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Xerath Build Guide by TigerJesus

Solo Queue Xerath - Now with added Enthusiasm!!

Solo Queue Xerath - Now with added Enthusiasm!!

Updated on July 10, 2012
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League of Legends Build Guide Author TigerJesus Build Guide By TigerJesus 34 10 108,013 Views 43 Comments
34 10 108,013 Views 43 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author TigerJesus Xerath Build Guide By TigerJesus Updated on July 10, 2012
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Greetings fellow summoners! and welcome to my guide on Xerath - the magus ascendant! I see a lot of Xerath guides out there going full "glass cannon" under the reasoning that Xerath's role is to nuke from afar and avoid damage altogether. Now, that's great and all, but this guide is geared more towards solo queue play, when you can't always count on your team to protect you.

I'm not normally the kind of guy who picks up new champs on day one, but as luck would have it, I happened to have a spare 7000 IP on the day of Xerath's release. I've always been partial to casters so I thought I'd give him a shot. So far I've found Xerath to be fun to play, easy to learn, and with a lot of potential for new or alternative strategies.

I'm not claiming to be a pro Xerath player, i'm still learning and experimenting with him just like everyone else. What I've included in this guide is the builds, strategies, and tips that I've found to be most efficient and effective during my time with The Magus Ascendant. What I hope to accomplish with this guide is to offer some suggestions different from what I've seen in other guides, and give new Xerath players the knowledge they need to get a hold on this fun and unique champion.

That being said, this is my first published guide on Mobafire, so it may not appear as aesthetically pleasing as some more professionally made guides out there. If you choose to downvote, all i ask is that you leave a comment explaining your reasons and perhaps offering some constructive criticism. Go easy on me I have a fragile ego XD
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Pros and Cons!


  • Awesome Range
  • Built in Magic Penetration (MPen)
  • Great Area of Effect (AoE) damage
  • Great Poker
  • Short Cooldowns
  • Decent Farmer
  • Good passive
  • Fast auto-attacks make last-hitting easy
  • His /joke is a Powerthirst reference
  • Looks like a boss


  • Mana Hungry
  • Vulnerable to ganks if not careful
  • Focused in team fights
  • Requires knowledge of positioning
  • Somewhat squishy depending on build
  • Easily countered by certain champs
  • Skins are lame
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  • - More magic penetration = MOAR DAMAGE! These are hands down the best marks for any caster. They also synergize quite well with locus of power
  • greater seal of replenishment - Xerath is pretty mana hungry early on. These help.
  • - Adds a bit more burst to Xerath's burst. Works well with ascended form too.
  • - A little extra early game power never goes amiss.

Alternative Runes

  • - I understand Mp/5 seals may not be necessary with Doran's Ring and Tear of the Goddess so a good option is to swap them out for some more HP.
  • - If you can't afford or don't like the HP seals but also find the Mp/5 seals unnecessary this is another, cheaper option. You may also choose to use armor per level seals as you'll probably be facing another ap carry mid so armor isn't so vital.
  • - Xerath's short cooldowns mean he doesn't need CDR but it's always very welcome on any caster. I used to have these in the core build but PsiGuard suggested ap/level glyphs and whaddayaknow he was on to something!
  • - Much cheaper than flat CDR glyphs, but less useful early game.
  • - Many people swear by these quints. Definitely useful for early game survivability
  • - Between these, your marks, masteries, and locus of power, youre going to be hitting near true damage early on.
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Masteries! *Reworked*

MPen, a bit of CDR, and tons of damage! Don't forget to pick up Summoner's Wrath for improved ignite.

Throw the other 9 points into the defense tree for a good chunk of early game hp. Take MR over armor as you're most likely to face another AP carry mid, not to mention it tends to be more expensive.
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Summoner Spells! *Reworked*


- Everyone's favorite all-purpose summoner. Great for escapes, dodges, ganks, initiating, and re-positioning. Xerath lacks an effective escape mechanism, this is it.

- Always great for shutting down healing champs ( Vladimir, Warwick, Dr. Mundo) but more often for securing those early game kills. Xerath is powerful very early on. With this, it's not hard to score First Blood at level 2 or 3.

Viable Alternatives

- I almost put this in the recommended build in place of ignite, it has many more uses and is valuable all game. Use it in the laning phase to recall and get back to lane without missing a beat (or a creep kill). Or pay a nice visit to a side lane with a surprise gank! Use it late game to defend towers or quickly get to where the action is.

- Is one escape spell not enough? Are you getting caught with your pants down in hostile territory? Pop ghost and GTFO! Even more tempting with the nerf to flash in season two.

