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Xin Zhao Build Guide by Sir Wellington

Top [11.3] BE A MAN™ - In-depth Xin Zhao Guide for Top Lane

Top [11.3] BE A MAN™ - In-depth Xin Zhao Guide for Top Lane

Updated on February 16, 2021
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Sir Wellington Build Guide By Sir Wellington 254 16 3,599,542 Views 67 Comments
254 16 3,599,542 Views 67 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Sir Wellington Xin Zhao Build Guide By Sir Wellington Updated on February 16, 2021
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Choose Champion Build:

  • LoL Champion: Xin Zhao
    Primary meta build
  • LoL Champion: Xin Zhao
    AD Assassin build (not for ranked)
  • LoL Champion: Xin Zhao
    Max Attack Speed (also not for ranked)
  • LoL Champion: Xin Zhao
    AD Crits (definitely not for ranked)

Runes:

Domination
Hail of Blades
Sudden Impact
Eyeball Collection
Relentless Hunter

Precision
Triumph
Legend: Alacrity
Bonus:

+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor

Spells:

LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite

Ignite

LeagueSpy Logo
Jungle Role
Ranked #25 in
Jungle Role
Win 53%
Get More Stats
Jungle Role Ranked #25 in
Jungle Role
Win 53%
More Xin Zhao Runes
>

Introduction

What kind of guide is this?


This is the most thorough Xin Zhao guide on the internet. It contains everything you need to know about how to carry and win games from top lane using my favorite champion, Xin Zhao. Please note that this guide is primarily aimed at everyone from level 1 to Silver I, so high ranked players may not find it useful for climbing to Challenger. This is a very long guide, so if you just want some tips while you're waiting for the game to load, check out the "Quick and Dirty" summaries at the top of each chapter.

About the author


My name's Kevin (Sir Wellington on NA server). My brother got me hooked on League of Legends way back in December 2011. I was a Bronze scrub in Season 2, eventually peaked at Platinum I rank (87 LP) in Season 7, and have played several hundred ranked Xin Zhao games with a win rate around 58% (and 1000+ normals at a higher win rate). I don't have enough time to go full tryhard in ranked anymore, so instead I want to share the playstyle I've developed with you so you can climb to Gold and beyond like I did.

Who is Xin Zhao and why is he worth playing?


Xin Zhao (pronounced "Shin Jow") is the MANLIEST champion in League of Legends! He got this reputation (and theme song) from his aggressive "kill or be killed" playstyle. Xin has no easy way to escape a fight, and neither does his target. He dominates the early game and can easily snowball a game out of control, hopefully before his lack of lategame scaling and vulnerability to cc and peel become a real problem. Those weaknesses also mean that Xin Zhao shines brightest in lower elos, where enemy teams don't know how to counter him as well and where mistakes are made constantly (you'll see how much fun it is to punish mistakes later on).

Xin Zhao also happens to be a perfect vehicle for players who want to improve their overall gameplay, particularly new and/or lower ranked players. He has a simple kit and very low skill floor, allowing you to spend less mental energy on correctly aiming skillshots and executing complex combos. Instead, you're free to concentrate on practicing and improving the general gameplay fundamentals that you haven't mastered yet.

What kind of playstyle is this?


Maximum aggression. When I'm playing Xin Zhao, I want first blood. I want first tower. I want the enemy jungler to gank me so I can 1v2 and get a double kill, then I'll ask the enemy jungler to please be considerate and bring red or blue buff next time. Xin Zhao wins most fights and skirmishes throughout the early-mid game, and I desperately want to fight.

However, I can't afford to play with blinders on. I have to buy lots of control wards to deny enemy vision and pay attention to the map to anticipate enemy movement. That enables me to roam, gank other lanes, and invade the enemy jungle whenever I'm in the lead. The enemy team tends to group up during mid-late game, so I have to be very careful not to get lured into a what looks like a 1v1 only to discover it's actually a 1v5.


IMPORTANT: Some of the contents below are outdated. I took a long break from this guide due to life getting busy but I am back at it and dusting it off as fast as I can.
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Pros / Cons



Pros

+ Supremely deadly at level 2

+ Crazy snowball potential

+ Knocks down towers like a BOSS

+ Strong sustain

+ Versatile builds/roles

+ Strong duelist

+ Invincibility from ultimate

Cons

- Doesn't scale well into lategame

- Damage falls off if he gets behind

- Poor waveclear without certain items

- Struggles against disengage comps

- Very few escape options

- Loses 1v1s to a few pure duelists

- No innate defense without his ultimate



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Abilities

Quick and Dirty:

There's a descriptive icon and brief description of each ability on the left side.
Long and Nerdy:

More detailed information and tips and tricks are on the right side.


Determination (passive)



...............................


Determination is a strong passive that provides significant healing and a little extra damage every 3rd hit. It's one of the reasons Xin Zhao players crave attack speed.
  • This passive works on everything. Champions, minions, monsters, even towers!
  • If you're able to constantly hit the minion wave, you can heal up quite a lot between trades in lane.
  • It can save you from that last tick of Ignite or bit of minion damage after a tense 1v1 as long as you have something to hit.


Three Talon Strike (Q)


...............................



