IntroductionHello everyone at Solomid. I go by the name TipaKEE, which is a long story from my childhood. My summoner name however is mootrain and I was a high silver player last year. I started league of Legends around the launch of open beta, took a break and than started back up strong around the Irelia patch. I hit 30 with a few weeks left in Season 1 and was hopeing to get placed higher.
Since the launch of Xerath I have played 50 games with the new champion and have found many misconceptions about Xerath so I decided to write a guide to try and help people understand how to effectively use and play Xerath.
This guide will be focused on the solomid summoner's rift style Xerath. I have little experience with his top lane abilities, and bot lane does not fit well into the current meta. Also I tend to play Xerath very defensive and rely heavily on strong positioning (sitting in the back), if you wish to be more aggressive (risky) you can tweak this build or look for another build potentially.
MasteriesAfter playing enough games with the new masteires I can confirm that Xerath wants to go 21/0/9. Most of the utility masteries do not supply damage and instead offer more situational stats. Xerath is the most obvious caster to run 21/0/9 since he will never be in the middle of a teamfight or even close to one. Also Xerath with a double/triple Dorans opening into Morelleos should have no mana problems.
Also note that I take improved flash and I prefer to run teleport on Xerath so I pick up the corresponding mastery.
These are my preferred runes for both Xerath and Cass. Currently people are really in love with AP quints but I prefer to have atleast 1 or 2 movement speed quints to help me catch someone I would otherwise not. (One more spell getting off is way more damage than 10 ap) Also movespeed has some additional synergy with his W, but not enough to make them a must. This is largely preference.
Marks - One debate currently is whether or not to run Magic pen marks on Xerath or something else, like off colored AP marks. I am a firm believer that having Locus up Constantly is a nice, but very impractical in some fights. You will not always have that %magic pen, and my build Max's Locus last so you have very low Magic pen until than.
Seals - The best seals for Xerath are Mp5 because you really hurt for mana early, and being able to shoot out those Q's helps your lane alot. You can run a combination of flat and per level mana regen seals dependent on how many dorans rings you want to buy. A possible option is armor, but I feel that your passive more than gives you enough armor and you may not need the 13 armor at the start of every game, but you always need mana.
Glyphs - Since Xerath's full combo has 3.1 AP scaling I run AP per level/ or flat AP. This is again dependent on your preference but at level 6 the scaling glyphs outpace the flat ones. Level 6 is one where Xerath becomes immensely more powerful able to nearly double his burst. (.99/.17 = 5.82 for the math enthusiasts)
Summoner Spells to consider
Here is my first big deviation from the norm of standard play. Obviously many people take flash but I think teleport is the second best option for Xerath. Xerath is a long range champion, and his spells all have a longer range than summoner spells except for a non-locused E. Typically casters run ignite, exhaust, or ghost as the second summoner spell. In all of my games I have never needed ignite past the primary laneing phase. The short range of 600 makes useing ignite a deathwish past the laneing phase. You will be nukeing the enemy from the back of the fight, and you will not be in range to ignite the enemy. If you are ever close enough to ignite a champion, odds are you messed up on positioning, or your team has already won the teamfight. (or you love DFG, in which case consider ignite)
Additionally I do not like to take ghost with Xerath because I feel that a large amount of his damage revolves around him standing still for brief amounts of time. His Q has a mini channel time, and obviously his W roots him in place.
Of the three common summoner spells not included I feel that exhaust is the most useful on Xerath. Sometimes you will get jumped by a jungler or any ganker that needs to be up on your face. Since exhuast also has a defensive aspect to it, I can justify taking it. Additionally exhaust scales way better into late game than ignite and has similar uses early on.
Please note that summoner spells, like items, depend on the enemy team comp and also depend on what summoner spells your team already has. If your team does not have an exhaust, take one. If the enemy team has 4 healers, and your team relies on burst, take ignite. etc etc
EDIT: lots of reworks and tweaks to summoners, flash and tele still seem strong, but this might give rise to ignite taking the second slot. I cannot confirm yet but keep this in mind, I also think surge might be the second best option with how concentrated Xeraths burst timing is.
Let me start with all of Xerath's spells should be smartcasted. If you are still learning the ropes than try Xerath with non smartcast until you understand his range.
