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Karthus Build Guide by TheWengster

Middle [8.14][EU MASTER] Karthus Mid and Top Guide by Wengster

Middle [8.14][EU MASTER] Karthus Mid and Top Guide by Wengster

Updated on July 19, 2018
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League of Legends Build Guide Author TheWengster Build Guide By TheWengster 44 1 114,796 Views 7 Comments
44 1 114,796 Views 7 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author TheWengster Karthus Build Guide By TheWengster Updated on July 19, 2018
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Choose Champion Build:

  • LoL Champion: Karthus
    Midlane Karthus
  • LoL Champion: Karthus
    Toplane Karthus


Summon Aery
Manaflow Band

Presence of Mind
Coup de Grace


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Exhaust


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None


Welcome future Karthus gods!
I'm Wengster a 22 years old streamer from Germany. League has been a part of my life since early Season 1. I started playing competitive as a midlaner in Season 2 and have been playing in the German scene EPS (now called ESL Meisterschaft) with multiple teams.

My accounts are usually Diamond 1 or Master since S3, while peaking Challenger in multiple seasons. I started to play Karthus in season 5 and have played him occassionaly every season since then. I mostly use him as my go top toplaner if my team lacks magic damage.

While I am streaming in German you can still ask me EVERYTHING you wanna know about Karthus and most other midlane and toplane Champions as I have played over 16.000 games of League and know nearly every matchup!

This is my first month of making guides, so feel free to give me feedback in the comments!
I'll update this guide with every patch. I will probably make one for each of my other champions that I played over 300 games, if there is enough interest.

Here are the other guides i made so far:

You can follow or even sub to me on twitch if you like what I do!

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Pros and Cons

Karthus actually has one of the highest winrates in Top and Midlane!


  • Can impact map without roaming
  • Tons of damage in fights
  • Super strong lategame
  • Snowballs really hard


  • Immobile
  • Squishy
  • Low range
  • No shield or sustain
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Summon Aery increases Karthus trading potential in lane while not falling off too much in lategame.

Manaflow Band gives you a little mana sustain in lane and a decent amount of passive mana regen, as well as 250 maximum mana when it's fully stacked. This can help Karthus a lot since she he spams a lot of abilities throughout the game.

Transcendence grants you 10% cooldown reduction after reaching level 10. While Karthus doesn't require cooldown reduction to dish out a lot of damage, Transcendence is still the best option.

Every 20 seconds your next ability that hits an enemy Champion will proc Scorch, dealing a little extra damage after 1 second. Even if you only hit one ability, the extra damage will be applied, making it a great addition to his poking kit.
Average game times are very short which makes this more appealing than Gathering Storm.

Presence of Mind allows you to reduce Requiem's cooldown by a lot if you are part of enemy Champion takedowns. Even when killing a Champion directly with Requiem 10% of its cooldown will be refunded immediately. In teamfights, restoring 20% of your maximum mana can be quite helpful as well.

Coup de Grace gives Karthus additional damage when trying to kill low health enemy Champions, which is especially helpful when using Requiem. He also profits from the 15AP he gets for 10 seconds after being part of a takedown.
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Summoner Spells

  • Is by far the best summoner spell in the game. Always choose it!
  • Karthus has no mobility which makes Flash his only escape tool.
  • Flash gives you scaling with the environment, which means that you can get over walls using Flash to escape or chase enemies.
  • You can even use Flash to get through championmade environment like Anivia's Crystallize or Trundle's Pillar of Ice.
  • Dodging Abilities with Flash last second gives you great outplay potential!

  • This is your second summoner spell in most of your games.
  • Exhaust can keep you alife when getting caught or fighting a target that would be stronger in a 1vs1.
  • Exhaust can also be used aggressively when trying to kill a target. Slowing an enemy Champion by 30% for 2.5 seconds makes them an easier target for your Lay Waste and can keep them in your Defile for a longer duration.

  • Only choose this if you are toplane and sure that you won't die in a 1vs1.
  • Teleport allows you to go back in lane without missing experience and farm!
  • You can join teamfights on the other side of the map while splitpushing with Teleport.
  • Using Teleport on a ward behind your enemies backline can give you a great flanking opportunity!
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Death Defied

Upon taking fatal damage, Karthus remains active for 7 seconds, rendering himself unable to move, attack, or use item actives and passives, but becoming untargetable and invulnerable for the duration as well as being able to use abilities at no cost.

