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Aatrox Build Guide by dirtydots

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League of Legends Build Guide Author dirtydots

Aatrox - The Darkin Blade: How to dominate the top lane

dirtydots Last updated on December 6, 2013
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Ability Sequence

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

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 12

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 18


Utility: 0

Hi, my name is Dirtydots. I play on the NA server. My most played role is ADC however I have been gravitating towards top lane especially since Aatrox was released. My favorite top laners are the ones that can carry the game pretty hard after just one or two kills. Like Jayce, Aatrox (obviously), Renekton, etc. I have been winning games when I go top with Aatrox. I have 47 games played and a 61% win rate on this champion. I feel the games I've played give me the authority to write a guide as I have tried out many different builds with Aatrox.

Warning: This guide is very in-depth and not for those who are looking for a quick overview of Aatrox.

Working on Season 4 Changes. Will update ASAP!

The Runes I have chosen look a lot like jungle runes. That's because they originally were. I tried them out on Aatrox because I felt the extra bit of Attack Speed would do well on him and so far that seems to be the case. Early game they give you procs from your Blood Thirst / Blood Price (W) and make trading and sustaining easier. The rest of the Runes are pretty standard for a carry type top laner.

The hybrid masteries may also look strange. However, I feel that going down far in either the defense or offense tree is too risky. You won't be very tanky, especially early game, if you don't put at least 15 points in defense.

Going any further in the offense tree really doesn't give Aatrox anything. Which is why I went with this hybrid setup. The extra tenacity and slow reduction is great in teamfights and in lane if you're facing a champion with strong CC like Shen or Cho'Gath. Also, the Block mastery is incredibly important in top lane for trading. On top of Unyielding and a Doran's Shield you reduce 13 damage from auto-attacks. And early game that is immensely favorable for you.

In this chapter I will go over each of Aatrox's Abilities and give you some common and not so common uses for them that can improve your play.

First and foremost, Aatrox can take any ability at level one and be fine in lane. I will explain when you should take which ability first below.

Passive - Blood Well - While everyone knows what this passive does on the surface (revives Aatrox) not every knows of the hidden attack speed steroid it provides. The more blood in the well you have, the more attack speed you get up to a 50% increase. Keeping up your Blood Well even when the revive portion is on cool down is important to achieve success.

Q - Dark Flight - This ability is great for initiating trades in lane, diving to the back line of the enemy team, or escaping a gank. It also provides you with a tool to get back to your lane quickly while building your blood well up. Because it costs the most health, it gives you the biggest amount of blood at one time. If you're doing a level 1 invade, or catch someone from the enemy team, take this ability.

W - Blood Thirst / Blood Price - This ability is what makes Aatrox scale so well with attack speed. The more attack speed you get, the more procs of each part of the ability you'll have within a certain time frame. At max attack speed you're healing yourself or dealing extra damage nearly once a second. This on top of the attack speed from his passive is what makes Aatrox's kit mesh so well together. Take this ability at level one if you're new to Aatrox (for safety) or will be sustaining heavy harass from the enemy top laner.

E - Blades of Torment - This is your bread and butter ability in lane. It can help harass, push waves, keep someone in melee range and can even help you escape. Because this ability is on the lowest cool down, it provides a very consistent amount of blood for your well. However, it costs less than Dark Flight so it doesn't give you a big burst of blood well stacks. If you see the enemy laner leave his lane, spam this on the creep wave to push your wave to his turret before they can get back to lane. That way they miss experience and gold. Also level this first to lower the cool down and increase the damage it deals giving you better wave clearing ability. Leveling this first also increases the slow duration up to nearly 3 seconds to keep the enemy in range of at least one full auto-attack rotation from you.

R - Massacre - This ultimate, in my opinion, is one of the strongest in the game because of how well it meshes with the rest of Aatrox's kit. And arguably most importantly, it increases his attack range. With a 3 second slow, 325 range, and one of the highest base move speeds in the game(345), it becomes very difficult for any champion without a major escape to run away. Use this ability as soon as possible if you're going all in on either just one person or diving the back line of the enemy team.

