Introduction12/4/12 - I'm currently in the process of reevaluating my builds due to Season 3 changes. I've redone masteries. I think the runes and item builds I have currently are still very good but we'll see going forward.
Herro der! I am CRUEL42 and this is my Cho guide. I finished 2.4k Season 2, Cho'gath is my main. I've played him since I started as a lowly lvl 1 account all the way till where I am now. My win percent with him is 53% in ranked. I believe he is the most funnest, bestest champion to play in LoL. Possesses highly difficult/rewarding skill shots, multiple viable rune/mastery/item paths to suite your playstyle, and the most satisfying Ultimate in the game.
This champion is walking terror. Cho is a tank that can take ridiculous amounts of punishment while dishing out hilarious amounts of AOE (Area of Effect) damage and CC (Crowd Control). It is incredibly hard to initiate against a Cho'Gath on the opposing team. The amount of disruption he provides makes him perfect for counter-initiation and protecting squishy targets. He also performs as an anti-carry, his single target burst is simply insane. As a laner, Cho'Gath has an incredible amount of sustainability and harasses hard. He puts an incredible amount of pressure on the opposing laner because of the necessity to avoid his skill shots and the threat of his ultimate. Cho fits perfectly into the current meta as a sustainable top lane tank and that is how I will build him in this guide. I don't like building pure tank, as he scales incredibly well with AP (Ability Power) and those bonuses are too good to pass up. He is a great counter pick to the Duo AP meta, as his skill set makes him extremely potent against enemy Mages.
This setup provides the beefiness to survive early lane aggression and some offensive punch to fight back. I think that 9 into Offense is more appealing than 9 into Utility currently (although 10% CDR on Summoner Spells is tempting). I'll put both 9 point builds here.
Offense Tree (9):
1 point into the Ignite mastery. 5 AP + AD is really good for a single point. The other 3 into either Attack Speed or CDR, both are good and it depends on your matchup. Attack Speed will be better against bruisers and CDR will be good against mages. Generally Attack Speed will be more useful because it also helps you last hit slightly better.
The AP/lvl and Magic Pen branch is more useful to Cho'Gath than the AD branch because his spells do a boatload of damage with AP and Penetration.
Defense Tree (21):
First 4 points I put into Health/lvl, Health regen isn't as good on Cho because he has his passive and Reduce Minion Damage works only on jungle monsters.
The next tier I put 6 points into both Armor and MR. Resistances are expensive and the more you have early the more you can tank going into the mid game.
Next I have points into the Reduce Damage from Champions tree and both the Tenacity and Maximum Health. All of these are useful to mitigate damage and to make you harder to bring down. Obviously I also invest the point into flat Health to increase early tankiness.
My last 2 points are into Defender, which is 1 MR and Armor per enemy champion around you, and Reduce Total Damage. These are two extremely good masteries for a single point.
If you plan on buying Merc Treads, I'd also recommend shifting points from Tenacity into Legendary Armor.
Utility Tree (9):
Utility Tree will be safer than the Offensive Tree. Points into Flash mastery and MS will increase mobility. Summoner Spell CDR and the ward mastery are the best 4 points in the next tier imo. The 9th point into Biscuit for safer laning.
RunesReds: Magic Pen. Increases the damage on your spells. Most of Cho'Gath's damage is magic and these are the best choice for damage amp.
Alternatives: Armor. If struggling against incredibly aggressive early damage or a 2v1 lane.
Yellows: Armor to combat AD bruisers.
Alternatives: Health per lvl against mages.
Blues: Flat MR. Withstand lane harassment.
Alternatives: MR per lvl or AP per lvl if you don't anticipate much magic damage early.
Quints: AP. More damage overall. Even helps you last hit due to scaling on .
Alternatives: Movespeed, helps you escape from ganks and get into position to land spells. Armor/MR for extra beef early.
Flash is a beautiful spell. It will get you out of danger and put you in better position to land key spells.
