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Cho'Gath Build Guide by PsiGuard
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Hi, I'm PsiGuard and welcome to my Cho'Gath guide. I've been playing League of Legends since November 2010 in Season 1 and have been maining jungle since the start of Season 3. My top rank is Diamond III in solo queue. I have experience against Diamond, Master and Challenger players through solo queue, ranked teams and tournament games.
I've played Cho'Gath jungle off and on throughout the years. He's risen to prominence in a few metas and often has one of the best jungle clears, but his crowd control isn't consistent enough for him to remain a strong pick through various game changes. Currently he's quite strong after the reworks to Vorpal Spikes and Feast along with the introduction of Gargoyle Stoneplate, which allows him to one-shot squishy targets in team fights with his ultimate.
Before we begin, I'd like to give a big thank-you to Jovy for her awesome graphics and help with coding this guide (as well as my other guides). Be sure to check out some of her other work at her signature shop and her own guides!
About Cho'Gath /// Runes /// Spells /// Abilities
Ability Sequence /// Item Build /// Jungle Monsters
Warding /// Plants /// Jungle Routes /// Ganking
Wave Management /// Late Game /// Conclusion
Cho'Gath is very much a tank jungler. He has high threat from Feast, but apart from his ultimate he mostly provides utility from his crowd control spells and serves as an enormous damage soak for his teammates. His ganks are decent, but not always reliable, so Cho'Gath players may find themselves farming more often than some other junglers.
Cho'Gath's strength lies in his incredible defensive scaling and his single-target threat. Feast provides the dual benefits of large health boosts and high burst damage. When combined with a timely Gargoyle Stoneplate active, a late game Cho'Gath can have upwards of 12,000 HP with his ultimate dealing over 1700 true damage. This makes him pretty threatening in team fights if he can get close enough to the enemy backline, but it also gives him a lot of objective control. A Cho'Gath can tank baron for a long time and has a huge nuke to secure it with, making it almost impossible to steal epic monsters from him.
Cho'Gath's biggest weakness is his unreliable crowd control and low mobility. In terms of ganks, he's very much dependent on landing Rupture, which means he usually needs his teammates to set him up for an easy Q. If you don't have that setup, you may find it difficult to land any CC in ganks. In team fights you're more likely to knock some people up, but the damage on Cho'Gath's basic abilities, combined with their fairly long cooldowns, leaves him a bit less disruptive than many other tanks. A lot of power is in his ultimate, so when Cho'Gath's ult is on cooldown, he is much less threatening.
|Honestly most keystones kinda suck on jungle Cho'Gath. Grasp of the Undying is the most popular one at the moment, but I'm not a big fan of Grasp on junglers. I've tried Hail of Blades and it works well for early fights, but doesn't do much later in the game. Predator is a decent option and currently the rune I favor. With it, you can delay your Righteous Glory until after Warmog's Armor, which gives you more staying power on the map without sacrificing all your engage potential.|
|Cheap Shot is an effective rune early game and falls off later on. It's not amazing, but it's reliable and easily procced with Vorpal Spikes and/or Rupture. You can get multiple procs off in lengthy team fights so you'll still get decent value for the slot later in the game.|
|To be honest, I'm not 100% sure which of these runes is the best option at the moment, but for now my money's on Ghost Poro. You can place one in the enemy jungle and get some free stats for your early clear. The poro itself can be used to help track the enemy jungler and it has virtually no cooldown. Cho'Gath isn't super reliant on AP so I don't think Eyeball Collection is a high priority, and Zombie Ward's change in 8.14 seems pretty rough. I recommend trying out Ghost Poro for now.|
|One of the highest value runes for Cho'Gath. Permanently lowering your Feast cooldown allows you to stack it up more quickly and ensures you have it up for important fights and objectives. It's a little bit reliant on you pulling off successful ganks or skirmishes, but if you're able to get any kills early the CDR will start stacking up pretty quickly. Relentless Hunter and Ingenious Hunter (for Predator CDR) are both good as well but I find the ultimate cooldown is a lot more valuable.|
|Triumph is a pretty standard rune to run on ranks who spec into Precision. % health healing is really powerful if your team is able to get a couple kills in a fight. The bonus takedown gold is a nice plus as well. I actually don't recommend taking Presence of Mind here since a lot of your early Feast casts will be on monsters, so you won't actually get that much value out of the cooldown refund on takedown. Simply reducing the ability's cooldown with CDR is much more effective.|