Bad Choices

- I've seen this on other Xerath guides, but I really don't agree with this choice. You're not going to want to be in range to use it, and the only thing i can see it being really useful for on Xerath is escaping/nerfing dangerous melee champs; in which case, take Ghost instead.

- Not going to deny the usefulness of this spell. In fact, every team should have it. But leave it for the support; you've got a different job to do.

- A simple answer to Xerath's myriad mana issues. Personally, I find items to be a much more effective solution

- This spell was all but useless after the first 10 minutes of the game, but with the season two rework it has been greatly improved. However, it's still not ideal for Xerath.

- Want to push your lane, overextend, and get ganked? Then by all means take this spell to the mid lane.
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Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

ascended form
Passive - ascended form: 15% of Xerath's ability power is converted into bonus armor. Definitely not the worst passive out there. This should be enough to cover all your armor needs unless you're up against a heavy AD team.

  • Along with his range, this makes Xerath probably the best candidate for a "glass cannon" champ.

Q - Arcanopulse: This is Xerath's basic harass/ farm/ damage/ poke ability. It's a wide-range, short-delay skillshot on a brief cooldown (think finales funkeln's little brother). Max it first and spam it often.

  • Try to lead or anticipate the movement of your target as there is a slight delay on this skillshot
  • Don't be afraid to use this to last hit, its on a short cooldown and can take out entire creep waves in 2 shots.
  • This skill goes through minions and does equal damage to everything it hits, try to include your lane opponent in the blast.
  • This makes Xerath one of the best additions you can have for a level 1 teamfight over jungle buffs. If you have an aggressive jungler, talk to your team about trying to steal blue buff.

Locus of Power
W - locus of power: This is Xerath's defining ability, it's what gives him the crazy range and magic penetration that sets him apart from other casters. It also makes him immobile. You'll max this last. I used to max it after Arcanopulse, but most champs don't have enough MR early on to make it worthwhile. Don't forget you also get MPen from your runes, masteries, and boots as well. You're better off putting the points into a damage spell.
EDIT: through more playtesting, I have decided that the reduced cooldowns for this spell are important for teamfights, I now try to have at least 3 points in this spell around the time teamfights start but still max it last.

  • You can line up a skillshot while setting up locus of power
  • This skill is FREE, there's no reason not to abuse it in combination with your Q and E
  • With the range from this ability, you can easily gank side lanes without even leaving the river bush!
  • Watch carefully for signs of a gank when using this skill, it can leave you quite vulnerable.

mage chains
E - mage chains: A single target spell that allows for a quick follow-up stun. Put one point in this at level 2 and max it after Arcanopulse. This is Xerath's best built-in defense mechanism.

  • Use E>Q for a quick stun harass and dont be afraid to throw in a couple auto attacks while youre at it.
  • If you're having trouble landing Arcanopulse, keep in mind that Arcane Barrage will also proc the stun.
  • Try binding this to a SmartCast key for faster casting. If you don't know how to do this, it's in the options menu under "key bindings". I suggest practicing in a bots/custom game if you've never used it before.

R - Arcane Barrage: Xerath's ultimate allows him to call down 3 delayed, AoE, skillshot nukes. Level 6 is when most casters start to get truly dangerous. Xerath is no different. You'll obviously want to max this as soon as possible.

  • As with Arcanopulse, there is a delay with this skill. Try to anticipate movement and compensate for it.
  • Binding this to SmartCast will allow you to fire all 3 shots in quick succession. HIGHLY recommended.
  • As with Lux's ultimate, this is on a fairly short cooldown. Don't be afraid to use it at every opportunity.

Skill Priority Summary: R>Q>E>W

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Recommended Items!

Xerath has a bit of a slow start and as mentioned, is mana hungry early on. Doran's Ring is a great solution to his early game weaknesses.

This is a favorite of mine as for only 995 gp it pretty much eliminates the mana problems on even the hungriest of casters. Even better on Xerath as his spells are quite spammable.

Grab Boots right after you finish the Tear of the Goddess but wait to upgrade them until after you finish Rylai's Crystal Scepter.

This is your first main item. I know it sounds strange to start with a Rylai's, but think about it, you've got all your mana from the Tear of the Goddess. What do you need now? survivability and ability power. This item gives plenty of both and a nice passive slow to make sure they stay in range for your full rotation. (also helps with landing those skillshots)

With this, you're going to make the enemy team wish they were still in the laning phase. The amount of AoE damage you can rain down in a team fight is borderline godlike. Also gives 27 armor thanks to your passive!
NOTE: Ok so I've been playing Xerath some more and as I've gotten better, i've become comfortable building this before Rylai's Crystal Scepter, and let me tell you, the damage I put out at that level could slay an aurochs. However, I still recommend the original build for new xerath players as it provides important survivability earlier.