Cho'Gath is dangerous in lane, this makes him more so. Adds to your burst damage when attempting to kill your lane opponent. For most champions, the second slot is personal preference, but I don't consider running anything else on Cho.
I lied. TP (Teleport) is a really good spell too. Against some difficult opponents, TP can be a reliable crutch to get you through the laning phase. If you are dominating, TP can be used for roaming and ganking. It's also much better mid to late because positioning wins games.
Whenever Cho'Gath kills a unit, he recovers 34 - 68 (+2.5 each level) health and 3.5-7.75 mana (+0.25 each level).
One of the best passives in the game. This gives you incredible lane sustainability for your early lvls. Drops off in usefulness late game, so you should be exploiting the advantages in the laning phase by LAST HITTING. Taking some harassment will be worth it if you can get dem last hits.
Ruptures the ground at target location. After a short delay, enemies are launched into the air for 1 second, dealt 80 / 135 / 190 / 245 / 305 (+100% of ability power) magic damage, and have their movement speed slowed by 60% for 3 seconds.
Cooldown 10 seconds
Cost 90 mana
NOTE: This ability reveals Champions in bushes.
This ability separates the good Cho's from the great. Rupture provides one of the best AOE CC abilities in the game, and the damage output is also very, very good. The draw is the "short delay" after cast. It is very easy to dodge if not placed correctly or if the enemy is expecting it, it will probably take many games to get the hang of it. Practice makes perfect with this skill.
In the lane phase, Rupture is very useful for stopping bruisers with gap closers. If you can anticipate opponents jumping on you, dropping a rupture at your feet and retaliating with auto attacks can win you trades.
Later on, when opponents buy boots 2, the most common way to land this ability is to combo it off your teammates' CC. Another use of this ability is to cut off opponents' escape routes, forcing them to either be hit by the knock up or to turn around into your team to avoid the CC. During team fights, you'll either want to drop rupture into the opponents back line, targeting the AD/Support combo or into their bruisers/assassins to stop them from jumping onto your carries.
W: Feral Scream
Cho'Gath screams in a cone in front of him, silencing enemies for 2 / 2.5 / 3 / 3.5 / 4 second(s) and causing 75 / 125 / 175 / 225 / 275 (+70% of ability power) magic damage.
Cooldown 16 seconds
Cost 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 mana
Separates the good from the mediocre. A much easier to land skillshot, and only one of few AOE silences in the game. This skill is Cho'gath's most reliable form of harassment and damage. Learning how to use this skill in lane will grant you dominance over your opponent. If you use this spell quick enough, even if the opponent walks out of the cone, it will still hit them, giving this skill a deceiving amount of range.
E: Vorpal Spikes
Toggle: Cho'gath's physical attacks launch spikes which deal 20 / 35 / 50 / 65 / 80 (+30% of ability power) magic damage to a line in front of him.
Makes your auto attacks hit really hard. Unless your lane opponent activates some kind of steroid, this ability will let Cho win auto attack trades early on. Helps you last hit and farm much easier. Make sure to turn off when attacking towers with champions underneath, it provides no bonus and draws tower shots if it hits enemy champs.
Deals 300 / 475 / 650 (+70% of ability power) damage to target champion, or 1000 damage to target minion (ignores resists).
If the target is killed by Feast, Cho'Gath grows, gaining 90 / 120 / 150 maximum health (maximum 6 stacks). Cho'Gath loses up to half (rounded up) stacks upon death.
Cooldown 60 seconds
Cost 100 mana
Cho'gath's signature OMNOMNOMNOMNOOOOOM!!!! Basically there are 3 uses of this ultimate:
1. On Enemy Champions - Feast is a great finisher. Combined with Ignite, guarantees a lot of TRUE damage. Generally waiting for the red indicator and an insta kill is a luxury, don't miss out on kills when you're waiting for ignite to tick down and they flash away before you can feast. When I have 6 stacks, I also use Feast to harass in lane sometimes. My opponents are usually like o.O and then die when it comes off CD (because the CD is very, very short). During team fights, it's generally not wise to wait to use this ability for an enemy champion to get low enough to kill them. If you can feast a high priority target, even if they are at full health, go ahead and do it. It will frighten them and make it much easier for teammates to burst them down.
