Xerath – A Review (And A Guide)

Posted: October 10, 2011 by xenocidebrm in Champions, Guides

Okay, so he wasn’t the AP Jungler I was hoping for. But the good news is that he is tons of fun and brings a set of fairly decent moves to the Fields of Justice!

To put it simply, Xerath is Brand with an enormous range. An AP caster, he relies very heavily on landing rapid combos for both farming and teamfights. I don’t mention harass because, unlike Brand, Xerath is not great at it. It’s not that he doesn’t do lots of damage or that he can’t hit his skillshots. The fact of the matter is that Xerath is absolute trash early game and really needs a harass lane partner or gank-heavy jungler to make the most of his abilities. All in all, however, Xerath is fairly balanced, perhaps even on the underpowered side.

Let’s start off with Xerath’s abilities. His Q, Arcanopulse, is a line skillshot which hits everything in its path after a short delay. Fairly long ranged for a single ability, its prohibitive mana cost keeps it from being a farming ability until later in the game. Instead, it does a good job of smacking damage on people as a mini-harass. If your opponent has no sustain, landing this skill a few times is as devastating as Nidalee spears. While the skill does have a delay and can be dodged, if your opponent doesn’t catch you preparing to cast this they will almost certainly be unable to dodge. Just remember to lead your target.

Xerath’s E, Mage Chains, is a point and click ability that does damage to a target and marks it. Hitting a marked target with another spell stuns the target, and this forms the basis of Xerath’s combo: fire off Mage Chains, follow up with Arcanopulse, similar to Brand’s stun. With just these two abilities, it’s not really that impressive, but in a teamfight being able to lock down a carry is easy and useful.

Xerath’s ultimate, Arcane Barrage, can be cast up to three times before going on cooldown. All three casts are area of effect balls that hit the targeted area after a short delay. The second and third casts cost no mana, so there’s no reason not to spam this ability if you’re sure you can hit. With amazing base damage and a decent 0.6 ratio, the damage from casting this three times feels similar to Brand’s ultimate when it bounces. It also has a better range than Q and is easier to hit with, so Xerath’s normal combo is E-R-Q-R-R. You can even land the entire combo before the player can move out of the stun, which feels a little unfair until you realize that you are completely helpless until all of your stuff comes off cooldown again. If you’re facing a Xerath, please, focus him even if he’s in the back. If you let his combo come off cooldown again, you will lose your teamfight.

Locus of Power, Xerath’s W, ties all of these abilities together. With their normal short ranges these spells deal less damage than Brand and are laughable. With Locus of Power activated, Xerath is immobile, but his ability range is greatly increased and he gains a percentage Magic Penetration. Unless you own Xerath, you won’t fully understand “greatly increased” until you’ve seen Xerath fire his Q at you while you’re behind your tower. His E does not gain nearly as much range, forcing him to close to land a stun, but his Q and R decisively outrange any other champion in the game. Early game, this has a long cooldown to be reactivated, and once again gimps his harass. However, later in the game the cooldown can reach only a few seconds, allowing him to fire off a long range spell, move away, fire off another long range spell, and so on. Exiting the Locus mode is instant and grants him a speed boost which helps him get away from danger. The speed boost isn’t significant enough that spamming the abilities will make you move faster than normally walking (floating), but it lets you get away from situations other AP champions would have severe problems outrunning.

Xerath’s passive, however, is perhaps the most underappreciated part of his toolkit. Xerath gains bonus armor equal to 15% of his total AP. This means, with a Rabadon’s Deathcap, Xerath gains 27.3 armor. That’s a free Cloth Armor, which means a free 300 gold. With proper runes and build, you can skyrocket this to nearly 100 armor, all without spending a single gold or item slot on protective items. Needless to say, AP is very important on Xerath.

DamnDirtyCat’s Xerath Build

Runes: Flat AP Quints, Scaling AP Reds, Yellows, and Blues. Xerath shines late game and his major problem early game stems not from his statistics but from the nature of his abilities. No amount of Rune fixing can help his early game, so I kit him out for late game dominance. No Magic Pen Reds, as his W will give him more than enough to virtually ignore Magic Resistance. You could stick some Mana Regen Yellows or Cooldown Reduction Blues if those things are more your style, but I think focusing on Xerath’s passive and late game damage is essential.

Masteries: 10/0/20 or 9/0/21. A standard caster build, Xerath isn’t much different. Grab Cooldown Reduction where possible, as this is his biggest limiting factor.

Starting Items:  OR x3 OR x2

Depending on the type of Xerath you want to play, you have three builds. Doran’s Ring is for an aggressive, early game harass build against champions with low sustain. Boots and pots is only if you know you’ll be against someone with skillshots that can be dodged or heavy harass characters. Sapphire Crystal and pots is my preferred build, a defensive build which lets you rush to Catalyst faster for more sustain.

