Xerath Build Guide by Dalgata
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
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.
Who are you and why should I care?
I'm Dalgata. I have a broad history of playing MMO's, starting with Runescape, Maplestory, World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Aion, Rift, and more that I'm sure are there, but I can't remember. Why should you listen to me? I like playing Xerath. I generally end up leading the team in kills and assists when I play my Xerath, and I feel like there is a lack of content that really shows the greatness of a well-played well-built Xerath. So here I am. An unknown, average joe, making a guide that I can only hope might give someone a little well-needed advice. I'm no one special, and don't claim to be.
Xerath is a ranged AP mage-type champion. He excels at solo laning, but if the need arises can be a potent duo lane partner, though it doesn't etch in well with the current 'meta'. Xerath has the capabilities to do several things most ranged AP champions don't have the ability to do, however this is entirely based on skill cap. A good Xerath will win his lane, maybe even gank, and go positive, or even carry. However, a great Xerath will do all those things, as well as what I believe Xerath was designed to do. Mass clean up. The difference between an ace that leads to a close game victory and those three that escape a team fight with a sliver of health is a great Xerath. Xerath is the master at sniping low health targets from incredible distances, making him one of the most viable and valuable AP mids in the game.
***PLEASE READ*** Before we begin:
This is a guide. This is a map. These are suggestions. This is not the ten commandments, and do not treat it as such. My masteries, runes, item build, spell sequence, spell rotations, summoner spells, and whatever else is present that has variables, factors, and options, is based solely off of my personal preference [and I myself often veer from the posted paths]. If you like taking a Rabbadon's Deathcap before a Hextech Revolver, do it. I'm only here to point in a direction, but when the forks in the road appear, I may take one path, you another, but we end up in the same place. In fact, I encourage exploration from my path, and if you find a better one, let me know! We're all here to learn, even me. :]
*Note* This guide is still in the making, with enhancements pertaining, but not limited to, Summoner spells, Items, and Skill Sequence incoming.
Pros / Cons
- Longest Ranged AP Consistantly
- Insane Bursting Potential
- A Fantastic 'Ace' Champion
- Able To Solo Blue 8+
- Your Job Requires Situational KSing
- Flash Reliant For Escaping Large Ganks
Runes and Masteries
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration
Greater Glyph of Ability Power
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration- These will help sustain your Xerath throughout the entire game. A careful Xerath will almost never have to B due to mana with these bad boys, and a newer, or more aggressive Xerath will be able to sustain long enough with them to not have to justify a MP/5 item in your build.
Greater Seal of Ability Power- For those with the passion of pure AP in their hearts, these seals aren't a terrible pick. However, I feel that the Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration helps your overall harass and sustain too much for flat AP to be worthwhile.
Greater Glyph of Ability Power- My preferred method of madness, I strive for early and unexpected first bloods. It is considered to be a more reckless play-style, but it has served me well so far.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power- This is a very viable alternative to my preferred flat AP runes, and arguably better. However I feel that Greater Glyph of Ability Power fits my play-style with Xerath more.
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power- The overall OOMF that you need for some great early game harass, and nearly 15 free AP isn't much bellyached about endgame.
I take standard 9/0/21 Masteries. Masteries are unique because there is a great deal of customization available in the Utility tree for Xerath. The Offensive tree is pretty straight forward, but as for what is 'best' for Xerath other than Runic Affinity is pure opinion and circumstance. Take what you feel is best and let others have their opinion, you won't ever make everyone happy with filler talent spots.
Before We Begin Items
I feel like this section is necessary. After reading the items section, be sure to check out the 'Stat Justification and Explanation' chapter below.
Things to keep in mind before you follow this, or an alternate route:
1) In my current build, you have enough Magic Penetration that you shouldn't need Sorcerer's Shoes unless you deviate from my path.
2) If you do deviate my path, I still HIGHLY recommend max CDR. The only alternative to this is if you have access to nearly ABSOLUTE GARAUNTEED blue buff up time. If your AD carry, support or jungle may swing in for the blue at any point, and you're sitting there without max CDR because you're relying on blue, your damage is SIGNIFICANTLY hindered. [Proof below]
Boots of Speed V.S. Doran's Ring- This is one that has a lot of controversy over a lot of AP middles, but in truth, it is highly situational. Your items and spell progression should be to what best counters your lane opposition. For example, if I lane against an Annie, or a Nasus, I would probably choose the good ol' Doran's Ring. However, if I go against a Brawler and/or gap closer, I.E. Kassadin or Talon, or a long range area damage champion like Cassiopeia or Karthus, I would go Boots of Speed and Health Potion. The reasoning why is simple: The faster you are, the easier to avoid skill shots. The more gap closers and skill shots that hit you, the less your sustain. Health potions counter this.
