Jax Build Guide by EmeraldCheese
This build has been archived and is for historical display only.
PLEASE NOTE: This build has been archived by the author. They are no longer supporting nor updating this build and it may have become outdated.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.
We recommend you take a look at this author's other builds.
Not Updated For Current Season
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.
I am MLCheese (Formerly EmeraldCheese). You may remember me from my Evelynn guide that, unfortunately, I have stopped updating since I have stopped playing mid lane. I am currently in Gold and main Top and ADC. I am here today to teach you how to play Jax, along with general mechanics for the top lane.
6/24/2013: Wrote and released the guide, all in one day. Fixed some typos here and there. Changed title because it said "black" not "back" (I joke around a lot with his quote and I'm used to it). Did some cleanup and fixed some readability (for those that skim).
6/25/2013: Did a slight overhaul. After some sleep made me realize some problems. Typos and grammar fixed in some areas. Code fixed in some areas. New Final Items (Example). New build section for "classic" Jax. Runes redone with images for better readability. Separators for readability.
Summoner's Wrath - I typically take Ignite so this will make use of it while its on cooldown.
Fury - Jax loves attack speed.
Deadliness - Gives some scaling AD and is the path towards the next item
Weapon Expertise - Since this is an AD-oriented build, armor penetration is very good.
Durability - Health for tankiness. Pretty simple.
Hardiness - Armor because tankiness. Again Pretty simple.
Resistance - This point is mostly to get further down the tree, but its still resistances.
Relentless - Slows can be a nightmare, as this means you will be kited and unable to reach a target to do damage. This will helps reduce the effectiveness of them. Pair this with Boots of Swiftness against heavy slow teams and the slows will not be nearly as powerful.
Unyielding - Always get this with Block . Five damage taken from auto-attack based champions stacks up. Basically, after 12 hits, you have blocked an entire hit early game.
Block - Read Unyielding .
Veteran's Scars - Health because tankiness.
Tenacious - Tenacity is hard to come by while also being really useful to escape cc faster.
Juggernaut - This doesn't become noticeable until you have built some health items, but basically at 4k health, you get a Ruby Crystal for free.
Reinforced Armor - This is where some people would argue with my choice. Let's Compare. Legendary Armor will give you a full 2 armor and MR at 100 of each of those. Yea that's not a lot at all (remember we only have one point). Defender maxes out at 5 armor and MR, which is better, but still not ideal. Here's why I use Reinforced Armor . An ADC typically has around 225 AD mid game. If they crit, they will hit a 450 pre-mitigation. you will block 45 damage from one crit. They will probably crit you multiple times, easily amounting to 100+ damage blocked. Now imagine an Infinity Edge. The other options would not allow for such damage mitigation. Also remember, your targets are typically carries.
Honor Guard - More math needed here. You jump in as Jax into their back line. You will probably get hit by TONS OF DAMAGE™. Let's say they did 4k damage to you (your health bar late game). You could effectively have a Ruby Crystal more of health since that is about the amount this mastery alone would block if they hit your entire health bar.
This page focuses on early game survival and raw damage. The raw damage helps cs, do damage, and scale your Grandmaster's Might later on
This is the page I actually run, but since there are good counter-arguments against it, I put it as an alternative instead. The one Greater Mark of Critical Chance is for that lucky crit that can win you lane, without sacrificing any meaningful damage. The life steal helps you sustain in lane better as well.
Not often that this page will be of use. Use this page if you are up against an AD top laner and jungler and do not think an AP champion will roam to you early. The ability power will give you a larger power spike upon getting level 6. It will also scale Grandmaster's Might MR component, making it useful for scaling damage and scaling MR.
This is actually a great page. The only reason I do not run it is because I am so used to the AD for last hitting, that I have a hard time doing without. This will scale your damage really hard throughout the game with the passive component of Grandmaster's Might. The active component of Grandmaster's Might will not be touched however.
Why Not Armor Penetration?
Simple. Armor Penetration is used for trading in lane more than anything. As jax, you really should not be trading pre-level 6. At that point, a chunk of your damage is magic. Also, your Grandmaster's Might scales off of attack damage and ability power, so taking flat damage is more effective in the long run as well as early on.
