So, you want to kick some *** with the Badass Prince of Demacia? Well, look no further than this here guide. The best place for the Prince is alone, far from the reaches of mid lane or bottom lane, all by himself in top lane. There he will sit, a cold glare seemingly fixed upon his opponent, aggression building up until his goal is attained. No, his goal is not the destruction of his enemy, nor even his turret, though these are indeed steps on the path he must take... His true goal is the piece that holds his enemies together... The reason for his summoning... The all-powerful Nexus, and it shall be his to destroy... No one takes the glory of victory away from Jarvan IV.
This is my first guide, though I'm not really a newbie. I've been avoiding the sun and pouring many hours of my life into League of Legends since Fall '10, so I'm quite familiar with the metagame by now. I watch a lot of streams, read a lot of guides, and save my own builds for champions I play very often (unpublished, of course).
I'm not going to lie and tell you I'm the greatest, because I know I'm not. However low Elo I might be at right now, I'm confident that I'm an above average player now. I made the mistake of jumping into ranked play before I was truly ready, and as such, my Elo sunk down the toilet. Since then I've kicked it into high gear, and I've risen about 300 points in solo queue in the past two months, and I'm still climbing. The turnaround point was finding what I was good at, which I feel happens to be solo top, and then just plain playing more often. I play a lot of Irelia and Teemo, among other things, and that's my favorite spot for most champions.
Recently I picked up Jarvan IV and fell in love with his kit. I've done so well with him, in fact, that I decided to write this guide. I took a lot of my own knowledge, some advice, and research done from other builds, as well as watching High Elo streams and the Season One Championships at Dreamhack.
With all that said, this is a guide intended for all levels of play on Summoner's Rift. By that, I mean it's intended for Ranked games, High Elo matches, tournament games, and if you're feeling really mean, for normal 5's. I have not tested this build on Twisted Treeline, though I have heard that Jarvan does well in 3's.
I snagged my guide format from Searz, changing it up a bit to fit my own style. It was a great stepping stone for me to produce my own guide with. You can find it here. It's very helpful, so he deserves some credit.
I'm not going to coddle you, if you need to know exactly what an item or ability does, scroll over it, you lazy bastard.
With the advent of the revamped mastery trees I was forced to re-evaluate my choice of masteries. After some deliberation and testing, I chose to run these 21/09/00 masteries. Sustainability is still key to my Jarvan playstyle, however, the new masteries allow for about the same amount of sustainability through the health regen in the defensive tree, the lifesteal in the offensive tree, and the mana regen runes. The new masteries really shine at making my sustainable offtank Jarvan dish out a lot more damage than before.
Greater Mark of Desolation Greater Mark of Desolation
These are pretty straightforward. From the beginning of the game, ArP runes are going to make an AD champ do more damage. It's scientific fact. However, if you're choosing to level up Dragon Strike faster than Demacian Standard, you might be better suited for something else, like flat armor or even attack speed.
Greater Seal of Resilience
Jarvan has some Mana issues, but if you're finding it hard to hold onto your pool, snag a Philosopher's StonePhilopher's Stone early on. Flat armor runs simply are mandatory in solo top, considering nearly every solo top these days is some sort of AD. You can swap these out for health per level runes if you know for sure you're facing an AP top, but to be honest, you don't have to. Every game will have an AD carry in it, so the armor isn't wasted.
Greater Glyph of Shielding
Another pretty straightforward pick. These runes give a decent amount of magic resistance, which gives you more leeway in taking on some more offensive items if you feel you can do without the extra survivability. Flat CDR blues are an acceptable substitute, but it will make you less tanky.
Greater Quintessence of Swiftness
This is mainly personal preference, as there our several other quints that could be useful. I find the extra movespeed makes tracking down, knocking up, and steamrolling carries that much easier, which often times is Jarvan's main priority. Suitable replacements would be Armor Pen, flat HP, or maybe even flat AD (which would benefit from maxing Dragon Strike first). It's also been suggested to me that Flat HP Regen Quintessences work well, which seems very solid in theory, especially with the purpose of this guide. Those would be another acceptable substitute.
I've very recently taken to running Ignite on a lot of my solo top champions because of the lane dominance it helps to gain. You can be a lot more aggressive and secure more kills early game when your jungler ganks, and sometimes without your jungler. Because of this, it's become a standard for me fairly often. Though, if you team already has a lot of Ignites, consider taking something else.
