My name's Tokidoe. Not much all that special about me, and I will freely admit I'm not the greatest player. However, I have pretty decent game sense and know pretty much everything there is to know about the meta of this game. Jax got reworked awhile ago, and the majority of the community initially saw this as a nerf putting him into unusable zone, but as people actually experimented this began to be proven false. While before he was very weak early and a monster late, now he is weak at no point of the game and actually becomes strong at 6, while still scaling incredibly into late game. He is now considered to be quite OP, and is probably the closest that this game has to a true, viable, melee carry. This guide will tell you how I and many pro's like to play Jax solo top, where he is best.
These runes are fairly straight forward. Under all circumstances you should go flat Attack Damage Quints and Marks, for harass and last hitting power. Some people, especially on mobafire, seem to like Armor Pen marks. These simply aren't that effective, you really shouldn't be getting these unless in very situational cases and Jax is not one of them. For Glyphs and Seals, the ones listed above are pretty standard and will be optimal in most cases. However, if you have money and rune pages to spare, when solo topping against an AP champ like Rumble, Vlad, or Kennen, it will benefit you to go 9x Greater Seal of Vitality ( Health per level) and 9x Greater Glyph of Magic Resist (Flat Magic Resist).
These are the masteries I personally like to run most. 21-9-0 gives a lot of power in lane, and I like to get the CDR and both penetrations because of Jax's reliance on abilities and hybrid damage. 9-21-0 is also good, if you prefer to be beefier and the final point in defense mastery is very strong.
Flash is the best Summoner spell in the game, it's stupid as hell. The overall utility and defensive and offensive abilities of this spell are imbalanced as hell, get it. Some people say that Jax already has a free flash, doesn't matter there simply aren't spells that give as much as Flash.
Next you will usually want either Ignite or Exhaust. Ignite gives a lot of early power and can secure many kills, getting you pretty fed. It's also even better against high-sustain champs, like Vladimir. Exhaust is another great choice, as it can help you get kills early, shut down enemy carries, and make ganks easier. I generally take this only if no one else is, but it's really personal preference.
Teleport is also a very good summoner spell, if used correctly. If you wanna use it in the more boring way, you can just AFK farm forever until you have a huge item advantage. The better way however, is to use it to gank bot or show up for a dragon attempt. Camping bot wins games; a shut down carry is a gigantic boon for your team.
Heal is often viewed as a crutch for noob players. It isn't. Can give you extra power in lane, let's you heal bait, can save allies, and allows you to survive team fights for a good deal longer. Jax's goal is to jump in and do as much damage to as many people as possible, after jumping in you often wont come out. Heal lets you tank more and give more to your team overall.
This is Jax's innate ability. A lot of people thought it was a step down from his old passive, but having this in the beginning of the game makes him much stronger than Old Jax. Very strong, late game picks up ridiculously in fights. Also means that, while Jax synergizes very well with Attack Speed, you don't need to build very much on him.
Very good skill, but since it's main purpose is for escaping or distance closing, one point is all you need for awhile. Use it to jump to enemies or to escape from bad situations like a gank or lost teamfight. Can jump to wards, have a handful whenever you can.
Jax's bread and butter. Amazing skill for the small mana cost, very high base damage with little cooldown for only 35 mana. It's greatest strength comes from the fact that it's an autoattack timer reset, meaning that you can use it right after a basic attack has landed to attack again immediately, then attack again, basically allowing you 3 attacks in the time you would normally have for 2. Generally max this first.
This skill, which was the main focus of Jax's rework, is very very strong. It allows you to effectively win any trade against another champion who relies on autoattacks, while providing a consistent stun. Use it when going in for a kill, when being focused down, and when you need to escape a gank or help with one. Should use this when going into a teamfight and pop it when you can get the most people.
His Ultimate is really what makes Jax so strong. The passive, which gives every third attack a huge damage bonus, makes him an absolute monster in lane once he gets it. It also gives him huge power in teamfights, as he will be maintaining stacks on his passive and so will get his enhanced attack much more often, absolutely devestating the enemy team. The active portion is very strong as well, and gives you a huge chunk of defense that scales from your offense. Use this when you're in a big fight, or if you need the bonuses to escape a gank.
Now I think Jax has a very versatile skill sequence. The one I listed above is the cookie-cutter best skill sequence for top lane dominance. However, if you're invading and trying for a level 1 fight, always get Counter Strike first. An AoE stun with damage is very very good for this. Additionally, while this skill sequence is optimal in many ways, I feel you can max Jax's skills however you want. Sometimes I like to max his stun first, just so i have it up more, though this is pretty rare as it eats up a large amount of mana. I usually max Leap Strike first, because I can deal with it's higher mana cost and I like to have lower cooldown and thus more sticking power. Empower is maxed first because of the heavy hitting for negligible mana, and this is best if you're new to the character. But in my opinion, there's a lot of wiggle room as long as you're getting his ultimate at standard levels.