Three Talon Strike (TTS) is Xin's primary source of damage and hard CC. It has the shortest cooldown and lowest mana cost, so you'll use it most often.
  • This ability resets your autoattack timer. If you cast it just after you autoattack, TTS will reset Xin's autoattack animation and attack again, so you can double-tap your target. Practice this skill often so you can get the timing down perfectly.
  • This ability also works on everything. Towers, inhibitors, enemy nexus, everything. This (combined with Determination) is why Xin Zhao can destroy towers faster than almost anyone in the game.
  • The flat 1 second cooldown reduction on each hit is applied after the %reduction from AH is calculated, which is why AH is so good on Xin Zhao. By level 16 when you have rank 3 R and a few items, you can effectively use your ult every 25-40 seconds.
  • When you have TTS active, your three autos will have a slightly faster attack animation. This doesn't mean your attack speed is faster, but it does make your autoattacks hit more reliably (especially if someone tries to flash/dash away).


Wind Becomes Lightning (W)


...............................



Wind Becomes Lightning is Xin Zhao's most versatile skill. It distinguishes him from a lot of short-range melee fighters ( Jax, Riven, Tryndamere, Camille, etc.) by giving him a long range poke/slow that does solid damage. I'll refer to the first sweeping attack as W1 and the second stabbing attack as W2.

  • High risk, high reward method: use it immediately after dashing with E and hope your target doesn't dodge W2. The cooldown gets the full benefit from all 3 Q hits, so W will be ready again just a few seconds after its first use.
  • Safer method: wait until you've knocked up an enemy to use it so it can't be dodged. This way guarantees damage, but takes longer for W to finish its cooldown, so you probably can't use it a second time during early fights.
  • You can use W2 to poke your opponent and farm minions if you're being zoned during lane phase (but watch your mana consumption!)
  • You can tag an enemy with the tip of W2, slowing them, then run up to them to close the gap. This allows you to save E for when they try to escape.
  • When an enemy dashes/flashes away with 5% health left, you can use W2 to finish them off instead of wasting your own flash (if W2 is available in time).
  • When pushing a minion wave, try to line up as many as you can so you can maximize W2's damage.
  • Make sure to read the fine print on the ability description (hold Shift in game to show it) because there's a lot of quality-of-life nuances there.


Audacious Charge (E)


...............................



Audacious Charge is an extremely reliable gapcloser that gives Xin fantastic sticking power, a large attack speed boost, and a little more CC. This ability costs 50 mana and has a considerable cooldown, so only use it when you need to.
  • Try to save your dash for when an enemy tries to escape via Flash, Arcane Shift, 90 Caliber Net, etc. It's usually not possible to do, but sometimes you can pull it off by simply running up to someone, hiding in an unwarded bush, or flanking them.
  • If someone is just outside this ability's range but is standing next to a minion that IS within range, you can dash to the minion and the enemy champ will still be damaged and slowed by the AOE.
  • Unfortunately it does pitiful damage, has no AD scaling, and doesn't benefit from lethality/armor pen. It's valuable only for the dash and attack speed buff.


Crescent Guard (R)


...............................



Xin Zhao whips his long spear around in a circle like a boss, sending everyone close to him flying backwards. The last champion Xin attacked won't be knocked back, so Xin is free to 1v1 his target. The ring he creates protects him from all damage from any champion outside the ring (CC is still effective though).
  • Dashing to a clumped enemy team and ulting them is one of the most disruptive actions in the game. They are knocked everywhere like bowling pins and stunned for a bit if they hit walls. Try to isolate a priority target and blow him up before their team can recover.
  • A lot of people don't understand how the invincibility works. It is solely determined by the position of enemy champions relative to the border of the ring. Example: If Annie throws Summon: Tibbers and Ignite on you from outside your ring, you take 0 damage even though Tibbers is right on top of you. If she steps inside the ring you will then start taking damage. Let's say Annie dies immediately after dropping Tibbers and Ignite on you. If you walk over her corpse while she's waiting to respawn, her corpse is now inside your ring and you will take damage from Tibbers and Ignite. Be careful to avoid dying in situations where you win a tense 1v1 with 1HP left but your ult fails to protect you from that last tick of Ignite because you didn't keep your distance.
  • Don't be afraid to use it as an escape. If you're being chased, simply press R when they get in range. It doesn't have a terribly long cooldown because your Q will shorten it.
  • Since it deals %current health damage, it's best used at the start of a fight for maximum damage (usually).
  • Always try to use the knockback + stun part of it to your advantage (you can do this many, many different ways). Being able to fully utilize this aspect is what separates typical Xin players from dedicated mains, and every once it a while it really shows.
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Skill Sequence

Quick and Dirty:

Max W first for damage. Max Q second for more damage. Upgrade R at levels 6/11/16.

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Level 1: Get Q in most cases since it's your bread and butter. Sometimes you will face a ranged squishy in top lane - in this case, consider getting E first and jumping on them the instant you see them to chunk 40% of their health with HOB.


Level 2: Get E in most cases, so you can pull off a quick engage when you hit level 2 (hopefully before your opponent does). If you chose E at level 1, get Q.


Level 3: Get W since it's the last remaining ability to learn.


Level 6: Get R, always. Unfortunately Xin Zhao doesn't get a huge powerspike at level 6 like many other top laners do ( Darius, Riven, Fiora, Jax), and this is the point where those matchups get more difficult.


