Xerath Build Guide by BurningCactusRage
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Greetings, ladies and gentlemen! Recently (as of this writing) Xerath was blessed with a complete rework, ditching his old kit for one much better suited for the new season. Although he was formerly the 5th least played champion, the new changes have made Xerath viable once more in mid lane. This guide will go over everything you need to start playing Xerath and how to effectively use the new skills you've been handed.
4.3 Patch Notes:
With the buffs to Spellthief's Edge, and a couple of successful games of mine, I'm adding a section to playing support Xerath as well. I find it perfectly viable and I hope to see more champions experiment this item.
5/9/14: Updating the guide slightly to reflect new summoner spells, adding some match ups, and throwing in some better advice regarding items.
Pros / Cons (Mid + Supp)
First things first! Pros/Cons of Xerath:
- Powerful Mid with incredible burst potential!
- Overall good early, mid, and late game; abilities scale very well.
- Has access to a stun and a slow that scales from 60%-80%
- Passive ability gives fantastic mana regen in lane and out.
- *Amazing* range with all of his abilities, especially his ult.
- Fun to play!
- Has the Scorched Earth skin, which turns him into S.E.X.
- (Support) Supporting is now perfectly viable, even fun, to play.
- Is countered by champions like Akali due to his squishiness
- Has iffy mobility; only hope for escape is to land his slows and stuns
- All of his abilities are skillshots. Difficult to play and has a relatively high skill cap.
Keep all of these in mind if you know who the enemy mid laner is.
Masteries/Runes (Mid + Maybe Supp)
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Mana Regeneration
Greater Glyph of Ability Power
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Nothing unusual here, I think. This is pretty typical for most magic builds.
My masteries are pretty straightforward, if you like you can replace biscuits if you don't plan on buying health pots.
If you're playing Support, you might prefer another set, but I play very aggressively and I don't use a different set of runes.
Summoner's Spells (Mid + Supp)
Flash is one you can bet on taking in 100% of your games. I'll say this straight out: this single ability can save your life in so many situations it's not worth taking anything else in its place. This is the only way to give Xerath that extra bit of mobility he so desperately needs. Always take this.
Heal actually suits Xerath's kit nicely. Since Xerath is very, very squishy this can be a massive life saver in many situations, especially those nasty early game ganks. I'll take ignite usually, but it's a choie to consider.
Ignite is an equally good choice. I take this more often than barrier, and for good reason. If you get close enough, stunning, landing a W and Q, and adding ignite makes for an easy kill in many situations.
Exhaust: if you're play support, take it. Otherwise, don't.
Clairvoyance can help if you find you run out of mana frequently. Works well for what it is, I guess.
Revive and Teleport are only good if you're level 3 or trying to troll.
The rest I wouldn't recommend on Xerath, but if you really want to go ahead and try. Just don't come crying to me when you ran a build with Cleanse and Garrison.
Skill Sequence (Mid + Supp)
Mana Surge is very helpful early game: whenever you get the opportunity to activate this without being poked by the enemy laner, use it. The mana restore is a massive help early game since Xerath uses a lotta mana. Late game you'll begin to forget about this, but by then you'll have Athene's Unholy Grail and other things to help you out. If you get a 2 second stun on the mid laner, you can auto them for double the mana regen, although you must be careful when doing so. It's even helpful in those fights where you and an enemy are the last remaining and you need just a *hair* more mana to finish this sucker off.
Xerath's Arcanopulse is the first you'll want to max out. This is his best poke that gets startling range when fully charged, however, the damage is the same at all ranges. You can use it to poke the other mid laner while behind all of your minions, but landing it can be a bit tricky. This is crucial to being able to win your lane, as hitting Arcanopulse consistently will force your opponent to recall or chug potions to survive, giving you an upper hand. In teamfights, spam this. Stay in the back and just fire them off like there's no tomorrow.
