Xerath Build Guide by ManEaterMuffin

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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author ManEaterMuffin

Lightning: It Strikes Freakin' Everywhere!

ManEaterMuffin Last updated on March 28, 2013
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

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As I have said before, the stats displayed for the build above are incorrect. It doesn't take into account many of the AP amplification effects of items and as such shows an abysmal 437.39 AP. I went on a custom 1v1 game with a bot to ensure I got fully built and the build got me to 650-670 AP. This, however was me being silly and not putting my Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power on. So in reality, the build will get you a little under 700 AP.

From what I can tell, MOBAFIRE isn't accounting for the 30% AP boost from Rabadon's Deathcap, nor the 62 AP Boost from the UNIQUE Passive of Seraph's Embrace.

Basically, you get 120 from Rabadon's Deathcap, 122 from Seraph's Embrace, 80 from Rylai's Crystal Scepter, 60 from Athene's Unholy Grail and 75 from Morellonomicon. Add the 24 given by the Blast and Mental Force Masteries with the 28 from the Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power (rounded to nearest whole number). This gives you 509 Ability Power. Now add the 30% boost from Rabadon's Deathcap and another additive 5% from the Archmage Mastery (so a 35% boost) this takes you up to 687 (to nearest whole number).

That all equates to insane damage on all your abilities. 647 base damage on Arcanopulse every 3 seconds. 820 base damage on Mage Chains and finally, 687 base damage on every strike of Arcane Barrage. If played right, you can nuke the carries on the other side of the team fight as well as doing insane damage to the rest of the opposing team. This turns Xerath into a true AP Carry, like Cassiopeia, doing constant large quantities of damage.

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*Patch 3.02 Update*

First of all, I am really pleased with Patch 3.02. It definitely had more of a balancing effect than other patches and buffed a couple of my favourite items and champions.

Now let me highlight a couple of things I have altered in my Xerath Build due to this Patch.

Starting Items

Changes to the construction of Chalice of Harmony mean that it is now potentially viable to start with 2 Faerie Charms and Health Potions.


The buffing of Athene's Unholy Grail to give it 20% instead of 15% is unbelievable. Its is such a good item in itself and now its even better. Athene's Unholy Grail is undoubtedly my favourite item. Decent AP and Magic Resistance, Mana Font and its passive of restoring 12% of your max mana upon kill or assist. And now it has 20% CDR? This item is just too good. However, as said in the Items section, the build gets to 39% CDR. With this buff, it gets to 40% without the Sorcery Mastery. AS such, this choice in the masteries is minimal in the early game and obsolete in the late game so I have now exchanged it for Fury . Xerath has good base AD for a mid champ and the extra attack speed will aid last hitting and give you a slightly better chance if you end up in a 1v1 "autoattack off" for a kill in lane.


The amount of Ability Power Xerath now receives from this build is now even greater. Rabadon's Deathcap was rebuffed (or un-nerfed depending on your perspective) to give 30% increased AP again instead of 25%. Not much to explain here. Just wonderful.

The legitimacy of Zhonya's Hourglass has been increased as well due to its increase from 100 to 120 AP gain. However, due to Xerath's Passive Ascended Form I would still only recommend it against teams with unusually large proportion of AD champs.

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Hello, My Summoner name is ManEaterMuffin and I find Xerath is an extremely good, yet underplayed champion, mainly because he excels at eliminating the most feared of mid champs Katarina, Akali and Talon, but sadly not Fizz.

This build may be seen as unusual by many but it has never truly failed me, I do not in any way claim to be an expert on Xerath and I haven't played enough Ranked games to even be given an ELO Ranking yet but mid is my lane, second is support. My main is eventually most likely to be Ahri, but Xerath is just so much fun to play. This is a guide (albeit my first guide ever) on how I play Xerath, The Magus Acsendant.