- Early game helps win trades and get kills. Getting kills without dying really helps snowball you. Late game helps take out those pesky carries that have life steal.
- This summoner for top laners such as Jax is better than Flash in my opinion. First off, the top lane is long. A flash will not get you too far compared to if you flashed in mid. During fights, Flash will only get you closer once. Ghost will keep you on them for much longer. Also, you have your Leap Strike that you can use to escape much like a Flash
- Can be helpful depending on what you want to do. If you feel you will be pushed out, Teleport will stop you from missing too much in lane. Teleport also allows you to have map presence. You can Teleport to a sight ward or minion to help a lane get an advantage or to do objectives such as dragon or baron nashor . Late game you can use this to split push, pull an enemy up, then Teleport into what is now a 4v5 fight in your favor.
- I mentioned in Ghost why I don't take this, but there are situations where you can. If you don't typically ward hop, flash is a great option. It is also good against leap champs that could be a nuisance such as Lee Sin. Also useful for an extra gap closer that you need to be instant in cases of instant engages, objective steals, etc.
Skills & Skill Sequence
- Level this whenever you can, mainly because it is your ultimate. The passive is what makes Jax scale so well with attack speed. Every third hit you will deal a sizeable amount of magic damage along with your regular attack damage. Activating this is key to a good Jax. When you know you will be fighting an extended fight, activate it at the start. It gives a very good amount of resistances. When teamfighting, you want to activate this AFTER Counter Strike since Counter Strike blocks all auto-attacks and 75% of aoe. This will maximize the time you are tanky.
- I have been asked why I max this over Empower. My reasoning has to do with laning. When you go in to trade, you will typically get one Leap Strike and one Empower before the fight is over either through disengage or death. Leap Strike does 230 damage at max level whereas Empower does 180 damage at max level. Leap Strike also scales off of AD, which is what the damage portion of this build focuses on.
- Max this second since it is your main damage in extended fights. After your Iceborn Gauntlet and level 4 or 5 in this skill, you will have enough cooldown reduction to proc Iceborn Gauntlet every time it comes off cooldown (2 seconds). The damage is also magic, which makes it harder to tank against you.
- This is maxed last because you only need one point in it until later. During laning, you should not be fighting so often that it is still on cooldown. Once teamfights come around, you probably have additional points in this to reduce the cooldown.
Items & Alternate Builds
The notes next to each part of the build summarize a good portion of why I do each start. Each one of my starts includes a sight ward. This is because top lane is almost always ganked early. Dying to jungle early could lose you the lane and cause a snowball for the enemy, basically causing problems. Remember, sight ward are your best friend.
- This item gives Jax literally every offensive stat he would ever want. The attack speed scales with his Grandmaster's Might. The lifesteal helps him sustain throughout fights and laning. The passive allows for jax to fight tankier foes with much more ease, although in teamfights, the carries will not see as much damage from this. I see the passive as a bonus to everything else you get. The active. Oh boy. The active is what rounds out the item for jax and is part of my "try to peel me off" build. Activating this bad boy will take 15% of the target's health and steal MS. GREAT! Now they can't run and you are fast. So much you can do with this, but mainly its a great item to start your damage once you're in range to help burst down the carries ASAP. This is also what I would say replaces the good old Hextech Gunblade from the S2 style Jax builds because of the stats and active.
- This item is, what i like to call, the tanky Trinity Force. It is also another aspect of my "try to peel me off" build. The gauntlet gives a more powerful version of Sheen, which Jax can proc all the time with Empower. The armor is great because as a melee fighter, you need to survive once you're in range of everyone. The cooldown reduction actually has some great uses as it allows Empower to reach a near 2 second cooldown (the cooldown of Sheen procs) and allows you to Leap Strike constantly to make sure no target gets away from you (or to escape if things get bad). The slow on the Sheen proc of this item will ensure your enemy has a hard time getting away from you.
This item gives Jax really great stats. I would call this the offensive version of Iceborn Gauntlet. It gives AS, AD, Sheen proc, MS, an RNG slow, and some health. Man that's a mouthful of stats, all useful on Jax.
