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Xin Zhao Build Guide by Nerosyth

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Nerosyth

Sound the march!

Nerosyth Last updated on March 12, 2014
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Jungle Role
Ranked #2 in
Jungle Role
Win 52%
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 22

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 8


Utility: 0

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Introduction to this guide.

Greetings, this is my first guide on league of legends and this is going to be covering Xin Zhao.
I had tremendous success with my favourite builds and would really recommend them to both rookies and people looking to improve overall gameplay with xin either in normals or ranked gameplay.
Without further due, let's get started.

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Why dagger start and not hunter's machete/5 pots?

For a simple reason. Hunter's Machete gives you 5 hp per autoattack and thus every three autoattacks will heal for 15 hp. Xin's Battle Cry heals for 26 hp every three autoattacks.
Now you might say that you should be adding that to the 15 hp from machete for 41 hp every three autoattacks, but the way I see it, without my attack speed runes/dagger start, you'll be attacking much slower than if you started with dagger/attack speed glyphs. With that in mind, the difference between the two options DOES account for at least 2 heals in the time it takes for three autoattacks to land for the traditional build, so multiply 26 hp by 2, and you get 52 hp.
So when you heal 52 hp in the time it takes you to heal 41 hp with Hunter's Machete, it becomes clearer that sustain-wise, the Dagger is better.

And FURTHERMORE, the increased attack speed is going to have you clearing jungle camps much faster than the traditional build, despite the increased attack damage to monsters from Hunter's Machete. You'll usually finish the second buff faster than the other jungler will, and you will thus gank sooner than he will.
Take note, however, that Hunter's Machete / 5 pots is the standard build for other jungling champions. Xin Zhao makes an exception here to me because he relies on autoattacks for sustain early, much like Aatrox if you've ever played with him/against him.

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Champion matchups

Coming straight from lolking's famous feature, I shall display how Xin Zhao matches up to a lot of potential junglers. The ratings I will use are mainly three : Easy (green) , medium (orange) and hard (red)

Aatrox : Medium Great duelist, and a not-so-bad ganker. He has the highest sustain in the entire game. You do not want to fight this guy unless you have Executioner's Calling . Of course pay attention to his resource bar since the colour indicates when his Blood Well is available or not.

Amumu : Easy Although a great ganker, he has the big weakness of invasions , STEAL HIS BLUE BUFF and he'll not be a threat whatsoever, since he's so dependent on it He is a pretty weak duelist, he will not usually consider dueling a xin zhao 1v1 unless he catches you on very low hp or something. Counter jungling this guy should not be a problem either.

Darius : Medium King of 1v1s frankly, he is going to give you a hard time despite your attack speed and cc. He does rely on his blue buff so make sure to steal that, or at least deny him that. In his ganks he relies heavily on his Apprehend to successfully kill someone, so anyone spotting him a fair distance away with a sight ward is going to be fairly safe.

Diana : Easy Close to zero 1v1 potential early in the game, compared to you. Ganking pre-lvl 6 as diana is a joke. After 6 though, it becomes a problem to deal with her ganks if she lands a Crescent Strike on her target. In a 1v1 you win even if she lands everything on you.
Also relies on her blue early game. You know the drill, do not be afraid of counterjungling her.

Dr. Mundo : Hard What a pain, harasses like a boss and laughs at you if you try to kill him. You cannot kill him without Executioner's Calling , It really works wonders on mundo and other heavy-sustain champions. If he lands Infected Cleavers you're going to have a bad time, his ganking is pretty much bad since the only thing he has for cc is a narrow-hitbox slow.

Elise : Medium Great all-around kit, her weakness is extended fights.
She doesn't rely on her blue too much, like you. Ganking power is amazing too, the range of that Rappel is a lot. This really is more of a skill matchup, if you can dodge her Cocoon stun, you'll be fine pretty much, however, if she does land it you'll lose a lot of hp. Work your way around that.

Evelynn : Easy Unless she's super-fed she's not going to be a problem in a 1v1. Counter jungle this widow. While she does have the annoying Shadow Walk feature, her ganks aren't that powerful because she has no hard cc, she's just going to spam Hate Spikes at everything she sees mostly lol. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THAT SHIELD. If she hits several champions with her Agony's Embrace that shield will be hard to take down.

Fiddlesticks : Easy Easy as hell. His most recent changes got him weaker in the sense that his Terrify now makes you run away from him instead of in random directions.
Just save your Three Talon Strike for when his Drain and it's an easy 1v1. His Crowstorm is scary especially if he has Zhonya's Hourglass, so have your team spread out until it's finished. Then immediately jump him and kill him.

