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Jarvan IV Build Guide by H4xDefender

Tank H4xDefender's Competitive Jungle Jarvan V2 (S4 Updated, Unde

Tank H4xDefender's Competitive Jungle Jarvan V2 (S4 Updated, Unde

Updated on June 12, 2014
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League of Legends Build Guide Author H4xDefender Build Guide By H4xDefender 71 7 1,290,732 Views 48 Comments
71 7 1,290,732 Views 48 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author H4xDefender Jarvan IV Build Guide By H4xDefender Updated on June 12, 2014
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I. Who I Am
III. Why Play Jarvan?
IV. Runes/Rune Choice
V. Masteries
VI. Skilling Order and Explanation
VII. Summoner Spells
VIII. General Build Explanation
IX. Other Items
X. Early Game
XI. Mid Game
XII. Late Game
XIII. Jungle Matchups
XIV. Score Section
XV. Videos
XVI. Changelog
XVII. Closing

Hi, I'm H4xDefender, a diamond 1 jungle main on the NA server. Through many many games with Jarvan IV in tournaments, solo queue, and normals, I've come to love the champion and all he's capable of doing. (no **** i sware) I don't claim to be a god or the best player around, but I've maintained one of the highest win rates with Jarvan IV with as many games as I've played, and at a high level as well. (80% of my J4 games came after I hit diamond). Now lets get into the guide shall we?

I'm not known for pretty guides. I'm known for readable and effective guides that advertise information that is tried and true through rigorous testing at my elo, higher elo through teammates and friends, as well as tournament play and lane tests. If you don't like "ugly" guides, go find another one now. If you want to get better, read on.

This guide will assume you have basic knowledge of jungling and will use terminology such as
"ganks," "pressuring lanes," "farming," "counterganking," and "holding."



Version one of this guide found here. (No coding essentially)

My soloq elo at the time of writing this, along with a good week of Jarvan in ranked.

My J4 winrate at diamond. (Peaked at ~65.3% through ~220 games)

CUZ DUNKS (bonus points if you get the reference)

Jarvan IV is a champion that can completely turn a game around. His ultimate, Cataclysm is like no ability in the game, in the sense that if you don't have an escape and your team gets trapped in AoE, you can get aced for free and lose.

Not only does he have an exceptional teamfight, his early pressure is ridiculous with his Dragon Strike Demacian Standard ganks coupled with Golden Aegis and his respectable damage. Although this isn't a Jarvan IV laning guide, Jarvan IV's solo laning is quite strong as well if that tickles your fancy.

Now for the actual guide.

greater mark of armor penetration
This combination gives you enough armor penetration to ensure a good clear time in the jungle as it is enough penetration for all the camps, and you will also be doing outrageous damage for a champion who builds no damage items. I take one crit rune because the chance to score a kill you wouldn't get otherwise without a crit is a good investment for the one ad or armor pen mark you lose.

Armor. Nothing else. Not health regen, not mana regen, not ad, not MR, not anything. Just armor. Without it the jungle will shred you. You aren't fiddlesticks.

Few different choices here. Normally this will be flat MR, scaling is fine if that is what you have, but generally you will want flat to mitigate damage you might take when ganking mid, dem APs hurt if you don't have MR. If they have no AP you can go something different like armor or AD.
Biggest range of choices here, AD, Armor Pen, Armor, Magic Resist, all are fine here depending on the game. It is standard to take AD for more damage in ganks and clear time which is what I prefer. Going all armor pen is ok but slows down your jungle since its overkill on penetration for a miniscule damage increase in ganks.

inb4 ***germeister downvotes because of my runes h4h4.

Fury : Some extra attack speed to help out clear time a little bit. This build caps CDR so you don't need the CDR, and this also helps to alleviate the fact that you max E last with my build.

Butcher : More clear speed.

Deadliness : Some extra AD, not too noticeable but its there.

Weapon Expertise : Free armor pen on top of Dragon Strike, and it amplifies Martial Cadence as well. Great mastery.

