Darius Build Guide by iZeal
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Runes: Bread and Butter Rune Page
+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Ability Order W Start
Threats & Synergies
Aatrox is a skill matchup in slight favor of Darius. While it is hard to contest the wave at level 1 due to Aatrox's 3 Qs and his empowered auto attack due to his passive you might have to concede the push, but starting at level 3 Darius can look for the all-in. He only has a single dash to securely hit one of his Qs, Ghost and Flash should allow you to dodge the other two. Ninja Tabi Rush is very effective as well as getting an Executioner's calling for healing reduction if ahead, Bramble vest if behind. Don't get poked down by him and be aware of his 20% cooldown reduction + level 7 powerspike. Aatrox poses barely any threat if behind but if ahead can easily overpower you by healing through your damage. Remember that Aatrox heals from the mitigated damage he deals, so building armor will also decrease the hp he regains. DShield or DBlade, Tabis, Executioner's/Bramble.
Akali is a very nimble fighter and has multiple ways of disengaging from you while being able to end you abruptly if given the chance. Bait out her Qs by walking back and forth to make her waste her energy, if you get hit by it do not let her use the empowered auto attack that follows it. Avoid standing inside her shroud until you have a low enough cooldown on your Q as you cannot auto attack her while invisible. Try to pull her out of her shroud if possible. DShield, potential Merc Treads, Spectre's Cowl or Hexdrinker if struggling, Phage if not.
A Darius favored matchup. While her early game grants her very good trading opportunities with a 20% max health shield and her W spam, Camille has huge problems if she gets forced into extended trades. Camille can't dodge the AA+W+Q combo unless she flashes it or ults your Q and if you pull her out of her E (you can pull her before she hits you with E2 or pluck her from the wall or catch her when her hookshot attaches to a wall and just starts pulling her towards it) she is pretty much dead. Be wary of her incredible gank setup though and also know that she scales very hard. Your ultimate cuts right through her shield that can only block physical (or magic) damage. DBlade or DShield, Ninja Tabis or Phage.
A matchup that is very hard to play as Cassiopeia deals a lot of damage even in the early game while scaling much harder than Darius. Dodge her Qs or you will die, but even then she has to waste her W. If she ults, turn around so you don't get stunned. If she gets Rylais, you are doomed. DShield or RejuBeads, Merc Treads, Phage, make sure to get an Adaptive Helm later on.
Cho'Gath's early game is pretty much entirely focussed around his sustain. Slowpush so he loses a lot of minions and is forced to farm from afar with his mana-intensive abilities or freeze the wave on your side of the map to deny Cho the ability to trade with you, then run him down. Don't get hit by his Qs. If he goes the Glacial Augment route he is extremely squishy but can deny you the ability to teamfight properly with his spammable slows. DBlade or Dshield, Swifties are helpful vs Glacial Cho, otherwise proceed with Phage.
Get anti-healing, setup your Qs with W and E, don't take free damage from his cleavers, get grievous wounds. Fight him in your minions so he has a hard time hitting his cleaver. Darius is a very strong pick against Mundo as you will be able to match him even in the late game and use him as 5 bleed stack fodder. DBlade, Executioner's Calling > Bramble Vest
Skill matchup early, but Fiora outscales you hard. Do not let her hit vitals for free as they will give her back a lot of hp even in the early game while chunking you out once she gets levels and items. At 3 items it becomes pretty much impossible for Fiora to lose unless you are really far ahead. If she ults you, stand next to a wall to deny her the last vital and hope you are tanky enough to survive 3 vital hits. Try to dodge her W as getting hit by it means losing 50% attack speed for 2 seconds. Use your E to setup either your Q or your ultimate so she can't parry it. If she parries your E you are fucked. Ninja Tabis Bramble vest can be rushed to deal with her early. If she ever misses her Q or you can cancel it with your E, capitalize on it as it goes on a long cooldown. DBlade/DShield, Ninja Tabis!, Bramble Vest > Executioner's Calling
Gangplank will try to continually harass you with Q and Grasp procs as well as barrels so you cannot all-in him, so try to stay as healthy as possible. If he gets an early sheen, the lane becomes very hard to beat. You can start to try to pull him at level 3 onwards. Do not get hit by his barrels in the all in so you don't get slowed or even better kill the barrel yourself with aa+w (the W cooldown gets halved when you kill a unit) so Gangplank doesn't gain movement speed. DShield>RejuBeads, Ninja Tabis!, Phage!
Don't let him get free 3 hit procs on you, try to engage him when he has no minions behind him as he has to blow flash when he does not get the double hop. It is advisable to engage when he just turned Mini-Gnar again. Try to not teamfight when he is about to turn Mega, be wary of Frozen Mallet when completed. Dodge Q to get an opening, if you pull him out his E he is dead. DShield/DBlade, Ninja Tabis, Phage.
Hecarims will most likely take TP/Ignite top rendering them without a reliable escape until level 6. If you are able to either slow him during his E or pull him he loses the majority of his hp or gets outright killed. DBlade, Phage, Ninja Tabis
While this matchup is definitely in Darius' favor pre-6, Illaoi can just stay back and last hit with her Q while fishing for Es. After 6 getting hit by an E while her ult is up means instant disengage. All-in if she misses her E, but be careful about her ult especially when she already has tentacles around her. Pretty much at any point you have to dodge her E to have a chance at fighting her. Boots can facilitate dodging her skills. DBlade, Ninja Tabis, Phage
Do not fight her when she has her passive stacked up or when she is around enough minions to stack it up quickly! Irelia has terrible disengage and if she can't stack up her passive she won't have enough damage to deal with you. Try to dodge her E and use your E to setup a guaranteed Q if her Q is still up as she will otherwise easily dodge your Q sweetspot. Beware of completed Blade of the Ruined King. DBlade, Ninja Tabis!, Phage.
Get the lane on your side just in front of your tower and you can start chunking Jax with Q and he won't be able to jump at you without risking towershots. Playing around his E is mandatory as it denies you bleedstacks from your auto attacks and your E is the only way to disengage from it while having a longer cooldown than Jax' counterstrike. Try to abuse your 175 auto attack range to force his Q, if needed use E for Q setup. Blade of the Ruined King makes him squishy, but it's also impossible for you to escape from him since he can steal your movement speed. DBlade, Ninja Tabis!, Phage
It is very hard to beat Jayce in the early game as he can easily disengage from you with his Hammer E and multiple movementspeed buffs as well as the ability to jump inside your Q's inner sour spot with his Hammer Q. If you can time either your W or E correctly when he E's you away there is your chance of chasing him. RejuBeads>DShield, Ninja Tabis!, Phage into Deadman's if really needed
Kayle pre-6 is easy to beat if you can catch her. Be wary of her wonky hitbox as she appears much larger than her actual hurtbox. Kayle will gain range and increased strength at 6 and 11 and once she has Hextech Gunblade it'll get very hard to reach her in the first place between Q slow, W speedup and her damage. Her ultimate can screw up your resets or even flat out deny any bleed stacks. DBlade/DShield, Swifties/Tabis/Mercs, Phage, later on Adaptive Helm.
Kennen has insane disengage with his E as well as passive stuns. If you manage to hook him you have to do so with no marks of the storm, then slow him during his E and not allow him to walk through you with it as otherwise his Q W stun follow up will allow him to just walk away from you anyway. Kennen has to screw up in order for you to kill him, but at the same time he has very strong gank support for his jungler and if he gets fed he can flank your team and 1-shot them with his ultimate. Try to pull him away from your teammates if he attempts to run through you during teamfights. RejuBeads>DShield, Mercs, Phage
This matchup can really go either way. If you manage to dodge his Q he will be lacking the damage to kill you, but early game you have to be afraid of his burst. Exploit that he has to use his W or his Q to cs and hold your Q when he has his E up as he can dodge not only once, but twice when he hits it. Timing your Q properly when he dismounts is a guaranteed hit, but be careful whether he hit you with a Q that pulls you back. Don't waste abilities when he is about to dismount so you can kill him as fast as possible. Kled has huge problems late game to get onto a suitable target and his ultimate as well as his Q can be bodyblocked, so take care of him when you can. DBlade/DShield, Ninja Tabis!, Phage
Tank Malphite is not really going to do much against you as long as you don't stand still when he slows your attack speed. AP Malphite will try to whittle you down with his Q, if you pull him he pretty much dies. Be aware that he can still win teamfights with good ultimates. DBlade vs Grasp, DShield if vs comet, Mercs or Swifties, Phage (maybe Cleaver vs tank malphite)
Run him down, only use your Q once you have a couple of bleed stacks on him already or else he will W to avoid it. W or E his Q so he can't disengage. Be wary of ganks as this is pretty much the only way for Mao to "win" this lane. His teamfight impact is huge however, so hope that your botlane did not int. DBlade, Mercs/Phage
You win early levels, but once he has gotten seeker's armguard, his ultimate and a couple levels in his Q it becomes very hard to deal with him. You want to get your passive up as fast as possible while denying him his passive so being proactive is very helpful. You should not really get hit by his E. Be aware that Morde can ult you after you proc your passive and he is going to steal 10% of your total AD reducing your damage output. If he doesn't use his shield early enough you can E into ult to burst him down. Adaptive Helmet is very effective against Morde. DBlade, Phage, later on Adaptive Helm.