Key Points
  • Wind Becomes Lightning's damage increases by 45 with each level, which is way more than Q (24) and E (25). Maxing it first will let you deal significant damage with it during lane phase and reduce its cooldown from 12 to 8.
  • Three Talon Strike should be maxed next because it's your other big source of damage and most often used ability.
  • Audacious Charge should be maxed last because the cooldown doesn't decrease with levels like Q and W. Its damage is pathetic and the 5% attack speed increase per level isn't enough to justify maxing it before the others.
  • Crescent Guard should ALWAYS be leveled when available, which is at levels 6, 11, and 16. This is true of virtually all champions, not just Xin Zhao.
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Runes

(clean visuals coming soon™)

PRIMARY:

- Hail of Blades (HOB) is the launch pad you will use to race ahead of everyone and steamroll into midgame. It synergizes perfectly with your Q and even works intelligently with AA resets by extending the attack speed buff to a fourth attack. You get the full benefit on your initial AA and all three Q hits, allowing for much faster knockups. HOB doesn't scale into lategame as well as other runes, but it's still not bad. It helps you get that first knockup quickly, even with little or no attack speed from your items, which can set up picks for your team.

- Sudden Impact procs when you use E or Flash. The 5 seconds of more lethality is more than enough time to unload your damage.

- All three runes in the third row provide AD that stacks up over time, with different ways to acquire stacks. Takedowns are the fastest way to do this, so pick Eyeball Collection.

- Normal builds would recommend Relentless Hunter or Ravenous Hunter, but this is not a normal build. Remember, we're cramming as much ability haste into this build as reasonably possible, so take Ultimate Hunter instead. You will appreciate the 30-40 second ultimate cooldowns when you reach level 16.

SECONDARY:

- Transcendence provides even more ability haste, and the cooldown refund on takedowns works very well with your Q. Yes please.

- Nimbus Cloak is extremely helpful when you're chasing down enemies for a kill. A LOT of squishies will blow their flashes when you jump on them, so this gives you a nice boost after you flash to keep up with them and secure the kill. It also applies in reverse: if you have to flash to escape, this lets you escape faster.

BONUS:

I've tried using AH instead of Attack Speed, but it's just too awkward having zero attack speed when HOB isn't activated. Leaving 8 AH behind sucks, but we have to choose Attack Speed. Adaptive Force and Armor provide a nice balance of damage and defense (I recommend Armor because the majority of damage you take early on is physical, even vs AP champions).
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Summoner Spells

Quick and Dirty:

Always take Flash. Take Ignite to snowball hard, or if you have good map awareness take Teleport for strategic advantage.





Flash is the best summoner spell in the game. For all but 3 or 4 champions, it is mandatory in every game you play because no other spell gives you this kind of utility and playmaking ability. It extends the range of Audacious Charge by 425. It lets you counter-Flash enemy Flashes. It lets you pull off sick combos with your ult. It provides you with a much-needed reliable escape. It lets you blink over walls. It does everything. You get the idea.




Ignite is the go-to "I want to get fed and carry hard" spell. It gives you a fighting edge in tough matchups and lets you stomp easy ones even harder. I use it all the time to start snowballing as early as possible and keep the momentum going from there. Once you get a little ahead, you can usually 1v2 the enemy top laner and jungler if you have Ignite and/or your ultimate. Ignite also reduces healing by 50%, which is very useful against champions like Darius, Illaoi, Aatrox, Tryndamere, Kayn, etc.




Teleport gives you global presence and lets you set up big plays if you use it correctly. It takes a lot of global awareness and understanding of the game to use it most effectively, so I wouldn't recommend this if you don't have those skills. At the very least, you can simply use it to get back to your tower instantly early on. At best, you can pull off a sick flanking gank in bot lane that nets your team a double kill + dragon. It can also make splitpushing much more effective (more on that later). You can teleport to almost any object in the game: minions, wards, Teemo shrooms, J4 standards, Rek'sai tunnels, even Zac blobs and Thresh lanterns. Note: whatever object you teleport to becomes invincible during the teleport channel (except towers).
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Items

Quick and Dirty:

Just follow the full build listed in the cheat sheet.

A Word on Stats

Instead of just talking about what items to get, I'll tell you what stats to get, so you can understand the logic behind choosing which items to buy.

Xin Zhao needs a combination of AD, AS, AH, defense, and some kind of movement speed buff. He has two on-hit effects in his kit, so you can't just ignore AS, but he also plays like an AD assassin so his burst will suffer if you don't get any AD. He's also more effective in teamfights and duels with one or two defensive items so he won't get blown up immediately (remember, he has no escapes). He needs movement speed buffs to stick to his targets since everyone blows their escapes, flashes, and CC when he jumps on them. Lifesteal, lethality, and critical chance are also very nice to have, but not mandatory.

The only stats that you should avoid are AP, magic penetration, and excessive amounts of mana. Xin's AP ratios are garbage and (sadly) the old school AP Xin Zhao build isn't viable anymore. While Xin does need some kind of mana source like Frozen Heart, Essence Reaver, or Manamune to support his ability spamming mid-lategame, he only needs one item's worth.


How do I know when to buy certain items?


Assess the weaknesses and damage output of the enemy team and what your team needs out of you, then choose accordingly. Most teams will have a mix of physical, magic, and true damage, but sometimes you'll encounter a full AD or full AP team. Sometimes you'll be the main damage dealer on your team, but other times you're better off tanking and protecting a fed hypercarry like Vayne or Jhin. If you want to know the best situations to build a particular item, open up the sections below for more details (items within sections are listed in no particular order).

