Jax Build Guide by Rawnix
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Top Lane Jax
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.
Important Note From the Author
Introduction - About Me and the Guide
My name is Rawnix and I've been playing League for almost 2 years now. I'm currently a Silver 1 top laner, but I've branched out into other lanes - especially mid.
Jax was my best champion in Season 2, where I topped out at just over 1400 ELO. I had somewhere around 200 games as him with roughly a 60% winrate. He's always been one of my favorite top laners and is now my favorite jungler.
This guide will cover the basics of Jax and teach you a little about him but you need to develop your own playstyle. The only way you'll be good with a champion is if you learn them yourself; so read the guide and practice!
Quick Guide for Advanced Players
For all you advanced players out there that have extremely good base mechanics and a very broad knowledge of the game, here's a simple quick guide you can follow.
Jax is a bruiser that scales well with both ability power and attack damage. His passive grants him a ton of attack speed which stacks up per auto attack and gives him strength in extended duels. His Q is basically the same thing as Shunpo, his W is an AA reset that does an insane amount of magic damage, and his E grants him immunity to AA's for a few seconds. His ultimate has a passive that proc's every 3rd Auto and deals moderate magic damage, kind of like Phoenix Stance but only single target. When activated it grants him Armor and MR based on the amount of AD and AP he has built.
You need to play him like a diver usually, but he's also a very strong mid/late game splitpusher due to his insane dueling strength. With the right build you can often 2v1.
His main weakness is his insanely bad level 2-5 and his reliance on Auto Attacks. He also has no ranged abilities, so he has to always be on top of his opponents. This leaves him very vulnerable to CC and ranged poke.
As for items, Hextech Gunblade is core on him both top lane and jungle. It gives him everything he wants + incredible sustain which ups his dueling power even more. Lots of people build Blade of the Ruined King but it's simply inferior to Hextech Gunblade due to Gunblade's scaling with his ultimate and his W and Q's AP Scalings. Also, spellvamp procs on his ult passive, making him very hard to kill.
Follow the masteries/runes/items guide you see above from there, and good luck with Jax!
Pros / Cons
Huge damage level 6+.
Very expensive champion.
Very item dependent.
Know Your Role
Jax is a high-DPS bruiser who excels in extended fights and has some of the highest dueling potential in the game. He has awesome mobility and innate tank with Grandmaster's Might and Counter Strike. This puts him in the perfect position to splitpush or dive onto priority targets.
While diving is Jax's ideal role, he can also peel fairly well due to his stun and high DPS. Standing next to your carry helping them melt down the enemy's front line works well, but Jax usually does prefer to kill enemy squishies.
I run this page 9/10 games. The flat 15 AD lets you last-hit under turret really well and since Jax has poor waveclear you'll often find yourself under your turret. This is perfect for lanes that you didn't get hard countered in or lanes that you know you can bully early-game.
This is the page I run when I know I'm about to get stomped in lane. It's great vs Pantheon and Darius because it gives you passive sustain and a ton of armor. It's also great when you know you'll end up in a 2v1 against the ADC/Support (though I dont recommend EVER putting yourself in this situation).
This is by far the most optimal page for jungling Jax. The Attack Speed scales very well with his passive and Hunter's Machete's on-hit damage. This gives you really fast clear when compared to running AD reds. AD quints can be changed out for Movement speed quints.
These masteries are what I generally use on Jax, however they're by no means required on him. You can choose many other setups that will work fairly well. For instance, 21-9 is great on Jax.
4% cdr may seem like a waste, but honestly this is the best T1 mastery in the game IMO. That 4% CDR on Jax is going to reduce his cooldowns a tiny amount - .24s, .28s, 1.72s, and 4.2s at rank 1 on Q, W, E, R. While this doesnt seem like much, it's a huge help!
This mastery isn't great, but we need 4 points in this to get Weapon Expertise .
Weapon Expertise :
Great for armor pen since you wont be building any.
Similar to Deadliness , we only take this to get to Arcane Knowledge
Arcane Knowledge :
Just like Weapon Expertise , we take this because you dont build any magic pen.
This is a great mastery because it helps you survive your insanely bad early game.
We need 4 points here to reach Veteran's Scars
Veteran's Scars :
This helps survive early duels and tower dives, it's a VERY strong mastery.