Two early help you really sustain and harass well with the added health, MP5, and ability power. I generally try to stay in lane until I have 1kg, and then back and grab both rings at once. This will really surprise your opposition by your sudden burst of power.
These are my boots of choice because between your Marks, your Locus, and your Void staff, you won't need any more spell penetration, but these help you achieve max CDR.
Early spell vamp greatly aides Xerath's sustain at all points throughout the game. I'm not a fan of recommending an item to 'rush' to, but if I had to I would say rush yourself a Hextech Revolver. See 'Stat Justification and Explanation' for spell vamp mathematics.
The rest of the build is fairly straight forward, open for debate, and preference, except perhaps:
This item is a fantastic item for Xerath, even though he doesn't have any spells that can be utilized during its duration. Reasoning why is simple: you are a high priority target, and you're ranged. What does this mean? This means that whenever someone attempts to assassinate you, they will be behind enemy lines, unless your positioning is bad, in which case you're probably dead. If they run through the team to get to you, they will die. If they go through the fog of war to pop up behind you, and attempt to kill you, a simple stun combo, run toward team, and Zhonya's when needed will save your life, and granting a free assassin kill for your team and nothing for theirs.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter V.S. Rod of Ages
This one has been buzzing around since the first critique post on my guide! And with good reason. Both of these items are good, both of these items cost about the same, and both of these items have their own unique advantages.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter hands out a 15% slow on all enemies, which will greatly assist allies, and potentially yourself, be it flight or fight. I feel this item has the ability to offer a little more kill security at the sacrifice of less stats than...
Rod of Ages. This item is also a decent item and is worth mentioning. I personally prefer Rylai's Crystal Scepter, but if its not your cup of tea, or you're down for experimentation, try to etch an early Rod of Ages into your build. I will say at the very least that this is a recommended alternative.
Rod of Ages- Explained above
Deathfire Grasp- A good alternative for Morello's Evil Tome. The major drawback to this item is that it is a sweeper item, to ensure a bursty kill, but it has the same issue with Ignite, being that the range of the 'use' effect is very, very small compared to Xerath's range.
Sorcerer's Shoes- If you have access to GUARANTEED blue buff then I highly recommend these over Ionian Boots of Ludicity.
Banshee's Veil- A fantastic beef item that is highly recommended for those games that you just can't seem to get a break! This item will help immensely with survivability on high CC teams as well.
Mercury's Treads- I don't care what character you're playing, sometimes these bad boys are worth the while. If you're finding yourself against that obnoxious Amumu / Nunu / Sion / Taric / Caitlyn team and your range isn't saving you, its time to invest in some Treads.
Stat/Item Justification and Explanation [Math]
Spell Vamp- With 25% lifesteal(Spell Vamp) at the 33% AoE Reduction, the life returned from a wave of six minions [excluding the every other cannon minion] at level 9-ish when you can or almost can oneshot a caster minon and equivilent larger minons is ~302 HP stolen. At around level 9 you probably still only have 15% lifesteal, which will be 181 HP. At level 9 Xerath has 1100 base HP, meaning you restore 16.5% of HP with each Arcanopulse cast. That's pretty good sustain, and it only gets better as you level and upgrade spell vamp. It is my belief that Spell vamp is well worthwhile for Xerath. A single target would have to dish out 1,208 damage with a SINGLE SPELL to get the same spell vamp effect that arcanopulse gives back at about 302 HP spell vamp, and thats not considering a fully powered Xerath. This regeneration is on a 3 second CD timer. Assuming Xerath consistently hits 2-3 targets in team fights with his Q and, moreover, his R, you can imagine the insane amounts of spell vamp that can replenish your health during a team fight, as well has his laning phase. As an added bonus, Will of the Ancients also has an aura which enhances the stats of your entire team. The more of a team player you are, the more success you will find yourself obtaining, especially in higher levels of competitive game play.