Nasus will have a very hard time against Darius in the early game as it's almost impossible to fight back for him unless he gets ganks. Once he has Sheen and his ultimate however, you should be cautious about his damage output. Darius is able to kite it out however, especially if you happen to take Phase Rush and after waiting out his ult you just murder him. DBlade, Tabis/Mercs/Swifties/Phage
Garen has no tools to evade your Q unless he can cleanse your W slow with his Q. Stack up your bleed if he silences you (or buffer AA+W+Q when you see him running at you with his Q) and E him if he wants to disengage from a trade or to setup your Q heal. Remember that Garen's autos are pitiful compared to Darius so even if it looks like he is winning a trade his entire damage is gone after Q+E until he gets you into Ult range while you are only getting stronger from bleed damage and the AD steroid from Noxian Might. In teamfights you have to be careful as Garen can execute you from around 30% health no matter how far behind he is (Sterak's Gage is recommended) DBlade, Phage
A difficult matchup that can snowball out of control. Darius has a fighting chance against Olaf early game, however you have to abuse your superior range by using your E and your W slow to counteract the huge difference between Olaf's attack speed and yours. Use your E to stop him from autoattacking you to death when he is close to death so you can finish him off. After level 6 you somehow have to survive Olaf charging at you while you have 0 options to setup your Q. If you can somehow hit your Q anyways (maybe by flashing) you have a chance of winning or if you can disengage (Phase Rush is a possibility in this matchup). One of the few matchups where I might go Black Cleaver for added early defensiveness. You will outscale Olaf hard though and he becomes setup fodder for your passive in the lategame. DBlade/DShield, Ninja Tabis!, Phage (Cleaver possible)
Ornn has very strong trading patterns so you have to pretty much all-in him. After level 6 he can almost 100-0 you with a high cc combo. Try to deny his R2 by pulling him before he gets the chance to hit the ram, try to dodge the last part of his W so he can't brittle-auto you for a huge chunk of damage. Ornn will get around 3000 gold in stats at level 13 when he gets to upgrade 2 of his items for free and will provide his teammates with 1 free upgrade per player that will be worth at least 1000g! DBlade/DShield, Phage
Pantheon favored early game, but he falls off hard. Do not use your ultimate when his E is up (set it up with E, hit him from behind or wait it out). You can fight him early if you dodge key Qs (especially the ones that gain execute bonus damage) but in general you want to wait for at least level 6 for added ultimate power. DShield, Tabis, Phage/armor item
Poppy has strong early game damage but unless you let yourself get slammed into a wall or get poked down by her Qs she will have a hard time. Be aware that she can E into your Q so if you really need the heal, you have to set it up with an E. Otherwise do not get hit by the second part of her Q. She has huge problems disengaging from you, W her during her W or pull her during it, you can use your E to cancel her R. Darius is extremely strong against Poppy throughout the entire game. DBlade/DShield, Phage/Tabis
If you somehow are able to hook her out of her E (which she should never use until you E yourself) you can kill her. Otherwise she is going to poke you and will most likely have Ignite as summoner spell for added kill pressure. Even if you don't die to her she will have priority and after level 6 will just roam elsewhere to gain a lead. Jungle assistance is pretty much required if the Quinn has hands. RejuBeads>DShield, Tabis!
Your level 1 and 2 is much stronger than Renekton's, but after level 3 he can take very favorable trades while not having to worry about mana and enjoying great sustain from Qs. Try to zone him from the minions so he cannot gain fury which he needs to deal significant damage. If you pull him out of his E2 he just dies as he really does not want extended trades. His level 6 powerspike is huge though and can allow him to just fight you from full health. Ninja Tabis also help immensely as almost all his damage is physical and his W is treated as an empowered auto attack and also the main source of his damage. It's much harder to outscale Renekton now with the stronger Blade of the Ruined King allowing him to deal massive amounts of % current health damage so stack armor if possible to mitigate it. DBlade/DShield, Tabis!
Pulling Riven out of her Q3 or her E and then baiting and dodging her W she will most likely use after means you can press Ghost and just run her down. Htting Q against Riven is very hard as she has 4 abilities to dodge it so you have to rely on your auto attacks and especially time your W such that you attack through her Q3 knockup or W stun. After Level 6 you have to be careful of Riven's all-in as she can try to 100-0 you. Riven will outscale you in the 1v1 as 40% cdr shields and Death's Dance with insane mobility means barely any stacks for you but you can easily disrupt her in teamfights by pulling her, allowing your team to burst her. DBlade/DShield, Tabis, Phage/armor
Rumble has the upper hand early game and if Darius dies early he is going to have a bad time. However, at level 6 Darius' ultimate is much more reliable than Rumble's Equalizer in a duel since you can't step out of a point-and-click ult as well as Darius will have a big enough health pool to not get annihilated and at the same time enough damage to not have to endure another flamespitter rotation. Darius will easily outscale Rumble in a 1v1, but make sure to not fight in choke points or else your team gets murdered by well placed Rumble ults. DShield/RejuBeads, Mercs, Phage/Spectre's Cowl, later on Adaptive Helm
This matchup can be very difficult if the Ryze knows what he is doing. If you get to hook him while he snares you, he will have a hard time escaping. Ryze is also very vulnerable to ganks. However he can harass you pretty much non-stop and even if you are able to stomp him in lane, he will come back with a vengeance if the game goes long enough to a point where you will not be able to beat him 1v1 anymore. DShield>RejuBeads, Mercs!, Phage
Sett's early power is incredible and fights between you and him will be close (that is if you manage to completely dodge the damage of his W - if he hits you with it you are basically dead); it is pretty much mandatory to kite out his auto attacks with Ghost since otherwise he will hit you twice in the time where you hit him once. You can look to fight him with him from full health at around level 6, Ghost and Flash should make sure that you can play around his W unless he can set it up with an E stun. Do not use your Q when he has his E or Ult up if you are looking to heal up (unless you EQ of course). If he saves his W you can burst him by E into R. Ninja Tabis are really strong against Sett. He has 0 disengage, if you have a long lane you can easily run him down but stay behind him or to the sides so he cannot use his ultimate to get closer his tower/allies. Be careful once he finishes Blade of the Ruined King, as he might seem squishy on paper but packs quite a punch on his autos making fights a lot closer than they used to be. DBlade, Tabis!, Phage
While this matchup is Darius favored, Shen's early game damage and durability from his shield spam have to be taken into consideration as well as the 225 range he gets from his Q sword. Darius gains the upper hand with levels especially at level 6 with his ultimate, however Shen's ultimate allows him to impact the entire map (which can leave you with 0 counterplay if you run Ghost Flash) and Shen's W completely nullifies auto attacks including your bleed stacks making it very hard for you to deal with Shen in teamfights or during ganks. DBlade, Phage/Mercs/Tabis
If he runs at you directly, just W him in the face and he now either uses his E and can't run away fast enough before getting pulled by your E or he does not use his E and you get a free Q. If you manage to keep him close during his W you murder him. Be aware though that if you stand inside his W pool you cannot use your ultimate as it counts as a dash. Do not chase Singed over longer distances, ESPECIALLY when he has Rylais. DBlade, Phage, Swifties/Mercs adaptive Helm later on
He has huge difficulties avoiding your Qs as his Q makes him stand still and he has no mobility. His % damage is based on his shield, so break it and he is left with flat damage which sucks for tanks. You can interrupt his Q with your E but don't wait too long as Sion can react to your animation and release his Q potentially stunning you. If you interrupt his Q it's on a 2 second cooldown and you can either try to dodge it or just use your Q as you can't possibly miss him. If you catch him, try to walk in front of his escape path so he can't just use his ult as escape tool. While you may have to bodyblock his initiation ultimates, it is mostly advisable to let someone else take the hit but then pull Sion so he cannot just chain-cc someone to death. DBlade, Phage
Don't fight early, once you hit Level 6 (and preferably have bought Mercury Treads for movement speed, MR and added tenacity for the blind) you can all-in Teemo. Do not waste your W when you are blinded, wait out the blind. If you truly struggle with this matchup you can go 3 beads of rejuvenations instead of Doran's Shield as well as Second Wind and Unflinching in your secondary rune tree to deal with his early game. If you want to deal with his shrooms, get a sweeping lense. If you snowball on Teemo he becomes useless. Teemo is basically Kennen, but with much worse teamfighting and much worse disengage (walking moderately faster with a blind vs super lightning speed and stuns? Also mana in 2020 vs energy?). RejuBeads/DShield, Mercs!, Phage
