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Xerath Build Guide by Vapora Dark


Vapora Dark In-Depth Mid Xerath Guide 9.20 Season 9

By Vapora Dark | Updated on October 9, 2019
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Arcane Comet
Manaflow Band

Magical Footwear
Cosmic Insight

+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+8 Magic Resist


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Heal


LeagueSpy Logo
Middle Lane
Ranked #31 in
Middle Lane
Win 51%
Get More Stats

-Table of Contents-

Hi, I'm Vapora Dark, a veteran player that's been playing since season 1. During that time I've hit Master tier as a mid lane main in season 5, as an ADC main in season 7, again as a jungle main in season 8, and once more in season 9 playing a mix of all those roles including mid and Fizz. I can play every role to a very high level and have a very good understanding of the general aspects of the game on top of that.

I've been writing guides on MOBAFire since 2011, among which my achievements include winning the MOBAFire guide contest multiple times, achieving the highest score on the site multiple times with multiple guides, achieving the most comments on a single guide of all time by a very large amount which hasn't come even close to being surpassed in the 3 years that it's been archived, and having the most collective guide views on the site by a very hefty amount. I've also written some champion guides for Riot Games on the Lolesports site.

Sorcery & Inspiration

Arcane Comet
Arcane Comet: Both Eye of Destruction and Shocking Orb make it really easy to land Arcane Comet, making Xerath a fairly good user of the keystone.

Manaflow Band
Manaflow Band: This rune is good on any mage, giving a lot of free mana sustain.

Transcendence: Xerath is an immobile mage that does all of his damage through abilities. This makes CDR a must have stat on him. Together with a blue buff and Luden's Echo you'll be hitting 40% CDR for most of the game. Once you get a Zhonya's Hourglass the blue buff will instead be giving you extra ability power. The CDR and build flexibility this rune offers makes it the best choice.

Scorch: Makes your poke hurt just that much more. Most efficient in laning phase, falls off later on but is still nice.


Cosmic Insight

Magical Footwear
Cosmic Insight: All mages benefit greatly from CDR and Xerath is no exception. The reduced cooldowns on summoners and item actives is just an added bonus.

Magical Footwear: This gives you a free pair of boots, which basically puts you 300 gold ahead of any enemy that doesn't take this rune by default, which is pretty sweet. You should replace this with Perfect Timing in matchups where you're likely to need the stasis and want an early Zhonya's Hourglass however.

9 Adaptive Force
9 Adaptive Force
8 Magic Resistance

Flash: This is the best summoner spell in the game, almost every champion takes it and it's completely irreplaceable. It's the best defensive summoner and the best offensive summoner all at once. The fact that you see all 10 players take this in 99% of games just goes to show how strong it is. Xerath is of course no exception to this.
Heal: This is the second best summoner spell for Xerath, in my opinion. Xerath is a very vulnerable champion and Heal adds just a little more survivability to his kit, not just in the form of a heal but in the bonus movement speed which can help him get to safety.
Barrier: This is an alternative to Heal, mainly used in tough matchups where you need the extra survivability to survive and you know your opponent is probably taking Ignite, such as when vs Zed or Talon. It's worse than Heal against enemies that don't take Ignite since while it protects you from slightly more damage, its in the form of a shield rather than a heal, and you don't get the speed boost or the effect on an ally.
Cleanse: You'll need to take this summoner spell against enemies with high CC, especially early-game CC (whether from the mid laner or the jungler) and especially if its targeted CC. Excellent examples of champions you need to take this against are Twisted Fate, Elise and Sejuani, and champions you should strongly consider it against are Ryze, LeBlanc, Ahri, Veigar, and even Ashe and Varus. Whether you take it or not vs these champions depends on how much more CC their team has overall, and partially personal preference.