Hecarim : Easy Very reliant on his crest of the ancient golem . So if you deny him that with a successful invade he's going to struggle massively. His ganking is not to be taken lightly though, take note that he can move while he's snared with his Devastating Charge if he's close enough to you.
His fear from his Onslaught of Shadows is meh, doesn't last that long. And he's not winning against you in 1v1 fights early game. But counter-jungling this guy isn't a good idea still. Be careful.

Jarvan IV : Easy Sucks in 1v1s unless he builds damage instead of tankiness. EXTREMELY RELIANT ON HIS BLUE BUFF. Seriously he has some of the most ridiculous mana costs alongside people like lissandra. You must counter jungle him early game. Have your lanes warded at all times, since his ganks are VERY scary especially with that Cataclysm.
Have your team spread out so his Golden Aegis doesn't gain much strength and he can't trap numerous people in his Cataclysm. His grandfather saved you from Noxian imprisonment, so you owe him.

Jax : EXTREMELY DIFFICULT If you see this guy you may as well surrender.
You cannot 1v1 him since his strength is extended fights. And he sticks to you like a sore throat. Even worse, he is not dependent on his blue and his teamfighting is superb (Given he lands his Counter Strike on more than one person) . Pretty much the hardest matchup for you.
His damage is a mix between physical and magical but he mainly deals physical damage, so prioritize some armor, particularly Randuin's Omen and Frozen Heart.
You have to shut him down pre-6, in 1v1s you can bait out that Counter Strike then dash away with your Audacious Charge, then jump back on him or a quick Three Talon Strike. Engaging in short bursts instead of one long fight is going to help you a lot. Or skip reading all of this and ban him lol.

Kha'Zix : Medium An assasin just like you, but with much less reliance on autoattacks. Neutral monsters in the jungle do not affect his isolated Taste Their Fear damage, so keep that in mind when fighting him. You will also have a better chance of winning vs him if you can dodge his Void Spike. He relies on getting kills constantly for his mobility, so you need to focus him in teamfights. Once you get your Blade of the Ruined King and Phantom Dancer you should win 1v1s with him.

Lee Sin : Medium Versatile jungler/top laner. An all-around kit just like Elise, but with a little less damage and a shield. His mobility can be scary, but is mainly dependent on his Resonating Strike, so if you can dodge that you can 1v1 him. The Tempest/ Cripple can be bad news for you early game since it can slow your attack speed a lot, and you don't have your items yet.
This is also a skill matchup mainly. Depends on who gets more successful ganks.
He will also usually start at his blessing of the lizard elder , so steal his crest of the ancient golem while you're at it to deny him experience/gold

Malphite : Difficult Another counter to autoattack-reliant champions like yourself. What he is going to do is stack up lots of armor, and that is bad news for you, especially if he gets Randuin's Omen or Frozen Heart. Average mana-hunger, stealing his blue is going to definitely help but not as much as you think. I'd definitely avoid fighting this rocky bastard. Try to counter gank since he does not deal much damage if he's going pure tank.

Master Yi : Easy Easy to 1v1 early game , particularly when you get your Blade of the Ruined King. Counter gank AND counter jungle this guy. You can disrupt his Meditate with a Three Talon Strike but I'd avoid saving it for that. In teamfights (Any stage of the game) He can become a threat, and you must time your Crescent Sweep correctly to push him back from your team. Otherwise he can kill people late game easily.

Morgana : Varying All her strength depends on landing her Dark Binding.
If you can dodge it it's goodnight for her. But if she lands it you're in for a lot of harass.
In teamfights her Soul Shackles is mediocre because it doesn't last for long. You can avoid it by pushing her away when she goes for it. Steal her crest of the ancient golem .

Nasus : Pretty Hard This dog's weakness is early game. However even if you try to engage him he'll just slow you to a crawl and laugh at you. He has zero dependence on his blue buff unless he needs to spam all of his skills. STAY AWAY FROM HIM DURING HIS Fury of the Sands.
He gains more ad per second your are close to him. If he builds lifesteal he is going to be impossible to 1v1 even with an Executioner's Calling. He can even turn a fight around at low hp by slowing you and then Spirit Fire to Siphoning Strike for massive lifesteal. Just avoid this guy altogether. He is like Darius in ganking, If you spot him a fair distance off, he's not a threat. Shut him down early game, or you will BECOME DUST.

