Mordekaiser Bottom Lane Carry
First Major Item
Full Build (Aggressive)
Full Build (Defensive)
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.
Threats to Mordekaiser with this build
|Kog'Maw||Kog'maw has high mana costs, low range, low damage, poor waveclear, and low mobility early. Either easily push him into turret, or take a pick support and save your cooldowns to burst him. Later on, slow him with your ult and he will never be able to kite your team.|
Who am I?
My name is Magohel and I've been playing League since pre-season 4. I've seen the game go through quite a few changes, but none were quite like the Mordekaiser rework. Many people were upset to see him change. I, for one, was excited for League to venture into new territory and support a melee duo lane carry - spaces we normally reserve for marksmen. Mordekaiser in his current state is underappreciated and underplayed. Hopefully after reading this guide, you will try him out and enjoy a new way to play League.
What is this guide for?
This guide is focused on bottom lane carry Mordekaiser. Due to old habits from before his rework, many people misunderstand the build and playstyle necessary to succeed with him. I felt that there were no bottom lane Mordekaiser builds that have adapted with the times, or provided any shred of good advice. While off-meta, Mordekaiser is a very strong pick which can succeed against any matchup with good play. With the advice in this guide and some open-minded teammates, you can learn to play the only champion explicitly designed to change the meta.
I firmly believe that solo lane Mordekaiser has been bad since his rework, and you won't find any advice for that here.
Why do I like this champion?
Have you ever wanted to play double bruiser bot lane? Have you ever wanted to solo a full build Nasus and then take down his entire team? Do you enjoy getting creative with your team compositions? Have you ever terrified an entire enemy team with a ghost Dragon by your side?
There is so much to love about bottom lane carry Mordekaiser. His high moments are extremely satisfying. You can feel powerful throughout the game, even if the laning phase goes poorly. You don't have to fight with the perpetual fear of getting killed like most carries. I would try to compare the experience of playing him to another champion, but no one else shares his playstyle.
Pros / Cons
|+ Enormous damage throughout the game
+ Best sustain of any bottom lane carry
+ Highest attack damage of any champion
+ Can perma-slow entire teams with Rylai's Crystal Scepter
+ Fantastic pushing power
+ Provides magic damage from bottom lane
+ Ultimate can provide a 6th teammate
+ Incredibly satisfying moments of extreme power
+ Dragon Force is the single coolest ability in the entire game
|Mordekaiser is currently the only melee carry explicitly designed for a duo lane with a support, where ADCs would normally go. He can farm whole waves instantly, kill a carry from full health with his 3rd Q proc, and survive extended teamfights at full health. Mordekaiser's highs are the highest of any champion in League of Legends, as evidenced by Dragon Force: You can control the Dragon. Yes, the actual epic monster Dragon. Many games have been won solely due to enslaving the Dragon and bringing it to a teamfight or siege.|
|+ Low mobility
+ Melee and without substantial long ranged poke or waveclear
+ Minimally useful for sieging and taking turrets, which is the primary job of ADCs outside of teamfights.
+ No inherent utility, and only has slows after buying Rylai's Crystal Scepter
+ Poor waveclear before getting items
+ Weak early game
+ Long base cooldowns, especially early on
+ Very poor base attack speed
+ Cannot be left alone to 2v1 during laning phase
+ Laning with Mordekaiser is different from any ADC
|Mordekaiser has 3 primary weaknesses: Weak early game, low mobility, and low range. He desperately needs to be babysat until getting Rylai's Crystal Scepter and boots. Movement speed quints are needed to have any relevance at all points in the game. Without them, you will get poked down in lane and cannot catch people in fights. He is the only melee bottom lane carry, so you lose out on having an ADC for sieging and taking turrets. It's very hard to win without having another champion on your team that can damage turrets safely from range.|
The most critical weakness that befalls teams which pick Mordekaiser is lacking a Marksman. Without a Marksman on your team, sieging and taking turrets becomes extremely difficult. Luckily for us, since Preseason 6, there are viable options to fill this gap in Top, Middle, and Jungle. Additionally, some mages are strong at taking turrets. As a final consideration, understand that Mordekaiser needs a strong frontline tank to make the most of his Harvesters of Sorrow, and by extension, much of his kit. Don't forget to balance physical and magic damage in your team.
Accounting for Compositional Weaknesses
Your main concern when crafting a team composition with Mordekaiser is to take a ranged champion that excels at destroying turrets. Generally, these are Marksmen and ranged Lich Bane users, but there are a few special cases that can do the job too.
- Marksmen: Your best bet is usually to take a Marksman in Top, Middle, or Jungle. Champions like Quinn and Kindred are flexible picks that feature strong objective control and an oppressive early game. Jayce is a strong flex pick that gives powerful poke, and Lucian can dominate middle lane. Varus's high auto-attack range can provide much needed siege from the middle lane. I would advise against Mid Ezreal and Jungle/Top Graves for this spot as Ezreal lacks early pressure and has poor waveclear, and Graves lacks the range necessary to poke down turrets.
- Ranged Lich Bane Users: Spellblade procs damage turrets. Mages that stack ability power and build Lich Bane can deal enormous bursts of damage to structures. Champions like Viktor and Twisted Fate fit this spot nicely. Nidalee is a viable choice, but she lacks the ranged waveclear that we expect from most mages.
- Special Cases: Azir, Kayle, and Veigar all obliterate turrets. Azir and Kayle build attack speed and basically function as magic damage Marksmen. Veigar may seem like an odd choice, given his kit gives no indication of auto-attack strength. However, when Veigar starts to get enormous amounts of AP, his auto-attacks can do upwards of 500 damage to turrets.
Making Mordekaiser Work in Teamfights
Mordekaiser relies on a strong frontline in order to succeed in most teamfights. Generally, a tank will engage, Mordekaiser will use his Harvesters of Sorrow to follow up and slow everyone around the tank, and then poke with Siphon of Destruction until crowd control is blown and it is safe to use Mace of Spades.