This item rounds out all of Jax damage and sustain. He makes use of all of the stats. AP and AD for damage (and tankiness to the active of Grandmaster's Might). Lifesteal for sustain from his auto-attacks. Spell vamp to sustain with the passive part of his Grandmaster's Might. A nice little slow on the active portion to help damage and slow the enemy for better sticking power.
Armor boots. Not much to say other than build these if you need help against AD.
MR boots. In addition to magic resistance (which is typically needed), you get tenacity, which is such a useful stat that allows you to continue on your way after being cc'd.
Not a typical buy for me. I would go these over Mercury's Treads only if the enemy barely has any hard cc and instead consists of an onslaught of slows. Basically these will keep you moving through slows.
This item is amazing on Jax. However, it is somewhat situational with the rest of the build, unfortunately. It gives attack damage, attack speed, cooldown reduction, and tenacity. All of these stats Jax can use. However, if you build this with no other tankiness, you are very vulnerable and is why I hold off on this item. I try not to get this with Mercury's Treads, too.
I would get this as a last item against a tanky team. Specifically, I would build this against a blue Ezreal or a tanky mid such as Diana, since those two typically have armor items in their build. This paired with Blade of the Ruined King will basically stop anyone from being able to tank you for very long. However, I typically don't even get to my final items and when I do, I opt for different items.
Good item once you have a good amount of health. Will give you damage according to your health, and a good amount of armor. One of the final damage items I would opt for along with Zephyr and Last Whisper.
I remember just missing the time window for this item. Believe it or not, the old Nashor's Tooth was REALLY good on Jax. Why? the main problem was that no champion could use EVERY stat efficiently, mainly because of too much cooldown and random mana regen (teemo does not do too well with cooldown reduction if you do some complicated math with it). Well, Jax was an exception since he didn't build much cooldown back in the day, which allowed him to make full use of the 25% with his abilities. The attack speed, of course, was amazing. The AP helped his scaling on just about every ability. The mana regen helped him spam his abilities in fights with the massive cooldown reduction you got. So yea, no stat wasted. Now? it is still great. Problems? We aren't going for AP centered builds (you can though). It got nerfed somewhat to not waste stats on other champions. The new passive taken from malady scales on AP, which again, you don't get much of with this build.
I often consider this as my core item, but I know others would disagree because of Iceborn Gauntlet. This is why I have it not in my core. When I build Jax, I go for the ultimate "try to peel me off" build to be able to get to carries, and stick until I die (or they die). This is what finishes my "try to peel me off" build. It gives some AD which is nice, but it's small. It gives one of the highest health stats of items. The perma-slow on attacks is why I like it. I always have those moments where the enemy is good at kiting or getting out of my reach for just long enough to where my Iceborn Gauntlet wears off, and they are able to run. With this, I get to stack another slow onto them, one that I can get off more than Iceborn Gauntlet. However, many argue that this is overkill. In my opinion, it is not overkill, it is annoying and useful, since getting the carries is your job, and getting kited is you dying and them living.
I get this a lot after my core items. The armor is great against the majority of team comps. The health is overall tankiness against everything. The passive/active is amazing. Anyone who attacks you is slowed along with reduced AS for them. The active may be overkill, but I find it fun to just completely disable the enemy team even more than I already have. Some may consider this overkill, but it is still much better at countering ADC than Thornmail. Why? Randuin's Omen reduces attack speed which is the main multiplier of damage on ADC along with crit. Thornmail will not cut the damage as hard, but will instead stop sustain, which also has its uses.
Both resistances? Two lives? Yes please. I don't build this often because typically, if I die I was caught, or i would've just spawned again to die. For me, I need to survive and do whatever I can. If i die, more times than not, I'm not in an ideal place to revive.
Get this against heavy magic teams. It gives the highest MR in the game and gives health. Both stats counter magic damage. It also gives you 15% increased healing, so it multiplies all your lifesteal and regen.
great item against burst champions such as LeBlanc. Also, an early Hexdrinker can help mitigate damage of Karthus or any AP burst mages that may roam around. I do buy this item, but ONLY if they focus their burst damage on me.
TONS OF HEALTH. I don't get this often since there are just better health items that give other stats.
