Cho'Gath Build Guide by Virixiss
Not Updated For Current Season
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.
Introduction and Patch Changes
Hello and welcome! My name is Virixiss and this is my Cho'Gath guide. Cho'Gath was the first champion I purchased and became serious about playing. However, because I played him as a new player, I often found myself making the same mistakes over and over again even as I progressed. I stopped playing him for a while and came back, determined to make him work for me. After pouring over his stats and testing several builds on him, mixing up playstyles, I've finally found one that I am completely satisfied with, which I present to you here.
Cho'Gath has more builds and playstyles than he has arms. While I respect everyone's decision to play him in their own way, I firmly believe the most efficient way to play Cho is as an AP tank. Building survivability while gaining AP along the way ensures that you're very hard to kill, but cannot be ignored for squishier targets by the enemy team. Instead of focusing on pure damage, this build relies on using your large amount of CC, AOE, and true damage to keep your threat levels high enough to strain the focus of your opponents.
Recently, Cho has seen a revival as a god-tier jungler with his fast clear, excellent sustain, and reliable ganks. Jungle Cho is fun, safe, and effective, so I've added a chapter describing how I jungle Cho, and some tricks to help you get started. So let's dive into it.
Recent Changes to Cho
Patch 3.01 // Feral Scream - Silence duration reduced to 1.5/1.75/2/2.25/2.5 seconds from 2/2.25/2.5/2.75/3
Preseason Balance 2 // Feral Scream - Targeting cone is now attached to Cho'Gath
Preseason Balance 1 // Carnivore - Carnivore health restore adjusted to 20-71 from 34-68
Pros and Cons of Cho'Gath
Runes of Choice
--Rune problem has been fixed. Sorry about that!--
- Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed are my new best friends. It will allow an otherwise sluggish Cho to more effectively dodge skill shots, get in position for ganks or teamfights, chase down an overextended opponent, or simply to GTFO when the going gets really bad.
- Greater Quintessence of Health Regeneration are really strong picks on Cho for the staying power you'll need in lane. These allow you to come back from almost any harass, and provide a little buffer in case your last-hitting is lacking, and to make up for the slight nerf they hit Carnivore with.
- Greater Quintessence of Ability Power gives Cho a little extra 'oomph' in his early damage output. However, since you will mostly be focused on last hitting and surviving, these are a lesser choice than the two choices above.
- Greater Mark of Attack Speed seems like a bit of an oddball choice, but never underestimate the damage output on your Vorpal Spikes. The more of these you can land on an opponent, the better. These are also the marks of choice for jungle Cho'Gaths.
- Greater Mark of Armor is a good choice for AD lanes that you are nervous about. With the masteries, seals, and these marks, you'll walk in with 24 extra armor. Buy Cloth Armor and 5 health pots, and you might never leave lane.
- Greater Mark of Magic Penetration is a another solid choice, but with a more offensive mindset.
- Greater Seal of Armor is really the only choice you'll ever need. These are the best armor runes in the game, and you need armor going top lane. Every other seal choice is subpar against these beauties.
- Greater Seal of Mana Regeneration are another choice, in case you decide to spam your abilities with wild abandon. These should not be needed however, since you should only be using abilities sparingly.
- Greater Seal of Health can work as well, but you will have plenty of health with Feast and your Randuin's Omen.
- Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist is preferred because, again, most top lanes are AD nowadays. You'll need the MR later in the game when mages become powerful, but not against an early AD champ.
- Greater Glyph of Magic Resist is the choice for an AP top lane. AD is still the dominant force top lane, but champs like Ryze and Vladimir are still strong picks.
With the new Mastery changes, I've settled on a 9/21/0 mastery setup that will allow you to do what you need to do: Get in, disrupt, walk out alive.
I pick Perseverance to supplement our already rock solid health regen. It also help ease the blow that Carnivore took in the last patch (Preseason Balance Update 1, Carnivore health restore adjusted to 20-71 from 34-68. You can read morehere.) Durability and Veteran's Scars are pretty obvious, as are Hardiness and Resistance . Relentless works in conjunction with Tenacious , so grab both of those.