-Skill Order-

> >
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Passive: Mana Surge

Mana Surge: Xerath's mana costs are super high and his spells are pretty spammable, so Mana Surge gives him back quite a lot of mana in the long run which greatly helps his mana bar keep up with his spells usage. It gives back twice as much mana if you auto-attack an enemy champion rather than a minion so make sure to be on the lookout for opportunities to auto-attack a champion rather than a minion when Mana Surge is up.
Q: Arcanopulse
Arcanopulse: This is the most defining spell in Xerath's kit, making him possibly the best poke champion in the game in the mid-late game. Charging it up doesn't increase the damage but it greatly increases the range of the spell, meaning that in close range fights you can just tap it in the target's direction, whereas the further away the target is, the more you need to charge it to reach them.
W: Eye of Destruction
Eye of Destruction: This is harder to poke with than Arcanopulse due to its shorter range, and not as effective for waveclearing as it damages in a much shorter area. However, while it doesn't beat Arcanopulse in any of these areas, it does just add a little bit extra to Xerath's kit to help in both these areas, whether you be using it for waveclear or for poke. Eye of Destruction's slow can also make it much easier to hit Arcanopulse if you land it beforehand.
E: Shocking Orb
Shocking Orb: This adds just a little bit of CC to Xerath's kit, which does wonders for increasing his safety. One thing to note though is that the stun duration only starts at 0.5 seconds and increases in length up to 2 seconds depending on how far the skillshot travels, making it more rewarding for being able to land it from longer distances as opposed to hitting it from melee range to protect yourself. This means that while it's good for protecting yourself from attackers that manage to get onto you, it's even more effective when used offensively to lock someone into place to hit them with Eye of Destruction and Arcanopulse.
R: Rite of the Arcane
Rite of the Arcane: This spell allows Xerath to contribute to a fight while very far away, or to finish off low HP enemies that just barely managed to get away from the rest of his kit. This spell is actually pretty hard to land compared to most skillshots, so if you're using it to contribute to a far away fight it's best to either cast it on targets that are CC'd, or that are running in a straight line because of running from your team. If they're trying to juke your shots while running from your team, rather than trying to hit them while they're juking you should just hold onto your ult for a bit; they'll keep on randomly juking while your team catches up to them. If they stop juking because they realize they're not dodging anything and their juking is hurting more than helping, then that's when you start shooting at them again. Patience is key with Rite of the Arcane in many situations.

Doran's Ring
The best starting item for almost any mage. All the stats it gives are great for a mage in the early-game, and it allows you to pick up 2 Health Potions to sustain yourself with.
Luden's Echo
The extra damage on poke or extra waveclear alongside a lot of mana/CDR and AP makes this item a must rush every single game. You can delay it for a Seeker's Armguard if you went Perfect Timing because you're against someone like a Talon or Zed but even then you should still fully finish this item first.

Sorcerer's Shoes
The best boots for Xerath as they increase his spells' damage. None of the other boots benefit you as much as this in the average game, since magic pen synergizes greatly with Xerath's damage. However, you may also sometimes want to build Mercury's Treads to deal with high CC, or Ninja Tabi when facing full AD comps and laning against a high damage assassin like Zed or Talon, especially if you're behind.
As an artillery mage, you'll want to try and hit squishy targets in the backline with your immense rage/damage before they even get close to you. Morellonomicon is fantastic as it offers some much needed health but more importantly offers flat penetration with a lot of ability power. The healing reduction is also nice as most squishy champions heal for defence instead of buying resistances.
Rabadon's Deathcap
Xerath is one of the very few champions who can buy this item as early as their second item. Usually you'll be buying it third though. This is because you really do not need any other stat than AP once you finish your Luden's Echo. Your kit isn't designed to one shot someone so the difference between doing 600 damage with flat pen vs 550 damage with extra AP on a 1k HP target is meaningless as it'll still take 2 hits to kill them. Your AP ratios are so incredibly high with Eye of Destruction and all Rite of the Arcane bolts AP is just too good to ignore.
Void Staff
By this point the enemy team will almost always have some MR going. Void Staff boosts your damage by an insane amount against targets that are building MR. Even the targets that aren't building MR will still have some MR for you to penetrate with Void Staff.
Zhonya's Hourglass
In many games you'll want this even if you don't need the armour simply because it's so amazing at helping you survive against divers. If you're playing against an AD mid laner like Zed you'll even want to rush it to avoid most of his damage.
Banshee's Veil
This is a situational item for when facing high magic damage comps. You can also rush it in laning phase to survive matchups where you're likely to get burst down, such as vs LeBlanc.