Eye of Destruction is the second one you should focus on maxing. The slow actually scales, making this a must to get second. At its max rank, you can score an 80% slow if you can hit the center of the eye on your opponent. In teamfights, this is useful if you stay in the back and fire off this before activating your other abilities. It's also helpful as an escape: first stun with Shocking Orb and target the slow right in front of where they're about to walk.
Although we max this last, Shocking Orb is one of Xerath's most important skills. The stun actually is longer if you hit from further away, but when you're panicking to stun the opponent just fire it off ASAP. The stun doesn't scale and the damage isn't as good as your Arcanopulse , so put the final points in it. Note: Unlike all of his other abilities, this will hit minions, so make sure you have a clear path before shooting it off.
Oh man. Back up son, Xerath's new ult is really, really awesome. As with virtually every champion's ult, put points in Rite of the Arcane as soon as you hit 6, 11, and 16. This is your ultimate finisher, just when your opponent thought they could run away activate this and fire away! You get three shots of these, so be careful: don't miss. Also, note that it can hit more than one person and it will apply full damage to each that is hit.
When you activate Rite of the Arcane you won't be able to move, but the range is sweet so you'll be alright. Each shot will give you some vision of where you're shooting, so you should be able to locate the enemy and finish them. In teamfights this can be used to strike the entire team, if placed correctly. And if you decide to not shoot because they're out of range, just save it and the cooldown is halved.
A simple combo: your opponent approaches you, and you shoot your Shocking Orb at them. While they're stunned, you shoot off an Arcanopulse at them, taking no more range than you need, and immediately activating you Eye of Destruction. Desperate for their life, the enemy runs away, only to see that you've ulted and proceed to burst them down with your Rite of the Arcane. This of course can be applied elsewhere, but it is extremely effective in most cases and some teamfights.
If I had to describe Xerath's kit in a couple of words, it would be "Movement-predicting sniper". Your Arcanopulse has a slight delay before it actually is fired. Your Eye of Destruction has a 0.5 second delay before the bolt crashes down. Shocking Orb needs to be fired in the direction of where the enemy is likely to walk, not directly at them. And of course, your ult, each energy pulse takes a 0.5 second to arrive. So, with all of that, this is crucial to your success. It'll come naturally after playing him after so long, but it's something to just realize if you're new to him.
I build Xerath a bit differently than others might, but I'm comfortable with these items.
Simple. Grab a doran's ring to start out, and your choice of two health potions or one health and one mana. Either starts are perfectly good, so take two health if the enemy has a good poke and one if you think you can manage. Don't forget your free ward!
For boots, take magic pen. There is no reason to take any other boots. Period. You don't have to get boots first, though; feel free to try a different order. Rabadon's Deathcap is important - after this, your Arcanopulse will really begin to sting. Make sure to grab the Tear of the Goddess so you can begin to build into Archangel/Seraph, or the Chalice of Harmony for the mana regeneration. The mana regen on Chalice should be enough for now, and the mana and mana regen of Tear should be good enough as well.
By the way, if you have the tear or the Archangel's Staff, make sure you're charging it! If you have decent regen, especially blue buff, poke like mad and spam your abilities! You really want to get Seraph's Embrace sooner if you can. Keep in mind in order to max it, you have to cast 94 spells! So whenever you can, cast spells, but don't leave yourself open to be ganked since you wasted cooldowns on something stupid.
OR icon=athene's unholy grail size=50
I consider this a must. Seraph's will leave you completely set for mana and regen, and give you a great amount of ability power on top of it (at level 18, you'll have 2084 mana which gives you 62 AP, plus the flat 60 AP that the staff gives you. Not too shabby!) Otherwise, get the grail at some point - it's not as critical to rush it. After you've built one of these, you can move on to AP stacking. My advice to you is to build another AP item like Zhonya's Hourglass or Deathfire Grasp while it Archangel's Staff charges if you bought it, Archangel's is honestly nothing crazy on its own.
These are situationals, but all are perfectly good to get. It's really up to you which to get, but it's important that you buy at least several from this list.
Zhonya's Hourglass is awesome. The 120 AP is great, and the active can save your life in so many situations it's almost always worth it. The armor, however, won't do you much good: you're still really squishy, so just take advantage of the AP it gives.