I prefer Juggernaut over Legendary Armor on Cho, simply because the health gain is going to be more noticeable on him than bonus Armor/MR, especially with the way penetration works now. The only real mastery struggle that I have is over Good Hands and Honor Guard . Good Hands only works when your dead, but it can shave off 6 precious seconds in end game and help you get back to lane faster if you botch a trade or gank. Honor Guard works when you're alive, and it never goes away, and let's face it, less damage is less damage, no matter how little it seems to be. So I leave that choice up to you.
I take Teleport and Exhaust about 7 times out of 10 on Cho'Gath. I am also a firm believer in taking a offensive spell, and a defensive/utility spell, so keep that in mind for this section.
Teleport allows me to return to lane faster if I am forced to leave, but I mostly take it for saving towers, moving immediately into a teamfight, or setting up unexpected ganks. If you merely use teleport to return to lane, do NOT take it. It will become a waste of a summoner spell.
Exhaust is for making damn sure my gank victim won't get away, shutting down AD carries in teamfights, or for slowing down chasers. Cho has a massive amount of CC, but one more piece never hurts.
Flash is a wonderful little spell, and one that almost everyone takes every game. Flashes are used for quick escapes, countering other flashes, but the greatest trick I've learned in Cho's aresenal is the Flash/ Feral Scream initiation. At max rank, that's a full 3 seconds of silence for most, if not all, of the enemy team. (Replaces Teleport)
Ghost is a lot like Flash, except for the 'surprise' factor. Ghost is great for excaping, chasing, saving towers, and catching someone out of position. (Replaces Teleport)
Ignite, or the "First Blood Spell" is another powerful choice, especially against certain top laners like Vladimir or Dr. Mundo. (Replaces Exhaust)
Barrier is the 'new' spell in Season 3, and it can very useful. I would generally only take it against bursty champs because of the cooldown. Kind of a niche pick here.
Heal is ok for newbies, but you'll have enough sustain with Carnivore, Perseverance, and Greater Quintessence of Health Regeneration that you should never have to take this spell.
Clarity. Ok, so Cho does have mana problems early game, but they generally stop after you buy your catalyst the protector. After that, you've wasted a summoner spell slot.
Revive. No. Just no.
I'm assuming here that you've at least read over Cho's abilities and know what they do. I am focusing strictly on skill order and certain tricks each ability can do.
We start of with one point in Rupture, and leave it there. The only reason we want Rupture right now is the CC for ganks or for discouraging your lane opponent from harassing you. Because Rupture has a 1 for 1 AP ratio, it will continue to scale in damage quite nicely deeper into the game. Grab a point in Feral Scream at level 2, and Vorpal Spikes at level 3, then focus entirely on maxing feral scream, grabbing Feast as soon as you can.
Why max Feral Scream over Rupture?
Why max Vorpal Spikes over Rupture?
- Rupture is a double CC, with both a popup and a slow. The popup cannot be reduced by Tenacity items, but the slow can.
- Rupture has thankfully been normalized down to a .5 second delay from cast to arrival. This makes it far easier to land, but it still gives enough time for a quick enemy to respond. Expect this to fail sometimes.
- Pay attention to how your opponent dodges your attacks. Most players tend to favor dodging to one side over the other. Once you think you have the information you need, aim Rupture slightly behind them and over into the direction they have been dodging to.
- Feral Scream's silence is affected by Tenacity items.
- Feral Scream now functions much with smartcasting, always being originated from Cho'Gath's current position, rather than changing the origin point.
- Using Feral Scream after landing a Rupture is a common tactic, but it is more effective to Scream first, increasing the chances of Rupture hitting. This is especially true for champs that have dashes or Flash ready.
