Jax Build Guide by Trenditon
This build has been archived and is for historical display only.
PLEASE NOTE: This build has been archived by the author. They are no longer supporting nor updating this build and it may have become outdated. As such, voting and commenting have been disabled and it no longer appears in regular search results.
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.
Basically since the beginning of time people have been demanding nerfs on this champion. He can be built for AD, AP, tank, anti-tank, carry, anti-carry, off tank, you name it and he can do it. What seriously ticks people off though is when you take him into a 3v3 game. In 3v3 you're going to have alot more 1v1's and 1v2's and this is where Jax really shines.
Now, before we get into the nitty gritty part of the guide, let's get a couple things straight:
This build is NOT going to make you a god every time you play Jax. There are simply situations where you're not going to do well, due to gaps in your playstyle (we all have them) or simply not having a good team.
This guide does not cover every possible phenomenon that you might encounter in the game. If pink unicorns come flying out of the sky to rape you, don't start hating me cause I didn't tell you how to counter it. I'm still learning just like you, and I'm simply trying to do my best here.
I know this build isn't perfect, and as such, it is prone to revisions. I check the comments section at least weekly, so if you have issues with the guide or something you think needs changing, drop me a line below and I'll deal with the issue (probably, lol).
Please Do NOT put TL;DR in your comment and then tell me why my guide sucks. If you didn't read it, I have nothing more to say to you then to hand you a few books and tell you to "get literate" (bad english I know).
Now, all that being said, what this build WILL give you is a good comprehensive guide on how to play an amazing champion. I know he's fairly easy to pick up, but people still fumble with him all the time (Mercury Treads on Jax? In 3v3? rofl), and this guide will help starting or intermediate Jax players to get a good head start. So sit down, get ready, and hold on. We're about to break the learning curve.
As most of you know, what happens in the early game is usually a good indicator of how the late game is going to go. If you have really strong lanes that dominate, farm up, and shut down the enemy team, you can usually win the game before level 18. As this build is mainly focused on 3v3 games, and you should be taking solo top, this section is going to focus on how to carry your own lane.
Note: For the purposes of this section I'm going to be using the 1st build, which focuses on AP Jax.
Once you spawn you should either grab a Doran's Ring or a Boots of Speed with two Health Potionss and a Mana Potion. I usually roll with the boots and pots as it gives me mobility and allows me to last a long time in the lane. However, if you're new to Jax, or just preffer to play it a bit safer, I would start off with the Doran's ring. It WILL slow your build down a little bit, but it gives you some really nice early game stats. Once you've grabbed your items either head to the bot lane bush for that infamous level 1 teamfight, or just play it safe and head to your lane. I would reccomend staying in the middle bush closest to your opponents side so you can see who you're laneing when they come out. You also won't be taken by surprise this way.
Combo Time (i.e. the long incredibly "engaging" section on the empower->leapstrike combo)
Now early on you're going to notice that you have to have at least Leap Strike and Empower to really do much harass. Once you have your Empower Leap Strike combo at level 2 you can really put out some harass. Just hit your W (empower) and Leap Strike onto your opponent for some nice burst. Make sure that you move away immediately after leaping onto them unless you plan on a serious engagement you know you can win. Once you get your Counter Strike at level 3, get it charged up with minion aggro. You can use your traditional Empower LeapStrike combo and then stun them for a clean getaway or an early kill.
NOTE: Due to the range and power of this combo, if your laneing opponent or one of your opponents in bot lane tries to B back to base under tower with only 150 hp or so, you can Empower Leap Strike them under the turret for an easy kill.
Once you hit level six you really become dangerous. You can work up the third hit damage proc on your ultimate, and use your Empower Leap Strike combo to do insane burst, and then start wailing on them while getting up or simply maintaining your Relentless Assault stacks. This is usually more then enough to finish most champs with a couple of extra Empowers and another leapstrike. Soon you're going to be so OP they can't hide under towers at full HP and hope to escape.
Aaaaaaah, the bane of most Jax's. It had to come sometime so let's get this out of the way now. Enter teamfights cautiously. Unless you're really fed or they're all squishy, you shouldn't be the one to initiate a teamfight. Even with only 3 people on both teams, you can't start thinking of yourself as invincible. As soon as you do you're going to make mistakes, painful ones, and they could cost you the game. If you have someone with a good initiate on your team, let them go in first and once things get started and you're not being focused, Empower Leap Strike the squishiest/most dangerous target (use your own judgement on who you need to target) and get into that fight. Once they focus you, because they should, your Counter Strike should come up.