|The attack speed from this rune plus the Precision path bonus helps a lot with your early clear. Even though it only starts at 3% AS, it's one of the few runes that actually helps clear the jungle. Later in the game, you'll be using the AS to get your Vorpal Spikes off more quickly, so it scales well too. Legend: Tenacity is another viable option if you're against a team with a lot of CC. Sometimes I'll run it against physical damage teams with CC since I'll want to buy Ninja Tabi and this is another source of tenacity besides Mercury's Treads.|
|This spell is essential for jungling, as it unlocks the jungle-only items which you need to keep up in experience. The spell is also essential for securing monster objectives like buff camps, dragon and baron. Building Stalker's Blade or Skirmisher's Sabre will also allow you to cast this spell on enemy champions.|
|Flash - This is a core spell on most champions in the game and Cho'Gath is no exception. In addition to the flexibility it adds by allowing you to dodge skillshots, hop walls and escape death, Cho'Gath can also use Flash in order to reach priority targets to burst with Feast. I recommend you take both Flash and Smite every game.|
|Whenever Cho'Gath kills a unit, he recovers 20 - 71 (+2.83 each level) Health and 3.5 - 7.75 Mana (+0.25 each level).|
This is a pretty straightforward passive that's mostly just used for sustain while jungling (or if you're laning with Cho'Gath, while laning!). You don't need to do anything special to make use of this in your clear, so just remember that it's there to help you out. Worth noting that this passive along with Vorpal Spikes' AoE gives Cho'Gath a very strong clear on the Raptors camp at level 1.
One thing to remember in combat is that you can last-hit a few minions or pets in order to gain some extra health or mana. Usually this is most useful when you're out of mana, so you last-hit a couple minions and get enough mana for a key spell.
|Ruptures the ground at target location. After a delay of 0.5 seconds, enemies are launched into the air for 1 second, dealt 80 / 135 / 190 / 245 / 300 (+100% of ability power) magic damage, and have their movement speed slowed by 60% for 1.5 seconds.|
This is probably one of the toughest CCs in the game to land. It's got a respectable AoE, but the cast time combined with the delay makes this spell super obvious and easy to dodge, especially if the enemy has vision of you. One way to increase the likelihood of you landing Rupture is to cast it when you're in fog of war (in a bush or over a wall), since the enemy will only have a half-second to react since they can't see your cast animation.
In your jungle clear, Rupture is useful early game for accelerating your clear and reducing the damage you receive by disabling enemy monsters. When possible, try to time Rupture so that it interrupts the monster's basic attack during the attack animation. This will give you the best results for your health sustain. Since a rank 1 Rupture deals more damage than a rank 1 Feral Scream, and it has CC, this is the ability you'll use if you don't have blue buff and need to conserve mana. If you're really low on mana, just use Vorpal Spikes and nothing else.
The easiest way to land this ability is to use it after an allied champion uses their own CC to slow or stop the target. Most CCs in the game are strong enough to prevent enemies from walking out of your Rupture, though if they're slowed, they may still Flash it or use another movement ability. Since this ability is a 1 second knockup plus a 1.5 second slow, you're very likely to kill your target if you chain your CC with your allies.
Remember that, like other knockups, you can use this ability to interrupt channels or dash abilities. Keep that in mind when playing against champions like Zac who have large, predictable dashes, since you can not only guarantee your CC lands, but even prevent the enemy from reaching your team.
|After 0.5 seconds, Cho'Gath screams in a cone in front of him, silencing enemies for 1.6 / 1.7 / 1.8 / 1.9 / 2 seconds and dealing 75 / 125 / 175 / 225 / 275 (+70% of ability power) magic damage.|
Feral Scream is much easier to land than Rupture, but isn't as rewarding. At rank 1 the damage is pretty low, so I recommend only using this against jungle monsters if you have blue buff to sustain your mana. Once you get more points in it, it starts dealing more respectable damage compared to Rupture, which will stay at rank 1.
While not completely reliable, Feral Scream can increase your chances of landing Rupture against champions with movement abilities, or simply Flash. At rank 1 the silence lasts long enough to immediately cast Rupture, leaving the enemy without a chance to use spells to dodge it. However, this doesn't prevent your target from just sidestepping the Rupture, so you may want to combine this with allied CC, Stalker's Blade's Chilling Smite, Righteous Glory's slow, or simply the slow from Vorpal Spikes.