2. On Minions - When you don't expect a life or death struggle with your opponent in the next 60 seconds, use Feast to build up HP stacks. The laning phase is the easiest way to start building stacks that pay major dividends in the mid/late. If you are purple side, Feast makes it very easy to do the Double Golem camp on your way to your lane, just don't Feast instantly because the big golem goes over 1k health pretty quick into a game.
3. On Objectives (Buffs, Dragon, Baron) - Feast does 1000 true damage, Smite only does ~800 even at lvl 18. You can use Feast to steal/secure crucial objectives easily.
Note: There is a cast delay on Feast. Opponents can flash away even as the animation is starting. Factor that in when attempting kills/buff steals.
Be sure to get if there are lvl 1 fights. I get lvl 2 to win trades against bruisers. I max first because it is your most reliable form of damage and next to maximize your burst damage.
Boots + 3 pots is almost becoming mandatory these days for solo laners because of the increasing regularity of low lvl jungle ganks and heavy harass from lane opponents. This item build gives tons of sustainability for the early lvls where Cho is the weakest and will help you get away from early jungle ganks. Grab a mana pot if you feel confident about winning your lane.
For a 2v1 lane or against a hard bruiser or against some super regen bs. I suggest running MS Quints if you plan on running no boots starting items.
This build gives cheap health, cheap ability power, and cheap mana regen. These stats are probably the most useful for winning the laning phase as Cho'Gath. You'll be relying on your passive and potions for sustainability.
This gives a huge regen advantage in lane. If you want to pick this up, pick it up the first time you base for its maximum effectiveness and sell it for the mid game item slot. This item's regen does not stack with potions, so you can't pop both and regen at the same time.
Rushing boots 2 will usually help if you are losing a lane because of the cheap defensive benefits it offers and the speed to run from ganks. Buy boots to help with your lane matchup, don't opt for purely for teamfights against a strong bruiser because you'll end up getting pushed around and unable to farm. You could always sell the tabi later for mercs if you have extra money.
Always buy with left over money. I usually opt for 3 potions on me for the early game, if I'm struggling or if I want to start pushing around.
Mid game is pretty straight forward with this build.
Against Magic Damage lane oppoenent. (Or if you are winning handily)
Against AD opponents.
Once you finish one, finish the other. Both give strong stats for Cho'Gath, offensively and defensively. As an added bonus, they also give great auras to amp your teams total damage and mute your opponents.
By the late game, you should have your core: ( or )
This itemization gives a good mix of Offense and Defensive stats that should counter most of what your opponents throw at you. Your next items are usually decided by the state of the game, as well as enemy composition.
GET THIS ITEM. After you have both aura items, nothing helps the team out more than map control. This item is perfect for Cho because my build has no Health from mid game items and this + its upgrade is much appreciated.
This item is also pretty good on Cho. Health+AP+other goodies that are actually useful compared to Rylai's.
Little known fact: Cho has the highest base attack damage at lvl 18. This combined with makes it beneficial to bump up your attack speed. This item increases your DPS considerably while adding some nice defensive stats.
My build relies on and Feast Stacks for mid game HP. Phage will definitely help out defensively at this point of the game and a Phage proc will make it much easier to land . This item combos very well with and is upgradable to .
Not very useful early/mid because when you lose fights, it's because you got caught with your pants down and a quick revive usually ain't gonna help. GA is strong late game defensive option both because armor is good against that fed AD carry and the revive can make or break huge teamfights.
This item is great against Tanky/DPS teams when they are trying to bullrush your carry.
Flat Health without having to wait for stacks. If you want to get straight up tankier against a mixed damage team with no fuss this is the go-to item now.
Building this instead of Randuin's for that second major armor item is not a bad idea. Combo's very well with Frozen Heart for crazy tanking ability.
While I don't think these items are completely unviable, these are just some personal opinions and justifications on my item choices.