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Xerath is a long range Nuker. His base damage and AP scaling are both very good and his range is immense when you use your W, Locus of Power. People say that this is a weakness for Xerath because he essentially Snares himself, but it works as an advantage if you know how. If your using it right, you are too far out of the opponent's range for them to do anything to you while you are locked down. If you don't need to be locked down, unlock yourself. If you're traversing the map, use it, unlock yourself and you get a movement speed buff a few seconds after. It is so useful and should mean that not many things can touch you without either taking loads of damage or you stun them with your E/Q combo and unlock with the speed buff to escape. Simple. Effective. Nothing to complain about.

This guide shows Xerath as a Team Player. I play him like this because it removes reliance on Crest of The Ancient Golem and frees it up for your jungler, support or an AP top laner. Whoever needs it, because you won't. Due to the base damage and scaling on Xerath's abilities, I find the minor sacrifice in AP for Mana Regen and Magic Resist is more than worthwhile. But I assume some would argue otherwise.

Xerath is a strong laner with masses of poke that can easily be applied at a safe range. He out ranges almost all other mid-laners and this makes him, in my opinion, very strong against the most feared mid-laners in the game (seen as they are melee). Yes, there is something effective against Katarina and Akali, and you're reading a guide on him.

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Pros / Cons

-Huge Range Heavy Nuking and great pokes.
-Great Scaling.
-Great Base Damage.
-Extended 1.5 second Stun.
-You gain armour from your AP.
-The hilarious moments when you are turret dived and stun them under your turret resulting in their death and you taking very little damage.

-One of your abilities causes you to snare yourself.
-Extremely Vulnerable to ganks if you push.
-Your main damage output is relatively easy to dodge and so landing the stun (E/Q combo) can be difficult at times.
-Slow start early game.
-Not great at solo fights.

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Skills & Strategy

The Skill Set

Ascended Form

ascended form

Xerath's Passive ability, is simple but sweet and highly useful. 15% of your total AP is added to your Armour. I cannot describe how invaluable this Passive is on Xerath. The stat's above are, for some reason not correct in AP and does not take into account his passive in calculating Armour. The build grants about 671 AP which gives about 100 bonus armour, resulting in a total of approximately 175 armour and 63% Physical Damage reduction (The Magic Resist is correct I believe, giving about 50% Magic Damage reduction).

To put it in short:
Build damage, become an anti-AD slaughter house. This passive is also another reason why Xerath is underrated and people don't play him. He works well against the most feared of Mid Champs due to his range and abilities. Even an AD mid laner like Kha'Zix, Zed, Nocturne and even the dreaded Talon are fairly easy fights, assuming you know what you're doing.


Xerath's Q Skill and his main source of damage. It has great range, base damage and scaling and is AoE. The down side is that it has a delay on casting and a warning zone like Cho'Gath's Rupture making it easy to dodge ( Especially by highly mobile Champions like Fizz).
The warning zone can be seen below.

Arcanopulse has a respectable 60% AP scaling ratio, with 235 base damage at skill level 5.

Locus Of Power

locus of power

Here is the debatable skill, the self-snaring W, Locus of Power. It increases the range of all your abilites by 400 when used and increases your Magic Penetration by a percentage depending on the skill level (40% at level 5). This skill is invaluable in the fact it means you can essentially snipe people with Arcanopulse and Arcane Barrage. It increases your potential damage output and keeps you at a safe distance, but be careful when to use it, it is a self-snare. This is compensated for by a 35% movement speed increase when the ability ends or is toggled off as well as the ability having no mana cost.
Another issue is that it is easy to recognise when Xerath uses this ability because this happens:

Mage Chains

mage chains

This skill has higher base damage than Arcanopulse and better scaling (80% as opposed to 60% AP scaling ratio). It is also an on-target skill, but has a shorter range than Arcanopulse as well as a relatively long cooldown. As such, this should not be your main damage output at all. Mage Chains is a set up skill. It marks an opponent with "Unstable Magic" and the next spell cast by Xerath on them results in a 1.5 second stun. This can be used in the combo E,Q,R,R,R or E,R,Q,R,R.
The mark can be seen here.

Although it is an on-target skill, Mage Chains is not instantaneous. It has to travel to the target first meaning enemies that can become untargetable such as Elise and Fizz can still dodge it if they time correctly.

