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Aatrox Build Guide by iZeal

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[Patch 10.19] iZeal's Aatrox compendium

By iZeal | Updated on September 16, 2020
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Runes: Standard Conqueror (defensive)

1 2 3 4 5
Precision
Conqueror
Triumph
Legend: Tenacity
Last Stand

Resolve
Bone Plating
Revitalize
Bonus:

+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor

Spells:

1 2
Standard Toplane
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

LoL Summoner Spell: Teleport

Teleport

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Top Lane
Ranked #52 in
Top Lane
Win 48%
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Threats & Synergies

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Champion Build Guide

[Patch 10.19] iZeal's Aatrox compendium

By iZeal
Disclaimer
This guide is not fully completed yet as it currently is resembling a huge wall of text and lacks visual help in forms of videos explaining certain techniques. I will make this look prettier in the future.
I do not cover the basics of this game and am using terms new inexperienced players might not be familiar with.
I go over almost any item and rune in the game to give you an understanding why this should or should not be used by Aatrox as well as the general idea of how to approach the game while playing this champion.

If you are a new player with no experience in MOBA games, you may have difficulties understanding whether items are good or not and just want to get into games quickly.
Hoever, you have to remember that League of Legends is a very situational game and that you have to adapt to situations in each game individually. This is a big part of improving instead of simply using cookie cutter builds every game.
About the author Back to Top
I am iZeal and have been playing this game since 2014 during mid S4 on the EUW server - my first release screen was Braum.
I started out as a support main mostly playing Thresh, Leona and Blitzcrank, hitting Gold in my first ranked season as I wanted to get the Victorious skin (and disappointingly it was Victorious Morgana).
In S5 I switched to jungle, maining Rek'Sai and Rengar and managed to stomp my way from Gold to Diamond in a few months, however I got stuck in Diamond II/III.
In S6 I grew tired of jungling and finally picked up toplane by playing Darius and have been maining this role and the champion ever since, hitting Masters in S7, peaking in Challenger in S8, remained Grandmasters throughout all of S9 and hit Challenger again in S10. All of this was done by purely Solo Queueing with the majority of my games on Darius starting from S6. Around April 2020 I picked up Aatrox and have been playing him almost exclusively ever since peaking in Grandmasters 457 LP with it so far despite the unfavorable state he is in right now.
In this guide I want to show you the knowledge that I have gathered over this time at a relatively high level of solo queue.

I will try to keep this guide updated throughout the patches in terms of matchups, items and runes.

If you happen to have further questions you can ask them in the comment section on this guide or come by my twitch stream (https://www.twitch.tv/izeal) and ask me in my chat while I am streaming.

I hope you enjoy reading this guide and consider it to be informative.
Why play Aatrox? Back to Top
Aatrox currently sports a terrible winrate of around 48% in solo queue and is considered to be a mechanically demanding champion as his damage is reliant on hitting 4 different types of skillshost while having to repositioning all the time. He has been a staple pick in competitive games for multiple years now which is also the reason why he got nerfed over and over again.

Obviously his thematic draws in a lot of players as a demon capable of draintanking multiple opponents and coming out unscathed is a universally appreciated theme, though I want to give you a more realistic point of view of what you can expect from this champion.

Pros:
+ Resourceless: You cannot run out of mana as you don't have any. 0 costs attached to any ability means you can spam your heart out, no need for resource management whatsoever throughout the entire game.
+ Sustain: While Aatrox doesn't heal from minions anymore, his in-combat sustain against enemy champions can be absolutely insane. Deathbringer Stance and Umbral Dash grant you strong trading patterns as every point of damage you deal can be converted into health that is returned to you making it hard for most champions to push you out of lane especially when they use mana.
+ CC: Aatrox offers 3 0,25 second AoE knockups as well as a single-target slow and pull making him a very interesting champion who can disrupt multiple opponents multiple times. The cc duration itself might seem small, but remember that knockups cancel auto attacks and therefore you can cut down enemy champions' dps by a lot.
+ Versatility: This champion can be blindpicked as there are very few matchups that shut you down completely as you often have a time window to deal with them, split better or teamfight better than them. You can also use a good variety of builds and runes to adapt to most situations. Aatrox is also never a bad pick unless your team has no magic damage since he offers CC, damage, frontlining and even a little bit of engage - things that are often lacking in the random thrown-together solo queue team compositions.


Cons:
- scales terribly: Dealing flat physical damage that is based on abilities with huge cast times means you will fall off no matter what you build or play against. Aatrox gets hardcountered by armor and needs to be ahead of the curve but even if you are fed out of your mind, at some point your Qs will stop hurting opposing tanks or bruisers and even squishies will not get comboed by you anymore.
- mechanically demanding: Hit your skillshots all the time even under pressure or face the consequences. Your CC relies on you hitting 3 different sweetspots against moving enemies while you have to calculate 0,6 second cast times. Quick cast is mandatory to play this champion properly.
- not quite rewarding: Right now this champion is pretty much in the gutter as you can put in countless of games and still get outperformed by much easier champions like Wukong or Wukong who require way fewer games to grasp their basics.


