Build Guide by Shadowmage
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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.
This is a build that I've been using lately to great success. It combines multiple aspects from other guides while adding some of my own ideas to deal with issues that I've have had with Jax's squishiness. My issue with Jax is that he dies too fast, due to focus fire and CC. This build for Jax is especially useful at low levels (I'm only LV14) or in pub play, in which teamwork is usually poor enough that it may be necessary for you to have some survivability in order to carry the team.
I do NOT buy attack speed items! Jax as DPS won't deal as much damage as other DPS characters, and he has no CC (Counterstrike is reactive) and escape ability. Due to his ult, his burst damage is poor and it takes a bit of time for Jax to get going. Thus, he needs some survivability instead of just getting lifesteal like you would on Master Yi.
I do NOT build Jax as a tank! All health (aside from the Mallet) is gained through AD and AP. The point is to make a well-rounded Jax that can survive against all sorts of scenarios, which is perfect for pub play.
I DO buy items that exploit his Equipment Mastery skill! The combination of Gunblade plus Rageblade gives a bonus of 700HP. AD and AP are both very useful for Jax: remember that Jax's ult is affected by AP (+0.7)! Leap Strike and Empower (which you should constantly be spamming) become much more dangerous as a result.
I DO buy items that help Jax chase and gank! The focus on leveling up Leap enables you to both lead and chase with the spell. Hexatech Gunblade provides an awesome nuke + Exhaust effect. Frozen Mallet simply seals the deal. Also, due to this build's survivability, don't hesitate to play aggressively and chase an enemy hero past the towers!
At the start of the game, buy Cloth Armor and a few health/mana pots. See if your teammates will let you solo, in which you should play defensively and focus on gaining levels and gold. Offer up some harassment when the moment is right: hit your empower and use leap strike if your opponent is playing too aggressively. If your Counterstrike is charged, it's a good time to hit him with all three (empower, then leap and stun). When you have reached ~lv8 and have bought at least up to the Vampiric Scepter, you can begin playing more aggressively and start actively ganking. Of course, if your teammates need help or if there's a good opportunity, you should help gank before then as well.
After you've bought the Gunblade, feel free to gank at will. You can now kill almost any hero 1v1, sometimes even 2v1. Enter with Empower + Leap, and then mash Empower as soon as it becomes available again. Stun with Counterstrike as soon as it becomes available if you're facing off against a DPS: it'll soon be charged again!
Save your summoner abilities for escape. Sooner or later, the opposing team is going to try to gank you. When that happens, hit the Cleanse + Ghost and get out. Be sure to use the Hexatech active ability if necessary.
For group battles, your survivability is going to come in handy and save your life quite a few times. Even still, don't try to be the tank! You should still be one of the last people to enter the battle.
Max out Leap as fast as possible for the CD reduction after taking a point each in Counterstrike and Empower. Max out Counterstrike last since the benefits are tiny for each level (2% dodge, small damage increase). Of course, grab your ult when you can. Always hit your Empower as soon as it is charged when attacking enemy heroes.
AD and AP runes trigger the Equipment Mastery effect on Jax. A bit of AS provides more DPS and the dodge bonus synergizes with Counterstrike.
Ninja Tabi is an obvious choice for Jax.
Early Vampiric Scepter provides more lane staying power and helps survivability in general.
Guinsoo's Rageblade is terrific on Jax, helping damage with Leap and Empower while also providing a neat 310HP courtesy of Equipment Mastery. The passive effect is like a mini-ult for Jax. You enter the fight with at least two stacks on the Rageblade due to Empower + Leap Strike.
Phage helps with survivability (+315 health) and provides a Slow effect.
In my opinion, Hextech Gunblade is an underused item on Jax. All the effects are useful: you gain 390 health, on top of the damage. Spell Vamp is triggered by Empower and Leap Strike. The active ability is great for chasing and provides a free nuke.
Atma's Impaler has natural synergy with Equipment Mastery and provides some more survivability as well. It easily gives another +50 AD and a corresponding 250 HP.
Late game, Frozen Mallet may be useful for pesky heroes for which the Gunblade Active is not enough. Bloodthirster provides even more damage and Lifesteal, and thus even more damage and survability.
Other items that may be useful are Banshee's Veil for caster-heavy teams and Executioner's Call for teams with heavy healers and/or Warwick.
This build exploits Equipment Mastery to create a well-balanced Jax that is decent at many things but terrific at none. It is best suited for pub play in which you cannot play in a more specialized role or depend heavily on your teammates for success. This Jax still offers decent DPS (augmented by his spells) while also having excellent HP and some chasing ability.
This is my first guide so feedback is extremely welcome!