Early Game:

There are really only two options for Xerath early game, Catalyst the Protector for sustain and Mercury’s Treads for Tenacity. The Catalyst is necessary for the Rod of Ages and gives Xerath the sustain to stay in lane until he can afford the Rod. The Mercury’s Treads are really only necessary if you feel you aren’t dodging enemy skillshots well enough or are constantly getting stunned, otherwise hold off on these until you get a Rod of Ages. I don’t use Sorcerer’s Shoes because your W already gives you percent Magic Penetration: flat Magic Penetration actually decreases the efficiency of your W because of how Magic Penetration is calculated.

Mid Game:

The Rod of Ages is Xerath’s core item, as it gives him the HP, Mana, and AP he’ll need for late game. Buy a Mejai’s soon after if you’re doing well, and then rush Rabadon’s, his second core item. Finally, you should have enough before late game to afford a Fiendish Codex for more AP, Mana Regen, and Cooldown Reduction.

Late Game:

Xerath really begins to shine late game. Your Rod of Ages should be maxed out and you want to further supplement your high damage with Cooldown Reduction, building your Fiendish Codex into either Morello’s Evil Tome or Deathfire Grasp, depending on whether the enemy team likes getting close to you or not. For additional AP, grab either an Abyssal Scepter if they enjoy getting close or a Void Staff if they keep far away from you. A Banshee’s Veil is an acceptable replacement for another AP item if the enemy team is doing a particularly high amount of magic damage, though I prefer Abyssal Scepter for Magic Resist. Don’t forget to buy Elixirs of Brilliance to max out your AP and CDR.

Skills: R > Q > W > E. I know people are going to criticize me for leaving his high damage ability, E, for last. However, his Q does more than enough damage and gains enormous utility from his W. Being able to use W more often is incredibly useful for poking and farming, whereas you’ll probably only end up using E once in a teamfight.

Strategy: While Xerath is an AP caster, you almost never want to send him mid, as early game he is outclassed by just about everyone. However, he needs solo lane XP and gold to scale properly. Stick him in top lane for the best results unless the enemy team is sporting a particularly low-sustain mid laner. Your job as Xerath is to not get killed. Allow your lane to push and use your W plus your Q to farm from the safety of your tower. If your jungler is nice enough to gank top, landing your stun and ultimate guarantees a kill. Your ultimate only has a minute to minute and a half cooldown, so don’t be afraid use it for harass or to clear big minion waves. If your tower is not down, keep farming, otherwise stick with the team and stay in the back. Use your range to your advantage, popping quickly in and out of your W to harass as much as possible. Blue buff helps Xerath most mid game, so ask your jungler if you can grab it once or twice. If you can’t harass the enemy team without overextending, just keep farming. Once you hit level 18 and have two or three late game items, you’ve pretty much won. At this point you can stun and kill the enemy carry with ease from outside their sight range. STAY BEHIND YOUR TEAM UNTIL THE ENEMY STARTS TO RUN. This is very important, as running in too soon will gimp the tremendous range and damage advantage you bring to the team.

Tactics: Your Q has a huge range and width even without Locus of Power active. When killing minion waves with it, try to hit the enemy champion as well, disrupting their farm without impeding yours. / Locus of Power at level 5 has a very short cooldown. Activate it, use one spell, and deactivate it and run backwards, then repeat. You can kite most characters with ease this way. / If you sit just outside enemy tower range with your W, your Q and R can hit people under and behind the tower without the tower attacking you. This is a great way to harass while denying both XP and gold to an opponent. / With your E, landing any other spell stuns the target. Use your easier to land R to stun a target first, then use your Q on the now stationary opponent and finish them with the remaining R casts. / While leaving Locus mode grants you a speed boost, activating it and deactivating rapidly won’t get you to places any faster than normally walking. It can, however, get you out of a gank if you have time to activate and deactivate it. / When activating W, trying to fire your E at an enemy before they are in range will set Xerath to automatically fire it at them when they do come in range, provided you take no other actions.

  1. Gorgosch says:

    Nice Report. Very detailed, and makes me want to try this champ in the free week ahead of us.
    One important information is already in between your lines, but not especially remarked.

    The information about how to beat the champ.

    1) Harass early since he is week.
    2) Dodge the q spell
    3) Attack after ulty was used
    4) Hiding behind tower is not of much use
    5) More vulnerable to magic damage than to attack damage, because of his passive

  2. Capac Amaru says:

    Shiny new colors for his skins! Xerath is RGB now!

  3. Do you have a spam issue on this website; I also am a blogger, and I was curious about your situation; many of us
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