Xerath Build Guide by JEFFY40HANDS
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PLEASE NOTE: This build has been archived by the author. They are no longer supporting nor updating this build and it may have become outdated. As such, voting and commenting have been disabled and it no longer appears in regular search results.
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.
Recent News (Updates)
In this section I will give brief notes or news. The contents which will be found here will consist of:
-Patch Notes for Xerath
-New Skins for Xerath
-Additional information that I find important pertaining to AP champions as a whole.
10/16/11- Added more color to a few of the sections and streamlined some of the sections by using Icon+link in one (ex: Ascended Form rather than Icon+Link in separate forms.
10/17/11- Added a second item build to the "Item Build" Section
11/17/11- UPDATED MASTERIES
I will be working on more, but I figured this would be the best place to start.
My Games (Coming Soon)
In this section I hope to detail:
-Funny moments with Xerath
-Whatever other content (not relating to sections of this guide) I see fit. IE: Videos of killing sprees/multi-kills/funny kills.
Any and all videos or pictures I make that pertain to a section of this guide IE: Laning phase strategies in action, positioning in team fights, etc. Will be posted in their respective sections to decrease clutter and aid in overall flow of this guide.
My Most Recent Xerath Games
Item Build At Work
Hello and welcome to "The Power of Positioning" a guide to Xerath. Within this guide I hope to share with you a deep and detailed explanation of Xerath, The Magus Ascendant.
Xerath is a long range mage capable of dealing damage from afar. The skill/mechanic that makes positioning with Xerath a key to success is Locus of Power. This guide will emphasize the proper management of Xerath's skill set in relation to a 5v5 game on Summoner's Rift.
Now that I've given you some things to look forward to let's begin, shall we?
Xerath is a rather unique mage. He relies on long range attacks to deal most of his damage. As well, another unusual mechanic for Xerath is that to maximize his damage potential and his range he has to be locked in place with Locus of Power. Overall I'd say that playing Xerath focuses on knowing his strengths and weaknesses. In hopes of creating an easy to read list here below are what I consider his good and bad points.
-Slightly more durable compared to most other AP champs
Cons:-Relies entirely on positioning to be the most effective
-Locus of Power leaves you very exposed
-Damage output is solid, but requires a lot of things to go right
-Mid game can be lack luster compared to other APs like Brand or Annie
With this section I hope to detail why I choose the masteries I do. The primary set up is a standard 9/0/21. This is what a caster normally builds in order to maximize their offense (without taking meaningless points) and their utility, like reduced cool downs on summoner spells, better mana regen, move speed etc. Here is how I build my masteries:
Since the new mastery update there has been some debate about "new" mastery combinations. I've done the math (others began with the mathcrafting I just added in my input) and the difference between 21/0/9 and 9/0/21 in terms of damage is negligible.
You're trading in additional utility for roughly 46 AP which (depending on build and ratios) translates into little more than 30 more damage overall per spell.
Here is a link to the thread (and page): Caster Masteries
My overall summary is that the traditional 9/0/21 is still superior for AP carries. There needs to be more testing done, but from a purely numbers perspective the damage bonus for putting in an additional 12 points into offense does not overtake the utility that the 9/0/21 set up which has been standard practice for AP champs, for awhile now.
Xerath has an amazing early game with what I consider a mediocre mid game and a high potential late game. The focus of this build is to strengthen an already strong early game, beef up the weak mid game, and reacquire greatness once we hit late game. This is achieved in two ways, Runes and Items. With this section I hope to share my AP Carry Rune Build.
Greater Mark of Insight
Magic Pen Marks to make your spells hit harder. Primarily a rune stat which is most noticeable early game. However once you obtain more Magic Pen through items you'll find your damage output to be considerably higher.
Greater Seal of Force
Though a small amount of AP early game these Seals match the Flat AP provided by Potency Seals by level 9. And improve for the next 9 levels past that. I feel that they provide a better cushion to help strengthen Xerath's mid game.
