Build Guide by Strom

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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Strom

Xin Zhao Primary

Strom Last updated on May 5, 2011
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 21

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 9

Expanded Mind
Blink of an Eye
Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 0

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This is my first guide so bear with me as I learn how to set this up. I'll be adding pictures and what not to each section to make things readable once I figure out how to do that! I've had so much fun playing Xin Zhao lately that I thought I'd write something up. I used a majority of the guides on the site as a basis and tweaked them to my liking and have come up with what I think is an extremely competitive setup.

I do not play ranked but I do play with a group of 4 friends who have an average win record of 800+ wins for each person. So this means that we're in a higher than normal unranked ELO bracket when we play. I have a >1.2 Win to Loss ratio (288 wins to 259 losses) and my kill to death ratio is ~1.24 k/d. That means for every 10 times I die, I kill 12 people in return, so a positive ratio. I don't by any means think I'm amazing but I hold my own when it comes to games.

So here's my Xin Zhao guide, it works for me, and hopefully it helps you out in deciding how you want to play him. My guide is by no means a set in stone path but it should get you started.

Here's a shot of my recent match history. Two custom games are running through to figure out my skill sequence and to get some screen shots. :D Also have another 3-4 wins with Xin Zhao that got pushed off the bottom.

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I go 9x Greater Mark of Desolation (+1.66 Armor Pen per), 9x Greater Seal of Resilience (+1.41 Armor per), 9x Greater Glyph of Shielding (+0.15 mr / lvl *2.7 @ lvl 18*), and 3x Greater Quintessence of Desolation (+3.33 Armor Pen per). This gives a huge early game damage boost with the Armor Pen in addition to giving Xin Zhao some survivability for not having an escape once Ghost is down. Late game I find that this adds to his Ultimates armor/magic resist boost in team fights to a huge extent so that you can survive longer and stay in the fight to finish people off.

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I've tried several games as a 21/0/9 build and as 21/9/0 and I find that going more defensive combined with the runes I use add to his survivability and let him go that extra distance to finish people off in team fights. I might drop a point out of Strength of Spirit and drop it into Improved Ghost, or pull all three out of SoS and put 1 into Imp Ghost and 2 more into the offensive tree like Brute Force to have a 23/6/1 build. I'd say play around with it and go with whatever you feel works.

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Skill Sequence

My skill sequence starts with E for the charge, and take Q at level 2 so that we can get a first blood or a double kill in our lane. With these two abilities at level two I have never had a game where we didn't kill someone in the first 4 minutes. After that I focus on W till maxed, and then focus on R (Ult) over E(Charge) over Q(Knock up), in that order.

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Summoner Spells

I find that Xin Zhao works well with a variety of spells, I highly recommend you always take ghost, as he has no escape and this also works as a chase spell or to join the team fight faster. I do not recommend flash as it has a long cooldown and with Xin Zhaos durability he should stay in the fight and ghost lets you move over people to achieve this, whereas flash is spotty.

I usually take Ignite as my second spell just for people like Swain, or anything with a huge self heal. I find early game it almost guarantees that first blood kill as well. I could also see Ghost / Exhaust working out well too, as you'd get more "face time" against your opponent but you can't just let them go with an ignite to finish them off.

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I start with a longsword and a pot, and then build into my Phage as soon as possible. Once I have my Phage I pickup a normal boot and then work towards my Starks, i start with an Emblem and then a bow and finish it out. Once i do I pickup Berserkers (Or Mercs if you have 2+ stuns or something like Stun + Galio). From here I save up for a BF Sword and then finish up my Black Cleaver.

The combination of Starks + Armor pen runes + Black cleaver will bring most neutrals to -17%/-19% armor, which means your doing BONUS damage to them. Normal attack dmg of 184 becomes 218 on blue golems. Attack damage of 289 becomes 342 against the dragon, etc. This means against non-tanks your going to melt them, and against tanks your going to bring them almost to 0 armor.

Once I have my cleaver I move on to an Atmas Impaler for the crit + bonus dmg and some more armor. At this poing I normally have 197 ad, and the Atmas brings me up to 247ad, more than enough for the rest of the game. Finishing my Frozen Mallet next brings my damage up even higher, closer to 289 at this point.

Sixth and final item is luxury, I've usually never gotten to this point and I almost always win the game before I finish my Atmas. I've played around in practice games trying out IE, PD, Sword of the Divine, Madreds etc... I would say your sixth would be whatever you need, GA or something like a Veil if your getting owned by something like that. If you go a sword of the divine your base attack speed will be 2.378, activating either the sword or your W will cap your attack speed at 2.5, you are now a murder machine. With the sword you also cannot be dodged and gain a further 30armor pen.

Stats @ lvl 18 with Sword of the Divine:
20% crit
20% lifesteal
31armor pen (runes) + 20 armor pen (starks) + 15x3 (cleaver = 96armor pen after a split second of attacking someone.

Clicking your W or activating your Sword of the Divine brings your AS to 2.5 (cap) and you cannot be dodged for a few seconds means anything your attacking is dead. Sword is also nice as the proc hits buildings, and with that much attack speed the bonus damage off the sword is not bad.

Most people don't run a Starks on Xin Zhao, I found that he needs some sort of lifesteal to keep his health up and with his build based off of attack speed he's just a lifesteal monster. The armor pen is also great for bringing people to 0 or lower as well as the attack speed and health regen for the team.

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I really enjoy Xin Zhao, he takes a bit to get used to but once you understand how his ultimate work and how to setup his Q to take someone down he's tons of fun. Alot of times early in the laning phase I'll hit Q and attack a creep twice and float side to side till someone approaches the line and then I charge with an E they get knocked up, pop an ignite and W and then they're just dead.

The item build I setup here is extremely fast and fun. With a Frozen Mallet, Berserkers Greaves, Stark's Fervor, The Black Cleaver, and Atma's Impaler I am able to solo Baron Nashor and end the fight with ~800 hps out of 2700 and 1/3 of my mana still. This gives you an idea of how insane Xin Zhao is setup once you get your 5th item with this build. Toss in a sixth luxury item and he's just that much more insane.

Total time to kill Baron was probably 30-40 seconds.

If anyone has any feedback, or comments to improve upon my build, or guide please comment below, I welcome any and all help! :)