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Xin Zhao Build Guide by almeidaalajoel

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League of Legends Build Guide Author almeidaalajoel

Xenial Xin Zhao (Jungle) (X alliterations are hard)

almeidaalajoel Last updated on September 15, 2014
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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: 21

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

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Hi guys, my name's Joel. I'm a jungle main who's currently in Platinum. Xin Zhao was one of my favorite junglers last season. He saw a bit more play after the new feral flare. He's not as crazy strong now that it got nerfed so much but he is still a great champion who excels in jumping on and disrupting the enemy carries in team fights. His ganks early game are also very strong, and can easily snowball lanes. This guide will show Xin Zhao players specific strategies, tips, and builds in order to help them play him to his maximum potential. So, without further ado, let's get into it!

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Pros / Cons

Why play Xin Zhao (and why not)?


+ Excellent ganks
+ Great jungle sustain
+ Good CC in team fights
+ Naturally tanky
+ Naturally high damage
+ Good counter jungler/duelist
+ Can lock down enemy carries in team fights

+ Unreliable escape
+ Bad ults can be detrimental to team fights
+ Kitable
+ Doesn't do much if behind

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Greater Mark of Attack Speed

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed

These runes are my usual setup for Xin Zhao. For marks, you want attack speed to get faster jungle clear in addition to being able to get your 3 Q procs off quickly when ganking. Armor is for early survival in the jungle and vs enemies. Magic resist helps you gank APs without taking as much damage early on. Attack speed quints are important for the same reason as the marks. Other possibilities: Greater Mark of Attack Damage if you just want more damage on your ganks, Greater Seal of Health if you like health more than armor, Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist if you don't expect early magic damage (i.e your personal jungle route won't gank against enemy magic dmg till after lvl 6 or they only have late game magic dmg) and Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed if you plan on being gank heavy and moving around the map a lot.

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This page gets you a ton of damage for those early game ganks. The %pen also helps later game for taking out those tanks.

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Summoner Spells

Preferred Spells

Smite is pretty self explanatory on a jungler, 100% necessary. Buff/Objective control etc.

Flash is probably the best spell on xin because flash ults can take a team by surprise and win a team fight very well. Also great for getting that last proc of talon strike or getting away over a wall if you're being chased. Try not to waste it unless a kill is guaranteed or you need to get away.

Viable Spells

I sometimes like to take ghost because it has significantly shorter cooldown than flash, allowing more use for early ganks and escapes. Another reason I take it over flash is that you are tanky enough to just run with ghost while getting whaled on from the enemies, while squishies need to get out right away with flash. Ghost takes you further in the long run. However, flash ults are an important part of Xin Zhao, so I usually take flash.

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Ability explanation

  • Challenge (Passive): This passive reduces the armor of opponents Xin Zhao attacks making Xin Zhao an excellent fighter and helping his team deal more damage to people he focuses. This also synergizes quite well with The Black Cleaver. It can only be applied to 1 person at a time.
  • Three Talon Strike (Q): This ability causes Xin Zhao's next 3 basic attacks to deal bonus damage and knock his opponent up on the last attack. It also reduces the cooldown of all his other spells by 1 second for each auto attack affected by three talon strike. Therefore, most of your abilities are on very low cooldown. This skill is basically where you get most of your damage and is great CC. Max it second after your slow.
  • Battle Cry (W): This spell increases your attack speed when used and heals you on every third attack passively. When comboing, always use this spell before Three Talon Strike because this way it will have its cooldown reduced more. Max this last.
  • Audacious Charge (E): This spell is a targeted gapcloser+slow. It also applies challenge to the target. When ganking, if possible, use it after the enemy uses Flash or their get away spell, so that you can still get to them. On the other hand, it can be used as a get away/juke spell if you are being chased. You can jump to enemy minions or jungle creep if you have vision of them. Max this first for the enhanced slow during ganks.
  • Crescent Sweep (R): Xin Zhao's ult is somewhat complicated. It does damage in a sweep around Xin Zhao and knocks enemies back. However, it doesn't knock back anyone who has Challenge applied to them. It also gives armor+magic resist for each champion hit by the sweep for a few seconds. What's great about this is in team fights, you can jump to the enemy ADC with Audacious Charge and knock back their entire team, while the ADC is still getting hit by you. Now, their team is far away from the ADC and cannot protect him/her, and you've got loads of resistances to stop you from getting killed instantly. Before team fights, it is good for just damage in ganks. Remember to use it early when ganking because it does %current health. Don't be afraid to use this as the cooldown is quite low when you use your Q. Put a point in this whenever you can.

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Ability Sequence

Ability Sequence Order

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

> > >
Obviously, max your ult first for more damage, better cooldown, and more armor/mr given. Next, max E for better ganks (the slow % is increased with each level) and more damage. Q is next for more damage in ganks, and finally W. I start with my Q usually for clear speed and skirmish/counterjungling capability. After that, usually go W for jungle clear but if you think you might level 2 gank then take E instead.