Mythics


Stab things harder


Stab things faster


Get stabbed less


get magically stabbed less


health is beneficial for your stabbing


Footwear


Items to avoid

There are some items that are simply a waste of gold or have better alternatives. Unless you have some crazy build you want to try out (not in ranked, please), you should almost never buy these items.
  • Basically any item that gives you ability power is off limits.
  • Support items are off limits because they're support items, not top lane items.
  • Serylda's Grudge has some attractive stats, but unfortunately it can't compete with your many other choices. It's tied for second most expensive item in the game (3400 gold), and its passive is useless because all of Xin's abilities already slow or knock back. 30% armor penetration is very nice, but 30 lethality would be much better because typically your targets don't stack armor.
  • Boots of Swiftness are nice, but they just don't quite hold up in comparison to the other boots. If Riot buffs the movement speed or slow resist more, they would definitely be a viable alternative to Mercury's Treads.
  • While critical chance is nice to have and a full crit build is fun to mess around with, several crit items are engineered for marksmen and should be avoided. Mortal Reminder, Lord Dominik's Regards, Rapid Firecannon, and Stormrazor all have better alternatives and/or passives that don't work very well on Xin.
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Example Builds

Quick and Dirty:

Read the build name on the left and look at the item icons on the right.


Build Name
Description
Items


Balanced
This is a general-purpose build that works with basically anything. You've got good damage and good survivability.


Heavy Armor
Use this build if the enemy team has 3-4 AD champions. Consider swapping Sunfire Cape for Thornmail if most of their damage comes from autoattacks.


Heavy Magic Resist
Use this build if the enemy team has 3-4 AP champions (only include the support if it's someone like Annie, Morgana, or Brand with an AP item or two).


MASSIVE CRITS
Do you want to blow people up before they can react? If you're snowballing hard, get these items and proceed to WRECK the enemy team! I would only recommend using this build once you've gotten a lot of experience with Xin and have a hyperaggressive playstyle, since you're very squishy.


Full Tank
Use this build if your teammates are carrying hard and need a front line. Start with a Doran's Blade so you'll have some sort of damage early on. You won't deal much damage, so you don't have much dueling power. Stick with your carries and either peel for them or initiate teamfights for them, depending on what works best.


Splitpushing
This build gives you enough waveclear to reach towers quickly and enough damage to drop them in a few short seconds (like 3-4). Assuming you're fed, you should be able to 1v1 or maybe 1v2 any enemies if they try to stop you. If you aren't fed...you shouldn't be splitpushing to begin with, and should use a different build.
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Ability Combos

Quick and Dirty:

Glance at the ability icons to see which ones to use. (AA means autoattack)
Long and Nerdy:

A detailed description is on the left and an example video is on the right.



> AA >

This is your basic trading combo in lane phase. Dash to an enemy, autoattack, reset with Q, then hit 3 times. Make sure to weave forward movement in between your attacks so you keep up with your retreating enemy laner. Unless you're going for the kill, it's best to back off after you knock up your target. Sometimes you'll want to back off after the first Q hit (like if the enemy dashes away or Vladimir uses his pool).

> AA > +

This is your all-in combo pre-6. Use this combo when you need to land your 3 Q hits quickly or when you know the other enemy champ will stand and fight back for more than a couple seconds. Again, keep moving with your opponent if he retreats back to his turret.

> > AA > +

This is your all-in combo after level 6. Keep in mind this combo will usually scare the pants off your enemies, so be prepared to chase them down if they run away. Sometimes I use this combo when I get back into lane after level 6. By immediately jumping on the enemy laner and dumping all my skills on him, I leave him at well below half HP while remaining relatively unscathed, and thus assert lane dominance.
This is also your teamfight initiating combo. Dash to someone in the middle of the enemy team, ult everyone, and maul your Challenged target while the enemy team is scattered. You don't always have to Challenge the AD carry either; sometimes displacing the rest of the enemy team is better than simply isolating the carry. You can also use it to peel for your own team if the enemy team has an all-in comp like Malphite and Yasuo.


> AA > +

This is a great combo for knocking a target where you want him to be (like under your turret) and then dumping QW on him. Once again, save E for any escapes. Ganking lanes with this combo almost always results in a kill because you knock your target away from his turret and closer to your ally, while still having your gapcloser up.


When you combine Flash with Audacious Charge, you basically have a gapcloser with 1025 range. It ALWAYS catches enemies off guard and sets up a sweet combo for you and usually a kill. Just make sure to cast both spells very quickly (almost simultaneously), and make sure your opponent is actually within range. Flashing and not dashing is the worst because you look like an idiot who just burned his summoner ;)


This combo's a lot of fun, but very difficult to do perfectly. If you time it right, you can actually press R a millisecond before you flash, which reduces the cast time a little bit. Practice this in a custom game until you get the hang of it (once again, press both buttons almost simultaneously).

> > >

This is the hardest combo to pull off, but it's the most rewarding: run up to your target (boosted with Youmuu's), flash behind him, press R to knock him forward and E to catch up to him. What a man.
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Gameplay

HOW TO SPLITPUSH:

Splitpushing is a strong lategame tactic that divides the enemy team's attention that works best when your team is ahead. While your team is grouped and there are no important objectives to immediately take like Baron or Dragon, you push a wave on the opposite side of the map until it reaches a tower. The enemy team must decide whether to push a 5v4 advantage and maybe get something out of it (but allow you to freely shove towers down), or else send AT LEAST one person strong enough to take you on to defend their tower, which leaves the rest of their team outmatched or outnumbered. It's a win-win scenario for your team, especially if you're fed because they'll have to send at least two players to stop you.
Here's what happens when just one person tries to stop a fed Xin Zhao from splitpushing:

Steps to Splitpushing:

1. Make sure all the necessary conditions are met. Your team must be able to deal with the enemy team in a 4v5 situation, and you must be strong enough to 1v1 anyone they send your way. You also need to clearly communicate your intentions to your teammates, and they must agree with what you're doing.