If you're not familiar with Silence effects, it prevents enemy champions from casting any of their abilities, using activatable items, or using Flash and Teleport. This means the enemy jungler can Smite while silenced, so don't rely on that to secure objectives (you should be able to use Feast for that). There are a few abilities like Undying Rage and Remove Scurvy that can be cast through silences, some abilities remove silences, and the duration of the effect is reduced by tenacity.
Silences are useful against almost every champion but since this ability has a long cooldown, you'll need to decide how to prioritize it. In some games, you might want to save Feral Scream to combo with Rupture and lock up a priority target in the backline. In others, you should save it to shut down the Zed, Riven or LeBlanc that's threatening your carries. In other cases, you can just cast it to hit the maximum amount of enemies in a team fight. Use your head and prioritize which enemies are most important to silence before entering a team fight. Don't just press W as soon as someone's in range!
First thing to note about this ability is that it's an autoattack reset. This means if you autoattack, and then press E as soon as it completes, you'll attack twice in quick succession. You'll want to reset your autoattack pretty much every time you cast E, so get used to where the animation cuts off.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the cooldown starts when you finish your final attack, or once the buff expires. This means there's a big difference in DPS if you only manage to attack once or twice with your E active, since you'll be waiting the full duration of the buff and then the full duration of the cooldown. To maximize the up-time on this spell, you need to get your attacks off as quickly as possible.
The mana cost is 30 at all ranks, which is really really low. You'll want to be using Vorpal Spikes pretty much any time you're autoattacking, unless you're freezing a minion wave for your ally. Spam this as much as possible when clearing the jungle and make sure to cast it often in fights. We'll be maxing E first, so this is also your most reliable source of damage outside of Feast.
The slow on this spell is pretty decent, so it can help you set up Rupture and slow people down for your allies. Use Stalker's Blade's Chilling Smite to get close, then Vorpal Spikes to keep your target slowed. In team fights, you can hit multiple opponents for decent damage and a large AoE slow.
A nice feature of this ability is that the range is calculated from edge-to-edge. What this means is that when you're really big because of Feast, Gargoyle Stoneplate, Elixir of Iron and maybe even Lulu's Wild Growth, you'll be gaining a lot more range on your E spikes.
Using this ability in combat is pretty straightforward. If you can kill the target with Feast, you use it. If you can't, you chip away at them until they're low enough. The only reason to use Feast on a target you can't kill would be if they're about to get out of your range (but could die to an ally) or you're about to die. If an enemy's health is low enough that they will die from Feast, a ring of glowing red teeth appears underneath them.
The tricky part of this ability is managing the cooldown. You'll want to get your 6 stacks from minion and monsters while keeping the cooldown available for important ganks and fights. You'll also want to use Feast to last-hit epic monsters, both to secure them and for the free stack. Making the best use of your Feast cooldown is difficult and will require some practice. Here are some rough priorities to point you in the right direction:
- Use Feast to secure contested objectives (baron and dragon).
- Use Feast to kill enemy carries.
- Use Feast to kill other enemy champions if you can't get to the carries.
- Use Feast to gain stacks on uncontested epic monsters (they're uncapped!).
- Use Feast during downtime to farm up your 6 stacks from minions and non-epic monsters.
In order to properly combo Smite and Feast, you actually need to press R just before you cast Smite. Feast has a short cast time, so in order to minimize the gap between your Smite and ultimate, you need to cast Feast first. Just make sure you cast them pretty close together, otherwise you'll Feast too early and last-hit with Smite, leaving you without an extra stack. :(
Also since Feast and Smite are both true damage, you can very reliably know how much burst you can deal to an epic monster. Calculate your burst damage beforehand and use the combo above to secure the objective at a far higher health threshold than the enemy can steal. Remember, the base damage against non-champions is increased to 1000, so it'll be 1000 base plus however much damage you're getting from the bonus health scaling. Mouse over the ability to check that.
Like Vorpal Spikes, Feast's range is calculated edge-to-edge, which means your increased size gives you extra range on the ability! Make sure you're using Gargoyle Stoneplate and Elixir of Iron as they could provide enough range to reach your target with Feast.