I feel that Jax, because of his dual scaling, baits a lot of people into building him stupidly, which is why you'll see some AP Jax's and the like. He has three absolute core items.
Trinity Force is the overall best item in the game for Jax. All of the parts give stats that are extremely good on Jax, as he benefits from attack speed, ability power, attack damage, and the sticking power from Phage and the passive on Sheen synergize amazingly on with his kit.
Gunblade is often the most associated item with Jax, for good reason. He has good scalings both for AP and AD, and this item gives both, while also giving him all the sustain he'll ever need and a very useful active for sticking to targets. However, as it mainly becomes more powerful a bit later, and because the pieces of trinity force are so strong in lane, this will be the second item you get, not first, despite what a lot of guides seem to say.
After you have Gunblade and Trinity Force, you will be doing all the damage that you really need to be. The best choice after these two items is Guardian Angel. As team fights start to roll around, this item gives you great hybrid defenses, the only item other than Aegis of the Legion to give this, and an active that makes you very hard to deal with in fights.
While it is not necessarily required, I can pretty much assure you that Warmog's Armor should also be core. The extra survivability from the huge chunk of health is amazing, and with a lot of health you really start to get more out of the defenses purchased with GA. I've seen some people claim that a Jax with Warmog's does no damage and will simply be ignored, and these people just aren't playing correctly. Said it before, I'll say it again, Trinity and Gunblade are all the damage Jax needs, so building survivability allows you to continue to do that ridiculous amount of damage. He will be able to instantly burst carries if he's able to get to them, get Warmog's and make sure he can.
You get these situationally. If against an AD opponent in lane or the enemy AD carry is doing well, go Tabi. If against a AP opponent at top or the enemy is packing a good amount of crowd control, go Mercs.
Another very strong item, albeit a little expensive. Shield will save your life a million times, and the AD bonus with lowered health really fits with Jax's all in playstyle. My personal favorite 6th item on Jax. Another note, since Jax's ultimate gives him Armor based on his AD, technically this item gives him both Magic Resist and armor.
Randuin's is the only thing I feel should be looked at as a good alternative to Maw for 6th item. Especially good if you got a Heart of Gold in lane to help you catch up or farm to end game. The unique passive and active are very useful for shutting down enemy AD carries. If you opt for this item, remember to use the active in fights, either as you initiate or as they start to run.
The order in which you build these items is very flexible. Generally what you will see people at high level doing is starting boots, and on their first trip back to base buying double Doran's Blades. Doran's are very cost effective, and stacking them gives a lot of cheap stats. If you're doing very well in lane however, it will benefit you more to just start building to end game immediately, and get either Bilgewater Cutlass or Phage. If you get a Cutlass first, which I like to do, you want to then go straight into your Trinity Force. Trinity will be the first completed core item, and NOT Gunblade, as it's parts are more useful for laning and the item is very cost effective with no wasted stats on Jax. If you got Phage first, you will still go straight into Trinity. If against an AP lane, a Hexdrinker and early Warmog's will give you a strong advantage, and overall I like to always get Maw of Malmortius on Jax at some point of the game. Gunblade is still strong, and synergizes very well with his ultimate, but is stronger later/post 6 and sometimes is not even really required to complete until after a Warmogs/Guardian Angel/Hexdrinker.
The combined cost of Gunblade, Trinity Force, Guardian Angel, and Warmog's is very very high. Unless you are totally balling out of control, this will generally be all you get in most games. If the game is continuing, I personally like Maw of Malmortius best.
These are some items that could maybe be considered good on Jax, but that I overall feel to be a waste.
Wriggle's can be good in lane especially if you want to split push, but overall I don' think it's worth it. The greatest strength from the item is having wards to hop to, but you should be buying wards with any of your spare gold regardless so it's a bit of a waste.
Atma's in a lot of ways isn't horrible on Jax. I can admit that. With Trinity Force it even gives him a decent amount of crit chance. That said, it's bad, it's not cost effective, it wasn't cost effective before it's nerfs and it certainly isn't cost effective now. Riot didn't nerf Atma's because it was OP, they nerfed it to teach everyone who built the waste of gold a lesson. For damage, Maw of Malmortius is always better thanks to it's crazy passives and good stats. For armor, Randuin's is always better thanks to it's, again, crazy passive and it's amazing active.
