Pantheon Build Guide by CubeJackal
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Not Updated For Current Season
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Welcome to CubeJackal's Pantheon build and gameplay guide! In my recent games as Pantheon, I've devised a somewhat unique build that has proven to be extremely effective. I'm writing this guide in order to share both this build and my knowledge with other Pantheon players in the hopes of improving everyone's Pantheon-playing experience. If you have any constructive criticism or tips to impart, please leave a comment and don't forget to vote!
Disclaimer: This build has not been tested in a ranked gameplay environment and as such may not be viable in ranked gameplay.
Introduction to Pantheon
To begin with, Pantheon has some of the best killing potential in the game. Everything about this champion favours killing other champions. His Spear Shot whittles down his enemies' HP, his Aegis of Zeonia traps his victims and Heartseeker Strike delivers the killing blow, both actively and passively. Finally, Grand Skyfall has become infamous within the League of Legends community as a terrifying tower diver, tower saver, teamfight disruptor and noob killer. Pantheon is a hugely underrated and underplayed champ, meaning that many summoners have no idea how to stop him as a result. Take advantage of the naivety of your opponents by sweeping the Fields of Justice with this beast of an assassin.
What are the basics?
First of all, let's go over Pantheon's Golden Rule: Pantheon is not an auto-attacker. This is the biggest mistake I see unskilled Pantheon players making. If you're right-clicking an enemy champion at any time other than to trigger Heartseeker Strike's passive or to disrupt certain status effects (such as an enemy Pantheon's Aegis Protection), you're doing something very wrong. Pantheon is an AD caster. He relies on his abilities to deal almost all of his damage.
Secondly, Pantheon is classified as an assassin, meaning that he is a relatively squishy champion that excels at killing vulnerable enemy champions, such as carries. With this build especially, he does not have the tankiness necessary to initiate a teamfight or go toe to toe with an enemy Volibear or Darius. Keep in mind that you are nowhere near as brawny as many other potential solo top champions.
Greater Mark of DesolationGreater Mark of Desolation
This is a solid choice on any AD-based champion, but even more so on Pantheon as it presents a solution to his hardest counter: armour. Armour penetration is much more important in terms of runes than flat or scaling attack damage.
Greater Seal of Resilience
Flat armour seals soak up plenty of the damage you'll receive early on from top-lane AD champions. Armour runes are a better choice than health runes simply because they scale better. It's more efficient to have 13 extra armour than 50 extra health (9x Greater Seal of Health).
Greater Glyph of Warding
Same story as Greater Seal of Armor, but concerning AP damage instead of AD damage. These are at their most useful against potential top-lane opponents such as Sion or Mordekaiser, who dish out AP damage as well as AD.
Greater Quintessence of DesolationGreater Quintessence of Desolation
Some AD champions are better suited to flat AD or critical chance/damage bonuses in their quintessences, but keep in mind that Pantheon gets shut down effectively by armour. These quints are essential in countering Pantheon's counter, so to speak.
Why flat runes instead of scaling runes?
Put simply, flat runes provide larger bonuses when they're needed. These particular runes are at their most useful early on in the game, before you're able to purchase powerful items. By the time scaling runes reach their maximum power, you've probably built items to fulfil their purpose anyway. These runes give a significant early game edge that can win you your lane and secure the rest of the game for you.
: Nice buffs on common Pantheon spells, such as Ignite
Brute Force : Flat extra AD for more of an advantage early on
Sorcery : Lower cooldowns so that you can harass and combo more often
Alacrity : Synergies with building stacks for Aegis Protection
Weapon Expertise : More armour pen - this is important!
Deadliness : 9 extra AD at level 18 certainly doesn't hurt
Lethality : Synergies with Heartseeker Strike's passive effect
Sunder : Should be obvious by now
Executioner : Powerful damage buff to wounded opponents, use to secure kills
: Flat magic resist for absorbing enemy AP harassment
Hardiness : Flat armour for extra survivability in lane
Durability : More health for extra late-game survivability
Veteran's Scars : Strong health boost for initial lane sustain and survival
This is a vital spell on a champion with no easy escape methods if he finds himself in danger. Ensure that you only use this when vital due to its large cooldown (which is set to get larger in season 3). Needless to say, this spell has hundreds of uses, including: escaping ganks, catching a fleeing enemy, tower diving, escaping pursuers and getting through a particularly troublesome wall.