You can poke Trundle with Q, but again do not try to stand still while fighting him. Instead always keep moving to compensate for your lack of attack speed. If Trundle ults you, disengage unless far ahead. Trundle has problems since he has to max his Q for damage in lane and then has to choose between his W for extra dueling power or E for an actual useful ability. Level 1 E will basically not hinder your ability to walk away from Trundle too much. You can buy grievous wounds if you struggle with Trundle as well as Ninja Tabis. You outscale, but Trundle can turn you into paper with his ultimate. DBlade, Tabis!, Phage, Bramble if struggling
Yasuo's strength lies in Level 1 and 2, after that it's all downhill from him until at least 2-3 items. His only mobility is offensively based, so as long as you don't walk in front of him he has no way of disengaging towards his tower, only into your minion wave. Don't waste your Q when he can maneuver around your wave (also auto-attacking him 5 times into ult is basically enough to murder him at level 6). Try to pull him if he throws a tornado at you so he cannot use his ultimate on you. If he EQs into you with a knock up you have to flash if you want to avoid it. Yasuo will outscale you, but getting Randuin's Omen and Ninja Tabis will severly limit his damage against you until very late into the game. DBlade, Tabis!, Phage Randuin's later on
Probably one of the hardest melee matchups Darius can face. Save your W when he cages you to kill it and get a reduced cooldown as well as kill the ghouls with aa w resets. Getting hit by E while Ghouls are alive means losing a lot of health and potentially having to flash as the W becomes all but guaranteed. Darius has trouble killing ghouls and the Maiden, however you will outscale Yorick much later into the game as he will lack penetration to keep his damage relevant. DBlade, Tabis!, Phage
Step on his blobs so he can't heal. Use your E to interrupt his E (you have time until he actually hits the ground so unless you play with a 200ms ping you will always be able to deal with it), be wary of his passive being up if you want to get a reset. You can get anti-healing but it's not really needed in lane. DBlade, Phage/Executioner's if struggling
If you get to lane first, zone him from building up his rage, otherwise concede early game until Level 3. Don't stand still when fighting him, abuse your superior auto attack range by kiting him with your W and your E. Later on you can trade ult for ult as you are much more useful without it than he is. If you are really struggling with this matchup you can either take Phase Rush into Tryndamere for stronger kiting and nullifying his W slow or Aftershock to facetank him more easily. Tryndamere becomes hard later on when his E has basically no cooldown and if he ever gets ahead he may dive you under tower. DBlade, Tabis!, later on Randuin's Omen.
Most Vlads will have Magical Footwear in their runes and will therefore be laning with a huge movement speed disadvantage if you rush T2 boots early. Don't take empowered Qs. Vlad's attack range is very short and you can pull or Q him whenever he tries to cs with it. Once you pull him, auto him until he is outside of range to Q him or he has pooled as most Vlads will try to pool your Q. DBlade/DShield, early T2 boots, Phage!
You win by baiting out his E either by pulling him or Q'ing him. If he misses it, stay on one side of him so he can only proc 1 or 2 sides of his passive and he will lack damage to kill you. If he hits his ultimate on you, you will get slowed depending on how much hp you have left, making escaping at low health futile. If he misses his Q or E and tries to fight in a minion wave or against multiple opponents you can constantly force him to switch targets as he will only shoot the closest target next to him if unguided. Do not get hit by the E since it will stun you for 1,5 seconds. Also his ultimate now has a very low cooldown! DBlade/DShield, Bramble Vest!, Ninja Tabis/Phage.
I don't even know how this matchup goes since I prefer to permaban this abomination until 200 years of experience break its kneecaps. Let's just say new Wukong has 2 ways of evading your Q, is tankier than you because of his passive, has 2 knock ups, insane extended trades and will build Blade of the Ruined King to continue to murder you.
Even if you somehow manage to kill Vayne, her damage is unitemizable as it's % max hp true damage and therefore as long as she can kite you she will kill you no matter how far behind she is. In the best scenario you are able to hook her when she E's you away or when she tries to Q away from you. Do not use your Q until she has used her Q as it is an easy dodge for her, instead try to W her before she can tumble out of range or condemn you. Once she has ult her invisiblity makes it almost impossible to catch her and her building Blade of the Ruined King doesn't help either. This matchup is dodgeworthy and probably the hardest in the game.
If Shyvana has TP/Ignite she is a sitting duck. The only way she can win is by forcing all ins with her Dragon form which she only unlocks after level 6 but she still has huge difficulties keeping up with Darius in terms of scaling. Be wary of the burst from Dragonform E and ignite, but other than that Shyvana can't touch you unless you eat every single E of hers. DBlade/DShield
Another difficult matchup as Heimer will permapush you into tower trying to harass you while you will have problems farming and destroying his turrets. If he catches you with a stun, you die after level 6. Try to kill his turrets while dodging his E and W before going in or bait out his ultimate for a gank so he can't 2v1 you and your jungler. RejuBeads>DShield, Merc Treads, Specter's Cowl or Hexdrinker if struggling
Jarvan Top is not really played anymore for a reason. He loses to anything, especially Darius. He has good gank setup, a strong 1 auto attack trade with his passive, burst from EQ and ult and that's it. If you live through that, which you probably will, he has no way out and dies. If he uses his Q or E to poke you down, E him as he just used 1 part of his escape move. DBlade/DShield
This champ wants to kill people to get a reset on his ultimate. Just like you. One of you is not going to get his reset.
There is nothing greater than zooming around with Zilean's speed boost to catch people off guard.
Your pull can set up Yasuo for a good ultimate.
This green guy provides you with the iniation, CC, dive buddy potential and disruption you need to unlock your own potential.
While he does serve as initiator, you don't want to be inside his ultimate nor outside his ultimate. You can't maneuver inside the cage to hit your Q and you can't hit the champions inside it when you are on the outside.
Magic damage, disengage, engage, lots of CC and AoE to set you up for your Pentakill clean up? Yes, please.
CC bot aquired.
CC bot aquired.
The greatest thing about a Kog'maw Lulu botlane? People will always try to dive and tend to ignore you because Kog will shred them to pieces if they don't.
CC jungler with initiation, insane tankiness and synergizing with melee champions autoattacking? Wonderful.
Glacial Veigar will slow people so you can catch up, then put them in a cage. All you have to do is walk up to that cage and pull the inmates into one of the walls with your E.
This guy gets you over walls, into fights, pulls targets towards you and slows them as well.
Can push champions right in front of you and keep them there.
He can ult a free reset directly in front of you.
Provides CC in the midlane or support role for your team and enables Darius to actually flank as Galio provides the CC that is normally necessary for this maneuver.
Walls suck, though she does provide CC for you.
A no-cc jungler that becomes a poke machine isn't really what Darius needs to be enabled.
Her Miasma will stop enemies from using their dashes to evade your Qs.
Champion Build Guide
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 Darius 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.
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.
In this guide I want to show you the knowledge that I have gathered over the years playing at the highest 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.
Flash is the strongest summoner spell and required on pretty much anything (except Hecarim, Shaco and Yuumi). It is invaluable as a tool to engage, secure kills, turn fights, dodge skill shots or just escaping ganks or certain death and should ALWAYS be taken, especially on a champion with no mobility such as Darius.
Ghost is your secondary summoner spell that you should be taking on Darius in pretty much every single game. Ghost gives you a significant increase in movement speed over 10 seconds allowing you to catch up to elusive enemies, dodge skillshots or outrun your opponents. This summoner spell not only gives you a huge amount of kill pressure in lane whenever it is up, but also improves your teamfighting and therefore scales much harder than Ignite. Flash and Ghost are the only reason why Darius is able to properly function in high elo games. Ghost is also incredibly strong in conjunction with Nimbus Cloak as it offers you an immediate speedboost.
After the changes in 10.12 Ghost now gains a reset for every takedown enhancing its duration by up to 7 seconds making it even more valuable in teamfights.
Teleport is the staple summoner of the top lane and will most likely be used by your opponent. It has a hefty cooldown early game and can be cancelled by getting hit by a hard crowd control (such as stunned, rooted, suppressed or silenced) but allows you to channel a Teleport to any allied ward, minion, pet and even Rek'Sai tunnels or Jarvan IV's flag. Teleport allows you to pretty much get 1 or 2 free backs off, so you can heal up and buy items while losing barely if any minions to the tower. There is just one problem: Darius without Ghost is significantly weakened both inside and outside of lane as he lacks both engage and sticking potential. Darius also has much weaker TP ganks and flanks than other champions such as Malphite, Sett etc. who can instantly turn around a fight with their ultimates while Darius has to get his passive rolling. The new movement speed bonus helps a bit for TP ganks but isn't significant enough to keep you in range during a teamfight as its duration is too short.