The armor will help you tank minion aggro, turret damage, and AD champions. Very good mastery overall and worth more than Resistance .
This mastery is a lot stronger than it seems, it's effectively a Doran's Shield passive.
Helps a lot vs AA poke champions such as Jayce and Nidalee.
The best mastery in the game! This lets you skip over Mercury's Treads unless they have a ton of heavy CC.
These are just my personal masteries for top lane, but Jax is very versatile and just about any other mastery setup will work on him! There are some masteries that are "traps" though and we should stay away from them!
Trap Masteries That You Shouldn't Take
4% Attack Speed is not worth anything. In fact, it's worth exactly 100 Gold, far less than almost any other mastery.
This mastery is even worse than Fury . If you deal 1000 damage, this mastery grants you an extra 20 and that is affected by your opponents resists!
While it sounds nice on Jax, you simply don't build enough AP to make use of this mastery.
Legendary Armor :
This mastery will end up granting you less than 1% damage reduction if you build 200 armor.
With 4000 health, this mastery grants you an additional 180. It's not worth taking over other possible mastery points.
Expanded Mind :
This doesn't give you enough mana to make it worth the points.
Jax has a great kit! He has tons of mobility and innate tank combined with a ton of sustained DPS.
This passive is pretty good, it grants you stacking attack speed - Up to 84% at max rank and max stacks.
Tips: This ability can destroy towers and you can stack it quickly by using Empower and an AutoAttack reset.
This ability works in a similar way to Katarina's Shunpo. It allows you to jump to enemies and friendlies, including wards. THe damage on it isn't terribly high, but it still hurts!
Tips: Using this ability to jump to minions or wards can get you out of clutch situations. Carry a ward on you at all times so you can jump to it over walls to escape chasing enemies.
This ability is an Auto-Attack reset that deals lots of magic damage on your next attack, similar to Sheen. Leap Strike with automatically consume Empowers damage.
Tips: You can use this ability to reset your AA animation, thus increasing your DPS drastically. Using this ability at the same time you get a proc of Grandmaster's Might can give you a surprising amount of burst that the enemy wont expect. When destroying towers, spam this ability for AA resets!
This ability defines Jax and proper use of it will separate the bad from the good Jax players. It grants you a short immunity to Auto Attacks and then stuns enemies in an AOE around you for a short time. This gives you insane dueling power, especially when fighting AD Carries.
Tips: Once you learn the range on Leap Strike and get used to it you'll be able to preemptively activate this and jump onto the target, effectively instantly stunning them.
This is your ultimate, and it's a great one! It gives you armor and MR based on how much AD and AP you have, which makes Hextech Gunblade and Trinity Force especially efficient on Jax. It's passive is very similar to Udyr's Phoenix Stance except it deals single target damage every 3rd hit instead of AOE.
Tips: This ability gives you a lot of tank, use it to bait enemies into what they think is a fair fight! Stacking Empower with the 3rd hit proc also can give you a ton of burst that people wont expect.
Of course you want to take a point in this whenever you can, it is a large portion of your DPS.
Maxing this first is very important as it is your primary strength level 7-11. It gives you insane burst and AA resets which dramatically increase your DPS.
We max this second due to the extreme mana cost of Counter Strike. Maxing this second lowers the cooldown a lot. It's damage also scales up pretty nice.
Maxing this last is generally the best idea. It has high mana costs and the damage is fairly low.
Match-ups - Short Summary
While Jax is very strong, he has a really bad level 2-5 during which time he can easily be shut down by lane bullies such as Darius and Jayce. If you make it through this stage however, you can usually outscale most of these lane bullies.
A quick shoutout to Retribution's Lux Guide for the awesome matchups format!
