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Mordekaiser Build Guide by afkeierdieb

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League of Legends Build Guide Author afkeierdieb

Mordekaiser: Death is the Ultimate CC

afkeierdieb Last updated on November 13, 2015
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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.


Natural Talent
Bounty Hunter
Battering Blows
Piercing Thoughts

Ferocity: 12

Dangerous Game

Cunning: 0

Tough Skin
Runic Armor
Veteran's Scars
Legendary Guardian

Resolve: 18

Threats to Mordekaiser with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Varus Start with boots to dodge his poke and upgrade them relatively early. You can out-maneuver and harass him. He is very squishy, kill him once he's half-life with your full combo. If you dodge well and don't overextend to bait his jungler in he should have no kill pressure on you.
Pantheon You are a much better lane bully than he is. You win trades off of your shield and he will have mana problems if he trades back extensively. Freeze once fear entered his mind. Take Ignite and start Cloth Armor.
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This is a Mordekaiser guide primarily targeting him as an AP Offtank in the top lane. Thus, the build focuses on an overall mix of damage, health/sustain, resistances and utility. The runes are offensive and scaling, the masteries are defensive and the itemization provides a healthy mix of everything with some added utility.

Mordekaiser is relatively short ranged, has low mobility and no crowd-control, so building him more or less tanky is unavoidable, in my opinion. Although this guide suggests a variety of damage items, a fully offensive build would leave him too vulnerable against all-ins. Also, most top lane champions are melee and short ranged, too, against which Mordekaiser is a really good pick with his lane bullying potential. Currently, he is most picked in the bot lane, so picking Mordekaiser first and letting the enemies think you are going bot lane, can be outplayed in the pick and ban phase by swapping him top with last picking the ADC.

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Pros / Cons

+ high AOE base damage
+ one-shot potential
+ tanky
+ lane bully
+ 6 vs. 4
+ fast pusher
Mordekaisers strength with this build lies in dealing fair amounts of AOE damage while still being rather tanky. He can be a lane bully against many top laners due to constant harassment and his passive shield favoring him in most trades. In skirmishes and teamfights he also provides a good resistance buff and can turn the tides in terms of your team size with his ultimate. His AOE abilities also let him be a great lane pusher.

- low mobility
- no CC
- no engage / disengage
- short-ranged / kiteable
Mordekaisers main disadvantages are both his lack of mobility and his lack of crowd-control. He is also fairly short-ranged. Due to these drawbacks he has neither engage nor disengage capacities and can often be kited. These drawbacks should be considered during pick and ban phase and can be almost neutralized with a good team composition (see below).

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Team Composition

Mordekaiser is a good pick for the top lane as an AP Offtank if your team already has two physical damage threats, e.g. Jinx bot lane and Zed mid lane. It gives your team a magic damage threat that cannot be ignored. The same reasoning applies to top lane champions like Kennen, Rumble and Ryze.

Due to his weeknesses, namely the lack of mobility and hard crowd-control, Mordekaiser lacks the capability to start fights. You somehow need to bring him to the fight or the fight to him because he just can not start one by himself. There are two ways to consider this during the pick and ban phase:

  1. Your team has the capability to initiate fights. This can mean both hard engage crowd-control like Annie, Jarvan IV, Vi and pick potential like Ahri, Blitzcrank, Thresh.
  2. The enemy team composition is built on initiation. Whenever an enemy dives in (and his mates are slow to follow up), put Children of the Grave on him and focus him down with your team, resulting in superior numbers for your team. With this advantage you can then either steamroll the remaining enemies (if they continue to fight) or take objectives (if they run and hide).

I do not recommend Mordekaiser against a poke, heal and kite back composition. On his own, he can't do anything against that. If you want to play Mordekaiser against such a composition (or have to if you first-picked), your team needs to have some serious form of initiation.

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Summoner Spells

Mordekaiser is immobile, so Flash is a must have, be it for disengage or to catch up and finish someone off. Get this always.