The Tank/Offense Combo
This is a hilarious combo. Sunfire Cape gives all around good stats. It gives health and armor which are really good tank stats. then it gives an aura that does magic damage per second in an aoe. Wit's End makes this combo pretty amazing. It gives Jax attack speed, which I believe I have mentioned 103409823 times as being a great stat for him. It then gives him magic resistance. These two items now give you every tanky stat you can get (aside from regen). Now here's the kicker. Wit's End STEALS magic resist from the enemy, up to a total of 25. This means you get tankier, they get squishier. Not only that, but half your kit has magic damage built into it. And that's not all! buy right now and your Sunfire Cape will also do more damage. Are you tired of Sunfire Cape not doing as much damage? Now with Wit's End, you can take away the enemy's magic resist to deal more damage with your Sunfire Cape. Buy this combo pack NOW!.
Top Lane Mechanics/Tactics
WARNING! WALLS OF TEXT!
This section is for general mechanics in top lane that applies to almost all top laners, from basics, to more of the advanced decisions/mechanics you need to master. Higher ranking players may not need this, but you never know when you will find random bits of knowledge that will help you (I find these all the time). Also note that a lot of these mechanics/strats can be utilized in other roles as well. I also apologize for the wall of text, but i couldn't find a way to add in many images, so i tried recoloring text to help.
When I said basic would be included in the little intro, I meant basic. I normally play at levels of games ranging from "omg elo hell" believers of bronze to lower level plat players. The higher in rankings you go, the more this mechanic is respected as it is crucial to gaining gold. Typically you want to aim for 75+ CS every 10 minutes, including you roaming, backing, etc. The max you can get in the first 10 mins is 107 from lane, so the number is centered high, but achievable.
Prioritize a wave of minions over a kill. If you can get both, good. However, remember this: a player with little to no streaks is worth 250-300 gold. that is about 2 waves of minions (12-13 minions). To last-hit, simply wait for a minion to get low on health, then land the killing blow. You can push the wave but auto-attacking higher health minions, but make sure that the minion won't get killed by other damage sources before you can hit again.
Zoning is the act of creating zones in which the enemy is not necessarily safe travelling into. You can zone people by having an obvious advantage, such as having considerably more health. At this point, you can walk forward a bit more and keep farming. The enemy champion will attempt to stay out of range. As soon as he enters your "zone", you can punish the enemy. This will help you control your lane. With zoning you can easily deny cs. At its more extreme levels, zoning can also prevent the enemy from getting cs. Remember, every champion can zone, so multiple zones can be created if multiple champions are present.
This is the act of controlling the wave by either pushing it, letting it push, or forcing it push or get pushed. The most basic concept is pushing. This is where you put more damage on your minions than the enemy champion. This will kill their minions and cause yours to push up, eventually hitting tower.
Letting a wave push sounds simple, but can be difficult and cause you to need to force it to push back. The basics of letting a wave push, you simply do less damage to minions than the enemy. You still want to maintain last hits.
Freezing the lane is a very advantageous thing to do. To freeze a lane, let the enemy push a little harder than you. Then, once the wave is closer to your tower, and therefore in a safer range, you put a little more damage, and possibly tank a bit (not long as a wave of minions hurts after just a few seconds) to even out the forces in the lane. This way, you force the enemy to extend further to farm. This is a huge part of zoning as well.
You can force push by laying down damage with abilities along with attacks.
The harder part of wave control is forcing it to push back to you as it is riskier. You typically want to do this if the lane is frozen nearer to their turret and you feel unsafe farming. To do this, force push the wave to tower. Once the wave hits the tower, look at the minimap and not where your next wave is, since it is exactly mirrored on their side. If you have a new wave approaching your outer tower, so will they. In this case you want to make sure that this approaching wave will also hit tower.
"But this is pushing to them this makes no sense!". Well that may seem so, but let's think about this. Their wave will now hit their tower, meaning less travel distance for minions, meaning more damage onto your waves until yours catch up. Not only that, but tower is annihilating your minions. Eventually, your wave will be gone, and they will have a slightly larger amount of minions than you. Now you can let it push and freeze it where you want.
Minions and Fighting
Early game, minions can easily decide a fight. If you have a wave of minions, while they have 1 or 2 minions remaining, you have a much better chance of winning a fight. This is when you can attempt to pull a fight out of them close to your minions.