If you just really, really prefer this spell to Flash, take it instead. I personally prefer Flash on Pantheon, but this spell does indeed have its uses, such as its increased usefulness in chasing and escaping chases. It's certainly more useful on AD carries and tankier champs, however.
This is the second summoner spell that I personally grab on Pantheon. Its two primary uses are securing a kill on that one enemy who escaped you with one bar of health left and inflicting Grievous Wound on high-sustain champions like Swain and Volibear. Like Flash, it has a lot of utility, and killing someone with it after they escape your gank or combo, especially if they managed to kill you after you popped it, is extremely satisfying
This is another spell that is more viable on an AD carry, but is far from non-viable on Pantheon. The primary use of this spell on an AD caster is to either keep an enemy within range for a second combo or as a supporting spell for ensuring the success of ganks or chases involving team-mates. Another potential use is popping it on the enemy AD carry in teamfights, allowing you to hammer them without them being able to hammer back.
This spell has a high cooldown and little combat utility, but it's certainly a viable choice for any solo top champion (though less so for Pantheon). This spell can easily save a tower in distress or even kill an unwary enemy if you teleport to a nearby ward. However, Grand Skyfall is essentially a short-range Teleport that deals massive damage upon contact, making this spell less useful on Pantheon in particular.
Probably the least viable of each viable Pantheon spell, but nonetheless, it has its uses. This can give you the sustain necessary to survive a gank or hold a lane, and it can also be used to bait opponents into attacking you, then allowing you to turn on them once you've popped the spell. It's not a bad spell, but there are certainly more useful ones available.
'Kill Me' Tier
Aegis Protection (Passive)
After attacking or casting spells 4 times, Pantheon will block the next normal attack that deals more than 40 damage to him.
This passive is one of the most useful in the game. As well as blocking all champion auto-attacks, this ability also blocks certain abilities ( Parrrley and Mystic Shot are examples) and tower shots. This is one of this things that makes Pantheon such an excellent tower-diver. Ensure that this is up as much as possible and keep in mind that siege minion attacks can break it.
Spear Shot (Q)
Pantheon hurls his spear at an opponent, dealing 65 / 105 / 145 / 185 / 225 (+1.4 per bonus attack damage) physical damage. If Heartseeker Strike has been leveled up once, Spear Shot will crit to deal 150% damage against opponents whose current health is below 15% of their max health.
This is a powerful, low-cost harass ability that can cause a great deal of damage to your lane opponent over time early on and continues to be useful later in the game. It comprises a large portion of your burst damage once leveled and can finish off escaping enemies due to Heartseeker Strike's passive effect on it. Don't hesitate to use this frequently during the laning phase, but always keep a careful eye on your mana levels - Pantheon runs out of mana very easily. I max this skill second in order to max Heartseeker Strike first.
Aegis of Zeonia (W)
Pantheon leaps at the target enemy champion and deals 50 / 75 / 100 / 125 / 150 (+100% of ability power) magic damage and stuns them for 1 second. Pantheon also instantly refreshes his Aegis Protection.
This is Pantheon's hard CC ability. Though the stun time is short, it gives him more than enough time to end a chase and execute his full combo. Use it when ganking to ensure a kill and always use Heartseeker Strike immediately after this if possible. Another notable point of this ability is that it instantly refreshes Aegis Protection. Try using Spear Shot and auto attacks (this is the one of the only times that auto-attacking as Pantheon is okay) on your opponent until they break your shield, then immediately use Aegis of Zeonia and Heartseeker Strike for an immediate passive refresh and a large amount of damage to boot. I max this ability last, as the stun time does not scale with level. Note that this ability uses a large amount of mana, so only use it in the best possible circumstances and ensure that you have enough mana to combo with Heartseeker Strike.
Heartseeker Strike (E)
Passive: Pantheon gains 100% critical strike chance against targets below 15% of their max health.
Active: Pantheon channels for 0.75 seconds and deals 3 swift strikes in a cone in front of him. Each strike deals 13 / 23 / 33 / 43 / 53 (+0.6 per bonus attack damage) physical damage, and they deal double damage to champions.