As a lane bully Ignite is good to secure (early) kills, dominate your lane and snowball that. Take it especially if you have high kill pressure in lane. It also prevents healing effects that would otherwise counter Children of the Grave.

Teleport is the wiser choice to get over Ignite if you don't have high kill pressure in lane. It is also good for split pushing and overall map presence with teleport ganks.

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Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

The passive Iron Man is what gives Mordekaiser his natural tankyness. It converts a percentage of ability damage dealt into a shield. All your active abilities deal damage. Nice, right? The maximum shield strength scales with max health. The quintessence is: spam your abilities to get a shield which will favor you in any trade. Because most of your abilities are AOE, if you hit more enemies you will get more shield - use this whenever you are focused. It is also great to resist poke and outlive burst. In fights where you are focused, wait with your abilities until your shield is low, so you don't waste shield generation because of the maximum shield cap. This helps especially in duels and small skirmishes, where you can more easily keep track of it in contrast to chaotic team fights and you will better sustain the fight.

Siphon of Destruction is Mordekaisers main harass ability, always max it first in top lane. In the early stages of the game it is the harassing ability that makes Mordekaiser such a strong lane bully. Spam it on your opponent. You can also use it to farm safely from distance. Use auto attacks to weaken the minions and a single Siphon of Destruction can clear the wave. It also is an amazing pushing ability.

Mace of Spades is what gives Mordekaiser extreme burst power. It empowers the next three basic attacks and it also resets your auto attack on activation. You can use it to farm even at level one when you miss a last hit on a minion. You can empower your attacks on minions and use the last auto attack on an enemy laner. If you time this right when the enemy goes to last hit a creep he will take insane damage. For this reason, this ability can also be maxed first for harass if the enemies movements are predictable, e.g. a Nasus going for farm with his Siphoning Strike. Also: do not be afraid to charge up to the third hit and flash on an enemy to secure a kill (this is what makes people afraid of Mordekaiser).

Harvesters of Sorrow has both a passive and an active: the passive was actually meant for him to play in the bot lane as AP carry because Mordekaiser gets full XP even when someone else is around. So, for the top lane, nevermind this passive. The active surrounds Mordekaiser and ally champion (or ghost, see Children of the Grave) with an AOE magic damage zone. When the active ends or on reactivation it will deal damage again to enemies inside the zone and heal Mordekaiser and his ally. The active also provides a flat movement speed buff, so it can also be used to assist ganks, to follow up on initiation or to disengage. This is the only ability giving Mordekaiser any sort of mobility.

Children of the Grave does high percent max health damage and heals you for the damage done. The first half of this damage is instant the other half a damage over time for 10 seconds (debuff). If it kills the target instantly or during the 10 seconds debuff time, you get a controllable ghost of the dead opponent, bonus health and ability power and the ghost gets bonus attack damage.

Aside from the damage, this ability is great to create a champion advantage for your team, i.e. if you and your team focus correctly in team fights and burst someone down, you have just created a 6 vs. 4 fight. It is also a great tool to survive ganks and dives against two opposing team members and turn it around. You will deal a lot of damage, heal yourself, heal yourself more if you already have spell vamp and generate shield. If you get the first kill off of it, you have also a good chance to get the second enemy.

Children of the Grave has a few caveats:
Keep track of the abovementioned timers or use Children of the Grave on someone else - it is better to get a ghost off of a lower priority target and win the fight than none at all and lose it. It is also viable to target a high health tank, but only if you get focused hard and have no active Zhonya's Hourglass, because the heal with spell vamp and the generated shield will be far greater than on a squishy (more damage converted in effective health).

Black Shield does not negate the debuff (but the damage), Cleanse and Remove Scurvy also do not remove the debuff because they all target only crowd control.

The cherry on top: you can also enslave the dragon and use his ghost. Great sieging tool.

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Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Scaling Health

Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction

Note: We are picking up mostly offensive runes because we fill in the tankyness with defensive masteries.

