Aatrox Build Guide by iZeal
[Patch 11.20] iZeal's Aatrox compendium
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Runes: Standard Conqueror (defensive)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+8 ability haste
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Ability Order Every game
Threats & Synergies
Bait out her Q, be aware of her E, if you hit her with W in her shroud you can auto her and murder her. Rush Hexdrinker or be prepared to get 1shot at level 6. Electrocute possible rune choice. You can shut her down in teamfights hard but be wary of her sidelane pressure.
She is better early and late game than you. Her first few levels are very strong, dodge her W so she has issues sustaining. Try to force her E with your W, don't trade into her shield. Around Level 5 or 6 and with first or second back you start beating her even in an all-in as your ultimate is much stronger. Abuse her as much as possible by poking with Q1 and Q2 while holding Q3 for when she E's into you, but be aware of her insane jungle gank setup. You lose once she gets items. Do not use your Q3 when she has ultimate up unless she is locked into her E jump or when you can combo it with your W pull or else she will use her ultimate to dodge it. Grasp possible.
He has no way of dodging your Qs or Ws. Don't let him sustain and dodge his Qs. While he becomes incredibly tanky and disruptive later on, you can always catch him out. Be aware of your cooldowns while silenced and buffer your abilities so your Q doesn't run out.
Respect his all-in. You can poke him safely with Q1. If he rushes armor, it gets much harder. Q1 is safe, but if you don't space Q2 perfectly, he can pull you even if you E away. In that case it is better to save your E for a Q3 while doding his Q. If he misses his E this is your time to harass him as it has a huge cooldown early on and he also runs oom after 3 Qs. Disrupt him in teamfights and don't let him stack up his passive on you.
Grasp makes this matchup easier. Respect her early level 1 and 2, look for trades after Level 4. If you ever use your Q while your E is down and her W is up, you risk getting all-inned and blowing your flash or dying. Reset disadvantageous vitals by walking out of vision, protect vitals by standing next to walls especially when getting ulted by her. If she holds her W for your Q3, do not use it as it is the easiest for her to hit you even if you E away. Pay the Fiora tax of Bramble Vest and Ninja Tabis. You will get outscaled in the sidelane, but your teamfight presence is much better than hers. Abuse the fact that she needs 3 component items to compete with you (Tiamat for waveclear, Lifesteal for sustain and anti-heal for all-ins), before she gets that you can use the items she is lacking to your advantage.
Respect his early game and don't eat his passive autos. Bait his barrels and dodge them with your E. Look for Ws for strong trading or all-ins. Trading Q1s for his Q is favorable if you don't take more damage from his barrels.
Poke him down, respect Mega Gnar. Don't overextend or you will get kited. Try to bait his jump without using your W for forced flash or kill. Electrocute possible.
He has a huge hitbox so it's almost impossible to miss him with your Qs. Play around his W cooldown and be careful as he can 100-0 you if you do not itemize defensively. Ninja Tabis and going tanky early is advisable. If he uses Phase Rush he can 100-0 you at Level 6 by ulting onto you with Ignite.
Very hard matchup. Fight her when she doesn't have stacks, dodge her E or she gets to dodge your Qs as she jumps behind you. Once she has vamp scepter poking her becomes useless since she heals for a lot of damage. Unlike Fiora she can 100-0 you under tower with 5 stacks and her ultimate. Banworthy.
Be careful of his Level 2 rush. If you get behind Jax, you will suffer the entire rest of the game. If you get ahead, you can make him pay for every CS he wants to take. Take Bone Plating and play around it to endure early all ins as Jax players tend to all in you on sight so poking them down becomes difficult. Your W cooldown is gigantic compared to his E (14) and Q (8) and even if you hit it he might be able to disengage from it with Time Warp Tonic's movement speed buff. Either push him under tower and harass him while he tries to lasthit or freeze the wave in front of your tower to eliminate his ability to run you down. In teamfights aim to peel him from your carries as he can't itemize against knockups and every interrupt significantly reduces his damage and leaves your carries opportunities to kite him. Grasp possible.