- Despite it's animation, Feral Scream doesn't have a travel time, meaning that once you actually cast it, if your enemy was in the effect then they were hit, even if they dodge the little blue wave. This makes it a deceptively accurate skill. It does still have a small casting animation, however.
- Vorpal Spike proc spell effects like spell vamp and the slow from Rylai's Crystal Scepter, but not on-hit effects, such as Madred's Bloodrazor.
- Toggling Vorpal Spikes does not count for spell casting, for the purposes of Lich Bane, Sheen, and Trinity Force.
- Remember to turn off Vorpal Spikes when taking down turrets. Enemy champions can just step into the effect and turn turret aggro to you.
- Be wary of using Vorpal Spikes in lane, as it can inadvertently push the lane past your safety zone.
- Early on, do not be afraid of using Feast on minions to gain stacks as soon as it comes up. Stacks are important, and Feast has a relatively low cooldown for an ultimate. Of course, save it if you know you will get a gank in your lane soon.
- If you die, you lose half of you stacks. Get them back as quickly as possible. You do not lose stacks if you die while Guardian Angel is up, or under the effects of Zilean's Chronoshift.
- Feast deals 1000 base damage to monsters and minions, making it a valuable for taking buffs, dragon, or Baron Nashor.
- HANDY TIP: Tired of enemies walking away with very little health after you Feast them? Watch out for a little red indicator at their feet. This red circle pops up when you can successfully kill an enemy champion with Feast.
Rod of Ages
I focus on high defense, while still building acceptable damage. Abyssal Scepter, Frozen Heart, and Rod of Ages are completely core to this build and should not be changed. They have so much synergy with Cho'Gath's stats that they should be a part of everyone's build. Afterwards focus on damage, armor, and magic resist.
Please note that some items fall into multiple categories. I sorted them by either highest stat or whichever one I remembered first.
- If you feel good at about your lane, Sapphire Crystal and 2 Health Potions allows you to quickly rush into a Catalyst the Protector.
- If you're up against a heavy harassment or a strong early jungler, start with Crystalline Flask and a heatlh potion. With this start, wait 3 seconds after minions spawn, then buy the health potion and either walk or Teleport into lane.
- Against a difficult AD lane, pick up Cloth Armor and 5 Health Potions.
- Finally, if you're up against either a skillshot reliant champion or a problematic jungler, go with Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potions.
- Rod of Ages has everything Cho needs early game, and still scales well late game. Health, Mana, and Ability Power are needed for survivability and damage early game, and the passive gives your sustain a steroid shot. Rush this unless there are extreme circumstances.
- Frozen Heart gives mana, armor, and cooldown reduction, plus a damn good aura effect which shuts down AD carries. Since you'll be in the middle of teamfights, this will be used to great effect.
- Abyssal Scepter gives a lot of AP, pretty good magic resist, and another awesome aura that further boosts your damage output. The aura is often underestimated, but it makes a very big difference.
- Lich Bane is a great damage item if you are doing well. Gives a bit extra magic resist, a movement speed boost, and a passive proc that can really hurt. Not a shabby item at all.
- Rabadon's Deathcap is a more mage-oriented item, but it does really well on Cho. Be aware that that you are giving up survivability for straight damage, and if you hurt hard enough you will get focused down.
- Zhonya's Hourglass is an AP item that grants armor and a neat little passive. I've personally never used Zhonya's on Cho, but it is not a bad item at all to take.
- Rylai's Crystal Scepter. You've seen me reference this item before. It grants good AP, extra health, which is always nice, and a slowing effect on all your spells, including Vorpal Spikes. Be aware that every spell you have excluding Feast in considered AOE, so it will only proc the 15% slow. A very good item to take, however.
- Void Staff is another item for a more damage oriented Cho. This offers nothing else but damage potential, so be careful.
- Spirit of the Spectral Wraith is an item that I would stress that a jungle Cho would pick up. But if you have the space for it in your build, it's good for tanky Cho too, giving regen specs, cooldown, and another form of sustain. It also makes you pretty damn good at taking a sneaky dragon or a little counter jungling.