Now, this is an important part, so listen up. Do NOT use your Counter Strike on cooldown unless you have two or three melee champions that require consistent and uninterrupted attacks to do their damage. In most cases you will have at least one caster, or god forbid a Nunu on the enemy team. If Nunu starts his Absolute Zero in the middle of your team you want a way to stop it before you all get blown to bits right? When that Malzahar focuses his ultimate on your squishy partner, you want to end it as soon as possible and save your teammate right? So unless your opponents have NO channeling ultimates or powerful channel skills, you should be saving Counter Strike for THE most opportune moment.
Now if you DO happen to find yourself against a Caitlyn Ashe Tryndamere team, feel free to use Counter Strike whenever it procs. It WILL greatly reduce a teams damage output, you just need to make sure you have it if you absolutely need it for something.
Other then that, Keep using Empower and Leap Strike whenever they're up as well, and try to save a Leap Strike near the end of the fight to catch the people who try to flee.
This build is going to focus on your high damage output, so We're going to focus on your Q spell, Leap Strike (for AD Jax I focus on Counter Strike first and Leap Strike second as it makes it much safer to be in melee range with more dodge and stuns). Leap Strike does a **** ton of damage, and has very good ratios for AP and AD. We also want to get the cooldown on this spell as low as possible so that it's not that "one hit wonder" type of spell you cast every 12 seconds, and more one of those "omg I can't run from the DEATH FROM ABOVE" type of spell it SHOULD be. We're only taking one point in Counter Strike at level 3 because you do need dodge and that stun is what makes fighting you 1v1 so impossible. However, I find it's not as useful as your damage spells for farming OR fighting (until late game, then it just owns minions), so we put one point in it for the utility and leave it for later.
A note on Counter Strike:
There are situations, especially in your average solo que, where you will get two or maybe even three AD carries who rely on their auto attacks to kill you. In this situation I would only put one or two points in Empower early on, and max out your Counter Strike after Leap Strike, saving Empower for last. This will help you counter those heavy AD champs and give you stronger laneing and a much better chance in team fights.
I took people's suggestions and revised my guide. I no longer max Empower first like I used to. While it's base damage and cooldowsn in earlier levels are much more prefferable for the laneing phase, it's ratios and comparable utility are just too low to warrant prioritizing this spell. Thanks to munguia92 for helping me see the light, rock on.
Now that we've gotten the boring drawn out wall of text done with, guess what? MORE text! I know I know, hang in there, I have a good reason for this.
So for masteries, I went 21/9/0, to grab those amazing damage increases in the offensive tree and the dodge masteries in the defensive tree. This gives you a good offensive edge for the entire game, allowing you to put out more damage and hopefully net more kills.
In the AD build however, I went 9/21/0, speccing all the way down the defensive tree for Veteran's Scars , Ardor , and Tenacity . This is also a very viable way to go, and in 3v3 especially. The extra HP will give you more presence in lane (especially if you choose the flat HP quintessences for your runes), and it gives you 4% more attack speed and ability power. This more defensive mastery setup can be used well for AP or AD builds, and may be better depending on your playstyle. That extra 48 HP and 4% damage reduction may just save your life.
(thanks to munguia92 for suggesting the defensive masteries)
Some people say that you should go with armor pen, others say magic pen, almost everyone agrees with dodge seals, but what about quintessences? As you can see, I put A LOT of runes up at the top, and basically I think you should decide which ones you want to use. I know a lot of people already have full rune sets in one area but may be lacking in another area, so I put in the runes that seem to work best for Jax. Some of this is from my own experience, and some is from other guides and hearsay. What I would suggest is that you use what works for you.
That being said, something that is NOT debatable in the rune setup IMHO is the seals. Since Phantom Dancer had it's dodge removed Ninja Tabi is the only item that will give you dodge now, so to take maximum effect of your Counter Strike We're going to find other ways to get your dodge chance up. This would also be a reason to take dodge quints, though I find magic pen or flat health quintessences are more beneficial. Again, THAT part depends on your playstyle, but seals DON'T. If you don't have some and you plan on playing Jax much, you need to buy them. They're good for many characters, and even though they're expensive, they are more then worth it.
As for me, I prefer the m-pen marks, dodge seals, and CDR per level glyphs, with m-pen Quintessences. This gives me the dodge for my E skill ( Counter Strike), m-pen for my burst damage, and cooldown reduction later game to spam my spells more often. This happens to be what works for me, so experiment around and see what works for you.
NOTE: If you're having trouble starting out in the lane you may want to run with the Flat HP quints to give yourself some more early lane presence. They're not so great for late game, but if it keeps you from feeding in the early game and gets you a couple more kills, then they're totally worth it.