"But minions don't do that much damage". Well, not initially, but lets do some math. Let's assume you have a typical, non-cannon wave. that is 6 minions that do damage ranging from around 7-12 (I see these numbers post-mitigation often). Let us use 7. Let's also use 1.0 as their attack speed, since their AS is only slightly lower, and we low-balled the average damage each one will deal anyways. This will amount to 42 damage a second post-mitigation. This is effectively a stronger version of the sunfire cape. Let's say you fight for 3 seconds before one of you backs off for whatever reason (or dies). Your minions alone took out 124 HP. This is equivalent to 1-2 auto attacks early-mid game.
The HotShotGG tactic. Split pushing is the act of pushing a lane, and hopefully towers, away from where the majority of the action is taking place. What this does is force a decision out of the enemy. Do they risk trying to force an engagement on your team, where your team can probably disengage, and lose tower(s)? Do they send one person up and hope they can push you back, still leaving a plausible fight back where the rest of them are, or do they send multiple to force you off, forfeiting a chance to take objectives or teamfight.
All of these options you must consider too. Is your team in a position to disengage and hold them back? Is there one person they can send that will be able to stop you and possibly kill you? Is the person that can fight you 1v1 important enough to pull so that your team can win 4v4? Would they send 2+ to stop you and allow for your team to do things?. Can I teleport once they send someone, if they do? All of these you must consider.
In the case where one person can stop you, if they aren't THAT important, then it may just be better to group. If they send a valuable team member (fed ADC for example) or multiple members, watch to see if they are coming, if they are, linger for a second or two longer, and back off. Keep an eye out. If they come for you still, your life is definitely worth less than a dragon/baron/tower that your team elsewhere may get. Take the death and congratulate your team if they got one or more of the mentioned items. If the enemies coming for you back off, you can continue pressuring towers.
Always know your limits. Know when your life will be worth it. Always know how the enemy is positioning (look at your map). This works best on top laners as they can escape, tank, and do damage.
This is a very hard thing to explain and comes mostly through experience. You must learn to identify mistakes and react to them by knowing whether you can punish them our not. Mistakes can be general laning mistakes such as fighting in your minion wave or getting into your "zone". Other mistakes include getting too close to tower or being overconfident.
The hard mistakes to explain, but that are essential to winning lane has to do with summoners, abilities, and items. Summoner spells being blown such as flash or ignite and the enemy getting next to nothing out of it can be huge if you have yours. This means that you can fight them and have the advantage of gap-closers, more damage, or more utility.
Items are another easier one to describe. If they see you are kennen and rush magic resist, but you built two Doran's Blade, then they basically haven't done much to deal with you, meaning you have more power. For Jax specifically it's harder to make a mistake with items unless its something crazy like AP on Pantheon.
Abilities is the largest room for mistakes and also the best to capitalize on. Let's take Cho'Gath as an example. You are laning and suddenly you see a Rupture come out of him and miss. At this point, he is missing a crucial part of his kit. His damage is cut, and he has NO way of disengaging you. This means you can fight him knowing he can't disengage you AND that he is missing a chunk of damage. As Jax you can walk up and start hitting him. If he flashes you can Counter Strike and Leap Strike to him. That is one example, and that is why it takes practice and experience. You need to know what abilities champions have, the weaknesses left open by blowing such abilities, and how to punish them for it. This can range from something as simple as Jax using Leap Strike and realizing he can't win the fight, to a Riven missing all of her abilities.
This is the part of the game I hate when I am Jax. You are vulnerable. I start Counter Strike to be able to mitigate damage and actually be able to trade before backing off. Leap Strike then allows me to get out of sticky situations. Aside from that, survive lane and farm. There is not much power in a Jax before he hits 6. This isn't to say you cant do anything. Watch for mistakes and watch for how the minion wave is being controlled (see "top lane mechanics" section for more details). Basically, do not engage unless you have a minion advantage or they did something stupid.