In This chapter I will go over some common champions you will see in the top lane and what you can do to counter them. Before you go into any match-up, you need to know the cool downs on the common top laner summoner spells. Ignite has a 3 1/2 minute cool down. Flash has a 5 minute cool down Teleport has a 5 minute cool down. Ghost has a 3 1/2 minute cool down. Exhaust has a 3 1/2 minute cool down.

The difficult lane match-ups will be highlighted in Red. Match-ups based more on skill and knowledge will be highlighted in Yellow. Match-ups Aatrox should always win will be in Green.

(Alphabetical Order)

Cho'Gath: Against Cho'Gath, you'll want to push the lane pretty hard. Once you hit level three, constantly try to land your combo(talked about in the Lane Phase chapter) to force him out of the lane. Most Cho'Gaths will take either Ignite and Flash or Teleport and Flash. If your Cho'Gath takes the latter, then you can easily 1v1 him. If he has Ignite just be weary of when he uses it and try to keep track of it's cool down by making a mental note of the time he used it or type in chat with time stamps when he used it.

Darius: Both Darius and Aatrox are pretty auto-attack dependent in the early game. He needs AA's to stack up his bleed on you and you need AA's for your W. Do not try to trade with him until level 3. After level 3 you can win every trade, sustain yourself back up, then trade again until level 6. Level 6 against Darius can be difficult. However, if you have your Blood Well revive up, he is forced to use his ultimate on you before you revive or else you'll just kill him every time as long as you stay in Blood Thirst below 50% health. The main advantage you have over him is your sustain is god-like. Darius has no natural sustain. Abuse this.

Elise: Elise is difficult for Aatrox because of her constant harass with her Neurotoxin. Because it's percentage health, Elise doesn't need much ability power early to do decent damage with it. However, it has a decent cool down at level 1 and if she spams that on top of her Volatile Spiderling she will go oom very quickly. Her cool downs are your window to sustain. At level 3, as long as you haven't let her harass you too much, you can easily "all-in" her and win.

Garen: With Garen, the main thing you want to do is prevent his passive, Perseverance, from being up for too long. The best and easiest way to do this is to spam your Blades of Torment at him. You'll want to level that first. He will most likely itemize armor and rush a Sunfire Cape. Leveling your E will give you a source of magic damage that can really chunk him because he isn't building against it. In trades, if he gets a full duration Judgment off he'll win. If he sticks around to auto-attack you then you win. Stay in Blood Thirst while he's spinning then switch to Blood Price if he tries to continue the trade. After 6 he should be able to kill you if you have your passive up. He'll have to use his ultimate before he breaks through Blood Well. However, keep in mind that Demacian Justice is a shorter cooldown than your passive. Wait for your passive to come back up unless you know you can beat him.

Irelia: Irelia is another auto-attack based champion early. Her Hiten Style gives her passive sustain and active true damage. However, your sustain is stronger. When she activates her Hiten Style be sure to be in Blood Thirst to sustain through the true damage. Then you can switch to Blood Price. Harassing her with your Blades of Torment isn't too effective unless you get a level advantage on her. This is one of the match-ups where maxing Blood Thirst / Blood Price is a viable option if you're simply going even in the lane.

Jax: Jax can go either way. But at level 3 he can easily win the trade if either he initiates onto you or if he reads your initiation and can get his Counter Strike off before your first auto-attack. His Counter Strike >>>>DOES NOT<<<< Blood Price but will keep you from healing with Blood Thirst. Because of this, you have to push him into his turret to keep him down. He doesn't have very good wave clear to prevent a push. Spam your Blades of Torment to harass/wave clear and you may have a chance early game. Late game Jax is a monster if he gets much further beyond 3-4 items. After your Ravenous Hydra pick up and early Warden's Mail to slow down his attack speed.

Jayce: Jayce is difficult early for Aatrox because he can auto-attack harass you from range without worrying too much about return from you other than Blades of Torment which at level 1 isn't too scary. Best thing to do is ask your jungler for a gank after they get double buffs and force him back. However, your advantage over him is that most Jayce's get scared of people that try to "all-in" them. At level 3 you have the advantage on him because most Jayce's won't take their Lightning Field / Hyper Charge until level 4. Use this to your advantage and try an "all-in" on him at level 3.