- Banshee's Veil builds from another Catalyst the Protector and gives a good amount of health, mana, and magic resist. However, the reason I don't fully recommend this item is it's passive is essentially useless on you. At 6 stacks, you are the biggest target in a game, and the spell shield is easily popped with a poke spell.
- Wit's End seems like an odd little duck at first. Cho benefits from attacks speed a lot, and the extra 42 magic damage on auto attacks is pretty nice in conjunction with Vorpal Spikes.
- Aegis of the Legion/ Runic Bulwark is actually a pretty good early game item for you and your team if you can afford it. Whether or not you want to continue carrying it after mid game is up to you. It's not a bad idea to buy this even if your support has one to maximize the area of effect. Now it builds into a Runic Bulwark which increases the amount of MR you gain and give to your team. REMEMBER, although you may see two aura icons if you have two team members with this item, they DO NOT STACK. Having two of these will only increase it's effective area.
- Randuin's Omen is a damn good item, and not just for armor. Don't forget the active, which can tip a teamfight seriously in your favor, and it only gets better the more armor and magic resist you have. (This guide grants an extra 2 seconds to it's effect, if I mathed right.)
- Atma's Impaler Grants you mediocre armor, a crit chance that you'll probably never notice. The passive can reach pretty high levels with your natural amounts of health, however. I think there are better items.
- Sunfire Cape Health, armor, and deals damage just for existing. There are certainly worse items, but it doesn't do a lot for the rest of your team, like Randuin's Omen.
- Thornmail I have very rarely ever built this item. It's far more effective to slow down and kill the guy attacking you then making him him take 30% damage that can be reduced by magic resist. It does give the most amount of armor for a relatively low cost, so if you need it early to survive, then it's worth taking.
- Guardian Angel is your stack saver. Good defensive stats, but remember that you only come back with 750 health. So unless the teamfight is going strongly in your favor or you have a healer, once you're up it's time to GTFO.
- Iceborn Gauntlet is a neat new item that give armor, CDR, AP, and a sweet new way to slow people! The ability proc works just like Sheen, so turning Vorpal Spikes on and off won't activate it. But it gives a lot of stats that Cho needs, so it's a great item to pick up.
Warmog's Armor deserves a special mention after Force of Nature was taken away. Warmog's now gives you 1000 flat health instead of having to "charge" it. It also now gives the same amount of regen that Force of Nature gave, roughly .3% of your Maximum life per second. If you have enough resistances and you'd rather build straight tank than more damage, then Warmog's is worth picking up.
If I left out any item you think are of special interest, please tell me in the comments.
Learning the Laning Phase
Before we dive into specifics, there are some basic things you need to know, like how to last hit and why it's important, and understanding the zones of your lane and how you should behave in each zone.
Here's a tutorial video from GameZoneOnline about last hitting and why it's important.
Here's a tutorial video from Shurelia about zoning in your lane.
/league-of-legends/summoner-spell/teleport-6 Special Note: After you get Vorpal Spikes you'll notice last hitting become much easier, but be very careful not to push your lane with it. Even normal last hitting with Vorpal Spikes on is a very good way to push, since it weakens a large area of minions very quickly. The can be used to your advantage however, if your Teleport is up. I'll explain below.
Staying alive is the hard part. This involves understanding the lane zones, your personal zone, as well as your enemies, and paying attention to what your lane opponent does. After a few minutes in lane, you'll start to get a feel about what your opponent wants to do by they way that they act. Let's say I'm against a Riven, who's being fairly passive about 5 minutes into the game. She attempted to harass me before, but Rupture and Feral Scream have thrown her off of me, and Vorpal Spikes keeps her at bay. I haven't seen her jungler at all yet. Suddenly, she burst out from behind her minions and attempts to stun me with Ki Burst. I can safely assume that her jungler has arrived and is attmepting to gank. If I was zoning my lane properly, I can easily escape while burning minimum cooldowns.