CDR or flat AP?- Supposing if, under pure theoretics, I hit for 400 every 3 seconds with Arcanopulse, I would have to hit for 667 every 5 seconds for EQUALED damage output. 235 of that damage is constant, or the base damage of Arcanopulse. I deal 165 more damage than the base damage at 400, you deal 365 more damage at 667. Arcanopulse takes 60% ability power toward spell damage. Doing the math it is justified that I have 275 AP [165*.6], and you have 608 AP [365*.6]. You have to have ~2.5 TIMES the amount of ability power to justify not striving for max CDR quicker and more consistent [meaning without elixirs and blue buff] than me. That's nearly three Deathcaps [bast stat, ignoring passive] for two Cooldown Reduction items that come with some generic AP for the cost of less than one Deathcap. This clearly puts maxing CDR early as the winner in maximum damage potential, by a lot.
*DISCLAIMER* If you are POSITIVE you will have REOCCURRING and RELIABLE blue buffs, then NOT striving for Max CDR is going to be better for you. That being said, most games that aren't premade 5v5's, that will NOT be the case, especially late game when Xerath is supposed to Thrive. Keep this in mind when building your Xerath every game.
Xerath, I.E. Kassadin or Talon. This build is NOT optimal for most mid match ups.
"Some quick math: because % magic pen stacks multiplicatively instead of additively, each rank in Locus will only increase your magic pen by about 4%. Assuming you have Sorcerer's Shoes and magic pen marks (~30 magic pen total), each rank in Locus increases your magic pen on a target with 50 MR by about 1 point. At that rate, you do far more damage by getting another level in one of his damage skills." -Credit to RaskolnikovsAxe, who already did math that I was too lazy to do but remembered seeing!
is an overused, slightly overrated summoner spell, and is not required, and sometimes not even worthwhile, much less optimal for several champions. That being said, Flash and Xerath go together like Peanut Butter and Coffee. [Its a good thing.] Anyway, Flash is extremely important for high-priority, high position dependent champions. Xerath is a prime example of such. You should always hang back, and sit near a flash-able wall to avoid any attempted Assassination during team fights, especially pre-Zonya's. In middle it helps any silly mistakes that prevents you from losing your lane due to one foolish death that put your opposition ahead.
is my go-to secondary summoner spell on most occasions. This helps you keep in lane longer, gank sides and then teleport back to middle to prevent that tower push, and so much more. And to be honest with you, the real reason why I take teleport, unfortunately is this: I personally feel there is nothing better to take.
Well, what about the almighty, mage friendly...
Ignite?!?!?1- good point. However, consider this: why would you be in range to ignite in a situation where it would be super helpful? Xerath's power lies in his amazing burst from AFAR. If someone is up your face you need to do a stun-combo and BACK OFF. If someones beating your face with a war-hammer and you tank it, more power to you, but you're defeating the purpose of playing Xerath [And you will proooooobably die.] Ignite is best utilized for early game kills that you woulda had, but you just barely lacked the oomf.
Exhaust- Another good defensive summoner spell that will really help you with a melee smacking you in the face, but with Zhonya's Hourglass, your range, and Flash I would only recommend this on unusually heavy AD teams.
Cleanse- Some people argue this is viable, I argue that if you get caught in a stun you probably weren't doing something right, and although maybe once a game you could use Cleanse to your advantage, you would have to use Cleanse consistently for it to be viable in my eyes. To use Cleanse consistently, you must be repetitively poorly positioned.
Playing League of Legends [TBC]
Here are some tips for the newer league of legends players out there. I decided to add this, if for no other reason than I wish more guides had these, so when I was new to the League I would have a few perspective from a few different players on good, generic things to do.
WARD- The most important, easy thing to do to help improve your game play. The more you ward and learn where and how to ward, the more it will reflect on your game play. Because I'm making a guide based off a primarily middle based champion, I'll give you a few brief recommendations.
1)Two wards in both side bushes to the left and right middle of mid lane. This ensures that no matter how little map awareness and how far you overextend, you will be hard-pressed to be taken by surprise.
2)For the penny pinchers, one ward for either the left or right bush in middle lane. If you stick to that side of the lane, you will be hard-pressed to get ganked successfully.
3)Map aware warding, but you have to pay closer attention [for the more experienced players]. Place your wards so you can see if someone approaches the bush, but it shows more of the jungle route. It helps keep track of potential jungle ganks to all lanes, as well as keeping track of general enemy jungler movement and dragon security.