Kayle: Kayle can be difficult if you aren't careful. However, she is very mana dependent early and taking advantage of this will allow you to win the lane pretty easily. Her Divine Blessing has a very long cool down and is her only way to sustain in lane. After level 3, you guessed it, "all-in" her and force her back as long as you haven't been harassed too much. If you have, try to freeze the creep wave on your side of the lane and just sustain yourself.

Kennen: Kennen is probably the most difficult champion to go against as Aatrox. He can harass you with auto-attacks and every fourth attack he deals bonus damage. Even at level 3 he can be difficult to "all-in" because he can Lightning Rush away, activate Electrical Surge, then throw a Thundering Shuriken and he has down more damage than you, stunned you, and set you up for more auto-attacks. The best way to deal with this little yordle is to ask for an early gank from your jungler and ask him to continue to do so until you've established a good lead against him.

Kha'Zix: This is by far one of the more skill based match-ups for Aatrox. If you don't allow him to get free isolated Taste Their Fears off on you, you can sustain through his trades really easily. Try not to push him into his turret. Keep the wave in the middle as much as you can. If you're at his turret, you have nothing behind you to keep yourself from being isolated. In a one-on-one fight you should be able to beat him as long as you aren't isolated. If you're isolated, then you better have a way to escape.

Lee Sin: Lee Sin should be able to win this match up pretty easily. Try to avoid his Resonating Strike by standing inside your minions. If you get hit by it that's harass you can't really answer easily unless you land your Dark Flight as he flies into your body. Most of the time Lee Sin will just Safeguard to a minion right after hitting you which makes it hard to answer. You can't really all in him either because of his Cripple. This slows your attack speed which in turn drastically lowers your damage and healing. Ask for help from your jungler early.

Malphite: Malphite is an easy match-up for Aatrox because Malphite is very mana hungry early. You can sustain through the damage he deals with Seismic Shard very easily and it quickly eats his mana if he tries to continue to poke you with it. The only advantage he has on you is that his Ground Slam reduces your attack speed. Other than that you can out trade him because of how much damage you can deal early game and he will likely run oom very quickly if your force trades enough.

Nasus: Aatrox is probably the only person that has so sort of trouble dealing with Nasus because Blades of Torment isn't enough harass to keep him from stacking his Siphoning Strike. Push the wave hard and force trades with your combo as much as possible. His early game Wither isn't too punishing to you. Most Nasus players will try to get a couple Siphoning Strikes on you during this. If possible walk up to him and start auto-attacking to start the trade. As soon as he uses his Wither use Dark Flight to CC him for a good portion of the time your whithered. Doing this will allow you to win the trades pretty easily. Also, as long as your blood well is near full, whither won't reduce your attack speed to a detrimental level.

Nidalee Nidalee can be difficult during trades because not only does her Primal Surge restore health, it increases her attack speed. Also, because her basic attack are ranged, she can poke you down. Most top Nidalees aren't too reliant on hitting their Javelin Toss. All the same, avoid it by standing inside minions. Your burst combo should be able to do decent damage to her even after she heals. Try to continue auto attacking her to get an extra proc of Blood Price off. After 6 her trading potential becomes a lot better and she has a very easy escape. Try to harass her before going in. Most players won't heal themselves for just 1-2 Blades of Torment worth of damage so that could give you an advantage.

Renekton: Renekton is rough for basically any melee top. Your one advantage is that his auto attacks early are weak and his sustain tool is on a decent cool down. Play safe for the first two levels if you don't take your W until 3. However, taking W at level 1 then Dark Flight at level 2 is a viable option against Renekton. If you force trades constantly with a charged up Blood Price he may have difficulty sustaining early depending on how many pots he bought at level 1. I recommend starting with a Doran's Shield and a health potion against him.

Teemo: Teemo is often looked at as a counter to Aatrox. He has a blind and Aatrox is auto-attack based right? Well, while that logic is correct, if played right Aatrox will destroy Teemo in lane. If he's ap he's going to use his blind to harass you. He may also try to follow up with some auto attacks. If he does this then drag him into the ranged creeps then use your Dark Flight on him the moment the blind wears off. If you knock him up that's a lot of free damage that you get on him. If he runs use Blades of Torment on him and end the trade that way. If he's AD, he's going to harass you with auto-attacks almost exclusively. Start Doran's Shield always against Teemo. It makes his basic attacks do virtually nothing if you have the Block mastery as well.