Ignite increases kill pressure in lane by granting you true damage and 40% healing reduction on a low cooldown. While obviously making duels much easier especially in the early game, you will be lacking the global pressure of Teleport and the added mobility from Ghost on a champion that does not really struggle with damage output but rather achieving his condition to access his damage.
This summoner spell also doesn't quite synergize with Darius' goal of killing the opponent with his ultimate. All in all Ignite is more of a crutch to win laning phase and gives barely any impact in teamfights compared to Ghost.
While it might seem scary for inexperienced players to play without Teleport, it will teach you about when to back, proper resource management and taking proper trades and fights quickly as when you fail to do so you will just collapse.
Press the Attack: PTA is not optimal for Darius, even though you do have an AA reset and will most likely be proccing it during trades the damage increase will not be applied to your ultimate as it deals true damage. While it's a fun rune to experiment with in conjunction with Titanic Hydra it is not recommended in serious games.
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. On paper this rune sounds extremely strong for Darius as his bleed will always grant you the extended duration of Lethal Tempo and the AA+W+Q combo will take around 1,5 seconds to complete. However, Darius does not scale well with attack speed as he is a melee champion and has to stay in close proximity to the opponent to auto attack in quick succession, his Q locks him out of autoing for 0,75 seconds (same for his ult and E) and he has an aa-reset with low cooldown.
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. Darius however tends to not buy a lot of AD especially during laning phase, gains a lot of HP making flat heals worth less and even with your passive running you will basically have an inferior Grasp of the Undying in terms of combat effectiveness. Don't use this rune.
Conqueror: Every single auto-attack and damaging ability (including sour spot Q and your ultimate) will grant you 2 conqueror stacks. Getting free AD (up to 30 at Level 18) is insanely valuable on a champion with huge AD scalings such as Darius. Not only that but at 12 stacks you get to heal for 15% of the damage you deal. Darius synergizes very well with that since he has a resetting true damage ult, 35% armor penetration and a big AD steroid in his passive to make sure that his damage never wavers.
+ The best keystone at the moment in almost any situation.
Overheal: Don't use this. Darius has basically no way of healing at full health except when you purchase Death's Dance or spec into lifesteal and while I do not recommend either, Death's Dance will at the very least be your 3rd or even 4th item and by then you could have used Triumph much better.
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 Darius who has huge turn-around potential with a true damage nuke, his passive and his Q heal. 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. Well, if you have mana problems then you either have to get a Trinity Force, Manaflow Band, manage your spells better or get to Level 16 so your ultimate doesn't cost mana anymore. This rune is terrible on Darius.
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.
+ Very good if against no CC, worse than Legend: Tenacity if against CC
Legend: Tenacity: Gain up to 30% tenacity. Tenacity is very welcome on Darius as you have no mobility to dodge CC and sometimes have to just tank it. 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.
+ Very good situationally.
Legend: Bloodline: Gain up to 12% lifesteal. The slowest scaling of the Legends and also bad on Darius. Lifesteal is a stat that scales with offensive stats that you will not gain unless in extended combat with champions and considering you have inbuilt healing vs champions that gets stronger when you are low health anyway you can simply ignore the pitiful lifesteal this rune grants you in favor of faster stacking from alacrity or stronger teamfight vs cc-heavy teams with tenacity.
Coup de Grace: 8% increased damage against champions below 40% health does not make much sense for a champion whose aim it is to execute opponents with a true damage nuke since true damage cannot get increased nor decreased in any way. Do not take this.
Cut Down: Deal more damage when someone has more maximum health than you? What are you going to fight against that will have 100% more maximum health than you? 30 stack Cho'Gath? 500 cs Sion? Do not take this. Ever.
Last Stand: Up to 11% more damage when you low hp? Yes please! By far the best option since you can actually use this bonus as it doesn't require you to fail your ult execute or not build any hp but rather wants you to simply take damage. Which you will pretty much anytime.
+ Best rune of this row.
Electrocute: While Darius can easily proc this rune, getting a tiny bit of extra burst damage doesn't really help you all that much and might even make it harder to execute low hp enemies with your ultimate as your keystone can just kill them. Please don't use this keystone.
Predator: Predator is basically a Righteous Glory in rune form, but you have to take a keystone for it and you are not going to buy Righteous Glory anyway because it doesn't really synergize with Darius since you want movement speed after you have gotten your stacks.
- Bad unless you jungle or play roamheavy Darius midlane. Then it's mediocre.
Dark Harvest: A reset based keystone on a reset-based champion? It surely has to be op! Except it is not. Believe me when I tell you that Dark Harvest's added damage will not make the difference whether you get this pentakill or not, it's most liekly going to be your healthbar.
Hail of Blades: I used to run HoB in S9 a lot and this new iteration is better than the one I played with as Hail of Blades now resets even if you are in combat (which you will be since your bleed will deal damage for 5 more seconds). HoB gives you very great early game cheese potential but you will be lacking damage and healing from conqueror late game and since you should be winning your lane anyway why bother with this rune?
Okay, mostly because it is gated by the very bad domination tree.
Cheap Shot: Darius is actually one of the best users of this rune as your W slows people and your bleed will instantly proc Cheap Shot. It's still not that great.
Meh, but probably the best out of this row.
Taste of Blood: A very strong rune on champions who can damage their opponents whenever it is off cooldown. Darius is not one of those champions. Seriously, who lets you walk up to them every 20 seconds? Either they beat you for attempting to do so or they walk away.
Sudden Impact: Gain Lethality for using a dash or flash. Well, your ultimate is a dash. Except it deals true damage, so lethality doesn't do anything for it. But your next Q is gonna deal more damage! Or when you flash into 5 people! Yeah, domination minor runes are catastrophic. Probably should be taking cheap shot tbh.
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. Then again, you will most likely not get Sweeping lense nor carrying around pink wards.
Ghost Poro: This is what I would use: leave behind a Ghost Poro when your ward expires (so basically an extended ward that can get cleared by your opponent by walking into the poro) and gain stats for the poro getting scared away!
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.
Ravenous Hunter: Basically everything that is not an auto attack will heal you depending on how many stacks you have. This is much better on other champions than Darius but considering the other stuff in this row you will probably take this.
The best out of this row, but still meh.
Ingenious Hunter: Gaining cooldown reduction on item actives seems nice, but what items with actives are you realistically going to buy? Stoneplate? Maybe Randuin's Omen. But chances are that your teamfights will be 90 seconds apart. This is only really good for champions with Glacial Augment, GLP, Twin shadows and Zhonya's Hourglass.
Situationally okay, but overall bad.
Relentless Hunter: Movementspeed is very valuable, especially on Darius. Out-of-combat movement speed however is meh. If you get hit, or if you hit someone you get locked out of it and because of your bleed this is going to take an extra 5 seconds. Still probably the best option next to Ravenous Hunter.
Ultimate Hunter: Gain cooldown reduction on an ability that technically can be used until everyone is dead and then has a short cooldown that will go down to literally 0 at level 16? That is a no.
-- Extremely bad.
Summon Aery: Your bleed doesn't proc it. You don't shield people. It's bad. Like really bad. Do not use it.
-- Very bad.
Arcane Comet: You are not poke based. Just stop it. It's probably worse than Summon Aery. There, I said it.
-- Very Bad.
Phase Rush: With the 2 new buffs to Phase Rush granting 40%-60% movement speed instead of the old 25%-40% movement speed buff this keystone is a lot stronger now than what it used to be. While it still challenges you to overcome the gap in the first place in order to proc it, it is definitely viable into a variety of matchups now and might even be better than Conqueror in special matchups where the opponent is reliant on slows such as Singed, Nasus or Tryndamere since Phase Rush not only offers a bigger movement speed bonus than Ghost now (albeit much shorter in duration) but also 75% slow resistance, allowing you to pretty much ignore them.
Situationally very good, otherwise viable but still outclassed by Conqueror.
Nullifying Orb: Gets outclassed by Nimbus Cloak. Used to be taken against heavy AP enemy comps and is helpful against the likes of Karthus, Rumble etc.
Situationally okay, overall bad.
Manaflow Band: This minor rune used to be the go-to rune in this tree as it gave Darius the tiny amount of mana he needs to not go oom during fights. Nowadays though Triforce's Sheen gives you this mana and nimbus cloak is just too good.
Okay, but outclassed.
Nimbus Cloak: Absolutely broken at the moment; an immediate speed boost whenever you use a summoner spell? This empowers your Ghost AND your flash (and jungler's blue smites, too, unfortunately) and makes you a race car. If you use Ghost, you have to use Nimbus Cloak. If you have to use Darius Jungle, use Blue Smite and this.
