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Karthus Build Guide by Best Karth NA
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+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+15-90 HP (lvls 1-18)
Threats & Synergies
Worst lane for karthus, he can 100-0 you if he lands his ult. Punish him early when he tries to cs and rush a stopwatch. You will outscale him so the preferred scenario for this lane would be going even in cs, and getting fed with your ult from the sidelanes.
Freeze the lane by your turret, and punish him if he goes for any caster minions. Communication is key if he starts roaming. If you get ahead early on, look to roaming to the side lanes and keep him shoved in to the turret. Consider buying a stopwatch early on in this matchup.
There are a couple ways you could play this lane out, but I usually prefer to just allow him to shove early on and keep the wave towards my turret, setting up your jungler for a gank. Yasuo is going to have the advanatage 1v1 early on unless you can hit all of your Qs, so just look to build a CS lead and punish him for any misplays.
Easy matchup, dodge her E and you win. Make sure you keep her shoved in so she can't roam.
As with most assassin matchups, don't give her a free lead and you win.
She counters you pretty hard post 6, so make sure you dodge all of her q's and harass her early on. Her W outranges your q and she can use it to push you into her ult and land an E off of that. Just be careful.
A good karthus wins this matchup for free. Poke him down when he goes for CS and solo kill him in lane.
Keep him shoved in and harass. Make sure he doesn't roam, or at least punish him for it by poking him down and keeping the lane shoved in.
Another easy matchup. Low kill potential if hes a decent player. Just make sure you keep him in check when he tries to go aggressive by landing some Qs. Most likely a boring farm lane.
Very annoying matchup, you win pre 6 but if he gets ahead he can kill you pretty easily. Abuse your early advantage.
A good veigar will just farm safely until he can kill you at level 6. Consider taking cleanse for this matchup. Abuse your early advatage by punishing him whenever he goes for farm. Consider who the enemy jungler is and keep track of them in order not to get ganked. A freeze would be ideal here, as you can cs freely and poke him whenever he tried to farm until he is low enough to kill. Very snowbally lane.
Easy lane, you can poke him and kill him if he tries to all in you.
Hard matchup, as he gets a lot of free mr. Focus on dodging his abilities and watch out for the enemy jungler at all times, as galio is really good at setting up ganks. Poke him when possible and prioritize cs.
Easy matchup, hes squishy and your q's can take out his turrets easily.
Let him push the lane in towards you early on, but not so much to where it crashes into your turret. Poke him whenever he goes for any cs, and once you build a big enough lead look to the sidelanes to try and gain an advantage. Post 6 the lane becomes much harder, and I would recommend just shoving him in as safely as you can in order to prevent him from roaming.
Easy pre 6, you outpoke him. Use your q or auto to get rid of his shield and then go to town because he has a lot of trouble dodging your q. Malzahar's worst matchup imo, as he can't do much to you early game, and you have strong kill potential on him pre 6. If you aren't confident in your ability to grab an early kill on him, hard shove the wave early on as he has a lot of trouble last hitting under turret.
Annoying matchup, although you technically counter leblanc, you would need to play the matchup perfectly. Try to Q her and outtrade her when she goes in. Keep her shoved in when possible because she has a lot of trouble csing under turret.
Pretty easy lane as long as you don't let her get too ahead. You can farm safely and poke outside of her abilities range and will win trades if you land your abilities and don't allow her to get a stun off. Watch out for her flash all in combo at level 6 if she gets a lead, and keep an eye on her stun as she can flash stun you for an easy kill from a gank.
Completely skill based matchup. Look to build a lead and shove the wave in and roam. She has very good waveclear early on, and if you don't harass her enough she will zone you off of csing the caster minions.
Karthus' worst matchup in my opinion. Post 6 she can chunk you to 25% hp or even kill you if she hits on skillshot(which is ridiculous). You would need to play a very bad Diana player to win the lane. Your best option is to let her shove you in early, and keep the wave frozen towards your turret if possible, while harassing her from a safe range, setting her up for jungler ganks. In this matchup, just look to maximize your gold whenever possible.
Skill based matchup, however he does a ton of damage early on. The key to winning this lane is so stay just out of his aa range, and to harass him enough with your Q to where you can go up and farm without him feeling confident enough to just burst you. If you start losing early, just let him shove you in and watch as he dies to the inevitable jungle ganks.