Also to address the skill order. Obviously many people max Q first. Some people prefer to max W second, I believe that this is a mistake. Maxing E first supplies more burst, and 50% more uptime on your stun. The range on W remains constant, maeing it a great one point wonder. The only advantage to maxing W first would be more Locus uptime, and more magic pen. Early game people have low MR values, also you don't need to Locus as often. Due to these reasons I prefer to max E first since it is not only useful to net a kill because of the additional burst, but it can also help a teammate with the stun component.
Passive: Ascended Form
Xerath feeds on arcane power, making him increasingly resilient to physical harm. He converts 15% of his Ability Power into Armor.
A Beautiful passive. Every champion hopes to have a money saver passive, and with this one you gain 15% of your ability power as armor. If you are looking to do a quick calculation in game scroll over the icon, or just say for every 100 AP I have 15 armor.
Fires a long-range beam of energy, dealing 75 / 115 / 155 / 195 / 235 (+60% of ability power) magic damage to all targets hit.
Cooldown 7/6.5/6/5.5/5 seconds
This is what determines a good Xerath from a bad one. Consistently landing this skill shot should be your goal. It has a relativity low CD with ranks, and will be used as your primary damage whenever your ult is on CD. The skillshot has a little delay so you will need to learn to lead the enemy or try to utilize your siege range with W and spam it just beyond the enemies line of vision. I max this first for both the farming, range, and damage it supplies. Also with full CDR at rank 5 the CD is 3 seconds, which means you can perform this move twice in your combo.
AP scaling .6
*I Manually put in the CD and mana scaling since solomid's data said both were static, I believe these to be correct.
W: Locus of Power
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.
Cooldown 20/16/12/8/4 seconds
One of the defining skills of Xerath. This is what drives most people crazy when playing against (or playing as) Xerath. When you activate this spell you take about half a second to root yourself in place. After rooting your range increases for all your skills, and provides some nice magic penetration as well. Another beauty of this skill is that it cost no mana. So be generous when it is off CD and you have proper positioning. This skill will result in lots of damage with very little risk or consequence. At the highest levels this skill has a CD similar to Q.
If you expect your burst to clean kill the enemy start the fight in W. If you expect the enemy to barley get away and MR isn't an issue, than don't start the fight by useing W.
E: Mage Chains
Deals 70 / 120 / 170 / 220 / 270 (+70% of ability power) 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.
Cooldown 12/11/10/9/8 seconds
Cost 70/75/80/85/90 mana
This skill when fired will fly towards a target. It deals damage initially when it hits then debuffs the target so that if you land another skill shortly after they will be stunned. The most common early game combo is to land E than a quick Q. Followed by a few autoattacks if you can handle the creep aggro then safely retreat before the enemy can retaliate. Once you have your ult, use that to stun the target as it is far more reliable to land.
AP scaling = .7
R: Arcane Barrage
Calls down a blast of arcane energy, dealing 125/200/275 (+60% of ability power) magic damage to all enemies in an area. May be cast up to three times within 12 seconds before going on cooldown.
Cooldown 80/70/60 seconds
Cost 150/180/210 mana
This spell currently is one of the best AOE nukes in the game. With insane .6 scaling and hitting the enemy 3 times it gives you a AP ratio of 1.8. Also it has damage comparable to other caster ults, but can hit up to 3 times. Also this spell has very little cast time, and is for most purposes considered instant. Just dont forget to spam the other 2 charges if the first one hits and they are needed. Really good Xerath players will also hold the excess charges that they didn't need to burst the target down and will still use them towards something useful. If your target is only going to take 2 ult pulses to kill, hold the 3rd charge for 11 seconds, you never know if might need it later. Many times I would kill my fellow opponent mid, than 8 seconds later the jungler would arrive. If you leave that 1 pulse around you can safely perform your E, R stun combo without breaking movement.
AP Scaling .6 Per, or 1.8
Xerath's typical early game combo is to just poke with Q. If you are in range always try to start a combo with E, than follow with any spell. Once you hit 6 your full combo, which is quite burst intensive should be E,R,Q,R,R,Q. This combo is nearly 800 damage, and can catch an opponent by surprise quite easily. Also understand that your combo can both be performed with your W up or down, and if you start a fight with W on and your burst doesn't kill the opponent, they will most likely not die to you.
Full combo AP scale with 1 Q = 3.1!!!!!!
Unless you have zero chance of taking damage, start , if you are in an easy lane and expect to never take damage start .