Laning Phase

At level 1 most people take Arcanopulse but when using Arcane Comet I strongly believe that Eye of Destruction is the best spell to start with, since on top of being easier to land it'll slow the enemy and make it impossible to dodge Arcane Comet. When you get into lane you should begin shoving in your enemy and bullying them as they go for CS. The best time to cast Eye of Destruction is when your enemy is going for a last-hit, as they'll have to stand still as they do it and will have to choose between getting the CS or dodging the skill. Eye of Destruction is hard to dodge anyway but this way you have the best chance of hitting them at the center for more damage.

At level 2 you'll take Arcanopulse, or if you already took it, Eye of Destruction. Landing Arcanopulse in most circumstances is a mind-game between you and your opponent as to where you'll aim and where they'll juke, which is why you make it so much easier for yourself if you harass by starting off with Eye of Destruction and then follow up with Arcanopulse while they're still slowed, since it makes it so much harder for them to dodge.

At level 3 you should take Shocking Orb to keep yourself safe in case you get ganked, and it'll also give you a small bit of kill potential if you're already crushing your lane hard enough that a kill is a possibility. Your laning patterns will remain the same, you just have to keep an eye open for when your lane opponent leaves himself open for a Shocking Orb into Eye of Destruction + Arcanopulse.

At level 6 you obviously level your ultimate, which can obviously help you pick up some kills in most circumstances, but it doesn't change the dynamic of your matchups at all.

As you begin to have a lot of points in Arcanopulse you'll have a lot of pushing power, so it'll become easy to shove the wave and place some fairly deep wards to keep yourself safe while you pressure the enemy laner under their tower with your spells while they try to last-hit. A lot of champions would want to look for roams in this circumstance but Xerath is a very weak roamer, so you'll rarely want to leave your lane unless you think you really have a free kill somewhere.

Out of Lane

Outside of laning phase, you'll just simply want to group with your team. As Xerath you're most effective when you're sieging with your team due to your strong poke power helping force enemies away from the turret they're defending. You can also try and help create picks for your team with Shocking Orb, but on its own it won't do much if your team can't follow up on it, since you'd have to be very fed to 1-shot an enemy with just Shocking Orb, Eye of Destruction and Arcanopulse.

Xerath is also great when being sieged against since his massive waveclear makes it hard for the enemy teams to get much damage onto your towers. You can still poke in these situations, but you have to be careful not to waste your cooldowns as an enemy minion wave is approaching, since you want to almost entirely wipe it out before it even reaches the tower to prevent the enemies from doing as much damage to it as possible.

If possible you'll want to avoid straight up fighting the enemy in regular team-fights before you've had a chance to lay down your poke since the nature of Xerath's damage is that he doesn't need to be in a fight to be dealing damage, so getting into a fight where the enemies can do damage back wastes one of his biggest strengths. That being said, Xerath can pack a mean punch in fights when he's ahead, especially to non-tanks, so you're not useless in team-fights by any means.

When in team-fights you'll want to prioritize hitting your spells on any carries that get too close, but you yourself don't want to get too close to the enemy frontline either, and if no carries are in range you should focus on hitting the enemy frontline with your spells, and peeling for your ADC/yourself if necessary. You'll want to focus basically whatever is in your range that will die quicker, so for example Kha'Zix is a more favourable target than Sion.

When your team is diving on the enemy backline you can also stand far back enough where the enemy team can't reach you and use Rite of the Arcane to help kill the enemy backline while your enemy team dives them, since the enemy carries will be a lot too preoccupied with your team to devote all their attention to dodging Rite of the Arcane. Just keep paying close enough attention to your own champion that you're not getting dived on by the enemy team too without realizing.

Hopper is Bae

That's it for my Xerath guide. I hope you found this helpful and learn to play Xerath as well as you want to.

Special thanks to Hopper for banners and coding, as well as some input on info. (Go check her shop out!)

If you ever want to see me play, make sure to follow me on Twitch. I'm currently streaming every day between 3-10 PM GMT.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Vapora Dark
Vapora Dark Xerath Guide