Champion - Summary - Difficulty pre-6/post-6/late-game threat
He has high kill potential, be careful but dont let him bully you - Medium/Easy/Easy
Bully her pre-6, early pots are a must. Vision Ward helps a lot first back - Easy/Medium/Hard
Get MR and some Doran's Blades to win the lane. Easy/Medium/Easy
Hard lane, get armor/HP and dont fight him - Hard/Hard/Medium
EZPZ. Early Hexdrinker and a Doran's Blade or two. Bully her all game. - Easy/Easy/Medium
Lots of pots, dont let her poke for free - Medium/Easy/Easy
Ninja Tabi is a must. Counter Strike hurts her DPS a lot Medium/Easy/Medium
Ninja Tabi and early sustain, GP doesnt like long fights. Hard/Medium/Easy
Recommend flat armor runes and Cloth Armor start. Post-6 you can fight him. Hard/Medium/Medium
Bully her all game, but be careful around level 8-9. Easy/Easy/Medium
Save Counter Strike for when he goes on you. Medium/Easy/Easy
Mirror lane? Lol. Rush Guinsoo's Rageblade and bully him. Easy/Easy/High
Dont die to him, try to farm. Doran's Shield on first back helps. Hard/Medium/Easy
Focus on farming and staying safe. Post-6 you can easily kill him. Medium/Easy/Easy
Rush an early Spectre's Cowl into Hextech Gunblade. Medium/Medium/Medium
Siphoning Strike will hit through Counter Strike. Bully him early. Easy/Medium/Medium
Hexdrinker if AP, Ninja Tabi/ Doran's Shield if AD. You win post-4 Medium/Easy/Easy
Hardest counter to Jax. Spectre's Cowl and sustain required. Hard/Hard/Medium
Easy lane. Rush Doran's Blades and Hextech Gunblade. Easy/Easy/Easy
You can beat her early, but she's really strong lategame. Medium/Medium/Hard
One of the most annoying lanes ever. Just focus on farm and dont die. Hard/Medium/Easy
Lots of armor, dont fight him ever. Hard/Hard/Medium
Lots of armor, win post-6. - Medium/Easy/easy
Rushing Ninja Tabi and Giant's Belt helps. Hard/Medium/Medium
Hexdrinker and early bullying put him down. Easy/Medium/Medium
Zones you hard early, but you win lategame. Dodge his taunt. Medium/Medium/Easy
Honestly have no idea how to win this lane. Hard/Hard/Hard
Grab a Hexdrinker and some HP and tear him up post-6. Hard/Medium/Easy
Spectre's Cowl and Hextech Revolver is really nice against him. - Medium/Medium/Medium
Hexdrinker will put him in his place. Medium/Medium/Easy
If there is a matchup not on this list that you want to know more about, PM me and I'll look into it.
This is a popular argument and there's a lot of debate over which is actually better on Jax, but it really all comes down to lane matchup. If your opponent is someone with high mobility and lots of blinks, it could be beneficial to run Ghost in order to chase them down. Flash is really nice against things that like to jump onto you to deal damage, such as Irelia or Zed.
I typically bring Ignite as my second summoner simply for the damage in lane. Sometimes it can turn the tide of a fight or let you pick up clutch under-tower kills.
Always take this when jungling.
Exhaust is very strong on Jax and gives him even more dueling potential. Take this if your support and mid are both running Ignite.
This spell can actually be very useful vs heavy AOE damage teams. Pick it up if you dont need the kill pressure from Ignite.
A very strong spell for post-6 Jax due to his ability to easily clean up fights.
Building Jax - Early Game
Note: Building items isn't always black and white. If they have multiple problems to deal with, you'll probably need multiple resists. I can't teach you how to build, build paths come from experience against enemies. If they have a farmed Kassadin and a fed Ashe, you may need to pick up both a Chain Vest and a Spectre's Cowl instead of just going for one big item. This can be true in very many situations and situational building is a huge part of League.
Lot's of items will benefit you early on. My typical start is Rejuvenation Bead, 1 Sight Ward, and 5 Health Potions in addition to a single Mana Potion. This gives you a lot of sustain and safety to make it through your horrible laning phase. You can sell the Rejuvenation Bead on your first back to pick up an extra ward and some potions if needed.
Against junglers and top laners that lack gank or kill potential, picking up a Crystalline Flask and 3 Health Potions is very cost efficient, albeit a tad more risky than the rejuv start.
I do not recommend starting off with Boots of Speed because Crystalline Flask is just a better alternative. Starting Cloth Armor and 5 Health Potions can be beneficial against extremely strong AD Lane bullies like Pantheon or Darius.
Start this almost all the time. It's got great sustain and safety with the ward.
This is a great start against top laners and junglers that dont have high kill potential.
This is a good start vs AD lane bullies.