Playing Aatrox well will make you a better player as you have to be aware of your surroundings, you get punished hard for mistakes, but you can also make clutch plays and you will have some sort of use to your team at any point. View him as a pseudo-tank champion with a far more enjoyable playstyle and the ability to snowball into an unkillable demon king who can take on entire teams by himself if given the opportunity. At the same time, expect to become gradually more useless as time goes on and enemies get more levels, base armor and defensive items.
Summoner Spells Back to Top
Flash:
Flash is the most important summoner spell in the game for pretty much every single champion (apart from maybe Shaco, Yuumi or Hecarim. It allows you to reposition instantly which is extremely important for a champion such as Aatrox as your damage and CC relies on hitting sweetspots with your Q.

Teleport:
Teleport enables Aatrox to pull off cross-map plays with his incredible flanking capabilities and is also the standard summoner spell used by the great majority of the toplane roster.

Ignite:
Ignite is a cheesy summoner spell that greatly increases your kill pressure but severly limits your team's capabilities later on in the game since you won't be able to join fights all over the map in just a couple of seconds, so better make sure to abuse Ignite's advantage by snowballing so much that enemy tp advantages won't matter. You may take this in certain matchups when you play Aatrox in the midlane, but toplane Teleport is highely recommended.
Runes Back to Top
Precision Tree:
Keystone runes:

Press the Attack: PTA is terrible on Aatrox as your only attack reset is your E and 90% of the time you would rather use it to reposition while using your Q.
Bad

Lethal Tempo: LT grants you attack speed after 1,5 seconds if you damaged an opponent and extends its duration to 6 seconds if you continue dealing damage to champions. Aatrox has no auto attack based steroid so do not bother with this.
Bad

Fleet Footwork: Fleet Footwork heals you periodically when you autoattack as well as granting you a short movement speed boost, so basically a mini phage proc right at level 1. While you can consider this into hard matchups for a sustain boost this is mostly irrelevant since Aatrox can hit almost any opponent with a Q1 (and E) for some healing.
Not great

Conqueror: Every single auto-attack and damaging ability will grant you 2 conqueror stacks (each instance of Aatrox' Q counts as a seperate ability, but only the first damage instance of his W grants 2 conqueror stacks). Getting free AD (up to 30 at Level 18) is insanely valuable on a champion with huge AD scalings such as Aatrox. Not only that but at 12 stacks you get to heal for 15% of the damage you deal and to top it all off it does not even have a penalty for AoE damage. There is only 1 problem: Aatrox has huge issues stacking up Conqueror especially in lane since he lacks cooldown reduction and ranks in his Q during that time, but even in teamfights the fight may already be over by the time you have used your entire rotation without even benefitting from the healing since it takes 3 Qs, 1 W and 2 autos to fully procc it.
It is still the best keystone but only usable around Level 7 and 20% cdr onwards.

Minor Runes:
1st row:

Overheal: While it sounds interesting, Triump is so much more valuable and also Aatrox doesn't heal from minions (except from his passive) so you have to take risks damaging your opponent for a pitiful shield.
Bad

Triumph: Triumph is probably the strongest minor rune in the game if you can get it procced. 12% missing health heal per takedown after 1 second can allow you to make huge plays especially with a champion such as Aatrox who always can pull off clutch plays with his healing. Always take this when you spec into the precision tree. The big downside of this rune is obvious: if you don't kill stuff, you have no rune. And even if you kill stuff, you can die before you get the triumph proc. Making you salty. Very salty.
Best minor rune in this tree.

Presence of Mind: You gain 20% of your maximum mana on takedown and increase your mana by 100 up to a maximum of 500. Aatrox doesn't have mana nor energy.
Bad

2nd row:

Legend: Alacrity: You gain up to 18% attack speed starting at 3%. Take this whenever the enemy team composition allows it (when they don't have any stuns, roots, silences etc. that can be reduced by tenacity). It makes your autos much smoother and increases your farming skill, trading and all-in, towerkilling capabilities. Everything, basically. Be aware however that attack speed increase can screw with your passaive auto attacks since Deathbringer Stance ignores any attack speed buffs and will be much slower than your regular auto attacks if you take this.
Good if against no CC, worse than Legend: Tenacity if against CC

Legend: Tenacity: Gain up to 30% tenacity. Tenacity is very welcome on Aatrox as you a frontline champion even though your Q cast times let you power through shorter CCs, they also keep you in place to be hit by something like Morgana Qs. Tenacity however does not affect continous slows, suppression or knock ups so always be aware what you are fighting so you can switch it out for Legend: Alacrity. This rune also allows you to easily go Ninja Tabi over Mercury's Treads making you that much tankier against aa-based champs.
Good situationally.

Legend: Bloodline: Gain up to 12% lifesteal. The slowest scaling of the Legends and also bad on Aatrox. You will be dealing most of your damage via abilities and lifesteal only procs on auto attacks, so don't waste this slot for mediocre sustain on minions.
Bad

3rd row:

Coup de Grace: 8% increased damage against champions below 40% health is obviously nice to finish off champions, however there is another minor rune in this tree that suits Aatrox' playstyle even better.
Fine

Cut Down: Deal more damage when someone has more maximum health than you? If you are really keen on fighting an HP stacking opponent, you may take this, but often times these champions will also build armor and facetank you anyway.
Situational

Last Stand: Up to 11% more damage when you low hp? Yes please! Aatrox is literally designed to fight until the very last point of HP since he is a draintank.
Best rune of this row

Domination Tree:
Keystone Runes:

Electrocute: Aatrox' rune choice vs champions that will not allow him to take extended trades (aka most ranged champions), this also gives you a stronger early game since you can actually use this rune early on.
Very good into certain matchups

Predator: Terrible on Aatrox. Running at people really fast can already be achieved by your ultimate.
Bad