Frist trip home and if life is really going great X2
From here it is really dependant on how you see your game going. If you can reliably get a blue buff early on (i.e. its not solo que) than go for next. If you need more mana regen because you are unsure if you can get blues consistently than feel free to add on more dorans rings since the stats they give are amazing and they still sell fairly well when you need that inventory space later.
Morrello's is an amazing item on Xerath, I know many schools of thought rush a deathcap, or a RoA. The CDR it provides and again the mana regen will raise your damage in lane by so much, and it is very cheap compared to other final items making it a must buy in my book. (aweful pun intended) You should be able to farm this item fairly fast. (Pick up a DRG instead if you plan to be able to be in range of champions, this guide is focused more on the sit in the back, get quadra kills method. The useable on DRG is to strong to pass up... if you use it)
After completion of the Morello's I suggest or . Both of these items are fantastic on Xerath. Additionally the deathcap helps you reach the high numbers of AP that Xerath loves becasue both his skills and his passive. I would suggest a WoTA before a deathcap if you are haveing trouble sustaining in lane, or your have around 3 very ap reliant casters.
Lastly you should upgrade boots, this can be at any point in the game after your first intial dorans ring. So pick up your . I do not suggest the lucidity boots, they are quite trash if you are already getting a Morellos. Late game your team would be stupid to not let you have the blue and you will be CDR capped with blue buff, masteries, and Morellos. Also dont overlook these boots are a near must against some team comps, but if you trust in your positioning get sorcs shoes. If you get stunned or CC you are messing up anyways.
The WoTA is not neccesarilly in the "core" but it is still very strong in most games. After this point you need to think about what items would be best for your current game. Do not shy away from defensive items if you need them. Some great defensive items are . Your passive should take care of the armor aspect, so I tend to buy MR if I need a defensive item. However, if you really need armor than you can build an armor heavy item like or . Also if you have trouble landing skill shots, and need a little utility you can add , but this item is very expensive, gives little AP for the cost, and the enemy is stunned most of the time you land your spells so the passive is largely wasted. It can be helpful if your ult is on CD, and you need to nearly guarantee landing a Q right after E. This situation is rare tho, and doesn't justify 3.1k.
If you do not need defensive items because you are good at sitting very far back (this should be the case)you need to consider the enemies MR, if they are starting to exceed 130, or you expect you need to be mobile for most fights finish your
Because of Xeraths passive and his insane range; stacking pure glasscannon items can be very viable. That does not mean do it every game, you need to check the enemy team comp.
My typical final build looks like if the game allows
Typical final build against Magic assassins that can get on me no matter what like and a late game with ult. Also if i lane against I build this way
Typical final build against Burst AD assassins that can close the gap to me like , this does not include ranged AD's because they should never be close enough to me, and if they do get close my team should easily kill the other teams AD carry thus winning the teamfight.
Note: With and Morellos you have 34% CDR.(20% Morellos +10% from Blue Pot +4% from masteries) A strong purchase if you don't have blue buff.
Edit: Over the past couple of weeks I have had some succes with both builds and a situational late game . RoA if it is desired needs to be taken early, instead of a Morellos. I personally still prefer the CDR and mana regen of Morellos, but a ROA gives you some beefiness, regen, and ultimately 5 more AP for the inventory slot (It will however slow your build down since it is ~700g more than Morellos, and has less initial AP, no CDR, and lower regen at the trade off of health and mana). If you go down the RoA path you must Blue pot before all major teamfights.
In a similar way can offer you some health and utility. Xerath can hit multiple targets fairly easily and a 15% slow being applied 4+ times in one combo to the enemy can be helpful. However that slow many times clips itself and does not run for the full duration before being reapplied. Additionally like I mentioned earlier if you land a , you should be able to land a without or without the enemy being slowed. So the 35% slow from mage chains tends to be wasted because you outright stun the enemy. Both and are worth strong consideration if you desire health, but I do not generally prefer them. Thanks to AdmiralAardvark1 for bringing up this point.
Skill Ranges, Useful PlacesSince Xerath relies so heavily on solid positioning I decided to also add in pictures of all of Xerath's skills ranges, and useful places to Locus. All these positions are for the blue spawn, so reverse the logic and positioning for purple team.