Shen: Aatrox vs. Shen is very reliant on early game trading to swing it in the favor of Aatrox. You have the advantage on him early. He can't out sustain your Blood Thirst in lane or in fights. This lane is all about being smart with your backs and forcing him to back a lot before he can get a Sunfire Cape. He most likely will start with a Doran's Shield against you so the only way to do real damage to him is to full combo him or just poke him with Blades of Torment. Keep in mind, you can interrupt his Stand United with your Dark Flight. If you notice on your mini map that a fight is breaking out somewhere else on the map then Shen will probably start to back off towards his tower. When you see this, follow him and if he starts to channel within vision punish him. If you can't get to him in time to interrupt it, then push your lane as hard as possible. Even us Massacre to push it down faster. There have been times when I was able to get two towers uncontested because Shen ported out of lane.

Vladimir: Vald's early game is weak. While both of you have very strong sustain, you have more consistent sustain at early levels. His spells aren't enough to harass you into playing passive early game because of how hefty the cool down is on his Transfusion. You have to punish his very weak early game. Combo him as much as possible after level 3. He doesn't start getting strong sustain until level 7 (if he's able to free farm and buy Hextech Revolver. You can very easily snowball this lane in your favor. Just be weary of ganks because you will most likely be pressed up in your lane.

Zac: Zac is really easy for Aatrox to handle. Especially after the changes to Cell Division making it so that his healing blobs are contestable by enemy champions. The blobs are the key to winning the lane against Zac. If you can squish some before he can pick them up, it turns his harass on you into harass on him because all of his spells cost health. It's a good idea to pick up an early Negatron Cloak against Zac. As far as starting items, you have plenty of options. The safest is a Doran's Shield as with any lane. Also, if you're getting camped by their jungler and can't afford a Negatron Cloak then a null magic mantle should help.

(Will add more lane match-ups as I play against more top laners)

During the lane Aatrox is relatively weak until he gets either his Blood Well fully stacked or until he picks up his Blood Thirst / Blood Price ability. The reason I wait until level 3 to get his W is because that way I have an escape, a ranged farming tool, a way to set up ganks, a way to harass, a way to escape ganks w/o burning flash, and a way to easily stack my Blood Well. Once you hit level 3, unless something went terribly wrong, you should have a full Blood Well granting you 50% attack speed and as long as your revive is up, a way to trade with the enemy without having to die.

Level 1-3

Typically, I push the lane very hard and rush the level two. If you're against a melee champion who can't harass very well without getting pretty close to you AND you know that the enemy jungler won't be able to make it to your lane by the time you hit level 3, take your W. Otherwise, be safe and pick up your Q. Harass as much as you can with your E until level 3. Once you hit level 3, you'll want to try an "All-in".

The All In

At level 3, you want to "all-in" your opponent. By this I mean go for a kill. As long as you're just about at full health, and they are too, you can very easily force them to at least back off the minions or possibly get a kill.

The way you want to do this is, at level 3, level up your W then auto-attack twice in Blood Thirst. Then as soon as the enemy is in range switch to Blood Price, Dark Flight into them, hit them with Blades of Torment, then start auto-attacking. Your first auto-attack should do a lot of damage. If your full combo hits you can easily chunk most champions for 1/3 or 1/2 their health in that small time frame. If they flash or ghost away, let them run and tell your jungler that their flash/ghost is down. Then next chance you get do that same combo and you could very easily kill them as they're running to their turret.

After your "all-in", assuming it went successfully, you basically have a win in your lane. Continue to do that same combo and you should be able to snowball your lane hard.

How to Deal with Harass

As Aatrox, it's very easy to deal with harass. Simply sit in Blood Thirst and auto-attack minions. If you're being zoned off by the enemy, just wait at the turret then auto-attack the creeps there. You'll quickly restore your health and be ready for a trade.