Deathfire Grasp is really good too. The 120 AP will make you really strong and you get 10% CDR on top of that. The active is kind of nice too but I don't find myself using it frequently since I sit in the back and snipe.
Void Staff is great to get, especially if you're behind in your lane. The 70 AP is welcome and the passive will help you out if the opposing team has decent magic resist. The fact that this is only 2300 gold makes it perfect if your CS is low. If it's endgame and you've bought all of the above items, this is probably the most efficient as #6.
Liandry's Torment is pretty good. I'd say if you're behind you should get this. It'll help you get more out of each skillshot you land thanks to its passive and the health with help you get killed less. Quit feeding, dude.
Morellonomicon is alright, but I'd try to go without it. I'd rather stack a high AP item here as the mana regen is already covered by your Seraph's Embrace or your Athene's Unholy Grail. The CDR is nice, I guess it lets you spam arcanopulse more. The passive isn't too bad, though - maybe get this if you're having a bad match.
Mejai's Soulstealer is a really, really risky buy: but if you're a beast it can totally pay off. I wouldn't recommend this unless you are just godly, but this can make you snowball seriously hard: at max rank (if you can manage to get up there) it gives 160 AP (!!!) Plus CDR on top of it. I don't get this, but if you really want to try it out, go for it.
Alright. That was a mouthful, let's move on.
Finding the most effective build for hybrid supports like Xerath isn't easy: the choice you have to make is asking, "Am I more of a mage, or a traditional support?" My answer: You are a hybrid mage! The reason you can pull this off, more or less, is due to Spellthief's edge. And that leads us to our first buy....
icon=spellthief's edge size=50 icon=stealth ward size=50][[icon=mana potion size=50 icon=sweeping lens size=50
Ah, here we are. Somewhat standard stuff: you've got a gold income item, you have a ward since you don't have your good friend Sightstone yet, and a mana potion. If you think you'll need it, grab a health pot instead, but that mana might be of more use to you. And of course, standard support stuff: take the Sweeping Lens so you can crush those pesky wards.
icon=frostfang size=50 icon=sightstone size=50 icon=sorcerer's shoes size=50 icon=tear of the goddess size=50
Ok, so we're nearing midgame. You've been poking and earning enough gold to get some buys in, so you should obviously get Sightstone so you can stop wasting money on buying wards every recall. You're going to want some sorcerer's shoes or the enemy might be able to outrun you and chase you down. That'd be bad. And lastly, you want more mana and ability power for later, so start building the tear of the goddess if you ever get a chance. You then can begin charging it, but don't feel the need to rush it into [[Archangel's staff, just wait till it's full before you build it further.
"But wait, why don't we take Boots of Mobility, those are much better on a support!" Good question! 1) Boots of mobility is currently bad, since 4.3 nerfed them into a pair of boots that makes you slower than everyone else in combat. If they buff them and I forget to update this, ignore that statement. 2) The extra speed is nice, no doubt, but the reason you're playing Xerath support is because you're here to be aggressive and poke. Hit them with Arcanopulse, take out a quarter of the carry's health, etc. You just can't get the damage with mobo boots, but if you like they're still a viable choice.
icon=frost queen's claim size=50 icon=ruby sightstone size=50 icon=Seraph's embrace size=50 icon=rabadon's deathcap size=50 icon=zhonya's hourglass size=50
Finish up that support item quickly so you can get the most out of it. You might want to do this long before you even touch anything else, maybe even prioritize it over your boots. Finish up your Ruby Sightstone, might as well (although I usually don't think it's completely necessary in most cases). Now it's time for you to inflict some more pain, so finish your Seraph's Embrace build and start building AP. These two are probably on the top of your list, as Rabadon's Deathcap just is beastly for mages and [[zhonya's hourglass] gives you good AP and a sweet active.
Locket of the Iron Solari is an alright item, but I personally think it suits passive supports better. You might want to build this for better teamfighting, but it's up to your style and whether you need more defensive or offensive power.
