Jax Build Guide by aceofsween
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Not Updated For Current Season
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This will be my first guide written on my main hero: Jax.
Jax has one of the most unique kits in the game. A stacking AS buff on hit, 100% dodge and stun, and an excellent ultimate. Once gaining the upper hand, Jax remains dominate throughout the game.
So... Why Jax? Pros/Cons
Safe Jungling (and good clear times)
Great Damage Output (high AS, Sheen/Trinity Force + Empower)
Dodge defensive Mechanic
Hard to Counter
Leap Strike Trickery
Susceptible to CC
Predictable jungle start
Squishy when ult is down
Abilities and Summoner Spells
Relentless Assault: Jax's passive allows him to increase his attack speed each time he strikes. For old Jax players, you will recognize this as a passive that used to be tied into his ultimate. It gives you a good bit of AS early on and helps your jungle times a little bit.
Leap Strike: Jax leaps toward the target. If it's an enemy, he does damage. One thing most people forget is that you can target allies with this ability. Very useful for an escape, especially if you have a ward lying around. I take a usually* point here at lvl 3 for ganks and will max it 2nd.
*: In some cases, take Leap Strike at lvl 2 and Empower at lvl 3 for ganks (see Jungling section).
Empower: The bread and butter to Jax's damage. Make sure you time it immediately after an auto-attack to maximize your output. Generally, I max this 1st, taking the first point at lvl 2.
Counter Strike: Passive dodge is gone, but now Jax can dodge all basic attacks for a short duration, after which you will damage and stun everything around you. The ability can be activated again to proc the stun early. This is what allows you to take on just about any AD carry in the game. Xin Zhao, Tryndamere, etc... None of them will be able to touch you while this ability is up. Because survivability is so important early in the jungle, take this first, but max it last.
Grandmaster's Might: Every 3 hits, you do bonus damage. More damage is always good. Wanna know what's better? Having more armor and MR than your tank while building completely offense. It is very easy to pass 230 Armor and MR on Jax while your ult is up, making you extremely difficult to kill. You won't have the luxury of taking all that damage endlessly (8 second duration), but neither will your enemies.
Smite/ Exhaust: For me, these are the two choice, no questions asked. When I first started working on the jungle as Jax, I became infuriated with how poor his ganks were using both Ghost and Flash. Aside from the stun from Counter Strike, Jax has no other form of innate CC which means you need to rely on your teammates to lock someone up. You can certainly do well without Exhaust, but I find it much better early on to take it.
Smite is just a no brainer.
Other Options: Flash or Ghost are also potentially useful. But I find that neither get me anything I don't already have. The Ward/Leap Strike combo works fairly similar to Flash and while Ghost is good for catching up to people, you can't stop them even if you do without items. Early on, this means they will reach their tower. The range of Exhaust is prohibitive to some, but Leap Strike usually takes care of that.
The goal for these Runes are early game advantages to help you jungle a little bit faster early on. I take Greater Mark of Attack Damage over Greater Mark of Desolation for two reasons. First of all, even in an AD heavy build, about half your damage will be magic, making the Armor Penetration less useful. Secondly, all of your abilities in some way scale of AD. Even Empower due to the fact that you can use it to trigger two back-to-back auto-attacks.
The one exception is I took Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist over Greater Glyph of Magic Resist because the Magic Resist early on (pre-lvl 6) isn't as helpful. By the time you get any use out of those Glyphs, you'll be past the point where the MR per lvl have outstripped the flat MR.
Vampiric Scepter/ Wriggle's Lantern: The Grandmaster's Best Friend
A mainstay in jungling builds, start off with Vampiric Scepter. This will be your source of sustain for early jungling. It also builds into a Wriggle's Lantern, one of the most useful items for Jax. Between Empower and Jax's passive, he is pretty quick with auto-attacks meaning that Wriggle's Lantern will proc on jungle creeps fairly often. The reason why I keep this item throughout the game is because you can use the limitless ward to Leap Strike away (or into) from enemies. Most of the time, I end up using it as an escape while I'm going after Dragon or to hop over a wall for an escape/kill.
Boots of Speed > Ninja Tabi/ Mercury's Treads: Which Boots to Buy and Why
You'll be grabbing at the very least a pair of Boots of Speed on your next return. And if you have enough, we're going to build those into either Ninja Tabi or Mercury's Treads.
The main decision to think about here really boils down to one question: is the AD carry a threat? If the answer is yes, go with Ninja Tabi. If the answer is no, Merc Treads is better in almost every other case. Jax is easy to CC, so the Tenacity effect from Merc Treads is invaluable. Plus, for most auto-attack champs, Dodge will work just as well as Ninja Tabi. Finally, this build is heavier on AD than AP, and that matters defensively because of your utl's active. You can easily break 250 Armor when your ult is up, which is already overkill.
