, or even write a separate guide about him, have no fear. Until then, happy dunking!
TO BE ADDED:
Videos of stuffs
Whatever else I think of