Since Jarvan has a built in ability than functions like Flash, he doesn't always require Flash. This allows him to take Ghost for the boost in chasing someone down. It can also be used as a last resort to quickly return to your tower if necessary (if you don't have Teleport or your Teleport is down).
I used to run Ghost, but I've found with the movespeed I have, flashing in and then doing my knock up combo from a distance has become a lot more effective. You have the surprise aspect. Also, it's 100% easier to escape ganks on top with a well timed flash. Ghost just isn't as effective at that. However, that's not to say Ghost isn't useful, because it certainly is. I have just changed personal preference (and seen better personal results), and thus am reflecting that in my build.
In recent weeks I've picked up using Exhaust over other secondary summoner spells as it allows our big boy J4 to repeatedly punch someone in the face with his spear. It also makes your opponent do less damage to you and weakens them, so all in all, you can often get a lot more damage out of this than Ignite. Always consider who your solo top opponent is going to be when deciding between the two.
I used to feel this is almost mandatory among those who wish to take the position of solo top. Unless there is an explicit reason you need to take something else, this should always be a part of a solo top's arsenal. I have started to try out Ignite instead and have found that I often will be able to secure a kill and then push the lane out, followed by recalling and simply walking back with standard boots. This spell is no longer mandatory in my mind, but still a huge asset to your team. If you don't already have one, I would still recommend considering taking it. It, for one, allows you to recall and pick up your Heart of Gold & Philosopher's StonePhilopher's Stone combo when you have the gold and return instantly, thus maximizing your gold income. If you somehow die, you can return to your tower (hopefully) before it is lost. This also allows you to roam elsewhere for a gank and safely return if your lane is getting pushed too hard.
I usually level in the order given in the table on the top of the guide.
As usual, take Cataclysm at levels 6, 11, and 16 when it become available. Dragon Strike is maxed before anything else to increase your damage output. I used to run Standard over this, but since the masteries change, this build's change from 00/09/21 to 21/09/00, and the even older changing of his passive to deal physical damage instead of magic damage, this is just fairly superior to Standard's early game. Golden Aegis and Demacian Standard are maxed almost evenly to scale into mid and late game. Neither of them really demands to be maxed before the other, so I keep them pretty even. You can max your shield earlier if you're getting harassed a lot, or max Demacian Standard earlier if you're able to bully your lane a lot or even if you need the armor bonus versus an AD top. Honestly, with Jarvan, it's kind of a jack of all trades thing. Pick what fits the situation, there is no cut and dry law for this section.
The first build is my usual build. It focuses on survivability early on, being tanky, yet threatening, as well maximizing the purchase of Atma's Impaler to raise survivability late game and still build upon Jarvan's damage output. It does very well in almost any game, as it has enough of a mix of resistances to deal with any problems, as well as dish out enough to damage to give reason to be focused. A tank that you can safely ignore is a bad tank. The GA can be grabbed earlier if you feel you need it/can afford it earlier. Getting fed and then grabbing a GA is a sure way to screw over the other team's attempt at halting your rampage.
The second build is what I resort to when I'm focused more on the tank role or if the rest of the team has plenty of damage, plus it's also smart to get if their AP carry is getting kind of fed earlier. Taking a Banshee's Veil will keep you alive for a long time, plus the prior Catalyst the ProtectorCatalyst the Protector will help quite a bit around mid-game, especially those mid-fight level ups that can be a life-saver.
Boots of Speed
In the past I always ran Pendant + one pot, always, but recently I've been doing boots and three pots to be more aggressive in top lane and be able to return faster. If you have TP, this probably is unnecessary and you can run the other starting set, but don't disregard the advantages of being really fast and having cheap sustain due to pots. It allows you to play super aggressive and possibly win your lane. Choose wisely.
This item is often necessary for that sustainability solo top requires. With this you can safely venture off into your laning opponent's harassment to gather last hits and gold, then return and regenerate any lost HP. It also builds into the lovely gold fabricating Philosopher's StonePhilopher's Stone, which you'd want to get as early as possible.
Helps in case you happen to take a lot of harassment at once, possibly from an early gank, as well as provide early game sustain for top lane. It's always important to spend excess starting gold on a potion or two, or three, because you never know if you might need them. You probably will.