Too expensive for how little it does. May need some for experimentation, but I find it better to just build more Armor and Health and just tank the tower shots.
Not enough upfront benefits. No AP for laning from Catalyst.
If I need MR I will build Abyssal or Twin Shadows or Spirit Visage. The bubble is not terrible, but not incredibly useful on a front line tank.
No point gimping yourself in lane. Buy Pots and a shiny new Flask for regen early.
Get the new opera mask (Liandry's) for more AP damage.
The support and jungler are probably gonna pick this up. If they don't, you could pick it up if your team really needs it after your Abyssal+Frozen Heart combo.
A really expensive item. The only reason AP champs build this is because they think they can benefit from the slow. While it does apply a 15% slow on and , I find it unnecessary and unnoticeable most of the time. If you need health and a slow build and build for AP.
Incredibly situational, I haven't built this in forever. + shuts down autoattackers very well already.
Early Game (Laning + Ganking Phases)In lane, your focus should be on last hitting. This keeps Cho'gath's HP and mana up to withstand enemy harass. You should use to harass your opponent. I don't like using in lane very much for pure harassment because it is very hard to hit and the mana costs on Cho'gaths abilities are a little high. Use defensively, making sure to add in auto attacks if you land it to win trades. Managing Cho'gath's mana is key during the early stages, it's important to keep a good reserve in case of ganks from the jungle. Farming should be your #1 priority, with shutting down your opponent a close 2nd. Remember that farming gives you more mana to harass with, so just FARM FARM FARM.
Early Levels (1-3):
- Until you have a point into your , bruisers will win trades. But once you do don't be afraid to get into an auto attack battle if you land because it will give you a few free hits.
- Blowing ignite early if you think you can win an all in is very much worth it because it will give you free stats, frighten your opponent, and will be back in time for lvl 6 where you have a good chance of killing your opponent with Feast.
- Cho'gath's early CC makes early jungle ganks much more viable than other champs. Just don't waste your Rupture. Usually you would lead with and wait for your jungler to apply red buff or another form of CC and then throw out .
- At this point, Cho becomes almost immovable in lane. As long as you continue to last hit and trade damage with your , you'll find Cho's sustainability and damage wins out most of the time.
- It's important to know the timing of a jungle gank, especially Blue side. You have to worry about the lvl 2 from red, the lvl 3 with double buffs, or the lvl 4 with double buffs. From Purple side the most common timings are the lvl 2 with Blue or the lvl 4 with doubles. Past these common timings the enemy jungler could be anywhere, ward up.
- Be careful of ganks from the bush, if your opponent pushes you back to your tower the enemy jungler could be waiting in the bush when you finally push back.
- With your ultimate up, Cho'gath's burst damage is incredibly good. Don't be afraid to go in for the kill if you've harassed your opponent down to half, and you land your .
- If you don't expect to kill your lane opponent soon, build up feast stacks. These pay huge dividends the quicker you can acquire them.
- Always play conservatively when your is down. When it's up, go ahead and lane confidently and harass hard.
- Buy wards when basing. Place them conservatively, don't gamble and place wards too far ahead because junglers can come up the river if you are blue side.
Match-UpsI'm going to try and summarize my mindset against common champions seen top lane.
Does tons of damage, both burst and sustained. Avoiding his Q in lane will limit his harass and if he hooks you in, dropping Rupture and a few auto attacks will allow you to disengage. Cho has 10 MS advantage so he shouldn't be able to dictate your engages. You actually do more burst lvl 6 unless he hits you with a 5 stack Guillotine so try not to let the hits stack up.
Be incredibly careful early on. GP is one of the most underrated duelists lvl 1-2 and with his passive he is very capable of securing a kill if he gets in a few Q's and autoattacks. This is one matchup where an Armor+5 start is recommended as there is little Cho can do to prevent early Q harass. However, later on Cho can sustain through creep kills and an early purchase of Ninja Tabi (which reduces Parley by 10%). GP cannot cleanse Cho's knockup, but he can cleanse the slow afterwards as well as the silence.
