Cho'Gath Build Guide by a5v Astra
Not Updated For Current Season
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DFG AP Cho'Gath
Not Updated For Current Season
EDIT: A newly updated of this guide will be coming out.
Greetings, fellow summoners.
I'm a5v Astra, and I main mid-lane: mostly AP Nidalee and AP Cho'gath, for competitive games. I was Bronze Season 1, Gold Season 2, and Diamond Season 3. I recently hit Diamond IV, or around 2,200+ ELO.
I personally believe that ELO doesn't necessarily correlate with quality guides, or that you have to be super-high ELO to post a decent guide. All it takes is careful insight, and the ability to translate that insight into a readable form. That being said, I'd like to reassure you that I am a somewhat high level player, with loads of experience under my belt!
Here's my main account.
Here's my alternate account that I use to help pull friends out of Bronze ELO via Duo-Queue.
Here's a5v Astra's LoLKing Cho'Gath record.
And CKarlMarx's LoLKing Cho'Gath record.
About This Build
This build focuses on 100-0'ing opponents.
Unlike most Cho'Gath builds, this does not itemize to be tanky.
Instead, I consider this build to be closer to an Assassin's role.
Why not play an assassin then? Cho'Gath has tons of utility in teamfights, such as an AOE Knock-up Rupture and an AOE Silence Feral Scream.
Needlessly Large Rod
The main point here is the rush into Needlessly Large Rod and then into Deathfire Grasp.
At the start, I begin with Doran's Ring, and then try to stay in lane as long as possible, using Carnivore to stay healthy. If I get an early kill, I can usually Recall and buy straight into Needlessly Large Rod. If not, then I'll instead buy a couple Health Potion and sight ward, and wait for 2nd Recall to pick up Needlessly Large Rod.
Cho'Gath is fairly powerful without items (as you'll see in the video below), but as soon as you pick up Needlessly Large Rod, there will be a 5 minute period where you can 1-combo kill anyone. At this point, you want to gank lanes, counter jungle, and counter roam - because you're UNSTOPPABLE.
In the early-mid game, you'll be able to pick up Deathfire Grasp, and this will once again allow you to instant-gib any of your enemies.
After that, build situationally. Is their Top AD Bruiser fed? Pick up Seeker's Armguard. Is Jungle Elise wrecking your bot lane? Pick up Abyssal Scepter. The main focus of this item build is the Early and Mid game. Item choices late should always be reflective of both teams' composition and the flow of the game.
As an example,
Here's some footage from a recent Diamond Ranked game.
This should give you some idea of how powerful the Needlessly Large Rod to Deathfire Grasp build is. Everything else after is situational and can be changed.
Here's a new video. I just played the game this is recorded from yesterday.
Basically, in this video, I got so far ahead with those two early items that I could afford to screw around and buy other activatables shurelya's reverie, Twin Shadows, and Hextech Gunblade.
You'll notice that I deviate from my normal build, and I even used different runes. However, the deviations I made actually made me _less_ powerful. I switched to Flat AP runes, which gave me a slight edge early lanephase, but it was actually less damage at Level 7 than the page I suggest here. I started Faerie Charm instead of Doran's Ring because I wanted to have a sight ward along with some Health Potion. With only a philosopher's stone, I was able to destroy Jayce at Level 7, from full health to zero.
Please note: Do NOT full combo if you do not have enough mana. When starting to play Cho'Gath, I constantly found myself seeing an opportunity and Rupture>> Feral Scream>> Flash>> and then NOT using Feast because I ran out of mana. This is the worst feeling ever, so try to avoid it.
Pros and Cons
|- Carnivore provides lane sustain.
- No counter itemization really exists*
- Rupture provides AOE Knock-up and Slow.
- Highly durable from Feast passive.
- Unconventional. Might throw off a few opponents.
- Full combo can one-shot enemies early/mid game.
- Last hitting creep is fairly easy Vorpal Spikes.
