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Xerath Build Guide by Dagger

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Dagger

Xerath: Anti Tanky DPS Mage **Updated

Dagger Last updated on May 24, 2012
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Middle Lane
Ranked #32 in
Middle Lane
Win 51%
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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

Honor Guard

Defense: 0

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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My name is Dagger93. I actually picked up Xerath the moment he came out and I have been enjoying his game-play since he was released. He is unlike any other caster, especially since there is no other champion that can out range him other than Lux and all global ultimates.

For some background of myself with Xerath, you can check my profile. Mostly my games maintain roughly a 4.0+ KDA other than one game I lagged which led to 10 deaths (My dorm internet is really ****ty). He has amazing potential as a mid lane due to his strengths in poking behind vision and his easy stun capability.

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Released Updates:

  • 10/16/2011: Guide has been released.
  • 10/17/2011: Touched up some Sections, added alternative runes & Summoner Spells, Updated items.
  • 10/18/2011: Added Locus of Power Active with screen shots.
  • 10/21/2011: Added Video Gameplay.
  • 11/27/2011: Updated masteries.
  • 12/09/2011: Positioning Section
  • 12/09/2011: Added Poke Composition

To be Added:
  • Positioning Section Pictures

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Pros / Cons


  • Long Range
  • Great Harass
  • Good Burst
  • Excellent Passive (counters Tanky DPS META)
  • Very Short Cooldowns
  • Decent Farming
  • Low Mana Costs
  • Extremely Short Ultimate CD (36 Seconds with 40% CDR)
  • High Magic Penetration
  • Fast Cast Times

  • No Real Escape
  • Easily Focused by a Coordinated Team
  • Immobilized with Locus of Power
  • Difficult to use Combo Correctly (For Maximum Damage Output)

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Skill Summary

Ascended FormAscended Form (Passive)
Xerath feeds on arcane power, making him increasingly resilient to physical harm. He converts 15% of his Ability Power into Armor.

Spell Summary
Xerath feeds on arcane power, making him increasingly resilient to physical harm. He converts (15)% of his Ability Power into Armor.

Bonus Armor: (0.15 per ability power point)

This passive is by far one of the best I have seen. It gives so much tankiness to a champion that would easily be focused by bruisers and melee DPS. The armor bonus is dramatic and can clearly be noticed.

Arcanopulse (Q Ability)
Fires a long-range beam of energy, dealing magic damage to all targets hit.

Spell Summary
Fires a long-range beam of energy, dealing (75/115/155/195/235) (+(0.6 per ability power point)) magic damage to all targets hit.

This is Xerath's bread and butter skill. It's used for farming creep waves, which usually takes 2 Q's depending on how far ahead in the game you are. Also, it's used for early game harass and procing his stun ability with E. The cast time is very fast, like about .25 seconds and can travel through all targets. It's much like Lux's ultimate only faster, less damage, and shorter.

Locus of PowerLocus of Power (W Ability)
Xerath immobilizes himself near a source of magical power, increasing the range of all spells and granting him bonus % Magic Penetration. When the effect ends, Xerath's Movement Speed is increased for 2 seconds.

Spell Summary
Xerath immobilizes himself near a source of magical power, increasing the range of all his spells and granting him (10/15/20/25/30)% Magic Penetration. Lasts (8) seconds or until toggled off.

When the effect ends, Xerath's Movement Speed is increased by (35)% for (2) seconds.

Locus of Power gives Xerath basically an extended range on all of his skills and extra Magic Penetration which helps out later in the game. This will allow for E to hit easier without going out of your comfort zone and harassing with Q from outside of the creep vision (like stealth skill shots pretty much).

Mage ChainsMage Chains (E Ability)
Deals magic damage to an enemy and marks them with Unstable Magic. The next spell Xerath strikes this enemy with stuns them for 2 seconds.

Spell Summary
Deals (70/120/170/220/270) (+(0.7 per ability power point)) magic damage to an enemy and marks them with Unstable Magic.

Unstable Magic: The next spell Xerath strikes this enemy with stuns them for (1.5) seconds.

This is Xerath's single target nuke with a twist. It's also much like Brand's Q but in the opposite effect, in that Xerath needs to hit them with a different ability. Don't underestimate using this as added damage and not just for the stun effect. The single target burst is quite high on this. The stun debuff lasts for quite some time so don't rush your Q. if you can't hit it.

Arcane Barrage (R Ability)
Calls down a blast of arcane energy, dealing magic damage to all enemies in an area. May be cast up to three times before going on cooldown.

Spell Summary
Calls down a blast of arcane energy, dealing (125/200/275) (+(0.6 per ability power point)) magic damage to all enemies in an area. May be cast up to three times within (12) seconds before going on cooldown.

