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Jarvan IV Build Guide by kazio

Not Updated For Current Season

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League of Legends Build Guide Author kazio

jarvan offtank

kazio Last updated on December 9, 2011
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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: 14

Honor Guard

Defense: 13

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 3

Chapter 1

So, you want to kick some *** with the Badass Prince of Demacia? Well, look no further than this here guide. The best place for the Prince is alone, far from the reaches of mid lane or bottom lane, all by himself in top lane. There he will sit, a cold glare seemingly fixed upon his opponent, aggression building up until his goal is attained. No, his goal is not the destruction of his enemy, nor even his turret, though these are indeed steps on the path he must take... His true goal is the piece that holds his enemies together... The reason for his summoning... The all-powerful Nexus, and it shall be his to destroy... No one takes the glory of victory away from Jarvan IV.

This is my first guide, though I'm not really a newbie. I've been avoiding the sun and pouring many hours of my life into League of Legends since Fall '10, so I'm quite familiar with the metagame by now. I watch a lot of streams, read a lot of guides, and save my own builds for champions I play very often (unpublished, of course).

I'm not going to lie and tell you I'm the greatest, because I know I'm not. However low Elo I might be at right now, I'm confident that I'm an above average player now. I made the mistake of jumping into ranked play before I was truly ready, and as such, my Elo sunk down the toilet. Since then I've kicked it into high gear, and I've risen about 300 points in solo queue in the past two months, and I'm still climbing. The turnaround point was finding what I was good at, which I feel happens to be solo top, and then just plain playing more often. I play a lot of Irelia and Teemo, among other things, and that's my favorite spot for most champions.

Recently I picked up Jarvan IV and fell in love with his kit. I've done so well with him, in fact, that I decided to write this guide. I took a lot of my own knowledge, some advice, and research done from other builds, as well as watching High Elo streams and the Season One Championships at Dreamhack.

With all that said, this is a guide intended for all levels of play on Summoner's Rift. By that, I mean it's intended for Ranked games, High Elo matches, tournament games, and if you're feeling really mean, for normal 5's. I have not tested this build on Twisted Treeline, though I have heard that Jarvan does well in 3's.

I snagged my guide format from Searz, changing it up a bit to fit my own style. It was a great stepping stone for me to produce my own guide with. You can find it here. It's very helpful, so he deserves some credit.

I'm not going to coddle you, if you need to know exactly what an item or ability does, scroll over it, you lazy bastard.

(for any abbreviations your brain cannot process on its own)

Why should you play Jarvan IV?

•He can hold top lane for a very long time by himself.
•He can farm relatively safely against a lot of common solo top opponents.
•Isn't very susceptible to ganks.
•Has above average ganking ability.
•His passive makes for above average burst damage, even without offensive items.
•Every one of his skills adds some form of utility to the team.
•He can build almost full tank and still be very lethal.
•He is one of the most versatile champions in the game, able to fit into any team composition and fulfill a variety of roles.
•Though not the point of this guide, he can jungle fairly effectively.
•He yells "DEMACIA!"

But mostly, because playing him makes you feel like this:

What are people saying about this guide?

Elementz wrote:

Solid guide, and solid build of mixed DPS and Tankyness!

Searz wrote:

Aaah, cool to see a good guide with my format :)

Alahric wrote:

+1 Very nice description, and the itembuild is superb. Play him the exact same way now that gold per second items have a unique passive.

Trophycase wrote:

Looks pretty strong, I liked the section about laning opponents. I also like the item build... ...I am always a fan of gp10 items and love the 21 utility setup.

Ningeal wrote:

Wow, I absolutely enjoyed reading your guide. It encouraged me to play Jarvan. It is not only very well explained but also perfectly structured.

