Xerath Build Guide by soelra#9830
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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.
Disclaimer: This guide is still work in progress, I will be making it look pretty, but I wanted to at least get the information down. Also this guide is how I play him. Please try the build before voting and leave constructive criticism so that I can make it better for everyone.
The moment I saw Xeraths mechanics preview I was very excited as it was a new long range champion and a mage, which I thought was awesome as I enjoy playing both. I bought Xerath on day one and have never looked back. Since buying him I have played him often and have tried many different builds and tactics, which I hope I can share with you in this guide.
Follow this guide and you match history could end up looking something like this:
Pros / Cons
Awesome taunt and dance
Fits well into a team
No real escape
Easily ganked if positioned badly
Is quite weak if you get a bad start
Squishy without tanky items
Short guide (Only read if you don't have much time)
This is a much shortened version of the main guide so it lack’s detailed descriptions and all that good stuff. If you have time I advise reading the main guide or at least parts of it, but if you don’t have time just look through this section to get a basic understanding of the build.
ascended form: Nice passive gets you tankier by getting more damage.
Arcanopulse: Main source of damage, with locus of pwer the range is very nice and the damage is strong. Max it first to reduce the cooldown and max the damage.
locus of power: Gives you your awesome range and also adds some damage. Max second to reduce the cooldown so you can use it as often as possible. (Much more detail in full guide)
mage chains: Your only cc. Decent damage, but levels don’t increase the stun time which is what you mainly use it for so max it last.
Arcane Barrage: Great ultimate landing all 3 blasts will tear through pretty much anything and combined with locus of power the range is great.
I take full AP runes with magic penetration marks for the early game dominance because if your early game goes well then your late game generally does as well. Other rune setups also work fine such as mana regen, cooldown reduction and magic resist etc.
Standard mage masteries, if you prefer reduced death times over health and mana regen feel free its personal opinion. Don’t get the mana regen in tier 2 utility as you don’t stack mana so it’s a complete waste. If you have a different setup use it this is just what I prefer.
Flash: A must in my opinion as Xerath lacks escape this is needed for lots of situations.
Ignite: I generally don’t take ignite on Xerath as you generally stay back and don’t get close enough to use it. Only take it to counter laning opponents such as Vladimir or Fiddlesticks who heal.
Teleport: As I say above you generally don’t use flash so take Teleport instead so you can easily get back to lane if you go back or die.
Other spells explained in main guide.
This build gives you lots of early AP, while keeping you fairly tanky. If you finish the core build then get items such as Banshee's Veil, Zhonya's Hourglass, Void Staff and morello’s evil tome Detailed item descriptions are in the main guide, plus a bigger list of viable items.
For more detail such as tactics etc please read the full guide below.
Xerath and his abilities
In the ancient civilization of Shurima, the mage called Xerath practiced magic with undying passion. He believed that with enough magical power, he could gaze into the heart of Runeterra to know the secrets of history and the universe beyond. Such magic was beyond the limitations of a mortal body, but Xerath obsessively pursued a path to infinite power nonetheless. With every breakthrough he grew more and more powerful, yet not without consequence. Xerath's increasing arcane abilities wrought havoc on his physical form. Desperate, he undertook a dangerous ritual to transcend his dying body. The outcome would be immortality or self-destruction. Violent magic unleashed during the ritual caused devastation throughout Shurima, but when the dust settled, Xerath emerged as an ascended being of pure arcane energy.
Free of flesh and bone, Xerath held nearly infinite power at his command. However, in the wake of his chaotic ritual, the mages of Shurima feared his careless disregard for life would bring ruin to the kingdom. After a terrible struggle they subdued Xerath, but they could not destroy his ascended form. Instead they trapped him within an enchanted sarcophagus and sealed him in an underground tomb. Eons passed, civilizations rose and fell, and Xerath's imprisonment was lost to memory. For centuries, Xerath's vast power tore away at the sarcophagus and weakened its spell. Finally, he willed forth a burst of magic that shattered his prison, but its core remained, containing Xerath and his power within its broken pieces. Seeking to rid himself of this burden, he was drawn to the magic of Valoran's nexuses and found he could absorb their power. Yet the nexuses had gatekeepers: petty mages known as summoners. Xerath knew his key to true freedom from his prison lay in gaining their trust, and he offered his power to the League of Legends.