- Diverse itemization is easy and acceptable.
- Clears waves and jungle camps easily.
- Secure soft objectives (Dragon / Baron) with Feast.
|- Melee in a predominantly ranged lane.
- Countered slightly by %HP or DoT poke.
- Mana hungry.
- Hard to teamfight with appropriately.
- Will push lane whether you want it pushed or not (think Tristana's Explosive Shot).
* (if opponent buys early Negatron Cloak, it will lower their own output [no offensive items], and Feast will ignore it anyways).
Math of the Instagib
At level 6, (Full Combo) Magic Penetration Marks lead to an advantage of 8 damage.
At level 13, Magic Penetration Marks lead to an disadvantage of 6 damage.
Either way, at level 6, full combo should deal just around 1k damage after resistances.
Feral Scream x1
Vorpal Spikes x2
Either way, at level 13, full combo should deal just around 2k damage after resistances.
Deathfire Grasp x1
Feral Scream x1
Vorpal Spikes x2
If you want to see/check the math here is the link to my Google Spreadsheet document.
I'm fairly sure this math is all correct, but it's possible I'm incorrect, as I don't have much experience with this. If you see a mistake, I would love if you sent me a private message or commented somehow.
I really recommend taking Flash and Ignite.
They're simply essential to this build. Flash for all of its defensive utility, but also to Flash Feast an enemy.
Ignite is also fairly essential. Cho'Gath has semi-long cooldowns, and you most likely won't be able to get Rupture or Feral Scream off in the same fight 1v1. If you cannot finish the kill with Feast, Ignite is always handy. Note that it's better to Ignite early rather than later, since you want Feast to take the last hit (if possible), instead of Ignite.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Note: These runes aren't really standard, but it works with how I play.
Check out the rationales below.
Quints : Movement Speed x3
Glyphs : AP per Level x9
Seals : AP per Level x9
Marks : Magic Penetration x9
Runes Part 2: Why Not X?
For those of you wondering why I choose the runes I did, then click the spoiler below to hear my explanation and thoughts.
For those of you who don't care, feel free to skip this part.
Classic caster with 21/0/9.
These are semi-flexible, and I would play this against most standard mid-laners.
Against strong laners (such as LeBlanc) or AD Bruisers, you might want to change to 21/9/0.
Going 21 up the defensive mastery tree is certainly viable on Cho'Gath, but it isn't in the spirit of this build.
Whenever Cho'Gath kills a unit, he recovers 20 - 71 (+2.83 each level) health and 3.5 - 7.75 mana (+0.25 each level).
[ Innate ]
Last hitting becomes all the more important with Cho'Gath. There are plenty of reasons to last hit well, but Carnivore gives you all the more reason to. Every time you last hit any unit, you regain health and mana. A substantial amount, too!
This scales with Champion Level, and helps sustain you in lane infinitely.
Ruptures the ground at target location. After a delay of 0.5 seconds, enemies are launched into the air for 1 second, dealt 80 / 135 / 190 / 245 / 305 (+100% of ability power) magic damage, and have their movement speed slowed by 60% for 3 seconds.
[ Q ]
A circle AOE Knockup that slows afterwards, it has a decent cast range but needs to be aimed! There is a half second delay between the time you press Q and the time it actually knocks up, so be sure to compensate properly.
- The worse thing you can do is try to start a fight with Rupture and miss, so try to save it for when you will hit. During that Level 6-8 power spike I mentioned earlier, all you need to do in lane is hit one Rupture for the almost guaranteed full-combo.
- If you're looking for the early/mid game in-lane instakill. You'll have to start it with Rupture, activate it and then immediately begin moving towards your opponent. The best time to do this is when they're focused on something else (for instance, when they're trying to last hit a creep). If it becomes clear that your Rupture will miss the target, then go ahead and back up to a safe distance, since I highly recommend not fighting if you've just missed Rupture. If you do manage to send your opponent into the air, continue walking towards them and use Feral Scream.