Sheen / Phage: Sheen or Phage First?
Which ever you ultimately decide to pick up first, doesn't make much difference (in some cases you can get both in the same trip). I usually go with the Phage because without Exhaust, the only way you have to stop someone is Counterstrike, and that's not always reliable. Additionally, Phage gives you a little more health which you'll need. Either way, pick which you like most and go with it. (It has occurred to me that if you forgo the Phage and grab Sheen first, you can skip to the Cutlass after, then finish the Trinity
Force. The decision is yours.)
Bilgewater Cutlass: The Forgotten Half of the Gunblade
Why do I buy this item before finishing my Trinity Force? Two reasons: Survivability and CC. The first part is pretty self explanatory. You'll end up with 30% lifesteal after you purchase this. However, the key is the active. The active on cutlass is very similar to that of the Gunblade, but it's range is prohibitive. However, with Leap Strike, that's not going to be a problem. Leap Strike on to your target, activate your Cutlass, and you should have plenty of time to proc your Phage. If not, you can always Counterstrike when Leap Strike comes back up.
Trinity Force / Hextech Gunblade: Now You Have a Real Weapon
Round out your build with these two items and you will be a monster. It really puts you over the top in damage and sustainability. Trinity Force synergizes so well with Empower it's almost sick. The Trinity Force proc has an even lower cooldown than Empower, ensuring it will be up every time you use it. The Gunblade's damage, sustain, and active are all incredible as well. Nothing better than hitting the Gunblade active on someone who thinks they can get away.
By now, you are already going to be wreaking havoc on most champions.
Once you've finished your Gunblade and Trinity Force you have some options to work with. Guinsoo's Rageblade is one of my favorite items. It's relatively cheap (2235 gold) and it has always been a great compliment to Relentless Assault. It gives you everything you could want on Jax: ability power, attack speed, and attack damage. I usually round out my offense with this item and then take one of the next 3 items below.
Maw of Malmortius
This relatively new item, I think, is a great addition to any bruiser's arsenal. With this you get a bit of magic resist as well as a shield proc that'll save you if your HP drops too low. Additionally, it comes with a good bit of AD and a unique passive that increases your AD as you lose HP.
Another good choice for a little bit more MR, the Abyssal Scepter will also lower enemy MR, which is great for team fights, and gives you a good bit of AP to boot. At the moment, I'm honestly a little conflicted on Maw vs. Scepter. The Scepter I think adds a little more potency to your damage (not to mention your allies) and it comes with 21 more passive MR along with the 14 MR from Grandmaster's Might. The Maw on the other hand gives you more AD, and a life-saving shield, but less MR. Choose whichever you like the most.
Good against AP carries with a passive that blocks the initial attack, which can be great for disrupting combo-type mages (Brand/LeBlanc). Consider this if you find yourself being burst down too quickly. It can happen, as your only extra HP comes from the Trinity Force.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter/ Lich Bane/ Rabadon's Deathcap: The AP Jax
If you want to go the more AP route (an older type of Jax build), swap out the Trinity Force for Rylai's/Lich Bane combo. It still works, but there are a few drawbacks. It is noticeably more difficult to take down a tower quickly and it is much more expensive (by about 2000 gold). Grab a Rabadon's Death Cap if you go this route to finish off your build. This also makes a good alternative if AP carries are getting out of hand since the added ability power increases your magic resist when you activate Grandmaster's Might significantly. It's very possible to get close to 500 AP, which means you're talking about an additional 145 MR.
Definitely still a viable build.
Atma's Impaler/ Warmog's Armor: Atmogs
A good mix of defense from added HP and armor. This was an very popular choice before when Jax could easily surpass 4000 HP. Now, it's not as viable, especially after the nerf, but nevertheless if you are having trouble staying alive this may be your best bet. You'll be a little light on Magic Resist, but the added HP should help compensate. Consider selling your Wriggle's Lantern for the Impaler and grabbing another item to put in it's place.
Jungling: Timing is everything
|Camp||Spawn Times||Re-spawn Time|
|Dragon:||6 minutes||5 minutes|
|Baron:||15 minutes||8 minutes|
There are a few important things to note. First of all, it is more efficient to clear wolves first and then do Ancient Golem. I don't do this myself very often, but it is a faster way to jungle. Secondly, Wraiths respawn faster than Wolves and Golems. And finally, 6 minutes in the Dragon will spawn. You should keep an eye out on that because Jax can solo the Dragon very early.
Having a low jungle clear time is imperative to good jungling. Generally, you want to aim for a full clear of about 3 and a half minutes or so. Without a leash on Blue, I am usually at about 3:40. With the leash, I can go as quickly as 3:15.