'I have no need for vengeance. Time has brought ruin to the mages of Shurima and I alone remain.' Xerath, the Magus Ascendant
Xerath is a long range caster who uses locus of power to increase the range of his abilities and also to give them spell penetration. This makes him unique in the fact that he can just sit at the far back of the team fight and still do his full combo while being out of harm’s way.
(Innate): Xerath receives 15% of his ability power as bonus armour.
This is an awesome passive as it means you get naturally tanky against AD champs just from getting more damage. This is really nice as it means that you don't need to get armour item's unless you really need to, or if you get them for another reason i.e. Zhonya's Hourglass.
(Active): Fires a long-range beam of energy in a line, dealing magic damage to all targets hit.
Cost: 65 / 70 / 75 / 80 / 85 mana
Damage: 75 / 115 / 155 / 195 / 235 (+0.6 per ability power)
Cooldown: 7 / 6.5 / 6 / 5.5 / 5 seconds
This is your bread and butter spell, which you will be your main source of damage throughout the game. You want to max it as soon as possible so that you can get its base damage as high as possible as fast as possible, but also you want reduce that cooldown so you can spam it as much as possible. As do you’re other spells it benefits from locus of power giving it amazing range which goes just beyond the fog of war. It is also a very good farming ability as after you get Rabadon's Deathcap it can one shot mage minions and very nearly kill the melee minion's and before Rabadon's Deathcap you can still two shot the mage minion's after your second Doran's Ring.
locus of power
(Active): Xerath anchors himself to the ground he is standing on for up to 8 seconds, increasing the range of all his spells and granting him bonus magic penetration. Upon disabling this ability, Xerath gains 35% movement speed for 2 seconds. He can deactivate the ability at any time after 0.5 seconds of casting it.
Cooldown: 20 / 16 / 12 / 8 / 4 seconds
Bonus Magic Penetration: 10 / 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 %
This is what makes Xerath standout from other mages, the fact he can buff his range to the point where you can easily dominate any lane and lets you fulfil you role as a magic damage dealer much safer. While this ability looks awesome and is awesome it does have a downside, the fact it snares you for the duration means if you get it wrong things go wrong. If you get caught in this form things get tricky if you don't release it. Even with the speed buff it gives when it ends from timing out or you cancelling it if they are close you may have to flash to escape. Even with this negative point it is still an awesome ability and you want to max it second to greatly reduce the cooldown and to increase the magic penetration.
(Active): Deals magic damage to an enemy and marks them with Unstable Magic for 3 seconds. The next spell Xerath strikes this enemy within these 3 seconds will stun them for 1.5 seconds.
Cost: 70 / 75 / 80 / 85 / 90 mana
Cooldown: 12 / 11 / 10 / 9 / 8 seconds
Magic Damage: 70 / 120 / 170 / 220 / 270 (+0.7 per ability power)
This is your only form of cc as Xerath until you get Rylai's Crystal Scepter, but as the cooldown is quite long and the amount of cc doesn't increase with level you max it last. You get it at level two just in case your opponent is getting to close for your liking and you want to put them in their place. The reason you get this over locus of power is that the gain from more cc isn't as great as being able to get that range buff all the time. For this reason while it is good you should max it last as your other spells are more important.
(Active): Calls down a blast of arcane energy, dealing magic damage to all enemies in an area. May be cast another two times, with no cost, within the next 12 seconds before going on cooldown.
Effect radius: 400
Cost: 150 / 180 / 210 mana
Cooldown: 80 / 70 / 60 seconds
Magic Damage Per Cast: 125 / 200 / 275 (+0.6 per ability power)
This spell is amazing! It has a fairly short cooldown for such a good ultimate and the damage it puts out if you hit all three blasts is incredible. Combined with rylia's crystal scepter you should be able to hit all three shots on the same target and when used in locus of power you can hit them a long way away. The only downside to this spell is its high mana cost meaning that if you do engage check your mana before you do so you don't start firing away and then realise you can't kill them and end up taking damage yourself. Like all ultimate's get it whenever you can.