You may want to take Rupture at level 1 to lock up enemies in level 1 invades, but if you're just starting by farming the jungle, take Vorpal Spikes.
The normal start is E, Q then W. Vorpal Spikes has the lowest cooldown and gives us the best jungle clear. Rupture is helpful at level 1 since it deals more damage and has a lower cooldown at rank 1 compared to W. It also knocks up monsters!. Take Feral Scream at level 3 so you have your full suite of abilities available should you need to gank or fight the enemy jungler. You can also spam W on camps if you have blue buff.
Vorpal Spikes is maxed first as it's the most reliable and lowest cooldown damage spell. Feral Scream is maxed next for the lower cooldown and higher silence duration. Again, it's also the next most reliable spell. Rupture can remain at rank 1 for a while, as it's the least likely spell to land and its crucial stats (crowd control and cooldown) aren't increased by rank.
As with most champions, put points into your ultimate whenever possible, at 6, 11 and 16.
|I recommend starting with Hunter's Talisman and Refillable Potion every game. Vorpal Spikes will proc Talisman on all targets hit and Refillable gives you some efficient health sustain should you take any damage in fights or early clear. Since we're running Resolve as our primary path, we'll have some bonus HP from our runes that'll give us the empowered Kindle passive right away at level one.|
|Switch to Oracle Lens when laning phase is ending and you need to clear vision around objectives. It's worth sacrificing vision for vision denial in the mid and late game. You'll want the oracle to increase the likelihood of getting picks on enemies and to control vision around dragon and baron. You can also switch earlier if you want more vision control to camp a lane harder. Be sure to keep buying Control Wards so you still contribute to your team's vision!|
|This is my preferred jungle item on Cho'Gath as it increases your chances of successfully landing Rupture or catching fleeing targets. Since Cho's early ganks are a little lacking in reliability, Stalker's Blade helps you have a more consistent impact on the early game. Later on, you can still use Chilling Smite to give you a better chance of getting in range to Feast your target.|
|Tabi are pretty much always a notable option on melee champions because virtually every game has an enemy Marksman who will become a major autoattack threat by late game. Ninja Tabi's passive provides a lot of effective health against autoattackers, especially later in the game when they'll likely deal the most damage of anyone in the game. If the enemy team has a lot of physical damage or not much CC, you'll likely want Tabi. You can even get Elixir of Iron late game to help make up for the lack of tenacity.|
|This should be a very obvious choice given the champion. Cho'Gath already gains a lot of bonus health from Feast, so those bonuses will be multiplied by Cinderhulk's passive. It's also a quick and easy source of damage for jungle clear and upgrades out of your starting item, so rushing this item is a no-brainer.|
|This is a perfect mix of stats for Cho'Gath in the early-mid-game. Not only are armor, health and CDR crucial stats in every game, but the active mitigates one of Cho'Gath's main problems. Instead of fishing for Rupture, you can just charge into the enemy team, slow them and then chomp on an enemy carry. I recommend buying this item every game, even if your team has good engage, purely because you need to walk into melee range to reliably threaten any targets.|
|Warmog's Armor ensures you can stay on the map despite any poke or team fight damage you take. Your huge health pool will become a massive problem for the enemy team since you'll be too tanky to kill in one all-in, but you also can't be chipped down. This item also gives CDR which is always useful.|
|You'll probably be buying a Thornmail most games as it's the perfect item for Cho'Gath to deal with enemy ADCs. By the final two items, Cho'Gath will already have a ton of health, so Thornmail's high armor value is a good complement to his stats. This also mitigates the effect of enemy lifesteal. The last thing you want is for the enemy ADC to just lifesteal off you for free (if you can't one-shot them with Feast) while you and your allies try in vain to kill them.|
|This is your best defense against critical strikes. Many ADCs will be building crit chance throughout the game, adn they're often your biggest threat by late game. If you need defense against a strong ADC and/or the enemy team has other crit champions (more Marksmen, Tryndamere, Yasuo etc.), consider buying this sometime after Warmog's Armor.|
|A decent armor item late game if you still need CDR. I sometimes sell Righteous Glory for this item if I'm sitting at 30% CDR and no longer need the speed to engage fights. This isn't as effective against critical strikes as Randuin's Omen, but it's a useful armor item in general and gives 20% CDR.|
|While it's a little situational, Adaptive Helm can be incredibly effective under the right circumstances. This item is the best counter to mages that are most able to kill you. The damage reduction is great against any mages with low cooldown spells ( ), damage-over-time effects ( ), multi-hit spells ( ), DoT AoEs ( ) and magic-empowered autoattacks ( ). Mages that don't have any of the above types of spells usually can't kill you, making Adaptive Helm usually the best option for personal defense against magic damage.|
|Stoneplate is a safe option that offers mixed defenses and a lot of extra survivability for team fights. Since Feast deals true damage, it won't be reduced if you use the Stoneplate active before casting R. Moreover, the increased bonus health you have during the active will fuel Feast's damage. If you can get in the middle of at least 3 enemies, use Stoneplate and then cast R, you can deal a ton of true damage late game. This makes Stoneplate a fantastic item on Cho'Gath if you don't need to rush more specialized defenses like Randuin's Omen or Adaptive Helm.|
Familiarize yourself with these spawn times and respawn timers so you know what to expect in-game. If you're already an experienced jungler, feel free to skip this section.