If he goes Phase Rush you will have big problems hitting your combo on him as he will try to jump onto you whenever you hit your W. He has strong early game pressure and a lot of burst but is very suscetible to ganks. Use Electrocute for stronger trading patterns and dodge his EQ combos. Try to hit him with Q1 W and then attempt to interrupt his Melee Q with Q2 E backwards for a good combo.
Respect her early damage, though you can kill her if she makes a mistake since her only mobility is movement speed increasing shields that you can stop in their tracks with your knockups.
Mostly a punching bag until Level 6 unless she gets to build up her passive stacks before you get to lane, after that you have to pick your fights more carefully. She has a deceptively small hurtbox meaning skillshots might look like they hit her but don't. Her W movement speed also allows her to walk out of your W. Hold your Q3 when she has ultimate up.
He wins early game, but you start beating him after gaining levels in your Q and items. You have to hit Q1 into W into Q2 with your E to confirm your Q3 or else he will E out of every single one since it's on a 10 second CD as opposed to your 26 CD W. Electrocute is very helpful in this mtachup and you might want to consider rushing Death's Dance after Kindlegem.
Dodge his Qs or suffer 60% healing reduction. He has the ability to beat you throughout the game, but his teamfighting is weaker if you CC him. If he demounts you have to have 2 Qs left to deal enough damage to kill him or he will just remount during that time and kill you instead.
Respect his early damage. Do not get poked by his Q. If you hit CC on him while he ults, it gets cancelled. Going tank or electrocute allows you to whittle him down, but as he is prone to rushing lifesteal you will have to burst him.
One of the easiest to play counters to Aatrox. While you might be able to smack Malphite around in the early game, once he has gotten like 1 component you will start to deal negative damage to this guy while he can go full defensive and still deal 2/3rds of your health in a combo after level 6. Because of his insane armor numbers you won't heal for anything which means you can't even outsustain him.
Very mana hungry early so you can just permapush him in and there is little he can do. Later on he becomes much harder to deal with since he shrugs off your damage with his passive sustain and has insane teamfighting capabilities. Be aware that his W can dodge your Q3 easily and his Q can displace your knock up sweet spot. Once he has bramble trading becomes more difficult, so you might want to just push him into tower so he has to exhaust his mana if you can't fight him anymore.
Aatrox has to play without mistake to take on Mordekaiser or else he will get autoattacked to death. Mordekaiser's Q matches yours in range but locks him in place for an easy combo. Dodge his E so he can't extend the trades. Try to use your ultimate after he uses his so he doesn't steal additional stats. You won't win extended fights and Mordekaiser can rush armor to nullify your impact but your relentless pressure can still poke him down over time.
Slap him around until he gets too big and you regret your life choices. Then remember that it's still Nasus so you can CC him during fights and let your team murder him for you. Stridebreaker gives you a 3 second slow to combat his Wither chase potential.
Pre 6 you can poke him down without him being able to do much unless you are overextended. Try not to burst him down to low hp but instead use your Q3 to kill him so he cannot abuse his passive and W to lifesteal. After 6 you have to respect his ultimate since you can't CC him during it. When he doesn't have it up, he is a sitting duck to your combos though.
Do not get hit by his Q or else he will hit his entire combo. Back off when he Ws you so he can't auto you for extra damage. Remember that his W makes him unstoppable so he can't be pulled by your W. Push him in so he has to waste mana farming, then disrupt champions during teamfights.
Poppy has one of the strongest early games out of all tanks. Never stand next to walls or you will get chunked, be wary of Grasp passive autos. Bombard her with Qs to sustain and get Black Cleaver asap. Do not Q3 into her or she will use her W and ground you (instead consider using Flash to kill her). Back off when she gets her shield or she might E into a minion to close the gap and q spam you.
Do not get poked down, try to cancel her E by using your Q2 while she is caught by your W and she has to flash or die. Soften her up with Q1 and E.