Nautilus : Easy The king of cc. A hard initiator too. He will almost always go super tanky with more than one Warmog's Armor. His Titan's Wrath is extremely hard to take down because it scales with his hp and moreover, it lasts forever. He is pretty mana hungry though.
So stealing his crest of the ancient golem will give him a bad time like Amumu and Hecarim. He does suck in a 1v1 but avoid fighting him if he has either Randuin's Omen or Frozen Heart. You should knock him back whenever he tries to initiate and you'll be fine.

Nocturne : Medium It all revolves around the fact that if he blocks one of your Qs with his Shroud of Darkness you are screwed. Even if he doesn't you can lose if you're not careful. Get out of his Unspeakable Horror with your Audacious Charge. You can deny his Paranoia with Crescent Sweep if you're grouped up although you need some timing to prevent a death and turn the fight around.

Nunu : Who the hell invented this guy Ice Blast after Ice Blast after Ice Blast. It just doesn't end. His Visionary only accounts for one spell per fight. So if he chucks that Ice Blast at you and keeps fighting he may go out of mana. A Banshee's Veil is going to help a lot, since his Ice Blast is the only targeted ability he has. In teamfights you must prevent that Absolute Zero with your Q or even your own Crescent Sweep if necessary.
Forget about counter-jungling because of his Consume.

Pantheon : Baking beats spears? Without armor you are going to have a bad time 1v1 with this guy. Also you must not let him block your Three Talon Strike with his Aegis Protection or you're screwed. His ganking is mediocre, unless he uses a Grand Skyfall for it.

Rammus : Sonic. Fastest guy in the game. His ganking is extremely scary, however his dueling is extremely weak. COUNTER JUNGLE this guy like crazy. You cannot hope to counter gank him. You can also push him away from your team if he's getting close to an important target with his Powerball. Good luck catching this guy.

Rengar : Pain in the ***. Same thing with Pantheon. Without armor you're screwed.
He isn't as strong in extended fights, and when he uses his Thrill of the Hunt he will have to commit to the fight or run and most likely die. Ward the lanes' bushes and he's not getting anywhere near your laners pre-6. Avoid fighting him without armor.

Sejuani : Nautilus with damage Good luck escaping this boar. Builds extremely tanky and deals considerably good damage. One of the best initiation tools is that Glacial Prison. Like Malphite, counter ganking is effective since she's relying on her laner for the assist.

Shaco : Die laughing 99% of the time shaco will invade your jungle just because he can. He cannot do anything in extended fights. A good shaco is almost impossible to deal with. Keep your lanes warded at all times. A popular trick with shaco is that he'll bait you into walking into a brush when he's very low hp, only to find that he has 3 or so Jack In The Box's stacked up, these things will kill you by themselves if he's ap. Your Crescent Sweep doesn't help much either since you can't see him if he jumps :/ Removal of Oracle's Elixir made it difficult to deal with him (Unless you have a Twisted Fate in your team). Distinguish his clone from the real guy with your passive.

Shen : Medium Weak duelist, follow the same routine with Sejuani and Malphite.

Shyvana : My god She builds as tanky as shen but she deals a hell of a lot more damage, enough to kill. She will likely start at blessing of the lizard elder , take the chance to steal her crest of the ancient golem away and deny her some experience/gold early on. You can interrupt her mid-flight with a well timed third Three Talon Strike or knock her back before she reaches her target with your Crescent Sweep. Counter ganking/ counter jungling are both bad ideas.

Skarner : Piece of cake Quicksilver Sash / Mercurial Scimitar Both end his Impale, also his natural cdr is ruined with hard cc, and you have two of those.
Champions with a knockback ability will help an ally that is being dragged by skarner.
Get in front of skarner and use your Crescent Sweep to make sure he doesn't drag his target too far into his team.

Tryndamere : Mediocre Hard cc is your ticket to winning 1v1s with him. Especially early game. Ignite him 2 seconds after he activates his ultimate at 1 hp to ensure a kill. You can chase him easily, and you can keep him off your team with your Crescent Sweep.
The only reason this is rated as medium is because of his late game. Once he gets a few items he becomes extremely ridiculous with those crits. Fortunately you still have the edge if he doesn't have his ultimate, since you have 2.5 attack speed and Blade of the Ruined King active and enough lifesteal to win the fight.

Udyr : Ok Pretty mana hungry early game, deny his crest of the ancient golem and he will struggle. He is also vulnerable to kiting since he has no gap closers. You won't usually need to but you can keep him off your team if he's running way too fast with your Crescent Sweep.