Dragon (Elementals & Elder)|
Spawns At: 2:20
Respawn Time: 6:00
Elder Dragon Spawns: After 35:00
Elder Dragon Respawn: 10:00
Spawns At: 20:00
Respawn Time: 7:00
Plants are stationary, neutral units with 1 health. They can be destroyed with a basic attack to trigger an effect. Three different types of plants will spawn in the jungle and river. Their spawn timers and locations vary slightly but for the most part they are fairly predictable. The first spawn locations for all plants are predetermined.
First inner cone spawn: 1:15 - 1:25|
First outer cone spawn: 5:00 - 5:30
Inner cone respawn time: 5 - 7 minutes
Outer cone respawn time: 5.5 - 6.5 minutes
- Knocks away nearby units (including the attacker) when destroyed — even over walls.
- Blast Cones spawn in two spots per jungle quadrant, an inner point toward the center of the quadrant, and an outer point near Baron/Dragon.
First spawn: 3:00 - 3:30, always at each quadrant’s spawn point nearest to the side lanes|
Next spawn time: 5 - 6.5 minutes at either spawn point, starting once a given quadrant's Scryer's Bloom is destroyed
- When destroyed, releases vision-granting pollen in a large cone that flies in the direction the attacker was facing, revealing units and wards for 12 seconds (3 seconds on champions).
- Scryer's Bloom can spawn in two spots per jungle quadrant, close to river ramps.
- Only one Scryer's Bloom can be present per quadrant.
First spawn: 6:00 - 6:30 minutes|
Respawn time: 5.5 - 7 minutes
- Drops 5 fruits on the ground when killed.
- Each fruit heals for 3.5% of max health or 8 (+6 per level) flat health, whichever is higher.
- Eating a fruit slows you for 35% for 0.25 seconds.
- Honeyfruit spawn along river walls, starting near Dragon or Baron pits and slowly extending closer toward lanes over the course of the game.
- If a Honeyfruit isn't taken before its respawn timer completes, a second Honeyfruit may spawn. No more than two Honeyfruits can exist per half of the river.
As a jungler, you have the most agency when it comes to traversing the map to place down vision, especially in the enemy jungle. When it's safe to do so, try to place deep wards to keep track of the enemy jungler.
Placing a Control Ward near lane-dominant allies will help them avoid ganks from the enemy jungler and free up a path for future ganks from you. You can also use a Control Ward to check a bush you're waiting in to make sure it's clear (if you don't have an Oracle Lens).
As the game progresses, you may have to start placing wards nearer to your base if you're losing, or deeper into the enemy jungle if you are winning. Always remember to place a Control Ward inside the dragon or baron pit if your team is planning on taking that objective.
Below are some of the more valuable ward spots. Of course, warding is always situational, so don't feel restricted to only using these placements if the situation calls for something else.
Blue side stealth ward locations
Blue side control ward locations
Red side stealth ward locations
Red side control ward locations
The current meta for jungle pathing is quite loose and you'll need to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. I'll give you a few basic openings to choose from, but keep in mind any Rift Scuttler you go for may be contested by the enemy jungler. Take note of where the enemy jungler is starting if you can get vision of them and decide ahead of time whether you'll be able to fight them. Also be sure to check your nearby lanes before entering the river. If your laners have priority (they're pushing in and/or are stronger early than their opponents), you'll be safer when fighting for the Scuttler in river.