If your team wants you to stay with them to teamfight or prep for an objective, then do what your team wants you to do instead of thumbing your nose and ignoring them. The only exception to this would be if your team is making a terrible decision - in that case, (calmly) explain to them that your strategy is more effective and that they need to trust you and follow along. DO NOT flame or incite them; choose your words carefully. Teamwork is essential!


2. As you splitpush, watch the minimap like a HAWK. The enemy team's reaction will determine how effective your splitpush is, but if you aren't aware of what's going on, you might get ********ed by the entire enemy team. Constantly keep an eye on the minimap, and ward as much as possible (having wards out in the enemy jungle before you start splitpushing is ideal).
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Warding

Quick and Dirty:

Ward as much as possible. Put a pink ward out early and always keep one active. Ward as much as possible.


Vision control might seem like the least exciting and obvious aspect of League, but trust me: it's crucial. The vast majority of players below Gold don't know how to ward properly, so this section will teach you how.

_______



Stealth wards are invisible to the enemy and give your team normal vision for 3 minutes. Your Stealth Ward carries up to 2 wards and regenerates them slowly. Placing these wards in the right spots gives you tons of information about the enemy jungler or roaming laners, which gives you the upper hand. Once you reach level 9, you have the option of changing your totem to a Farsight Alteration. I haven't found it to be more useful than the standard totem, so I rarely change it.

These two wards easily spot incoming ganks early game.


Killing the scuttle crab grants vision and a speed boost.

This ward reveals the enemy jungler's raptor camp.
This ward reveals the enemy red buff.

These two wards provide great vision for both you and your midlaner. Sharing is caring.




Drop a pink ward here after your first or second back.


This is also a good spot for pink wards.
_______



Placing wards is just half of vision control - denying enemy vision is just as important. Vision Wards reveal enemy wards and other stealthed things like Teemo shrooms. On the other hand, Sweeping Lens is great for destroying wards around objectives to more easily secure Dragon or Baron, and its upgrade, Oracle Lens, can reveal stealthed champions (like Talon or Rengar) instantly. Usually the support and/or jungler gets this, but if nobody on your team has one you should get it. One final note: if your pink ward keeps getting found and destroyed, pick another spot to place it.


This provides great vision of the enemy blue side jungle.

Put one here to clear enemy vision around Baron/Dragon.
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Advanced Techniques/Random Tips

Quick and Dirty:

Just a bag of tricks that improve your skills.


Combat
Since Three Talon Strike's attack animation is so quick, you can consistently interrupt a LOT of abilities with cast times, provided you can anticipate them. This lets you win a lot of trades. It also lets you hit people immediately after they dash or blink away. As long as you land one autoattack before they blink away and you reset your animation with Q, that first Q will always hit. You can also hit targets who go into stealth this way, like Akali or Shaco.
Try to save Audacious Charge for when your target tries to escape. You can do this by hiding in bushes, using the fog of war, or simply running up to them if you're fast enough.
When you're trading with your opponents in lane, be aware of their ability cooldowns and work around them. If it's an autoattack modifier like Empower or Drunken Rage, make your opponent waste it on a minion.
If you're trying to kill a squishy with an escape, save R in case you burst him 90% down and then end up chasing him just outside AA range, with E on cooldown. If you can't catch up to him, swat him off the map with R.
Utility
A good farming techique mid-late game is to use Audacious Charge on the caster minions, then use one Three Talon Strike for each of them to finish them off. It's quick and efficient.
You can (sort of) ward jump in the jungle. If you're across the wall from a monster camp, you can toss a ward on the camp, then dash to one of the monsters to jump over the wall. Handy for escaping.
Just for fun
If you spam your joke (ctrl + 2) about 2 times every second Xin will look like he's repeatedly kicking the air. It's a good way to taunt someone.
If you right-click to move somewhere, then dance (ctrl + 3) for about 1 second, then continue moving, Xin does this cool flourish with his spear. You can also achieve a similar effect by pressing the laugh button instead (ctrl + 4). This is kinda buggy/inconsistent and needs a little practice to get down perfectly.
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Matchups

Quick and Dirty:

Read the ability icons if you don't know a certain champion. Difficulty = how hard it is to play against them. Threat = how dangerous they are.


- For each matchup there's a strategy/explanation, list of abilities, and difficulty/threat scales. Difficulty level means how skilled and focused you have to be to beat them. Threat level means how dangerous that opponent is, especially when fed. A fed Maokai can't really kill you, but a fed Rengar is a nightmare.

- Most of the things I point out in certain matchups are things you should be doing in every game, like asserting lane dominance, monitoring enemy ability cooldowns, harassing melee-range champs with Q at level 1, trying to dodge poke and harass from enemy champs, etc.

- Finally, remember that it takes several games facing each champion before you begin to feel comfortable playing against them. Don't lose confidence or feel bad if you lost a matchup you should've won - you'll get better with experience and make mistakes less often.