Vi : Medium Unless you're building tanky, she's not going to be much of a problem, especially if you can dodge her Q. And if she goes tanky, your Blade of the Ruined King helps here.
However you cannot use your Crescent Sweep to deny her Assault and Battery. And her ganking is pretty strong. So work your way around counter jungling her (Even stealing her blue can annoy her a little).

Volibear : Varying Fun fact : Ignite almost completely negates his Chosen of the Storm at level 1. His damage comes from you being low hp, so if he catches you at low hp then goodbye. Otherwise you should win fights. Even more so Blade of the Ruined King counters his naturally tankiness.

Warwick : Meh Quicksilver Sash / Mercurial Scimitar negate his Infinite Duress and Executioner's Calling/ Ignite counter his sustain. Treat him like you would a Dr. Mundo.

Xin Zhao : You counter yourself Just sit down, have a cup of tea, talk about your childhood, your mother, anything.
It's funny how a champion counters himself. In this case, assassin xin needs to gap close to his target with his Audacious Charge to kill him, you also have the ability that denies your gap closer, your Crescent Sweep.
If the other xin goes tanky and you're going assassin, look for fights and counter gank him.
While xin is a strong initiator, either xin can deny the other with a Crescent Sweep. He's not dependent on either buff for damage. In a 1v1, if he sees you , that "I want to prove I'm better than you" feeling will kick in, and he'll jump at you without thinking. This is where you immediately retaliate with your Crescent Sweep, and jump to him with your Audacious Charge. This will give you the bonus armor and the max damage, so even if he ults when you jump back to him he will already have his Challenge on you from his initiation in the first place.
Chances are the other zhao could have taken the time to read this very guide himself, in that case grab a Jax and go cry in a corner.

Zac : Piece of cake You can use Ignite and Smite on the bloblets that he seperates into when he dies. You can crush the goo that seperates from him whenever he uses an ability by stepping on it. Your Three Talon Strike and your Crescent Sweep interrupt the charging of his Elastic Slingshot.
He needs to be very close to you to deal the majority of his damage, making kiting a viable strategy. His Cell Division has the very long cd of 5 minutes.

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Special mention for certain items' effectiveness on xin.

Sword of the Occult If you're feeling super confident vs the enemy jungler/team in general, this will grant you the biggest amount of ad (Surpassing even The Bloodthirster) , should you manage to get all 20 stacks. At then, you'll also increased movement speed to further improve your chasing/escaping.

Ravenous Hydra By all means, if you feel like you need more sustain to help win extended fights, grab this instead of your Infinity Edge.

Manamune/ Muramana WRONG. You are not mana hungry whatsoever, arguably the ad it gives is one of the highest when fully stacked, and you are a fast stacker due to your low cds. But just no. You are much better off with any of the six main items.

Wit's End/ Trinity Force/ Spirit Visage Any of these work very well with xin. Not bad for substitutes should you need the mr / passive from tri force.

Boots of any kind Your E gives you all the mobility you will ever need.... Also Zephyr and Phantom Dancer give you almost as much movement speed as Boots of Mobility.

Spirit of the Spectral Wraith/ Spirit of the Ancient Golem/ Spirit of the Elder Lizard Only grab one of these if you're falling behind. This entire guide is assuming you are able to get a few kills in the early game such that you won't need the gold from these. However, the gold from these is a great way to get back into a game nevertheless.

Maw of Malmortius/ Youmuu's Ghostblade Only if you need the passive should you get the maw,
Youmuu's Ghostblade can replace Last Whisper for the added cdr/crit chance/active.

Sword of the Divine Could be very effective on xin, can replace Zephyr, but keep in mind you will sacrifice the tenacity and the movement speed. Critical strikes do not factor the bonus damage from your Three Talon Strike as to prevent abuse, but that doesn't it's a bad item. By all means, get this.

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Jungling route

Blue buff > Wight > Wolves > Wraiths > GANK > Red > Golems > Wolves > Wight > Gank

You may find yourself needing to back between the first gank and the red buff.

Red Buff > Golems > Wraiths > Wolves > GANK > Blue > Wight > Wolves > Wraiths > Gank

Same deal.

Starting at either buff doesn't affect xin too much. But I prefer to start at blue for the increased cdr, so I can clear jungle and get to lvl 3 faster. But it's up to you, you can even come up with your own route there's no need to follow these specific ones, but these are just general guidelines for getting people started if they're new to jungling in general.