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Item Explanation


Item Sequence

Mercury's Treads

Spirit of the Elder Lizard

Sunfire Cape

Youmuu's Ghostblade

Randuin's Omen

Spirit Visage

Merc's are usually your best bet nowadays. Most teams have enough CC to warrant tenacity as an excellent option, and the magic resist is nice against those pesky mid laners. Boots of Mobility used to be better but they got nerfed and aren't really worth it anymore, in combat you're slow AF with them now. If they dont have a lot of reducable CC then get Ninja Tabi instead.

This item gives great sustain early game with the %damage regen and extra AD, synergizing with itself. It also gives a lot of damage early on for your ganks. 10% CDR doesn't hurt either. All in all, a solid item for a high early damage jungler. However, it doesn't compare to the new Wriggle's Lantern, and I highly reccomend wriggle's over it.

So, after it was released this thing was like crazy OP strong. Then it got nerfed. Then it got nerfed again. Now it's pretty mediocre. Elder Lizard gives more damage and more sustain, so I'd go with that again now.

Used to be great with Feral Flare. With % health damage and magic damage plus all that attack speed, you could shred tanks and squishies alike. Now I don't get this item anymore because Feral got nerfed so much and I don't think it's worth it anymore. However, it's not a bad item. The active is great for 1v1s and chasing down more mobile champions. Use it on them to slow them down before they get too far away. Or, if you're trying to focus one person but they're too far away and someone's in between you, you can pop the active on them for the burst of speed and catch up. But overall now that Xin has shifted more to tank from carry, I don't like this as much.

This item gives a good chunk of health+armor for general tankiness, and helps clear speed in the jungle by constantly attacking the minions. It also helps in ganks because you get two types of damage which is harder to itemize against. Get it early, though, or don't get it at all, because it's not super cost efficient. You usually want it to snowball a bit by not dying with it's tankiness but also getting more kills with the damage. The reason I don't run it in my main build anymore is because I rush Wriggle's and Botrk. After that, you need some serious defense, not a sorta offensive mostly defensive non-cost efficient item for snowballing. Later in the game, thornmail is a better purchase, and you don't really need sunfire anymore early on.

This is a great item which synergizes really well with Battle Cry. Gives tons of health, magic resist, CDR, health regen, and the passive. Really good against sustained magic damage. However, against more bursty champions that will do very little without one of their abilities, take Banshee's Veil

Loads of damage from armor shred and AD, plus synergizes with your passive to remove like all of your enemies armor. Great item if you're ahead. Helps both your team and you. I don't take this in my main build anymore though because I think that Youmuu's Ghostblade is a better pickup for extra burst and mobility.

Great for hurting the enemy ADC with the passive attack speed debuff if he/she is foolish enough to focus you. Loads of armor and health as well, so you can just jump straight into the enemy team. The active slow is great too. In team fights, when you jump on the ADC, pop the active, then ult their team away. They will take much longer to get back to their ADC.

This is a good item vs really autoattack dependent enemy teams. I don't usually run it in my main build but if it's 4 AD then I almost always would take it.

Frozen mallet has its place, but its kiinda eh. Gives a laarge chunk of health, a bit of AD, and some stickiness, but it's very expensive. The sort of situation I could see it in is if they have AD casters who don't auto that much (so you don't really want thornmail so much) and also have AP damage (health provides defense against both obv), and people keep getting away from you because they're just too darned mobile. Against something like, Miss Fortune ADC, Ahri mid, Shyvana top (she does magic damage and physical :( so hard to build against) and Pantheon jungle. They wouldn't be able to run away so easily even with their jumps and you'd have a lot of health to protect against all that hybrid damage.

Great item against burstier AP champions like LeBlanc. Get Hexdrinker early and don't upgrade till it's your last item. The change from hexdrinker to maw isn't really worth the expense, the most important part is the burst of shield and you don't get a ton more from Maw so get your other items first. It's a great item though, very good if their mid is getting fed but so are you.

This item got buffed, it's pretty good now. Get it against CC heavy teams if you think you can manage the active effect well.

Oh boy. Ravenous hydra, my favorite item in the game. Too bad it kinda sucks on Xin. Hydra is like super expensive, and it's gonna take a looong time to get enough money for it. It's also not really good on Xin because he can't split push super well (no escape) and since you build off tank with him the active doesn't do that much damage. Unless of course, you build full AD, in which case you're just gonna die really fast (again, no escape) and probably not accomplish much. So uh, not really Xin's best item. I guess maybe you can use it if you have some weird split push only comp or some ****, IDK. I can't really find a situation in which ravenous hydra is a good item on Xin.

Just pretty bad overall. It's riots fault. They made it expensive enough to not be worth buying for its stats but cheap enough to suck late game. Basically not really good. The only reason I include it is because there might be some sort of crazy combo with this and Feral Flare that I'm over looking but I just don't think it's very cost efficient as it doesn't give you practically any real stats but some attack speed. If they buffed it and made it more expensive, I could see it, but right now it's just not so good. If you have REALLY fed AP on your team and they have only a tiny bit of AP from support and like a hybrid champ leaning away from magic like Darius, maybe you could use it as your only magic resist item or something and steal their MR for your AP. Even still probably not good but I try to give some situation to get every item.