Trade before he gets to level 3. Use Bone Plating. If you CC him during his E and cancel his E1 you can get a huge trade. If you have Bone Plating you can trade against his empowered W, without it you get chunked too much. Kite him as much as possible and abuse the long E cooldown, though be mindful that he can sustain off minions and you can only heal by dealing damage to champions, so never get low enough to die to his all in combo. Your Q1 outranges most of what he can do. If he E's in, W him immediately so he has to choose whether he wants to extend the trade and potentially eat your entire combo or not.
Riven outscales you heavily, but during the laning phase you can put up a good fight. She has 4 abilities to get out of your W, but your Q1 and Q2 outrange her by a large amount so that she has to shield a lot of this damage to avoid getting poked down. You will need 2 rotations to kill her while she can 80-0 you in a 1,5 second stun combo so always stay topped up and do not underestimate her burst.
Respect his early damage, but once you gain a couple of levels you can jump at him at any point since his Q is around the range of your Q1 and Q2E. His W movement speed is his only mobility so if you catch him without it he will have trouble escaping your W pull. Rumble will proceed to suck in sidelanes and is relegated to teamfights later on in the game while you can fulfill both roles.
Do not ever fist fight him for prolonged times especially once he finishes his Blade of the ruined King. Abuse your superior range and his long W cooldown, dodge his E and watch him suffer as he can't reach you. Your sustain is superior and he is easy to gank or run down when he makes a mistake. Kite until your abilities come back up even if he is at low hp since his DPS is way higher than your pitiful excuses of auto attacks.
It's very hard for Shen to punish you since your sustain is incredible and Shen has to blow E to get onto you making him susceptible to a full combo into disengage. Don't be afraid later on when you have enough cooldown reduction to extend the trades since Shen's burst is impressive, but your healing will allow you to deal with his DPS unless he is too far ahead. Do not let him pull his sword through you and dodge his E as this will leave him with no way of closing the gap any further, try to bait out his W by cancelling your passive auto attack since it blocks all the healing from it completely.
Pre 6 this lane is easy, but after 6 she will ult at you and all in you everytime. You don't win, especially once she starts to build tanky. You can still try to wait out her dragon form though and punish her after or kite her during it.
Poke him down and don't get flipped. No mobility still means he has huge issues evading your combo, just don't chase him.
You have 4 ways to interrupt his main source of damage, his Q. It's extremely hard for Sion to do anything against you until he gets tons of armor and even then you will make it impossible for him to apply meaningful CC.
Get Executioner's Calling and punish him for his shitty laning phase. Remember that he only has 1 untargeted dash with which he can evade your W while his W is too short by itself and also puts him into your Q3 range.
He is very fast making it hard for him to get pulled by your W and forces you to blow your E to get reliable Q hits. If he does get pulled, he basically gets 1shot though.
He boasts a lot of sustain and if he gets ahead he will towerdive you relentlessly. Do not overextend vs him and force his ultimate as fast as possible. In teamfights you make him useless, so just make sure he never gets in the position to dive you. Respect his Level 1 and 2 and proceed to keep your distance from Level 3 onwards, abusing your CC to keep the trades short and in your favour. E'ing into Tryndamere can be devastating if he takes the chance to all in so keep it mostly for disengage.
Don't get flipped or you die. Urgot's level 1 is insanely strong, but he lacks powerspikes until Level 9 afterwards. Your Q1 outranges him, be careful of his powerarmored E though since he can time it to dash through CC. Keep poking him down until you can burst him. He scales much better than you though so even if he is behind Level 13 will make him able to destroy you if you let him in range.
You match his sustain, you deal way more damage than him from early to mid and he has to use dodge your W with his pool or proc Phase rush or else he gets dragged into an undodgeable Q3. Just don't eat empowered Qs and you are fine.
Do not let him touch you or you lose 50% of your health. Abuse his E cooldown for favorable trades, but keep your distance and don't let him use empowered Ws on you - Q3 should only be used in cases where Volibear cannot commit to any more fighting and you should almost never E in. It is very hard to towerdive him, but he can towerdive you with ease since his ultimate deactivates your tower and his burst is around 50% of your max health at any point until mid to late game. In teamfights however you can assist your team in kiting him with your CC.