Guinsoos' is a worthless item. That's all there is to it. Don't buy it ever. It's passive baits you into thinking it synergizes with Jax, when in actuality it's a weak, cost-inefficient item that wastes your money and item slots. I only mention it because other Jax guides misinform people into thinking it's good, and you really should be told to never get this item.
Basically never get Rageblade, and if you have a major hard on for Atma's I suppose go ahead and get it but it would benefit you to believe me when I say that a.) there are much better choices and b.) no professional player has ever got it on Jax in a serious game.
There is one exception to the Trinity Force before Hextech Gunblade rule. Malphite is considered the definitive hard counter to Jax. Jax really needs to be right-clicking to do damage, so much of his power comes from attack speed and a when a Malphite with Frozen Heart uses Ground Slam, your lane just got much harder. So to counter this, instead of going for typical right-click triforce build, you get Sheen and a Gunblade first and this allows you to have strong burst damage, and brings the lane to a bit more even matchup.
Remember to build to the situation; a tunnel vision player who only has one build order he always follows is a bad player. All of Jax's great endgame items are composed of many great little pieces that you can get to fit the game. Overall, you want either Mercs or Ninja Tabi depending on your opponent, Trinity Force, Gunblade, Guardian Angel, Warmogs, and finally either a Maw of Malmortius or a Randuin's Omen, depending on if the AP or AD on the enemy team is stronger. End game always be poppin elixirs when you have the cash.
Finally, an item I did not include in the above builds but I think deserves special mention is Boots of Mobility. These would be very situational, but can win you games. You would only really want these if you have already won your lane pretty hard, and want to make sure your other lanes win as well. Let's say you're going 3-0 and have your enemy tower down by 15 minutes. Get boots of mobility so you can gank mid non-stop and be at all the dragon/baron fights. These can help you snowball a game hard and force a 20 minute surrender, but this is a bit advanced so I wouldn't recommend it at all as part of a core build or as something for a beginner.
Tactics- In Lane
During the laning phase, your primary goal should be to farm. Farm farm farm. Top is a very snowbally lane, and a gold advantage can there can swing games easily. Killing creeps is the easiest way to gain gold, so keep at it.
Harassing with empower or leap strike is pretty easy, and pretty safe. Once you hit level 6, the empowered third strike from your ultimate gives you amazing in lane power. Your typical harass combo will be. . .
2x Auto Minion --> Leap Strike Enemy --> Auto Attack --> Immediately Empower --> Autoattack. Using your empower to reset your autoattack timer is very important when playing Jax and a huge amount of damage is tied into properly doing this.
If you want to go in for the kill, you can add in your stun and a few more autoattacks.
Another one of the reasons Jax is very strong is the way he interacts with both friendly and enemy junglers. It is very easy for the jungler on your team to gank your lane, as you have a reliable stun and distance closer, keeping your opponent locked while you and your buddy thrash him. On the other side of this, it's very hard to gank Jax with his low cooldown jump which can be used to escape and his stun. If you get ganked, just stun the two of them and hop away. Or if you feel manly, stun both of them, kill the jungler, then hop away.
Tactics- Team Fight
Ideally, your team will have a stronger initiate then you to begin a fight, such as Malphite's Unstoppable Force, Ashe's Enchanted Crystal Arrow, or Morgana's Soul Shackles. Sometimes, however, either your team won't have a better initiator or your team won't have any balls and you'll have to be the one to jump in, don't be too scared to do this. That's part of the reason you build so tanky.
Once the initiation has happened, from either team, you have one very simple goal: leap right on-top of the enemy carry, and shove your long, hard, lamp post right down their throats. Prioritize AD carries generally, but AP carries work also if they're easier to get to. Know your focus order, and proceed to just never stop going after the high priority targets until you die. You should easily be able to kill at least one carry with your full combo and stun.
I know you people like to have pictures of how people do with the champions we write guides on, but the truth is I haven't played a whoooole lot of Jax recently, due to wanting to play someone more fun or not getting top. But I'll give my ranked stats with him, which I realize is only two games, and I'll give you my only Jax game in my match history. We have. . .
Aaaaaaaand. . .
Overall, Jax is a very rewarding champion with very little downsides. He scales extremely well into late game and is capable of absolutely destroying in team fights due to his beefiness and high damage with only a few damage items. Excellent character to carry yourself in ranked with, very hard character to deal with if you're his enemy. If you're doing well enough, it's honestly nearly possible to 1v5 if you play that fight smart, and 1v2's can become easy very fast. On top of this, pretty low skill cap. This is my first guide, and while I know it's not super pretty, I assure you it is effective. Thanks for reading, I hope it helps you win.