After .5 seconds, Cho'Gath screams in a cone in front of him, silencing enemies for 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 / 2.25 / 2.5 seconds and causing 75 / 125 / 175 / 225 / 275 (+70% of ability power) magic damage.
[ W ]
A cone-shaped AOE silence that deals fairly high amounts of damage. Your go-to for harassment inlane. Note that unlike Ashe's Volley, the cone affects all units inside the cone ( Volley's arrows, on the other hand, stop on first contact).
- I max this during lane phase, as it's the best way to harass without fear of retaliation. It has a fairly long range, and if you hit it, the enemy won't be able to cast spells back at you for a significant amount of time.
- Another reason to use Feral Scream to harass: if you burn Feral Scream, you'll still have Rupture, which is better suited to escape ganks. If you burn Rupture trying to harass, then you'll be without your best escape if you get ganked.
- As with all AOE abilities, come team-fight phase, you'll want to hit as many enemies as possible. It's worth repositioning slightly to hit additional targets. Also, note that although it is your main source of non-ultimate damage, Feral Scream has more utility than just the damage output. Therefore, all things being equal, try to - if possible - use it on casters instead of auto-attackers. More on this later.
Cho'gath's physical attacks launch spikes which deal 20 / 35 / 50 / 65 / 80 (+30% of ability power) magic damage in a line in front of him. The width of these spikes increases the larger Cho'gath is.
[ E ]
Spikes (slowly) shoot out in the direction Cho'Gath faces on each auto-attack, dealing magic damage. The spikes deal damage to all units in range. I use this mainly to shove down minion waves.
- Vorpal Spikes is a Toggle ability, which means you can turn it on or off. Also note that it doesn't expend mana, so it's a costless ability that deals extra damage. There are usually no consequences to having Vorpal Spikes turned on, but here are some situations where it would be smart to turn it off.
_ Under enemy tower, attacking it? If the enemy champion is nearby, turn OFF Vorpal Spikes, as it doesn't do damage to towers anyways. You might be able to damage creep around the tower with it, but if it manages to damage an enemy champion, it counts as damage, and the tower will agro you instead of whatever it was hitting. As a melee character, unwittingly pulling tower agro is a bad thing, so try to avoid it.
_ When counter jungling, it's sometimes best to leave a present for the enemy jungler. Instead of clearing the entire wave, leave a small minion so the camp respawn timer doesn't begin. Now, this is actually kind of hard to do because Vorpal Spikes deal AOE damage. Turn OFF spikes when it will let you leave a small creep.
_ If you ever want to freeze your lane, turn OFF Vorpal Spikes, or you'll be dealing damage to every creep you attack.
Other than that, you're pretty much good to go!
- Because Cho'Gath is a melee champion, he might sometimes have trouble farming against ranged mid characters. Of course, Rupture and Feral Scream are both ranged and decent at clearing waves, but they cost mana. When there are low-hp minions in the back line that you can't really get to, with proper timing, you'll be able to last hit them with Vorpal Spikes by attacking the ones in front. Recall how Carnivore makes last hitting even more important!
After .5 seconds, Cho'Gath devours an enemy unit, dealing 300 / 475 / 650 (+0.7 per ability power) true damage (1,000 to minions) that ignores armor and magic resist. If the target is killed, Cho'Gath grows, gaining 90 / 120 / 150 extra health (max 6 stacks). Each stack of Feast gives Cho'Gath 8.3 attack range, up to 50 bonus range. Cho'Gath loses half his stacks (rounded up) upon death.
[ R ]
The defining part of Cho'Gath. A huge True Damage nuke ability that passively makes Cho'Gath harder better faster stronger. Each stack gives HP, stacks up to 6 times. Use this ability to last hit objectives (such as Baron Nashor and Dragon) from junglers.
- Note that you gain stacks when you use Feast to finish off an enemy or creep, and you lose stacks when you die.