Dark Harvest: Questionable rune for Aatrox. Maybe okay for ARAM.
Bad

Hail of Blades: Some people like to use this rune while running a crit build. The same problem as with Lethal Tempo still stands though: Deathbringer Stance doesn't scale with attack speed, making this kind of akward to use.
Bad

Minor Runes:
1st row:

Cheap Shot: While you can proc it, there are much better alternatives in this row.
Meh

Taste of Blood: A very strong rune on Aatrox that makes your sustain even better. The 20 second cooldown means you will be able to proc it easily with your Q rotation coming up and it will easily get you 100s of HP back during the laning phase.
Very good

Sudden Impact: Gain Lethality after using a dash or flash and damaging the opponent. Can be used for lethality builds or against opponents you don't think you are going to need sustain for.
Good

2nd row:

Zombie Ward: If you kill a ward, you resurrect him into a visible ward for your team with 1 hp! Also you get a little bit of AD up to a cap for this. While you want to take Oracle Lens later into the game, this rune fits junglers and supports much better since you won't be using it until midgame.
Meh

Ghost Poro: The Ghost poro can help with vision and gives you a little utility.
Okay

Eyeball Collection: Kill stuff to get AD. Wow, so... unique. Take it if you don't want to have a cute Ghost Poro watching your back. You monster.
Okay

3rd row:

Ravenous Hunter: Basically everything that is not an auto attack will heal you depending on how many stacks you have. While it has an AoE penalty on it, it also procs on minions granting you quite a lot of sustain if you manage to stack it up.
Good, if you can stack it up.

Ingenious Hunter: Gaining cooldown reduction on item actives seems nice, but what items with actives are you realistically going to buy? This is only really good for champions with Glacial Augment, GLP, Twin shadows and Zhonya's Hourglass.
Only use this if you want to build Sunfire Cape and Titanic Hydra.
Bad

Relentless Hunter: This rune only gets used by roamheavy champions and isn't needed for Aatrox since you can easily cross terrain on low cooldowns and still have enough movement speed through your ultimate.
Bad

Ultimate Hunter: Your ult is on a very low cooldown anyway and you will be building a ton of cooldown reduction.
Bad

Sorcery tree:
Keystone runes:

Summon Aery: No.
Very bad

Arcane Comet: Aatrox is played very pokebased in lane so this is definitely usable, but the tree kind of sucks for him. Arcane Comet does have synergy with his kit however, as it not only procs a Cleaver stack (AoE mind you) if it hits, but it also gets reduced by multi-hits as well as W damage and W pull damage. In short, this rune is perfect against champions you want to poke who won't run Doran's Shield and against whom you aren't going to reliably proc Electrocute such as Urgot, Akali or maybe [[Kennen].
Actually decent

Phase Rush: You cannot abuse movement speed during your long animations from your Q, so do not bother with this.
Bad

Minor runes:
1st row:

Nullifying Orb: The only rune in this row that is at least semi-useful, though only vs magic damage.
While it's the best option in this row, it still sucks

Manaflow Band: You still have no mana.
I am pretty sure resourceless champions can't even take this since it gets changed to Nullifying Orb.

Nimbus Cloak: Again, movement speed is only really useful for approaching the enemy, afterwards you will rely on your E and the range of your Qs to hit your opponent. Also when you have TP and Flash this rune has even less value to you than if you had Ignite.
Bad

2nd row:

Transcendence: 10% CDR and the ability to overcap it at will for added AD is nice. But it has no effect until Level 10.
Good

Celerity: Movement speed is still meh on Aatrox compared to almost any other melee champion.
Meh

Absolute Focus: Remember how I said Last Stand was so good because you get rewarded for taking damage as a melee champ? Well, Absolute Focus punishes you for not being at full health, which is just not going to happen as a melee juggernaut. Do not use it.
Bad

3rd row:

Scorch: Gives you a bit more damage everytime you go for poke and can easily add up over time.
Okay. Personal preference between this and Gathering Storm.

Waterwalking: More Movement speed and AD in the river is okay for junglers. If you are not a jungler I recommend not taking it.
Okay in the jungle, otherwise bad.

Gathering Storm: A lategame minor rune. It is not going to make you hardcarry since no AD in the world could help make Aatrox' damage relevant vs armor, but it is still satisfying to hear the sound effect every 10 minutes.
Okay, personal preference between this and Scorch.

Resolve tree:
Keystone runes:

Grasp of the Undying: This rune does not scale well, but grants you a much stronger early game into melee match ups since Aatrox normally lacks good trading options outside of his gigantic cooldowns between Q rotations. Grasp however lets you zone people early on with just a 4 second CD and synergizes with the increased range of your passive auto as well as the healing from your E to topple you off even more.
Vital in certain matchups

Aftershock: Not recommended. Resistances are great for draintanks, but the short duration counteracts Aatrox' extended fight patterns later on in the game.
Bad

Guardian: Unusable in a solo lane.
Very bad

Minor runes:
1st row:

Demolish: Aatrox' tower damage is miniscule, this rune however helps you get tower platings to snowball your leads and... demolishes towers even later on.
Very good

Font of Life: No.
Bad

Shield Bash: The only way you acquire a shield is by using Sterak's Gage or - god have mercy on your soul - going Overheal. Just do not take this. Take Demolish.
Useless

2nd row:

Conditioning: More Armor and Magic Resistance is nice. You can take this into matchups that are easy so you get more stats for when they actually matter.
Good