Aatrox



Aatrox has less damage and less sustain when above 50% health, and below 50% health you can burst him down too quickly for his healing to really pay off. Try to pop his passive early, and zone him from farming range to deny his sustain. If he misses his Q knockup, you will always win trades. Otherwise you'll go about even. Be wary of jungler ganks though - Aatrox has a strong knockup and slow, so you can get locked down easily. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 6/10

Akali



Akali is weak early, but she's tricky because of her shroud. If she gets in melee range, tap her a couple times with Q to show her who's boss. After level 6, you can knock her out of her shroud for a second or two by standing in it and ulting (make sure she's not Challenged). DO NOT feed her. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 8/10

Cho'Gath



His skill at landing Rupture will determine how much or how little he feeds you, because if he doesn't land it he's a free kill. If he's good, he'll save Rupture for when you jump on him and target the ground he's standing on so you get knocked up. To dodge this, jump on him and immediately keep moving forward or up/down. His on-hit damage is weaker than TTS so don't be afraid to duke it out right at level 1. Be wary of his ultimate; even when building full tank it does a scary amount of true damage. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10


Threat level: 5/10

Darius



Darius likes to keep you at arm's length to hit you with his Q blade. If you can dodge it, you take half damage, no Hemorrhage stack, and you deny his heal. Avoiding that blade is 70% of winning this matchup. After he gets 5 stacks on you he becomes a LOT stronger, so short bursts are better than very long duels. If you lose lane dominance, you will get zoned and lose cs. If this happens, make sure to ask your jungler for ganks because Darius has no escapes. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 9/10

Dr. Mundo



Dr. Mundo is a tough opponent in lane because he packs a LOT of damage alongside an ever-growing health bar. To beat him, you have to avoid his cleavers and play around his ultimate carefully. Sit in your own minion waves as much as possible so you have meatshield between you and his cleavers. Keep in mind that he has steroids of his own, so he might straight up outdamage you in a fight if he consistently lands his cleavers. When he pops his ult, think: "Can I kill him within the next two seconds?" If not, let him go and try some other time. If so, make SURE to kill him as fast as possible before he regenerates out of control. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 6/10


Threat level: 5/10

Fiora



Play this one carefully. Watch out for Fiora's passive - she'll try to maneuver around you to hit your weak spot. If she's bad, she'll just spam W when you start fighting, in which case you can simply use a regular AA to break it. If she's good, she'll block your knockup and stun you in return. If it looks like she's going to get all 4 parts of her ult, save ignite for when her healing zone appears to reduce its effectiveness. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10-9/10


Threat level: 8/10

Fizz



Play this one carefully. He can outdamage you early game with his stupid on-hit W. If you dash to him, he can press E to delay a second while you take minion aggro, and then Q you at point-blank range to escape. He's very annoying and very dangerous, so play safely and look carefully for opportunities to strike.
______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 7/10


Threat level: 9/10

Gangplank



Gangplank is a tactical pokey farmer siege type. That means his all-in is terrible, especially pre-6, so don't be afraid to get up in his face. Force him to choose between consuming his passive on you and using it to farm (much like Caitlyn's passive). Try to contest his barrels, too: your AA-Q reset can knock off two points faster than he might react to. At level 6, don't stand in his ultimate for the entire duration because you'll take a LOT of damage if you do. Pop ignite early to anticipate his heal. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10


Threat level: 5/10

Garen



All you have to do to beat Garen early is to pay attention to his ability cooldowns. If he uses Q or E to farm, jump on him immediately. His W can turn trades in his favor, but only good Garens will time it properly and it has a huge cooldown (24 seconds). Try to keep his passive down by trading often, because your sustain comes from fighting and his comes from staying out of the fight. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10-6/10


Threat level: 5/10

Gnar



Mini Gnar is annoying, but very squishy. Mega Gnar has more CC and tankyness than you, but less mobility. Try to dodge his Q at early levels, and jump on him at level 2. He'll probably hop away, but not before you can get an E-AA-Q combo off. The best time to engage is right before he turns back to Mini Gnar. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 6/10

Gragas



Gragas is tanky, so he's hard to kill. He also has a lot of poke and trading power. In other words, he's a hard lane opponent. If you use your EQ combo on him, he'll likely dash away with Body Slam, so try to play around that. He can also knock you into his tower with his ult, so watch out for that if your lane is pushed. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 7/10


Threat level: 5/10

Heimerdinger



I hate Heimerdinger. You can blow him up easily, but he can also blow YOU up easily and completely zone you out. Once he gets Zhonya's Hourglass you can't really attack him without a magic resist item like Spirit Visage. Don't ask for ganks after level 6 if your jungler is below 60% health or squishy because Heimerdinger will probably get at least 1 kill. ______________
_________ ch-1 electron storm grenade
______________



Difficulty level: 8/10


Threat level: 5/10

Irelia



Play this one carefully. Irelia is tough, but beatable. She has slightly less damage than you, but has similar sustain and tankyness. In order to win you have to take the small things into account like minion aggro, summoner/ult cooldown timers, and whether you have more or less HP than her when you engage. Harass her with Q at levels 1-2 to assert lane dominance. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 6/10


Threat level: 5/10

Jax



Jax is supposedly the perfect counter to Xin Zhao. Heh. Jax is designed for extended lategame duels, but Xin excels at short, early brawls.

- Short trades are better than long trades. You can AA + Q (once) while he's last-hitting a minion before he can react with Counterstrike, then back off.

- If he's farming your minions, just start autoattacking him (without Q). If he Counterstrikes, retreat and pull the fight towards your minions. Once he stuns you, proceed to destroy him with QW (save E for escape attempts).

- Counterstrike has a long 16 second cooldown.