With the advent of the revamped mastery trees I was forced to re-evaluate my choice of masteries. After some deliberation and testing, I chose to run these 21/09/00 masteries. Sustainability is still key to my Jarvan playstyle, however, the new masteries allow for about the same amount of sustainability through the health regen in the defensive tree, the lifesteal in the offensive tree, and the mana regen runes. The new masteries really shine at making my sustainable offtank Jarvan dish out a lot more damage than before.


Greater Mark of Desolation
These are pretty straightforward. From the beginning of the game, ArP runes are going to make an AD champ do more damage. It's scientific fact. However, if you're choosing to level up Dragon Strike faster than Demacian Standard, you might be better suited for something else, like flat armor or even attack speed.

Greater Seal of Clarity
I originally ran flat Armor runes (which aren't a bad substitute) but switched over to mana regeneration runes because Jarvan has some serious mana problems throughout the course of the game, and you shouldn't be itemizing for mana. Going Mana Regen per level helped cover that weakness and made holding solo top a much more pleasurable experience for me. I can see the potential in HP per level yellows too, so you could use those if you're less spammy than me in your Jarvan playing.


Greater Glyph of Shielding
Another pretty straightforward pick. These runes give a decent amount of magic resistance, which gives you more leeway in taking on some more offensive items if you feel you can do without the extra survivability. Flat CDR blues are an acceptable substitute, but it will make you less tanky.

Greater Quintessence of Swiftness
This is mainly personal preference, as there our several other quints that could be useful. I find the extra movespeed makes tracking down, knocking up, and steamrolling carries that much easier, which often times is Jarvan's main priority. Suitable replacements would be Armor Pen, flat HP, or maybe even flat AD (which would benefit from maxing Dragon Strike first). It's also been suggested to me that Flat HP Regen Quintessences work well, which seems very solid in theory, especially with the purpose of this guide. Those would be another acceptable substitute.

Summoner Spells

I've very recently taken to running Ignite on all my solo top champions because of the lane dominance it helps to gain. You can be a lot more aggressive and secure more kills early game when your jungler ganks, and sometimes without your jungler. Because of this, it's become standard for me. Though, if you team already has a lot of Ignites, consider taking something else.

Since Jarvan has a built in ability than functions like Flash, he doesn't always require Flash. This allows him to take Ghost for the boost in chasing someone down. It can also be used as a last resort to quickly return to your tower if necessary (if you don't have Teleport or your Teleport is down).


I used to run Ghost, but I've found with the movespeed I have, flashing in and then doing my knock up combo from a distance has become a lot more effective. You have the surprise aspect. Also, it's 100% easier to escape ganks on top with a well timed flash. Ghost just isn't as effective at that. However, that's not to say Ghost isn't useful, because it certainly is. I have just changed personal preference (and seen better personal results), and thus am reflecting that in my build.

I used to feel this is almost mandatory among those who wish to take the position of solo top. Unless there is an explicit reason you need to take something else, this should always be a part of a solo top's arsenal. I have started to try out Ignite instead and have found that I often will be able to secure a kill and then push the lane out, followed by recalling and simply walking back with standard boots. This spell is no longer mandatory in my mind, but still a huge asset to your team. If you don't already have one, I would still recommend considering taking it. It, for one, allows you to recall and pick up your Heart of Gold & Philopher's Stone combo when you have the gold and return instantly, thus maximizing your gold income. If you somehow die, you can return to your tower (hopefully) before it is lost. This also allows you to roam elsewhere for a gank and safely return if your lane is getting pushed too hard.

Skill Sequence

I usually level in the order given in the table on the top of the guide.

As usual, take Cataclysm at levels 6, 11, and 16 when it become available. Demacian Standard is maxed before anything else because of the Armor and Attack Speed bonuses it gives, as well as the last-hitter/poke it naturally is. Golden Aegis and Dragon Strike are maxed almost evenly to scale into mid and late game. Neither of them really demands to be maxed before the other, so I keep them pretty even. You can max your shield earlier if you're getting harassed a lot, or max Dragon Strike earlier if you're able to bully your lane a lot. Honestly, with Jarvan, it's kind of a jack of all trades thing. I feel Demacian Standard should be the first thing maxed, but keeping your Dragon Strike within a level or two of it is also very smart. It provides a large poke and the Armor Reduction it provides can make for some great harassment.