Summoner spells are like marriages: You love them at times, hate them at others (mainly that 12 hp flash that deprives you of first blood), and you can only have two of them at a time.
Ok, jk, I don't plan on getting married twice, but seriously, with only two slots to fill you have to decide very carefully. Believe it or not, the game may actually hinge on which summoner spells you choose, so pick yours wisely and based on your playstyle. I personally love Flash, and for those times when you run face to face with a Xin Zhao or a Gangplank, Exhaust works wonders to shut them down. I run Flash and Exhaust on most of my champions nowadays, but there are many other viable choices as well.
Summoner Spells to Consider:
I already explained this somewhat, but it's good for chasing, running, and to shut down their main carry in a teamfight. Makes you unbeatable in 1v1
Flash is pretty self explanatory. Sooooo many people take it, you may lose alot of kills due to people flashing over walls if you don't take this spell.
As an alternative to flash, ghost is also very viable on Jax. I sometimes run this on him instead of Flash, and sometimes I just say to heck with it and choose both.
I've used this spell before and it's an amazing counter for those annoying Tryndameres that you see so often in 3v3. Just pop it on him a few seconds into his ultimate and if you timed it right you should get an easy kill when he spins away at the end of his Undying Rage. It's also good as a counter for Dr. Mundo or Swain.
For those teams like Nunu Xin Zhao and Malzahar. I don't usually run with this but it could be useful if you know how to use it.
There are many ranked teams that take two smites into 3v3 matches because the twisted treeline is pretty much all about jungle control. If you control the jungle then you control the game. This could be a very viable option, but I'd be sure to pick either Flash or Ghost to go with it, since you need a reliable escape mechanism.
My hat is off to you sir, if you manage to get this spell. you have superior hacking skillz. Congratz.
Summoner spells I'll KILL you if you take:
If you're even considering this you need to close this page right now and go find a Soraka build. Yes, I know it helps when learning a character. Yes, I know it helps turn team-fights on occasion. Yes, I know that many people don't survive the laneing phase without it. But don't use this as a crutch. You're not a support, it's almost worthless late game, and you just don't need it if you're playing Jax properly.
With all the jumping around you'll be doing this would be utterly useless. And you aren't a support btw in case you didn't know
Yeah, you shouldn't ever need this. We wouldn't be speccing into this in your masteries either so it wouldn't help much in a teamfight. BTW, did I mention you aren't support? Cause it's still true.
It might be ok on Summoner's Rift, but it's not very useful in the Twisted Treeline because of how much smaller it is.
Just no. GTFO right now.
For those of you who skipped everything else in this guide and just game down here for the build, you just missed a lot of useful info. Here we are going to talk about how to increase your damage and give Jax some REAL weapons (those of you who play him should get this reference...).
Now, you may be wondering why I have two builds up top, or which one is better to use. As I'll explain in this section, both are very good and reliable builds, and it mainly depends on your playstyle and both teams compositions. Here I'm going to explain the items I picked, MY opinions on the builds, and the alternate items that you should get 90% of the time.
Ninja Tabi Guinsoo's Rageblade Sheen Hextech Gunblade: What you see here is the core build that everyone knows. It's nothing special, and I don't take credit for making it, but there it is, that amazing Jax build. The only difference you may notice from other builds is the Sheen that you see between the rageblade and the hextech gunblade. The sheen makes your main combo ( Empower Leap Strike) REALLY overpowered. Again not so unique (other builds use it too) but I still need to include it.
Some thoughts on Lich Bane and Trinity Force
Before we get into the other items, I figured that these item needs a bit of attention considering they're some of THE best items for Jax. If you'll look at the stats on the item, it's incredibly impressive for any melee AP combo champ, of which Jax is one of the few. I've seen so many people rush right into a Rabadon's Deathcap or a Rylai's Crystal Scepter, and I think that, while this isn't BAD, that lich bane is simply superior. I DO however love the above two items along with the lich bane. With that item build, your Empower Leap Strike combo becomes WAY overpowered, and this is why I dedicated a whole section to it. If you're not getting Lich Bane, and you're building an AP Jax, you're doing it wrong. I figured I had to say this somewhere, and this seemed like the place to put it.
As far as trinity force is concerned, if you're going a more AD route, this is an amazing item on him. With the AD build I put as an alternative to the AP one, You're not going to see nearly as much burst, but you'll see the attack speed proc from your ultimate and Rage Blade doing a lot more work for you. Trinity force lets you get that sick burst in you're probably used to and allows you to keep the enemy in range with its slow (which should be procing on them all the time once you get your attack speed stacks up). While your burst won't quite be that "OMG HOLY **** MY HP JUST VANISHED" type thing, we still want that burst to be high, and trinity force helps us achieve that goal.