This item can be pretty strong on Xin. Procs with his q's for Tons of Damage (TM). Also gives really good chase potential with the rage passive. Very expensive, though. If you're way far ahead and need to be doing a lot of damage, with say a mundo top or something, this can be good. Just buy with caution, because if you build full damage you might get blown up before getting your damage off.

This item is really strong as it helps you reach people to Audacious Charge to and gives you a huge burst of damage. The CDR and armorpen is really nice too. If you wanted to go more on the damage side, I'd say get rid of thornmail and go for this or The Black Cleaver. Black Cleaver helps more if they're reallly stacking armor, but if you're getting to their squishies then Youmuu's helps you blow them up fast.

This item is not really my favorite even after the new buffs. As Xin you really need damage to snowball the early game so getting tank early on just isn't super helpful. I would almost always go Elder Lizard instead.

This item is good against really bursty enemies who rely on a really big spell. I usually like Spirit Visage for the increased heal and/or Hexdrinker for the hybrid defense/offense, but this can be a good item too.

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When/Where to ward

When to ward? ALWAYS. I cannot stress this enough. Warding is one of the most important things anyone can do in the entire game. As jungler, don't try to delegate the responsibility of warding to the laners or the support. You need to be warding too. Here is a simple map of common places to ward.
Yellow: Vital to protect the jungler on your team
Blue: For protection depending on which lane you're on
Red: To guard Dragon and Baron
Orange: In order to Counter-Jungle

(this map was taken from Jhoijhoi's great guide making guide)
Make sure if you are warding you're also keeping an eye on the map to see if people go by them. If you keep their wraiths warded like in the picture, you can often find their jungler low health taking monsters and get a free kill or flash.
A good place for pink wards is shown here:
People usually walk right past these bushes and you can often get 20 minutes wards since pink wards don't get destroyed till someone sees them. Helps your mid laner a lot to not get ganked.

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Jungle Start Route

I remember first starting playing LoL and I had no idea where to go when jungling. So here's the most common/easy jungling path that I usually do, shown for each side.

You usually want to start on whatever side your bottom lane is at for the best leash. However, if you want to gank bottom lane first, you can start on the other side so you can get to them after you're done with your second buff. After taking those first 3 camps, just look at the map and see if top or mid are more gankable. Who's more pushed, lower, etc. Remember that often the enemy jungler will be going to the same spot as you so you need to watch out. After you gank mid or top, if you're low or you got a lot of gold, you can go back and buy. Otherwise, head back into the jungle and farm some camps until another opportunity to gank shows itself.

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Ganking Lanes

Where and how to gank

This picture shows some common places to gank from/to:

LG=Lane Gank
RG=River Gank
TG= Tri Gank

River ganks are pretty self explanatory: walk in through the river and start attacking the enemy if they're pushed up. However, often the river is warded or the enemy is not pushed up. In this case, you may want to perform a lane gank. A lane gank is when your laner pushes up so the enemy doesn't have vision of the brush closest to your turret. The jungler then comes into that bush, waits till the enemies push too far or are in a bad spot (particularly helped out by a bait from the laners), and jumps out. Follow the arrows, but make sure the laners are pushed far enough up so there's no vision of you when you move between bushes. Communicate with your laners before you attempt this, because sometimes these bushes are warded. Another way to gank without being detected is coming through the tri bush. In bot on blue side and top on purple side ganking from their tri bush (TG(b)) will involve turret diving. Have your laners push the minions to the turrets so they will tank the turret while you get into position. However, as soon as you attack the enemies, the turret will turn on you, so be careful. You usually only want to dive if the enemy is already somewhat low. You cannot be low leveled for these types of gank or you will most likely die without superb mechanics. You can also gank from your tri bush (TG(a)) if the enemy is pushed up too far. You can often get behind the enemies more quickly than they can run to their turret. Mid ganks are pretty self explanatory from the arrows.

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Team fights

What to do in team fights

You have several simple goals in team fights. Number one is to get the enemy ADC dead/isolated/so low that they have to leave. If you do any of these, the fight is essentially won and you can take an objective or force a bad fight for the enemy. Your secondary goal is to peel for your own ADC, i.e protecting him/her from the enemies. What you can do to get to their adc is pretty simple: E to them, pop the active on Randuin's Omen, ult the rest of the enemy team away, and W+Q autoattack for the knockup. If your team goes in with you, this means their ADC is dead for sure. If they initiate into you before you can jump on them, you may need to peel for your ADC if noone else on your team can. In order to do this, stay near your ADC and if someone jumps on them, ult them away. From there, if anyone else is still able to get to your ADC, try to slow them with E or Randuin's and knock them up with Q. However, usually the support will have some form of CC to peel for the ADC ( Taric, Janna, Lulu, Nami, etc.) and you can go on the offensive.

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Xin Zhao is a great jungler with devestating ganks and a great kit. By following this guide, you can improve your play and hopefully do better. Thanks for reading. Please leave a thumbs up if it helped you out. Big thank you to JhoiJhoi for her guide on making a guide, without which I wouldn't have been able to make this. Check it out here.