Greater Glyph of Force
Strong AP provided through the entirety of a game. Meant to help aid in buffering Xerath's mid game.
Greater Quintessence of Potency
A flat ~15 AP to boost Xerath's early game. Paired with a Doran's ring you're looking at roughly 33 AP level 1. Which to me is a great start. It makes your poke with Arcanopulse and the use of Locus of Power all the more beneficial.
Additional Note: Xerath's passive [Ascended Form]] transforms a percentage of Xerath's AP into armor. The strength of this passive is not as needed early game mainly because you should be mid against another AP champ. This rune setup scales well with his passive making it more useful and more powerful as you need it. Mid and late game is where this passive should really be beneficial. It's not super strong, but it's there.
There are a multitude of Summoner Spells at your disposal as a level 30 summoner. The issue is which ones are best for each champ? The following are Summoners I recommend for Xerath. They fit MY PLAY-STYLE but there is no actual requirement to use them. Some might say Exhaust is better because you out range Ignite. And I can agree that with Xerath's skill set you out range Ignite, however for me the chance that I'll be mid against an enemy AP is high. Their ranges are typically not as good as Xerath's ergo they have to come to me, and I just need to wait for the right moment to unload on them.
All champions have a certain skill set which sets them apart from other champions. Their skills however are truly only as effective as we use them. Xerath relies on long range to be at his most effective. All of his skills cater to this idea.
Locus of Power
An important thing to note with champions aside from their abilities is what order you should max them. Some abilities get reduced cool downs, others more damage. Below is how I skill Xerath and why.
Priority 1A Arcane Barrage
This is our ultimate, gets improved cool downs and damage as we rank it up. We max this when it is available (6/11/16).
Priority 1B Arcanopulse
We max Arcanopulse first because it is our main source of harass/damage. It's range and damage are quite potent.
Priority 2 Locus of Power Locus of Power
We max Locus of Power second because we want to get it's cool down as low as possible. As well the % of penetration increases with each rank. We want this up as often as possible so that we can get better positioning with Xerath and keep his range high. Meaning use it, attack, deactivate it, move, use it, attack. Being able to use it when needed and not wait for it to come off cool down means we can shift our position on the fly during a team fight and within a short amount of time be back to optimal firing range and damage.
Priority 3 Mage Chains Mage Chains
We max this last. Although the damage and cool down get improved with each rank, it has the shortest range of all our skills, the stun duration never increases either. We are much better off having this maxed last as it (at least to me) has less use than Locus of Power. Getting a point in it at level 2 or 4 (at the latest) will tide you over until mid and late game.
As of late champion builds have started to homogenize. AP Carrys get X, Y, Z items just as AD Carrys get P, D, Q items. I will not say this build is any different (for the most part) but I will at least make a case for each item and why it's important on Xerath.
My Suggested Build 1
Recommended build 1 sequence:
Build Sequence Note:
-Notice I have Rylai's BEFORE Deathcap, it is not mandatory that you build this way. In fact (depending on the game) I often prefer to build Rabadon's first. However, I feel it important to state that the defensive and utility benefits of health and a slow (respectively) can make up for the lack of damage. It's a strong option that works for MY PLAYSTYLE. I in no way say that Rylai's before Deathcap is better nor will I say that Deathcap before Rylai's is better. It's simply a preferred play style that I've adopted. As long as Rylai's or Deathcap are made or being made by mid game (either one before the other) you're on a rather stable path.
Reasoning: Doran's Ring is a solid starting item. AP and MP5 to keep your harass strong and constant. If you wish to stack a few of these to keep your damage competitive early game then that's alright.
Tear of the Goddess
Late game Xerath has roughly 1000 mana without items or runes. Tear will build your mana pool to keep you active throughout mid game then build into a strong late game offensive item.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter
Your main defensive and utility based item. The slow is actually quite powerful even though out of your three damaging abilities 2 are considered AoE.