To do this, Mordekaiser needs a tanky partner for Harvesters of Sorrow. Champions like Sion, Maokai, and Volibear are ideal. They provide a mix of engage, crowd control, and extreme tankiness. Juggernauts, like Darius, can work as well if there is sufficient engage on your team to support them. If you do not have someone very tanky on your team, you may have a difficult time staying in fights long enough to get much damage off.
For those tanks on Mordekaiser's team, Bond of Stone is especially powerful. He will be next to you and helping to sustain both of you, while Bond of Stone significantly improves the efficiency of Iron Man.
Sample Team Composition
Here's a balanced team composition that takes into account Mordekaiser's unique needs and strengths:
- Sion: Sion is an immovable tank with fantastic crowd control and unstoppable engage. Nothing can stop the fight from happening, and nothing will kill Sion once it starts. Mordekaiser can easily follow up with Harvesters of Sorrow and then create mayhem while safe by Sion's side.
- Kindred: Kindred has an oppressive early game and good objective control. With hard CC in every lane, they always have targets to gank. Kindred excels at taking Dragon and provides a Marksman to the team for taking turrets.
- Twisted Fate: Due to Mordekaiser's increased experience gain, he can hit level 6 shortly after middle laners do while his opponents are still level 5. Twisted Fate can easily turn this opportunity into a double kill with Destiny and then use that opportunity to take Dragon and thus use the Dragon ghost to take a turret in middle or bottom. Later on, Twisted Fate puts on global pressure and takes turrets with Lich Bane.
- Mordekaiser: The whole reason we're here. Mordekaiser's damage scales exceptionally well into late game and can carry teamfights. Exploiting your Rylai's Crystal Scepter powerspike will make ganks from Kindred and Twisted Fate easy.
- Nautilus: Nautilus is exceptionally tanky and can survive extended brawls while holding enemies down during Harvesters of Sorrow. His suite of CC makes ganks easy. Later on, very few champions in the game will be able to get to the carries as long as Nautilus lives.
The above team composition is strong at taking objectives despite not putting an ADC in bottom lane, excels in teamfights, and enables Kindred and Twisted Fate to snowball every lane. You will have an easy time taking Dragon, and with Kindred, Twisted Fate, and Dragon, you can force down any turret or Baron with ease. The laners are a bit weak early on, but if Kindred's early pressure can get middle or bottom ahead, then the potential to snowball the entire game becomes very real. Try grouping at 1 and 3 item powerspikes, or picking off lone enemies.
Mordekaiser usually succeeds with a tank support. Champions like Taric, Blitzcrank, and Nautilus are ideal. They are tough enough to take heavy minion damage while using Harvesters of Sorrow, they provide hard crowd control, and they start Relic Shield. The double Relic Shield start is, in my opinion, the best item start in the game. You can both farm for each other, heal each other periodically, and both you and your support end up getting ahead in gold. Tank supports should take Bond of Stone to protect Mordekaiser from harass. When Mordekaiser has all of his cooldowns ready, his support can go for a stun or hook. If it hits, blow all of your abilities at once. You will gain a full shield before taking damage, and your Harvesters of Sorrow will always be on since you are both melee. Note that in the early game, each of Mordekaiser's cooldowns are about 10 seconds long, so play accordingly.
Most poke supports are suboptimal unless they can sufficiently zone the opponent away from harassing you for you to freely farm. You usually cannot augment their poke damage or capitalize on low health opponents unless gank comes from a teammate. Lulu has potential to work well. She has an oppressive level 1, can protect you from harass, and her Whimsy makes up for your lack of mobility.
Sustain supports are decent overall. You take a lot of damage in lane and lose some health with every ability cast. Sustain supports that can get you through the early game with high farm and no deaths have done their job.
Overall, Taric is his best melee lane partner, and Soraka is his best ranged lane partner.
Taric is a fantastic lane partner for Mordekaiser. His heal negates Mordekaiser's health costs, he has easy to use hard CC, can buff both AD and AP for Mordekaiser's hybrid scaling, and has an armor aura. The armor aura from Bastion turns Mordekaiser's terrible base armor into something to be respected. That improved mitigation goes far given Mordekaiser's high sustain.
Soraka is an amazing lane partner for Mordekaiser. She has the best healing of any support, rarely leaves lane, and can carry you safely to a point when you are self-sufficient. Additionally, since you occasionally heal your support with Relic Shield and Harvesters of Sorrow, you help to mitigate Soraka's health costs from Astral Infusion.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Seal of Health
Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction
Greater Quintessence of Health Regeneration
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
9 Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Mordekaiser does almost entirely magic damage. Therefore, magic penetration reds will provide the best damage of any runes in this category.
Other options, such as hybrid penetration or attack damage, are suboptimal in terms of damage or are unnecessary given Mordekaiser's kit.
6 Greater Seal of Armor + 3 Greater Seal of Health
Mordekaiser has terrible base armor and usually faces mostly physical damage in bottom lane. The increased armor also synergizes well with his passive. The combination of sustain and improved resistances synergizes well.
A small amount of bonus health remains useful against early burst. This also slightly increases the strength of Mordekaiser's passive shield, thus increasing survivability further.
9 Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction
Mordekaiser needs to get his cooldowns lowered as much as possible to become a threat. While flat CDR would solve this problem faster, his base cooldown on rank 1 abilities is so high that it wouldn't matter. By the time you get rank 5 W at level 9 or rank 5 Q at level 13, scaling CDR becomes incredibly valuable. In other words, by the time your kit is useful, scaling CDR has already outpaced flat CDR.
Getting early AP in this slot won't help you since your early cooldowns are too high to make good use of it.
Magic resist blues could be useful here against a full magic damage team. That being said, CDR improves your sustain significantly, so sacrificing CDR for MR is dubious.