If Defile has been learned, it will remain toggled on for Death Defied's entire duration.

  • Always try to keep dealing damage to your enemies after dying and going into Death Defied.
  • If you want to cast your Requiem after dying, keep in mind that the you need the whole 3 seconds channeling time. If you have less than 3 seconds remaining in Death Defied, you can't activate your Requiem

Lay Waste Range:
Mana cost:
20 / 26 / 32 / 38 / 44

After a 0.5 second delay Karthus detonates the target area in the cursor's direction, dealing 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 / 130 (+ 30% AP) magic damage to all enemies within. The damage gets doubled when it only hits one target.

  • This is your main farming spell. Low mana cost and low cooldown allow you to spam it a lot.
  • You don't get minionaggro when hitting an enemy Champion, even if it hits no other target, which makes Lay Waste a perfect tool to poke your enemy in lane without taking damage.
  • Lay Waste can surprise with a lot of burst if you only hit one enemy Champion!

Wall of Pain Range:
Mana cost:

Karthus creates a wall at the target location for 5 seconds with a length of 800 / 900 / 1000 / 1100 / 1200 and grants vision around it. All units who cross the wall get slowed for 4 seconds by 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 / 80% and lose 15% magic resistance for the same duration. The slow decays over the duration, 50% over the first second.

  • You can use Wall of Pain as an offensive tool to catch people or as a defensive tool to slow enemies while running away.
  • Keep in mind that shredding magic resistance will also increase your damage.
  • Combining Wall of Pain with Lay Waste can make for easy hits while increasing your damage.

Defile Effect Radius:
Mana cost per second:
30 / 42 / 54 / 66 / 78

Toggle OFF:
Karthus restores 20 / 27 / 34 / 41 / 48 mana whenever he kills a unit.

Toggle ON:
Karthus deals 30 / 50 / 70 / 90 / 110 (+ 20% AP) magic damage per second to all nearby units.

  • Keep in mind that you won't restore mana from Defile if it's toggled OFF even when you are killing units with your other abilities or autoattacks.
  • You can toggle ON and immediately OFF to get a lasthit that you wouldn't normally get while not wasting too much mana.
  • Stasis from Stopwatch and Zhonya's Hourglass will neither interrupt your Defile, nor toggle it OFF! Be sure to have Defile toggled ON before you use them.

Requiem Range:
Mana cost:
200 / 180 / 160
150 / 175 / 200

Karthus channels for 3 seconds and deals 250 / 400 / 550 (+ 75% AP) magic damage to all enemy Champions upon its completion. Karthus cannot move or cancel Requiem after activation until the channel either ends or is interrupted.

  • Using Requiem can give you free kills across the map.
  • Go to a position where you can't easily get killed or interrupted before starting your channel.
  • Sometimes using Requiem just to support your teammates with extra damage can carry the game. You don't always have to lasthit Champions with it!
  • Requiem can deal around 1200 damage to all enemy Champions in lategame, which makes this one of the best abilities in the game.
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General Tips

In Lane

Try to hit your Lay Waste whenever your enemy laner goes for lasthits. With Lay Waste's low cooldown you can use it nearly every time they try to farm. This puts a lot of pressure on your opponent!

A lot of Karthus players tend to only farm with Lay Waste. While this is ok to do since you get a lot of mana sustain with Defile's passive when toggled OFF, farming with autoattacks while using your Lay Waste mostly to harass your enemy applies even more pressure in lane.

Do not push your lane while you have no vision of the enemy jungler! Stay safe and don't go for risky positioning.

If you are toplane you have to be even more careful about not pushing your lane. Most melee toplane Champions have some kind of gapcloser combined with Crowd Control . If you aren't near your tower, you will die as soon as you get ganked!
Focus on harassing your opponent with Lay Waste while only lasthitting and not pushing your wave!

Some toplaners can kill you easily if you get too close. Karthus does not have an ability to reposition himself if he gets in a bad spot. For instance, if a Darius hooks you with an Apprehend or a Kled goes melee with Beartrap on a Rope and Jousting you will be in trouble.

After getting level 6 and access to Requiem, make sure to watch the map and your enemies' health bars. Always look out for fights that can happen in the other lanes and your jungle. If your jungler is going for a gank on another lane, leaving your own lane and stepping out of your enemies' vision range to ensure that you could help with Requiem, is the smartest approach.

In Midgame

Midgame as Karthus is all about funneling as much gold into you as possible, so you can ensure that you will be the lategame monster that Karthus wants to be.

Try to get solo experience and farm on sidelanes. Be sure to grab extra jungle camps that your jungler isn't taking and are close to your lane like Gromp and Ancient Krug .

Your Requiem hits all enemy Champions. Hitting level 11 and 16 and getting the damage increase before going into teamfights can be pretty impactful!

Karthus strength lies in teamfighting and dishing out tons of damage. With void he can even shred tanks.

If the enemies in the front are scary opponents that will deal enough damage so you or your teammates are in risk of dying if they get close, make sure to use your Wall of Pain in their way.
If they are not, use your Wall of Pain in the middle of their team to zone their backline from joining the fight as fast as their frontline did. Separating them like this can disable their carries from attacking for a short duration which can swing a fight in your favor.

If you have an opportunity to flank the enemy team and you get into their backline, it's often right to deal as much damage as you can, while going as close to their carries as you can. Giving up your life and using Death Defied to dish out even more damage while also being a zoning tool for your team can win you fights pretty easily. Most enemies can't walk through your Defile and spam of Lay Waste. They will have to move around you or even wait out the duration of Death Defied if you are in a choke point in the jungle.

If you try to focus down a tank make sure to use Wall of Pain on him and target him with your Lay Waste spam.

In Lategame

Basically, same as in Midgame. But this time Karthus is a monster.
Even if you die without dealing any damage, casting your Requiem while in Death Defied will still deal a few thousand damage. Requiem will most likely take more than 60% health of all squishies in the enemy team.

In General

If you are fighting and you are close to no mana while you still have a lot of health, make sure to toggle Defile OFF and use Lay Waste as your damage spell. This way you can maximize your damage before going out of mana.

If you survive a fight and are low health while your Requiem is still available, do not cast it if you are not certain you'll survive while you are channeling your Requiem.

Use the matchups tips to determine how aggressive you should play!
Also check the notes in item build path at the beginning of the guide!

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Most of Karthus matchups behave in the same manner.

You can see the matchup color at the beginning of the guide!

You can freely harass them with Lay Waste in lane with nearly no risk of dying in a 1vs1! You do not have to pressure them, but you can if you feel safe enough!

In toplane you are free to use Exhaust or Teleport! You can rush Morellonomicon after Luden's Tempest without risking to die!


Only go for harass with Lay Waste if their Crowd Control abilities are on cooldown ( Ahri's Charm, Xerath's Shocking Orb, etc.)!

If you fell behind against a physical damage threat early game, building Zhonya's Hourglass gives you a lot of survivability!

In toplane you can go for Teleport if you are confident that you won't die. If you are scared of your opponents Champion take Exhaust.


This lane is about staying safe and farming until you reach your level 6 and get access to Requiem.

Do not try to fight your opponent if you can avoid it! Give up minion kills if it means you stay safe and healthy.

Do not waste Wall of Pain! It can be the only thing that keeps you alive if your opponent decides to go aggressive.

On your first back, always go for one Cloth Armor if you are up against a physical damage dealing Champion and build Zhonya's Hourglass as your second item.

Against a magic damage threat make sure that you get a Ruby Crystal on your first back and go for Rod of Ages asap! Do not waste your gold on magic resistance, unless the enemy team has three or more magic damage threaths. Zhonya's Hourglass and Rod of Ages health will most of the time be enough to keep you safe!

In toplane always take Exhaust. It's much safer having more defensive options if your enemy decides to fight you.
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League of Legends Build Guide Author TheWengster
TheWengster Karthus Guide
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[8.14][EU MASTER] Karthus Mid and Top Guide by Wengster

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