This is easily Pantheon's most dangerous ability when maxed first. When used in conjunction with Aegis of Zeonia, it can cut out a huge portion of the health of the targets and may even kill them. This is your main damage dealer, which you'll ideally use to remove most of your oppponent's HP before finishing them with Ignite, Spear Shot or a similar method. I max this ability first in order to reach my full damage-dealing potential as Pantheon. This ability desperately needs both levels and items to become truly fearsome. Many unskilled Pantheons max Spear Shot first. While this grants excellent harass, these Pantheons have little-to-no killing power after using Aegis of Zeonia and are forced to use auto-attacks (remember the Golden Rule?) after the neglected Heartseeker Strike fails to do significant damage. Needless to say, correct usage of this ability is what separates good Pantheons from poor ones.
Grand Skyfall (R - Ultimate)
Pantheon gathers his strength (channeling for 2 seconds) and then leaps high in to the air, crashing down at the target area 1.5 seconds later. Deals 400 / 700 / 1000 (+100% of ability power) magic damage to units at the center (down to 50% at the edge) and slows them by 35% for 1 second. If the channeling is cancelled, the cooldown is reduced to 10 seconds.
This is one of League of Legends' most hilarious ultimates. This can crush a recalling lane opponent, save a tower in distress, completely wreck a teamfight and even escape a gank. I take a point in this whenever possible. Grand Skyfall needs a lot of explaining to allow you to reach its maximum potential, so see the 'Grand Skyfall in Depth' section of the guide for more information and strategies.
These are the 'standard' starting items for solo top champions, and in most cases, they'll serve you well too. The Boots of Speed give you the mobility to avoid the enemy champion while the Health Potions give you sustain if you do get hit.
Buy this setup if you suspect that you'll be countered in lane (the enemy team has a Riven, for example). The extra Health Potions give you more sustain to match the increased damage that you may take, while the Cloth Armor absorbs some of the aforementioned damage. The main issue with this, however, is that in this build, your Cloth Armor does not build into anything.
Purchase one of these if you suspect that you are your lane opponent's counter (perhaps you're facing a Gangplank, for example). The damage boost and other minor stats will help you zone your opponent almost entirely, giving you an easy farming time and possibly a few kills.
These should be the two things you grab on your first trip back to base. They're powerful items for their price and the extra damage they grant will give you an early edge in lane. The extra HP also helps your own survivability, as does the lifesteal.
If you started with a Doran's Blade, pick up your boots now to fix your lack of mobility.
Unless you're especially fed or underfarmed, these should each take a single recall to grab. Mercury's Treads will help to alleviate CC problems (note that you can't survive sustained focus) while The Brutalizer is your first step on the road of nullifying your opponent's armour. It also gives cooldown reduction, an immensely important stat on any AD caster.
If the enemy team has little CC, grab these alternative boots in order to increase your armour (a stat that's typically more useful than MR in top lane) and resistance to auto-attacks, which you may find a problem depending on your opponent. The Brutalizer must be purchased unconditionally, however.
Admittedly, when you think ' Pantheon', you don't think ' Trinity Force'. However, this is a highly underrated item on Pantheon that grants him a plethora of useful stats. Start building this with a Phage, as out of the three items Trinity Force is built from, this one is the most useful to you. All of the stat buffs that Trinity Force grants synergise with Pantheon (yes, even AP!), making this a very dangerous item on an offence-focused build.
Granting less AD than Trinity Force but significantly more health, this item favours a tankier Pantheon. While this item isn't recommended if you want to deal as much damage as possible, it's viable if you're an inexperienced Pantheon who has trouble staying alive once teamfights begin occurring and also lacks in kills/farm ( Frozen Mallet is cheaper than Trinity Force). The main trouble with this item is that the buffed-up version of Phage's passive isn't as useful on Pantheon as it is on most solo top champions that take this item (Golden Rule, remember?).
This is the next milestone on your quest to render armour a non-issue. The massive 40% armour penetration along with the helpful 40 extra AD makes your life so much easier against enemy bruisers, tanks and anyone else wise enough to build armour against you. There are no alternatives here - with this build, Pantheon needs that armour penetration, no matter what.