Jungling: Smite Damage
Another thing to keep in mind is how much damage Smite will do. You should always know if your Smite will finish your target (especially helpful for that lvl 1 Ancient Golem buff). Everything from ensuring you last hit a creep to stealing Barons and Dargons. You have to know when to hit that Smite, so I've created a table for the damage output for every level.
|Smite Damage per Level|
Jungling with the Grandmaster
On to the important stuff: specifics about jungling with Jax.
I mentioned in his cons that Jax's jungle pattern is pretty predictable. And it is. If you are not going to invade at their blue, make sure that you have adequate guards for yours. If you see the other team and you think you can win, by all means fight them. If not, pull back and head directly to their blue buff. Just make sure that when you kill it, you leave 1 minion.
Otherwise, start at Blue (although starting at Wolves has become popular, whichever you choose). As soon as you level, you need to make your first big decision. "Can I gank the nearest lane?" If the answer is yes, you really should grab Leap Strike before Empower to initiate the gank. Otherwise, go with Empower take out Wolves (if you didn't start there), then Wraiths.
Next big decision is a question of timing. "Will I have time to clear mini-Golems or should I take red and gank that lane?" Usually, I grab Red buff, take out Golems, then make a quick glance to the nearest lane/mid lane. If they're pushed too far, I either try to counter jungle a little, go buy if need be, or just keep on jungling. Thanks to the respawn rates, the Jungle should probably have Wolves and Wraiths back up by this time.
Tips and Tricks to Grandmaster Jungling
Jax has a few special tricks he can perform while jungling that many people may not think about.
The Leap Strike Escape: Anyone who watched Phreak's Champion Spotlight or who has played Jax long enough should know this maneuver, and I've talked about it before. Jax can Leap Strike to anything targetable whether it's a minion, champion, or ward regardless of whether they are allies or enemies. This is what makes Wriggle's Lantern so useful in my opinion. Dropping a ward and Leap Striking to it can save your life. (See Champion Spotlight ~3:30 in).
Counterstrike Effectively: The dodge on Counter Strike doesn't last very long, 2 seconds. To make the most of this while you jungle, attack your target first then immediately activate Counterstrike. Doing so will maximiize the damage mitigation it provides.
Near-Death Creeps: As you are jungling, keep an eye on the HP of the creep you are attacking. If Counterstrike is active and it looks like one more hit will kill the creep, go ahead and switch targets. Between the damage from Counterstrike and Bladed Armor , the creep will likely die on it's own. Also keep in mind your attack rotation. If a monster is near-death, don't waste a Grandmaster's Might proc on it that will likely one-shot the creep next to it. These little things will help keep you jungling slightly faster.
The Early Dragon
Jax is unique in the fact that he can take out the dragon early on. At level 6 or 7, with nothing more than Wriggle's Lantern, Mercury's Treads, and both buffs, it is very doable. Starting behind the Dragon, Leap Strike onto the Dragon and immediately activate Counter Strike and Empower. Activate Grandmaster's Might only after Counterstrike ends. From there on, just keep cycling through your abilities, making sure to constantly throw up Counter Strike as soon as it is available. Smite is helpful for finishing, but not mandatory (although you will probably be extremely low without it.
As a word of caution, never go into Dragon early while Wriggle's Lantern is on cooldown unless you have a ward in your inventory (or if you took Flash and it is up). If the other jungler stumbles upon you, you will be easy pickings. Not only will they get a kill, but they will probably also take Dragon. A double whammy. However, if you are standing at the back, you can throw a ward down and Leap Strike to it, preventing your untimely demise, at the very least.
It seems lost on a lot of people on how to counter-jungle effectively now. With the quick spawn times, simply clearing every minion in sight doesn't really do much. Sure, you get yourself a little extra gold and experience, but the new name of the game is depravity. Your goal is NOT to steal their gold, but to DENY them gold. Whenever you clear a jungle camp, leave one of the lesser creep behind. Yes, that means when you sneak in and steal their mini-golems, you kill the large golem and leave the small one. The reason for this is pretty simple. Because respawn times are so short, you actually rob them of more gold if you leave one small minion. They will only collect about 15 gold from it be forced to wait another minute for the respawn. If you had cleared the whole camp, it very well could have respawned by the time their jungler comes upon it, robbing them of nothing.
This applies to every camp as well. There is nothing more frustrating as a Jungler than walking up to your Blue buff and seeing only a single minion sitting in its place. There are some cases where you can clear the whole thing (retreating from their team), but a general rule of thumb is to leave at least one.
I hope you enjoy your time with the Grandmaster. He is one of the most fun champions to play in my opinion because he is such a hard counter to many extremely annoying ones (I'm looking at you Xin and Trynd). This was my first guide and I'll be keeping it up to date regularly, so I hope you enjoyed it.
To Do List:
Flesh out Optional Items
Add a Lane-Jax build