Second Wind: A very good rune to take when you are pressured by constant harass, especially against damage over times such as Teemo's poision or Malzahar's E. Falls off hard, but allows you to remain in lane much longer in difficult matchups when you cannot find a way to all in them. It also helps considering Aatrox' horrendous HP regen early on.
Very good situationally, otherwise okay

Bone Plating: Very strong early game rune that is vital into many matchups that can jump onto you for burst trades such as (but not limited to) Renekton, Camille, Jax or Wukong. It sucks vs champion though that can procc it before going in (such as smart players aware of your rune choices or pretty much any ranged champion).
Very good situationally, otherwise okay

3rd row:

Overgrowth: Gaining more hp and having more scaling is always nice to have and in most games you will get around 200 extra hp. Also increased your potential shield from Sterak's Gage.
Good

Revitalize: Increased healing and shielding is great and the lower you are the better. Very good for stacking stronger heals (such as Conqueror, Ravenous Hunter or Spirit Visage).
Very good

Unflinching: If you do not spec into the Precision tree this might be the only way to get tenacity besides building Mercury Treads. Slow resistance can be kind of useful.
Situationally very good, otherwise mediocre

Inspiration tree:
Keystone runes:

Glacial Augment: Your Q1, Q2, Q3 and W outrange your passive auto attack by a lot. You can't really set them up and you don't use any slow active items either.
Bad

Unsealed Spellbook: Aatrox doesn't synergize much with summoner spells besides Flash, so do not bother with this.
Bad

Prototype: Omnistone: Actually interesting if you want to use the Inspiration tree since Aatrox can definitely use most of the keystones to a certain extent and would be able to pick up Conqueror every once in a while without having to sacrifice his laning phase with an unproccable keystone.
Debatable

Minor runes:
1st row:

Hextech Flashtraption: Aatrox can already traverse terrain on a tiny CD, this rune is not needed.
Bad

Magical Footwear: While there are some matchups where you want to rush Tabis or Mercs, you normally want to focus on purchasing cooldown reduction as soon as possible. This rune allows you to not waste 300 gold on boots that could have been used on a Kindlegem or a Caulfield's Warhammer. Aatrox is also not a champion that absolutely needs a movement speed advantage over his opponent to keep up with them because of his E mobility and his ultimate ability.
Very good

Perfect Timing: The stopwatch clocks up your inventory until you can unlock it and it also only contributes 250g to your Guardian Angel. While you might want to buy this item, this may only be your 3rd or 4th item since Sterak's Gage might suit you better in that game.
It really depends, but mostly meh

2nd row:

Future's Market: Borrowing money can be nice to get to your item spikes even faster.
Could be worse

Minion Dematerializer: Being able to just evaporate a minion from existance can be extremely useful in stopping teleports by your opponent to stop you from pushing out a wave (but also very situational). Aatrox' minion damage however is atrocious and even with dematerializer you will need multiple Qs to kill backline minions even later into the game.
Mediocre

Biscuit Delivery: You have no mana and if you want sustain, then take Second Wind or Taste of Blood.
Bad

3rd row:

Cosmic Insight: 5% cooldown reduction on any resourceless champion is broken since you can spam your abilities without any drawback.
Must have in this row

Approach Velocity: Gaining 15% movement speed towards champions you are cc'ing is incredibly good and running towards opponents faster your allies have cced also is nice. But Aatrox only CCs the opponent for 0,25 seconds and doesn't use movement speed as well as other champions. This rune also competes with Cosmic Insight.
Inferior

Time Warp Tonic: You do not use Corrupting Potion since you have no mana, movement speed isn't that important to Aatrox and it also sucks on normal pots compared to CPot.
Bad
Items Back to Top
Doran's Blade: The most aggressive starting item you can get. AD, Health and a bit of lifesteal makes this item the strongest all in tool you can get, however it is quite lacking when it comes to sustaining as you are forced to push quite heavily in order to make use of the 3% lifesteal. If you get an early kill or need more early game power you can purchase a (second) Doran's Blade, but try to keep it at 2 Doran's items at most. Only take this if you are super comfortable in a matchup since Aatrox' health regen is absolute garbage, if you cannot touch the wave you will lose trades hard.

Doran's Shield: This is the no-brain option that always works. Gives passive sustain, helps you deal with (ranged) harass, helps you lasthit, also scales terribly. Doran's Shield should be used in most matchups since it covers up Aatrox' biggest weakness: passive sustain. Can be paired up with a Cull and/or Doran's Blade on the first back for increased sustain and lane presence.

Early items:

Cull: In farmfest matchups that don't have kill pressure vs you you can take this and get a lead through this item while boosting your sustain.

Kindlegem: Cooldown reduction is insane on Aatrox and this baby builds into a Black Cleaver so buy it.

Caulfield's Warhammer: While the cost efficiency of this item is underwhelming, it is the other source of 10% CDR that you can get for cheap during the laning phase. It will mostly be build into a Death's Dance later on.

Phage: The ****ty component for Black Cleaver. It is not recommended to build this before Kindlegem under pretty much any circumstances since it doesn't offer you anything valuable. You can build it instead of Warhammer though if you want to rush Cleaver early.

Boots of Speed: Always helpful, but not needed 100%.