My runes are fairly standard mage runes, lots of AP, but there are other viable setups you can use.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration - I use these just so you can punch through the low level magic resist of your opponent, pretty standard.
Greater Mark of Ability Power - Some people like it for more damage, but I find that it doesn't improve you damage at all and it scales much worse into late game.
Greater Seal of Replenishment Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration – Xerath does have mana problems so mana regen runes are fine, but if you have a nice jungler who gives you blue these are not needed. After some testing I use these instead of more flat AP and it does help your mana a lot.
Greater Seal of Ability Power - I like to have lots of early AP for lane dominance and for great harass, but after testing I found mana regen runes more effective for this slot.
Greater Seal of Armor - Not really advised because of his passive, but still if you want to be nice and tough be my guest.
Greater Glyph of Ability Power - I like having lots of early AP to strengthen my early game which helps my late game.
Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction – Xerath does have lots of time where he is just running around or sat there doing nothing because everything is on cooldown. However again blue solves this problem as does your boots and Morello's evil tome.
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist - One thing this build does lack is magic resistance and being a mage you will probably lane against a mage so these can help, however you generally shouldn't go that close to them as you can out range them easily.
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power - I like these quintessence’s as they give the biggest boost to your early AP and make you really hurt throughout the game.
Greater Quintessence of Health - These runes are also viable as they do give you that extra bit of tankyness which early could mean the difference between you being first blood or them.
I take standard mage masteries 9/0/21 which gives me some bonus AP, cooldown and magic penetration from offence. From utility I get Improved teleport (If you don't take teleport don't get this, more explanation in next section), and mana and health regen. You can take reduced death times, but I find the mana regen is needed as you want to stay in lane as much as you can. Of course if you like reduced death timers over regen that’s your choice. I get improved experience over mana regen in the next tier as you don’t stack mana with this build so the bonus you receive isn't worth 4 masteries. Next I take maga regen as standard and improved buff times as you want blue buff as much as you can as Xerath so when you get it you want to get as much out of it as you can. Improved flash and faster move speed for positioning, chasing and general getting around. Finally you want cooldown reduction for more lightning and reduced summoner spell cooldown because you want to be able to flash and teleport as much as you can.
Flash - I say this is a must for most champions especially Xerath as you lack escape mechanisms and it is also good for getting into position and chasing.
Teleport - I use teleport instead of other more offensive spells because I find you aren't generally in range to benefit from ignite and exhaust so the ability to go back and buy, pushing lanes and all the good stuff that comes with teleport is much more beneficial.
Ignite - I don't often use this on Xerath for the reason above, but there are situations where it is useful such as laning against someone such as fiddle or Vladimir where you can reduce their healing winning you a fight.
Ghost - While I think it is a useful spell I find flash does the same job ten times better, but if you prefer ghost feel free to use it on Xerath.
Clairvoyance - I take this only if no one else takes it as it is vital to a team and it does help you get those blind shots which often secure kills.
Clarity - I see lots of Xerath's using it and it does make laning easier as you don't have to go back, but its usefulness runs out later on and with teleport you can go back to lane instantly anyway so you can recall and get mana that way if you need.
Cleanse - I find cleanse is one of those spells you either love or hate I personally don't like it as on Xerath you can shoot from a distance and don't have to get close. Of course you can get ganked etc and in those situations I can see it working, but if flash can’t get you out I can’t see cleanse doing any good.
Exhaust - I find this is best on melee champions or AD carries and as explained above you won't use it much if you do take it because of your range.
Heal - If you like it take it if you really want, but I find it’s pretty useless as if you’re going to take so much damage you need to use it your dead anyway.
Most other summoner spells I think have no use to Xerath what so ever and so am not going to explain them.
Core build explanation
This is the item's I will get 9/10 games as they give Xerath everything he needs as it gives him lots of AP, a fair amount of health and come extras cc. I get double Doran's Ring at the start so that he 1. You won’t run out of mana, 2. You have a nice amount of AP and 3. You have lots of extra health. I sell the Doran's Ring once I have a full inventory to make room for more expensive items.
Another good starting item you can get if you’re against an opponent such as Cassiopeia or Brand is Boots of Speed as it means you can avoid all their nasty ****. I would still advise the double Doran's Ring for the reason stated above.