- After level 6, start autoattacking him, wait for him to use Counterstrike, then hit a minion and ult him away from you to dodge the stun. Then jump on him with your combo.
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_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10-9/10


Threat level: 8/10

Jayce



Jayce is squishy. Try to take as little harass as possible at level 1, then jump on him at level 2 like usual. If he's not a complete idiot, he'll stay in cannon form until you jump on him, then switch to hammer form and knock you away. Depending on his reaction time, you can get 1-2 or maybe even all 3 Q hits off before you get knocked back. Just rinse and repeat this process while dodging his Shock Blast and you'll win the lane. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 5/10

Illaoi



I haven't actually faced Illaoi top yet, but I know how she works. Illaoi is a juggernaut version of Heimerdinger. Do not get close to her tentacles, respect her zone, and don't get baited into doing something foolish. If she misses Test of Spirit, that's a cue to engage on her. Even if she lands it, still engage on her because she'll be damaging you either way and you force her to choose a target (you or the spirit). If possible/convenient, kill any tentacles you see. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 8/10


Threat level: 9/10

Lissandra



She'll use W when you dash to her, but as long as you don't take too much Q harass from her you'll win trades with E-AA-Q. Watch out for her burst when she reaches level 6, especially if you're being ganked. If you see her using E to escape, you can ult her or knock her up to cancel it. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 6/10

Malphite



Malphite is another hard counter because of his attack speed slow from Ground Slam. However, it has a pretty short range so he might miss it if you aren't right next to him. He is also NOT tanky early on - the only thing he really has is his passive shield. Consider taking Crystalline Flask, because to win lane you need to repeat short trades over and over. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10-9/10


Threat level: 5/10

Maokai



Maokai actually has a decent amount of damage and sustain if played correctly, so don't play recklessly thinking you'll auto-win. It's hard to dodge his sapling explosions, but at least dodge the damage from the initial toss. Other than that, it's the usual: tap him with Q if he gets in AA range, jump on him if he's not sitting in a pile of minions, and assert lane dominance early. ______________
_________arcane smash
______________



Difficulty level: 5/10


Threat level: 3/10

Nasus



If you don't kill him at least 1-2 times before he gets his first complete item, Nasus has officially won the lane :/ . He's SO frustrating because you can't just take lane dominance or zone him under his turret, you actually have to force him to recall multiple times via poking (impossible with Xin) or get multiple kills during lane phase to truly shut him down. If you don't, you won't be fed coming out of lane phase and it'll be much harder to snowball midgame, and everyone knows about Nasus's lategame. Wither has a 15 second cooldown at level 1, so try to force him to use it on you w/o using your full combo, then jump on him right as it finishes its duration. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10-9/10


Threat level: 4/10

Pantheon



Pantheon is another one of Xin's counters. His passive lets him win trades, and he can viciously poke you at level 1 with Spear Shot. This lets him assert lane dominance right from the beginning, so the only way you can get the upper hand is if he makes a big mistake (like getting W or E at level 1, or simply not poking with Q) or if your jungler ganks and nets you a kill. DO NOT feed him. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 9/10


Threat level: 9/10

Poppy



Poppy is weak early game and loses every trade and every all-in before level 6. After 6, she has a giant touch-me-not ability which kinda sucks. Try to avoid getting shoved into a wall with Heroic Charge, and don't let her harass you with Staggering Blow without giving her 1-2 taps with Q as well. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10


Threat level: 6/10

Quinn



Quinn is really annoying. She has a blind, she has a get out of jail free card (ultimate), and she has a "don't touch me" ability she uses the instant you dash to her. If her blind is on cooldown, use your E-AA-Q combo to damage her a bit before she jumps away. Rinse and repeat. After level 6, you'll have to burst her down FAST before she flies away with her ult. Make sure to explicitly signal that she's missing from lane after 6 because her ult gives her fantastic roaming potential. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 7/10


Threat level: 6/10

Renekton



Just like Garen and Lee Sin, watch his abilities and engage after he uses one of them. You can win trades during levels 1-2 so don't be afraid to fight, but from levels 3 and up you have to be wary of his rage bar and only engage when it's low or when he just used an ability. Don't forget his ult is an instant heal, so don't dive him under his turret, etc. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 7/10


Threat level: 4/10

Riven



Play this carefully. In order to win this matchup you have to take advantage of every mistake and make none yourself. Focus hard and play smart, and you'll win every time assuming she's not a diamond smurf. Level 1: try to not let her hit you with Broken Wings all three times. You can knock her up during her 3rd cast (while she's in mid-air about to knock you back), which completely cancels it. This is hard to do but definitely possible, and it'll totally win you the trade and make you feel like a boss. Level 2: If she gets her stun second, don't just jump to her because she'll stun you and dash away with Q. If she gets her shield first, then jump to her and stay with her as long as you can, then back off. By this time you'll have complete lane dominance and you can zone her from farming. DO NOT feed her. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10-8/10


Threat level: 10/10

Rumble



Rumble is tough if you let him harass you with E and Q, but if you force hard engages often, you'll win lane because you have a better all-in. It's very important to pay attention to his ability cooldowns and hit heat levels. After level 6, watch out for The Equalizer because it deals massive damage if you stay in it. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10


Threat level: 5/10

Shen



Shen is a nightmare because he's tanky enough to mitigate your damage enough to win trades. You can still win this though, provided he makes a few mistakes. His W and E have long cooldowns during lane phase (18 seconds), and his Q and E cost quite a lot of energy (180 energy each). Watch the position of his Spirit Blade, because you need to avoid getting hit by it if he calls it to him. Don't get close to his turret for any reason if he's hugging it because he can taunt you into it. After 6, try to knock him away or up with R or Q to interrupt his ult channel. If you can't do that and don't have Teleport to follow him, push top like a madman to get a tower or even two. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 9/10