You'll almost always want to save Smite for the Scuttler unless you know for sure it won't be contested. Don't use your Smite on the first camp (or two) before going for scuttle or you may find it stolen right in front of you by the enemy jungler! :(
With that out of the way, onto the routes!
Blue - Gromp - Scuttler: This is a fairly efficient opening for red team as you can get a strong leash from your bot lane, which will give you time to clear Gromp before going to contest Scuttler. After hopefully securing Scuttler, you can clear your Wolves, Raptors, Red and Krugs if the enemy jungler is going for an efficient clear on his side of the map. If the enemy jungler is stealing your red buff (and probably other camps near it), you may need to enter the enemy jungle and steal his Raptors / Red / Krugs. Again, note whether nearby enemy laners will be able to easily collapse on you.
Blue - Scuttler: Basically the same as the last route, but quicker in case you won't have time to clear Gromp before the Scuttler spawns at the 2:00 mark. This is more common on blue team, where you'll only have a leash from your top laner. This may also be necessary if you didn't get a leash at all, regardless of which team you're on. Once you're finished the Scuttler, the same options apply, but this time you can go back and clear Gromp before continuing to Wolves.
Red - Raptors - Scuttler: This is an efficient start on blue team since you can get a leash from your bot lane. Similar principles apply to the Blue - Gromp - Scuttler route, only this time you'll be pathing the opposite direction. Keep an eye on your mana bar since you won't have Blue buff to sustain you early on. Do not clear Krugs on your first clear with this route -- it's too far out of your way and you risk giving up camps on your blue side.
Red - Scuttler: If you've read the routes above, you probably already know what I'm going to say. This route gives you faster access to the river in case you needed to clear your Red without a leash or with a minimal leash from a top laner on red team. Other than that, pretty much the same thing as the previous route. You also have the option to invade the enemy jungler early after you take the Scuttler.
Triple buff routes involve a sneaky level 1 buff steal followed by a quick and efficient clear across your allied jungle. In the ideal case, this'll get you a free camp, set the enemy jungler behind and possibly reduce their effectiveness in the early game due to the loss of the buff. However you risk being collapsed on in the enemy jungle or the enemy jungle could realize what you're doing and counter it by invading your jungle and stealing multiple camps before you can get there.
Steal Blue - Scuttler - Red - Raptors - Wolves - Blue - Gromp: If you're able to sneak the enemy Blue buff, you can try and go for a triple buff and set your opponent behind. This can be pretty effective against mana-hungry junglers but it's also good just for denying experience.
Steal Red - Scuttler - Blue - Gromp - Wolves - Raptors - Red - Krugs: Same idea as the blue steal, but in the opposite direction. You may choose to delay Raptors in order to check and clear your red sooner if you expect the enemy jungler to try and steal it.
Vertical jungling is when both junglers are repeatedly clearing one half of the allied jungle and one half of the enemy jungle, favoring one side of the map. This splits the map into a "strong side" and "weak side" for each team. For example, if you're on blue team and are repeatedly clearing your red-side jungle (south) and the enemy blue-side jungle (east), your team's bottom side will be the strong side of the map. You'll be in a better position to gank bottom lane without fear of counterganks and you'll have better vision control and objective control. Likewise, the opposite side of the map will be dominated by the enemy jungler, making it your team's weak side.
Vertical jungling can be an active choice you make or a forced one due to a poor matchup. For example, you see Nunu & Willump invading to take your blue buff and other nearby camps, so you respond by stealing his blue buff and other nearby camps. This can force you to vertically jungle in the early game since you may not have the lane priority or vision control to ever contest your own blue buff. Likewise, you'll be able to place wards in the enemy blue-side jungle and you'll have more control on that side.
An example of an active choice would be if you and your team (this works better in arranged teams than it does in solo queue) decide to focus all of your team's pressure on one side lane at the expense of the other. Maybe you have a hypercarry bottom that your team will be camping and a Shen top who will just be playing safe. In this situation, vertical jungling may net your team an advantage, as long as you can set it up properly. Grouping with your teammates and pushing into the enemy jungle at level 1 can help you put down vision and possibly force the enemy jungler to start on the other side of the map. If your nearby laners have priority, it can be dangerous for the enemy jungler to enter their own jungle if you have vision of them and your laners can collapse on them to help you.