Arcane Barrage

Xerath's OP Ultimate aka "Death From Above" to myself. It has 60% AP scaling ratio, 275 Base Damage at skill level 3 as well as range equal to Arcanopulse. This thing hurts. A lot. Also, did I mention it can be CAST 3 TIMES BEFORE GOING ON COOLDOWN (much like Spirit Rush, Ahri's Ultimate). Yeah. All you need to be wary of is that it has to be cast 3 times within 12 seconds and that the actual skill has a warning sign on its half second delay.

The Strategy

Playing Style
As Xerath, it is important to recognise when to play passively and aggresively. Against high damage, ranged champs such as Ahri an aggressive approach is more appropriate to zone and poke them a lot.

Against very "In Your Face" opponents like Katarina and Akali be deceptively passive. Poke, but make it look like you're not going in for anything. Coax them into diving you under turret and unleash everything. Stun them under the turret, ignite, Arcane Barrage. They are dead. No second chances. They should know better than to turret dive someone with a long stun. The only Champion I have fought and this has not worked on is Fizz. Mainly because of the Troll Poll ( Playful / Trickster) and the Urchin Strike meaning he can dive through you and out of the way of Arcanopulse, preventing you from landing your stun.

Locus of Power

Use Locus of Power's Snaring effects to your advantage. You are immobilised so taunts won't make you follow (useful against Rammus, Shen and Ahri). But be careful when you use it. Lux, for example can unleash her full combo on you if you root yourself in the wrong position.

Take Advantage Of That Disgustingly Large Range

Remember that no one is safe recalling at their Turret with Xerath around. Lock down, and attack them. You'll keep them in lane longer and do a little extra damage, maybe even picking up a kill if their health is low enough. Also, use it to snipe people from out of sight. Root yourself in a bush and wait for them to wander aimlessly into range, or just nuke people from over walls with your Q and/or Ultimate.

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Skill Sequence

Take your Arcanopulse (Q) first. Always. No use for anything else first. Yes, Mage chains (E) does more damage but its to be used in combination with Arcanopulse anyway and has a longer Cooldown. Never take Locus of Power first. It is completely useless unless you have all your other abilities to use with it.

Max out Arcanopulse first. It's your main damage output and you need the extra CD Reduction from leveling it to help you poke and farm easier.

Obviously, Level Arcane Barrage when you can (Level 6,11 and 16). Nothing much else to say about that.

In my opinion there are two potential ways to level after you've maxed Arcanopulse. Either alternate between Mage Chains and Locus of Power for the extra CD Reduction on each, or level Mage Chains to full for the extra damage on that seen as it has 80% AP Scaling.

I prefer to level W and E alternately as you get the extra Magic Penetration from Locus of Power as well, but it is entirely situational and up to personal preference to be honest.

So if you are maxing one skill at a time, the order should more than likely be:

mage chains locus of power

Levelling your Ultimate whenever possible.

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Pretty much standard for AP Mids.
Flash. Invaluable to anyone and needed due to Xerath's gank vulnerability. Ignite. If someone wants to get up close and personal unleash your full combo (E W Q R R R) and ignite them. If your combo doesn't, and they get out of range alive, ignite should finish them off. This is pretty much the most useful thing against highly mobile melee AP Mids ( Katarina, Akali, Fizz, etc.) If someone gets close enough to do damage to you in a trade off or go as far as to kill you, you can often do enough damage pull off ignite and kill them as well.

Another option is Teleport, means you can jump in anywhere you're needed for a gank, get back to lane really fast after a recall, even use it to get out of a sticky situation. I, out of preference, don't take Teleport because I don't get on well with it and I love my ignite just in case. People may want Teleport because of the same reasoning I don't take Spellsword in the Masteries, you may not think you'll get close enough to use it.

Obviously, if you want to be very aggressive, you can take Clarity for the mana when you're low, but considering the build it is a useless late game spell. Or, if you want to play safe, there is always Heal or Cleanse. I just think Ignite is the best option myself but this one is a matter of personal choice really.

