From last week’s edition of PROMOTE to now, I didn’t get many opportunities to climb the classic solo queue ladder. My review copy of Dark Souls came in the mail, so most of my spare time was devoted to frolicking about in that beautiful game. I did, however, pick up the new champion: Xerath, The Magus Ascendant to get in some games (mostly Dominion), so I’ll outline some thoughts and a general concept guide.
As you’ve probably guessed from the Xerath Champion Spotlight, this guy is top tier when it comes to long-range poking. There are obviously a number of champions who also possess strong poking abilities (Nidalee, Corki, Kog’maw, Galio, Morgana, to name a few), but Xerath and Kog’maw are pretty much the only ones who can easily pick off an unsuspecting squishy in the back.
Unfortunately, the trade-off for Xerath’s long-range power and accuracy is his real lack of control in a team fight. Some of the top tier mages in LoL are so chosen because they have great control spells along with huge burst potential. At best, Xerath can stun a single enemy for 1.5 seconds if he hits them with a combo of Mage Chains (E) to Arcanopulse (Q). Sadly, Xerath’s Q ‘telegraphs’ its intended direction a second before it fires, so it can be predicted and then dodged by smarter players. Control-wise, Brand is the most similar to Xerath, but Brand has more straight fire-power, not to mention the fact that Brand’s commonly used E>Q combo stun is difficult to dodge at shorter ranges.
Long story short, Xerath is great fun, but he requires a solid understanding of keeping maximum range and knowing when to enter a fight. If you see a teammate entering a fight, find a safe spot, choose the biggest threat, and unload everything at long range. I use him to KS everything so that it looks like I’m contributing!
Runes and Masteries
Personally speaking, I don’t like to give straight Rune / Mastery setups, just because they should vary depending on player preferences and personal play style. With my propensity for aggressive lane play (almost to a fault, see my Leona play), I prefer to optimize my Runes and Masteries for early level advantages, even if they might not the best for late-game setups.
For Xerath, I run with a standard mage mastery (9/0/21), while with runes I do 9x Magic Pen marks / 9x flat AP Glyphs / 9x CDR Seals / 3x flat AP Quints.
See above for why I don’t like to give specific Summoner Spell suggestions. That being said, think of the following:
Flash: For obvious reasons. Flash over a wall, set up Locus and kill EVERYTHING.
Ghost: Combine this with Xerath’s 2 second speed boost after exiting Locus. If they continue to chase, re-toggle Locus when it’s up, poke at long range, and then keep running.
Garrison: Dominion only (rly), but Xerath can work with it. Hide behind a wall, poke the cappers in the face, Garrison when the point gets low, run in circles screaming when people chase you.
Exhaust: Exhaust is silly for Xerath, but if you think you’re going to have people diving you all day, Exhaust with Locus’ speed boost can work. You can also use Exhaust to help you aim your Arcanopulse and Arcane Barrage. I SUPPOSE.
Ignite: While Flash / Ignite is usually the best choice for Mages around the world, Xerath is rarely in range to use Ignite as effectively as he’d like. You want Xerath for his surprise poking abilities, not his “I’M ALL UP IN YO FACE” damage.
One point in each, then: Arcane Barrage (R) > Arcanopulse (Q) > Mage Chains (E) > Locus of Power (W)
Sorcerer’s Shoes, Rylai’s Crystal Scepter, Rabadon’s Deathcap, Void Staff, Morello’s Evil Tome, Archangel’s Staff (only in classic), Mejai’s Soul Stealer (only against disorganized players). Hourglass isn’t so great on Xerath, but can be useful for baiting enemy focus.
AP > Cooldown reduction (to 30%-40%) > Magic Penetration > Mana.
- Mage Chains (E) has a slow travel time. If you’re at maximum range with Locus, firing off Xerath’s E > Q combo in quick succession for a stun doesn’t work. Your Q will always hit just before the E. You’ll deal damage, but you won’t stun.
- While 90% of champions would do better to get on point with their teammates in any fight, Xerath is just as strong – if not stronger – hiding behind a wall, smacking enemies who are interrupting the tower for their teammates.
- Consider the fact that Xerath is at his strongest at maximum range. You might believe that he needs something to sustain his close-range burst (ie: Deathfire grasp) or his survivability (ie: Will of the Ancients), but going straight AP and Magic Penetration to pick off a squishy in less then two seconds is great.
- Once you have Rylai’s, Xerath gains a solid amount of kiting power. Start using Locus > E > Q aggressively to poke and slow, thereby making your subsequent Locus detoggle speed boost that much better.
- Xerath can use his Arcane Barrage pulses while moving and without being in Locus. If you see someone beelining you while you’re mid-ulti, consider toggling Locus of Power off and then running away, pausing to throw out the remaining pulses as you go.
- Don’t be afraid to use your Arcane Barrage pulses to trigger Mage Chain’s stun if you don’t trust your aim with Q, or if you need that stun to proc and your Q is on cooldown.