Mikael's Crucible is a pretty good item; the mana regen is good if you don't like Seraph's for whatever reason. The active is always appreciated by whoever's life you saved with it, so I'd consider building this item as well.
You can variate a bit on this, and I encourage you to experiment here and there. This is an unusual support, so don't feel too constrained with items.
Should I take Seraph's or do I want Unholy Grail?
I used to have a dumb breakdown of each, but honestly, I should simplify it down to this. So it's your first recall. Ask yourself:
1) Is the enemy mid laner AP or AD?
2) If they are AP, do I need the magic resist or can I afford to go full AP and mana?
That's all you need. Against a Zed I'd always pick Seraph's and against a Katarina I'd take the Grail, unless she was absolutely terrible.
Laning (Mid) and Teamfights (Mid + Support)
I'll say this right here, before we begin. Xerath is somewhat challenging to play. Early game you need to try and CS well, so you should last hit whenever possible as always. Something helpful you can try is to land Arcanopulse so that it pokes your enemy and gets you some CS. It's crucial that you don't overextend because you only have your stun and a slow if the enemy jungler picks on you. If you do get ganked try to land your stun first to hurt their initiate, and then follow up with a slow. You really don't want to be in this position because Xerath is seriously squishy and your only escape is to land two consecutive skill shots, so be cautious!
Teamfights require that you're not in the front. Ever. If you do, you will be focused and you will die. Simply sit behind the fighters/tanks and use your skills from afar, you have good range. If you spot anyone retreating, ult! You won't regret the free kill.
Best case scenario is that after the initiation from someone with good CC like Amumu, you fire off your Eye of Destruction if there's multiple people you can hit or your schocking orb if there isn't. Then spam Arcanopulse and hit as many people as you can. Remember: range is your ally!
So with the 4.3 patch, the Spellthief's Edge series was given a buff, making it much more viable for mages like Lux to act as supports again (If you happened to notice, her play rate dropped with S4 as people preferred Leona and Thresh and tanky supports over poor Lux.) I'm hoping to see more variations in supports, and by chance Xerath actually fits this really well. You have the range to pull this off, you have a slow and a stun, and a ult that can pop the kill for you and assist for your carry if he/she can't nab it in time. So, how does this work?
Early game: Alright, so you've taken the items I've recommended and are ready. Now, early game your purpose is extremely simple: protect the carry with your stun and slow, set up kills for the carry with your stun and slow, and POKE! POKE LIKE THERE'S NO TOMORROW!!!!
But seriously though, your entire support basis is relying on your poking. Not only can you effectively zone the enemy with it, but you get gold for doing so! Your range is literally so high you take almost no risk every time you aim and shoot off an Arcanopulse. This will become such a nuisance for the other bot lane and force them to give up tons of CS. It's a double win, gold for you, and no gold for them!
As it gets later into the game, during teamfights, you'll need to fit the mage playstyle a bit better. You don't have the damage you would've if you had built like a mid-lane, but that's ok. Your range is great and that counts for a lot, so put it to good use. In fact, you might want to just read some of the mid lane teamfighting, it's mostly still the same. Here's one of Xerath's only support pitfalls: unless you've chosen aura items too, you can't do quite as much to support your team and carry. You'll have to make do with your long ranged stuns and slows.
Xerath does really well when played as he should be: in the back, with his long range attacks. But you have to be especially careful with Xerath; he's squishy and not very mobile.
1) Be extremely wary of ganks while laning. This may come across as obvious, but this is so crucial to your laning that I can't stress it quite enough. You need to keep at least one bush warded and you really don't overextend too much. If the jungler comes after you, the only hope you have is to stun the enemy, and follow up with your slow as you run away. Your base movement speed is slow and the boots will help with that, but odds are the jungler can close that gap quickly. Play conservatively when you don't have a reason to be aggressive; if they're low then try to snipe them, but if not you don't need to push and try to kill the tower.