2 Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed + 1 Greater Quintessence of Health Regeneration
Mordekaiser has very low mobility. Unlike ADCs, he has no Zeal item to increase his movement speed. By taking 2 movement speed quints, you gain 10 movement speed at level 1. This brings Mordekaiser to 335 movement speed, which is often just enough to dodge most skillshots that would have hit nearly 100% of the time with a skilled opponent. A third movement speed quint would help further, but we have a special adaptation for that last spot.
We are going to run 1 health regeneration quint. We do this because Mordekaiser has health costs on his abilities, yet the worst health regeneration stat in the game. This quint thus provides both sustain and mitigates his resource costs. Due to having poor base regeneration stats, percent regeneration from items or Perseverance provide almost nothing. Flat bonuses, however, let us overcome this inherent weakness.
Other options would be ability power or scaling CDR. We don't take those here because Quints are our only source of movement speed in runes and masteries. We cannot sacrifice that.
Overview: We are going 18-0-12, taking Deathfire Touch as our Keystone Mastery. This build optimizes damage and sustain given Mordekaiser's unique kit. There are a few counterintuitive picks here. I think this is the best mastery page for Mordekaiser and it's the only one that I run for him.
- Sorcery : You deal almost all of your damage with abilities. Due to Mordekaiser's low base Attack Speed and infrequent use of basic attacks, Fury is useless.
- Feast : You need to sustain yourself in lane, and Feast is the best at that. It's counterpart, Double-Edged Sword, is a trap that will only benefit your opponents' early game.
- Vampirism : Spell vamp has always been fantastic for Mordekaiser. Vampirism will help mitigate all of your health costs. It's counterpart, Natural Talent, doesn't help your early game enough to be useful.
- Oppressor : A counterintuitive choice, given that Mordekaiser completely lacks crowd control. We choose Oppressor because it has 100% uptime once you buy Rylai's Crystal Scepter. This pushes Mordekaiser's incredible 1 item powerspike even further. Bounty Hunter can be stronger later on, or if you get lucky kills early.
- Piercing Thoughts : Mordekaiser does almost entirely magic damage. Therefore, Piercing Thoughts is the better choice.
- Deathfire Touch : Most of Mordekaiser's damage comes from DoT effects and AoE damage. In teamfights, you can pretty consistently hit 3-4 members of the enemy team with Harvesters of Sorrow for 5 seconds of Deathfire damage on everyone. Mordekaiser's ultimate is a 10 second DoT, meaning that you will do 11 seconds of Deathfire damage to your target, adding a 68.75% AP ratio. Deathfire Touch makes your AP scaling go from good to great. You can maintain 100% uptime with some CDR.
- Recovery : Mordekaiser desperately needs early game health sustain without getting percent health regeneration due to his health costs and low base health regeneration. This is your best option to do so. The alternative, Unyielding, won't help since we won't be stacking resistances.
- Tough Skin : You will get harassed in lane over and over early on. Surviving early poke is essential to getting through the laning phase.
- Runic Armor : Increasing all healing and shields means your sustain and passive are all stronger. Given that Mordekaiser constantly gains shields while fighting and needs early sustain, Runic Armor is extremely efficient at all stages of the game. This eclipses the meager health bonus provided by Veteran's Scars.
- Insight : Another counterintuitive pick. We choose this because Perseverance, despite giving sustain, does not help Mordekaiser. Percent health regeneration is a bad stat on Mordekaiser because he has the worst base health regeneration in the game. Insight, especially in conjunction with Ionian Boots of Lucidity, significantly reduces Summoner Spell cooldowns. After having 45 seconds off of Flash, you will never want to go back.
Flash: Flash is standard on nearly all champions in League, and Mordekaiser is no exception. He has low mobility and no escapes, so Flash is necessary.
Exhaust: Take Exhaust over Heal. Unlike ADCs, Mordekaiser relies on slows to be able to stick to targets.
- Without Exhaust, you will struggle to be able to fight in the early game. As a result, you will end up taking more harass or losing all-ins and therefore lose more life than a Heal would provide.
- Due to Mordekaiser's passive shield, your actual health pool rarely reflects exactly how much it will take to kill you. Exhaust stops burst, and stopping burst is critical to surviving as Mordekaiser. Heal shines in sustained fights or to bait out all ins, which A. You could sustain through anyway, and B. As mentioned in point 1, all ins require Exhaust.
- Exhaust scales far better into the late game. You can easily duel just about anyone if you have your ultimate and exhaust up.
- If the enemy support took Ignite, then Heal can be cut by 40% if improperly timed. This is a minor concern compared to the above points.
Other Options: As stated above, Heal is generally inferior to Exhaust on Mordekaiser. If you are concerned about using it to save your support, remember that you regularly heal yourself and your support through Relic Shield and Harvesters of Sorrow. They will likely be kept higher in health than with an ADC. This does not negate the usefulness of Heal, but does mitigate it's necessity. I would only take heal into heavy poke. Poke comps usually don't have a target you need to exhaust to fight, and rely on keeping your health low to fight. Heal solves that problem.
Barrier doesn't provide you with anything that you don't already get from your passive.
Mordekaiser's passive, Iron Man, converts 25% of the damage that you deal (12.5% for minions) into a decaying shield. The shield's maximum value is 25% of your max health, but decays at a rate of 1.5% of your base health per second until reaching 25% of the max shield value. The shield will not decay if either (1) Mordekaiser has under 25% shield, or (2) Mordekaiser has gained shield in the last 1.5 seconds.
Iron Man defines Mordekaiser's kit. Rather than using mana, Mordekaiser spends health to cast abilities but gains a decaying shield in return. The trade-off rewards high damage builds as you will prevent more damage than you would have taken from health costs. In teamfights, if you are not bursted down, you often remain high on shields and thus can end fights with nearly full health despite taking enormous amounts of damage.