Aatrox has a very strong Mid game. You have basically two options during this point in the game. One is split pushing (what I do on Aatrox most of the time) or roam to push other objectives like dragon or mid turret(s). In this chapter I will cover what you should do as Aatrox in both of these strategies.

The Split Push

First, split pushing essentially is going off by yourself to solo push a lane. Typically you do this in the Bottom or Top lane. It's easiest and most effective in the top lane at this point in the game. The point of split pushing is forcing the enemy team to send one or two or even more people to deal with you to keep you from pushing too many turrets and getting too over-farmed. This in turn should open up the rest of the map for your team to take dragons, their bottom-side jungle, or turrets in the mid or bot lane.

Aatrox is particularly good at split pushing because his max rank Blades of Torment can take minions down to one auto-attack worth of health. Also, his Dark Flight can get him out of many sticky situations. Because you can leap over walls with it, you have many escape options. Another reason Aatrox is good at split pushing is because he can very easily win a 1v2. The most recent 1v2 I've had while split pushing was against a Jarvan IV and a Shen. I won with just a Doran's Blade, Blade of the Ruined King, and Boots of Speed; killing both of them.

2v1 Run Down(mid game)

In a 2v1 as Aatrox you need to have your ultimate up. If it's not up and you're going into a 2v1 you're likely not going to win. It helps to have ignite and flash up for extra damage/re-positioning but it's not necessary.
First thing you need to think about in a 2v1 is what champions you're going up against. If either one of them is a high burst champion like Kassadin or LeBlanc I suggest not trying it unless you are super fed and they haven't hit their power spikes yet. However, if neither champions have high burst, you're golden.

Let them initiate onto you. Doing this forces them to use several abilities right away. Typically CC abilities. As soon as the CC drops pop your ultimate and start auto-attacking in Blood Thirst. It's too risky to be in Blood Price in a 2v1. Since you still have your Dark Flight up you can use it to escape if things are going south or use it to CC them to stop their damage. With your ultimate up and sitting in Blood Thirst you should be able to heal through any amount of sustained damage from someone like Darius or most ADCs.

Another thing you need to take into consideration is what summoner spells the enemy is using and whether or not they're up. The most common 2v1 you will be facing is the other top laner and the jungler. So rather than 4 summoners to take you down, the max they can use is 3 because assuming the jungler is being normal, he will have smite and more than likely flash. So you really only have to take into account the combat effectiveness of Ignite from the other top laner. This is incredibly important. Because Ignite puts a healing debuff on you, it can be very difficult, but not impossible, to heal through any kinda of damage. Ideally you would have forced the enemy top laner to Ignite you before you try a 2v1. While this is happening, hopefully your team is converting on the ability to group as four and take a tower at bottom or mid. Or they could take dragon.

One thing to note before you split push, TELL YOUR TEAM YOU'RE GOING TO! If your team knows that you're split pushing, then they can watch to see if you attract the enemy mid or jungler to you then they can take the previously mentioned objectives.

In the late game, your job as Aatrox is to drive onto the back line of the enemy team to disrupt they're ADC and AP. In order to do this, you'll want to sit in Blood Thirst so you can tank the damage they dish out. Also, focus down the ADC. They have the most clean up potential and do more damage over extended periods of time than an AP carry because APs are restrained by their cool downs. In order to tank the damage of both of them, you'll want to have at least Tier 2 Boots ( Mercury's Treads or Ninja Tabi) and a Spirit Visage. Why those two boots? Because they give you quite a good bit of survivability against a back line. If you force your current target to just flat out run away, don't keep chasing unless you know you can catch them. Continue fighting the rest of the enemy team and if that tasty ADC comes back, just leap on to them and make them pay for their ignorance.

I hope you enjoyed this guide and learned a lot from it. I will add more to this guide as I increase my game count on Aatrox. This entire guide is based on experience in ranked games. As i play against more top lane match-ups I will add them in and edit the ones currently in place based on what I have learned from facing them. I also plan on adding videos to explain some of the in-game process I tried to explain in words above.

Also, this is my first guide on MOBAfire so any feedback is appreciated. If you're interested, I stream most of the time when I play. If you want to see this build in action head over to This link for my stream. You can also follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook.

Thanks for reading!