As stated earlier, there are MANY ways you can build Jax, however, we are working on a sick damage build here, so most of these items focus on that goal. First you need to decide based on your team comp, their team comp, and their playstyle, whether you're going to go the mainly AP route or the mainly AD route. Either way you'll be a hybrid, but each has it's advantages.
AP focused build:
I find that if you center your build around your high burst and Empower Leap Strike combo, as well as your ultimate procs, then you're going to have a much higher damage output and a better gameplay then if you built AD. If you want the most bang for your buck I'd go with AP, though playing AD Jax can be fun from time to time.
I know I already put this in the core build, but getting another one of these just makes you even more awesome. You only lose out on getting another active. As it is an AP and AD item, I just decided to put it up here.
This item is awesome for Jax as it makes your burst rediculous. It also gives you a massive HP boost due to your passive.
I dedicated a whole section to this item. If you didn't read that, do it now. If you did, then you already know you'll be getting this, unless some weird circumstance dictates otherwise.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter
This item gives you a nice slow, a sweet HP boost, and more AP. A good all around item for any caster.
Against AP heavy teams this adds some decent magic resistance while still giving you some great killing power.
If they're building magic resistance and getting tanky enough to be annoying or really really hard to kill, pick yourself up one of these. Combined with your masteries you'll have 55% magic penetration, plus the m-pen from your runes (if you have them).
This is a great item if you feel you can't get your attack speed stacks up fast enough. I would suggest using it with Rylai's Crystal Scepter so that you can keep them in range to take more advantage of the attack speed.
If you want to change things up and deviate from the AP route and go more AD with your build, then these are some items to consider getting. I would only advise going AD with Jax if you lack good attack damage on your team and the other team is building up M-resist to counter your AP heavy lineup.
Sword of the Divine
This item is still good for Jax despite what many people say. The Attack Speed helps get your ultimate and rageblade stacks up faster in a fight, and the passive synergizes well with your ultimate. The active is amazing for an AD build and this item is necessary if you find yourself against another Jax. It's also a fairly cheap item.
NOTE: Since AD builds require you to hit things a lot, you can replace your Guinsoo's Rageblade with Sword of the Divine. You won't need the AP as much from Guinsoo's, and you will rely on your stacks too much in battles to deal damage with your AD items. Sword of the Divine is also a bit cheaper, and will allow you to move on to the rest of your build that much faster. The active is also good for doing almost true damage early game.
Really good item, but horribly expensive and not AS good as Lich Bane imo. But you need something to build your sheen into and with an AD focused build this is a great item.
Very good damage item, and if you get the stacks up it really pays off to have one or more of these around. I would suggest however that you just get another Hextech Gunblade instead of this, because it gives almost the same stats (same lifesteal as a half-stacked bloodthirster, and the same AD as a non-stacked bloodthirster), as well as helping out your skills and spell vamp. This IS cheaper though and at full stacks will improve your AD damage more then hextech. At full stacks it gives 300 HP as well from your passive. Just a thought.
I'm gonna get some hate for this I know but if you're trying AD Jax then this WILL really help your damage output. The movement speed is nice too.
I don't really want to put this in here, but if you decided to buy a Phantom Dancer already, then this item could really pay off.
The Black Cleaver
I must say, I LOVE this item. This is potentially the best AD item (aside from another hextech) for Jax, as it gets your stacks up faster, gives good AD, and shreds your opponents armor.
Since your passive should be giving you lots of health, this item is a decent choice, giving you a nice amount of AD, some crit chance, and some armor to go with your ninja tabi. I would recommend getting this if you need a fast sixth item and are still having a bit of trouble with their AD champions. You will need to replace this later however, as it's not the best of items.
With magic damage equal to 4% of your targets HP per hit, this item is great for doing dragon, for doing baron on summoners rift, and for teams that are stacking HP. Nothing on this item is wasted on Jax. I would only recommend it if you're playing a team with lots of HP though, as that 4% doesn't count for much if they have 2k HP or less.
This item would be a good substitute for Rylai's scepter if you're going AD, however I don't like this item as much for a few reasons. While it DOES give more health (760 HP from the mallet, as opposed to 680 HP from the scepter, due to your passive), you already should have a pretty reliable slow with your trinity force proc, and you won't get NEARLY as much killing power from that pathetic 20 damage that it gives you. I simply think you should pick other items to get more actual damage per hit as opposed to a per hit slow.