Vertical jungling is pretty complicated for new junglers and can be pretty messy outside of coordinated teams. Be open to the concepts and feel free to practice it, but for most players I recommend sticking to more standard routes or simple, quick invades while you're still learning to jungle.
That said, vertical jungle routes look something like this:
Blue - Gromp - Wolves - Scuttler - Enemy Red - Enemy Raptors - Enemy Krugs
Blue - Scuttler - Enemy Red - Enemy Raptors - Wolves - Gromp - Enemy Krugs
Enemy Blue - Enemy Gromp - Enemy Wolves - Scuttler - Red - Raptors - Krugs
Red - Raptors - Scuttler - Enemy Blue - Enemy Gromp - Enemy Wolves
Red - Scuttler - Enemy Blue - Enemy Gromp - Enemy Wolves - Raptors - Krugs
Enemy Red - Enemy Raptors - Scuttler - Blue - Gromp - Wolves
There are three main types of ganks for top lane: flanks, dives and lane ganks. Actually, this applies to bottom as well, but due to ward coverage your options are more limited there.
Flanks are the most straight-forward type of ganks; you gank when the enemy laner is overextended. From blue side, you can use the Blast Cone near the river bush for a sudden entrance to the river, or you can simply walk up river if there are no enemy wards. You can also go through the enemy northern jungle to flank through tribush if it's safe to do so. Against enemies with dashes, you'll either want to wait until they use the dash before using Rupture, or you'll just chain your Q with your ally's CC if they have one.
Dives are a little difficult for Cho'Gath early game as he doesn't have much burst damage and can't drop tower aggro easily. Once you're level 6 with Feast, you have a lot more threat in dives. If your ally is a high damage melee champion, you might need to take tower aggro and let them deal the damage while you CC the target. If your ally has a way to drop tower aggro or is a ranged champion that can quickly step out of range, you can let them tank and follow up once they start attacking.
Lane ganks are a bit more complicated because they take time to set up and your top laner needs to be on the same page as you so they set up the wave properly. If your top is pushing, you can enter the lane bushes without being seen, then wait for the wave to reset to the middle of the lane and look for an opportunity to fight the enemy 2v1. The best time to engage is when the enemy goes for a last-hit on one of your minions, especially ranged or cannon minions since they're farther towards your side of the map. You can either let your laner start the fight with a CC or just cast Rupture from the bush when the enemy is last-hitting, as they're much less likely to dodge it while you're unseen.
Cho'Gath's ganks are either solid or really terrible depending on who the mid laners are. Against low mobility mids, he has decent gank pressure with Rupture, especially if he already has Stalker's Blade to help land Q. With allied mids like Twisted Fate or Syndra that have some sort of setup, he provides great followup CC that will usually result in a kill.
However, if your mid laner has weak followup or setup like Vladimir or an early game Kassadin, or if your opponent is highly mobile like Ahri, it can be much more difficult to effectively gank. Take note of both mid lane champions and their abilities, then decide how likely you are to land a Rupture and actually get a summoner or a kill out of the gank.
If you don't have Flash, it's usually best to try and approach from a flank, otherwise you'll just be lumbering obviously towards your target and they'll run away to their tower.
Bot lane is pretty nice to gank as Cho'Gath because most bot lanes have some sort of crowd control to set up your Rupture. Pick one target to focus and layer your crowd control on them to prevent them from escaping. The tough part of ganking bot is that there is usually stronger ward coverage, so ganking from blue side when you have a Control Ward in tribush, or ganking from red side when you have a Blast Cone or a Control Ward in river bush is usually best. You can also go for a lane gank, but I recommend doing so only if your ADC or support has pretty strong engage, otherwise you might just be waiting around in a bush for a while.
Keep an eye out for ADCs and supports with special escape spells, as they may determine which champion you'll need to focus. For example, Thresh can pull his ADC to safety, but doesn't have many tools to escape death himself. Kalista's ultimate, Fate's Call, is an even better escape for her support, as it can be used even when the support is CCd. Rakan has multiple dashes to escape with, and if he's paired with Xayah, his Battle Dance has extra range. In general, it's best to focus the enemy with the best chance of dying, rather than just focusing the ADC every time because they're more important.