- With AP Cho'Gath there's always a decision you have to make: do you save Feast for your lane opponent, should a battle occur? Or do you use it on a minion to gain stacks? My advice on this is to eat minions instead of champions when you're:
_ Going back to base anyways (best time).
_ Opponent is full HP.
_ No objectives are up in the next minute (dragon, baron).
_ Shoving creep waves (eating the cannon minion is tasty and will help your creep wave).
_ When you die late game and have less than 4 stacks, eat minions as soon as possible and try to avoid teamfights while Feast is on cooldown.
- The True Damage portion of this ability is amazing. Unlike Darius's Noxian Guillotine, you don't need to stack Hemorrhage or anything of the sort. Click on the minion/creep/enemy you want to die, and there you go.
- When below 6 stacks, you'll want to use this to last hit, if possible. Sounds obvious but in some cases it isn't. This might end up with you kill-stealing from your allies, but honestly, the kill means more to you than to them (all things being equal). Don't be afraid to kill secure with Feast, just don't be a jerk about it.
- That being said, at 6 stacks of Feast, you have absolutely no reasons to Feast kill steal/secure. During the teamfight phases, don't wait around for a last hit, JUST USE YOUR ULT. I can't emphasize this enough. There are countless times when after a teamfight, I check my team, and our Cho'Gath still has Feast because he couldn't decide when to use it. JUST USE IT. If you can use it to 100-0 one of their carries, go for it. If you have to use it on their front/mid line to help get someone off your own AD carry, don't feel bad about it, you're dealing True Damage, so it's still super effective against beefy champions.
- Most of the time you can steal Baron Nashor and Dragon fairly easily. Walk up, Rupture their team, Feral Scream their Jungler, Flash in, eat Baron, then let your team clean up. The huge silence from Feral Scream will make their jungler unable to Smite, and you have a 1,000 (before 70% AP is scaled in) creep nuke with Feast.
- You'll also be able to, post-level 6, secure your own ancient golem without help of your Jungler.
- Even the threat of having Feast will make half-health and below enemies afraid of you! It's all about presence and pressure.
- You can turn around jungle ganks with Feast. There are many times where the enemy mid laner has about half health and their jungler dives in. I recommend heavily turning around and blowing everything on their mid. They'll usually overexpose; or, when the Jungler comes from behind you, move closer to the enemy Mid and try to pincer you between himself and his Jungler. Judging this situation is a bit difficult, but you can oftentimes 1-combo down their mid champion.
Obviously, we level Feast when we can. As the ultimate ability, this should be no surprise!
Feral Scream is an AOE cone Silence, so we max that after Feast. The Silence mechanic is a huge counter to the Caster group etc, who rely heavily on casting spells.
Keep in mind that a lot of mid AD champions also rely on casting spells (rather than just autoattacking), so Feral Scream is just as effective.
It's actually useful against every champion, because during the Silence period, you'll be able to cast summoner spells and they won't!
Rupture is the next skill to max, because our 100-0 combo relies heavily on the high magic damage and AOE knockup from it.
Vorpal Spikes we max last, but be sure to get a skill point into it by level 3. It helps with last hitting, but we prioritize this last.
Note that all levels "(Level 1-6)" are general. The phases of the game aren't dependent on your level, this is just an approximation.
//Early Game (Levels 1-6)
: Focus on last-hitting: you want to farm up as much as you can for early Needlessly Large Rod.
: Harass lane opponent with Feral Scream.
: Be aware of ganks, and don't needlessly use your counter-initiate spell Rupture for no reason (like attempting to harass. It's too mana costly early to do this often early).
: Because your skills are AOE, you'll find yourself pushing the lane a bit. Try to not overexpose too hard at this stage of the game. Turn off Vorpal Spikes if you want to, as it will help you keep the lane frozen in the ideal spot (last hitting is easier with spikes on, though).