The most AD that can be gained eventually from any item in the game (with the exception of a fully-farmed Sword of the Occult, but even if you're getting fed, this item attracts plenty of focus, which we don't want as assassin Pantheon). This can't go amiss at all on Pantheon, and the life-steal is also helpful for your sustain since you're not as tanky as you could be with this build. Ensure that you keep this farmed up and rebuild its stacks after death to maintain your edge.
This is another item that I see frequently in Pantheon guides and builds, but like Frozen Mallet, it's viable, but not optimal. This item is more expensive than The Bloodthirster and doesn't grant as much AD as a fully-farmed Bloodthirster, but it also grants crit chance and increased crit damage. The increased crit damage does synergise well with Heartseeker Strike's passive, but overall, The Bloodthirster is a more solid choice. Consider this item as an option if you're already relatively well-fed and well-farmed, but feel that you're losing out on kills to that pesky Tryndamere or Master Yi on your team due to Heartseeker Strike's passive being unable to keep up with their massive DPS.
By this point in the game, some players may already have complete builds, full tanks will be impossible to 1v1 and AD carries will be dishing out ridiculous amounts of damage. This item remedies your severely neglected maximum health and prevents you from being burst down or dying almost instantly if focused. Be sure to keep it farmed up like The Bloodthirster to achieve its maximum potential.
Sometimes, having armour and magic resistance is just a better choice than having tons of health. If the enemy has very little magic penetration or armour penetration, purchase this to shut down a lot of their damage potential. Its passive is also incredibly useful, allowing a second chance if you die early in a teamfight, or a chance of escape if you're one of the casualties of a failed fight.
If you're especially fed, brave, or stupid, grab a second one of these and become a very dangerous glass cannon. I personally don't recommend a second Bloodthirster in 90% of cases, but it's true that sometimes, you just need as much damage as you can pack into that spear of yours. Note that if you forgo one of the above items for this, you'll die very quickly in teamfights if focused.
This item, despite its plethora of stats, isn't worth the extra money that it takes from you earlier on in your build. Of course, however, if your build is otherwise complete and you've got money building up, there's absolutely no reason not to build that old The Brutalizer into this.
If you're in desperate need of more damage for whatever reason, sell The Brutalizer and grab this. It synergies extremely well with your Warmog's Armor, but keep in mind that you're throwing away your only CDR item in purchasing this one.
Grand Skyfall in Depth
Grand Skyfall is Pantheon's ultimate ability - a truly 'ultimate' one at that. This ability has a similar range to Ziggs' Mega Inferno Bomb, though it packs much more of a punch. After all, 1000 magic damage at level 3 is nothing to be sniffed at! However, despite the massive damage and soft CC it inflicts, it's very easy to use this ability ineffectively or even to your own detriment. Here are some key things to consider about this frightening but skill-reliant ability:
- This ult does not make you invincible. You won't survive plummeting into a full enemy team without the rest of your team there to aid you. The best time to use this ult during a teamfight is either immediately after initiation, when you hopefully won't be instantly focused, or just after a successful teamfight in order to clean up the low-health survivors. If you're low yourself and they retreat into a tower, Aegis Protection should allow you to dive them with Grand Skyfall.
- Don't dive onto a full tank, even if they're solo. Chances are that they have some form of sustain capable of weathering your ult's base damage, and their armour and health will allow them to survive your combo. Once all of your skills are on cooldown, you're pretty much useless, allowing them to counter-attack.
- Do dive onto solo carries and low-health pairs pushing a lane if the enemy team aren't nearby. A favourite tactic of mine is to ult on top of a pushing carry, waste them almost instantly with my combo, then dive into a bush and recall to prevent myself from being caught out.
- If your tower is about to get destroyed after you recalled, ult just behind the pushing enemy in order to either force them further into your team's side of the map or to catch them with your ult's full force as they attempt to back off. If the enemy is difficult to 1v1 and the tower won't survive long enough to be of any help after you ult, however, just accept that you lost your lane and move on. I've dived onto a tower just as it died only to get curbstomped by a stronger enemy more than once myself...
- On the other hand, if your team has been forced away from a tower and it's under threat from 2 or 3 (low/medium-health) enemies, don't be afraid to ult onto it and combo the squishiest one (if the tower isn't about to die). You can pick up a kill and save the tower this way. Of course, see point 1 if there are more than 3 enemies present.