Summoner's Resolve : Extra gold on smite adds up.

Durability : Extra health is a godsend considering Jarvan IV has average/below average tanky stats for a tankish champion.

Tough Skin : Reduces damage taken from jungle creeps, pretty straightforward.

Hardiness : More armor more tankiness.

Resistance : More MR more tankiness.

Unyielding : Very underrated in trades, that extra 2 damage applies to EVERYTHING, DoTs, auto attacks, spells EVERYTHING. (No longer reduces damage from creeps though)

Veteran's Scars : More health, yes plz.

Block : Since you'll be diving in a LOT this often mitigates a lot of damage throughout a games duration, and for only 1 point too.

Juggernaut : Even MORE health, even MORE tankiness.

Defender : Extra 5 mr and armor lategame for 1 point? Sign me up.

Reinforced Armor : Very underrated mastery, every ADC in the game except blue Ezreal relies on shredding through tanks lategame with crits, the damage this blocks is very huge.

Honor Guard : A bit overrated but blocks a good amount of damage neverthless.

Always max Dragon Strike first on Jarvan IV. There is no argument. Demacian Standard's extra attack speed and armor pales in usefulness compared to the ridiculous amount of damage you do with Dragon Strike if you utilize it correctly in ganks, not to mention the fact that maxing Dragon Strike first lowers the cooldown so you can dash to one Demacian Standard twice off one cast. Knowing your flag placement and ult radius is what separates a good Jarvan IV from a great Jarvan IV.

Martial Cadence (PASSIVE): This passive is very underrated and is strong as hell. It adds a ton of damage to dragon, baron, and buff clears, and does huge damage to targets that have their armor reduced by Dragon Strike. This ability, combined with the rune setup I use and the ability Dragon Strike keeps Jarvan IV a damage threat throughout the game with 0 damage items.

Always try to proc this on as many targets as you can in teamfights. Remember it does physical damage and it is off the target's current health, NOT his max health like zed's Contempt for the Weak.

Dragon Strike (Q): This is your bread and butter damaging spell. Try to learn the range of it well, the knockup range and the damage range are actually different. Remember that one good E-Q can win you a fight. Know that you can also Dragon Strike to one cast of Demacian Standard twice once you have some cooldown reduction. ALWAYS MAX THIS FIRST.

Golden Aegis (W): Golden Aegis is the soft CC of Jarvan IV's kit, and this is another ability that is severely underestimated. Ever since the nerfs to Demacian Standard this is definitely the ability to max second. The shield you get hitting multiple targets as you level this ability up is absolutely massive, combine it with the shield from a Locket of the Iron Solari, a shield from a teammate, and you are an absolute monster in mid-lategame teamfights. The increased slow is just the cherry on top.

If you are walking behind someone in a gank and they are not close to tower, walk up and smack them to apply red buff (if you have it) and then use this to slow them so it is harder for them to juke your E-Q. In teamfights its fine to use this to just catch one guy if your team is behind you, otherwise use this either after you E-Q in, or after you E-Q and then ult in. This ability can easily add an extra 1000 hp to your health in fights if used properly.

Demacian Standard (E): This is definitely the most overrated ability in Jarvan IV's amazing kit. While it does give sizable amount of attack speed, and is a great one point wonder, thats pretty much all it is besides being what Dragon Strike dashes to.

Ever since the armor aura was removed, there really isn't a reason to max this second, and there never was a reason to max it first. The bonus attack speed to your team is barely relevant till late game, and even then it isn't that huge of a boon. The bonus clear time it gives you is very negligible, not to mention your kill potential plummets. Do not max e until last.

Cataclysm (R/ULT):Oh man, this ability is one of the best in the game, but depending on how you use it, it can lose you a fight easily as well. Remember it is a strong nuke against targets with little to no armor early/mid game, especially if they are affected by Dragon Strike's armor reduction, but late game it should only be used for positional advantage. Many times you will be dropping this ultimate to trap people and then using Flash or your Demacian Standard Dragon Strike combo to get out and leave them 0 targets to hit.