++ Overpowered, will probably get nerfed. Take it.
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. Personal preference between this and Celerity.
Celerity: More movement speed, even the tiniest amount, can decide between you getting the 5th stack or your opponent just barely walking away from you. Active from Level 1 until the end of the game. Also 3 movement speed without boots so you outspeed every 340 base movement speed champion.
+ Good. Personal preference between this and Transcendence
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.
Scorch: A little bit of extra damage, I guess. Better on poke-based champions just like Taste of Blood is better for ranged champions.
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.
Good in the jungle, otherwise bad.
Gathering Storm: A lategame minor rune. When you have Gathering Storm in the late game it feels really good. If you have it in the early game, you don't feel anything. It is not going to help you get ahead and you don't want to get into the super late game as Darius. Very counterintuitive rune but probably the best if you have to take one in the 3rd row.
Okay. Personal preference between this and Scorch.
Grasp of the Undying: Darius has a very easy time to keep this rune stacked by autoing either minions or champions, however this rune is very trade-based. And Darius does not want to trade in bursts, he wants to be able to turn every trade into an all-in and Grasp isn't the best all-in rune. Also you lack the option of a Gangplank who gets to proc Grasp pretty much on cooldown. While you can definitely use this rune it is not the best and also falls off later into the game.
Can be used, but not ideal on Darius.
Aftershock: A very popular rune before the 3rd iteration of Conqueror came along and often used in matchups that are deemed more difficult. Current aftershock is worse for Darius because you will most likely get 2 items that do not grant any resistances, but at the same time you are able to proc it more regularily which is especially good in lane to force good trades and all-ins. If you are the only frontline on your team, it might be time to pull out this bad boy instead of Conqueror.
+ Good. Outclassed by Conqueror in most scenarios, but situationally better.
Guardian: Why would you ever play a champion whose damage relies on Levels into a duo lane where he gains a lot less experience? Also even if you do, don't pick this. Take Conqueror or Aftershock instead...
-- Very bad.
Demolish: Before Nimbus Cloak was changed to its current broken iteration, a lot of Darius players went Demolish in their secondary rune tree. This rune is REALLY good if you can use it to gain plates. It accelerates your turret taking speed by a lot, but obviously it can be completely useless if you do not get to touch turrets.
++ Very good.
Font of Life: You are picking Darius because you want to be a selfish prick who takes matters into his own hands. Why would you pick a supportive rune? Also you won't be building enough HP for it to matter as well as no Ardent Censer.
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.
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.
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.
Very good situationally, otherwise okay.
Bone Plating: Very strong early game rune that will give you insane power in extended fights. If you play around Bone Plating and your enemy does not, you will be able to simply outstat them with the insane damage reduction for 3 abilities or auto attacks. Not that great vs champions who get to proc it before going in (e.g. ranged).
Very good situationally, otherwise okay.
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.
Revitalize: Increased healing and shielding is meh, since you might as well just go overgrowth since your heal is based on your missing % hp and you don't have any shields. Don't take it on Darius.
Unflinching: Granting tenacity and slow resistance is very interesting, however mostly outclassed by the sheer movement speed power of nimbus cloak. You also have to relatively low to gain a notable amount of stats. If you are into very heavy cc and slow based compositions this might be worthwile to be taken, but remember that slow resistance does not stack addictively anymore. Might also be a decent choice if you think you absolutely need Bone Plating or Second Wind for a certain match-up.
Situationally very good, otherwise mediocre.
Glacial Augment: I tried to make this rune work, but you lose a lot of power for a suboptimal utility build. Slows simply do not help you against champions with dashes and those who don't have dashes just get slowed by your W or E anyway. If you take this, make sure to get Randuin's Omen and/or Righteous Glory to abuse the empowered slow actives.
Unsealed Spellbook: If Darius didn't synergize with Conqueror so well, this might become the go-to for increased laning power. At 6 minutes which is most likely your level 6 powerspike you would be able to either teleport back to lane because of Unsealed Spellbook or use TP and then switch to Ignite or Ghost to all in your lane opponent with the item advantage as well as the summoner advantage. However, Darius does not use the other summoner spells such as cleanse, barrier or heal as well as other spell book users.
Prototype: Omnistone: If you have read everything until this point you will have realized that there are very few keystone runes Darius actually values and that there is one above all of them - conqueror - so why bother with the RNG element of having a random keystone chosen every couple of seconds?
Hextech Flashtraption: This rune is very meh. While you can try to cheese with it by using it in bushes to gain slight distance on an opponent in lane or have the ability to traverse terrain out of combat, it also gives your opponents a 100% accurate flash timer.
Magical Footwear: Gaining 300 gold for free and 10 extra movement speed sounds too good to be true. The only downfall of this rune is that you cannot buy boots and have to wait until they are given to you (which can take up to 12 minutes if you don't score a single takedown). On a champion that relies on movement speed so heavily that you will buy t2 boots pretty much first or after getting Phage every single time this is such a huge handicap that it really is not worth the benefit.
-+ Very bad in certain matchups but very good in those where you don't need early boots.
Perfect Timing: A stopwatch that only contributes 250g towards an upgraded item in its buildpath and is only usable after 14 minutes (-2 minutes per takedown). Gargoyle Stoneplate is basically a core item, so if you have to take a rune in this row and you need early boots, then take this one.
Future's Market: Borrowing money could be an interesting strategy in matchups where you have to get your Phage and T2 boots as fast as possible. Problematic however is that Darius doesn't truly spike that hard with 1 or 2 items making this rune significantly worse than on other champions.
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). If you don't plan on going Sterak's Gage, you might have difficulties clearing caster minions in 1 q later on in the game and this minor rune could help you with the added damage you gain by using it against caster minions.
Biscuit Delivery: A good option for added sustain and more mana. Not that well suited to Darius as to other champions however since your mana normally depletes because of an all-in.
Cosmic Insight: 5% cooldown reduction on pretty much anything is pretty great, but Darius in general is most likely not going to reach 40/45% cdr in most games anyway. The champion is very auto-attack based, the ultimate has basically no cooldown and the Q has an internal 0,75 second charge up meaning CDR is not as effective on Darius as on other champions.
Approach Velocity: Gaining 15% movement speed towards champions you are cc'ing is incredibly good. Except Darius only has slows lasting 1 second and would love to use this rune from range in order to get into range in the first place. Getting 7,5% movement speed approaching champions your team cc's is also nice. As you won't 100% need nimbus cloak anymore the inspiration tree and cookies might be able to solve the incredible mana usage of Darius and since you don't want to take any runes from the first inspiration row you might as well take this now?
Time Warp Tonic: If you really like going Corrupting Potion, then this is the rune for you: it gives you a chunk of health immediately, making it stronger in an all-in while allowing baits and also grants movement speed during the potion's duration for chasing, escaping, dodging. Obviously becomes useless after you don't have any potions anymore.
+ Good, but falls off hard and you have to buy Corrupting Potion.
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 if you are unfamiliar in the matchup you are playing or vs ranged champions, especially when they have damage over time such as Teemo's poison. Unlike Doran's Blade you can sell Doran's Shield relatively early if needed (such as being able to complete your Trinity Force with the gold) because Doran's Shield rapidly loses its value over the duration of the game.
Corrupting Potion: If you want to use Time Warp Tonic, this is the item to go with. It makes you relatively squishy, but grants huge amounts of sustain and allows you to spam your abilities without having to worry about mana. You also won't have to buy any potions. Not really recommended though, as there is basically no matchup in which Corrupting Potion surpasses the other items. You do not want to trade extensively with Darius but rather turn it into all ins.
Rejuvenation Bead x3: This item gives you the most cost efficient sustain start. While slightly worse than Doran's Shield at the beginning of the game, Darius' base health regen and health regen per level will make Reju beads stronger with each level. The best part about these beads? They sell for 105g each for a total of 315g compared to the 180g you gain from selling Doran's Shield or Doran's Blade. Also you do not have to get hit constantly in order to gain the maximum amount of health possible as health regen is running all the time.
Phage: Completing this item gives you the ability to lasthit a minion and then try to catch out your unsuspecting opponent with the sudden burst of movement speed. This is the component item you should always be building first or after your T2 boots, no matter whether you go for Trinity Force or Black Cleaver.
Sheen: Gives you stronger short trades as it increases your burst, also helps at towertaking and makes sure that your mana pool won't run dry unless you are spamming your spells. In general I complete this item before Stinger if I have the gold for it, but obviously Phage comes first.
Stinger: CDR and attack speed are okay as they allow you to kill stuff faster. Including towers.
Executioner's Calling: If you really need anti-healing quickly then look no further: Executioner's Calling only costs 800g and because of your bleed every auto of yours will inflict Grievous wounds for 8 seconds on an enemy champion, making it valuable especially against champions who aren't that autoattack based.