Time to finish what that Tear of the Goddess started. You should have built up quite a bit of mana from the passive and with an extra 30% boost from Rabadon's Deathcap, this should be a good addition to your damage.

Catalyst the Protector
Into the late game, you might find that the 500 hp from Rylai's Crystal Scepter just isn't cutting it anymore. Pick up a Catalyst to help put some flesh on those bones (or lack thereof). Oh, and the added mana will give you a bit more AP with Archangel's Staff

So you've got HP, plenty of mana, and a whole boatload of AP. What do you need now? MOAR AP! Oh, and some cooldown reduction. An all around great caster item and at a very reasonable price.

Your final item (you sold Doran's Ring right?) is the one and only Banshee's Veil! More health, more mana, some magic resist to balance out your defenses, and that wonderful passive we all know and love. By this point i'm sure your enemies have figured out where all that damage is coming from, and they're probably going to want to get revenge on that squishy mage hiding in the back. Take this and don't make it easy on them.

Note: You may want to get Banshee's Veil before Morello's Evil Tome or even Archangel's Staff depending on your needs. Remember this is a GUIDE, not step-by-step instructions. Adapt your build accordingly.
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Optional/Alternative Items!

With plenty of mana, hp, and ap, this makes a great first item for any caster. This would replace Rylai's Crystal Scepter in the core build. I would also suggest not building Tear of the Goddess if you rush this; your early game damage would suffer far too much.

If you're going up against a heavy AD team and the armor boost from your passive just isn't enough, this is a great pick. Also grants 20% CDR and a hefty 500 mana which synergizes quite well with Archangel's Staff. This would replace Morello's Evil Tome and/or Banshee's Veil in the core build.

Not a fan of Morello's Evil Tome? Want your cooldown reduction earlier rather than later? Pick these up and spam away my friend.

Between Archaic Knowledge , Greater Mark of Magic Penetration, Sorcerer's Shoes, and Locus of Power, you're going to have a ridiculous 73.5% magic penetration! Now, I haven't done the math here but it seems to me that for this item to be really worthwhile your enemies would have to have insane amounts of magic resist. I include it here as an optional due to its popularity.

More armor, a hefty 100 ap, and a beautiful active. Not included in the core build because Xerath isnt one of those mages that should be in the middle of the action anyways. Still, this thing is a life saver.

Definitely not a bad choice, I've used this in quite a few games with success. I don't include it in the core build for much the same reasons as Zhonya's, which is that its meant more for the type of mage who needs to get in close and be able to take some damage. Your goal with Xerath is to not take that damage in the first place. However, Xerath's high damage output does make this a very viable and useful item. Ideally another AP champ on your team will take it instead.

What's nice about this item is that it scales with AP, which Xerath builds a lot of. This is a good choice against health stacking tanks or if you feel your burst is a little lacking. If you know you're going to build this get Kage's lucky pick early on for the Gold per 5. The downside of this item is that you always want to use it first in your combo to get the most use out of it, but Xerath doesn't like being close enough to enemies to use this. Anyways, its an option.

Stomping their team down are you? Pick this up and really rub in the humiliation. I wouldn't recommend this though as it's too risky for most games and will give the enemy team another reason to focus you. But if you're sure you can get your stacks up and keep them, you'll be rewarded with a very powerful item at a very cheap price.

Quite a powerful new item, and a good fit for Xerath. It gives great mana regen, a heapload of AP, and some nice MR to balance out Xerath's defenses. I've even been considering working it into the main build.
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Laning Phase!


Xerath's playstyle may be different from other casters, but he's still an AP carry. You'll want to be solo mid lane to get farm and xp as quickly as possible. With my Runes and Masteries and a Doran's Ring, Arcanopulse can hit pretty hard right from the start. Your focus at this point is on last hitting, but lane domination starts at level 1. Even without Locus of Power, Xerath's abilities have pretty good range.

When you hit level 2, immediately start using your E>Q combo for quick stun-harass, and don't be afraid to throw in some auto attacks while they're immobilized. You'd be surprised at what a difference they can make at such low levels. Many people underestimate Xerath's early power, and I've played quite a few games where I got a First Blood at level 3 with E>Q combos, auto attacks, and Ignite.

One thing that sets Arcanopulse apart from most other skillshots is that it goes through minions and has a wide range, dealing equal damage to every target it hits. When using it to last hit or push the lane, try to position yourself so that you catch your lane opponent in the blast as well. Remember to use Locus of Power to increase the damage you do with each ability; it is free after all. Basically, the idea is to get the most out of every cast.