Executioner's Calling: This is your greatest bane, but it also helps you deal with champions that rely on healing themselves (e.g. Sylas). Sadly it builds into Mortal Reminder which isn't the greatest item to have on Aatrox, so don't upgrade it until very late into the game or swap it for a Thornmail if the enemy that relies on healing autos.

Bramble Vest: The so called " Fiora tax" should be build when you fight auto attack based healing champions and aren't confident to deal with them with an Executioner's Calling. Its advantage lies in its upgraded form Thornmail being a better item for a bruiser such as Aatrox but unfortunately the enemy has to auto you in order to procc Grievous Wounds.

Hexdrinker: While Maw of Malmortius sucks and blocks you from enjoying Sterak's Gage, Hexdrinker can be a useful item vs magic damage champions that like to all-in you such as Akali so you don't have to build super defensively.

Aegis of the Legion: Builds into Death's Dance and grants you both MR and Armor. Perfect choice vs champions that deal hybrid damage and when you want to rush Death's Dance for the sustain (e.g. Kennen.

Core items:

Black Cleaver: While Aatrox has trouble stacking up the armor reduction, this increases your damage vs armored opponents, grants you a lot of CDR, a bit of HP and AD for little gold while increasing your utility for the team. Rush this immediately vs tanks, get it vs most champs after getting a warhammer.

Death's Dance: This item gives you insane survivability and increases your drain tanking by a lot. Double resistances and damage delay is perfect for Aatrox as it facilitates your frontlining and you will heal off of minions now even if your AoE damage only grants you 5% omnivamp. Not recommended to be rushed unless you play vs sustain focused matchups (such as poking enemy champions like Kennen) since if you do not deal damage you won't heal for much either. The only downside of this item is that it is expensive.

Sterak's Gage: Aatrox gains a lot of base AD per level making this item the highest AD item you will purchase on this champ (70 AD at level 18). The shield and tenacity this item provides allow you to go even deeper into the enemy team and it synergizes well with Death's Dance. Most of the time this item will be bought as 3rd or 4th item.

Situational armor items:

Guardian Angel: The only way you can get a revive on Aatrox nowadays. While its stats are mediocre, it allows you to flank and dive much deeper than you normally would be able to and allows you to be a great distraction and soak enemy cooldowns while your team cleans up during your revive animation. It is a great source of armor for a champion that doesn't necessarily need much health like Aatrox as well. Do not buy this vs Caitlyn since she will just put her traps on your corpse and murder you again.

Thornmail: Did you buy a Bramble Vest? This is a good armor choice vs anything healing related (and pretty much every champ nowadays heals for a lot). Resistances are more useful to Aatrox since he technically has unlimited HP through his healing so Thornmail definitely works well with this champion if you want to be tankier.

Randuin's Omen: A nice slow active and crit damage reduction make this item valuable vs a lot of crit champions. If the opponent doesn't have crit carries, just go for a Thornmail.

Sunfire Cape: Grants you a magic damage aura and a firenova that gets proced by your Q or W pull. Can be rushed into hard matchups and also vs certain tanks if you really want to since it deals magic damage. This is also the only way for Aatrox to clear super minions in a reasonable time.

Situational magic resistance items:

Spirit Visage: CDR, 30% increased healing, MR and health make this item very valuable against squishy magic damage heavy comps where you can afford to build tanky. This item increases your ability to frontline a lot, however it also limits your damage since it doesn't grant any offensive stats. It still is the definitive go-to mr option for Aatrox.

Adaptive Helm: Rarely seen, only to be bought when you have problems with champions that deal DoT or damage with 1 ability such as Mordekaiser, Cassiopeia or Rumble, still highely situational compared to Spirit Visage.

Maw of Malmortius: Do not pair this item with Sterak's Gage since only one of the two shields can activate. This item is not great, but can work vs burst heavy magic damage and may be built when you just want to stack MR vs AP only team compositions.
Mostly inferior to Spirit Visage, but okay to build if you had to grab an early Hexdrinker to surive or win lane.

Situational offensive items:

Youmuu's Ghostblade: Cheap lethality with a movement speed boost active. This increases your damage vs squishies by a lot and can help you tearing through enemy teams, but it also leaves you a lot squishier and easier to burst than Death's Dance. If you think you cannot be killed, go for it. Otherwise try the more defensively orientated core items.

Edge of Night: Another lethality item that grants you a spell shield and a bit of HP. Can be used to substitute Sterak's Gage and is especially useful vs impactful abilities of the enemy team (e.g. Karthus ultimate or Blitzcrank hook). It severely strenghtens your flanking since the enemy team has to waste an ability to pop the shield.

Lord Dominik's Regards: 35% armor penetration allows you to somewhat deal with armor stackers, however Aatrox still will struggle since you deal the worst type of damage: ability based flat physical damage will always fall off compared to % max HP, auto attack based or magic/true damage. If you are vs a strong frontline or your team is full AD you might have to buy this, though be assured this will decrease your tankiness by a lot.

Mortal Reminder: Worse at dealing with armor than the other Last Whisper upgrade, but it is the only upgrade for Executioner's Calling and one of the two ways you can obtain Grievous Wounds. Mostly build as last item if you don't want to switch your Executioner's Calling for a Thornmail.

Boots:

Ninja Tabi: The best defensive boots in the game. 12% damage reduction vs auto attacks is insane. You will buy these boots in the majority of your games. The more auto attackers the enemy has, the better. Legend: Tenacity and Sterak's Gage and Unflinching can make up for the lack of tenacity.