Bramble Vest: If the enemy champion is required to auto you in order to heal (Lifesteal or Fiora, then buy this item. While it is not advisable to upgrade it any time soon, Thornmail is still a great item to have later on in the game and sitting on Bramble Vest will make your life much easier against healing champions in the meantime.
Spectre's Cowl: If you are really struggling with harassing magic damage champions you can get this item to help you sustain. It's not really good though.
Hexdrinker: This item is a choice for those of you in need of extra fighting power against magic damage champions to survive their scary all in. Just like with Bramble Vest though you should not upgrade this item until much later into the game and also try not to build Sterak's Gage when you own this item already.
Black Cleaver: You might ask yourself why there is no Black Cleaver recommended in the items section. There are multiple reasons.
Firstly, Cleaver has a very defensive build path offering only 15 AD but 400 HP and 10% CDR in components. Compare that to Trinity Force where you can push your lead with Sheen burst or attack speed.
Secondly, tank items are not that great at the moment. In fact it is very hard to truly get tanky, so the armor shred from Cleaver is not required, especially because Darius himself has access to not only true damage in form of his ultimate but also 35% armor penetration from his E.
Thirdly, Cleaver makes your damage even more backloaded as you will only deal max damage after stacking up your cleaver.
Now why or when would you buy this item? When you are so behind that you simply cannot afford Trinity Force, when your team is full AD (and maybe noone else will buy cleaver) and/or the enemy team has multiple tanks. Even in that scenario you can still go Trinity as Cleaver is mostly just for your team's benefit.
Phage > ruby crystal + longsword > Kindlegem > ruby crystal/longsword for build order preference.
Trinity Force: This item is part of the reason why Darius is seeing success at high elo: it gives frontloaded burst damage with the sheen procs and puts much more emphasis on auto attacks which you can't possibly miss. Trinity is very strong against basically anything, even if your opponent stacks armor your E passive, Noxian Might and your ultimate will cut through them like a hot knife through butter. There are three downsides to this item: it is the most expensive item in the game, if you are behind it doesn't offer any more defensive itemization besides Phage and Spellblade's damage scales with levels, making it mandatory to stay ahead in exp - TF is a snowball item.
Phage > ruby crystal/longsword > Sheen/Stinger > dagger > mana crystal for build order preference.
Sterak's Gage: This item is one of the strongest powerspikes of Darius. A good chunk of HP, up to 75 AD at level 18, a huge shield that scales with your bonus HP and 30% tenacity for a couple of seconds when it procs makes this item a no brainer, granting you huge amounts of power in teamfights, duels and skirmishes. Synergizes extremely well with Gargoyle Stoneplate. Remember that the bonus AD it grants scales with levels just like Trinity Force's Spellblade and Darius' passive Noxian Might. If you fall behind in levels you lose A LOT of damage and tankiness. So keep killing minions and players.
Gargoyle Stoneplate: Currently one of the strongest items in the game because of the tankiness it grants for only 2500 gold. Especially convenient for Darius as you tend to build two HP items without any resistances, but Stoneplate grants MR AND Armor at the same time. Keep in mind that you have to activate this item at the right time, which is at the start of the fight when you are next to at least 3 people to get the most out of the active. While it cuts down your damage you will double your current HP which also means that your bonus HP gets doubled and so does your Sterak's Gage's shield. Stack up your passive during that time and don't be afraid to ult when you see the opportunity as true damage does not get reduced by the active! This item transforms you into a serious issue for the enemy team as it is almost impossible to kill you. Be aware though that this item's active doesn't help you against any kind of % HP damage, but deals excellently even with flat true damage.
Randuin's Omen: Probably the best armor item currently as it grants superior damage reduction against critbased champions (so basically ADCs, Tryndamere and Yasuo). 20% damage reduction vs critical strikes is huge and so is the attack speed reduction. To top it all off you even gain utility with an active that slows every enemy around you for 2 seconds making it easier to chase or to disengage. Only pass this up if you play vs 0 crit champions.
Dead Man's Plate: This item used to be the king of armor items when it was introduced in Season 5. However it definitely has seen better days. While the passive movement speed bonus of 60 is interesting, the defensive capabilities of this item are horrendous compared to its counterpart Randuin's Omen and when you are running Ghost with Nimbus Cloak you won't be needing this item. Only buy it if you are against champions who neither have critical strike chance nor require anti-healing or if you are against very ad heavy enemy teamcomps and already have a Randuin's Omen. Also: only auto attacks remove the momentum stacks that you build up with this item, so you can still Q minions to gain even more movement speed when killing them with a Phage item to catch up to people. Don't forget about the slow of this item on your auto attack with 100 stacks so you don't accidentally waste your W's slow.
Thornmail: While Bramble Vest is a must buy in certain matchups, it is not recommended to immediately upgrade it to Thornmail. Having access to Grievous Wounds can be helpful and so is the magic damage return whenever you get auto attacked (especially when your team manages to get the Ocean Drake's soul). Be careful that this passive draws tower aggro. An excellent buy against non-crit based champions with lots of sustain either through healing, especially lifesteal.
Guardian Angel: A rather rare occurence on Darius that you buy this item. Its stats are mediocre, and the passive is also not that great on Darius. When you get ressurected, you lose Noxian Might, though if an opponent still has 5 bleedstacks on him when you are revived, you can hit him and instantly gain Noxian Might again. This item is better on diver champions, however if you are vs full AD teams then you can definitely consider Guardian Angel.
Situational MR items:
Spirit Visage: This item is well suited to Darius' needs as his healing from Q, Triumph and Conqueror benefit from the passive. While it used to have much better stats, this is the go-to Magic Resistance item in most of your games unless you happen to play against champions who require you to go Adaptive Helm.
Adaptive Helm: Spirit Visage's little brother. While it has even worse stats than it, it makes up for it with its very strong passive that allows you to tank hits much more easily from champions such as Corki, Rumble, Cassiopeia or Mordekaiser who use the same ability over and over again to cut through your health pool.
Ninja Tabi: The strongest shoes in terms of combat stats; if you play against champions who rely heavily on auto attacks (such as ADCs, Jax, Tryndamere) you should definitely consider Ninja Tabis. Especially if they don't have CC or you already have Legend: Tenacity. They are the best boots to rush on Darius in a lot of matchups because of their passive and the armor helping against minion aggro for Darius as often you only need to keep up with your opponent and let your passive and Conqueror deal the damage for you.
Mercury's Treads: Much more situational boots as you don't build them for Magic Resitance but rather for the Tenacity they provide. You can rush these boots against certain opponents that deal magic damage such as Kennen, Cassiopeia, Rumble, Teemo or Ryze as they are ranged and have CC to disengage from you. Against a champion like Mordekaiser you should rather look at their whole team composition before making a boot choice.
Boots of Swiftness: They just got buffed this patch and used to be the go-to choice a couple years ago when everybody rushed them to stay safe from ganks since no jungler was able to catch up to you when you were speeding around with 60 extra movement speed.
Useful if you are against heavy and continous slows (such as Glacial Augment empowered slow actives).
Boots of Mobility: No. You stay in combat much longer than any other champion in the game because of your bleed and hitting you once takes off all extra movement speed.
Berserker's Greaves: For now this is pretty much never worth it unless you want to disrespect your opponent.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity: Having reduced summoner spell cooldowns is nice and all, but again - this is not that great. You will regret not going defensive boots on Darius in games that aren't already over and since you basically always get T2 boots before or right after your first item you'll have to know by then whether you can even afford to troll or not.
Sorcerer's Shoes: ...
Death's Dance: A very expensive item but purchasable as 2nd, 3rd or 4th item. This item is extremely strong when you are ahead as it makes it hard to burst you while giving you sustain, the ability to survive burst and magic resistance and armor in 1 item. A meta changer just like Bork, except that Darius can actually use it.
Titanic Hydra: It grants you another auto attack reset allowing you to have a 4-5 bleed stack combo. It is however expensive and you need to complete the item in order to gain the active effect since Tiamat's active is not an auto attack. While Darius does auto attack frequently he doesn't make as much use of this item as champions like Renekton, Jax or Kled. Sterak's Gage is a much better option both offensively as well as defensively and is also cheaper. After 2 items you normally won't be needing any more damage as you can rely on your passive.
Ravenous Hydra: Rather buy Titanic Hydra or Death's Dance if you are even considering this item.
Infinity Edge: Don't go crit.
Essence Reaver: You are still not going crit.
Blade of the Ruined King: Currently the meta-defining item in the top lane and to a certain extend also in the bot lane. While Bork-Darius is still kind of trolling it might be needed to keep up with certain Bork-match ups as otherwise you will have a hard time keeping up in duels with your opponent if you are not snowballing far ahead. The active is great and the passive works well with your armor penetration, but it does not truly fit into Darius' playstyle nor build so even if it is overpowered it remains suboptimal.