Health Potion x2
//Early Mid Game (Levels 7-10)
: Decide if you can afford to all-in your lane opponent. At this point, you'll want to continue harassing with Feral Scream, but be even more aware of your ability to Rupture. If you land one, you can take them to at least 1/2rd health with this combo Rupture -> Feral Scream -> Autoattack.
: Try to hang around lane until you reach 1600 gold or so. If you have low health or are forced out of lane somehow, try to buy sight ward x2 and maybe some Health Potion. Then return to lane and farm farm farm.
: If you have a sight ward, I recommend placing them offensively. A great place is the enemy's wraith brush. This allows you to play aggressively.
: Shove your creep wave to the enemy tower, especially if the enemy mid laner is somewhat lacking in the ability to last hit under turret. While your lane is shoved, you have a couple seconds to spare. Either go to your own wraith camp (if your jungler isn't nearby), or go to the enemy wraith camp (when their jungler isn't nearby). You're fairly strong, so don't feel too queasy about invading. The sight ward in their brush will give you early warning anyways. Note that by taking down the wraith camp, Carnivore gives you back HP and Mana , so feel free to use a spell or two to quickly clear. If you have Feast up, I'd recommend using it on enemy wraith camp instead of just lane creep.
: Tell your jungler that he doesn't need to help you with blue buff (ancient golem). You can clear this by yourself. Try to time Feast so it will be up around 7:30 and 13:00 gametime.
sight ward x2
Needlessly Large Rod
//Mid Game (Levels 11-13)
: You should have recently picked up Needlessly Large Rod and have rank 2 Feast, so at this point, you can expect your damage output to be massive.
: This is where aggression plays in. Earlier, a sight ward near their wraith camp was nice but not essential. At this stage, make sure to always have a ward there.
: If you EVER see the enemy jungler holding mid lane with half health, OR being in his red-side jungle with half health, I strongly strongly recommend camping their wraith camp brush. Head over there as quickly and stealthily as you can, and sit in that brush. For a video example, refer back to that video I showed earlier. Here's another link to the same video, but it'll start from the wraith camp kill.
: Try to keep your lane shoved like before. Take either (or both) wraith camps at your leisure. If the enemy team clears out the camps, feel free to kill all but 1 or 2 of the minions at their wraith camp (you may need to turn off Vorpal Spikes to avoid leaving one. Sometimes, the enemy jungler will just leave the camp denied and ignore it. If thats the case, go ahead and take the whole camp. You want it to respawn.
: If any of their buffs are up and you see the enemy jungler ganking a lane far away, swoop in and take the buff. Even if they aren't far away, try to sneak up on them, wait until the buff is just about to be killed with smite, Rupture under both enemy jungle and buff monster, Feral Scream both, and if they're both still alive, you have two options:
_ Kill the enemy jungler with Feast.
_ Steal the buff with Feast, then finish it with Vorpal Spikes.
Just check the damage on Feast right before you decide. It's usually better to just kill the enemy jungler, and then finish off the buff, but there are cases where it's better to just kill the buff and get out. You actually have one more option, and that's to let them take the buff, and THEN kill them, giving you both the buff and the kill for less work. I'd avoid this if possible and stick with one of the other two.
: Make a play for dragon (with your team, of course). Feast is a huge source of damage (after your Needlessly Large Rod), probably about 1070 damage to creep/monsters, and 700 damage to champions. When the enemy team comes for it, you can either use Feast on dragon, or on the upcoming fight. It all depends on how close the enemy is, and how quickly they respond. If your team is low health and you'd rather avoid the incoming fight, then Feast dragon and get out. Otherwise, I'd recommend saving Feast for an enemy champion, even if dragon is about to die.
: Pick up Deathfire Grasp. This is the shining time for AP Cho'Gath. You can expect to deal about 1500 with this combo >> >> >> . Add in Ignite if you can/want to, and try to Deathfire Grasp before Rupture finishes its 0.5 second delay. (If you can it would be great, if you can't it's okay).