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Xerath's Passive, Ascended Form, is extremely useful as you can just build damage in the form of AP and gain 15% of that AP in Armour. Normally in mid-lane, I would take 9x Seal of Scaling Health, to give my champ some defence against all forms of damage. Xerath's Passive means I can sacrifice the extra health and give him 9x Seal of Magic Resist. This not only balances well with his passive, but also gives him a head start in lane against AP Mids.

I used to use 9x Glyph of Ability Power on all my AP mid laners, but I switched to Glyph of Scaling Ability Power to see how it made a difference. I don't think I can ever go back on it (unless its someone like Veigar who needs the extra AP early game to help farm his Q). The Scaling AP Glyphs give you a slower start, but after about level 6 or 7 you really begin to reap the benefits. Xerath has good base damage on his Abilities (as well as great Scaling) so he can still hurt with less AP early game and then the extra AP as you level just makes you more and more dangerous the longer you're in lane getting Exp and Farming.

I use 9x Mark of Magic Penetration on Xerath, as is standard with pretty much any AP Mid.

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Now here we begin to see where my build is... odd. Most people on AP Mids will go 21/0/9 whereas I go 21/8/1. This Mastery page is matched against my build for Xerath and gives him the early game sustain he needs. Taking standard AP in the Offense tree, other than not taking Spellsword . Xerath has range on his abilities and if played right, nukes people from afar. You shouldn't be in the position to need to use your basic attacks and as such, I find Spellsword a wasted mastery point. You could use the same argument for Summoner's Wrath and Ignite, but the extra 5 AP is still useful and can also be used on fast champs that can get out of even Xerath's range quickly (again looking at Katarina and Akali)

Most people would then put 9 points in the Utility Tree. I put one in for Improved Recall . I recall faster, to get back to lane more quickly. Other than that I have no use in the Utility Tree.

Now for the weird part, the Defence Tree. Xerath's passive is great... late game. Early game he is still fragile and I choose to invest in his early game lane sustain. giving him full points in Perseverence gives him exactly that, Perseverence. If someone comes in for a poke you will more likely pull off your stun and do a lot of damage before you take any. When they do damage to you in a trade off, you have the advantage of extra health regeneration to recover faster with less need for pots. The 2 points in Durability give him a little extra health per level, can't say no to that, and again with his passive I ignore Hardiness and go straight for my lane sustain with Resistance for the extra Magic Resistance.

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Buy Sight Ward and/or Vision Ward whenever you can, depending on which is most appropriate. The amount of mids I see getting destroyed by ganks because they don't ward and leave them self vulnerable is painful. Everyone should ward, EVERYONE, not just the support.

The Build

Now, with items I adapt what I start with based on who I'm laning against. A long ranged skill-shot based Champion like Ahri will need to be dodged a lot of the time. For this reason I start with Boots of Speed, 2x Health Potion and a single Mana Potion because Xerath is Mana hungry early game. In fact, Xerath is Mana Hungry all game which will help with explaining the rest of my build. If you're fighting someone without skill shots (again Katarina and Akali are examples) A little extra Health and a bit of Mana Regeneration are more useful than Boots of Speed so I use the Doran's Ring as my first item.

If you've been playing correctly and haven't made too many risky trade-offs, on your first recall (hopefully after level 6) you should have quite a bit more than 1000 gold. If you have 1,800 or more, even better. First recall musts are Boots of Speed/ Doran's Ring (whichever you didn't start with) and the Tear of the Goddess . This item is perfect and to make full use of it you want it early game ASAP. If you can afford it there and then get Kage's Lucky Pick (or at least an Amplifying Tome) this is great as it builds into a Morellonomicon later and also gives you some nice extra gold generation (GP10).

With your new items, you have all the lane sustain you need. Mana Regeneration, you're constantly increasing your Mana pool and you have a little extra AP with GP10. This combinaton means you are a hell of a lot less reliant on farming and can spend more time zoning and poking your opponent with your abilities. BY NO MEANS AM I SAYING TO NEGLECT YOUR FARM. All gold is useful gold, this helps you get extra gold risk free, not a reason to stop farming.