Maw of Malmortius: Hexdrinker is okay to rush if you are against AP Top and Jungle (and maybe even mid?), this item gets heavily outclassed by Sterak's Gage with which it competes because of the passive Lifeline (you will either get Sterak's or Maw's/Hexdrinker's shield, but still retain the tenacity and the spellvamp and lifesteal), only buy it if you are playing against extremely heavy magic damage comps and don't stack it with Sterak's Gage.
Stormrazor: Crit. No.
Any of the lethality items: No. Darius doesn't need damage, he needs survivability.
Edge of Night gives you a bit of HP and a spell shield, but Darius can't really utilize it well since he just slowly walks at people making it easy to pop it.
Youmuu's Ghostblade has interesting properties with the increased out of combat movement speed as well as the active, but again you should not be trading more damage vs tankiness on a champion that has a flat AD steroid in his kit that relies on him living for a prolonged period of time.
Frozen Mallet: This item is bad on Darius as it doesn't help you get into range in the first place.
Abyssal Mask: Darius doesn't benefit from the aura since he deals exactly 0 magic damage and he doesn't have mana problems either. Spirit Visage is much better, only build this if against full AP and you already have Spirit Visage and Maw of Malmortius/ Adaptive Helm.
Wit's End: While it does give permanent movement speed and gives you magic damage on hit, this item is very suboptimal. Not recommended.
Warmog's Armor: You don't want to be stacking much more HP without resistances on Darius since your damage items already grant you 0 resistances. Use this item only if you are facing heavy poke comps ( Nidalee, Ziggs, Ezreal etc. so you can stay healthy, otherwise stay away from this item as Darius.
Lord Dominik's Regards: You already have Armor Pen. You really don't need this.
Mortal Reminder: You bought an early Executioner's Calling for the Grievous Wounds and think about upgrading it in the very late game? Tell your team to get Morellonomicon or Mortal Reminder on your midlaner, ADC or Jungler or buy Thornmail instead if you get autoattacked by the person whose healing you want to reduce. Only get this if it is a target who is not going to autoattack you and when your team refuses to get anti-healing themselves.
Sunfire Cape: Just got buffed and is a really good item. But not on Darius. You don't need the waveclear, you have a harder time proccing the Firenova, it scales badly, it is more of a Rush item for the early to midgame and gets outclassed hard in defensive and utility terms by Randuin's Omen, Dead Man's Plate or Thornmail. Only get this if you are really struggling against an AD opponent who struggles against armor (e.g. Renekton or Riven).
Frozen Heart: No health, too much mana, you don't really need to hit 40% CDR and the attack speed aura is eh. Nobody is building this item nowadays as there are better alternatives. If the enemy team is full AD and autoattack based you can build this as 4th or 5th item. If there is ever an undocumented change where it procs Approach Velocity this item might become viable.
Iceborn Gauntlet: Again no health, even more mana, less armor, a spellblade effect that overlaps slows with your W. If you are into spellblade procs, get Trinity Force. The item is not that great on Darius.
Righteous Glory: A very cheap item that allows you to catch up to almost anyone. The only problem is that once you get into range you will be lacking a lot of stats since this item only grants you 30 armor making you a lot less tanky than other armor options would have. Usable but very situational and often outclassed. Glacial Augment gives you a freeze ray on the active.
Phantom Dancer: If you want to feel special you can build this item instead of Sterak's Gage (just like with Maw of Malmortius the lifeline passive makes it so you only receive 1 shield) and spend the rest of your life in the sidelane splitpushing. Not recommended by me though. And let's be honest - why are you even reading this guide, unless you are seeking my opinion on stuff.
Knight's Vow/ Locket of the Iron Solari: You are picking an extremely selfish champion with basically 0 utility and you are thinking about buying supportive items to help out your team? I suppose if you have come to terms you'll never reach relevancy this game and still want to pretend like you earned your LP.
This passive is literally the reason Darius is a champion. Seriously. Always keep track of the bleed stacks, because getting 5 stacks can be more important than hitting a squishier target. Once you get 5 stacks on a champion you gain Noxian Might, up to 230 AD and apply 5 bleed stacks to anything you touch including champions which means you can basically keep Noxian Might indefinitely until either you or everyone else is dead and your ultimate will deal maximum damage after a single auto attack or Q hit.
Try to get a feeling for how much damage the bleed deals so you don't have to flash after dead people.
Darius' bread and butter ability. Use it to poke, use it to last hit, use it to push, use it to heal, use it to deal damage. Also this ability is your main skill expression. It is not advisable to hit anything with the inner circle of the Q as you will not get a bleed stack onto your opponent, deal pitiful damage, waste 0,75 seconds of your time not auto attacking and you won't heal either. You can cancel your W animation with your Q to make it harder to react to. The difference between hitting and missing this skill is HUGE. Don't miss.
W Crippling Strike:
Despite its name it doesn't actually cripple. Only slows. But by 90%. That's a lot. Also gives you 25 extra range so you can pretend to be Irelia for 1 auto attack. Use it to reset your auto attack timer, to proc spellblade, kill towers, last hit minions with it if needed (if you kill something you get full mana refund and half of its cooldown is refunded as well, try not to fail it ever since the mana costs went up). This auto attack can also not be cancelled (not even by yourself) so you can buffer it before getting hit by crowd control and even flashing away won't save people if the animation goes through. You can cancel the animation of your W by pressing Q once the animation starts.
This skill is your life, you have to play around it when it is on cooldown. It doesn't deal any damage, but you can pull everything and anything but Epic Monsters towards you to then chestbump it back. Now this ability is also bugged and inconsistent since sometimes your opponents don't move visually but are still pulled on their screen, sometimes they don't get pulled at all and even if they are pulled it is very inconsistent where they land (either right inside your Q sweetspot or just inside the sourspot). Still, if you miss this ability prepare to face a long walk of shame during laning phase as its cooldown is absolutely gigantic and any ranged champion will relentlessly punish you for having 0 chance of engaging onto them.
This ability is best used to prolong a trade so if you can start a fight without using it, that's great! If not, depending on the enemy you might want to not immediately AA+W+Q but rather AA, then walk with them, AA, walk with them and only use your W+Q once they try to escape. The closer your enemy is, the easier it is to miss this ability as it is cone shaped by the way.
It is possible to buffer an undodgeable Decimate when you knock up someone with your Q by pressing E, pressing Q before everything becomes uncastable and then NOT moving until the Q animation starts. If you don't buffer it, your opponent may be able to Flash or dash out of your Q.
You max this second because of the damage increase through the armor penetration and also because having this on a 24 second cooldown sucks as well as because it reduces the mana costs.
R Noxian Guillotine:
Darius' signature ability. If you use it, it applies a bleed stack (or 5 if you already have Noxian Might running) and deals true damage that cannot be reduced by any means (such as Exhaust, Gargoyle Stoneplate's active on yourself or other types of damage reduction). It resets on a kill for 20 seconds (or permanently once it is Rank 3). It has 460 range and is coded as a dash so you cannot use it while you are rooted or grounded. You can basically use it as an auto attack reset but it is preferred to get the kill with it so it resets and can be used again. Level 6, 11 and 16 are HUGE powerspikes that give you an insane amount of burst damage that will rip apart squishies and armor stackers alike.
Knowing how much damage you deal with how many stacks is mandatory to become a great Darius player since executing champions with this ability will immediately grant you Noxian Might and spare you the hassle of hitting some peasant 5 times in a row.
Oh, by the way, if you happen to lose vision (because of fog of war, unwarded brushes, Quinn's Blinding Assault, Graves' Smoke Screen etc.) your ultimate will cancel. It's not going to go on cooldown, you can use it again, but you will have to cast it again and hope that your animation goes through the next time. Also champions going into untargetability such as Zhonya's Hourglass active, Vladimir's Sanguine Pool, Camille's Hextech Ultimatum or Fizz' Playful / Trickster will stop your ultimate, but you can use it right after. You are also unstoppable during the animation, meaning CC doesn't affect you during that time (but you will still be stunned if the stun duration goes on longer than your ult animation).
Seriously. This champion isn't difficult nor complicated. Only takes clean execution.
Get it? Execution? Noxian Guillotine?
Darius only really has 2 advanced techniques:
Cancelling his W into a Q and buffering his Q after his E.
In order to cancel your W animation you simply press Q at any point after the empowered W auto attack starts.
In order to buffer your Q after your E you have to press E and immediately after it press Q before you get locked out of doing any action. Then do NOT move until the Q animation starts. If you right click before that, it will cancel any input you had buffered. If you pull it off correctly, your enemy will be airborn and unable to react to your Q even if he tries to flash it, making it the only way to hit your Q on certain mobile champions and guaranteeing critical Q hits and heals.