Arcane Barrage is Xerath's incredibly high burst ultimate. It takes about .25 seconds to go off immediately after it has been cast and also has an incredibly high AP ratio. Since it can be cast 3 times before the cooldown is up, the AP ratio is set to 1.8 + the base damage. This ultimate is especially good late game since the base damage isn't too high. Don't be afraid to spam this to clear blue buff or whatever else. At rank 3 and 40% CDR, the cooldown is at 36 seconds.

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Skill Sequence

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

The skill sequence I have found most effective is beginning with your Q. It gives a decent amount of damage at level 1, although its not as important since you will be focusing on last hitting. Getting a point in your E is crucial at level 2 because of the stun proc it gives you. This will stop an early gank from happening and you wasting one of your summoner spells.

Maxing Q allows for the biggest amount of harass possible. It also gives the most possible potential to farm. Two Q's will clear the entire Caster minions and 2 Q's plus 1 or 2 auto attacks will finish off the Melee Minions.

Getting 1 point at level 4 in your W gives you the max possible range for your W. The only reason to increase it is to get magic pentetration and reduced cooldowns. By level 14, champions are just now starting to stack MR so the flat Magic Pen will suffice until that point. The movement speed is 35% at all ranks so there's no reason to get this past rank 1 for the speed boost. At level 4 you will be able to harass from beyond your opponents sight range from the melee minions. Use to this to your advantage since you can see them, but they cannot see you. Randomly sending out Q's empowered by W is a force to be reckoned with.

Level your ultimate whenever it is available. It has the most burst potential out of all of your skills and is the easiest to land in succession after your E hits. Use the combo below for the most burst potential. Typically at level 6, if your opponent is <50% health, you will be able to burst them down. If they are >50% health, just harass with Q. It is a very easy skill to land since its cast time is nearly instant.

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: There isn't really much of a choice in reds. These clearly are the best and Xerath scales better with Magic Pen than AP/Lvl. This added with void staff and Locus of Power will get them extremely low in Magic Resist.

Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration: Scaling mana regen is the way to go. Doran's Ring x2 will get you through the laning phase easily, and if you have a jungler that can you give you blue buff, you'll be golden and dominate your lane. These end up helping the most when you reach late game and sell your Doran's Rings.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power: AP/Lvl is very useful going into late game. His ultimate gets a huge benefit from this as its total scaling is 1.8 total due to him being able to cast it 3 times total (base AP ratio is .6 and casting 3 times = 1.8). This also gives a good amount of armor late game due to Xerath's passive.

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power: These give tremendous amounts of early game dominance, especially if you decide to start out with a Doran's Ring instead of boots & 3 health pots. It gives a lot more damage to your Q which you should always get first. These also give a small amount of armor to yourself which allows for some added auto attacks on enemy champions.


Greater Mark of Scaling Ability Power: After talking to Hai L9, I have come to the conclusion that these runes will work quite well late game, although I take Marks of Insight over these because I focus on early game dominance.

Greater Seal of Vitality: Due to Xerath's passive, he gets a large amount of damage reduction from physical damage just by building straight glass cannon. Health/lvl Seals takes good advantage of being able to survive the burst of some casters. It also scales very well into your effective health total.

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: If you know who you will be facing middle lane, it may be beneficial to yourself to get flat MR seals to mitigate some of the magic damage you will receive.

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With the release of the new masteries, I've come to the conclusion that 21/0/9 works best on Xerath. I put a point in Summoner's Wrath because regardless of the second summoner spell you take, it will improve it (assuming you take Exhaust, Ignite or Ghost). I also opt for the 3 points in mana regen because Xerath still has a bunch of mana problems early game and this helps alleviate some of it.

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Summoner Spells

Flash: It's pretty obvious why you would take it, and since it's discussed on every other guide, I don't think I would need to reiterate it.

Ghost: I take Ghost for 2 reasons. 1: Xerath lacks mobility to get away since if anyone blinks into you, you could easily die if you miss your Q after you E them. 2: He relies on his massive range to destroy people which means most other summoner spells would lack, mainly since they have a very close casting range.

Exhaust: An excellent alternative to Ghost because it is great and slightly overpowered throughout the entire game. It's an amazing way to get any tanky DPS off of you or to basically shutdown a very fed and powerful enemy.

Ignite: I would never take this on Xerath myself because it's too risky being that close to someone. He relies so much on his tremendous poke power, but if you feel you would get an early kill off of it, by all means take it.

Teleport: A great alternative if you dislike Ghost. You will lose barely any CS while you back to buy whatever you need to buy. It also gives great dragon control if you are up in top lane. It works very well if your support buys wards.