One last thing to be aware of for bot lane ganks - be prepared for counterganks. This applies to any lane but is especially important for bot lane ganks. If you don't take stock of the map before ganking, you could find yourself in a 3v5, which could lose you multiple kills and objectives, possibly resulting in the eventual loss of the game. Keep in mind enemy Teleport cooldowns, global spells like Stand United and Destiny, and possible locations for the enemy jungler and mid laner. It's much safer to attempt a gank on bottom lane if you know the enemy team can't countergank, even if your gank doesn't work out ideally.
If you manage to kill your target in a successful gank, you'll usually want to help your laner push the wave to the enemy tower so that your minions are killed by the tower, denying the enemy laner gold and experience. The minion waves will also reset to the center of the lane, giving your teammate time to go back to base and buy items and return to a safe position. One exception to the push-after-ganking rule is if you gank very early in the game against an enemy with Teleport (usually the top laner). If you kill someone very early, they'll respawn after only a few seconds and Teleport without missing much CS. If you push when that happens, your top laner will just lose a lot of XP since they're sharing with you and it can set them behind without denying the enemy top laner any farm.
After a successful gank, usually when pushing to the enemy tower, you may want to take a minion tax. This means you'll take some of the farm to help you keep up in gold since you had to spend time ganking rather than farming your jungle. You'll generally want to tax more heavily if your laner gets the kill off a gank and tax lightly if you took the kill. Many low-ranked players (and occasionally some high-ranked ones too) are selfish or ignorant and think that taxing their lane is going to ruin their farm and cause them to lose the lane. They're wrong, as taxing in moderation keeps a jungler's gold and experience relevant throughout the game, but if your laner freaks out because you took a few minions (or pushed their lane, some people think this is a bad thing all the time), you may want to just leave so they don't feed or AFK or something.
Holding lanes is an often necessary duty of a jungler and is something you should be happy to do (since it gives you a lot of gold and XP). If your laner dies or needs to go back to base, you may need to "hold" or "cover" their lane by clearing out enemy minions pushing to your tower. If the enemy laner goes back to base or is dead, you may wish to push the wave to the enemy tower. Only do this if you can finish pushing before the enemy laner gets back to lane or they can freeze it in front of their tower, making it difficult for your laner to farm safely. Usually holding a lane consists of either clearing the current wave that is at your tower or pushing completely to the enemy tower. Don't just sit in a lane and last-hit because it's a waste of your time.
Cho'Gath's late game isn't much different from the rest of the game. By this point you'll have your Righteous Glory and Gargoyle Stoneplate, so your best chance of winning team fights is using Glory and Flash to get close to your target, activating Stoneplate for the bonus HP, then using Feast to kill a priority target. If you can land Rupture or an ally lands a CC spell on your target, you're more likely to succeed. You'll only get one Feast per fight, so make sure you're getting the most out of it. If you can't reach the backline, make sure your Feast goes towards killing someone that threatens your backline.
If and when your Feast is down, you'll mostly just be disrupting enemies with crowd control. Few enemies will be threatened by the meager base damage of Cho'Gath's basic abilities late game, so focus on landing timely Ruptures and Feral Screams while your carries do work. Make sure you don't kill yourself chasing enemies you can't kill, because it's better to stay close to your teammates in that case. That way you can more easily zone their carries and reduce the amount of time they have to keep attacking.
Against teams with heavy shielding, you might not have enough damage to one-shot the enemy ADC. If that's the case, play closer to your teammates and use Feast on someone you can kill. That, or you'll have to follow up another ally who gets some damage off on the ADC before you swoop in and finish them off.
Outside of full team fights, vision control should be a priority around major objectives ( baron and elder dragon ). If you're not full build yet, be sure to buy Control Wards in your last item slot and use them to deny vision around objectives. This is pretty basic stuff for any jungler, but for Cho'Gath you're pretty much at the mercy of your teammates to carry you late as you can only kill one person at most.
Remember you have a huge nuke for securing epic monsters, so once you've cleared vision around the objective, you might want to just start killing it. The only exception would be if your team is likely to get smashed by AoE from champions like Rumble or Anivia while they're clustered in the pit. In which case, you'd just have to try and get a pick with CC while denying vision.
Thank you for reading my Cho'Gath guide! I hope I was able to help you become a better jungler and a smarter player. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions, comments or criticism. I read all comments on my guides even if I don't respond to all of them. If you appreciated my guide or approve of my build, feel free to hit the green upvote button up top.
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