A CC'd Jarvan is a useless Jarvan, so lowering any slows, stuns, etc. with Tenacity is very important. The Magic Resistance that it gives is important too. Every team will have some form of CC or AP caster, so there isn't any real reason to sub this out for Ninja Tabi. Especially since Demacian Standard gives you Armor as you level it up. A well-rounded Jarvan is a strong Jarvan.
Trinity Force used to be my go-to for Jarvan, but I've found that FM is a more reliable way of making sure no one ever escapes your grasp. It also gives you a huge chunk of HP, allowing you to focus your itemization elsewhere for the most part. I opt for this over a Warmog's every single time because it takes less time to accomplish and provides both utility and damage with the HP boost you're getting. It's a very important item to take as J4. However, don't grab it and Trinity Force. That's just redundant.
This item builds off of Heart of Gold, so some of it is already paid for. The active effect synergizes pretty awesomely with Golden Aegis, it gives a **** ton of HP, Armor, and even some HP Regeneration. It also gives CDR and has both an Attack Speed debuff and a Movement Speed debuff. This makes it impossible to kite a pissed off Jarvan.
This item makes Jarvan IV even more of a kickass Tanky DPS threat. The Armor it gives is great for the price, plus the Critical Chance stacks with Trinity Force, and the passive synergizes well with almost all of Jarvan's other common survivability items, thus giving him even more damage potential with minimal effort. This item is so good, I consider it core on Jarvan IV. Even without a lot of HP, this item gives good damage for the price, so it's situationally viable at many points in a match. The true trick is choosing when to take it based on the opposing team.
Force of Nature
This makes Jarvan even more of a speeding semi-truck of death. I pick this instead of Banshee's Veil whenever I don't need to worry about being CC'd, which is most games, since I always have Mercury's Treads and a gap-closer with my knockup slows are not an issue and most teams will save their stuns for other targets. Most importantly, this time gives a **** ton of MR, HP Regen, and even a Movespeed bonus. Nothing about this is a bad purchase.
Aegis of the Legion
This item synergizes so mind-blowingly well with Demacian Standard it's not even funny. The aura boost to your teammates can even make squishies tanky enough to hold their own. It gives HP, Armor, and Magic Resistance, all things Jarvan loves, and even a little bit of extra damage. Everything about it is sexy. However, you may want to consider getting something else if your team's support is going to pick this up. It's usefulness is lessened if there's more than one on the team, that's just a waste. Aegis of the Legion is great, but it's not worth the gold if your team already has one. Be sure to negotiate with your Support if they're going to pick it up or not. I will say, though, that when you have Demacian Standard on the ground with this item you are giving your teammates a whopping 34 ARMOR. Wowza.
Being CC'd is sometimes a curse of Jarvan, as he's a terrifying sight to the enemy, so he gets stunned or slowed almost instantly in a fight. A Banshee's Veil can prevent this. It also gives HP and Mana, which synergizes with a possible Atma's Impaler and helps aid Jarvan's mana-hunger, respectively.
A little obvious. If you find you're dying too much, this is a great solution. Often I take this if the game goes longer than an hour, as that 70 second death timer can sink a game if you make the mistake of dying this late in the game. The Armor and MR it gives are great anyways. Just make sure you have some decent HP before you snag this, because resistances don't mean much when your HP is low.
Other Viable Items
Picking up the old cape of suns is a great substitute for some of the defensive armor items you could take. It synergizes really well with Atma's Impaler and allows you to deal some great AoE damage, especially to a team with low MR squishy champions.
I don't usually see other Jarvans take this, but I find it pretty useful in caster heavy games. If I don't have to be a dedicated tank in a caster heavy game, I often take this after Trinity Force to add to my damage output, but keep my anti-magic tankyness, especially since it's so cheap. This is truly an under appreciated item.
If the other team is very, very tanky, I'll take instead of Trinity Force to become a fairly effective tank slayer. It gives decent Armor as well. The problem with this item is I find Trinity Force to almost always be more useful, and both are very expensive items.
Is their team REALLY Armor heavy? Are you the only one who can safely get in range to eliminate these foes, or at least get them low enough to drop to your AD carry? Pick up a Last Whisper and watch as that impenetrable Rammus gets penetrated! Err...