You win hard early, however if he somehow gets a lead he has high kill potential on you. If he steals your ult, don't be afraid to exhaust him in order to minimize the damage he deals to your teammates. Just try to keep him shoved in early on and build up a cs lead, and then punish him for his roams by keeping the wave shoved.
His taunt sets you up for easy skillshots on ganks. A nice jungler to have against AD mids such as Yasuo or Zed.
Her CC allows for easy skillshots, and can keep the enemy team in your E for late game fights.
CC allows for easy skillshots.
His ultimate along with your E will give you a Wombo Combo teamfight late game.
As a Karthus player, you are going to want to teamfight a lot later on in the game, and it would be very difficult if the other team had a strong split pusher preventing that from happening. A jax can pretty much counter any annoying Trynd, Zed, or Yi players that will make your games very annoying to play by mirroring them in sidelanes.
Champion Build Guide
The general decison making you should have as a Karthus player goes as follows:
Does my team need me?
If the answer to that is no, look to farm. Check raptors, wolves, and any side lanes for farm. Constantly ask yourself this as the game goes on in order to maximize your gold efficiency, and you will notice yourself hitting that late game more often. Karthus however falls off past around the 40 minute mark, so try to end the game before then.
On Karthus, there are generally two different ways that you can play out the early game. Farm out and scale, or play a bit aggressive and try and snowball. First thing you want to notice is how strong the enemy laner is early on, as Karthus is better than a lot of mid laners in the early game and has strong 1v1 potential. If you realize you will get trashed early or poked out of lane, then try and just farm out the matchup and freeze the wave towards your turret.
Now you notice that you will have a large advantage early on against the enemy laner, good. Make sure you take note of who the enemy jungler is before you decide to do anything, as nowadays most junglers will target an aggressive Karthus for ganks and try to punish you whenever you go aggressive. If you plan on going all-in level one, ward the enemy red buff at around 110. This way you can prevent a level 2 gank from happening and won't be caught off guard as easily. Constantly poke throughout the lane whenever possible, but make sure not to go aggressive unless you have vision of the enemy jungler. Karthus' worst enemy in lane is always going to be the other teams jungler.
One of the greatest things about Karthus is his ability to always be in the game. If you are behind or losing lane, no big deal, farm it out. Shove the wave in by Qing the caster minions, then run to your raptors to farm some more. FARM FARM FARM. Karthus is useless without it. If you are ahead and end up shoving the lane, you could even take the enemy raptors if they are up. If you are playing against an enemy mid laner who excels at roaming I'd suggest just keeping the lane shoved in for the majority of the laning phase. That way, you can punish them at least a little bit for leaving the lane.
Karthus is also very good at setting up ganks. If you have a strong ganking jungler and you think you could pull off a kill, try to get the jungler to come into the midlane, and hold the wave closer to your turret. Play over to the opposite side of whichever direction your jungler is ganking from. For example, if you are on blue side and have your jungler coming from the left side, cheat over to the right in order to push the other laner to the left. As soon as your jungler goes in, or even right before, W the opponent and start spamming your Qs. It's a free kill 90% of the time if you land enough of them isolated. Be aware of where the enemy jungler is at all times, and make sure you pay enough respect to a champion if you believe they have the potential to all in you. If you realize a gank isn't going to work, then just ping your jungler back and continue to farm.
- If you're running low on mana in lane, last hit minions with your AA as your E passive with give you mana.
- Your W grants vision, so feel free to cast it into the baron pit if you don't have any wards and want to check up on it.
- It is much easier to land a Q when the enemy laner goes for a last hit.
- Don't be afraid to flash into the enemy backline during a teamfight. Not only will it provide valuable damage onto the enemy teams carries, but will allow you to peel for your own backline a bit.
- You can suicide and zone out the enemy team if you believe it will help secure an objective, or win you a teamfight(of course, don't do this with a large bounty).
- Karthus is essentially a ticking time bomb in game with how much damage he contributes towards teamfights. Remember you can always fall back on your scaling and farm up to the late game if your lane isn't going as planned.
- Sometimes towards the later parts of the game( 30 min+) it may not always be worth it to get a solo kill with your ult. It's most valuable use is during teamfights, so if you see a nami support that is pretty low, it might not be worth the CD to get that 300 gold.
- If you notice someone in the other lanes is low and you will only need a little damage from your team to secure a kill, target him in lane so your teammate knows to get in a give you that bit of damage to secure the kill.
- Your ultimate at rank one will kill anybody who is below 200 hp as a general rule.
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If you have any questions, or disagree with anything I wrote in this guide, feel free to leave a comment.