Properly maintaining your shield in lane is the difference between getting bullied out and completely ignoring all poke.
Mace of Spades
Mace of Spades is an auto-attack reset which applies bonus on-hit magic damage. The first two hits do a good amount of damage, and the third hit does an enormous amount of damage. Use this ability to help last hit in lane or to finish people off in all-ins. It is dangerous to get into melee range while building heavily into damage, so make sure to judge the risk against your shield strength and team follow up.
Note that Mace of Spades encourages attacking multiple times, but we do not build any attack speed. Further, Mordekaiser has an atrocious base attack speed. Rather than standing next to a target, you often want to kite between auto-attacks during the 1.66-1.21 (levels 1-18) second delay between his auto-attacks.
We take Mace of Spades third, and max it second.
Note that Mace of Spades is coded as a multi-hit ability, unlike nearly all on-hit damage. This has some unique implications:
- Mace of Spades bonus damage contributes to Iron Man's shield.
- Spell Vamp will restore health at 1/3 strength. Note that Spell Vamp normally does not work with on-hit magic damage.
- Your empowered auto attacks apply Rylai's Crystal Scepter's slow.
Harvesters of Sorrow
Harvesters of Sorrow is Mordekaiser's most important ability. It has 3 parts: a passive, an active, and a reactivation active.
When you last hit minions and share experience, Mordekaiser gains 1/2 of the experience lost due to sharing. With a support in lane, you gain 82.6% of experience bounty rather than 65.2%, while your support gets 65.2%. Note that when sharing experience with at least one person, minions give 130.4% experience rather than 100%. This passive allows Mordekaiser to be competitive as a bottom lane carry against ADCs and makes up for some of the gold lost due to getting zoned as a melee champion. You should always hit 6 before your opponent - use the opportunity to all-in.
Target a friendly champion, champion ghost (from your ultimate), or minion. You both gain 75 movement speed when moving toward one another. There will be a circle around each of you; as long as any part of these circles overlap, you will do damage over time to everyone in the area of either circle. The area is particularly large, so you can cover the entire width of a lane, an entire wave of farm, or most of a teamfight. Melee and ranged minions have reduced area on their zone, so you will have to get much closer to them in order to do damage. If you are with a melee support, you can both move into the wave with Harvesters of Sorrow active to quickly push into tower.
Since Harvesters of Sorrow is an AoE DoT, Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Deathfire Touch are extremely useful. Given its large area, you can potentially slow and damage 3-4 enemies for the whole duration. In teamfights, you usually want to target your frontline tank. With the bonus movement speed, you can follow up on engages. With the Rylai's Crystal Scepter slow, you and your tanks will easily be able to stick to targets and prevent any escape.
After it's 4 second duration is over, the minion it's on dies, or you reactivate it, Harvesters of Sorrow damages everyone in its area and heals you and your partner if it damages a target. This heal is reduced on minions. Even with a reduced heal, the reactivation actually grants significantly more health than the cost of the ability. With careful use and some ability power, you can completely negate the costs of all of your abilities. You do not need to have overlap to reactivate. Note that you can target yourself with Harvester of Sorrow with no nearby targets and still use the reactivation.
Use the reactivation to last hit minions, deal a bit of extra damage before an enemy runs out of the zone, or to get a small burst of health. If you still need the damage over time, do not reactivate.
A clever trick you can do is target a melee minion while the enemy wave dies. It will charge forward to the enemy. Reactivating will deal your opponent damage from long range.
We take Harvesters of Sorrow first, and we max it first.
Siphon of Destruction
Siphon of Destruction fills out our spell rotation and provides additional poke and sustain in lane. Siphon of Destruction does instant damage in a cone and restores a percentage of your max shield for each enemy champion it, in addition to the damage to shield conversion from Iron Man. Use this ability to harass lane opponents, last hit ranged minions, and deal damage in teamfights. The range on Siphon of Destruction is longer than the average ranged auto-attack, so you can trade as long as the cooldown is up. Hitting first means your opponent only hits shield, and is almost always a good trade.
Do not ever max E first. I see many guides suggest this, and it is never a good idea.
- The base damage increases are small per rank.
- The health cost increases are large per rank.
- Siphon of Destruction has a 60% AD ratio. Given that Mordekaiser has the best AD in the game, the damage scaling per level is high.
- Cooldown goes down negligibly per rank, while other abilities go down significantly.
We take Siphon of Destruction second, and we max it last.
Children of the Grave
Mordekaiser's ultimate, Children of the Grave, deals a small burst of percent max health damage followed up by a large amount of percent max health damage over 10 seconds, and heals you for the damage dealt. If the target dies while under the effects of Children of the Grave, you gain a ghost of the champion killed that you can control. All passives and on-hit effects of the champion work normally. You can target your ghost with Harvesters of Sorrow like a friendly champion.
This is the longest damage over time ability in the game, and our build capitalizes on it. Rylai's Crystal Scepter turns Children of the Grave into an 11 second slow, and Deathfire Touch adds a 68.75% AP ratio over the duration. Once you tag a target with your ultimate, they will not be getting away.
As a result of your increased experience gain, you will hit 6 before your lane opponent. Use this advantage and all-in with Children of the Grave. A full rotation coupled with some crowd control from a support should 100-0 any ADC.
Controlling the ghost takes practice. Make sure to micromanage your ghost as you would your champion. This means avoiding turret aggro (or intentionally taking it), target selection, and harassing opponents. Marksmen and Juggernauts are fantastic ghosts to have: Marksmen will take objectives for you quickly, and Juggernauts will facetank turrets, Dragon, and Baron as well as tank in fights. Note that your ghost's autoattacks will apply Rylai's Crystal Scepter's slow.
Passives still work for your ghosts, abilities like Silver Bolts and Bear Stance will still trigger. The ghosts are treated as a champion for purposes of all abilities. As a result, they can be affected by Wish, Requiem, Infinite Duress, and many other abilities that only target champions. You can use this fact to block Ace in the Hole and Enchanted Crystal Arrow.