The standard AP carry item of choice. Amazing amount of AP and an amazing amount generated from it's passive.
The Tear of the Goddess you took so long to farm up has finally reached its highest potential. Not only are you sporting around 2000 mana you're getting a portion of that converted into AP. Isn't that amazing? You'll be able to really poke harder for longer than previous. Without AA I feel Xerath becomes too dependent on blue buff once you hit mid and or late game. AA (and Tear) makes up for this.
Favored Additional Items:
Morello's Evil Tome
Morello's adds to Xerath's poke power with solid AP, CDR, and MP5. It makes you an extremely strong harasser for late game standoffs under turrets. I prefer this late game CDR item opposed to Ioninan Boots of Lucidity which is an early game CDR item. Those boots really take away from Xerath's damage and in my eyes can ruin his mid game. NEVER BUY THEM ON XERATH.
There aren't many other options to pick from in terms of end game items. I prefer this item for the AP and Magic Pen it provides. Although some would deem it as a situational item; to me because Xerath only gets his bonus %Magic Pen when in Locus of power this item will nullify most DPS champions MR when you're not in Locus of Power.
Recommended build 2 sequence:
Build 2 Opening Items
Solid opening item. Good AP and MP5 for early game harass during the laning phase.
An item that will last throughout the entirety of a game. Extremely useful against CC comps. This will make you slightly tankier as well, but you miss out on the early game Mpen of Sorc shoes.
A very early game item. The health, AP, and Mpen will see you into mid game. Sell it later if you wish.
Catalyst the Protector
Catalyst the Protector
Meant to help build into RoA. Great item for sustaining in lane, also aids in reducing Xerath's late game mana issues (once turned into RoA of course)
Core Items of Build 2
Rod of Ages
Built from Catalyst the Protector, this item stacks overtime adding potency to Xerath's power and survivability. It lacks the utility of Rylai's Crystal Scepter but makes your mid and late game just as strong and durable. I try to get this by 20 minutes into a game, regardless of the champion I am using.
The key to every good AP carry's arsenal. Bad *** amount of AP and a bad *** passive to boot.
Add AP and more percent magic pen to the mix. A solid item that I would consider CORE for THIS version of my build. The strength of Locus of Power and Void Staff comes to a total 58% Magic Pen. The percentage when coupled is slightly higher. However the reasoning for getting Void Staff is because we get the 40% magic pen even when we aren't in LoP (So it makes our skills still hit relatively hard)
Build 2's PURE DEFENSE ITEM
(Suggested by jhoijhoi)
It was brought to my attention by jhoijhoi to try adding Frozen Heart to the original build. At first I didn't like the idea, but then decided that, with this item (and Xerath's Passive) my damage output will still be competitive with my first build but my survivability would be even higher. Especially against AD carrys. So I decided to incorporate it into a secondary build. This will bolster Xerath's mana pool and give him some considerable durability. Especially because of Ascended Form thanks jhoi!!!!!!
BUILD 2 NOTES
The reason I consider Zhonya's "Situational" rather than "Core" is due to the fact that Xerath has no real escape mechanism. The move speed he receives from activating Locus of Power is nice, but bogging yourself down with a stasis affect in the midst of a team fight is a great way to end up dead. Ideally you'll be in a position away from the fight and use your attacks from afar as intended. However, Zhonya's has extremely good synergy with Xerath's passive. If the enemy team isn't stacking MR or you're extremely fed I'd suggest grabbing this item just for the additional armor and AP.
