Jax Build Guide by Cdpang
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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.
Most of Jax's tricks are pretty standard. I'm going to assume anyone reading this has basic knowledge of Jax and understands that he is an amazing 1v1er. But his use in teamfights depends on how much he has farmed earlier in the game and his reliance on teammates to support him when he jumps in for a kill. DON'T jump in unless you're certain you can get out or certain you will make the kill. People LOVE killing an overeager Jax. Or an overeager anyone, but playing Jax tends to make me feel slightly overpowered and suicidally tunnel visioned.
There's a little rng involved in playing Jax. I've jumped into fights where all I would need is one dodge to win the fight, and even with minions, over 30% dodge, and an AD carry hitting me, I never got a dodge and couldn't get a stun off.
Some things on Jax should be standard no matter what. Masteries. Boots. Gunblade.
The rest can really be tailored to taste. In this guide I'll discuss some of my choices for runes and items.
The runes I chose involved figuring out Jax's strengths, and how to make them stronger.
I choose attack speed marks because they offer a much greater advantage than any penetration or flat AP or AD. The faster Jax starts hitting faster, the better. And 15% right from the get go is huge. If you play a Jax without attack speed runes, and identical every other way, then I'll be at 10 stacks while you're still at 7. And I'll have done about 600 more damage to you in a full build(assuming no stuns/interference from teammates). Plus, more hits increases the chance for the Phage to proc and stop them from running when they realize they're about to lose. It also keeps Jax slightly hybridier, since his auto attacks deal both physical and magical damage.
Dodge seals are obvious.
Glyphs were my hardest choice. There's nothing super amazing for him, but I choose scaling AP glyphs. They are far more useful than flat ones, since Jax really has a limited use for ability power until level 6. Jax isn't a burst-damage character, despite what a lot of people would like to think. His ultimate is called relentless assault, not instant assault. ;)
Exp quints are often more situational than I would like, but I feel they help enough to be worth the quint slots. Jax's biggest weakness is being underleveled and underfarmed. And when he's overleveled there is nothing that can stop him short of a 3v1 fight. Extra exp helps tip the scales slightly more in his favor. Getting to level 6 or 11 before your opponent gives you a colossal advantage. More than with most other champions.
On to the item build.
Always start with either boots or cloth armor and potions. By level 3 you should be able to afford a ninja tabi. With runes, 1 point in counter strike, and ninja tabi, you're already rocking near 30% dodge. Get those stuns out!
After boots I immediately start a Bilgewater Cutlass. Doesn't matter which item you choose for it first, get whichever you can afford. A cutlass gives Jax an extra 150 burst damage and a completely reliable slow. Empower, Leap, an auto attack, and a cutlass strike will often do 400+ damage instantly, even as low as level 6. And they will be slowed for 3 seconds, often times more than enough to dodge a minion and stun the enemy. If they're still alive, exhaust them and stun them again when that ends. The cutlass also gives Jax some much needed lifesteal, and even over 100 HP thanks to his passive. After boots, always build a cutlass.
Finish your Hextech blade and enjoy the extra range and damage on your primary slow. This item alone is amazing for Jax. Crazy amounts of damage, regen, and even 330HP. Plus the on-use slow and its damage can land you many kills. Train yourself to use it every chance you get.
Hopefully by now the game is still going evenly, because after this point, Jax wins games for teams. If you're behind you're pretty much screwed though.
Once the Hextech Blade is complete I will start a Trinity Force. The first item I buy is always the Phage. It adds a passive slow to Jax's auto-attacks, and a bit more damage and survivability for him as well. A phage for Jax is worth 280hp, and countless more if you can slow your opponent so you can lifesteal from them if they try to retreat. Always finish your trinity. Doesn't matter what order. I usually go Zeal just because I like the move and attack speed.
After this point in the game your place is most likely decided. Either you did great and the other team can't stop you, or you're behind the rest of the game and aren't likely to catch up. GG. But the rest of Jax's item build is mostly situational. So I'll just list some pros for each of his possible items.
Banshee's Veil. Amazing for the magic resist. The effect is mostly wasted on Jax. I like it more than a Lich Bane since it gives him HP as well as absorbs some damage. Plus the fact that you should already have a Trinity Force and they don't share a proc. The reason I'm not a huge fan is because Jax's main weakness is running from a fight he may lose. Not engaging one. By the time you know whether you need to run, the effect will already have been consumed.
Atma's is an amazing item for Jax. It gives him a nice amount of armor, but it's main benefit is turning his HP into AD. And then that AD gets converted to HP because of his passive. And it repeats until the decimal place is moved to a point of insignificance. Usually around an extra 7-12 attack damage and thus 21 to 36 HP. This is just from the item scaling with itself. Overall it adds around 120 to 200 HP and 40 to 70 AD.
Guinsoo's is basically an extra level on his ultimate as well as a great deal of extra AP, some decent AD, and thus pretty effective HP. I like it. You can refresh the effect with empower. And it lasts much longer than his own ultimate stacks. So it's a great asset when carrying that attack speed to get his own stacks up faster.
I would avoid any armor or magic pen on Jax. As a hybrid you're wasting a lot of itemization by only picking one to pierce. You're better off with simply more AP or AD, since it also feeds into his HP pool.
If you are going against a squishy team, or they're stacking magic resist, a Bloodthirster is largely and by far the best AD item for jax. When fully buffed it adds 100 attack damage, 25% more lifesteal, and 300 more HP. Nasty. It's a tough call which item to substitute, but I would probably leave out the guinsoo.
Infinity Edge is alright. The crit from Trinity and Atma's work well with it, but you shouldn't be worried about your crits mattering. I prefer a BT for the lifesteal and potentially more HP.
Or, if you're against an extremely armor-heavy team, deciding to make a lich bane may be a better choice than a trinity. In that case, also drop the banshee's viel, and get Rylai's scepter instead.
General Jax tips:
Max your leap strike first. The cooldown reduction on it is worth far more than the damage or dodge of his other abilities. Leap is Jax's main mobility. He can jump to hostile and friendly units alike. Plan an escape by knowing when a minion wave is coming that you can leap to. Have a friend behind you. Or set up a ward you can leap to later.
In a 1v1 fight, learn to time your CC. Don't just blow everything at once. Open with your gunblade. Stun them in 2-3 seconds. Exhaust them. Stun them again as soon as you can. Leap to them if they're still trying to run away. In team fights timing doesn't matter as much as reactions. Exhaust their AD carry, ignite and gunblade whoever is lowest and about to die, as they're the most likely to get a heal or run away. Stun as often as you can. It's usually better to stun that one champ attacking you than waiting for a second to walk in range and trying to stun them both.
DON'T STOP HITTING THINGS. Always fight near minions if you can. Ideally theirs. You can hit them to build and sustain your ulti stacks and you can dodge them to proc stuns. Always try to start a fight with a stun ready and as many stacks of relentless assault as you can. A Jax can carry a dodge for a stun for about 5 seconds, but his stacks only last about 2. Remember to jump to the back of your own minions if you find yourself in trouble.
If you're still reading this far, or if you manage to even get into a game that lasts far enough to give Jax a full build without you either stomping or being stomped, then I'm impressed. Good luck with your Jax and don't forget to mash your buttons harder! It helps!