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Item Choices

Starting Items

  • : Early game these give a lot of survivability and increased damage. If you do not take mana regen/lvl seals, definitely consider starting out with this as it will make harassing with Q a lot easier.
  • : Boots are always a good choice for starting out, especially since you can get Health Potion x3 which gives you ~1K effective health and the mobility to dodge spells such as Lay Waste or Noxious Blast

Standard Item Choices

  • : If you can get this around 16 minutes in the game, your burst will sky rocket and you'll be able to one shot the caster creeps. The damage output from just your Ultimate goes up to nearly 1000 RAW damage before mitigation is added.
  • : This is more focused as a Late Game Item when people begin to start building Magic Resist. Xerath's Magic Penetration on Locus of Power is multiplicative so it'll reach about 69% with Archaic Knowledge and Locus active.
  • : Rylai's gives an uncanny amount of health while still giving good damage and also slowing targets with abilities. It's a good pick up as your first or second item, depending if you want to rush Deathcap or not. The slow works very well when you toss out your stun. It makes it very easy to land Q and proc the stun.
  • : Morello's gives a great amount of CDR, but it also puts you well over the CDR Cap when you have blue buff and Elixir of Brilliance. The AP Boost is phenomenal but I would recommend selling this item around 30-40 minutes in and getting a Banshee's Veil.
  • : This is both a great defensive item and a superb offensive item. I recommend greatly in choosing this, so long as you know to use the active. The active is definitely one of the best in the game if you know when and how to use it, eg. Dodging an Enchanted Crystal Arrow.

Alternative Item Choices

  • : A great all around item. The health it gives you counters many burst type champions like Akali or Kassadin. The magic resist is great since you are basically running around with the base magic resist (30 MR). The veil may also save you from a random ability coming at you, like Enchanted Crystal Arrow or Annie's Summon: Tibbers
  • : A great item that counters a lot of initiations and also removes damage over time spells like ignite. It is basically like Cleanse only better because it also adds Magic Resist for a very cheap price.
  • : This item is best for early rushing. The lane sustain is great since you can spam your Q. The AoE on it is pretty decent and can hit an entire creep wave. I would recommend taking this to replace Morello's Evil Tome.


  • : These are the boots I would recommend if you are not going to get Morello's. They give a good amount of CDR and are pretty cheap.
  • : These are good at reducing an enemy and their MR but it's effectiveness is reduced by 69% because of the Magic Penetration % is added after.
  • : Merc Treads are definitely a good buy if you are looking a very CC heavy team such as Amumu, Taric etc

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Early Game Laning

You'll want to observe who you'll most likely be facing mid lane. Try your best to assume more much damage you'll most likely take until your first back. If you are facing for example Morgana, chances are you won't take any damage other than one tick of Tormented Soil unless she lands Dark Binding. Facing a Cassiopeia on the other hand, you are expecting to take a lot of damage from her Noxious Blast so you may want to go boots and 3 health pots. The boots will greatly help dodging skill shots because of the increased speed you have.

Always harass with your Q whenever you are at full mana, especially if they are away from the creep wave. Try to hit as few creeps as possible so it doesn't get your lane pushed. Your damage will climb once you hit 3 and have 2 ranks in your Q.

At level 4, stay behind your creeps and judge as best as you can of where the enemy's sight range ends from the melee creeps. Use your W and Q them while you're not visible. The success rate of hitting is much better when they don't know it's coming.

Grab blue buff whenever you can if your jungler will let you. Constant spam of your skills is amazing, especially if you can land enough to get them <50% health.

At level 6, burst them down with your ultimate with the skill combo listed below.

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With Xerath, range is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. When W is active, always poke from a distance and just harass. It will easily decimate your opponents if they lack a strong sustain champion like Alistar, Sona etc. You can poke from well beyond the tower range.

In terms of team fights, it's best to fight from the opposite side of the wall. Hit W and just profit from the kills and assists you will rack up. He is great at dragon and Baron Nashor fights as well as he can easily hug the corner closest to the mid lane on the outside of dragon and spam his spells.

If a team fight is happening, make sure you don't cut yourself too far off from the action. You still need to be able to be in range to dish out damage. It's imperative that you move with your team and just trail behind ever so slightly so you won't be jumped on by an enemy bruiser such as Irelia or Gangplank. Once they are on you, you won't be getting them off any time soon.

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Locus of Power Active

The range of all your skills increase by 400 range when Locus of Power is active which makes your Q one of the longest non-ultimate skills in the game. Don't underestimate the range and always try to harass with it. Whenever someone is low and you think you can make the range, ask your support to use their Clairvoyance to get some added sight.

Using Locus of Power near this area will give great harassment bonuses when the enemy team is defending the middle tower. You can basically hit all the way up to their steps.