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As I have mentioned above, building him more or less tanky is unavoidable. These masteries fulfill these requirements. Since we chose our runes offensive, going for more defensive masteries is the compensation we need for an AP Offtank. The focus in these masteries is sustain.

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Starting Items

Boots of Speed and 4 Health Potions are the preferred starting items on Mordekaiser. The movement speed counters low mobility early on and the effective health of the potions provide great sustain in the early laning phase.

Pick up Cloth Armor and 5 Health Potions against a high physical damage threat in lane. They will be the component of an early Seeker's Armguard right after Hextech Revolver. Five potions provide great sustain.

Doran's Shield and a single Health Potion is my least preferred start on Mordekaiser. I only consider it against champions whose trading is primarily based on auto attacks and single target spells.

Core Items

Mordekaisers abilities cost health and the effective spell vamp of Will of the Ancients, building out of Hextech Revolver, makes him practically resourceless. This item also provides ability power and cooldown reduction making it a well-rounded first offensive item with which you can duel most champions. One of the reasons I prefer Will of the Ancients over Hextech Gunblade is that it is much cheaper and you get to your other core items faster. If you dominate lane from the get go and you have cashed in quite a few times, feel free to go for Hextech Gunblade instead.

Rylai's Crystal Scepter provides both health and a high amount of ability power. It also gives you a very strong utility passive that slows all enemies hit by your abilities, countering one of Mordekaisers weeknesses, his lack of crowd-control. It is also the reason we pick the Oppression mastery for some added tankyness.

Spirit Visage in combination with Will of the Ancients and the sustain-related defensive masteries make Mordekaiser a sustain-monster. In drawn-out fights the effective health from shield, health regeneration and spell vamp is what make Mordekaiser appear to be an unkillable monster even though he does not build full tank. This item provides a well-rounded kit of defensive stats, just what Mordekaiser as an AP Offtank needs. It is his main magic resist item. The cherry on top of that is the cooldown reduction.

Zhonya's Hourglass adds another mix of defensive and offensive stats. It is the primary armor item and besides that it adds a lot of ability power and a very useful passive. Since you have so much sustain and your ultimate Children of the Grave can turn a full-blown teamfight in a 6 vs. 4 situation, well coordinated teams tend to put focus on Mordekaiser first and burst him down quickly. This item helps a lot against this kind of threat.

Liandry's Torment is a strong item pick if you already have Rylai's Crystal Scepter. The passives of these two items synergyze so well. Another item providing strong offensive power while not neglecting defensive stats.

Boot Choices

Generally speaking, boots are not gold-efficient, i.e. comparing their gold value with the value of the stats they provide. On low-mobility champions like Mordekaiser, however, the added movement speed is worth comparatively more than on champions with built-in mobility, be it to get out of sticky situations or to follow up a fight or chase someone down. For this reason, you should upgrade your boots with Mordekaiser comparatively early to counter his lack of mobility.

Sorcerer's Shoes are the preferred footwear for Mordekaiser. They make his high base damage stick.

Pick up Mercury's Treads if either the enemy team has a lot of crowd-control, focuses you or has primarily magic damage threat.

Pick up Ninja Tabi if the enemy team has a lot of auto attack reliant champions or has primarily physical damage threat.

Boot Enchantment

Enchantment: Distortion is a great choice if you like to charge up Mace of Spades and then jump on an enemy carry. This will put fear in their minds and doing this every time your Flash is up on the same enemy will break this persons spirit and can be a huge psychological advantage.

Situational Items

Pick up Abyssal Mask against a high magic damage threat. This item also gives you good offensive stats and an anti magic resist aura that is also beneficial to other sources of magic damage on your team.

Pick up Randuin's Omen against a high physical damage threat that is also based on critical strikes. This item also gives you a strong anti-disengage active that is able to counter Mordekaisers follow-up engage weakness, together with Rylai's Crystal Scepter enemies just won't get away.

Pick up Sunfire Cape against a high physical damage threat. Its passive also does damage over time. I generally prefer to pick Randuin's Omen over Sunfire Cape if I need a second armor item on Mordekaiser because of its active.