Now I always get Ionian Boots of Lucidity over Sorcerer's Shoes for a couple of reasons. The main reason is that Xerath has lots of time where you aren't doing anything as there is nothing he can do once he has used all his spells. For this reason I take Ionian Boots of Lucidity so that you can minimise this time as much as possible. Secondly I find you don't need the extra spell penetration as LOCUS OF POWER, runes and masteries gives you spell penetration anyway and in the late game you can get Void Staff if they start getting magic resists.
I get Rabadon's Deathcap before any other big item as I have found that you damage just isn't big enough early on without it and if you early/mid game suffers because of it, it generally leads to a weaker late game.
I then get Rylai's Crystal Scepter because of the extra health, AP and the all important slow. The slow is the most important part as it meant once you start your full combo the enemy generally has to use some escape ability, hopefully flash to escape it.
I get this item most games as it gives you lots of AP but mainly for the awesome active which I find saves you in many situations. As I have said over and over Xerath has cooldowns so if you in the middle of a team fight (which you shouldn't be, more explanation later) you can pop it while everything is on cooldown and come back and spew out some more lightning. Also it often saves me from things like Karthus's ultimate as even though I often get Banshee's Veil as well it isn't always there when you need it and Zhonya's Hourglass always there when you need it (Unless you just used it of course). I get this nearly every game unless they are heavy AP and they just don't seem a threat at all, but even then I still would probably get it.
The defence item. Pretty self explanatory, health, mana, magic resist and a spell shield every 30 seconds. Just an awesome Item nearly always get it unless they are all AD or something.
If you want sustain then you could get it anywhere after Ionian Boots of Lucidity, although I find there is no real need so I hardly ever get it.
I get this item often as it gives some nice AP and lots of spell penetration. I only ever don't get this when the enemy team doesn’t get any magic resist.
I do get this item quite often instead of any other item i don't need depending on the game and the enemy team. It is a nice item as it gives mana regen, AP and good chunk of cooldown reduction which again reduces that period of sitting there doing nothing!
If you think your game is going well get this after Ionian Boots of Lucidity for loads of early AP. I have found while it is good if you’re going well it is not needed and isn't worth the risk of the game going bad and wasting 1235g.
If the enemy team has lots of cc and your getting caught in it get this before or after Rylai's Crystal Scepter depending on whether you need fast or not.
Not/less viable items
Please remember this is my opinion and if you really like this item use it and if you think that it should be made a viable item leave me a comment saying why.
I have used this item once and sold it pretty fast. While you do spam your spells a lot you are never in range to auto attack so it is a complete waste as there are lots of other items with similar stats.
While it is a nice item because of the active i find that you again aren't in range to use it so it's not worth it.
I have tested this item and have decided that while it is good, it is not great. The problem is that you need to get it early so that you get the stacks early, but your AP suffers greatly because of it. So if you really like this item get it after Ionian Boots of Lucidity, but I don't advise it.
This item is nice as it gives magic resist and AP as well as a nice aura which reduces the enemy magic resist. I never really get this as the aura is fairly useless as you aren't often in range and if you want magic resist you get [banshee's veil] and if you want more AP there are tons of other items.
I generally don't get this as if you do get it you have to get it early to get as much mana out of it as possible, which means you delay your Rabadon's Deathcap so while you solve you mana problems, your damage is nowhere near as great. The solution to this is blue buff. I never get this item, but it can work I just really don't advise it.
When you start grab your Doran's Ring and head down which ever lane you want, but you preferably want mid, but you can also go solo top, but that isn't advised. Throughout the laning phase you want to focus on last hitting with auto-attacks and Arcanopulse. You want to harass your enemies if you can, but until you get your locus of power you can do that safely so only harass if you can hit them and some minion's at the same time so if you miss you aren't just wasting mana.
When you hit level two if you are doing well you can use mage chains] to harass them, but be careful because if it is someone like [[ryze they can turn around and cast Rune Prison on you and deal some damage back.
Once you hit level four however the fun really begins as you can harass them very easily and deal some solid damage with no risk to yourself. With locus of power you don't always want to just sit there in case you get ganked. What you want to do is cast locus of power then Arcanopulse. Once you have done this cancel locus of power and move away, you've done your damage and you’re just a sitting duck if you don't cancel it. Of course if you know where everyone is and that you opponent isn't going to hurt you keep you locus of power running to harass you enemy more or clear the minions.