Anivia was actually right off the tip of Arcanopulse but because it extends past the bubble/line missile, it was able to reach the very tip of her.

Xerath's Arcanopulse is much like Nidalee's Javelin Toss / Takedown in the aspect that the range is slightly longer than the actual range shown by the Line Dart. Use this to your advantage to get that extra distance needed to grab that kill.

Mage Chains cast range grows the more you level it up. So at rank 1, the range is only 600 but reaches 1200 at max rank. With W active, you'll be reaching 1600 range. This gives the much needed range you need to cast combos and not worry about having to move close to people to cast it.

Arcane Barrage will have a range of 1800 at level 18 with Locus of Power active (1400 Range without) which is about the distance that Q gives you. The advantage of having such a high range is that you can stay on the other sides of walls and just cast spells while only champions with blinks or dashes will be able to reach you.

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Proper Combo for Xerath

After many games of playing Xerath I have tested possible damage combinations to maximize damage output. The one I have found to be most useful to be would be:

Begin with locking in place for the additional Mpen %
Use Q as harass
Land E (Your Stun)
Land R (To proc the stun)
While stunned, use Q immediately.
Use your R twice (one will still be there while they are stunned and one depending on proficiency of the person will be able to get the last R while they are stunned, if not lead partially where they will be running to.)
Finally, finish off with your Q.

Summary: W -> Q -> E -> R -> Q -> R -> R -> Q

If you choose to, you can use W before using your combo if you need the Magic Pen. But you may miss your final Q because they can get away in time or just out of your reach (usually you'll be fine unless they have a blink).

Small Tip: If you are going for a stun proc to initiate a fight, use W and immediately cast E on the target. It is sort of like Garen's Ult while in Spin2win where his Ult will cast from where you use it while spinning. This will also give an advantage cuz your Q will have an extended range to further your chances of stunning the target.

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Passive Armor Bonus

Xerath's passive is among one of the best passives in the game as of now. There is a huge advantage of building pure AP, especially with the current meta having some sort of bruiser. With the massive amount of damage he can put out in a matter of seconds, he is often focused by these melee champions, eg. Irelia, Pantheon, Jarvan. The passive amount of armor you get just by building glass cannon is outstanding.

His passive gives him 15% of his current AP in bonus armor.
With building pure AP and getting completely fed with these runes, you can usually reach nearly 700 AP

700*.15= 105 bonus armor.

105+75 base armor @ level 18 = 180 armor

Damage Multiplier = 100 / (100 + 180)
= 100 / 280
= 64.3% Reduced physical damage

64% damage reduction is nothing to complain about, especially since Rylai's gives added HP which dramatically increases your effective health.

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Poke Composition

Xerath works extremely well with a poke composition. Now, of course you may not get this in Solo Queue or normal games so this is more for the competitive side of League of Legends. Here is my tier list based on having champions that work well with Xerath

God Tier
Amumu: Pretty much self explanatory. He just has so much CC and can take away those pesky bruisers that are chasing you with his Bandage toss. He is just all around one of the best junglers to have with Xerath on the team.
Trundle: His Pillar of Filth is just incredible. It's arguably better than Anivia's wall and has a slow. Nothing will be able to reach you while you nuke the hell out of the enemy team. And if someone somehow reaches you, Trundle can use his ultimate to destroy that champion's resists.
Singed: His Goo is just broken. Simple as that. 80% move speed decrease will wreck the other team and they will never reach you. Same as Trundle without the wall.
Soraka: Her heals and mana will give you endless poke ability. The other team will be helpless to stop you as you keep pushing and take their towers.
Sona: AoE stun just wrecks people if multiple people get caught. Her sustain is amazing and she provides extra damage and a speed boost.

Top Tier:
Alistar: His CC can keep people off you and hit up multiple enemies in a single spot. His sustain also helps why you poke away at their health.
Galio: Good CC on his ult and Q. His W gives you a good amount of MR and Armor while his E gives you a speed boost to kite.
Wukong: Much like Alistar, except he lacks the ability to hit people off you but his knock up has the potential to hit all 5 people.

Mediocre Tier:
Taric: Decent sustain and the ability to stun for 1.5 seconds. The passive armor helps greatly but lacks the capability to protect you once they are on you.
Janna: She can easily reset a fight. She lacks the sustain however to allow you to take trades.
Udyr: Great at keeping people stunned for a long time and dishes out good damage, however the long wait before being able to stun again hurts his ability to keep you safe.

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Video Gameplay

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In conclusion, despite what anyone thinks, Xerath is an incredible AP Carry due to his range and the amount of burst he can do. His Ultimate has some of the highest burst damage in the game and his stun is so much more reliable than many of the other AP carries (like Brand) since he can hit them through minions instead of having to skill shot around them.

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