Items you SHOULDN'T be getting:
While it may sound good, you just don't need this. You (this applies to EVERYONE, not just Jax players) should only be getting this if at least one other person on your team can use it, namely ANOTHER AD champ. Building an AD Jax is IMO only useful if you don't have enough of it on your team. If you're getting this to help out someone else, why are you building AD in the first place? There are simply better items to get.
I'm sorry, if you think you need this, you're obviously not playing Jax right. Your passive makes this item almost irrelevant to you, and you need items that improve your DPS, not give you a massive HP pool. Leave this for the Dr. Mundo.
Even if their AD carry is starting to wreck face, you shouldn't be getting this item. While it may be good on people like Rammus or Malphite, it's just not for you. You should be focusing on your damage so you can kill them BEFORE they wipe the walls with you. This item just doesn't do enough to warrent buying it. The only real time it MIGHT be ok is if they have a Tryndamere Xin Zhao Caitlyn combo, or something of the sort. Other then those rare situations, I wouldn't bother, your dodge rate and base armor + ninja tabi armor should be more then enough.
Just no. That's all I'm going to say. A miniature highlander is not for us. If you want this kind of **** go play Master Yi.
Will of the Ancients
This is better left to a support, as there are better items to fill your slots. Want spell vamp? get another Hextech Gunblade. It gives WAY better stats
Now that we've been through the more cookie cutter builds and item choices, I thought I'd give you a little info on the Dominion build I have up top.
Now, With the introduction of this new game mode, I found that Jax is way better in Dominion then he is in Summoner's Rift, and way worse on Dominion then he is in the Twisted Treeline. It's kinda in the middle, so he doesn't get raped, but he isn't the massively OP unkillable rap-ING machine that he is on 3v3. That being said, he does have some nice perks that most other champions don't posess which make him a more god-mode character on Dominion then most.
First off, with the Hextech Gunblade stacking you'll be doing, you have a ton of sustain, so you don't have to go back to heal (usually) after most of the fights you have. You can outlast almost every other champion on Dominion just because of your lifesteal and spellvamp, and it also makes you almost impossible to kill if you're defending a capture point. And speaking of capture points, the new item Priscilla's Blessing is a must have if you wanna win (though there are better people to take this then Jax admittedly). You can capture points really fast, get a minor move speed buff every minute, and get some decent HP regen for longer time away from base. This build is simple, straight forward, and more based on doing instant damage to groups of people (the style on Dominion) then going with extra attack speed items and being able to push lanes and have drawn out fights. I DID keep the Guinsoo's Rageblade in there though, but I usually skip it to be honest and just get more hextech awesomeness. Sustain is AWESOME on Dominion.
For more info on how to play Dominion, you should check out Zemiazas's guide here: Dominion Guide: Roles and Teamwork. This dude has got Dominion down pat already, and even has a section on Jax in there. You should look it up.
FROOG NOOB: Build Number Four
Ah, we finally get to the the ROFLWTFNOOBJAX build!
Honestly, this fourth build was just for the lols. I can tell you that it is still viable, and I can tell you that I've used this when I've gotten really really really, like EXTREMELY bored, and I've come out with a butt ton of kills, but it's still more of a troll build then anything. I don't suggest using this unless you wanna try a hardcore AD Jax build. You're fast (phantom dancer), have a **** ton of HP (from your passive this build gives you 1,035 extra HP with a fully stacked bloodthirster), and hit like a frickin TRUCK on every auto attack. I wouldn't suggest this build for higher levels of play, and especially not for ranked, but it's hilarious to see them raging at the "noob Jax" who is still owning them with his troll-ish build.
I know there are plenty of Jax builds out there, but I felt that many of them didn't do a good enough job of explaining this champion or how he's supposed to be played. It's true that Jax is easy to just pick up and play, but like all champions there are certain subtleties and boundaries that need to be explored through first hand experience, so if at first you don't succeed, try try again (or just uninstall if you really suck, lol). I DO however encourage you to try playing Jax at least a few times, as he is a very fun champion to play, and can carry like a boss.
Being my first build I tried to make this as decent as possible. We've been over Summoner Spells, Runes, Masteries, Items, and Skills, and I think that if you follow this guide you'll have a good shot at crushing the opposition. I would love to have comments and critiques to know what I did well and what I could improve here, and if there's something you don't like or think is lacking, don't hit that -1 right away! Either try that part of my guide out for yourself, or leave me a comment first. I may be able to fix/edit my guide to solve the issues. Remember, it's still new, and I haven't had time to make all the changes I want. That being said, I hope to see you on the Field's of Justice sometime. I look foreward to killing you SOON!