Once you hit 6, it is still technically early game, but the transition to mid game can start at almost any time now. However, now you can actually fight. You have a good amount of power at this point in the game, enough to overpower most champions that are not ahead of you (and even some then). The reason? Grandmaster's Might gives you tankiness AND damage. This makes you deceptively strong and deceptive suddenly once you reach this level. This is when you can start doing double-tap harass (see "advanced tactics" section) and just fighting in general. Keep in mind how much damage you deal vs. how much damage they deal. Also, be watchful for who has minion advantage as they can actually decide a 1v1 fight.
This is typically when small team skirmishes happen (not full teamfights nor engages, but smaller versions of those). Dragon is being contested, people are roaming all over, towers are falling. This is one of the fastest phases of the game, gameplay-wise. You want to keep control over your lane and try to be more impactful overall. This is where you can either continually crush your lane (assuming you are), push to keep pressure, roam around to counter-jungle or gank, or to help secure objectives. Of course, if you are behind or just don't have a good advantage, you really should stay and farm. Remember, Jax is one of the hardest scaling champions and becomes one of the scariest champions late game. React to the game. There is no guide on how to mid-game, but reading up on my "top lane mechanics" section will guide you through various events that can occur and how to react to them.
This is where you show them who is really the champ. At this point you should have at least 3.5 items and boots done. This is where the game slows down again. Now you either split push, teamfight, or fight for objectives. You can also catch people which is easier to do the lower the ranking of your opponents. You can split push pretty well since there is almost no one who can 1v1 jax at this point.
I usually opt for pushing a lane out and grouping to fight (usually clearing one wave then leaving). This ensures that while we battle for position and engagements, minions aren't taking down towers. However, you need to group ASAP.
In teamfights, you typically aren't the engage, although you can be. Wait for the initiator to go in. If no one initiates, wait for an opportunity where they get out of position. You will know they are out of position if the carries are too far forward in comparison to the front line. If this happens just Counter Strike, Leap Strike, and unload your abilities. Please don't do this if your team isn't in a position to follow. at this point you will most likely be fighting the ADC along with his/her support. Once your Counter Strike has expired and the stun goes off, activate Grandmaster's Might to continue tanking.
Your priority is to jump targets that are threats. ADC are typically the most threatening, although not always. The AP carry is typically the next threat you should neutralize. Assassins come after, and finally tanks. There are situations where you can stay back to help your carries take out their front line so that they can continue through to destroy the enemy. This occurs when your ADC is considerably ahead. Why? because at this point, your ADC will do a lot of damage, and the enemy will put more effort into killing them.
With this item build you can help take down tanks by stopping them from reaching your carries, and actually hurting them. Other than that, make sure to not give away baron, and to push. It is typically ideal to take down 2+ inhibs before going for the nexus since that allows for more super minions to help win.
Double Tap Harrass
This is the main way Jax harasses in lane. To do this you must have at least 1 point in your Grandmaster's Might. To execute this combo, hit anything (such as a minion) twice. Before your Relentless Assault wears off, Empower then Leap Strike to your opponent and hit them once. Optionally, you can Counter Strike for a bit more damage and to stun them for another auto or two before you back off.
What this does is gets your 3rd hit proc on Grandmaster's Might, jumps with your Leap Strike, and queues up Empower for your next hit. Basically, you unload everything you have onto the enemy in about 2 strikes ( Leap Strike and then auto attack is 2 strikes). This can scare the enemy in addition to laying down some nice damage.
Leap Strike Hopping
Not really that "advanced", but then again that depends how you utilize it. Simply put, throw a ward down, and Leap Strike to it. This can act as a flash in many cases much like Lee Sin Safeguard. This can be used to escape, or to even close a gap that you can't close otherwise. Works on allies and allied minions as well.
This can be used to reset your auto-attack. simply auto-attack, then as soon as you hit, activate Empower to nearly instantly attack again. I would post the glitch on towers but it is patched now.
Jax is my favorite champion of all time. His build is versatile. His kit has damage and tankiness. He can kill people without being killed. If I want to win, I choose Jax. I plan to play him more in my ranked games, since I used to suck on this guy, but now I can win just about every game with him if i don't mess up (which I do quite a bit), and I guarantee you can too if you follow this guide, apply your own style into gameplay and build, and don't make mistakes (this is the tricky part).
Please report any errors you see, and feel free to give me feedback on anything.