Typical Builds

Recommended build 1 sequence.

Recommended build 2 sequence.

The first build is my usual build. It focuses on being tanky, yet threatening, as well maximizing the purchase of Atma's Impaler to raise survivability and still build upon Jarvan's damage output. It does very well in almost any game, as it has enough of a mix of resistances to deal with any problems, as well as dish out enough to damage to give reason to be focused. A tank that you can safely ignore is a bad tank.

The second build is what I resort to when I'm worried about being CC'd too much, plus it's also smart to get if their AP carry is getting kind of fed earlier.. Taking an early Banshee's Veil will keep you alive for a long time, plus the prior Catalyst the Protector will help quite a bit around mid-game, especially those mid-fight level ups that can be a life-saver. Besides that, it's very similar to my usual build.

Starting Items

Regrowth Pendant
This item is necessary for that sustainability solo top requires. With this you can safely venture off into your laning opponent's harassment to gather last hits and gold, then return and regenerate any lost HP. It also builds into the lovely gold fabricating Philopher's Stone, which you need to get as early as possible.


Health Potion
Helps in case you happen to take a lot of harassment at once, possibly from an early gank. It's always important to spend excess starting gold on a potion or two, because you never know if you might need them. You could even substitute this out for a Mana Potion, but this is my preference.

Core Items

Mercury's Treads
A CC'd Jarvan is a useless Jarvan, so lowering any slows, stuns, etc. with Tenacity is very important. The Magic Resistance that it gives is important too. Every team will have some form of CC or AP caster, so there isn't any real reason to sub this out for Ninja Tabi. Especially since Demacian Standard gives you Armor as you level it up. A well-rounded Jarvan is a strong Jarvan.

Trinity Force
This is your bread and butter. Everything it does is useful. The AD and Attack Speed it gives adds to your damage output, the AP helps your Demacian Standard's landing damage, the Critical Chance synergizes with Atma's Impaler if you build it, and it gives HP and Mana. The Movement Speed helps chance down champions and initiate fights, and then the slow proc keeps them in your range. Not to mention the 150% damage boost will occur fairly often because Jarvan's skills have low cooldowns. This item does everything, much like the Badass Prince of Demacia himself.


Randuin's Omen
This item builds off of Heart of Gold, so some of it is already paid for. The active effect synergizes pretty awesomely with Golden Aegis, it gives a **** ton of HP, Armor, and even some HP Regeneration. It also gives CDR and has both an Attack Speed debuff and a Movement Speed debuff. This makes it impossible to kite a pissed off Jarvan.

Atma's Impaler
This item makes Jarvan IV even more of a kickass Tanky DPS threat. The Armor it gives is great for the price, plus the Critical Chance stacks with Trinity Force, and the passive synergizes well with almost all of Jarvan's other common survivability items, thus giving him even more damage potential with minimal effort. This item is so good, I consider it core on Jarvan IV. Even without a lot of HP, this item gives good damage for the price, so it's situationally viable at many points in a match. The true trick is choosing when to take it based on the opposing team.

Preferred Items

Force of Nature
This makes Jarvan even more of a speeding semi-truck of death. I pick this instead of Banshee's Veil whenever I don't need to worry about being CC'd, which is most games, since I always have Mercury's Treads and a gap-closer with my knockup slows are not an issue and most teams will save their stuns for other targets. Most importantly, this time gives a **** ton of MR, HP Regen, and even a Movespeed bonus. Nothing about this is a bad purchase.