Bone Plating is key. Your W reveals his W, he will just like Jax try to jump at you whenever his E is off cooldown so make sure to retaliate with Q1 into Q2 with a backwards E and wait for his passive to fall off. Once he has Blade of the Ruined King you have to be careful since unless you burst him he will outsustain you. Using your Q3 while his W is up can be harshly punished by him so don't use it or predict the way he is going to dash.
Dodge his E. Your Q deals almost no damage to his Maiden and his Ghouls. Becomes almots impossible to win later on since Yorick gets insane base stats and just runs you down. Your impact in teamfights is still respectable though.
Respect his Level 1 and 2. After that you are literally the better Darkin. Combo him, outsustain him, laugh at him since he uses mana. Get Executioner's Calling once he becomes Rhaast, though his power level will increase by a huge amount and his teamfighting presence can be insane depending on your teamcomp. Just keep him away from you with the range of your Q1 and Q2 so he cannot use his Q damage.
New Mundo is an even easier matchup than old Mundo was as he doesn't even scale better. His passive basically reads "Aatrox' Q sweetspots deal 7% of current health bonus damage", you can always disengage when he presses W and his ultimate just doesn't heal as much over time as it used to, allowing you to engage into any extended fight without care. Get Grievous Wounds, don't eat free Qs and make his life a living hell, as Mundo does not enjoy getting CCed in teamfights either.
Dodge every Q and E thrown at you, abuse the fact that she cannot move during her Q and E by hitting her with a Q of your own, respect the fact her ultimate allows her to deal huge amounts of damage and just slowly chip away at her. If she hits her E, walk away and rethink how you are using your E. Illaoi is strong against champions who commit into melee range which Aatrox does not necessarily have to, so only all-in her once you have softened her up enough. Executioner's Calling rush can help at mitigating clutch healing from her tentacles.
Get your jungler or midlaner to permagank her. If you miss a single ability she will punish you heavily or even outright kill you.
While it is definitely possible to kill Vayne in lane she will have the possibility to outplay you in a 1v1 the entire game since her W guarantees her unitemizable damage and her Q and ultimate facilitate dodging your skillshots.
Get early bramble vest, don't trade autos with him as he deals more damage and has very good sustain on minions. Your poke will become meaningless later on but with anti-heal you should be able to burst him in all-ins after level 6.
He has insane sustain so get early anti-healing, stay behind minions to not get hit by Q, bait E by walking in and out of range. He can pretty much always disengage with Ult so try to bait him in to use it for kills. If he Ws onto minions he doesn't gain shields and it goes on a long cooldown, punish him during that time since he has a hard time getting out of your W or Q sweetspots.
Probably best to ban her until the champion gets nerfed. Do not fight her level 1 at all and rather preserve your health, get Executioner's Calling as soon as possible and don't commit to long trades, rather poke her down and try to dodge the middle of her Qs. After 6 you have to be insanely careful as she can chase you down with ultimate easily. Remember her W grants her insane amounts of armor so even if you are inside the area your damage will be handicapped for the duration. Even if you stomp her in lane she outscales you hard and she always has a teamfighting presence due to her W.
Champion Build Guide
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.
However, 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. 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.
Aatrox is considered to be a mechanically demanding champion as his damage is reliant on hitting 4 different types of skillshost while having to reposition 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.
+ 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 as well as dashes and therefore you can cut down enemy champions' dps and mobility 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 randomly thrown-together solo queue team compositions.
- 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.
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.
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 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 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 highly recommended.
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.
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.
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.
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 36 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 9% 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.
Overheal: While it sounds interesting, Triumph 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.
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 have no mana.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Dark Harvest: Questionable rune for Aatrox. Maybe okay for ARAM.
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.
Cheap Shot: While you can proc it, there are much better alternatives in this row.
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.
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.
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.
Ghost Poro: The Ghost poro can help with vision and gives you a little utility.
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: Starts with no omnivamp anymore. When stacked up, it is okay, but since you are a toplaner you cannot reliably stack it up every game and therefore it might remain completely useless.