Irelia is dangerous when she activates her Hiten Style and relatively weak without it. With this in mind, when she jumps on you, drop Rupture immediately and kite her when she activates Hiten. When it's on cooldown, you can harass her off creeps with your own autoattacks and farm relatively safely. Irelia is slippery throughout the game due to her passive and stun so be careful when tower diving or trading at low health.
When Jax activates his dodge he wants to be aggressive. Keep this in mind because you can drop rupture at your feet before Jax stuns. Cho wins a straight auto attack battle if he can land Rupture so bully Jax around early. Cho has superior sustain and damage for most of the lane phase. Just be careful of ganks because Jax is easy to gank for and does incredibly well with items.
Be wary of auto attack harass. Some players have AD runes and masteries and Kennen's auto attacks can really add up. Dodge or stand behind creeps to prevent Q harass and harass yourself with W. Kennen has his lightning rush to dodge your Q so be careful when throwing it out.
Lee Sin plays very aggressive early. He has a lot of upfront damage with his Q and passive, so be sharp with Rupture when he's flying towards you. Let your sustain carry you through the rough early game and Lee Sin falls off quickly if he can't kill you or zone you.
Farm it out. Malphite is very tanky and hard to kill. Trading spells should keep you ahead and Cho'Gath does more damage and has more sustain throughout the entire game. Keeping his shield and mana down will let you whittle him down for a kill. Be careful of ganks at lvl 6 and his Unstoppable Force.
Farm it out. If she can't zone you early with autoattacks, Cho's sustain and AP makes wave clearing easy and stops Nid from pushing you down. Punish her if she farms with Cougar by laying Rupture when she jumps and autoattacking.
Be careful of early Ax throws. You can whittle him down with W harass and laying Rupture when he runs up for his true damage smash. Olaf's ultimate will let him ignore CC so be careful if he's tower diving you.
Rupture when he dashes towards you. Cho wins the auto attack battle in his back line so don't be afraid if you land Q. If Renekton pushes you around early he will dominate the rest of the lane. Don't be afraid of straight up fighting him early, if you land your spells you can win. For the rest of the lane let your sustain carry you through.
Riven has a very obvious engage. If she gets hit with rupture you can beat her down early with your Vorpal Spikes. Don't let her get too much free damage on you, Cho has much more sustain than Riven so if you trade equal damage you can win easily. Keep your HP high, especially at 6.
Avoid his slow. Drop Rupture when he puts on his shield and starts gunning for you with flamespitter. Once you get some farm under your belt and grab Merc Treads, Rumble can't do much to you. Use your Silence to knock him around and disrupt his combo. You win auto attacks with Vorpal Spikes and when Rumble is out of his Overheat mode. Be wary of his Ultimate, it does massive damage if you stay in too long.
Don't let him Ultimate away from you in lane. Always check the bushes he runs into and interrupt his Stand United with either your Silence or Knockup. Shen can't all in very well, so just keep farming and your passive should overcome any Q harass from him. Drop Rupture if he dashes towards you.
Be careful of ganks. Singed is one of the best heroes to gank for due to his flip and slow so it is extremely important to watch for the enemy jungler. Otherwise, don't let him farm for free. Use autoattacks and your spells to stop him from wave clearing. You should win 1v1's early because landing spells on Singed should be easy. If you hit him hard early, Singed has a hard time recovering.
He can't hurt you early. His Q has a very large CD and doesn't do that much at early lvls. Try to catch him with Rupture when he goes in to farm and hit him hard at early lvls. Vlad shouldn't really become a threat until he has his Q maxed out or some form of CDR. He also can't whittle you down with his manaless spells if you last hit well.
Farm it out. If you're good, you can last hit his ghouls for some regen. Watch the ghouls health bar tick down for the timing. Yorick's spells are relatively short range, so you should be able to trade back with your Silence.