We take Children of the Grave at 6, 11, and 16.
There's also a passive on Mordekaiser's ultimate. If you damage the Dragon and your team takes it, then you get a ghost Dragon. Yes, the actual Dragon. As long as you have an enslaved Dragon, you are the strongest person in the game. Dragon has unlimited leash range, enormous health, high damage as well as percent health damage, and applies Rylai's Crystal Scepter on-hit. Use Dragon to win teamfights, take turrets, or even solo Baron. With effective micro-management, Dragon will solo kill enemies or turrets and zone heavily in teamfights or sieges.
In sieges, you often get more value from harassing the enemies defending the turret than actually hitting with the Dragon, but this varies greatly from situation to situation.
Note that duration, attack range, and movement speed rank with rank. It takes practice to get objectives with the short duration on rank 1. At ranks 2 and 3, you can easily force down any objective in the game with time to spare.
I cannot emphasize enough that Dragon Force is the most powerful ability in League. You can 1v2 under an enemy turret. You can win teamfights 3v5. You can win games with no enemy turrets down and no Marksmen on your team in one push after level 11. If you are playing Mordekaiser, Dragon is the most important objective in the game.
There are two caveats to Dragon Force: (1) Any ghost you already have is killed upon gaining the ghost Dragon, and (2) You cannot cast Children of the Grave while controlling a ghost. That being said, the Dragon is always worth this cost.
The Skill Sequence
We start W into E into Q, then max W into Q into E. We take Harvesters of Sorrow first for the passive experience gain and push for level 2. Take Siphon of Destruction second to farm and trade in lane. Getting Mace of Spades next will help with last hits and any early all-ins.
Maxing W is essential to waveclear and sustain in lane. You can push most enemies into turret quickly. Use this to force them to last hit under turret and not focus on harassing you. If you hit two targets with the reactivation, you will gain life despite the health costs. Once you acquire rank 5 W and Rylai's Crystal Scepter, you should have the damage and pushing power to be left alone without a support. With roughly 20% CDR from runes and Ionian Boots of Lucidity in the mid-game, you can cast without worrying about the cooldown.
Maxing Q significantly improves mid-game damage and burst. By this time, you will have acquired some ability power. Rank 1 Q has such an extreme cooldown that you cannot take fighting more than once every 10 seconds, and even then you may need it to help last hit early on. Maxing Q second means we get its cooldown low enough to be useful. With Q's high AP ratio and low cooldown at rank 5, you can reliably smack down enemies in fights. Few people expect the Mordekaiser with a weak early impact to take out most of their health with a single 3rd Q proc in mid-game.
Maxing E last because we have to get the other abilities maxed early. You get a small bonus to damage, cooldown, and extra shield gain with rank. By late game, your health costs become less of an issue, so the high cost of rank 5 E no longer threatens you.
Start with these items every game.
- Relic Shield: One of the best parts of Mordekaiser is starting Relic Shield. We take Relic Shield to make farming easier early on. There are no other good early sustain options to survive early levels outside of Doran's Shield, which does not make last hitting easier or provide additional gold. You and your support will have far better sustain and gold generation than with any other start. Combined with your increased experience gain, you will be ahead in gold and experience when going even in farm.
- Health Potionx3: Mordekaiser gets to start with 3 health potions due to starting Relic Shield. The extra sustain helps get you through early harass and health costs. Make sure to start drinking them before an all-in rather than during, since you will rarely have full health.
- Warding Totem: Standard start for all champions. Keep bushes and river warded to avoid jungle ganks and facechecking.
Rush Rylai's Crystal Scepter, then buy 2 of the other 3.
- Rylai's Crystal Scepter: By far the best item Mordekaiser can build. Rush this every single game. Not only does it give very high AP and health, but it also turns Mordekaiser from being a zero utility glass cannon carry into an unstoppable force of crowd control. Your auto-attacks slow with Q, you slow entire teams for 5 seconds with W, you outrange ADCs and slow them with E, and you have an 11 second targeted slow on your ultimate. Even your ghosts slow on-hit. With some CDR, Rylai's slow will have 100% uptime. Compare the powerspike of buying Rylai's on Mordekaiser to Trinity Force on Corki. Once you finish this, go as hard as you can until your enemies finish their second core item.
- Abyssal Scepter: Abyssal Scepter gives a strong mix of offensive and defensive stats. The magic resist makes your shield significantly more efficient, and greatly reduces the amount of damage that actually goes into your health. Pick this when the enemy team does mostly magic damage.
- Zhonya's Hourglass: Zhonya's Hourglass is an expensive buy, but well worth the cost. This is the only item that will protect you from huge burst. Note that your abilities will continue to grow your shield and heal with spell vamp while invulnerable, allowing you to exit stasis safely. Using the active in teamfights after blowing all cooldowns allows you enough time to get them again, and thus stay at full shield. Buy this when facing mostly physical damage, high burst, or champions like Rengar.
- Hextech Protobelt-01: Protobelt should be thought of as an offensive option. While Mordekaiser can make good use of the extra dash, it's primary use is to greatly boost your burst potential. Buy this if you think you will snowball.
Decide whether you need damage or survivability based on the enemy team. I recommend Alacrity as your boot enchant.
- Ionian Boots of Lucidity: These are your damage and sustain option. Keeping your cooldowns low means higher damage and constant shielding. Recall that we are taking Insight , which stacks its summoner spell reduction additively. Your Flash and Exhaust cooldowns will both be reduced by 25%. Take these by default unless you need the one of the other options.
- Mercury's Treads: The tenacity option. If you get stunned, silenced, or knocked up, then you can't keep casting spells and thus keep up your shield. Without constantly maintaining your shield, you will die quickly. Take these when facing heavy crowd control or magic damage.
- Ninja Tabi: The armor option. Take these when facing a full AD team.
