Aatrox Build Guide by Ra1un
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Runes: Against easy matchups
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Threats & Synergies
Champion Build Guide
I apologize, but this is going to be a very long guide, so if your not interested in reading, I don't suggest this guide.
I'm just a guy who loves playing aatrox and wanted to share some insight about him to get more people to play him :D.
I always recommend tp for aatrox, as it allows for him to impact other areas of the map and get other lanes ahead since he does not scale very well in the late game.
It is also quite difficult to hit his q against mobile champs, so you will be even weaker since you cannot lifesteal as much from your damage, making you vulnerable to trades.
Another important point is Aatrox playstyle, which during laning phase, is a poke champion, so you will benefit from doran's shield the best due since you want long fights.
You will take doran's blade against immobile champions that cannot avoid your qs very well, or are comfortable with all ining as early as lvl 3.
Getting warhammer and kindlegem is the cheapest way to get alot of cdr at the lowest price. When aatrox reaches 30% cdr, his q animations will become very smooth with his auto attacks and q auto q auto q auto becomes very viable since now there is barely any delay with your q cast, so reaching this point is Aatrox's early power spike. This is also why getting warhammer before Black Cleaver is important, as when you get hammer and kindle gem, then get your black cleaver, you will have exactly 30% cdr, since black cleaver gives 20% and warhammer gives 10%.
Warhammer also builds into your usual second item, death dance, as well, making buying these two items very optimal for aatrox. If you are even or winning, then you should opt to buy warhammer before kindlegem and vice versa. Getting phage is not very important for aatrox as cdr since again he is ability dependent and usually does not have a problem with chasing people down due to the bonus movement speed he gets from ult, his w slow and pull, and his q's providing cc. This is also why you cannot rush black cleaver first because rushing black cleaver would force you to get phage, which is not optimal for aatrox.
Because of this, it is optimal for Aatrox to buy defensive boots like merc treads and tabis rather than more offensive boots like greaves and ionian. This helps resolves some of the squishiness he has in his stats.
Except for cc heavy teams, you should always opt for ninja tabis, as it gives more defensive stats than merc treads.
This is why Black Cleaver and Deaths Dance are his core items, as Aatrox thrives on extended fights, since his combos are long, and he passivly lifesteals off of damage to champions. Black Cleaver works well, and Deaths Dance is one of the few attack items that increases aatrox lifesteal off of his q's. He is not an auto attack champion, so he cannot use items such as ravenous hunters lifesteal very effectively.
After finishing your Deaths Dance, this is one of your strongest power spikes in the game. This is because you will on average finish Black Cleaver and Death Dance at around lvl 13 as long as you are not very behind. At lvl 13, is when your passive healing from damage to champions has reached its max, and your q's, which is your main damage and trading tool, has reached its lowest cd and highest ad ratio. At this point, you do massive damage because of this and heal crazy amounts of hp, and is probably your peak strength in the game. This is why you should utilize this time to force sieges and objective control, since this is the point where you are strongest, and not very many champions should be able to contest you at all. At this point, even champions like fiora or irelia you can beat fairly easily at this point of the game.
Ghostblade is great against enemy ranged top laners as it helps you kill them quick due to aatrox high base ad and lets you catch up to them with its passive. Now if the enemy team also has a bunch of tanks, then don't opt for ghostblade even if the top laner is ranged.
Due to the fact that you now get weaker after your Black Cleaver and Death Dance power spike, you must now opt for more defensive items, as you will act now more to peel for your team or as team disruption with your q, since you are very easily countered by armor items, and the enemy will have likely bought items with mobility or increased movement speed, effectively dodging your qs and limiting your lifesteal (thus your defense) and got grevious wounds as well. So you must now use your items to compensate for your squishyness rather than your innate lifesteal.
One very good item is steraks gage, as its passive gives you anti burst against the enemy team, and while you are still strong, this shields makes you an unkillable juggarnaut. So you will almost always build this item unless you need mr.