Mercury's Treads: Basically only bought against CC heavy comps since the magic resistance is negligable. If the enemy has 2 long duration CC abilities or more, you might want to invest in these boots ESPECIALLY if you do not run Legend: Tenacity.

Ionian Boots of Lucidity: You have enough item choices for 40% CDR. These boots are not needed.

Boots of Swiftness: Not that great on Aatrox.

Berzerker's Greaves: You do not need attack speed.

Boots of Mobility: Aatrox roams well enough without needing these boots and while he doesn't necessarily need a lot of in-combat movement speed you still don't need to throw the 20 extra movement speed away for no good reason.

Sorcerer's Shoes Aatrox has exactly 0 magic damage in his kit. Build these boots to troll your opponent in conjunction with Sunfire Cape and Grasp of the Undying.

Other items:

Dead Man's Plate: The worst armor item, only usable by roaming supports right now.

Ravenous Hydra: While the item active grants you 2 Conqueror stacks and Aatrox heals a lot from the AoE damage dealt by this item, it is still purely offensive and also procs off of auto attacks which will not be the primary damage output of this champion. Not recommended.

Titanic Hydra: Just like Ravenous Hydra you simply do not auto attack enough to truly make use of this item. Skip it.

Infinity Edge: If you are playing URF you might want to consider just playing crit Aatrox. In a real game however, this item is not worth much against competent opponents and sadly it does not increase the sweet spot damage of your Qs either even though they are shown as critical strikes.

Essence Reaver: While Riven might occasionaly go for this item instead of Black Cleaver for the 20% CDR, Aatrox still struggles with any type of auto attack based builds.

Blade of the Ruined King: The ultimate duelist item and on paper it might seem strong on Aatrox since you will heal a lot from its passive % current health damage. There is a huge problem though: this item gets absolutely hardcountered by armor just like Aatrox' entire kit.

Umbral Glaive: Allows you to deal 3 hitpoints to wards and helps you flank, is very cheap and belongs to full lethality builds. If you are not going for full lethality, rather consider Edge of Night or Youmuu's Ghostblade.

Duskblade of Draktharr: Aatrox lacks the ability to remove himself from vision which means he cannot proc Duskblade multiple times such as Kha'Zix or Zed can. Only build this when going full lethality.

Trinity Force: Very expensive and Aatrox' gameplay does not truly support a spell-weaving style. Aatrox gets a lot of base AD meaning his spellblade procs will hurt a lot, however you won't be in range to proc it reliable all the time since you want to play around your Q knockup sweetspots.

Sanguine Blade: A splitpush-oriented item on a champion that excels at teamfighting. Even if you go full lethality, you should be skipping this item and use a Black Cleaver or Last Whisper upgrade instead.
Abilities Back to Top
Passive Deathbringer Stance:
Periodically Aatrox will assume a different stance holding his sword pointing towards his opponent as long as you are in Infernal Chains' range. This auto attack has 225 range compared to Aatrox' normal 175 range which means you also outrange every single melee champion and are pretty much guaranteed to hit first. This auto attack will deal extra % max HP physical damage scaling with your level from 5% at level 1 to 12% at level 18. The cooldown starts at 24 seconds at level 1 and scales down to 12 at level 18, is unaffected by cooldown reduction, though every single auto attack against enemy champions and every ability you hit on enemy champions will reduce this cooldown by 2 seconds, while every sweetspot Q hit reduces the cooldown by an additional 2 seconds. Multi-hits only count once however.
Aatrox will also heal for the bonus damage dealt, 100% against champions and monsters (though the damage against monsters is capped at 100] and 25% against minions.
Use this passive to zone your opponents since if they let you hit them with it you will get a huge heal. This is your main source of sustain and if you cannot get a hit on your opponent you might want to use it on cannon minions rather than melees and on melees rather than caster minions since they have more health and therefore you heal for more.
Be aware that this auto attack is very slow and easily cancelled if you happen to have bonus attack speed since your normal auto attacks will have a different timing.

Q The Darkin Blade:
This ability is basically Aatrox' entire kit. It consists of 3 different abilities that will be called Q1, Q2 and Q3. You cannot cast Q3 before casting Q2 and you cannot cast Q2 without having cast Q1. Every cast has a 0,6 second cast time, a 1 second static cooldown between casts and 4 seconds before the ability goes on cooldown if you do not use the next Q cast.
Q2 will deal 25% more damage than Q1 and Q3 will deal 50% more damage than Q1, all of the casts have a sweetspot that deals 50% bonus damage and also knock up the target for 0,25 seconds so if you hit all sweet spots you have a rotation of 0,75 second knock ups.
Unlike Riven's Q you cannot stagger Aatrox' Q. Staggering Q as Riven means that her Q's cooldown starts at the first cast of her Q and does not get reset by any further Q casts so Riven can use Q2 and Q3 at the very last moment before the ability would go on cooldown, and then use Q1 again as it will come off cooldown right after.
Aatrox' Q however resets the cooldown with every cast. If you have a 14 second cooldown on Q and cast Q1 and let it run out after 4 seconds, it will be on a 10 seocnd cooldown. If you cast Q2 after 4 seconds however and let it run out, it will still be on a 10 second cooldown. What that means is you have to think about every cast especially early on whether you can confirm the hit or not since it will leave you open once the ability is on cooldown. For the most part that means you have to be extremely conservative with your Q3.

