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Xin Zhao: Sir Gankalot

Last updated on November 12, 2012
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Xin Zhao is one of the most under-rated champions in LoL. I rarely see him used as often as he is worth using. Most builds and build guides completely fail to exploit his strengths. He can be used in any lane effectively, even mid. I know it sounds crazy, but I've done it countless times.

This build focuses on high attack damage and speed, and revolves around having many tricks up your sleeve so that you're relying on regular hits very infrequently.

Xin Zhao will be unstoppable when he is high in three important areas, respectively.

Attack Damage
Attack Speed
Health Points

In this guide I'll cover how to get them all quickly, in the right order, and why.

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Which lane?

Any of them.

I learned Xin Zhao in the jungle, but tried this build on both top and bot lanes, solo top, as well as mid (just for kicks), and this build is fine in any of them.

I know you don't believe me. It's ok.

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As I said, one of the keys to Xin Zhao is attack speed. Since AD runes don't actually help much past early game, you should focus on getting that through items. Meanwhile attack speed is a percentage based system, so runes' effectiveness is relative. Use your rune slots to get attack speed off of your mind so that you can focus on attack damage.

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The first item is pivotal to this build. I have attempted Xin Zhao with countless other starting items, and have found that the Vampiric Scepter is by far the most effective. When combined with Xin's W skill, he can farm both lane and jungle creep without much fear of death, even early game. Using this build Xin can take the red buff alone at level 3.

Of course, movement speed is important in that Xin should be able to keep up with all other players. Get the Boots of Speed when you can, and upgrade to the Berserker's Greaves. Sometimes the Boots of Mobility can be helpful while jungling, but eventually you'll want to trade them out for something else, and I find that starting with the Berserker's Greaves right away can be a huge benefit. Remember that your runes are providing a great attack speed benefit - add 25% to it and you're really pumping out some rapid hits.

As I mentioned before, one of the key elements to this build is having many tricks up your sleeve. Xin Zhao can attack quickly and powerfully, but he has no way to trap his opponent. For this reason, the Bilgewater Cutlass is an extremely important next step in that it buys you significantly more time with your target. Follow this with Phage to slow them additionally while saving up to build Trinity Force.

Now that you're able to attack your opponents quickly and keep them around for a while, focus on making every hit count. At this point, Attack Damage should be your only concern. Get the B.F. Sword and Infinity Edge, or whatever else floats your boat. If you can attack quickly and powerfully while keeping them from running, you're set for life.

Alternatively you can focus on tanking rather than heavy AD. They're both effective, I just prefer swift "surprise sex."

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Creeping / Jungling

Since we all know that creeping should be last-hit-only, I'll speak mostly about jungling. However, regarding lanes, let me say that using the Q and W attacks aren't really that ill-advised. I realize that it drains mana and has a cooldown, but assuming you're playing prudently, the gains in creep are greater than the temporary mana loss. If you have a support or can grab the blue buff, you shouldn't think twice about using them for creep.

Regarding jungling...
If you can start with assisted wolves, great. If not, start blue with a leash; vampiric scepter and W skill will keep you at nearly full health, and assuming leash doesn't steal anything, you'll have level 2 immediately. Next hit wolves if you haven't already, then wraiths, and by this time you'll be able to take on the red buff just fine. I'm not even joking. Whether you take the red buff or take the golems, you'll have your gank skill after either. Keep jungling and covering lanes while your mates B, until you see some good ganks on the horizon.

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The whole build comes down to this section.
Xin Zhao was born to assassinate. Here are some pointers:

    Whenever possible, save your E skill until after your first engagement. Use it as they're trying to run away.
    First use W, then immediately after first hit use Q. On your third hit after Q, the opponent will be tossed upward, and that'll buy you time to use the Bilgewater Cutlass to slow them. Get a few more hits off and use E to catch up. If you can't finish them off here, use your ultimate as they're just about outside of your range. Alternatively, use the Ghost spell to chase them down.

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Spells, and Running Away

Regarding spells, use Smite or Ignite depending on whether you're jungling or in a lane. Always have Ghost. Ghost takes you further than Flash, and can be used more effectively both as an escape tool and as a chase tool.

With regarding to running, in addition to Ghost, use the Bilgewater Cutlass, and, as a last resort, your Ultimate. People say that Xin's biggest con isn't being able to get away, but it isn't true - he has three mechanisms for it besides prudent playing.