Aegis of the Legion
This item synergizes so mind-blowingly well with Demacian Standard it's not even funny. The aura boost to your teammates can even make squishies tanky enough to hold their own. It gives HP, Armor, and Magic Resistance, all things Jarvan loves, and even a little bit of extra damage. Everything about it is sexy. However, you may want to consider getting something else if your team's support is going to pick this up. It's usefulness is lessened if there's more than one on the team, that's just a waste. Aegis of the Legion is great, but it's not worth the gold if your team already has one. Be sure to negotiate with your Support if they're going to pick it up or not. I will say, though, that when you have Demacian Standard on the ground with this item you are giving your teammates a whopping 34 ARMOR. Wowza.


Banshee's Veil
Being CC'd is sometimes a curse of Jarvan, as he's a terrifying sight to the enemy, so he gets stunned or slowed almost instantly in a fight. A Banshee's Veil can prevent this. It also gives HP and Mana, which synergizes with a possible Atma's Impaler and helps aid Jarvan's mana-hunger, respectively.

Sunfire Cape
Picking up the old cape of suns is a great substitute for some of the defensive armor items you could take. It synergizes really well with Atma's Impaler and allows you to deal some great AoE damage, especially to a team with low MR squishy champions.

Other Viable Items

Guardian Angel
A little obvious. If you find you're dying too much, this is a great solution. Often I take this if the game goes longer than an hour, as that 70 second death timer can sink a game if you make the mistake of dying this late in the game. The Armor and MR it gives are great anyways.

Wit's End
I don't usually see other Jarvans take this, but I find it pretty useful in caster heavy games. If I don't have to be a dedicated tank in a caster heavy game, I often take this after Trinity Force to add to my damage output, but keep my anti-magic tankyness, especially since it's so cheap. This is truly an under appreciated item.

Madred's Bloodrazor
If the other team is very, very tanky, I'll take instead of Trinity Force to become a fairly effective tank slayer. It gives decent Armor as well. The problem with this item is I find Trinity Force to almost always be more useful, and both are very expensive items.

Last Whisper
Is their team REALLY Armor heavy? Are you the only one who can safely get in range to eliminate these foes, or at least get them low enough to drop to your AD carry? Pick up a Last Whisper and watch as that impenetrable Rammus gets penetrated! Err...


Infinity Edge
Is your AD carry slacking and you don't need to be as tanky as usual? Are you somehow really rich when you recall? Consider picking up an IE. With this beast of an item, coupled with a Trinity Force, Jarvan instantly becomes the biggest threat on the map. Seriously, the damage potential is insane. Usually, however, this isn't a very realistic goal. It's definitely a luxury item. Once you've picked up this item, you should be able to kill anyone unlucky enough to get caught in your Cataclysm.

Wriggle's Lantern
This is practically a required item on a jungle Jarvan, but is a suitable pick for solo top as well. I sometimes take it because that lifesteal can keep me at full HP for long amounts of time, and even help me win 1v1 fights. I've become used to it from playing solo top Teemo. This makes Jarvan even more of a beastly pusher than usual. Usually it's better to fill a slot with something else, but don't overlook the potential of this item, as it gives some Armor too. The free ward is pretty sweet too.

Youmuu's Ghostblade
The AD, Critical Chance, Armor Pen, and CDR are all great additions to the damaging, but tanky, Atma's Impaler style build, adding even more Critical Chance. The active can help you melt down almost anyone in a matter of seconds. If you don't need to be too tanky, this luxury item could net a Jarvan a lot of kills.

Laning Phase

Jarvan IV is a top tier solo top. He's able to take on 1v2 lane fairly well if the enemy forgoes a jungler, but he's an unmovable menace 1v1 at top lane. With the setup this guide offers, you should be able to hold top lane and farm to your hearts content for long periods of time, pushing the lane when appropriate. With your Heart of Gold & Philopher's Stone combination, you should be able to farm from in front of your tower and gather large amounts of gold, and all while being at near-full strength. Left to his own devices, Jarvan IV will eventually force his opponent to recall, maybe even slay them, and will probably take the tower.