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Tanking as Xin

Xin Zhao's kit makes him an excellent initiator due to his Audacious Charge,
In addition to the cc from his Three Talon Strike and Crescent Sweep,
Crescent Sweep grants a lot of magic resist/armor if you manage to hit several champions with it, prolonging your survivability in big fights.
In details, Crescent Sweep grants you up to 125 armor/magic resist at level 3 if you manage to hit all five enemy champions!!! That is a hell of a lot. Couple that with pure tanky items you'll have close to 250 armor, so 375 armor will make the carries cry whenever they hit you.

Examples of a couple of tank builds is found alongside the assassin xin build(s) . Here I will mention a number of items , and their effectiveness on xin/against certain champions :

Warmog's Armor Any pure tank should really consider getting at least one of these, the passive alone is going to make a huge difference for the insane regeneration.

Banshee's Veil Against a team with heavy ap damage mainly, you can also consider getting this if an enemy ap carry is fed and the negated ability is probably going to affect his damage a lot, although, one blocked spell isn't going to make that much difference in general if you're initating since you'll soak up the damage. Highly recommended against Nunu and Veigar however.

Randuin's Omen / Frozen Heart You may need the slow from the omen just to affect the ad carries since most of them rely heavily on attack speed/autoattacks for damage.
Frozen Heart doesn't give the hp that omen gives but the armor difference/mana/cdr can be more beneficial if you find yourself having to use Crescent Sweep very often and the cdr from Three Talon Strike is not enough.

Overlord's Bloodmail Strictly for 3v3, It gives 850 hp, which is a lot. But lacks the regen of Warmog's Armor . Still a safe pick if you're up against champions with true damage such as Darius

Thornmail Most people get this if the ad carries are extremely fed.
However this is also a must if at least 4 champions in the enemy are mainly ad.

Zhonya's Hourglass Bad idea. Getting ap on xin isn't as bad as it sounds, but it's still bad nevertheless. The passive is not useful in any way since it will shift the enemy team's focus to your teammates that you're wanting to protect. Having you die is better than having THEM die.

Sunfire Cape Not as recommended but should you already have your core armor items built and still feel the need for more armor, then this isn't a bad option.

Twin Shadows Alongside Banshee's Veil and Spirit Visage you can consider getting this for further magic resist and the chasing potential from the active, because it's cheap and the ability power is the only non-beneficial stat.

Iceborn Gauntlet cdr and armor is nice, as well as the slow, You're paying too much for the beneficial stats only. You're better off getting Frozen Mallet or even Trinity Force .

Ohmwrecker Way too much gold to be paid for just 350 hp and the passive. No.

Dervish Blade Very nice addition to the build. Highly recommended in 3v3 or dominion against heavy ap damage.

Guardian Angel Only consider this against teams that are both ap and ad. Even then, do not get this early game because the value is low due to the extremely high cd on the passive.

The general rule of thumb is that if you see at least 2 champions clustered with your main target, go for the initiation, but just make sure you have a couple of teammates with you to ensure at least a kill. As a tanky jungler, you'll have to rely on your laner for the assist, if you get the kill instead of him and you're both alive it's bad. Later in big teamfights, do not panic if you see your carries locked down by their initiators. In that case, their carries are going to follow up thinking you'll run since they have the advantage. And of course, this is where you jump them and Crescent Sweep anyone nearby. It is also a safer option if you're losing a big fight to use Crescent Sweep to push the pursuers away. In fact, if you're all low hp, and it looks like a number of deaths, use Crescent Sweep immediately followed by an Audacious Charge. This is going to seem suicidal, but it is going to give your carries a chance of escape since they'll likely finish you off first since you're the easier target to kill. As I mentioned before, having YOU die, is better than having THEM die.

Consider taking Flash / Barrier instead of Ignite if you've decided to tank.

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Miscellaneous / About the author

That concludes the guide, I hope you enjoyed taking a different approach to jungling with Xin Zhao with this guide.

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING Before you start commenting negatively on the setups offered here, please TRY THEM FIRST. They might actually work for you as they did for me. In the end, everyone has his preferred builds.

Should a new idea come up for something to point out about xin zhao / jungling in general I'll make sure to update this guide with a few chapters. That's it for now. I play on the EUNE server under the summoner name "a random guy" , so make sure to add me if you wish to challenge me or something. See you on the fields of justice! ;)


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Updated the icons for each champion in the champion matchups and the items
in the special mentions.
Added the "Tanking as Xin" chapter. Added the pure tank and the off-tank builds.


Added the "Why dagger start" chapter. Updated the Miscellaneous chapter.