Q1: This is your combo starter and offers a very narrow and long rectangle that extends by 625x180 units making it longer than most ranged champions' auto attack range. Q1 + E allows you to poke people from far away, though it can be easily missed if the opponent sidesteps. This is also the hardest sweetspot to hit on multiple enemies. Most often you use W+Q1 or Q1 into W trying to catch out the opponent.

Q2: This cast offers a big trapezoid that extends behind Aatrox as well unlike Q1. the sweetspot is a wide horizontal area at the furthest point away from Aatrox and also most likely the one you can hit on the most opponents. The ability only has 475 unit range in front of you so it is significantly shorter than your Q1, however using your E forward will allow you to close the gap perfectly. Q2 is also the cast you want to use most of the time to keep your opponent in your W field since they will have to walk to the side and this hitbox offers you the biggest margin of error.

Q3: The last Q cast has a big round sweetspot right in front of you and is probably the easiest sweetspot to hit. This is absolutely devastating in terms of damage, however it is also the last part of the combo and Aatrox runs out of damage even with a lot of cooldown reduction meaning that if you didn't finish off your opponent, you might be in trouble afterwards waiting for your next Q rotation desperately trying to fight off your opponent with auto attacks. Q3 often gets used in conjunction with a W pull since most enemies will otherwise block it or disengage from Aatrox' melee range, though you can also chase with your E repositioning.

W Infernal Chains:
This ability will be maxed last and has an absolutely horrendous 26 second cooldown at rank 1. The ability has two parts: a line skillshot that has 825 range and if it hits a monster or an enemy champion it slows them, will reveal enemy champions that are stealthed and if they do not leave the field in 1,5 seconds they will get pulled back to the point where they got hit by the chain. Now every single champion can walk out of this field even without boots either by walking towards you or to the sides, and depending on the movement speed they can even escape away from you or when you hit them with a Q knockup. Against immobile champions or opponents who do not use their mobility fast enough this ability can set up a guaranteed Q3 as the game actually checks whether you left the field a splitsecond before the pull starts meaning that one can actually flash out of the field but still get pulled right back if done too late.
The ability is blocked by minions but also the main cooldown you have to play around if you want to kill someone since this is basically the only way to force an entire rotation on a fleeing enemy.

E Umbral Dash: This is a dash with limited range that can get you over terrain. If you make it through 51% of terrain, you will get over to the other side just like Flash. You can use this ability during your Q or W casts to reposition the abilities (and you should). This ability also works as an auto attack reset that you can use to help you CS under tower or get in another auto attack in a close fight when you wont be able to reposition your Qs in time. In addition to that this ability also grants you passive healing: you heal for 20-30% of the non-periodic damagea you deal to enemy champions with NO AoE penalty (unlike Death's Dance for example). What non-periodic means is basically every damage over time does not heal you (such as Sunfire Cape's aura or Ignite.
The range of the dash is not fixed and can be manually shortened (and is recommended to be as short as possible if used for auto attack resets).

Ultimate World Ender: Upon activating this ability you fear enemy minions around you for 3 seconds and gain a lot of decaying movement speed while becoming ghosted (you are immune to minion block). For 10 seconds you increase your AD by a % (20-40% depending on your ult rank) and you gain increased self-healing (50-70% depending on ult rank) making you able to pull of clutch plays as you heal for insane numbers if you hit multiple opponents and use your passive autos correctly. Furthermore, whenever you get a kill or assist while your ultimate is active, it gets another 5 seconds duration added while granting you another movement speed burst.
Use this ability to chase down opponents, for better flanks, 2v1s, all-ins or even escaping from enemies since the cooldown is rather short.
You want to activate it as soon as possible since it increases your damage by a lot, however using it at the wrong time just means your opponent just might disengage.
Combos and techniques Back to Top
Aatrox does not have true combos since everything is easily dodged by dashes or flashes and your W pulls can be quite wonky. In general however, you will use your W either before or after Q1 and then try to keep an opponent inside the field so they get pulled.
The optimal combo is W into Q1 into Q2 with E into W pull passive auto attack Q3, though you might have difficulties hitting it into some champions and might have to resort to something like Q1E W Q2 Q3 passive auto attack.
In extended fights you will not have a second W rotation most of the time so you have to solely rely on your ultimate's movement speed increase and your E to reposition properly for the sweetspots. Use passive auto attacks whenever applicable for the sweet healing.
Early game Back to Top
Aatrox' laning phase depends on matchups but generally your level 1 will be your weakest point. While your passive auto attack is strong and you often outrange melee opponents with Q1 and Q2, their damage is quite weak at this point and you cannot reposition for sweetspots. They also have a huge cooldown and your opponent might zone you off the wave as long as your Q is not usable.
Once you hit level 2 things are starting to become more interesting since you are now able to hit Q1 into Q2 more reliably instead of hoping your opponent just walks into you. Your sustain also starts to come into play as your passive used on the opponent will return a bunch of hp to you. Level 3 unlocks your entire combo with your Q W combo, however 100-0ing an opponent at this point isn't possible. Once you hit level 4 and start putting points into your Q the lanes become easier since the cooldown goes down and you start dealing more damage to both champions and minions as well.
Level 6 grants a much stronger all-in for Aatrox and will turn around matchups against champions whose ultimate doesn't help them much in a fight (such as Camille or Pantheon). Your chasing potential becomes much stronger and especially when combined with Conqueror the increased healing allows you to take extended fights against most opponents.
Getting early cooldown reduction in lane is key as you will be able to take over the lane vs most opponents around level 7-9 as you are now able to use Q1 over and over again to poke the opponent zoning them off cs and healing in the process whenever you hit them. This is one of Aatrox' strongest points in the game since he relies entirely on the Q rotation for damage and your opponent will often times not have much armor at this point.
Remember that using your Q3 paints a big target above your head that you have no cooldowns left so only throw out this big boy if you actually connect with it (and even then this might start a chain of events where you get beaten down by your opponent, so chill)! Once you get more ranks into Q and cooldown reduction, this becomes less important.