First here is the range of his Q in standard form and locus form
His E range in standard form and Locus form
And his ult range in both forms
And lastly useful places to Locus at
Bot Lane Ganks
Top Lane Ganks
Mid Lane Ganks
In base siege, really useful for late game pushing and pokeing
Safe place to siege dragon
Lastly, siegeing baron from afar
Early GameEarly game is very simple for Xerath. Your goal should be to deal as much damage to the enemy as you can, without taking damage, or giving up CS. Early in lane if you take regen yellows you can use your Q fairly often once you reach level 3. About one every 15-20 secs. As with all champions try to both kill creeps and hit the enemy champion when you Q. The laneing phase should be pretty straight forward, but be wary of ganks. Xerath does not have alot of defensive stats early. Just do your best to make it to 6 with strong CS, and try to hold on to both your summoners.
Mid GameMid game is the best time for Xerath. I consider mid game to be level 6-15. Once you hit 6 look to use your ult CD since it is so short. You can ether get your opponent low, than port home and tele back and force tower damage on your opponent. Or you can gank a sidelane that preferably isn't warded. When you go for a gank, you need to land an E first. This is your shortest range spell and after it lands the enemy will run away. If you start with anything else you must make sure you can straight burst them down. If you know you will not need your W you can pop it in the bush, than cancel it for the 30% haste to help you land your E. Continue to farm strong in the midgame, now your Q should be close to 1 shotting minions
Late GameThis is the trickiest time to play Xerath. You are really reliant on your team to start fights, but you can burst extremelly well. You will be in the back of every teamfight. Positioning as Xerath is your top priority, followed by landing all your skills. You should try to maximize the amount of people hit with your R, but late game don't worry if you use it to just instagib one person. The CD is insanely short at 40% cdr, back in nearly 30 seconds.
I can not restate enough that late game positioning is very important for Xerath. You are only helpful to your team if you are alive.
As always take every blue buff and farm creeps
Update, Competitive Xerath UseHello everyone since writing my guide we have started to see Xerath used for some competitive matches. The first that I am aware is Crumbzz in this series I watched on Youtube. The Video publisher is ColbyCheeze, he has an awesome channel, and credit goes to him for uploading the videos. Additionally these matches were played for the NESL game of the week, so I want to give the organization credit for hosting the event.
In both these videos we see Crumbzz takes and . Ignite seems to help his early laneing very much. He is also aided by early blue buffs which helps him win his lane easily. I think the opponent might not have been used to a good Xerath because some mistakes occurred. In one instance in the first game Xerath burst Kennen down so fast Colby didn't have time to place the camera on the fight. Crumbzz' build starts a , which I think is bold. He follows it up with . In game one we see a followed by a rush. He also takes and in game one he finishes with just a implying to me he is going for a . In game 2 after Deathcap Crumbzz builds a . I assume that since Crumbzz had early blue buffs he skipped and reached high levels of CDR with a late game .
For Skill order Crumbzz followed the >>>.
The most impressive thing about Crumbzz' play is his abuse of the terrain. Every fight he sits in the back or to the far side and just pokes. One of the best positions i saw was near the enemy wolf camp. Crumbzz would and begin barraging the Tier 2 mid tower. Whenever he see a champion out of place he pops his ult. Crumbzz is very liberal about using his ult, mostly because it will be back so soon. Crumbzz also showcases alot of roaming after he pushes his lane up. Sometimes this nets him a kill, other times it helps his team to win the lane in the long run. Both games showcase the usefulness of Xerath. He is shown to be very strong at pokeing, while also being able to punish anyone who is out of position.
My favorite part of the videos is when the commentators come out and say "wow...so apparently Xerath is really good." (Paraphrased of course) At the end of the series even Colby begins to appreciate Xerath, despite having bad first impressions about him.
Final CommentsThank you everyone for reading! I put alot of effort into this guide and it was my first one. I am really bad at finding my own typos so please be nice about it. I will continue to edit, and this guide is still a work in progress. I have released it because I believe it will be helpful to many. I love playing Xerath and I hope I can convert many more into becoming a believer. I am still working on a in depth part with "nice spots" to use locus, and maybe a section on how to determine when to use locus, or non-locus.
Thanks for reading and here is proof the build is free wins! (That was sarcasm, these games are in normals and do not prove high elo validity, just that this build works:) ) well
*Don't judge my Vayne skills, I know I'm awful with her:)
**This is my own work, and i am making it exclusive to solomid since it has supplied me the best quality guides in the past. If you see this guide on other sites, I did not post it. Please give credit if you repost this anywhere. I fully encourage you to send your friends this URL if they have Xerath questions. Do not copy and paste this and claim it as your own.