You should play aggressive in the lane, but don't put yourself in harm’s way as you don't need to and it isn't worth the risk. You should push pretty hard whoever you are against and most games I can push my enemy’s tower down fairly fast. Go for kills if you can get your opponent low enough through harassing then get into range to either land mage chains or if they are low enough just use you Arcanopulse and Arcane Barrage to kill them. Using your full combo should deal at least two thirds of their health depending on whether you miss some spells and on their items/runes etc.
If your opponent goes back and make sure they do go back and not into another lane to gank, then take the opportunity to gank another lane. Xerath is a strong ganker as he has high damage, cc and the range to at least make the enemy waste summoner spells or get kills.
Also you really benefit from blue. Blue can make the difference between winning your lane and losing it and your jungler should be giving it to you unless they are a mana heavy jungler like Fiddlesticks or Skarner. I have seen the difference between games with blue buff and games without. One game I played, our Amumu got counter jungle’d all game and I didn't get one blue. We lost really badly and my score was terrible. On the other hand I've had games where the jungler gave me almost every blue and destroyed my opponent who I was laning against and helped my team much more compared to if I didn't get blue buff.
I find that the game moves on when either you or your opponent pushes your tower down (hopefully you). After this point you can start moving around looking for kills. Steal the opponents jungle especially wraiths as you can safely hit them through the wall, and if you sight ward or Clairvoyance blue buff you can steal it with your long range. In this phase of the game you want to help your team as much as you can, while watching your lane to make sure it isn't pushed and the enemy doesn't get too many minions.
In the late game where you mainly go around with your team you use your mage chains less as the range is slightly shorter that your other spells, but you now become a pure artillery cannon. If your team gets in a fight your positioning is key as it can make the difference between acing them or being aced. You preferably want to be at the back of your team, but if you can see somewhere you can hit more of your enemies or their AD carry or something similar do it, but you don't want to move somewhere you can easily be hit. The best place is to be behind a wall and you just locus of power and just spew out as much lightning as you can, using mage chains to stun if possible. The main thing with team fights with Xerath is that you want to deal as much damage as possible and being as useful as possible without dying, because what use are you then?
Tips and tricks
When you just want to poke the enemy team you don't want sit there in locus of power because you will probably get a Nidalee spear to the face or something similar, which is never nice. What you want to do, like the laning phase is use locus of power in either a hidden place or behind something. Once locked in immediately fire an Arcanopulse and then move away to avoid something nasty getting thrown back at you.
While Arcanopulse is a good farming ability it isn't always enough so don't be afraid to use Arcane Barrage to clear a large minion wave so you can avoid tower damage and/or get back to where you needed most.
When taking dragon or baron one thing you can do is instead of being next to baron/dragon you can sit in the small bush either above or below dragon/baron depending on which you’re doing and still hit the target while in locus of power. This means you can watch out for enemies coming, but be careful because if that bush is warded which it often is they can easily kill you so it can work both ways. Even so it is a useful thing to know especially if you are doing baron on low health or something similar and it means you won't take any damage.
I hope you have found my guide helpful and informative. Please leave constructive criticism so that the guide can be improved for everyone's benefit. As is said at the start I will be adding more to this guide as I play more of Xerath such as a section on counters for possible laning opponents.
Now go shoot some lightning!!!
12/10/2011 - Guide published.
13/10/2011 - Text colours changed.
13/10/2011 - Short guide added.
13/10/2011 - After some testing decided to get Banshee's Veil before Zhonya's Hourglass as I found my MR was to low for that stage of the game.
13/10/2011 - Edited the paragraph about blue buff in the laning phase section.
13/10/2011 - Added to the "Tips and tricks" section.
13/10/2011 - Added match history image.
13/10/2011 - Started to reduce the walls of text people are complaining about. "started" So there is more to come hopefully tomorrow (14/10/2011).
13/10/2011 - Added paragraph in item's section on getting Boots of Speed as a starting item.
14/10/2011 - Changed colours again.
14/10/2011 - Chaged runes.
14/10/2011 - Added some more item links