2) Beware of mobile champions like Akali and Zed. When against them, they can close the gap you desperately need in seconds to get their burst on you, and you don't want that. Stay back, poke with Arcanopulse and be safe! In fact, you'll have the advantage if you can shut out their mobility: if they can't get in close, you'll be able to smack them over and over and force them to cope.
3) In team fights, stay behind. And I mean almost always, stay in the back. Your spells will be just as effective, and it's what you're built to do. If you're anywhere near the range where the carry can dash through and target you, you are too close! You're squishy and will be focused in team fights. Being in the back also helps you cope with the fact that your mobility is low, so if you need an escape you have a headstart.
List of champions that Xerath likes to kill, champs that you won't like, an
This is my matchup section, with this half being good matchups. This isn't an exhaustive list: I'm writing mostly from experience, so it won't be perfect, but if you have any notes on these guys I'll gladly accept them. The scores aren't necessarily about how good they are against Xerath but also include how good they are overall (ex. Galio is a low score despite stacking MR, and Leblanc is a high score despite your range.)
Note: Scale is from 1-5, where 1 is a Don't-Even-Think-Twice-You've-Got-This, and a 5 is NEVER PICK. Probably won't be many of those, but still. A half point anywhere (2.5 or 3.5) means there might be a slight advantage or you just might need to be slightly cautious.
1/5 Annie's range is nothing special. Use your distance to zone her a bit and chip her health away in lane. Don't let her flash + Tibbers you.
3/5 Ahri's charm is obnoxious, but she shouldn't necessarily beat you.
4/5 Akali is annoying, we all know that. Just stay away from her and her shroud, you really will regret letting her get into her ult's range.
2/5 You've got better range than Brand does, but don't get lazy. If he does his job right your health will slowly burn away.
3/5 Cassiopeia isn't crazy good against you, but I wouldn't stand in that slow ever. Don't let her within ult range, you do plenty of damage outside of it.
3/5 Diana is good and all, but she shouldn't be any particular threat to you.
3.25/5 Ok, Ezreal and his flash are dangerous, but don't let that get the best of you. You still have tons of range and your burst is better, I only give him the oddly precise quarter point for having Arcane Shift.
3.5/5 Ah, Fizz, he's a good magic fighter but you can do this. I only give him the point because he does good damage, but if you're playing correctly you will be too.
1/5 Galio? People still play him mid?
3.5/5 Heimerdinger is so annoying to face, especially because of the fact that he will almost always out farm you. You can pick off those turrets or just shoot him instead, maybe both? He's a boring guy to have to face, so good luck. Thankfully your long range makes it easier to cope with.
4/5 Karma ugggghhhhh.... Honestly she's underrated and such a lane bully. She's really annoying to lane against, your range helps but she has decent range too. Do your best, but there's probably better matches against a Karma.
2/5 You shouldn't have issues with Karthus. You really shouldn't.
4.25/5 Shoot, Kassadin buffs (after the hardest nerf to date) made Kass playable. He's actually not too bad, but you gotta watch out for that ult. He won't be impossible like he used to... but honestly, his ult is such a great gap close you gotta be able to land stuns against him. All in all, be careful.
3.75/5 Katarina... She's annoying. I'll give her that. But you can win this, don't fear. Try to make sure she can't Shunpo to you easily, and if she does get in range try to get to the turret. The second she ults, stun her and cancel it.
3.25/5 Kayle is pretty strong right now. What you need to fear is her ranged autos and that awful invulnerability. However, you still win in the range department, so you have that over her.
4.9999/5 LeBlanc. Leblanc. Screw Leblanc. She's got so much damage, a root, a silence... The stupid chain has almost as much range as you do. If she needs to, she has that dumb dash that might as well be labeled "Free damage with near-zero risk!". Frankly I hate her, I'd take practically anybody against her. She will melt you over and over. The only thing that stops this from making you lose for certain is that if you play ultra passive and do nothing but snipe, you have a chance. And you do good damage too if she goes in on you and you get the stun off, just be very, very careful.