Refer to the video section of the guide for more detailed info on it.

There is no alternate to Flash and Smite as a jungler. Ghost is super inferior to Flash on Jarvan IV, Exhaust doesn't outweigh the benefits of Flash, and neither does Ignite, as Jarvan IV isn't really a counterjungler. I hate to have such a short section, but there is really no argument.

Exhaust: Exhaust is a pretty straightforward summoner spell. It makes it a bit easier for you to stick to targets in ganks and teamfights, cripples somebody in a fight for a little bit, and maybe even the whole fight if you use it on an AP carry, but limits what you can do with Cataclysm a lot more. It means if you commit to using your Demacian Standard + Dragon Strike combo into Cataclysm to trap people, you can't get back out until your cooldowns come back up, which is actually a big loss.

Flash: As you should know, Flash is the best summoner spell in the game. It opens up so many possible combos, i.e. Demacian Standard + Dragon Strike into Flash into Cataclysm, Flash into Cataclysm, and then Demacian Standard + Dragon Strike to get out, and you can use it to simply escape as well. All these benefits are why I take Flash over Exhaust every game, and you should too.

This build is tried and true in the rigors of Diamond ELO and tournament play. There are obviously times where I will deviate as there is a situational item section, but this is a very strong build for 90% of games.

This is pretty self-explanatory to start with. Doran's Blade start is alright, but because of Jarvan IV's shaky self-sustain, you may still lose duels invading, and you won't be able to get off as many ganks as a well played Hunter's Machete start would.

This item is cost efficient heaven. Not only does it provide the rare and coveted tenacity stat, it also gives a ton of health and regen, has an easy build path, and is cheap as well. ALWAYS BUILD THIS OVER Spirit of the Elder Lizard.

This item is more of the same, except it helps your team out a bunch as well. A bunch of resists for you and your team, some more health, even MORE health regen, and once again, a pretty easy build path and good price. Always try to get the AoE shield on as many of your teammates in a fight as possible, the shield radius is pretty big.

The bane of all auto attackers and ad carries. This item makes them not want to focus you... but if they don't they get cc'd by you all fight, which makes it a win-win situation for you. Always build the Giant's Belt portion first.

The superior of the two big magic resist items for tank champions on Jarvan IV. The reason for this being the massive amount of CDR it gives you which caps you out at 40% with the rest of the build. It is very cost efficient as well. (seeing a trend? :P)

Finishes off your build with EVEN MORE RESISTS, and lets you go EVEN HARDER (is such a thing even possible?!). Once you have this item you do not fear death, you go in and eat everything and die... then come back up and eat even more. With this item your resists soar into absurd amounts, making it all but impossible to kill you.

This item is very cheap and easy to build, and you dont need Mercury's Treads because Spirit of the Ancient Golem already gives tenacity. This item's passive is super underrated, 10% is an enormous amount, and it also scales up as the enemy champions get stronger, which is huge. Buy this 99% of games.


Without a doubt, the best standalone damage item on Jarvan IV. Not only does he make great use of every single stat, his tankiness and longevity in fights help him stack up the cleaver on many targets which destroys in conjunction with Dragon Strike and Martial Cadence. Buy this if your team is all AD and does not have one yet.

Sunfire Aegis is what I like to call the "carry tank item" because of the huge amounts of damage it actually puts out in fights and the tankiness it gives you as well. Generally you only buy this item if you are really fed and the other team is full ad because otherwise Randuin's Omen is better.

This would replace Guardian Angel against double AP teams that have critical abilities that need to be blocked by the veil's passive. Other then that, guardian angel is still superior.

Buy this item if you plan on counterganking a strong ad jungler, or want to resist their invades and counterganks. Some of these junglers are Lee Sin and Nocturne. If you fall behind and need to transition into a tanky aura bot quickly, this is a good buy as well, especially vs full AD teams. Do not ever uprade this into Wriggle's Lantern however. IF YOU BUY THIS ITEM YOU WILL STILL BE BUYING Spirit of the Ancient Golem. If you buy a Doran's Blade do not buy this, it is too much earlygame investment for little return later if you buy both, and you only need one of them for passable sustain.