Quick Tip: Ask your jungler for the blue buff as often as possible. Xerath with an early blue is a scarily powerful thing.


If you're unfamiliar with zoning, it's basically the practice of harassing and pushing your opponent away from the minions, and thus denying them XP and gold. Winning your lane is as much about denying your opponent farm as it is making sure you get your own. Luckily, Xerath's range makes him a naturally good zoner.

Everytime the enemy moves to last-hit, send an Arcanopulse their way. They'll be forced to either dodge the attack and miss the creep kill, or take the damage. Repeat this often and your opponent will have to either recall often, losing out on xp and gold, as well as leaving their tower vulnerable, or spend all their money on health pots just to stay in lane. That, or they might resort to tower-hugging, which still won't protect them from Locus of Power =]

Now, you're not going to be able to easily dominate every mid-lane champ that comes your way, some of them will gladly trade your blows with their own and come out on top. But, just as Xerath's range lets him zone others easily, it also makes him very difficult to zone. If you're having a lot of trouble with the enemy champ, just stay back and use Locus of Power + Arcanopulse to last hit. If the enemy moves in for a combo, send a quick E>Q their way and walk away.


A good mid-lane champ finds time between farming, zoning, and pushing to help out the side lanes with a good ol' fashioned gank from time to time. You'll want to start ganking after level 6, when your burst really picks up. Good times to gank are right after you either kill your lane opponent or make them recall. Use Locus of Power and Arcanopulse to quickly push out your lane, and head out to whichever side lane looks to be more ripe for the ganking. Remember to ping and tell your allies that you're coming for a gank so they'll be prepared when you get there, you don't want to spend too much time away from your lane.

Head to the river bush and wait until an unsuspecting soul comes within range. If they immediately retreat back to their tower, the bush is probably warded. If this is the case, just return to lane. If not, set up Locus of Power, and use the combo E>Q>R>R>R>Q. Or, if the target is close enough, you can lead with Q, then E>R>R>R>Q. You lose the instant surprise stun, but this combo makes it easier to ensure they'll still be in range by the time your Q comes off cooldown again. It's also easier to proc the stun with Arcane Barrage than with Arcanopulse. If your teammates do their fair share, or if your target was at less than full health, this should be a guaranteed kill. If the target flashes away before you can finish them, don't fret. They just used a 255 sec cooldown ability to escape your 70 second cooldown ultimate. They won't be so lucky next time ;) This is one of the great things about Xerath, he can pull off successful ganks without even leaving the river bush!


  • Spam harass (W>E>Q OR Q>W>E>Q)
  • Gank often
  • Blue buff es muy bueno
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Mid/Late Game and Team Fights!

The end of the laning phase is usually marked by the destruction of 1-2 towers, allowing the champs from that lane to start roaming and assisting/ganking other lanes. By this time, you should have a good amount of CS and hopefully a few kills under your belt. Being a squishy AP carry with limited defensive/escape options, you need to start being very careful at this point in the game. Ask your team to help keep up on warding, and never, ever, go past the river by yourself if any of the enemy team is MIA. Your first priority should be staying alive. When a team fight inevitably does start, you're going to want to be there for it.


Team fights are where Xerath's high amounts of MPen and AoE damage really start to show. It's also where the importance of positioning really comes into play. Try to find a place that's not too far from the action, but not so close as to put yourself in danger of being focused or easily jumped on by an enemy assassin. Setting up Locus of Power inside a bush and/or on the other side of a wall is optimal. Finding the right time and place to activate LoP can be very tricky and requires quite a bit of practice, as the initial push-and-pull of a teamfight can mean that the bulk of the action occurs either outside of your range or, even worse, brings dangerous champs right to you.

Making the best use of your main damage source, Arcanopulse, adds another factor. Remember that it fires in a wide, straight line, doing equal damage to everything it touches. Naturally, the best position is one that will allow you to hit most, if not all, of the enemy team with each shot.

Depending on the location, team composition, how well each team is doing, etc., you may need to prioritize one aspect of your positioning over another. If your tank cant seem to stop Jax from pushing through to jump on you, you will want to find a safe place farther from the action and gap-closing melee champs. If Kassadin Riftwalks in from a bush while the rest of your team is 100 yards away engaging the rest of his team, you might want to stick close to a beefier member of your team in the future.

There won't always be a 'perfect spot' in every team fight. Adapt your playstyle to the game just as you would your item build. But don't take too long choosing a location; if your team is all but dead by the time you fire off your first Arcanopulse, your positioning won't matter worth ****.