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.
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.
Ultimate Hunter: Your ult is on a very low cooldown anyway and you will be building a ton of cooldown reduction.
Summon Aery: No.
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].
Phase Rush: You cannot abuse movement speed during your long animations from your Q, so do not bother with this.
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.
Transcendence: Grants 5 ability haste at level 5, another 5 at 8 and also reduces your basic abilities' cooldown on takedown. Use it with the ability haste rune shard when you run an Eclipse setup.
Celerity: Movement speed is still meh on Aatrox compared to almost any other melee champion.
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: 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.
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.
Guardian: Unusable in a solo lane.
Demolish: Aatrox' tower damage is miniscule, this rune however helps you get tower platings to snowball your leads and... demolishes towers even later on.
Font of Life: No.
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. 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
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 great and the lower you are the better. Very good for stacking stronger heals (such as Conqueror, Ravenous Hunter or Spirit Visage).
Unflinching: If you do not spec into the Precision tree or really want the attack speed from Legend: Alacrity this might be the only way to get tenacity besides building Mercury's Treads. Slow resistance can be kind of useful.
Situationally very good, otherwise mediocre
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.
Unsealed Spellbook: Aatrox doesn't synergize much with summoner spells besides Flash, so do not bother with this.
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.
Hextech Flashtraption: Aatrox can already traverse terrain on a tiny CD, this rune is not needed.
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.
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
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.
Biscuit Delivery: You have no mana and if you want sustain, then take Second Wind or Taste of Blood.
Cosmic Insight: It only offers item and summoner spell haste
Probably the worst rune in this tree now.
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.
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.
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.
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 Goredrinker so buy it as the second component.
Ironspike Whip: This item offers the old Tiamat active and AD and allows you to gain 2 Conqueror stacks, though should mostly be built last since it doesn't offer any survivability.
Phage: This item offers you anything you could ask for: great for both sustaining, poking and all-inning. And the build path is very easy as well. Get this as your first component for Goredrinker in lanes you are not completely stomping.
Boots: Always helpful, but it depends on the matchup whether you need to get them early and even upgrade them to T2 boots or if you get them after completing your mythic item.
Executioner's Calling: This is your greatest bane, but it also helps you deal with champions that rely on healing themselves (e.g. Sylas). It now also builds into a more suiting item called Chempunk Chainsword so it's not a complete burden late game.
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.
With Season 11 comes a new batch of items called "mythic". You can only build a single mythic item, so choose wisely. Mythic items also come with a passive that grants every completed legendary (e.g. non-mythic) item extra stats. Therefore you should be completing your mythic item by no later than 2nd item, but most prefer to rush them anyway.
Goredrinker: This is the standard mythic item for Aatrox. It grants you everything you wanted: AD, even more AD while you are low, a heal active that scales with your AD and missing health and grants you 2 Conqueror stacks and its mythic item passive grants you ability haste. Take this item if you are playing vs a lot of melee or low ranged champions so you can guarantuee to hit multiple people with its active.
Stridebreaker: Patch 11.13 removed this item's mini dash but increased the strength of the slow and its stats. A 3 second 40% slow grants you an easy setup for a guaranteed W as well as basically your entire Q rotation making Aatrox one of the best users of the new Stridebreaker.
Eclipse: While it offers interesting stats and passives, you won't gain any ability haste while building this item. It does offer you stronger snowballing vs squishy champions but decreases your teamfighting ability as it doesn't even have the defensive utility of Death's Dance. Keep in mind that Eclipse's passive damage only grants extra Black Cleaver stacks when you DO NOT hit the opponent with two The Darkin Blade charges. Arcane Comet basically guarantees you to proc the 2-hit passive.
The mythic item passive grants you 4% armor penetration per completed legendary item which is pretty neat.
Divine Sunderer: Basically the continuation of the old S10 TF build except % max hp based. Only really works well against HP stacking champions so far and in those cases you might as well go for Goredrinker since you can heal for way more not being reliant on dealing damage.
Grants 5% armor and magic penetration per completed legendary item.