- Don't waste this ult, whatever you do. If the 2-second channel is cancelled, your ult gets reset to 10 seconds of cooldown, giving you a small window to change your mind, but after you jump, you have to wait a maximum of 150 seconds (2.5 minutes) until you can jump again. The huge cooldown can be alleviated by CDR items such as The Brutalizer, but these can only do so much. Be sure that your timing is spot-on and learn to time the total of 3.5 seconds between casting and landing effectively.
- While in the air (after channelling but before landing), press W and aim Aegis of Zeonia at the most viable target within its range. Upon landing, you will automatically jump onto and stun the targeted enemy, ensuring that both your full combo is set up and that they are caught within Grand Skyfall's damage shockwave.
- Finally, a little-known use of this ult is gank escaping. Hard CC will prevent you from channelling, of course, but if that hard CC has already been used or isn't present in the first place, your ult is a valid emergency life-saver. Only use this as the last possible option, however. Check if Flash is available, or if using Aegis of Zeonia would give you enough space to escape.
Pantheon's ult requires a lot of skill and experience to master. In fact, it's probably one of the most difficult to use properly in the game. However, once mastered, this powerful tool can reap brilliant rewards (TRIPLE KILL!).
This section of the guide covers potential top-lane opponents. This is based largely on my own experience and will be updated as I learn more myself, so if the champ you want to see here isn't in yet, I'll make an effort to learn about that champ and theorise how Pantheon would match against them.
Gangplank - Difficulty: Free Gold
You counter Gangplank pretty easily simply because Aegis Protection shuts down Parrrley, which is Gangplank's most used and useful spell. Ensure that your passive remains up as much as possible (don't take siege minion aggro!) and hurt him as much as possible with Spear Shot before closing in with your W+E combo. Remove Scurvy likely won't be able to get Gangplank out of range of all three ticks of Heartseeker Strike and Raise Morale is almost useless to him without levels, which a top-lane Gangplank will be putting into Parrrley early on. Gangplank has little offensive power against Pantheon during the laning phase, so keep your passive active and you'll have an easy time.
Jayce - Difficulty: Hard
Jayce is very powerful in the laning phase because of his significant utility, mobility and harass. Keep well behind your minions to prevent yourself from being caught out by To The Skies! / Shock Blast (ranged mode) + Thundering Blow / Acceleration Gate (ranged mode) and be wary if he switches to melee mode - he'll almost always open a melee combo with To The Skies! / Shock Blast (melee mode), which inflicts a slow that you can't afford to suffer. Cloth + 5 is only advised if you're sure you'll have a hard time, but Jayce is very skill-based and may have difficulties at level 6 due to his lack of a powerful ultimate that appears at that point for most champions. You'll begin having an easier time at that point, but until then, play passively and don't get caught out. A fed Jayce is not something that you want to force onto the rest of your team.
Pantheon - Difficulty: Inconsistent
This is it - it's time to face down your evil clone. Seriously, though, Pantheon mirror matches come down to build, skill and experience. Assassin Pantheon typically wins out against off-tank Pantheon, but keep your wits about you. Most Pantheons you'll face will max Spear Shot first (not blocked by Aegis Protection), making them dangerous lane opponents, but almost powerless while they're out of mana or it's on cooldown. It's ideal to attack once the enemy's Spear Shot has already been used, so that you can hammer them with your leveled Heartseeker Strike. Without levels, Heartseeker Strike is very weak, so the enemy counter-attack will likely fall flat. Of course, there's no easy way of knowing which skills have been maxed first and no way at all of knowing which exact build or skill path the enemy Pantheon intends to follow, so put this guide's knowledge and your own knowledge to full use to win out against an enemy identical to you. Remember - stay out of Grand Skyfall's circle!
Riven - Difficulty: Hard Counter
Riven is indeed a harsh lane opponent. Broken Wings will frequently keep her barely out of range of your Spear Shot and she'll punish you hard with Ki Burst if you go in to harass with your W+E combo. Valor also allows her to both escape your attacks and absorb anything you do manage to throw her way. Start Cloth Armor plus 5 Health Potions and play as passively as possible: stick to your turret, farm as well as you can under it, attack Riven within its range and wait until your jungler ganks to start getting the upper hand.