Your main focus for the first few levels should be last hitting minions with Demacian Standard and your autoattacks. You should try to land your spear on your opponent when possible, but don't forget about your farm. If you aren't farming at solo top, you're blowing one of your primary jobs.

Around level five you should start hitting your opponent with your spear, sometimes knocking him up with Dragon Strike and an autoattack or two, then backing off. At some point he will probably be around half health and maybe low mana, while you should be at near-full strength with all of your sustainability. This is a primary opportunity for your jungler to come in for a gank. Hell, you might even be able to drop a Cataclysm on them and take them out yourself. Whichever the case, play it smart.

Once you have dropped the tower, you should start roaming a little bit and helping where needed, always returning to keep your lane pushed. Constant pressure should be on top lane at all times, because it might allow you to force a 5v4 teamfight on the other half of the map when one of the enemy team members has to safe top from a large minion wave.


I usually try and keep my Demacian Standard on the ground at all times to maximize the time my team is benefiting from its bonus. It's also smart to try and knock up as many enemies in one lunge, because that can be just the setup your team needs to burst half of their team to 0 HP. It's also good to stick your Dragon Strike through as many tanky enemies as possible, which will make it easier for your AD carry to shred them to pieces.

In teamfights you need to try and pick apart their team and separate them from each other. If you can get a carry alone, you should usually be able to kill them 1v1. With Cataclysm you can usually single someone out and pick them off. You can also use it to capture several enemies together for some nice AoE damage out of one of your friends. It also can be used to save a low-HP teammate from a chasing enemy.

In any case, you must always keep in mind that Cataclysm can also screw over your teammates. Unless it will be in your favor, never trap a teammate inside of your ultimate. They will be very, very unhappy with you.

Tips n' Tricks

•I usually try to first recall at 1190 gold so I can pick up my Heart of Gold & Philosopher's Stone combination, which can also be done at 1540 gold if I want to pick up a pair of Boots of Speed. I only do this if my Teleport is up or if I can return before my lane is pushed to its tower. Hell, you can even do it immediately at 365 gold to pick up Philosopher's Stone right away and maximize your early game sustainability.
• Flash and other blinks are Cataclysm arch-enemies. Be sure to keep tabs on champions who may or may not have some form of blink ready to cast. Make note of how recently they have used their blink ability or Flash so you can attack accordingly.
•It seems champions can sometimes Ghost out of Cataclysm. Keep that in mind when preparing to use your ultimate on a victim.
•Sometimes you can time Cataclysm right so that you'll follow someone who is blinking away. If you feel you can predict their movements, don't hesitate to "DEMMMAACIAAAAA!!!" on their face.
•While you can accidentally trap unwilling friends in your Cataclysm, you can also save them from pursuing enemies. Just drop your ultimate on a chasing foe, drop Golden Aegis so they're slowed, and then use your knock-up combo to escape your own cage, thus leaving the enemy alone in there for another second or two.


Jarvan IV isn't the only one vying for the solo top throne. He has some stiff competition. With smart playing, the occasional help from a jungler, and well-timed tactics, there's no reason you should ever lose solo top against someone of equal skill.

If they choose to place a squishy top, you should be able to bully them into recalling multiple times, pushing the tower when appropriate. I won't mention those choices, because you should be able to figure out how to bully a squishy carry with a tanky DPS champion like Jarvan IV fairly easily.

Here's some of my advice on how to counter your solo top rivals.

With Cho I feel like you have to try and deny his farm as much as possible. Let him push the lane a bit and then harass with your Q and E. You'll have a hard time winning this lane outright, because Cho has some of the best sustainability of all the solo top champions, so your best bet is to ruin his farm and just soak up his attacks, trying to keep him from last hitting. When he's gone, push the lane as fast as possible.