Your first target in a teamfight, as always, should be the enemy carry. Xerath's range and burst means he can rather easily kill squishies who think theyre safe hiding behind their tank. Even if you don't kill them outright, if you do enough damage they'll be forced to retreat, tilting the teamfight that much more into your favor.

That being said, if the enemy ranged carry is standing in the back, but the rest of his team are closely packed together, you should instead choose to drop Arcane Barrage on the bulk of the team, rather than a single target. Just like in the laning phase, always try to get the most out of every cast.


  • STAY ALIVE. Do not wander alone!
  • Find good positioning to wreak havoc on the enemy team from long range
  • Adapt to the game!
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Problem Solving!

League of Legends is all about countering your opponents and adapting your build/playstyle on the fly. Here are some pretty perplexing Problems you might face and their sometimes simple Solutions.

Problem: You escape a teamfight by the skin of your scrotum and jump in a bush to pop the blue pill. Suddenly, a strange sound reaches your ears: a far off Karthus laughs maniacally as a red glow appears above your head.


Problem: Both teams are strafing anxiously in the mid lane waiting for someone to start a team fight. You set up locus of power to take some cheap shots at the enemy from a safe distance when out of the fog of war comes an Enchanted Crystal Arrow hurtling towards you at breakneck speeds. Behind it run five crazed champions, frothing at the mouth; wild, hungry looks in their eyes. They're more beast than man, and they come for your blood.


Problem: Malzahar and Warwick keep jumping on you and keeping you pinned down for a solid 4 seconds and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. Meanwhile, Mordekaiser sees this happening and decides he'd like a pet Xerath to follow him around and do his bidding, so he throws in Children of the Grave just for ***** and giggles.

Solution: OR

Problem: Okay, so the enemy team isn't as dumb as you thought, and has decided they don't take too kindly to yellow bellied cowards standing in the back raining death down upon them. They've taken to focusing you down before you have time to so much as scratch your ***!

Solution: OR

Problem: Leona and Amumu are doggedly pursuing you, tossing out stuns and snares like candy from a windowless van while Sunfire Aegis and Despair slowly whittle away at your health.

Solution: OR AND/OR

Problem: It's the laning phase, you're focused on farming up all those little creeps and, with the exception of throwing out a little playful harass every 4 seconds, minding your own business. but everytime you set up locus of power, that blind ******* Lee Sin throws a Sonic Wave at you and comes flying out of the bush like a crazed badger to pound you into the dirt.

Solution: sight ward and sight ward and sight ward

Problem: So you've learned your lesson, and one or both of your river bushes are faithfully warded. It's just you and the creeps, happily farming up that Needlessly Large Rod with not a jungler to be seen for miles. Or anyone for that matter. Wait a minute... a wild Shaco appears! And he brought Twitch and Evelynn!

Solution: OR

Problem: Brand has been aggressively zoning you all day long. Everytime you move to last hit a creep, a red-orange circle appears beneath your feet and you're forced to abandon the creep kill or take a Pillar of Flame to your "undercarriage". You're not a first time Xerath and you've tried setting up locus of power to farm from a distance, but then Brand just does a flash+combo for the kill! Needless to say, by mid-game you find yourself dangerously under farmed.

Solution: Kage's Lucky Pick AND/OR philosopher's stone
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Coming Soon to a Xerath Guide Near You!

  • Laning/Farming Tips and Strategies! Done!
  • Team Fight Strategies! Done!
  • Hall of Fame Scoreboards!
  • Champion Match-ups!
  • Them Fancy Moving Pictures!
  • Some Form of Coherency!
  • BAD Summoner Spells!
  • BAD Item Choices!
  • And Much, Much, More! (probably not)
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Special Thanks!

Just wanted to take some time to extend some big thank yous to everyone who helped me make this guide what it is:
  • First and foremost, I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to check out my guide, especially those who took the extra step to vote or leave positive or constructive comments!
  • Thanks to JhoiJhoi and PsiGuard for reviewing my guide, offering helpful suggestions, and writing a glowing review here, which no doubt brought many of you to this guide!
  • Another special thanks to JhoiJhoi for writing this must-read guide, without which, myself and many other guide-makers would be completely lost.
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Changelog! (starting 10/29)

10/29/11 - Added WotA and Deathfire Grasp to optional items. Changed recommended glyphs.
10/31/11 - Added Special Thanks section. Various small tweaks.
11/2/11 - Switched Archangel's and Morello's in the core build. Added more optional runes.
11/13/11 - Updates coming soon with Summoner Spell/Mastery changes in season 2!

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide