Aatrox Guide from JP Challenger
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Runes: Personal Page
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Ability Order Always, Always, Always.
Threats & Synergies
Garen gains high armor by farming, and is generally difficult to kill. His all-in is far stronger than yours, especially with ignite, so be careful about positioning. Once you have W and a couple ranks in Q, you can poke him out and farm much better, but he will naturally outscale you.
Her early game is slightly stronger than yours, but you can beat her mid-game. Tabis are very useful for dodging her W and E. Let her push the wave and trick her into trying to wall dive you. Dodge it with your E and punish her. Remember that her ultimate can be used to dodge your Q. Ideally you want to poke her with Q1 and Q2, and when she tries to wall dive onto you, you can Q3 right in front of yourself to hit her when she flies in.
Darius makes it extremely difficult to escape or reposition during a fight. His Q healing can negate your damage in an all in, his W slows massively and allows him to chase, and his E can pull you in when you just wanted to tap him with your Q. He is extremely dangerous to trade with. You may have to give up several minions early on even if you are full hp. Do not ever even consider walking close to him while your Q is on cooldown.
Many people hate this matchup, but as long as Fiora doesn't freeze on you, you're fine. Always save E unless you're full HP in case she tries to parry your Q. Intentionally missing Q2 or Q3 can work in your favor. Fiora will often parry during your W when it pulls to get the stun, so you must put an effort into dodging it. You will always lose if she manages to chase you down, so be careful with your positioning. I would recommend Tabis, Executioners, and Ironspike before building anything else into this matchup.
Try not to build too much health as Gwen deals very high %max hp damage. She will absolutely outtrade you early, so lvl 4-5 is necessary. Antiheal is also quite strong. However, Gwen is forced to walk up in order to farm / push, so you can poke her freely. Just be careful in case she dashes into you while you Q+E. Her ultimate is also very strong for duels, so try not to get close enough so that she hit you with all the needles guaranteed.
Her Q allows her to dodge all your spells easily as long as the minion wave is big. If you push into her, make sure she doesn't manage to freeze it. Use your E to dodge her stun if possible, but otherwise this matchup is almost unplayable. Buy tabis and collect what farm you can.
Cho'gath's Silence and Knockup work very well into you, as your cast times are so long. Try to stay in medium range and dodge his Q, but out of melee range to not get hit by his E. If you manage to dodge his Q and move close to him, he is very immobile and you can punish him easily. Tank Cho'gath is a minor threat, while AP Cho'gath is a major one.
His passive is extra damage for you. Mundo can farm quite well without even needing to touch the wave, so making him overextend is ideal. You do not have enough damage to kill him during his ultimate usually, and absolutely don't have enough when you both fight from full health. Antiheal is also useful.
With the nerf to Grasp for GP, his laning is no longer excellent. Your E can be used to double strike his barrels to destroy them unexpectedly. Gangplank has a number of 0.25 second cast times, so you can use them to hit him easier during them. Be wary of whenever his sword lights up, and whenever he has W up. Your all in might be thwarted when he suddenly heals 20% of his health.
Gnar must walk well into your Q range to auto you, so you can poke back. Your Q can cancel his dash if timed perfectly. His dash is also a very long cooldown so you can force it out, then kill him while it is still on cooldown. Mega Gnar is very dangerous and you should be careful around walls, as his full combo is devastating. However, Mega Gnar is much easier to hit than Mini Gnar, so if you are even, it is a short break for you to heal off of him / push the wave in.
If you dodge her E you will always win. Try to dodge her Q without using E, as you can punish her immediately after. Kill her tentacles if you can. If you get an early ironspike and she doesn't build tank, you can kill her with one perfect combo.
A number of things in Jax's kit counter you. He has a jump directly onto you, good short and long trades, a dodge to ignore your passive auto, and armor to reduce your healing and negate your burst. Once you hit lvl 3 you can start playing aggressive and punish him when he jumps onto you. You must be careful with your E usage, be prepared to have him jump on you whenever you E forwards.
His poke is very strong so hold on tight early game. You want to play safe until lvl 4-5 but having Stridebreaker is ideal. Try to land W whenever he jumps onto you, and Q him whenever he tries to auto. A Q3 flash will not work unless it kills him, as he will just use his push backwards.
Respectful until lvl 4-5 where your Q does damage, then you can all in him. Be wary of when he has dash and when he doesn't. Remember that your all in is good, but if he has Shieldbow he can likely survive it. Also remember that his ult is a pseudo-dash.
Kennen is very fast and difficult to combo. He will bully you until you can get mercury treads and ironspike, then you have a chance. Stridebreaker is very strong into him. Be wary whenever Kennen uses E, as it is his only escape. Also be wary of whenever Kennen's shuriken lights up, as it will do extra damage and potentially let him combo you.
If you fail to dodge his E+Q, you will be stabbed multiple times and be in danger of getting dove if you take a bad trade. Remember that Kled W is used whenever off cooldown, so let him attack the minions first. Kled can't control his movement while dismounting, so you can position your Q right where he is going to be when he exits untargetability. His Q is a short cooldown at higher ranks and inflicts grevious wounds for 5 seconds, so be respectful of it.
Play safe until lvl 4-5, buy antiheal and acquire tenacity, then deliver beatdown onto Karma.
Kayle becomes much stronger as the game progresses, so you have to set her behind early. As she is mostly immobile early, you can zone her off of farm/kill her, but diving her is even better. Once she hits lvl 6, you must be careful about using E into her, as if you miss, she can chase you down.
Play well early or suffer. If you don't set him behind by trading well early, you can get your whole combo outraded by his Q+W. He is mostly immobile, and it is fairly obvious whenever he wants to Q you. Try to poke him often enough so that his shield doesn't regenerate.
He does no damage at all. You can bully him all throughout laning phase. Seryldas works very well, as he already has no escape.
Your E must always be saved for dodging his pull. Never Q3+E into him unless you are very ahead. Try to stand in the minion wave if you think he will Q you, as it means you take less damage and he will lose minions. Make him look stupid as you kite away from him as he tries to trade with you.
You may want to take W lvl 2 in this matchup. Poke him whenever he walks up, and freeze if you can. Once he has lvl 6 and sheen you must be careful about your E usage and positioning. Playing well early is very important.
Be respectful until you have tabis, then you can deliver a beatdown. His ultimate causes you to heal more from your passive, and his lack of good disengage means once you are ahead it is impossible for him to trade with you. However, be careful still, as his early game and gank setup are still decent.
Try to keep a good distance from Riven. Her Q is a gapcloser if far away and damage if close. You want to force her to use it to gapclose. Her E and W can give her free disengage. Try to predict where she will E (if she is in range). Riven can be punished very hard if she randomly dashes into you. Keep in mind that range is your strength.
Bone Plating and patience until level 6 where your all in is much stronger. Try not to get poked with his Q to deactivate your Bone Plating. His E can also easily block your Q damage, but he is very vulnerable without it. Armor is very useful against Pantheon.
Skill and mindgames, although you are a bit favored. Try not to let her use her buckler throw against you, and step on her buckler if possible. She has no range, so you can poke her when she walks up to the wave. Try not to fight her in the jungle or near walls, where she will have an advantage.
Your Q can smack her if you time it right during her vault. Be careful as most Quinns take ignite. Flash is extremely good vs Quinn. A Q3 flash combo will usually win you the fight.
You must be very respectful. If Sett lands a good pull you will take a lot of damage. He will almost always hold his W for your third Q, so you may just want to back off. Tabis are necessary, as is lvl 4-5 for real damage. Be very wary of when Sett uses W. Once he uses it he is very vulnerable. A good strategy is to get a good trade with him where he is forced to use W. After this trade, just wait until your Q comes up, then you have ~10 seconds to kill him, which should be plenty.
As long as you are above ~70% health you cannot die to him. Whenever he uses E into you, you can punish him massively. Simply be careful of lvls 1-2 and his good gank setup. Hold your passive auto for when his W deactivates.
You can disrespect Sion by constantly cancelling his Q. If you don't think you can react in time, simply E outside of the range. If he uses W and you cannot destroy it immediately, wait for it to run out, otherwise he can detonate it to get a good trade.
Difficult to kill, but think of it in a good way. As long as you are constantly hitting him, he will heal you. His waveclear is bad so you can freeze on him and force him to walk up. Do not engage in an autoattack contest with him. You will lose. His shield can also block your Q damage very easily, so be careful while all-inning him.
Most people know this is an easy matcup, but it isn't the easiest. Teemo is very fast and can dodge your abilities, especially with upgraded boots. You should play safe until lvl 4-5 where your Q has damage. Your all in with ultimate is incredibly strong vs him, just be careful to not miss everything.
Tryndamere is currently very strong with the new Lethal Tempo. Any trade early on will result in you losing a massive amount of health. Freezing the wave is very important as Tryndamere will be forced to walk up and let you poke him. His ultimate also forces you to play very careful. If he takes ghost/ignite you will die and that's okay. You should use your teleport to maintain exp advantage. If you can predict it, your Q will also stop his E.
Play safe until level 3. Do not get grabbed under any circumstance. Your Q can cancel his grab while it is in motion, but not during the windup. Once Urgot uses his dash he is extremely vulnerable. If you manage to dodge it you can punish him with a full combo.
Her auto range is just at your Q1 sweetspot, so you can smack her while she tried to poke you. Otherwise, play safe until level 4-5 where your Q has real damage. Utilize bushes and punish her whenever she tumbles into you. If you land a 3Q sweetspot you will usually win.
Bone plating + Tabis are a must. Play safe early game until lvl 3, where you can begin punishing Wukong E'ing onto your face. You can heal off of his clone if they use it haphazardly, but you can easily die from almost full hp from a wukong all-in post lvl 6, so you must play very careful.
Q2+E backwards is your friend. try to W him while he runs at you as his Q+W animation takes a bit of time. Be very careful while ~half hp as he may just towerdive you. Volibear can be easily poked out, do not engage in an unfavorable all-in.
His Q can cause him to dash behind you, meaning you usually have to save your Q/W until after he uses it. You need to poke him out as he has no strong engage and will absolutely win in an all-in. Your Q can also cancel his ultimate (but not while in flight), if timed perfectly. Buy Executioners.
An extremely high number of dodge abilities means you will have no fun trying to fight him. You can play aggressively levels 1-3 but once he has items he will slice you to pieces. Build Tabis and use your E to dodge his dashes. Always make sure if you know he has E or not to dodge your Q. Be very careful about using E around him as he may just chase you down. When strong enough, you can zone him off the wave.
You must be careful of your E usage or you may become trapped in his cage. Ghouls can easily bodyblock W. Don't try to all-in him from full hp while he has Maiden. You can zone him off of the wave if you are strong enough to prevent him from acquiring ghouls.
Very safe at lvl 6. If she builds Sorcerer's shoes, you must get a null-magic mantle. If she has no ignite, you can play more aggressive. Your Q and Ironspike/Goredrinker can make her flicker in shroud, and your W also reveals her while she is tethered.
Aside from being fast and her ultimate being annoying, Lilia is an easy matchup. Your Q cancels her W, and you can attack her whenever she walks up to farm. If Lilia fails to build tanky, you can kill her with one perfect combo. Build QSS if things get out of hand.
Rengar top is a pain to play vs. Give up any dangerous farm until you reach lvl 3-4, then you can begin to consider trading. He can beat you in short trades and all ins if you miss a single Q.
Champion Build Guide
Experience is INCREDIBLY important on Aatrox. Not only does it make you tankier and deal more damage in every way, having a level gap on an enemy makes it doubly as easy for you to fight them. Of course you're stronger, but them being weaker means that they might not even be able to damage you. Aatrox is very good at fighting weak opponents, which is why setting your opponents behind is very important. This is why I believe wave management is crucial.
You shouldn't blindly push the wave. Here's just two examples of ways to use wave management to debilitate your opponent:
Slowpush multiple waves into a turret while poking the enemy whenever they try to farm, then crashing it to have the wave bounce back while poking them off of your caster minions.
Freeze a wave to force the enemy to overextend and allow you to zone them off exp and gold (or even run them down if you get a favorable trade), or just Freeze to be in a safe spot and get a bit of health from damaging the enemy when they try to break your Freeze.
I see people misuse Aatrox ultimate by failing to get the most use out of it.
In lane, Aatrox ultimate should be used when you either know the enemy is committing and you need your ultimate, or directly AFTER using Q1, BEFORE using your Passive auto, or AFTER landing your W pull. These are the biggest spikes in Aatrox's damage and you want to be able to use your ultimate to buff the maximum amount of damage possible. Aatrox ultimate may be cast in teamfights when you not only think but KNOW you can kill an enemy to get the reset. (If you see a low health target fleeing and ult to use the movement speed, this is a good use). (If you ult to engage into a group of 3 this is not a good use)
As Aatrox, you should be difficult to engage on, and once your opponent gets impatient and tries to engage on you, you should punish them badly.
Aatrox is built on dealing damage, so items like Seryldas are very important. Also, because the majority of Aatrox's healing is Flat, you generally prefer Resistances over flat Health. The three favorite stats of Aatrox are AD, AH, and Resistances.
A tip that can be applied to most characters is if the enemy has high Armor/Magic Pen, to build to counter it. If you have 40 Magic Resist and the enemy has 40 Magic Pen, building a Null Magic Mantle means going from 0 > 25 Magic Resist, (As effective as getting 25% more health)
Because of how Aatrox works, the best item on first back will be either Tabis (to not die whenever you try to fight), or Ironspike Whip (to make the enemy die whenever you try to fight). Phage is generally inferior to both, unless you are playing vs a tank which has gotten out of hand. Refillable potion is also one of the strongest early laning tools in the game. Cloth armor + Boots + Refillable can and absolutely will save your lane.
These are the highest tier items for general gameplay on Aatrox.
Goredrinker + Steraks work fantastically together, giving you additional means to sustain and extreme teamfight durability. Deaths Dance gives three of Aatrox's favorite stats. AD, AH, and Resistances. The "Ignore Pain" passive allows you a bit longer to complete your Q animation, and can nearly triple your healing on takedown. (These three items also have innate healing which is further increased by your ultimate)
Serylda's Grudge works a bit differently. Instead of leaning towards the "Unkillable" side of Aatrox, it grants massive kill pressure on any target. The flat offensive stats it grants work exceptionally well, and it works much better than Black Cleaver, even when a bit pricier and theoretically worse, because of the instant 30% Armor Penetration it grants, and its "Bitter Cold" passive. Even on your 0.25s knockup, it still slows for another 0.75 seconds afterward. It's even a tiny upgrade to your W slow (25% > 30% for one second), and also is applied on your W pull as well, effectively increasing your W slow duration from 1.5 to 2.5 total seconds if the pull is completed.
Boots are self explanatory, but I will explain anyway. Plated Steelcaps are almost a necessity against many matchups (Wukong, Sett, Irelia), granting much needed durability and movement speed so you can reposition and/or run away. Mercury treads generally are not needed as you will be taking tenacity runes anyway, but should still be bought into a high CC enemy team.
All of the following items also work excellently. I cannot really recommend any item outside these except for maybe extra resistances vs a high AP/AD enemy composition.
Silvermere Dawn is often overlooked, but I think it is a pretty good item on Aatrox. Since you must continously be dealing damage to stay alive, the cleanse and temporary tenacity buff can win you a teamfight singlehandedly. The flat stats it grants are also pretty useful. Very good into semi-unavoidable CC.
Guardian Angel, very good for front-to-back fighting. Your ultimate also increases the healing granted from revival, and can reset multiple times during your stasis. Stopwatch is also a handy component.
Chempunk Chainsword (or at least Executioner's) is going to be necessary for side laning vs Divine Sunderer or champions with innately high healing. I cannot recommend Bramble Vest after the nerfs.
Black Cleaver should only be built if you don't need the slow and instant armor pen from Seryldas, or if you already have Seryldas but still need more damage. There is nothing wrong with this item, it provides a lot of what Aatrox needs, but I think there are several other items which must almost always be purchased first.
Anathemas grants damage reduction vs a single target. You should never buy this item so that you can side lane vs someone. Only buy this item if one person on the enemy team is extremely strong and you need to be able to survive their burst.
Spirit Visage works well with Goredrinker/Sterkaks/Deaths Dance, amplifying their healing and shielding, as well as your own innate healing. Although it does not provide the most magic resist, its passive can make you far tankier than any magic resist item in the right situation.