Health Potions- Don't be afraid to use these. From levels 1-10 I try to keep three health potions on hand at all times. It really helps your sustain until you get some spell vamp, and sustain is important!
Creep Score- Creep Score [or CS] is often overlooked by many new players, and although the importance is known by more experienced players, it's sometimes difficult to know when to harass, and when to know you shouldn't. General rule of thumb: A kill isn't garaunteed. Creep Score can be, with practice. Focus on Creep Score, only go for a kill when you're 75% sure you can secure a kill. If you can force an enemy to B but don't get a kill THAT IS FINE. It will put you that much further ahead. But whatever you do, its important to remember to...
Not Push Your Lane!- Pushing your lane means you're more susceptible to ganks, you get less CS due to turret fire, and have an increased risk of finding that wild hair for a less than intelligent tower dive. That being said, you still need to
Know When To Push!- You shouldn't ever not push a lane in the history of forever. You have to learn when its time to push your lane. Through experience you will learn when this is... Its situation based on every game. After learning not to push, learning when to push will come rather naturally.
Using Xerath [TBC]
For those of you a bit newer to the Champion, here's a chapter just for you! My tips, tricks, and recommendations on spell rotation will be the here.
How do you get kills with Xerath? Quick reflexes and spamming. Do you use smart casting? If you said yes, GREAT! Take it off, and go play bots for a while. Why? Because I did this, and now with smart casting on, I know my limitations, I can snipe people from the fog of war with the very tip of a Locus Arcano combo, with no indication of the range except me simply knowing. If you answered no, go play bots. Learn the range of the spells, and then turn on smart casting, and play more bots to get used to this.
Q: Is smartcast required to play this champion?
A: No. It is required to play this champion well, though. You may do decent with a normal bind Xerath, but a smartcast Xerath [or any skillshot champion, really] will put you into check.
Arcanopulse- This spell is crazy, but it has hidden uses. The target can be outside the range for your almighty Q, but don't fret. If they are barely outside your Q, what do you do? Cast it anyway. Why? Becaue your Q's range is deceptively long. Test the range of your Q on some bots, learn from the visual and the actual range. Use this to your advantage!
The Stun Combo- This combo is a no brainer. Knowing when to use it isn't. You're pushing your lane, Annie is at her turret, and she starts yalping profanities at Udyr to come gank you. You forget to ward, your wards expire, you don't need wards, whatever the case may be, Udyr comes running out of the bush and you don't expect it. What do you do?! Fortunately, Xerath is nigh ungankable from lane for those with quick reactions and good observation skills. A simple Mage Chains Arcanopulse combo at the assailant will give you more than ample time to scurry back to your tower for safety.
Remember this combo for turret dives on you [they usually get counter killed via stun], running away, stopping a runner, etc.
*Tip: You can cast your Chain and jump right into your Q without delay, the stun will always take effect due to the travel time of Mage Chain.
Harassing- Against AP caster mids, the general harass combo should be Mage Chains into Arcanopulse. If you're going against a brawler, gap closer, or someone with insane range, like yourself, save it [or in the last case, just don't use it, because you won't be able to courtesy of range.] Harass with Q, and when they make the mistake of slipping into range of your Mage Chains a quick EQ combo will send them scurrying away, scared. If you slip into range and EQ a champion like Talon or Kassadin, you'll just get silenced, and beat on, forcing you to use it after the silence wears off, and you get out harassed.
Locus of Power- This may just be me, but I believe this is the hardest part of Xerath. Its not because you use it to snipe off enemies, its because Locus of power gives you Magic Penetration, and its hard to remember that sometimes its okay to use this spell for more than just range. If your target is in range, but you want to dish out more damage, you should Locus! But knowing when that is truly appropriate and remembering to do so will just require practice.
Xerath is a high skill cap, high reward champion. His damage potential is insane, but you have to learn when to properly use your Mage Chain and Locus of power via trial and error. I highly recommend bot games with this champion more than any other champion, simply because you MUST smartcast with him to be viable, but also must learn the range of his spells twice, once for ordinary circumstances and once for Locus of Power circumstances. Jump into normals if you want, but I don't recommend it, it will hinder your play with your guessing and checking based off of no education!
Good luck, have fun!
Remember, your highest priority targets are those escaping fights with little HP to speak of [without getting yourself killed]. Doing this correctly will make you the Ace scoring card on your team, making you: Xerath, the Ace.