Sterak's Gage: This item right now is pretty much the best defensive bruiser item in the game allowing you to actually do stuff in teamfights before getting blown up. The shield has been changed to now be reliable and it will always proc when you hit 30% of your max health which conveniently is a sweet spot for Last Stand, Revitalize and Goredrinker giving you a little bit of options whether you want to immediately heal yourself with the Goredrinker active or dish out boosted damage. You also heal for a certain % of your health for hitting or getting hit by unique opponents. By far the best rush item after Goredrinker.
Situational armor items:
Death's Dance: The ultimate king of S10 defensive item is now solely an anti-AD item and should be treated as such. It now competes with Guardian Angel but should win out with this item in most cases. 3rd or 4th item for the most part. Still a good purchase vs AD-heavy and lifesteal heavy teams.
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.
Situational magic resistance items:
Spirit Visage: Ability haste, 25% increased healing and shielding, 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 and synergizes well with your two core itesm Goredrinker and Sterak's Gage. Also MR basically is nonexistant in S11 so be thankful there is at least 1 semi-good item. 3rd, 4th or 5th item.
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.
Abyssal Mask Since Patch 11.10 it now offers 15% damage increase for 5 seconds if you immobilize (knock up, stun, displacement etc.) a champion, making it an interesting choice as more damage also means more healing. While it does not offer you any ability haste, the increased damage potential for not just yourself but your entire team can easily outweigh the healing you would receive from Spirit Visage when the enemy team has already upgraded to 60% grievous wounds.
Situational offensive items:
Ravenous Hydra: The new Hydra offers omnivamp and increased AoE damage output coupled with Haste and a bunch of AD but no defensiveness. While it can be built when you are snowballing it's generally not needed.
Black Cleaver: This item offers the best build path in the game for Aatrox and with the recent buffs from 11.5 it almost went back to its former place of pre S11. It is now a viable option as a 2nd or 3rd item into armor heavy comps but it still competes with Sterak's Gage and usually you won't be able to use its offensive power as you will be lacking the old S10 Death's Dance physical and magic damage delay.
Youmuu's Ghostblade: Not too interesting anymore ever since it lost its ability haste.
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.
Serylda's Grudge: When snowballing you can solidify your damage by purchasing this item as it grants you immense offensive power against armor stacking opponents as well as a slow on every single one of your abilities (making your Qs easier to hit and your W more likely to pull back) and easily outperforms Black Cleaver as Aatrox is horrible at stacking it up. If you are behind though or the only frontline, you might want to reconsider as you will get blown up without additional defensive stats that items such as Sterak's Gage provide.
Plated Steelcaps: 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: 20 ability haste and 10 summoner spell haste does not compete with the might of defensive boots (unless you want to go for Eclipse but not Transcendence). Only useful when you snowballed out of control and don't have to care about what you are building or they somehow neither have auto attackers nor CC that can be reduced by tenacity.
Boots of Swiftness: Not that great on Aatrox.
Berserker's Greaves: You do not need attack speed.
Mobility Boots: 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 a Bami's Cinder mythic item and Grasp of the Undying.
Dead Man's Plate: The worst armor item, only usable by roaming supports right now.
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.
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: If you get resets with this item you can teamwipe, if you don't it's just a worse Eclipse.
Trinity Force: Aatrox gets a lot of use out of Base AD but this item became even more AA-focused making it less desirable.
Sanguine Blade: If you did not go for Eclipse but still want some form of vamp (physical in this case) and lethality, then take this item. It's mostly useful while splitpushing though.
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 a respectable 20 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% (Aatrox' ultimate World Ender brings this up to 26/32/38/44/50% in addition to the 30-60% heal increase) of the non-periodic damage you deal to enemy champions with NO AoE penalty (unlike Ravenous Hydra for example). What non-periodic means is basically every damage over time does not heal you (such as Sunfire Aegis' 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) by keeping your mouse as close to Aatrox' current position as possible.
R 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 (30-60% depending on ult rank) as well as increased healing from E ( 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.
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.
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.
Around level 7-9 you will be 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 ability haste, 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.