Buy this against full AD teams that that auto attack a lot after you already have some hp investment, (i.e. you have Spirit of the Ancient Golem and Randuin's Omen finished already) and your team is having problems killing the champions in question. Don't buy this if you are dying to champions that burst or don't rely too much on auto attacks, i.e. Zed and Ezreal.

Buy this in the same situations as Thornmail, except your team has the damage to kill the champions in question but just die too quickly.

zeke's herald Buy this if you are decently fed and your ad carry/top/mid benefit from the stats it gives. A good example would be if your ad carry went a build like Trinity Force, Last Whisper, and Infinity Edge and needs lifesteal, and your mid/top would also benefit from the AD.

Buy this if there is no way your team will win lategame and you have gold to invest to get more ganks off and you know the extra movespeed will help you out. Be wary this drops your diving potential a lot because you will not have the extra armor from Ninja Tabi.

I almost always pick up an early Doran's Blade on my first or second back, it gives a lot of extra sustain and damage early on in the game and you can hold onto it for a long time as well because of how easy many of the items in the standard build are to build. If you fall behind early do not build one though, and always make sure to sell it lategame. If you are forced into Madred's Razors do not buy this, it is too much earlygame investment for little return later if you buy both, and you only need one of them for passable sustain.

I usually buy this if I am preparing for a dragon fight and have some gold to spare, all of its stats are actually very helpful midgame, but other then that this item is inferior to Doran's Blade.

Actually does more damage then Black Cleaver if your team has armor pen on targets lategame or you land an amaZing Dragon Strike. If this is your only damage item it is very gold inefficient however.

Good as a standalone damage item lategame as a 6th item if your team is incompetent and or all AP.


Inferior to Banshee's Veil, Spirit Visage, Locket of the Iron Solari and Guardian Angel. If you want damage and mr Hexdrinker is better. If you want damage The Brutalizer is way better.

Better than Wit's End but still is not worth it to build. It delays your important items too much and doesn't provide enough of a damage boost to compensate, and also doesn't make you much tankier.

Too expensive and inferior to Black Cleaver as a damage item overall, especially as targets pick up armor.

See above.

Makes you way too squishy for way too long because of the amounts of gold junglers receive, and the damage boost isn't significant enough to compensate, and also means you lose out on tenacity. Stay far away from this item, it is a noob trap.

You will usually want to start the buff that is bottom side of the map so you can get an easy smiteless pull from your bottom lane and then run immediately to your other buff and clear it with smite. Always start with Demacian Standard for the extra attackspeed and armor, and then pick up Dragon Strike second. Once you clear both buffs you should have all your abilities skilled and you will be level 3.

Once you have achieved this you can go looking for a gank in any lanes, but generally not bottom since you will be on the top side of the map. If the lanes have warded or are too pushed, just keep farming your jungle. As soon as the opposing jungler makes a move you will want to countergank or go steal a camp they are not close to if you are not in a position to countergank. i.e. if they gank top on blue side go steal wraiths, and if they gank top as purple steal their wolves.

If lanes cannot be ganked feasibly, powerfarm and play reactively until level 6, where you can Dragon Strike Demacian Standard into Cataclysm to burn flashes or pick up kills easily. If you kill middle or bottom lane champions always be looking to turn it into a dragon pickup.

NOTE: If you are against a jungler who can invade your blue or red buff after they take their first buff, i.e. Lee Sin, then start the buff you suspect they will invade in, or have your support ward the entrance to that buff so you do not get counterjungled and killed.

This is where Jarvan IV can really shine. He is usually incredibly difficult to kill at this point of the game, and still does very very respectable damage. Always try to land your knockup on as many targets as possible and zone the enemy threats as well as you can with Cataclysm until your team can cleanup. It is fine if you die zoning enemy threats as long as your team can finish of the enemy's divers before you go down. Once you have used your cooldowns it is fine to back up a little bit and get your Locket of the Iron Solari shield on as many members of your team as possible.