Each of these can be a strong mid or late game choice. Make sure to build with the enemy team composition in mind.
- Liandry's Torment: Liandry's Torment gives a good mix of offensive and defensive stats. The double percent health damage will always apply since we always build Rylai's Crystal Scepter. You can potentially do an enormous amount of damage to an entire team, and an obscene amount of damage over time with your ultimate. Take this for high sustained damage, especially against tanks.
- Luden's Echo: Despite Mordekaiser's low movement speed, this is an uncommon pick. You already have fantastic waveclear, so the passive is decent, but not spectacular. It won't really give the damage that other options here will. That being said, the huge amount of movement speed provided can make otherwise impossible picks or dodges doable. Take this when you need additional mobility or facing many skillshots.
- Void Staff: The burst option. Void staff provides no defensive stats outside of better damage, and thus somewhat greater shield gain. If you aren't being focused, the risk can be worth it. Take this when you are facing a squishy team that needs to go down quickly.
- Rabadon's Deathcap: The DPS and pushing option. You have good AP ratios from your kit and Deathfire Touch . Since minions don't have magic resist, maxing out your ability power optimizes your damage to minions. As an added bonus, high ability power increases your auto-attack damage to turrets. Take Rabadon's Deathcap as a 5th or 6th item to significantly increase damage output.
- Banshee's Veil: Banshee's Veil serves the same use on Mordekaiser as any other carry. Take this to prevent yourself from getting picked off or comboed.
- Spirit Visage: A far more situational magic resist choice. Sometimes you need additional resistances to survive and cannot risk a glass cannon build. Take this late game when facing sustained magic damage.
- Thornmail: The anti-marksman item. Due to your high sustain, armor becomes highly valuable. I find this to be strong when you can maintain your shield by fighting the enemy frontline, but are struggling to deal with double marksmen attacking you. Take this when threatened by multiple auto-attacking threats.
- Dead Man's Plate: The defensive mobility item. If you need both defensive stats and movement speed, choose this over Luden's Echo. Take this when you are facing heavy physical damage, many skillshots, or getting kited.
It is highly unlikely that any of these will be the optimal choice in whatever situation you will find yourself in. These choices are often expensive and promote an extremely risky playstyle which the build provided in this guide explicit attempts to avoid.
- Trinity Force: Everything but the small boosts to movement speed, health, and CDR are worthless on you. Even the spellblade, despite your auto-attack reset and high base AD, would rarely ever get used in teamfights. Since you already get at least 35% CDR from the core build presented in this guide, Trinity Force can be quite a waste.
- Sterak's Gage: You could just buy Zhonya's Hourglass instead. Sterak's Gage will give less damage and less protection from getting picked off.
- Hextech Gunblade: This option is almost viable, but you have better options. Rylai's Crystal Scepter already makes your Siphon of Destruction into a ranged slow. While Will of the Ancients no longer exists, you do not require the sustain enough to justify the buy. Further, Hextech Gunblade is extremely expensive for an otherwise suboptimal item.
- Nashor's Tooth: You never auto-attack enough for this to be worth it. With scaling CDR runes, Ionian Boots of Lucidity, and Abyssal Scepter, Zhonya's Hourglass, or Hextech Protobelt-01, even the CDR on Nashor's Tooth won't get used.
As a bottom lane carry, you should expect to lane against an ADC and support duo lane. Generally, you have an advantage against opponents with low range, poor waveclear, and weak early harass. Opponents who can repeatedly harass you early on will punish you harder than you may be able to deal with. Try to avoid picking Mordekaiser into double poke lanes.
Keep in mind that there are no true hard counters to Mordekaiser in bottom lane, and that with proper play, you can at least go even in any lane matchup.
In general, to survive hard matchups, you want to either farm as safely as you can from range or try to get early kills. For farming safely, get an early Ruby Crystal and liberally use Health Potion. If your support has heals or shields, make sure they use those abilities when you go in to last hit. For getting kills, freeze the wave in just past your turret and call in for jungle ganks. Most supports you want to take with Mordekaiser will have crowd control to help initiate a gank. Use this to try to kill enemies or force them out of lane before you can be put too far behind.
Below are tips for many common matchups. In general, these are sorted in order of difficulty.
AD Carry Matchups
- Kog'Maw: Kog'maw has high mana costs, low range, low damage, poor waveclear, and low mobility early. Either easily push him into turret, or take a pick support and save your cooldowns to burst him. Later on, slow him with your ult and he will never be able to kite your team.
- Caitlyn: Caitlyn has strong early poke and traps, but lacks waveclear. Push her hard into turret so she has to last hit rather than fighting you. You will outscale her, so farming well is the key to winning the match up. Her Yordle Snap Trap are threatening later on. Avoid sieges.
- Jinx: You are at a range disadvantage, but only later on in the laning phase when you can start to fend for yourself. Your chain slows will cripple her ability to fight. Do your best to avoid being trapped at all costs. If she is only using rockets in lane, match her farm and avoid taking harass. All in her with your support and another teammate once you buy Rylai's. She is an easy target for you late game.
- Lucian: Lucian has a powerful early game, but you can actually trade with him. Use your Siphon of Destruction to poke him down, and reactivate your Harvesters of Sorrow when he goes into last hit. Don't let your support leave you alone early on.
- Ezreal: Ezreal's range and poke is threatening early on, as is his strong kiting later on. However, he does possess poor early waveclear. Maintain a minion advantage and farm safely until you get Rylai's Crystal Scepter, then go as hard as you can until he finishes 2 items. I would suggest taking Soraka if he is paired with a poke support.
- Miss Fortune: MF is a strong lane bully with decent pushing power. It will be hard to avoid her harass. As long as you can go even in farm, you will do fine late game. Make sure you have a support that can interrupt her ultimate. She's an easy kill once you have Rylai's Crystal Scepter.