On your first back you need to consider who you're up against and how you're doing in lane. My most common pick up is 2 Doran's Blades and Boots of Speed if I can. If you're doing bad in lane, consider grabbing a Doran's Shield in place of one of the blades. If you're up against a very strong AP champion such as Rumble, an early Negatron Cloak is extremely useful and wont set you far behind as it can build into a Spirit Visage or Banshee's Veil.
This is a great grab on your first back because it gives you good dueling power and safety. I grab this almost every time.
1x 1x 1xSight Ward3x
This is a very defensive pickup and very strong if you're losing lane.
Hextech Gunblade should always be a priority item, once you finish it you hit a fairly large power spike. Aside from that, every other item is situational. Picking up Mercury's Treads when they have a lot of CC is usually a good idea, and an early Sunfire Cape or Randuin's Omen can let you easily duel their carry mid-game. I almost always grab a Sunfire Cape or Spirit Visage after my Hextech Gunblade and boots.
Hextech Gunblade is always core on Jax synergy with his ultimate and AP scalings on Q, W, and R. Be sure to grab copious amounts of wards. You should have at least T1 bootsby this point, but it's usually a good idea to grab T2 boots
This is a fantastic first item for Jax. It gives you a lot of punch in lane and makes you an incredible duelist. Get this before Hextech Gunblade due to cost efficiency. Only get this if you wont need a defensive item early on.
This is always a good pickup vs AD/Bruiser compositions that seem to be the standard in Solo Queue. Grab this after your Hextech Gunblade for maximum effectiveness.
A very strong item on Jax due to its synergy with Hextech Gunblade. Grab one of these if they have a double AP composition.
Very strong vs fed AP's that rely on chaining a combo such as LeBlanc and Fizz.
If they have a double ADC comp or a very fed ADC this item helps a lot.
This item is great when you dont need heavy defense as it gives you a TON of offensive stats in addition to some nice MR.
Pick this up when they have no real threat. It gives you great damage and survivability due to the Armor, CDR, and Sheen procs. If you get this, dont go Trinity Force.
Grab Hextech Gunblade and one of the above items according to what you need.
Building Jax - Mid Game
This is where you start to really spike in power (level 11) and can start to either splitpush or destroy carries in teamfights. You need to pick up some extra offense if you went with a heavy defensive item second. Afterwards you need to top off another heavy defensive item.
This is a great pickup as a 3rd item - especially with the new buffs and cheaper cost. If you have an Iceborn Gauntlet it's just best not to get this and instead go for Blade of the Ruined King.
A good pickup if you didn't go Trinity Force or their tank line is pretty huge. This is a great item for helping your carry in teamfights but not great for killing squishies or pushing towers.
A pretty strong item but pretty costly for the stats it gives. I'd only get this if you're having a lot of trouble chasing down carries and you haven't opted for Iceborn Gauntlet.
This is an incredibly efficient pickup on Jax due to his natural tankiness. Grab this if you're getting bursted by their AP mages.
Surprisingly effective on Jax, especially when combined with Iceborn Gauntlet or Frozen Mallet. The passive proc's on the 3rd hit of your ultimate and Jax scales very well with AP. Overall an incredible item on him that is perfect for taking out squishies.
Grab one of these items to help your overall DPS. From here on you'll be building a mixture of offense and defense.
This is crunch-time and where most of the game will be decided if the team are even. It's about 30 minutes in and as Jax you're becoming an monster that the enemy team can't deal with. Ideally you're tearing squishies apart in teamfights right now, but as their ADC and APC start getting more and more damage you're going to need some better resists and some extra killing power. Defensive items that share offensive stats are key at this point in the game. By now you should have two offensive items, two defensive items, and T2 Boots.
If you didn't pick this up earlier and you don't already have a Frozen Mallet or Trinity Force, this is the time to grab it. It's extremely powerful on Jax due to the CDR and Sheen proc's, as well as the slow helping him chase.
Lot's of people say this item is bad, but it works really well on Jax if you already have a lot of HP. If you've got Sunfire Cape and Spirit Visage then feel free to grab one of these when you need some extra armor.
This item's going to help a ton vs things that rely on a lock-down combo. It's also very strong against Vladimere and Zed because it actually removes their ultimate's delayed damage.
This is basically a pure defensive version of Iceborn Gauntlet. You still get the armor, mana, and CDR but now you have a ton of pressure on everyone around you due to the aura. It's very efficient on Jax and incredibly strong when you're up against a fed ADC or double ADC comp.