Abuse the fact that you are a resourceless champion who can stay in lane forever, use your sustain to your advantage and force people out of lane slowly or outright get them into kill range of a combo. Remind yourself of the fact that if the enemy has flash, kills are hard to pull off unless you predict their flash with yours, but even denying them waves can snowball you into a position of domination.
Around level 5 you gain the ability to control the minion waves with your Q and push relentlessly into the enemy's tower where you can punish them for every ranged minion they want to last hit.
Always position yourself in a way that you can Q1 the enemy when they try to lasthit a minion and if needed, follow it up with Q2E backwards or forwards. If you look for big trades or kills, you need to thin out the wave as minions will be easily used as meat shields against your W which is pretty much required for kills.
Mid game Back to Top
Aatrox coming out of lane ahead is the best possible scenario and will allow you to have significant impact on midgame teamfights. Ranks put into your E will give you increased mobility and better Q accuracy and once the cooldown goes below 4 seconds you can reposition every single Q if you really wanted to. Having Black Cleaver and Death's Dance is pretty much the strongest point in the game for Aatrox so reaching it as soon as possible will give you the best chances to carry your team to victory. At this point you can rise up to become an unkillable resourceless frontline that not only interrupts opponents but also has the capacity to kill squishies in 1 rotation (maybe some help of a fellow diver or backline member is needed).
Try to keep sidelanes pushed out to get the gold and exp needed to stay ahead of the curve while grouping up for important dragon, rift herald and baron fights. Get Oracle Lens to abuse flanks out of the enemies' vision to stop front-to-back fights if needed or abuse your amazing teleport capabilities to make cross-map plays.
If you are behind at this point, not all hope is lost since you can still become an (inferior) cc-bot and your W basically forces a fight or a flash vs immobile champions.
Try not to take every single kill if possible since Aatrox will fall off very soon and you work best when you have a decent backline with carries dealing the damage for you triggering triumph procs and/or ultimate resets.
Late game Back to Top
Aatrox will stop dealing damage once people either build armor or just get enough levels under their belt as their base armor increases regardless. As your drain tank capabilities rely on post-mitigated damage and your opponents will most likely also have built grievous wounds you will have a hard time facetanking your opponents. Flat physical non-% damage that is linked to 0,6 second casttime abilities won't cut it later on as you will either start lacking the range or the damage to deal with whatever is in front of you.
You are not a 1v9 carry but rather a worse frontline than most tanks at this point, but your follow up and disruption is still pretty good if you can apply your CC that is. However don't kid yourself as after 30 minutes Aatrox is way past his prime and you aren't the protagonist anymore, especially when you aren't fed.
Conclusion Back to Top
Aatrox is a very fun to play champion that is both mechanically demanding and at the same time not quite as rewarding. He offers great variety in terms of builds and runes as well as opportunities to pick him since he can lane into pretty much anything and is never truly a bad pick for any team. While he is definitely in a slump right now, this also meansa that people are unfamiliar with the pick at this point and it will basically never be banned or picked away from you. At the same time you might expect buffs at a certain point as Aatrox' solo queue performance has been terrible for quite some time.

While I do not recommend him if you purely want to play for climbing, he will definitely improve your gameplay in general if you pick him up.
Changelog Back to Top
This is a changelog. It logs changes.
05/08/2020 Patch 10.16 gives unnecessary buffs to Jax and Fiora making their early game even stronger and therefore severly limiting Aatrox' window to punish the champs in these matchups. Akali is losing some hybrid damage on her E though so it becomes easier to itemize defensively against her. Hecarim gains more power and might become more popular, Volibear barely getting nerfs though if he can't get in range you can actually trade against him.
06/08/2020 Added Arcane Comet rune page (which technically is also adaptable by going Resolve secondary for Bone Plating/Second Wind and Revitalize/Unflinching) and readjusted rating of Arcane Comet in the runes section. It actually works rather well during the laning phase vs certain champions and also still has impact later on as it grants you easier Black Cleaver stacking.
23/08/20 Patch 10.17 buffs Aatrox the first time in forever. And yet these late game buffs to his ultimate granting him up to 40% bonus AD do not solve his problem of falling off a cliff. At the very least Hecarim gets tuned down a bit, but is still a menacing threat to Aatrox.
02/09/2020 Patch 10.18 nerfs Shen's shield by 10 which is completely negligible and forces Sett into a more AD heavy build in order to keep up in damage which is helping Aatrox playing against him. Kayle's E no longer has a mana cost, though her sustain and last hitting was nerfed with increased Q doesn't refund mana on champion hit anymore and her W mana cost got upped to compensate which should make it easier to push her out of lane early. Rumble might make a comeback toplane with added damage, though he is one of the champions Aatrox can actually fight in melee range.
16/09/2020 Akali/Lucian nerfs are appreciatet, Irelia buffs won't change the matchup since the ultimate damage only comes at a later stage of the game and she tends to overkill you anyway.
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