By this time of the game you should have Spirit of the Ancient Golem and Locket of the Iron Solari finished, and hopefully a Giant's Belt and Ninja Tabi as well. Don't be afraid to go hard, you are absurdly tanky, especially if you have Golden Aegis maxed and land it on multiple champions.

Refer to the video section on how to zone and ult effectively.

This is the part of the game where you aren't as big of a damage threat, but can still put the hurt down on squishy mids and ad carries if they don't respect your damage. At this point you should just be disrupting as much as you can with your CC and Randuin's Omen, as well as your ult. Make sure you still make use of your Locket of the Iron Solari shield as well.

Once again, refer to the video section of the guide on how to ult effectively in fights.

Will update these continually once I have more time/experience, obviously these won't/can't be as detailed as matchups in lanes. No matchup is so bad that you should not pick Jarvan IV.

Lee Sin

You have to be very careful against a Lee Sin. Always start your red buff against this guy no matter what side you are on so you won't have to deal with him invading you and ****ing you up. If you get counterganked by this guy you will always lose, so be wary when you go gank. You can't duel him either, so dont try unless you are super ahead or hes low, and don't go for his camps unless hes showing somewhere else on the map.

Be wary that even full tank Lee Sins do a lot of damage, and that he can easily get out of your ult, especially if he has a Sightstone. Since you are immune from crowd control when casting Cataclysm, try to time it at the same time he uses Dragon's Rage on you if you are trying to chase him down and kill him.


Nocturne is a lot like Lee Sin, but isn't quite as deadly. He can put a lot of hurt down on you with red buff, especially if he gets a fear from Unspeakable Horror down on you, but his counterjungling generally isn't as deadly as he isn't as slippery as lee. Don't duel him unless you have a buff and or level advantage. He is relatively easy to countergank, but be careful because he is quite strong with no damage items, much like you. If he counterganks you run immediately, but know he has little sticking power, and no hard CC at all if you get out of the range of his fear tether on Unspeakable Horror.

Lategame he is nowhere near as useful as you as a tank, but if he goes full ad he may be able to kill squishies on your team who position poorly, so peel him off as he will be exceptionally squishy and try to turn the fight into an immediate 4v5. He cannot escape Cataclysm unless he uses Flash or has a target to use Paranoia on. Know that his spellshield, Shroud of Darkness will only block either your Dragon Strike or Demacian Standard's DAMAGE when comboed together, IT WILL NOT BLOCK THE KNOCK-UP PORTION.


Elise vs Jarvan IV is an incredibly snowbally matchup. When one gets ahead, the other struggles mightily to create impact on a game. While your ganks are better then Elise's, she is one of the few junglers who outdamages you with a tank build, due to her massive amounts of %damage. Due to how tanky you are compared to her, you can duel her pretty easily if you get the jump on her, but the same can be said the other way around as well.

Remember you can "phase" through her cocoon stun with a well timed Cataclysm, so take that into mind when dueling her. Also take into mind she can rappel the damage from your Cataclysm if she times it well.


These scores are all from the mid-diamond and high diamond range. If you try out the guide and get a nice score, throw it up on tinypic and pm me the link and I will add it in.

Version 1.0: Guide released, many small tweaks made.

Version 2.0: Coding added courtesy of Hogopogo and Janitsu! (Thanks a ton guys).

Jarvan IV is one of the hardest snowballing junglers in the game and is absolutely game breaking if used correctly. While he does fine in a lane whether it be support, top, or mid, his potential isn't used to its fullest in those roles, which is why I prefer to jungle him. I will be adding in more things to this guide as time goes on, at the time of release I just wanted to get it out before the end of S3. Thanks for reading and good luck!

Once again, I want to give a huge shoutout to Janitsu and Hogopogo for all the hard work they put into making this guide pretty for me. This would not be possible without them!

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