Moving into late game you're going to start dealing even more damage. At level 16 with four items you should be able to duel anyone in the game or splitpush hard.
Building Jax - Late Game
This is about 35-40 minutes in. You should be level 16-18 with at least four items + boots. You're already really strong, but its time to make you even beefier. The items you purchase here are items you've already thought about but have decided to wait on.
You need one of these two items in your build every game unless there is no APC on their team. If their only magic damage is a full tank Malphite you won't have to worry about it nearly as much and instead can make do with Maw of Malmortius or Guardian Angel.
If they have a strong AD team you should already have a Randuin's Omen, but if not you can now make the choice between that or Warmog's Armor. The decision should be made based on how dive-heavy your team is, how much AD the enemy team has, and what kind of damage you're actually taking. If you're sitting on a Spirit Visage but still get bursted, consider grabbing the Warmog's Armor. In almost all other cases however, Randuin's Omen is better due to the massive amount of EHP it grants + the ability to tank towers with ease.
I personally have a love-hate relationship with GA. I love the passive, but I hate the stats it provides and the cooldown. It's great if you're just getting blown up by champions with powerful ultimate abilities such as Zed or high-CC long-CD spells such as Malphite's Unstoppable Force. However if you're dying to sustained, low-CD abilities then this item is not a good pick up.
This is a better version of Guardian Angel in my experience as it has 1/2 the cooldown and allows you to dodge those critical abilities such as Death Mark or Command: Shockwave. It also grants you an insane amount of damage due to the AP. Lot's of people will be skeptical and tell me I'm wrong, but I've tested this over 30-40 games and it has always proven to be a solid item on Jax.
Now you should be sitting on 5 items + boots. You have reached your critical mass and can basically destroy everything in your path.
Trap Items on Jax
There's a lot of items in the game that look like they would benefit Jax, but they simply aren't as good as other choices. We'll discuss those here.
These items looks like they'd be great on Jax due to his relationship with Attack Speed, however ITS A TRAP. While the items are actually very good on Jax, other items will do their job better. Wit's End and Blade of the Ruined King are both high-atkspd items that are better on Jax than the items listed above.
This item is basically just a worse version of Wit's End for Jax. While I do have an AP Jax experimental build going on, this item isn't good for standard Jax.
And other AP items
AP on Jax is great, but only a select few items actually sync with Jax's kit. There will be an AP Jax discussion later in the guide, but it is purely for advanced players and completely experimental.
With the example build listen above, Jax actually does more magic damage than physical damage, thus Armor Penetration item's are virtually useless on him. Penetration is powerful, but it's better just to grab AD/AP and Resits for Jax.
Like stated above, Jax does a lot of magic damage and has extremely poor AD Scaling unlike Riven and Renekton. Therefore it's generally a bad idea to build expensive AD-Heavy items on him as he gets more out of things like Hextech Gunblade and Trinity Force.
Neither of these work very well on Jax when compared to rushing Guinsoo's Rageblade, Hextech Gunblade, or Spirit of the Ancient Golem. Of course we're talking about jungling here.
This is a very experimental build that I've been testing. At the moment it's only a gimmick that I play with in normals, but I have confidence that once the build has been perfected it can be even more powerful than standard Jax.
This section is for advanced players only, thus I won't be using a lot of BB Code out of laziness.
The whole purpose of AP Jax is to instantly burst down a squishy and then have relatively strong DPS (Higher than the standard build in fact). The main weakness is that AP Jax is not very tanky in comparison to hybrid/bruiser Jax. The way I've been dealing with this is Zhonya's Hourglass which gives me a bit more buffer and an "OH SH*T" button when I need it.
I've been looking at a tanky-AP build similar to what most Rumble players build, but have yet to find a working model as Nashor's Tooth is a very important part of this build.
Feel free to try it out in normals and as I test it more and more I'll be updating the guide!
I hope this guide was helpful to you! If it was, feel free to send me a screenshot of your Jax wins and I'll be sure to post them on the guide!
I'll be adding some videos later once I get some good clips demonstrating certain aspects of Jax, such as how to use Counter Strike properly.
Thanks for reading, and if there's a section you think may be missing then PM me and let me know.