- Ashe: Ashe's range advantage is a serious problem. You will take a lot of harass and won't be able to fight back effectively. Her chain slowing makes it easy for her support to land more damage on you. There are two ways of dealing with this: farm at max range with Harvesters of Sorrow and Siphon of Destruction, or take Blitzcrank or Nautilus. Later on, if you can slow her, then teammates can follow up and finish her off.
- Varus: Like Ezreal, but with waveclear and the ability to harass through minions. Unlike Ezreal, you can get through this one with a pick support. Play safe and buy boots early on to dodge skillshots. Later on, supports like Leona or Thresh will make taking down Varus easy.
- Vayne: Vayne is very hard despite having low range, no waveclear, and a weak early game. Since you are melee, Vayne can easily proc Silver Bolts on you any time you last hit with auto-attacks. She also scales well, so just farming safely won't get you out of this one. Additionally, Mordekaiser usually pairs with a tank support, which Vayne will usually counters.
- Jhin: Jhin is a monster in lane, and he is especially good against Mordekaiser. His high range and decent waveclear make trouble for you. Jhin's Deadly Flourish can be a death sentence for Mordekaiser, especially when he can't fight back. Avoid picking into this matchup if Jhin lanes with a poke support, like Zyra or Brand.
- Soraka: Soraka is fantastic for you to see in bottom lane, both as a teammate and enemy. You will face less lane pressure from her than most other supports and can farm safely to get your core items. Be wary of her silence from Equinox - it hurts you more than any other carry. When fighting, remember to focus Soraka.
- Taric: Taric's Dazzle stun is short, his sustain doesn't help his ADC push you out of lane, and he relies on having high armor. Since you do almost entirely magic damage, Taric won't do well against you. Farm normally and harass him when he goes for Relic Shield stacks. Watch out for Cosmic Radiance in teamfights.
- Janna: Janna is not a problem in lane. Avoid getting knocked up by Howling Gale tornadoes or baited into ganks and you should do just fine. Later on, her kiting potential becomes immense. if you do manage to catch up to an enemy and slow them, make sure your team can follow up with hard CC so they don't get away.
- Thresh: Similar to Blitzcrank and Nautilus, but less threatening in an all-in. Avoid getting hooked. If Thresh jumps to you, you and your support can put a serious hurting on him. He can harass you in lane unlike other engage and pick supports, but you can fairly easily farm from outside his harass range.
- Leona: Do your best to dodge her Zenith Blade. You can easily harass her in lane with Siphon of Destruction. When she goes in, immediately use all of your basic abilities. Leona will be far ahead of her carry and will be in melee range of you, thus eliminating your range disadvantage.
- Blitzcrank: Since you stand near minion waves rather than farther behind them, Blitz often needs to go way too deep to hook you. If he misses, you're safe for quite a while. If you do manage to get hooked, and you're not under tower, not all is lost. Unlike other ADCs, you don't always need to Flash to safety given your greater tankiness. During all-ins, Exhaust the enemy ADC and focus them with your support. If your support gets grabbed, immediately use Harvesters of Sorrow to gap close and then attack the enemy ADC. Use your cooldowns before you can be silenced. Try to stay at full health with potions.
- Nautilus: Same deal as Blitzcrank. Avoid getting hooked and you'll do okay. If targeted with his Depth Charge, try hit your Siphon of Destruction as soon as possible to gain shield before taking damage. If your team moves to where you will land, you can immediately use Harvesters of Sorrow and Zhonya's Hourglass to go up to full shield after taking some damage, and then keep fighting. Later on, brawling against Nautilus is easy - it's his CC and follow up from a carry that's a problem.
- Brand: Brand would be a 9 or 10 out of 10 threat if we didn't take 2 movement speed quints. 335 Movement speed is just enough to dodge Brand's Pillar of Flame. If you keep moving, he shouldn't be able to hit you. If he does manage to combo you, fight back as hard as you can while he is waiting for cooldowns. Remember that you can protect yourself from DoTs by casting abilities on the wave, thus negating his passive.
- Sona: Sona's early damage hurts, but she's not much of an issue later on outside of a good Crescendo. Play safe until you get a few levels, and then you can kill her easily. Look out for her empowered auto-attacks.
- Nami: You're an easy target for Nami's poke and Aqua Prison. She will both outtrade and outsustain you. Use your support to threaten her so she is hesitant to attack you.
- Karma: Karma's poke will mess you up early on, but at least you can hide behind a minion wave. Her Focused Resolve is a bit of a problem given your low mobility and range. If she all-ins you, you and your support can fight back. By dodging Inner Flame and then going in on her, you can severely swing a lane matchup in your favor. You may want more movement speed later on in the game to counter her disengage.
- Morgana: Black Shield negates your slows, thus making hitting the rest of your kit much harder. Her Dark Binding is a death sentence to you if followed up by ranged damage, so Mercury's Treads are highly recommended. Poke with Siphon of Destruction if she goes into auto-attack. Later on, you can quickly break a Black Shield, and it thus becomes a non issue.
- Bard: Bard's deals an obscene amount of damage at level 1. Between Meeps, Spellthief's Edge, Cosmic Binding, and Thunderlord's Decree , one auto-Q can nearly kill you. Since you are often right next to minions to last hit, he can easily stun you. Do your best to farm at the maximum possible range with Harvesters of Sorrow. Eventually his damage falls off, but the crowd control doesn't. Position yourself to avoid getting stunned, and try to trade with Bard before he hits you to gain shield and mitigate damage.
- Lulu: Like Bard, Lulu will poke you out of lane on her own. Do your best to dodge Glitterlance early on, and back to buy often. Her utility remains a threat throughout the game, so never discount her at any point. After getting 1-2 items you can kill her quickly if she doesn't Whimsy you, so try to bait it out of her.
- Zyra: Poke supports are the worst. She can freely damage and snare you without risk of you ever trading back. Take Blitzcrank and try to kill her before you get poked down.