Maw is an ok item as it provides more ad to your very high base ad damage, as well as its passive giving you a magic shield. You can build this, but it doesn't synergize with your kit as well as spirit visage. Because of this, I always recommend you build spirit visage first before deciding whether you should build maw of mortius.
Hex drinker should be brought against ap burst champions such as teemo, since he can easily poke you out of lane, but its passive should allow you to survive dangerous situations where teemo can possibly kill you.
Executioners should be bought when you are against champions that life steal, but are not a terrible matchup for you such as nasus and vladimir.
Then e over w since leveling up w only increases its damage and lowers its cdr, which is not very substantial. Your e will increase in healing % the more you level it up, so it is inherently more valuable, and cd goes down, which is your mobility and having a lower cd e allows you to reposition your q's more frequently, which is very valuable for aatrox since most of his sustain will come from his q crits.
You level up your ult whenver possible, as this makes your all ins incredibly strong and gives you massive stat boosts during sieges, or 2v2/3v3s.
Your passive also increases in its %hp damage as you level up, effectively allowing you to heal exponentially more since you heal 100% of the damage dealt to champions. This also serves to cause aatrox to become even more vunerable to armor stacking, as his q already are easily countered by armor stacking, causing less sustain, but now another intricate part of his kit, which serves as more sustain and damage becomes insignificant due to armor stacking.
Triumph is only rune that makes sense for aatrox to use as font of life does not do very much for aatrox since he is a bruiser, and presence of mind because he doesnt use mana or energy.
Because Aatrox's late game is terrible, you do not want to go blood line, as this only acts to make his late game not as terrible. Like applying air fresheners to a garbage bag full of garbage to try to make it more appealing. You usually want to go tenacity since you want to be attacking as much as you can in order to maximize his innate lifesteal. If the team you are up against does not have much cc, then you should opt for alacrity since his increases your dps and makes your split pushing better.
Next, just by numbers alone, last stand is the rune that aatrox can maximize the best from its damage from stats alone, so you should almost always go last stand, unless the enemy team has a bunch of tanks, then you should take cut down.
For the second tree, you will always opt for ravenous hunter since increased lifesteal synergizes extremely well in aatrox's kit. For the other, taste of blood should be taken if you need more sustain in lane, and are against a lane matchup, where you want to be poking the champion out the majority of the time and avoiding all ins until you are at a massive hp advantage. Examples would be like darius and riven.
Finally, since aatrox usually pokes, no matter the lane matchup, and is not very auto attack reliant and more ability based, double adaptive is best. And you can opt for mr or armor depending on the matchup.
Once you hit level two, you now have access to much better trading,and should be using your e to either poke with first or second q usually, but never with third, as when you do, you do not have any more damage to return if the enemy fight you at that point. Due to your long q cd, you will not be able to use your main damage skill to trade back, and because you also used your e to do this, you don't have any escape tool either. Another issue is that your q is not very skilled up, so even if you manage to hit your third q, it will not do very much dmg.
Another tip, is how aatrox q cd work. Aatrox's q start as soon as you press q, but is reset if you press q again. So if you have used your first two q already, it is usually better in the early laning phase to hold off on using your third q, rather than resetting your q cd by using your third q since a, theres a very good chance they will be able to dodge your third q, and b, you will be able to use your first and second q much earlier, which not only are easier to hit, but hitting your first and second q will collectivly do more damage than the third q, effectively giving your more lifesteal. The only time you shouldnt follow this rule is if you are about to die, or are sure you can hit and kill the enemy with your third q. This is also applicable to the later stages of the game.
As aatrox, you almost never want to be the member that engages, as you are a squishy champion that is supposed to be tanky from your lifesteal. However, if you are engaging, you will most likely be targeted by the enemy team and cc, effectively cutting you off of your lifesteal. Without your lifesteal, you are just a very squishy champion, and will be killed extremely quickly. This fact in particular is what makes aatrox much more vunerable to cc than most other champions in the game.