If you're doing particularly well, go ahead and push your lane to their tower with Vorpal Spikes, then look around other lanes to see if you can lend a hand. You have Teleport, so by the time someone calls you MIA, you'll already be in position. This is especially nifty for bot lane, which should always have a ward you can Teleport to quickly and either net a kill or two, or force the enemies back to base to allow your ADC some free farm, and your support some time to go back and get more stuff. Mid is also a very nice lane to gank, since you may not even need to teleport there, especially if you have Ghost.
Generally, after the first tower or so falls, teamfight phase is about to begin.
Your Role in Teamfights
This build focuses mostly on making you a threat just by existing, let alone what you can actually dish out. With items like Randuin's Omen, Frozen Heart, and Abyssal Scepter, your mere presence is a large help to your team. But that doesn't mean you can do just anything. Cho is a strange one when it comes to teamfight, because he can play a lot of different roles. Here's what I do when I play Cho in teamfights.
Note: If you have a real tank, i.e. Nautilus, Galio, or Maokai, then always let them initiate teamfights. If you're the tank on the team, then you'll have to.
If you have to initiate, then the best way to do that is with Feral Scream. A three second silence can really screw up an enemy team's reaction and allow a few precious seconds for your team to leap on them. Learn the size of your AOE and what the best type of grouping looks like for you to hit as many people as you can with it. After the teamfight starts, protect your carries at all costs. If you have to die, so be it. If you carries are safe, then focus on taking out enemy carries or champions with problematic abilities, like Skarner or Sona. Do not forget about your Randuin's Omen! IT can really throw a wrench into an enemy's ability to fight back!
If the fight turned out in your favor, and your carries are still safe, then you can start cleaning up house. Kills are not wasted on you, but no not purposely take kills from your carries. Remember about your Feast indicator to ensure they don't escape with 4 HP left.
Top Lane Matchups
Anyone can try to top lane, but here's a list of who's good at it, how they compare to you, and how you can try to crush them down and win the lane. Each match up is rated 1 through 5 with 1 being "easy-mode" lane, and 5 being "simply try to survive."
Akali is a pretty easy lane to go against. Most of her tricks are outright stopped by your kit, and she's pretty squishy. Barring any jungler interference, this lane should go smoothly. If she pops Twilight Shroud, you can place a Rupture in the middle of the shroud, and she either leaves it or gets nailed. Remember when building against her, that Crescent Slash deals physical damage, even if it scales with AP. When she leaps on you with Shadow Dance, calmly use Feral Scream and walk away.
Rupture and Feral Scream. If you can effectively do that, then you should be alright. This is not an easy lane at all, but only because it demands your undivided attention.
Garen is one of the hardest lane comps you will ever have to deal with. Dude is tanky, with both kill power AND sustain. There isn't much you can do except passively farm, call MIAs and work with your jungler. Be extra vigilant with your wards this matchup, as a Garen bush is fatal.
Jayce is generally a strong top lane because of his ridiculous poke in cannon form and kill power in hammer form. Cho'Gath, however, counters poke by simply healing it away with his sustain, and your silence ruins a lot of Jayce's chances of killing out outright. Watch out for his Acceleration Gate coming out while in lane, and start moving side-to-side erratically to increase your chances of dodging Shock Blast. When in hammer form, Jayce will typically initiate with to the skies and follow up with Thundering Blow. Thundering blow will hurt you especially because it deals % damage off your maximum health. Once Jayce goes for the initiation, Feral Scream the second he's in range, then back off to safety. You won't win a 1v1 against Jayce. Otherwise, farm away.
Malphite is another sustain lane, but not because of regaining health, but because of his ridiculous shield. Remember that minion damage does not count against his shield reset, so you have to keep up the pressure against Malphite to keep it down, which Cho can do somewhat with Vorpal Spikes. However, this puts Cho within range of Malphite's abilities, which can do very serious damage that takes a while to heal away. Malphite's shield also takes a bite out of your Feast, which makes this lane extremely difficult. Farm as much as you can and pray your jungler makes a stop top lane.