The Laning Phase
Your primary goal during the laning phase is to acquire as much farm as is possible without dying. Mordekaiser has a weak early game plagued by low range and cooldowns. With efficient use of Harvesters of Sorrow, Siphon of Destruction, and support zoning, you can keep up in gold despite the range disadvantage.
Use auto-attacks and Mace of Spades to last hit minions when expecting little to no harass. Use Siphon of Destruction to last hit ranged minions that are you far behind your line of melee minions to effectively hit. If you can hit an enemy champion at the same time as you last hit, the bonus shield gain will negate any harass that you take. To push the lane, use Harvesters of Sorrow. For safe pushing, target a melee or cannon minion. To push the lane hard, target your support and stand by the wave to cover the entire wave in the damage zone. Note that you can reactivate Harvesters of Sorrow even without the zones touching, so you can last hit and harass from long range. If you can manage to consistently hit abilities to both farm and harass simultaneously, you will do well in lane.
Fighting in Lane
When fighting, lead with Harvesters of Sorrow into Siphon of Destruction. If you can reach an enemy without getting stunned, use Mace of Spades. As long as you aren't in threat of severe danger, you can usually get another hit of Mace of Spades off before needing to back off. Remember that you are far more cooldown reliant than the enemy ADC, so you are stronger when you have your abilities ready to use and much weaker without them.
Quite often, landing a snare from your support is good for a reactivation of Harvesters of Sorrow and Siphon of Destruction, followed by backing off for cooldowns and farming. The lower your cooldowns become, the safer it is to stay in combat.
Backing and Buying
Make sure to back when out of health potions to buy early Needlessly Large Rod, Amplifying Tome, Giant's Belt, Boots of Speed. With more experience, you can learn to push the limits of your sustain. By trading in situations where you hit both minions and enemy champions, you will gain almost as much shield as you will take damage, and thus you can sustain indefinitely against champions that lack the mana to punish you properly. Use this to maintain a farm advantage once your opponents run out of potions and mana before their first back.
Transitioning to Mid Game
Once you hit level 6 and have Rylai's Crystal Scepter, you have three goals:
- Push the enemy into turret, and get minion damage onto said turret.
- Receive ganks from Top, Middle, and Jungle to Bottom Lane. You have the CC and damage to make ganks from most champions work effectively.
- Take Dragon. If you have pushed the enemy into turret or killed your lane opponents, then you should be good to take it with your jungler and support. If you take the Dragon, then you should be able to push a turret in or get kills with your ghost Dragon.
Try to get as much done from levels 6-11 before your enemies finish their 2nd core item. If you use this phase of the game well, you can snowball a lead that your enemies will struggle to come back from.
When finding yourself getting far ahead of a team that is low on tankiness, opt for Hextech Protobelt-01. The enemy team will not be able to survive the extra burst, and your map pressure will become immense.
If this phase goes poorly, focus on getting as much farm as you can in lane and jungle, and opt for a more defensive item build.
Teamfighting as Mordekaiser is significantly different from teamfighting with an ADC. Generally, you want to kite champions while maintaining Harvesters of Sorrow and Siphon of Destruction on as many targets as you can. When important enemy cooldowns are down, go in with Mace of Spades.
Before the Fight
During sieges or grouping in a lane, push with Siphon of Destruction whenever it's safe to do so. That is, position to hit minions while not getting hit with Charm and Rocket Grab. If enemies are not threatening you and your team lacks pushing power in other roles, you may use Harvesters of Sorrow briefly to keep the minions back.
When an engage happens, do your best to dodge any major cooldowns that are blown immediately, like Curse of the Sad Mummy and Bullet Time. Put Harvesters of Sorrow on your frontline and make sure you are both in range of each other to maintain damage, Rylai's Crystal Scepter, and Deathfire Touch damage. Recall that you gain 75 movement speed when moving towards your target, so you will have no problem closing the gap on most enemies.
Once major teamfight cooldowns are blown, it will be safe to go all-in on most champions. Use Harvesters of Sorrow and Siphon of Destruction as soon as they come off cooldown. Try to kite around 500 range from enemies, similar to the range of Lucian and Quinn. When Mace of Spades is off of cooldown and you aren't in threat of getting picked off, smack the nearest target to you. The damage on the third proc does twice as much damage as the hits before it, so use it to surprise people who feel safe fighting you.
Your major cooldowns are Children of the Grave and Exhaust. Children of the Grave is most commonly used as an 11 second slow and strong damage spell against carries. Anyone who cannot cleanse the slow is an easy target to take down with your continued slows and teammate follow up. However, if facing heavy damage, you may be better off using your ultimate on tanks and Juggernauts. Champions like Illaoi that stack health will grant you significantly more healing and shielding than targeting a carry. Use Exhaust either on the most fed carry on the enemy team, an assassin that is diving your team, or to duel a fed Juggernaut. With both Children of the Grave and Exhaust, you should be able to duel most champions. A full build Nasus doesn't ever expect you to solo him and then go to fight his whole team.
When you have a ghost, just have it hit whatever you can. You need to focus more on surviving the teamfight than micromanaging a ghost. If you are diving, use the ghost to tank the turret. If you have the dragon, use it as a distraction and to deal as much damage as it can to nearby targets.
Use your slows to catch people. If you are at high health, feel free to duel stragglers. If you are low on health, judge whether you are still under threat of dying. If not, take the best objective given the situation of the game. If you are, you should back unless you are confident you can sustain yourself on nearby minions before being found by an opponent. If someone with higher movement speed than you has gotten away, use the opportunity to take an objective.
Mordekaiser occupies a unique space as the only melee carry explicitly designed for a duo lane. I hope that you have enjoyed learning a lot about this special champion. Whether you are interested in trying Mordekaiser for the first time or want to get better at him, you should now have the knowledge to succeed in any matchup. Good luck!