Too many people seem to worship this item, I'd consider this if the enemy team had a Karthas or Twisted Fate. Other than that, it's too easily broken by a random poke from the enemy to actually be as much of a life saver as others claim it to be. (it does save lives, but it's not as strong as others make it out to be)
Some of you may be wondering "QSS on an AP carry?" I recommend this as a situational item for high CC teams, Morganna/ Alistar/ Urgot/ Malzahar/ Warwick/ Skarner/ Nasus are examples of a few champs that QSS can protect you from. It's especially useful if you find your team unable to keep the enemy away from you as you set up to rain down death upon them. (Like a Twisted Fate who simply teleports right to you and isn't stopped by anyone)
What I Choose Not To Build (And Why)
Xerath has a short cool down on his Q. But that does not compensate for the fact that it is a straight-line skill shot. It's not as reliable or spammable as on other high AoE champs like Kennen or Karthas who can use spellvamp because they have more reliable and more consistent sources of damage.
The whole premise of Xerath is to be at range. If you're getting an Abyssal Scepter you're wasting an item slot for something that won't exhibit its full potential when you have proper positioning.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
15% cool down reduction....It really isn't that much of a benefit over Sorcerer's Shoes or even Mercury's Treads if you get them. The CDR is a waste considering Xerath's cool downs on his MAIN harass are nominal early game. Locus of Power has a decent cool down but it becomes manageable rather quickly. The CDR doesn't pay for itself in anyway. As well with this build we get Morello's Evil Tome which resolves any and all late game cool down issues.
One aspect of League of Legends, as we all know, is the laning phase. Here I hope to detail a solid play style to use when taking the middle lane as Xerath.
Xerath is an incredibly strong mid laner. His range and early game damage make him an imposing force. You can push your enemy around quite easily. He can 1v1 rather easily, the issue is that at times his mana costs can creep up on you. His MP5 is solid though so you can recoup your losses rather quickly just be patient and wait for opportunities to poke. I wouldn't activate Locus of Power unless they flash away.
Learn to combo your Acranopulse with Mage Chains. As I mentioned earlier not to lead with Mage Chains I maintain that idea here. Early game you should weaken your enemy with Q and then set up when they're about half health. The early game combo should be Q->E->W->Q. This will force them from lane rather quickly.
Utilize your range advantage, it can keep you safe from ganks or enemy harass. It's extremely effective and often can force a lane switch.
Points to being affective in the middle lane:
-Last hit as often as possible
-Abuse your range to stay safe
-Always try to force your opponent from the lane rather than just outright kill them. (Although that can be just as useful.)
Your role in team fights is to stay away from a bulk of the action. You're essentially an artillery piece and to be effective you need to stay that way. Hang back and rain death down from a safe distance. Your burst is EXTREMELY beneficial as you (with optimal range) can focus the enemy carry out of a fight before they can even make an impact.
Learn to rotate your skills in an effective way, late game with enough cool downs you can get a good number of Arcanopulses off within the span of Locus of Power's active duration. Don't hesitate to move around while a fight is going on, the ability to pick up and shift positions in a few moments is another strength that should be exploited with Xerath. Other AP champs like Brand, Casseopiea, and Annie have to get rather close to the action to pull off their damage combos. Doing this can get them easily killed, Xerath is not like them. Your range is a strong defense and offense. However with that said Xerath's Achilles' heel is his lack of an escape mechanism. You need to stay at range, this can be difficult especially with high mobility champs on the opposing team.
Points to being affective in team fights:
-Keep at range
-Learn to rotate your cool downs to maximize your damage.
-Fire, fire, move, fire, fire, move. Do not stay stationary for long.
-Focus the bulk of the enemy team. You're range and AoE potentials are high. Hitting as many targets as possible will make your teams job a lot easier.
Thank you for reading. I hope I gave you some solid insight into the champion Xerath. If you have any questions or concerns don't hesitate to post a comment. I'll try to answer them as best I can.
As always I appreciate any and all feed back, I'm trying to improve my guide writing abilities overall and if you have any suggestions, or like what I've got so far feel free to comment.
Once again thank you for reading and good luck on The Fields of Justice.
Expect more to be added as I discover more things to do with Xerath.