Mid/Late Game (Teamfight Phase)During this time your team should be focused on completing 3 essential objectives:
- Tower kills
Positioning as a team is essential during this period as well as map control, as the opposing team wouldn't take it kindly as you stomp all over their face. Making sure you are correctly positioned and being aware of enemy team movement is key in winning the team fights which ultimately leads to the aforementioned objectives.
- Be wary of face checking and even wandering into enemy territory to ward, if there are a lot MIA. Getting caught is a sure way of losing team fights.
- Be sure to move as a team through enemy territory when attempting to steal buffs or ward the map. In other words, if your team is confident enough to roam through the opposing jungle, make you are in position to engage correctly if you do happen to come across the opposing team.
- Don't stray too far from Baron for too long. If the enemy team spots you bottom and they are in position, they will attempt Baron and force a 4v5 if you're not careful. (This would be a good reason to take , but it really is a difficult skill to use correctly and not especially useful as guaranteed kills in lane, which can give, are until you reach super competitive/skilled environments.)
- Don't take too long to buy. This is understated, but the more time you spend in base the more vulnerable your team is on the map.
- Always carry a handful of wards. They really are worth their weight in gold. Spotting enemy movement is such a powerful thing and I can't stand wandering around when I have no idea what the other team could be doing.
- Keep Baron and it's entrances warded. Probably the most game swinging objective on the map, if an enemy team can sneak one by you it is really devastating.
- Buy an oracle's. While having vision is great, denying enemy vision is also important. Kill enemy vision when attempting Dragon or Baron and you'll find it much easier to take as opponents can not steal and must "guess" when to engage to prevent as they are unsure of your progress when taking them.
- Push out lanes. This lets you maneuver and roam freely. Keeping your lanes pushed also forces your opponents to move and defend, giving you time to ward or group.
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
NOTE: Never forget to auto attack. is another powerful spell, especially during the lane phase.
Longest range spell combo. Incredibly difficult to hit unless your opponent is not expecting, or you are comboing off your allies CC.
If possible, this is your bread and butter (what you should be using most of the time). The silence makes it much harder to dodge because they can't use and such. During team fights, this spell combo is your most powerful form of CC. has such a high risk/reward that anything you can do to maximize your chances of landing it go a long way.
+++++ Auto Attacks
Largest possible single target burst available. Only use if you're sure you can land the kill. If you land , even if your opponent has flash you can land this full spell combo due to your CC which makes it VERY powerful.
If my team needs me to initiate, this is the most reliable way to. Just leading with is ridiculously easy to dodge and walking up to is but a dream. Although there are better champions with better initiations if you must don't be afraid to go for it. Also use this + and to kill carries during team fights.
Team Fight Advice:
- You are the tank, don't pussy out. Be brave youngling! Courage!
- What's the best way to protect your team? By killing off the enemy team! Burst down the most important target you can get your hands on. If you simply can't reach that AD or AP carry (cause your is down), go ahead and burst down the tanky dps. What's worse is you get kited and before you know it the fight's over and you haven't used your spells.
- Try to hit as many people as possible with +, but prioritize hitting their mages with . Silence is really powerful.
- If the enemy team has lots of gap closers and you fear for your carries, use your to CC them away from your carries instead of blindly trying to hit theirs.
- Don't blow your spells farming or on Baron before a fight. The CD's are long and getting caught with your spells not up can be the death of your team.
JunglingIma redo this whole section soon.
I'm thinking Hunter's into spirit stone -> boots -> Doran's Shield -> Oracle's -> Aegis. Then Spirit of the Ancient Golem + Sightstone. Boots 2 would be ninja tabi since the Spirit of the Ancient Golem gives Tenacity.
Final CommentsThis guide is ALWAYS a work in progress. Any comments or concerns are very much appreciated. The usual shoutouts to all my friends, but I'd like to give a special one to Sherman: for introducing me to the game, getting me through that hilarious lvling phase, and starting and supporting our ragtag team SF (Team Sherman's Friends :P). Another shoutout to http://www.ivylol.com/ and http://www.own3d.tv/DyreWolfy. Thanks for reading guise, and I hope to see plenty more good Cho's out there.