Pick up Banshee's Veil against a high magic damage threat that is combined with either a strong poke or crowd-control component. I prefer to pick Abyssal Mask over Banshee's Veil if I need a second magic resist item on Mordekaiser because it also provides damage and the effectiveness of enemy crowd-control can also be mitigated with Mercury's Treads.

Pick up Thornmail against a high auto attack based threat, e.g. Master Yi and Jinx together in the enemy team. Combined with Ninja Tabi this is a strong defense against these kinds of champions, that also hurts them more than they hurt you.

Pick up a Void Staff as an offensive item if the enemy team is stacking magic resistance.

Warmog's Armor may replace Spirit Visage as the sustain item if the enemy team lacks serious magic damage.

Pick up Guardian Angel if you get focused hard and want to at least partially survive a teamfight. By pick up I mean buy this either as your last item and swap it back and forth with another defensive item depending on its passive cooldown, because Guardian Angel is not efficient when its passive is on cooldown.

Hextech Gunblade is a viable alternative to Will of the Ancients if you are well fed in the early game. It may also replace Will of the Ancients in the later stages of the game, but I recommend this only if you already spent your money on swapping in Guardian Angel, Elixirs, boot enchantment and upgraded trinket. The reason I generally prefer Will of the Ancients over Hextech Gunblade as a spell vamp item is that it is much cheaper and you get your other items faster.

Luden's Echo may replace your choice of boots at the later stages of the game. I recommend this only if you a) need the additional damage, b) already spent your money on swapping in Guardian Angel and c) your team has enough engage or pick potential, because with Luden's you are slower than with boots.

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Notes on Matchups

Easy Matchups

The strength of Mordekaiser in the early game lies in his ability to harass and being a lane bully. Easy matchups are the ones where you can harass, zone and deny farm fairly easily and without getting traded back much. While harassing, try not to push too hard to freeze the lane, especially against champions that farm well under tower. Also, freezing and zoning, in contrast to hard shoving, prevents you from overextending. Heavily harassed and denied laners will call for help. Ward when you don't know where the opposing champions are and keep an eye on the minimap. Don't hesitate, though, to push fast when you know where the enemies are. This way, you can force them out of lane or even kill them and take their tower. In these easy matchups you should be able to out-farm your lane opponent and deny them from getting their core items, e.g. it is very good to deny an opposing Irelia an early Trinity Force power spike because she has to itemize against you first.

Medium to Hard Matchups

These are the matchups in which Mordekaiser suffers from either his lack of mobility, his comparatively short range or his lack of engage. You may be the one who is harassed and bullied around and rarely can trade back efficiently. Here, I am listing tips which may help against specific matchups and may also be of use in skirmishes and teamfights (the brackets at the end of each point contain against which matchups the tip may be useful):
  • High-range poke is usually a skill-shot. Start with Boots of Speed and upgrade them early to dodge these skill-shots more easily. (against high-range poke)
  • If the opposing champion goes in to trade you will often have to hit as many enemies around you as possible with your abilities to get a sufficiently high enough shield to mitigate the damage dealt. (generally if the enemy trades better, e.g. Gnar)
  • If your opposing laner has high range poke but is squishy and immobile, you can try to out-maneuver the poke and get close to him for a Siphon of Destruction and Mace of Spades combo that will chunk his health. (e.g. Lux, Varus)
  • Bait out an all-in engage, where you can turn the tides (Warning: high risk!). Let yourself get hit by poke to bait out that the enemy goes all-in. Once the enemy engaged, you use your full skill rotation, including Ignite if you have it (I would pick it in these matchups). The risk lies in your estimation of how much damage you and your opponent can do and thus how low you can be for the bait to not die in the all-in. Also, keep an eye out for gankers. This move is obviously harder to pull off if you don't know if an enemy ganker lurks about and considerably easier if you have support. (e.g. Nidalee)

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I hope you enjoyed this guide and learned how to bring death as the ultimate (get it?) form of crowd-control to your enemies.

Feel free to vote and comment.