Rumble is a lane bully, as most have found out. He has low CD attacks, high base damage abilities, and requires no mana. This allows him to lane forever, that is, unless you bring him to low HP. He will most likely start with a Doran's Shield, so harassing him with your Demacian Standard is probably your best bet. Keeping him low is the only way to stop him from kicking you out of lane. If he's low, you can safely farm. Rumble is not an easy champion to lane against, and you have to watch out for The Equalizer. If you overextend when he has this ready, you can count on him killing you. It's simply too strong. In order to take him out, you're going to need help from a jungler who can stun.

This should be easy. Simply harass him as much as possible with Q or E, and try and prevent his last hitting with Siphoning Strike. If you can do that, the lane is yours. He has no other purpose than to farm his Q, without that he's dead weight.

A much tougher opponent then most, he has no mana and can regain health with Cull the Meek. There's no point in harassing him, so focus on your farming and punish him when your jungler is ready to gank. A stun or some other form of hard CC, your knock up, plus Cataclysm should be able take him out. If anything, you'll blow his ultimate and be able to bully the lane to his tower.

If you're not careful, he can ruin you, but if you are careful, you can harass him a lot, mostly pre-6. Focus on Dragon Strike, as most Singed players build MR before anything else. Get him low and use the aid of a jungler to burst him down before he can regenerate it with an Insanity Potion.


This zombie is a true problem for Jarvan. You need, NEED to gank him as early as possible. He can outsustain and outfarm you, without even trying. Land a knock up on him and burst him down with a jungler to get a level and some farm on him, then you should do alright. On even terms, however, he will probably be able to harass and farm simultaneously while pushing over your tower. He's truly frustrating.

You have to harass him in bursts when his shield is down and the damage will add up, especially since his attacks cost HP. He will most likely focus on farming, so try and stop that as much as possible. Try the knock up, one auto-attack, and retreat combo. If he uses Children of the Grave, back out. Most likely, you won't be able to out DPS his regenerating shield and the life he gains from you. If you let him get a Jarvan IV ghost he will certainly push over your tower. Play this lane safe and harass and you should be able to bully him into recalling.

Swain is a tough opponent. From level 6 and onward, you probably won't be able to force him to recall. If you're going to harass, do it before them. Forcing him back pre-6 will allow you to win the lane fairly easily, so early ganks from a jungler would help immensely. Avoid getting snared and harass him from afar, knocking him up and landing one autoattack or two when he misses his snare. Careful planning and dodging will allow you to harass him into burning either his mana pool or his HP pool.

Pre-6 she's going to focus on farming. If she doesn't, smack her around a bit. You might be able to force her back. From 6 and on, she's going to be able to stick around with her ultimate, so be smart about harassing her or initiating one on one fights. You have to remember that she can also Bladesurge to a minion out of a Cataclysm, so keep that in mind. She's very mana hungry, so when she's out of mana, harass her. When you have more of a HP% than her, she can stun you, so watch out for that. She's a bursty champion, so don't hesitate to punish her if she gets in your face. The bulk of her damage is on a 8 second or so cooldown.

With AP Alistar being rather FotM right now, you might see this lane. It's certainly a tough opponent, if they're good. He'll focus on farming and healing, knocking you up and sending you away when necessary. Harass him from afar and force him to burn his mana on heals, then attack him as much as possible. When he uses Unbreakable Will, leave him alone. Beat him down when it subsides.


I hope my guide is well-received and useful to those of you who wish to try your hand at solo top Jarvan IV. He's quickly becoming my favorite champion on the Fields of Justice. If even one person benefits from my guide I'll feel good about writing it up.

I'd like to thank RebornKnight for all the help he's given me since I started playing LoL. It was his suggestion that I pick up Jarvan IV and his advice that sparked this guide. He's one of the people who introduced me to this game, so I have a lot of enjoyment (and frustration) to thank him for.

Please vote, comment, and share with your friends. I will try and respond to everyone who comments on my guide to provide guidance on any questions or comments about the build.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

You can contact me at or in-game on my account, Sinjustice.