You can buffer Q, W, E and Ult through CC.
If you ult a champion at the same time as you kill a unit (a different champion, a minion, a monster etc.) you gain Noxian Might.
Ranged champions on the other hand have an auto attack range advatange (wow, really?) which means they will shoot you in the face multiple times before you even get to hit them back.
So depending on what matchup you are up against as well as the pathing of your and the enemy jungler and their respective power you will have to decide how to play the lane. You can sit back and let it push towards your tower and try to freeze it on your side of the map so you can abuse Ghost and run people down over a long distance once you have reached level 3 or 4 or you start to push in order to gain the level 2 advantage to surprise your opponent. If you are able to kill him that way, great. If not, you can now start denying CS by slowly building up the wave which protects you against the enemy jungler and opponent and can even allow you to 2v1 at an early point in the lane if you play it correctly.
Darius has few big powerspikes as his power usually depends on how fast he gains access to Noxian Might, in general though Level 1, 2 and 3 are strong as well as his Level 6. Maxed Q at Level 9 and 20% CDR grant him an easier time as he can spamm his Q and use his E more freely.
Laning without Teleport means three things:
you have more kill pressure because of your ability to Ghost AND Flash after people; pulling your opponent and then hitting them with a AA+W+Q combo allows you to use Ghost and keep up with them even if they Flash as most champions aren't able to take a fight where Darius starts off with 3 bleed stacks and will try to run from you.
- You are harder to gank because you have 2 mobility summoner spells to use.
- If you make a mistake (such as taking a bad trade and you cannot afford to stay in lane) you will lose a lot of exp as your opponent will either push the wave into your tower to deny you exp and gold, forcing the wave to reset and screwing you even further or by freezing the wave and potentially teleporting back to keep you in an ethernal cycle of getting ganked.
You will also need to learn how to get proper back timings. The best time to back is when you fast push the wave before a cannon minion wave and then immediately back. Pre 20 minutes every 3rd wave will be a cannon minion wave and you can always check your minimap to see both the position of the approaching minion wave and whether or not it has a cannon minion.
Your opponent will have a hard time killing the minions in time (unless he uses Minion Dematerializer on your cannon minion) and you will most likely only lose a melee and maybe the Cannon minion instead of the whole wave.
This obviously requires you to have control of the wave. If you don't have that, you'll need jungle assistance or accept that you lose minions. Be quick with your purchases, by the time your mana and HP bar are refilled you should already be on your way back to the lane.
If you manage to kill your opponent, try to push the wave into the tower so he can't freeze it by teleporting back. Do not overstay and die for it though.
Darius is also notably easy to gank so having good map awareness and vision control is advantageous. Otherwise you have to muscle your way through with a 2v1 or maybe a countergank from your jungler.
It is your task to gain an advantage over your opponent in CS, EXP and gold. The best way to achieve this is obviously (solo)killing your opponent as Darius scales extremely well with experience and a kill grants a lot of that, tower platings are very important to take, too.
If you fall behind you will have trouble being useful in teamfights unless your entire team is ahead, but don't fret it: you can still turn this game around by proccing your passive early in a fight.
If your lane opponent refuses to fight you, push towards them as slowly as possible to build up a big wave, then use this wave to either dive (with your jungler) your opponent, take turret plates (as your opponent will take a lot of minion damage hitting you) or roaming midlane/invading the jungle to get vision control, kill the enemy jungler or midlaner or to secure Rift Herald.
It is your task to push out the sidelanes and rotate to group with your team for objectives such as towers, dragons or heralds/barons at this time. If you got ahead during early game, you should be able to secure priority by pushing the lanes far out making it less significant that your opponent might have TP since you are going to be at the hotspots first.
If you are behind you will be facing difficult times as you still have to keep up in exp in order to keep up in damage but since you will get pushed in you will have trouble rotating in time. Try to draw an opponent to your lane by pushing it out or group with your team and abuse number advantages in order to get back into the game. A single reset can make you relevant again in the right circumstances.
All you are looking for is getting your passive procced as soon as possible. Darius can easily demolish a backline with a Q Flash powered by his passive into multiple dunks if given the chance. However you have to play around your summoners at all times.
Also do not forget that you are not a true tank. Even with the Stoneplate Sterak's combo you have to be careful not to take unneeded damage and the healthier you are gaining Noxian Might the more potential you have to turn around the fight.
Depending on your follow up your Flash hooks can have devestating consequences for your team, but it will also limit your potential of carrying teamfights yourself for the next 5 minutes.
The later the game goes, the more items will have the potential to ruin your impact: Spellshields such as Edge of Night ir Banshee's Veil make it harder to hook, Q or Ult people, Guardian Angel stops your reset, Zhonya's Hourglass stalls your damage for 2,5 seconds, Sterak's Gage and Phantom Dancer can eat up your dunk's damage etc. Besides the fact that everyone dies much faster, so not only will you have less time to abuse yournpassive but you also have fewer opportunities to even proc it.
Keep in mind that Darius needs his summoners to function both inside and outside of lane and even with Ghost and Flash you might have difficulties.
Onetricking Darius can be challenging as he is not the greatest blind pick and gets banned or picked quite frequently especially in lower elo, so you will have to rely on other champions.
20/03/20 TP section edited
22/03/20 Section about Corrupting Potion reworked because of Mana nerfs.
01/04/20 Matchups that use BORK slightly altered, Blade of the Ruined King and Death's Dance item discussion changed
05/04/20 Phase Rush buffs taken into consideration
15/04/20 HoB section reworked since it actually got better for Darius, Wukong matchup added, Sett and Urgot matchup slightly altered
23/04/20 Added Vayne, Heimerdinger, Jarvan IV and Shyvana matchup
29/04/20 Patch 10.9 didn't change anything remarkable - Wukong "nerfs" won't bring him down from top tier, Lissandra Q buff might make her viable top and mid again
13/05/20 Patch 10.10 is barely worth a mention. Small Rhaast nerf, Soraka might become a nuisance again, Kled got a tiny bit weaker early game, Maokai got a tiny slap on the wrist, Diana got a placebo nerf. Bork is still broken.
29/05/20 Patch 10.11 hit and does not change much. Vayne got buffed (also in the sololane) so good luck laning against her. Volibear got reworked, I have yet to see how good he is. Zeal items got buffed in terms of movement speed but they aren't really worth to be picked up for Darius. Bork is still not nerfed, so most match ups are basically rush tabis bramble into TF Steraks. Next patch will have huge implications with Ghost rework, Unflinching buff and Approach velocity rework, but it's only on PBE for now.
25/06/20 Skipping 10.12 and going right into 10.13. Conqueror nerfs didn't shake up Darius' build since it is still the optimal rune to run. Predator is meh, Unflinching usable, new Ghost makes Nimbus Cloak not a 100% must-take but it's still Nimbus Cloak. New Volibear is terrorizing the rift and Darius does not like playing against him, match-up has yet to be added though. Lucian, Gnar, Ryze buffs are super not fun for Darius. Yuumi seems to be gone though.
08/07/20 Patch 10.14 Ghost is better, Wukong and Volibear got a tiny bit weaker, Predator is still garbage for Darius, Riven matchup got more difficult because of Riven buffs.
14/07/20 Death's Dance is a thing you can buy.
22/07/20 Patch 10.15 grants Shen a stronger early game through a buffed shield, Ornn's base armor got nerfed and makes him squishier early, Unsealed Spellbook nerfed which makes Kennen weaker, but no direkt changes for Darius.
01/08/20 Disclaimer changed.
05/08/20 Patch 10.16 makes the Jax matchup much harder as the window to punish Jax is now even narrower; 14 seconds CD on E means he can go for trades early more often. Same for Fiora with her x-th consecutive buff in a row getting a stronger early game again.
Nimbus Cloak got nerfed a bit, but is still the superior choice unless you absolutely need Bone Plating/Second Wind and/or Unflinching.
23/08/20 Patch 10.17 barely changed anything.
02/09/20 Patch 10.18 nerfing Shen's shield by 10 instead of his damage doesn't do anything, Sett is now forced into AD heavy builds to keep up in damage making the matchup even more snowbally, Kayle changes make it harder for her to sustain.
16/09/20 Tiny Patch 10.19 introduces Samira, Akali nerfs ruins her waveclear but won't change her kill threat, Irelia buffs won't change the laning matchup, Lucian's nerf will facilitate the fact that this champion can meleeform anything from level 1 onwards.
30/09/20 No notable changes from Patch 10.20.
14/10/20 Nimbus Cloak nerf weakens Darius' sticking potential and Resolve tree becomes therefore more appealing. Camille nerf makes it a bit easier to duel her as she will be lacking a bit of attack speed at later levels but she is still the undisputed queen of top lane right now, Hecarim nerf is placebo as well.