Is your AD carry slacking and you don't need to be as tanky as usual? Are you somehow really rich when you recall? Consider picking up an IE. With this beast of an item, coupled with a Trinity Force, Jarvan instantly becomes the biggest threat on the map. Seriously, the damage potential is insane. Usually, however, this isn't a very realistic goal. It's definitely a luxury item. Once you've picked up this item, you should be able to kill anyone unlucky enough to get caught in your Cataclysm.
This is your alternative to the Frozen Mallet style. Everything it does is useful. The AD and Attack Speed it gives adds to your damage output, the AP helps your Demacian Standard's landing damage, the Critical Chance synergizes with Atma's Impaler if you build it, and it gives HP and Mana. The Movement Speed helps chance down champions and initiate fights, and then the slow proc keeps them in your range. Not to mention the 150% damage boost will occur fairly often because Jarvan's skills have low cooldowns. This item does everything, much like the Badass Prince of Demacia himself.
This is practically a required item on a jungle Jarvan, but is a suitable pick for solo top as well. I sometimes take it because that lifesteal can keep me at full HP for long amounts of time, and even help me win 1v1 fights. I've become used to it from playing solo top Teemo. This makes Jarvan even more of a beastly pusher than usual. Usually it's better to fill a slot with something else, but don't overlook the potential of this item, as it gives some Armor too. The free ward is pretty sweet too.
The AD, Critical Chance, Armor Pen, and CDR are all great additions to the damaging, but tanky, Atma's Impaler style build, adding even more Critical Chance. The active can help you melt down almost anyone in a matter of seconds. If you don't need to be too tanky, this luxury item could net a Jarvan a lot of kills.
Jarvan IV is a top tier solo top. He's able to take on 1v2 lane fairly well if the enemy forgoes a jungler, but he's an unmovable menace 1v1 at top lane. With the setup this guide offers, you should be able to hold top lane and farm to your hearts content for long periods of time, pushing the lane when appropriate. If you run both Heart of Gold and Philosopher's StonePhilopher's Stone you should be able to farm from in front of your tower and gather large amounts of gold, and all while being at near-full strength. Left to his own devices, Jarvan IV will eventually force his opponent to recall, maybe even slay them, and will probably take the tower.
Your main focus for the first few levels should be last hitting minions with Demacian Standard and your autoattacks. You should try to land your spear on your opponent when possible, but don't forget about your farm. If you aren't farming at solo top, you're blowing one of your primary jobs.
Around level five you should start hitting your opponent with your spear, sometimes knocking him up with Dragon Strike and an autoattack or two, then backing off. At some point he will probably be around half health and maybe low mana, while you should be at near-full strength with all of your sustainability. This is a primary opportunity for your jungler to come in for a gank. Hell, you might even be able to drop a Cataclysm on them and take them out yourself. Whichever the case, play it smart.
Once you have dropped the tower, you should start roaming a little bit and helping where needed, always returning to keep your lane pushed. Constant pressure should be on top lane at all times, because it might allow you to force a 5v4 teamfight on the other half of the map when one of the enemy team members has to safe top from a large minion wave.
I usually try and keep my Demacian Standard on the ground at all times to maximize the time my team is benefiting from its bonus. It's also smart to try and knock up as many enemies in one lunge, because that can be just the setup your team needs to burst half of their team to 0 HP. It's also good to stick your Dragon Strike through as many tanky enemies as possible, which will make it easier for your AD carry to shred them to pieces.
In teamfights you need to try and pick apart their team and separate them from each other. If you can get a carry alone, you should usually be able to kill them 1v1. With Cataclysm you can usually single someone out and pick them off. You can also use it to capture several enemies together for some nice AoE damage out of one of your friends. It also can be used to save a low-HP teammate from a chasing enemy.
In any case, you must always keep in mind that Cataclysm can also screw over your teammates. Unless it will be in your favor, never trap a teammate inside of your ultimate. They will be very, very unhappy with you.
I hope my guide is well-received and useful to those of you who wish to try your hand at solo top Jarvan IV. He's quickly becoming my favorite champion on the Fields of Justice. If even one person benefits from my guide I'll feel good about writing it up.
I'd like to thank RebornKnight for all the help he's given me since I started playing LoL. It was his suggestion that I pick up Jarvan IV and his advice that sparked this guide. He's one of the people who introduced me to this game, so I have a lot of enjoyment (and frustration) to thank him for.
Please vote, comment, and share with your friends. I will try and respond to everyone who comments on my guide to provide guidance on any questions or comments about the build.
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