Threat level: 5/10

Teemo



Every melee top laner hates Teemo with a burning passion, and Xin Zhao is no exception. When fighting, jump to him, auto him once, wait out the blind, then unload all your pent-up hatred on him. Bring lots of health pots to lane so you won't get poked to oblivion, and kindly ask your jungler for a gank (before level 6). Rush Mercury's Treads and Phage. If you're behind or feel like you're outmatched, you can either try to farm under turret or buy Mobi boots and roam (I usually do the latter). You eventually outscale Teemo, and once you finish Youmuu's Ghostblade you can crush him at any point after lane phase. He wins 1-6 or even 1-9, but you win after that. ______________
_________ camouflage
______________



Difficulty level: 7/10


Threat level: 5/10

Tryndamere



You have to show him who's boss right from the beginning. If he got E at level 1 you'll win a straight up fight, and if he went Q it depends on if he gets a lucky crit or not. Keep minion aggro in mind when you fight him, because you'll be fighting each other often during lane phase. You should be able to win most trades though, and once you get Youmuu's you can burst him down with the active and your ult, which will allow you to tank his damage until he's forced to use his own ult and run away. Just follow him and jump on him with E (use Flash if necessary). If you think he's about to use W, make sure you're facing him so you don't get slowed (try to predict it). Your build is very important here. After your first damage item, build Frozen Heart and Randuin's Omen, because to beat him after level 6 you have to outlast his ultimate, which means building tanky. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 7/10

Vladimir



There's a few champions who just totally shut Vladimir down in lane phase, and Xin is one of them. After you suffer through whatever level 1 harass he sends your way, jump on him and start attacking. When he uses Sanguine Pool do your best to stick with him and keep Q active (hit a minion if necessary) so you can knock him up after he comes back up. Lategame he'll outscale you and be quite tanky, so you won't be able to walk all over him then. Get Phage first. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: lol/10


Threat level: 4/10

Volibear



Volibear is really tough. Most of them start with W at level 1, which gives him good dueling power. Trade blows at level 1, but back off once you knock him up. Once you reach level 2 you have two options: if you have slightly less health you can get W second and pop his passive (back off after you knock him up) so that he's at ~40% health or so. Kill him with ignite and flash if necessary when Q comes back up, or just wait for level 3. If on the other hand you're feeling confident and you know you can survive, get E at level 2 and go ham. Ignite him as he reaches 30% health to mitigate his healing, and blow everything you have if necessary to secure the kill. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 8/10


Threat level: 5/10

Wukong



Wukong relies on deception to survive. Play smart and don't be fooled, and you'll win. He has a great EQW combo that's supposed to deny retaliation, but you know better. If he jumps on you, attack him till you see him "freeze", then walk forwards and jump on the real monkey once he leaves stealth (it only lasts 1.5 seconds). If he plays passively, do basically the same thing. Jump on him and he'll use Warrior Trickster, but he'll be slowed so he can't get far. Warrior Trickster also has an 18 second cooldown, so it's not always available. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 4/10


Threat level: 6/10

Xin Zhao



I hate mirror matchups. Try to be the first one to start the fight at level 1, because if you land your knockup first you can walk away and he has no way to catch up to you (yet). You MUST get level 2 first. If you want to go ham, get E at level 2 and do your thing. If you want to play with your food, get W at level 2 and beg him to jump on you with Q and E (you'll win). If you're ahead, you can wipe the floor with him because Xin doesn't really have an escape, but if you get behind you have to play super passively, which sucks. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: ??/10


Threat level: ??/10

Yasuo



Unless he's a smurf or otherwise highly skilled, Yasuo is easy. Everything in your kit counters everything in his kit, because you aren't a squishy mage who's countered by Wind Wall or mobility, you have sustain, and you can completely wreck his face whenever he comes within dash range. Just don't take 3-4 unanswered pokes from his Q during level 1 and you'll be fine. ______________
_________
______________



Difficulty level: 3/10


Threat level: 7/10
Back to Top

Conclusion

I've put all of my knowledge into this guide, but ultimately it comes down to your own experience and game knowledge to truly play him effectively. You know which items to build and some tricks to pull off, but in order to consistently do well in your games with Xin Zhao, you need good judgement, instincts, and timing. This can only be achieved by playing the game for many hours. You have all the tools necessary to succeed in top lane except the experience, so go out and get some! Go queue up and try out Xin Zhao in the top lane, and see if you can get first blood by 2:35 like I usually do :)


Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave any feedback or comments in the discussion below. If this guide was useful or helpful, I'd really appreciate an upvote or a +rep!

Big thanks to jhoijhoi for her Making a Guide guide.

Thanks to Kevin Crosby (oooStoneooo) for patiently helping me with one of the combo videos (and putting up with me taking all the kills when we play together ;).

Thanks to Emikadon and utopus for their insightful reviews.

I will always be updating this guide and adding more content periodically.

10/20/15: 100,000 views! When I first published this guide I was hoping for 10k. Wow.

4/1/16: 1,000,000 views! (Actually not a joke, despite the date.) This is absurd O_o

Up next: Massive summer update. Expect some artwork, custom headers/TOC, lots of in-game pictures, GIFs, videos, and pretty much every section to be revamped to some degree.
League of Legends Build Guide Author Sir Wellington
Sir Wellington Xin Zhao Guide
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[11.3] BE A MAN™ - In-depth Xin Zhao Guide for Top Lane

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