3/5 You've got the range, and Lissandra has her teleport and her unique little kit. But I think you can handle her. Damage is good on her, but she'll need to get in your face to really do it.
3.5/5 Agh, Whimsy! You annoy me! But she is a good champ with good abilites, still you'll be ok. Just be careful if the jungler comes, Lulu's ult is great with practically anyone.
3.25/5 To be honest, Lux is like you a bit. Her poke is annoying (just like yours) but it's really a poke-off between two of the champions with the best range. A good tip is that if she gets the snare on you, when she comes to combo you throw your stun and make sure she takes damage too! Don't let her walk away free from trades if you can. That ult is dangerous though, get your jukes ready.
3.5/5 Malzahar is an irritation. The Silence is annoying, and his field is kinda annoying too, but you can get this guy. Just keep the poke up and you'll be alright.
4/5 Morgana? Yeah, she's a pain in the neck. If she hits you with that ridiculous snare (3 seconds!? Riot pls) Stun her back and combo her. You'll both go limping away, but at least you won't lose trades completely. To be honest, she and dumb shield as so annoying too, try to wait for it to wear out rather than wasting mana on it.
4/5 Nidalee is, in my (slighly controversial) opinion, one of the most boring champions in this game. All she does is sit there and throw her ****ing spears all day, which does ridiculous amounts of damage with a single strike. This sucks especially for you, considering you need to stay far back too. Her sieging is so mean too - she actually outranges you slightly. Ugh. I hate her. You might do better, but I can't stand her.
2.5/5 Orianna, bring it on! You got the range, you can take her. Her combat isn't bad, she's really there to win teamfights, but you can take her in lane.
3.75/5 The problem with Soraka is that she does 3 things: farms, silences you when you go in on her, and heals afterwards. Makes for a boring lane that you can't really win, it's honestly pretty bad. She can also screw with everyone everywhere with that heal of hers.... rito adjust scaling pls
3.5/5 Syndra is dangerous. That ult is so strong if she gets the orbs up, everything about her is a ton of damage! Even her base ult damage is high, and her range is pretty strong, although she'll need to get a bit closer to ult. You can do it, it's only a bit more difficult than your run of the mill mid laner.
4/5 Talon counters so many mid champs. And why shouldn't he? High AD burst, plus a teleport that silences enemies? Just stand waaaaaay back and try to poke him till he cries. Play passive. Otherwise, he'll probably kill you, especially if he goes lifesteal.
2.5/5 AP Tristana does good damage, but only if you let her. Remember, you've got the stun and the range.
2/5 Twisted Fate has got nothing on you. Don't worry man, his Wild Cards has good range but you can probably dodge it, and he shouldn't normally get any auto attacks on you for his W or E.
4.5/5 Veigar is.... tricky. Mana font as his passive? Yup. His scaling is so good, and that stun of his can catch you off guard. If you get caught in the center, run around and juke his spells while counterattacking. His ult will wreck you - it does crazy damage AND scales off of your AP? He's actually a threat to you, so take advantage of your awesome range for this one.
1.5/5 Vel'Koz honestly has bad damage. You can kick this dude around all day, frankly I personally think he's too weak to be a threat to you.
2.5/5 Viktor. His Hexcore will give him a great advantage mid game, but you honestly out-range him and can kick him around. He's bursty, but you can take him.
3/5 Xerath. May the best man win ;)
3.25/5 Ziggs has good damage and basically has your range. He is really meta right now and I'd watch out for him, but frankly you can do this if you want. You got the poke too, and you can CS pretty well. Take advantage of mana surge especially here, you'll want to stay in lane and try to out-farm the little guy.
Playing Xerath is no easy task, but mastering him is incredibly rewarding and gives him some of the best burst potential in the game. I hope you enjoyed this guide, and if you start playing him, my thanks to you.
Please, if you enjoyed this guide leave me a thumbs, if it made you feed 3/25/1 vote me down, and if you have any suggestions for improvements leave them in the comments and I'll be sure to acknowledge them.
May luck be with you, praise the sun, and hail lord Xerath!