Next you want to rush your Rylai's Crystal Scepter. 2 Item slots left, Giant's Belt and Blasting Wand are the most expensive and useful items in its construction so unless you can hold out until you can afford your Rylai's straight up, get those first. Rylai's is a must on Xerath. You slow with your E ( Mage Chains), making it easier to combo with your Q ( Arcanopulse) and pull of a stun. If they're slowed, it also means you have more time with them in Range of your "Death From Above" Ultimate, Arcane Barrage. Now get your tier 2 boots ( Sorcerer's Shoes).

Now, you have Health and Mana Regen on items so next time you die or recall, trade out your Doran's Ring for an Chalice of Harmony. Xerath stays extremely Mana hungry all game so Mana Font is invaluable. It also gives you that extra Magic Resistance Xerath lacks a bit. Build this into an Athene's Unholy Grail as fast as you can (Now the real fun begins).

By now your Tear of the Goddess should be approaching full stacks so its time to upgrade it into an Archangel's Staff, soon to be Seraph's Embrace. Congratulations, you just gained a load of AP from it and it's passive (3% of your Total Mana is added to your AP. Seen as the end of your build has 2060 mana, that is an extra 61.8 AP as well as Seraph's itself giving 60 flat AP.)

Your Kage's Lucky Pick by now is completely obsolete in its AP gain so, time for the Morellonomicon. A decent chunk of AP, 20% Cooldown Reduction and more Mana Regeneration? Yes please. With 5 full item slots, 40% CDR and an already repectable AP.

The cornerstone of all AP Champions is your final item. Rabadon's Deathcap to finish and you now just destroy things (but it's not like you didn't do that already).

You are now able to use Arcanopulse (Q) about every 2 secs, Mage Chains (E) about every 5/6 and can use Locus of Power (W) about 4 seconds after you have unlocked from it. Oh, and your Ultimate, Arcane Barrage, has a 29/30 second CD now. Yup. Now you can see why I called this Guide "Lightning: It Strikes Freakin' Everywhere!"

Other Options

Zhonya's Hourglass

A great altenative if you're up against a High AD Team.

Void Staff

Not the best item on Xerath as he already gains a load of Magic Penetration by using Locus of Power. But, if you're the strong one and they're building a load of Mag Res against you, then it might be necessary.

Liandry's Torment

Is their team being silly and building lots of health without building resistances? Percentage health items like Liandry's are the way to go. It will also proc with your Rylai's and gives you a little health for extra bulk. Useful, but only a situational item.

What NOT To Buy

Deathfire Grasp

Yes, 120 AP and 10% CDR is great, but you already have so much CDR anyway. You also don't lose that much AP in building Xerath CDR and Mana Regen. Also, the range issue applies again. The best thing about a Deathfire Grasp is its Unique Active. As Xerath, you should never be close enough to make full use of it, so its pointless in my opinion.

Abyssal Scepter

Yeah, great. Magic Resistance and AP. Everything you want. But Xerath will get no use and this time I mean NO USE AT ALL for its UNIQUE Passive. Athene's Unholy Grail gives you 10 less AP, 5 less Magic Resistance, but gives you 20% CDR and a the biggest amount of Mana sustain in the game. Much better choice.

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Team Work

Sight Ward and Vision Ward, as mentioned before are a biggie. They let you know if you're about to be ganked, they also let you see where the enemy is headed if they start roaming for ganks ( Katarina, Akali and Evelynn will do this a lot).

In team fights, you will do a lot of damage. You stun the biggest threat then unleash your full combo. Its all AoE damage so just toss everything into the fight and you'll more than likely pick up multi kills all over the place and can catch up if you haven't had a great early game, say if you're fighting a Fizz.

Although I use the term "In team fights" loosely. You are a high ranged AP Nuker. You don't want to be "In" the fight, you want to be outside of it just destroying the other team while remaining out of range. Xerath hurts. A lot. The other team will want you dead of you're good. If you're at the back of the fight, picking off people when they're in the middle of everything, they will not get close to you. EVER. Use your obscene range to your advantage and you'll survive and be much more useful throughout the game that way.