: I've said this before, but camp the enemy jungler. Do it. Do it shamelessly. If they start warding their jungle, start Vision Warding it. As they walk into you, do the combo as stated above, but let them walk into you before your Rupture. Don't Rupture when they're still far out, as this might let them escape before you can get over there and unleash full combo.
: Chill and farm lane or take your jungle while Deathfire Grasp is on cooldown.
Boots of Speed
sight ward x2
//Mid to Late Game (Levels 13-18)
: Your main goal while not teamfighting is to pick off people and stay farmed and at 6 Feast stacks. You'll need to be careful about being aggressive in enemy jungle now that you're no longer in laning phase.
: I recommend buying Ionian Boots of Lucidity for the cooldown, but feel free to choose based on how the game is progressing. Also, if you feel like you don't need Enchantment: Homeguard, then try out Enchantment: Distortion
: Begin building proper items for the game. Counter the enemies who are most fed with your itemization. Cho'Gath is super strong and will deal tons of damage (even without tri-force, phreak!), regardless of your itemization (if you have my setup, anyway). Feel free to build defensively if the situation calls for it. Abyssal Scepter is a great item choice, especially against a double AP comp (AP mid and AP top/AP jungle).
: Usually while playing Cho'Gath you'll find yourself in the front line, initiating (or attempting to initiate) fights with Rupture. This Cho'Gath has other roles though, and while you might find yourself trying to start a fight with a good Rupture, your real place is the mid line. You are the team's AP Caster and source of magical damage, so don't try to soak damage. Although Feast makes you fairly tanky, soaking isn't your goal (you aren't Dr. Mundo). In an extended fight, see if their AD Carry is engaged. A good portion of the time, the enemy AD Carry will be focusing on kiting/chasing one of your front line teammates. If this is the case, try to save Rupture for the ADC. Wait until they're autoattacking, and drop Rupture right underneath them, then combo Feral Scream Feast. Flash and Ignite if you feel the need. 9 times out of 10, this will immediately take out the enemy ADC, since you have your own CC lock and True Damage burst.
: Just like Rupture, try to save Feral Scream for the enemy caster, instead of burning Feral Scream on the enemy front line. If you have to, it's okay, but try to use it on the casters if you can.
: All that being said, don't dive way past the enemy front line if you don't have a team that will back you up. A 1-for-1 trade (you for their ADC) is usually NOT worth it, since you will most likely be fed.
: Remember what I said about stealing Dragon and Baron earlier (in the Feast section). Rupture their team, Feral Scream their jungler, Flash and Feast the objective if you can, and your team is following behind to back you up. Generally dragon is worth 2 champion kills, so you dying for it is worth, but I would avoid diving+dying for objectives if possible (if your team isn't coming).
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
Rabadon's Deathcap / Rod of Ages
Abyssal Scepter / Guardian Angel / Randuin's Omen / Zhonya's Hourglass
Thanks for reading the guide.
I didn't really want to mention this until the end, but this is my attempt at writing a guide, so I'd appreciate comments (hopefully constructive?).
Is there something I could do better? Tell me about it, I welcome your feedback.
Anyways, good luck out there guys. I reached Platinum ELO primarily with AP Cho'Gath and AP Nidalee, so I have no doubt that with some practice you'll be able to dominate.
Cho'Gath really doesn't have a lot of counterplay (besides what I mentioned), so you should feel the power fairly soon after trying this build out.
Once again, thanks for reading. I appreciate it.
Note: Sigh, I accidentally made this a general guide instead of a champion guide. It seems theres no way for me to change this. What do I do? ~ ~
12/4/13 (Pre-Season 4)
Made the guide S4 compatible.
8/13/13 (Patch 3.10)
Replaced my old math with spreadsheets. Hit Platinum 1, so I updated my introduction.
8/4/13 (Patch 3.10)
Did the theorycraft and realized that AP/lvl Marks are just bad, and Magic Penetration is indeed better in this case. However, realize that Cho'Gath scales off of pure AP much better than other AP mid champions.