Riven has been a very popular top lane champ in the past because of her high mobility, excellent kill power, and relatively good matchups. But Riven hates two things: silences and true damage. Guess what you have? That's right. Feral Scream can interrupt Broken Wings and a lot of Riven players will underestimate you until you redbar them with Feast. Even with these tools in your arsenal, do not underestimate Riven, and always call your MIAs. She is very fast and can mess up other lanes if she can't win against you. When fighting against Riven, remember she has higher sustained damage than you, so if you can't kill her or scare her off in one combo, then you need to get to safety.
Special Note: There is a change to Riven currently being tested on the PBE, reducing her once ******edly overpowered 11 hp/5 to a measly 4.5. Her shield has increased by 10 HP per skill level to 'compensate'. If this change goes through as is, then Riven matchups will turn strongly in your favor because of your better poke and burst.
It Came From the Forest - Jungle Cho'Gath
I've been seeing Cho a lot more often in solo queue, and almost exclusivly in he jungle. It makes me happy that the big guy is finally getting some love, but saddens me that he's only being picked for this one role. That out of the way, Cho is a fantastic jungler at the moment, ranking up with the very best. He has super sick clear times, stays at high health the entire time, and has very solid ganks.
As jungle Cho, I start with Hunter's Machete and 5 Health Potion and begin at blue. Get someone to throw some damage in, then take it with Smite. Level up your Rupture and then throw it under wolves as you round the corner. If you time it right, you can get a free hit or two in before they land. Get used to that timing, because as long as you have blue buff, you'll do it for every camp you can. Ganks are a reality once you hit level 4 and pick up Feral Scream. Once you get Feast, counter-jungling should be something you should try to do whenever you can, since you essentially have a free Smite.
Something you should keep in mind while you clear camps is to take out the smaller minions first. With your Vorpal Spikes, you'll still get damage in on the larger monster, and you'll pick up the healing buff that will keep you topped off in health, as well as triggering your passive, Carnivore.
Try to get your teammates to have at least one form of hard CC (stuns, knockups, snares) or powerful soft CC (strong slows, like Lulu's Glitterlance come to mind) in lane. This will help to ensure a kill when you come to gank. If you don't get a kill, don;t think of it as a failed gank. If you gave your lane some breathing room or allowed them to safely go back, you did your job. Be sure to ask someone who's been in lane for a while if they would like you to hold lane so they can go back and buy items.
BE SURE YOU WARN YOUR TEAMMATES WHEN YOU GANK. Always assume the lane doesn't know you're coming in, and tell them you're coming in. Pay attention to health and mana bars of your teammates before you come in too. If botlane is completely OOM, they need to go back, not necessarily a gank.
Wall of Fame
Didn't die until I sacrificed myself for a split push for the win. Also one of my better last-hitting games. Kinda stopped farming and started roaming about 25 minutes in.
- 11/1/2012 - Guide Created
- 11/2/2012 - Laning tips, teamfight tips, and lane matchups added. Guide Published
- 1/4/2013 - I've returned to this guide after a lot of personal **** went down the last month. Updated for Season 3, including masteries, items, and general playstyle. I've also deleted the Mage'Gath entry, as I'm going to focus on perfecting my offtank build in Season 3 before I spread to other roles.
- 3/9/2013 - Wow, 3 months since I've updated. Sorry, I'm getting swamped with coursework. Added a jungling build and chapter, as well as fixed the runes on the offtank build.
- 4/3/2013 - Beefed up the jungling section, changed some details on Feral Scream, minor grammar fixes.
A very special thanks goes to:
jhoijhoi for her guide on making guides.
And thank you, readers, for taking the time to... well read my guide. Please vote and comment about any changes you wish to see. If you downvote, please tell me why, so I may better my guide.