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.
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.
He is getting picked up by a lot of pro and high elo players again as a balanced allrounder that can be blindpicked. While it will take a while to get used to his playstyle he is a champion that is very fun to play and is basically never a bad pick for your team making him a strong addition to any top lane champion pool.
05/08/20 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.
06/08/20 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.
02/09/20 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.
16/09/20 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.
30/09/20 Aatrox' Ult received a buff to its healing amp going up from 60% to 75% and 70% to 100% at rank 2 and 3 respectively. While it going to have a positive impact on Aatrox' performance it will mostly be due to the insane Triumph procs you will get later into the game as opposed to the healing you receive from your damage dealt since Aatrox still falls off a cliff. Besides that no notable changes for the toplane except for Maokai's q base damage getting reverted to pre-buff state.
14/10/20 Camille nerf won't change the matchup at all, Hecarim nerf doesn't hurt his 100-0 potential too much either, the Nimbus Cloak nerf is definitely appreciated though since it's making Blue smite junglers inescapable.
31/12/20 First update for preseason in preparation for S11. A lot of the item and build section has changed.
11/01/21 Season 11's first patch nerfs Goredrinker (it remains the best option for Aatrox nonthelesse) and buffs Grievous Wound duration from 2 to 3 seconds. Ionian Boots of Lucidity now offer 20 ability haste instead of 15 and may be interesting for anyone not willing to go Transcendence/CDR shards while building Eclipse to gain early AH.
22/01/21 And there goes the Aatrox ult healing buff. This stings as Aatrox tends to stack up a lot of healing items and runes in S11 (such as Triumph, Goredrinker, DD, Sterak's etc.) and now he is back to basically having to deal damage in order to heal.
This adjustment (or rather nerf) will make Aatrox a lot less reliable as a frontline since you won't be able to just goredrink yourself as easily.
03/02/21 Patch 11.3 hits Aatrox hard considering his core itemization in Goredrinker and Sterak's got nerfed hard and the bruiser class can't really adapt to other build paths since Cleaver sucks and you get blown up too quickly.
18/02/21 Patch 11.4 buffs Grievous wounds items, Tryndamere and Fiora. Camille nerfs won't really make a dent, Renekton got his sustain off minions reduced. Added Stridebreaker as another meta option that is actually preferable over Goredrinker in many instances as mythic item.
03/03/21 Patch 11.5 buffs Cleaver by almost granting it pre S11 stats. It's still worse, costs 100g more than it used to and its new old movement speed passive is still worse than its old one as Aatrox struggles stacking it. Stridebreaker "change" gives you even more range and repositioning.
30/04/21 Over the last few patches the only interesting choice for Aatrox is a slight Death's Dance buff that makes the item a bit more desirable than Guardian Angel while still remaining a snowball option and mostly outclassed by Thornmail as well as a Ravenous Hunter nerf making domination secondary very undesirable.
12/05/21 Abyssal Mask added, Goredrinker stronger. Phase Rush nerf is a buff to Aatrox. Added Gwen, Lee Sin and Viego matchup.
27/05/21 Divine Sunderer and Cleaver buff make the items better, but they are still not the go-to. Bramble Vest nerf is both a blessing in matchups where your opponent buys it, but also weakens the much needed purchase against matchups such as Fiora or Irelia.
12/06/21 Patch 11.12 has no significant changes, small nerfs to Gnar and Wu won't change the matchup. New Mundo has even less of a fighting chance since Aatrox Q will just end up dealing extra damage because of his new passive.
28/06/21 Stridebreaker and new Mundo matchup added.
12/07/21 Irelia rework in Patch 11.14 shouldn't affect Aatrox mains too much since she was permaban before anyway. Stridebreaker nerf shifts the focus back to Goredrinker as core mythic.
22/09/21 Aatrox' patch 11.19 buff for his W is huge considering it is the last skill he is maxing and also the combo piece that allows you to actually get your 3rd Q to hit on anyone who is not willing to fight you. Update on Serylda's Grudge, Unflinching, Abyssal Mask.