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Aatrox is a basic attack dependent melee champion who excels as a duelist and team fighter. His built-in sustain and escape mechanics make him an ideal fit for top lane.
The sustain from Blood Thirst keeps Aatrox's health topped off, allowing him to farm throughout the laning phase. Aatrox excels as a duelist, able to switch to Blood Price for heavy burst damage when trading with his lane opponent. After the exchange, Aatrox can toggle back to Blood Thirst to top off his health. When he’s ready to finish the job, Massacre adds significantly to an already potent burst combo.
If the lane isn’t going Aatrox's way, the knock-up effect from Dark Flight can be used to set up ganks for his jungler. Or, if Aatrox has bullied his enemy out of lane, he can push aggressively, safe in the knowledge that the disengage from Dark Flight and Blades of Torment's slow will aid his escape when enemies come charging. Even when things go totally wrong, Blood Well offers a second chance to secure kills or make a quick exit.
Aatrox's mobility gives him an innate ability to pressure enemy carries in team fights. Blood Thirst grants Aatrox plenty of sustain as he tangles with enemy initiators and tanks. When he sees an opportunity to reach an enemy carry, Dark Flight closes the gap and allows the punishment to begin. When Aatrox is in deep, the area of effect burst and extra range from Massacre, and slow on Blades of Torment prevent high-value targets from escaping. All the while the consistent healing from Blood Thirst and resurrection effect from Blood Well keep him alive long enough to cut through enemy squishies.
If Aatrox's team is on the defensive, a well-aimed Blades of Torment can slow multiple enemies and open a window for retreating allies to slip away. Alternately, he can kite enemies with Dark Flight, and create an opportunity for the remainder of his team to turn and counter-initiate. If Aatrox is focused, Blood Thirst’s sustain and the Blood Well keep him in the fight, giving his teammates an opportunity to cut through foes as he resurrects and delivers the killing blow.
- Aatrox is a fighter, focused on initiation, sustain and sustained damage (despite already having a strong burst). His focus lies on having a strong initiation combined with powerful AoE damage, but keep in mind that he needs to be close to enemies afterwards in order to deal damage, so a mix of defensive and offensive itemization options will maximize your presence in game.
- Strengths: Aatrox is a versatile champion in terms of role, being able to be played on top lane or in the jungle and as tank or fighter, even being able to combine both classes. He gains powerful attack speed buffs both from his passive and ultimate, while his passive grants him a second chance to either finish enemies or escape a dire situation.
- Weaknesses: Aatrox can be killed fast in fights if his passive is on cooldown and disengages from the enemy team's side can stop his momentum since he only has one gap-closer. Since he is very basic attack dependent it is easy to counter him via itemization, such as or . Aatrox needs to be in combat constantly in order to deal his maximum damage output when a fight erupts, since his passive needs to be at its fullest in order to get a lot attack speed, especially when his build is damage focused, and less tanky, he will need more time to fill his blood well.
- Since Aatrox has already great attack speed buffs in his kit, attack damage or defensive runes might provide more use than attack speed ones.
- Stacking life steal is not well advised. Grievous Wounds will heavily cripple Aatrox's sustain, making it easier for enemies to duel him, as he will get even more dependent on his basic attacks.
- Massacre greatly increases his range, opening possibilities to hit enemies from afar.
- For a sustained damage melee fighter, Aatrox has strong initial AoE burst damage, using Blades of Torment, Dark Flight and Massacre, alongside with the active abilities from and , in quick succession can deal an incredible amount of damage and can be powerful enough to burst down squishy targets with high speed.
- Blades of Torment and Massacre deal magic damage, making it harder for the enemy team to itemize effectively against him, since they cause two different types of damage.
- Whether playing in lane or in the jungle, it is recommended that you level your Blades of Torment first as the increased slow time as well as the powerful, ranged, magic damage offers more per skill point than any of Aatrox's other skills.
- If you feel confident enough, maximizing Blood Price will provide heavy burst damage with a single basic attack, which can be used in lane to effectively trade with your opponent, coming out ahead in most exchange of blows.
- The attack speed from Blood Well is one of the most underutilized parts of Aatrox's kit, be sure to keep your Blood Well full, regardless of whether or not the revive is on cooldown.
- The attack speed synergizes very well with Blood Thirst
- It is important to remember that Blood Thirst and Blood Price can be switched between at any time. Meaning you can charge the heal in Blood Thirst then switch to Blood Price to instead use it for damage, or the other way around.
- Dark Flight can be used as both an initiation move and a disengage, but be aware that Aatrox is still vulnerable to crowd controls, such as stuns and knockups.
- Blades of Torment and Dark Flight have great synergy with each other.
- Using Blades of Torment first can allow you to get in a few hits and hopefully force an enemy to attempt an escape, after which you can follow up with Dark Flight for further punish the fleeing enemy. Reversing the skill order will achieve the same effect but not with the same efficiency - Dark Flight has a longer cooldown and is a "harder" form of crowd control, thus encouraging more efficient use.
- Additionally, the slow from Blades of Torment makes landing dark flight's knock-up easier by reducing the enemy's ability to dodge it
- Try following the bonus damage from your Blood Price immediately with Massacre after you engage for the quickest burst of damage. A full combo would be readying your Blood Price, engage with Blades of Torment followed by Dark Flight, proc Blood Price bonus damage, then activate Massacre to deliver a burst of damage.
- Be aware that both Blades of Torment and Dark Flight briefly interrupt Aatrox's movement.
- With enough life steal, Aatrox can leave Blood Price on indefinitely, as the amount of damage he takes every third strike is negated by the life steal.
- The self-damage is entirely negated by
- Massacre has a huge variety of uses and a relatively short cooldown, so don't be afraid to use it for as many of these as possible.
- Later, when Aatrox has enough items to sustain and when his Blood Well is off-cooldown, Aatrox can be used as a "living bait": sacrifice his Blood Well passive to make enemies waste some of their field control spells, leaving them open without retaliation when your teammates join the fray. After resurrected, Aatrox can continue to contribute in the teamfight.
- Aatrox is a melee fighter who specializes in strong initiation and in-fight sustain. Because of the diversity in Aatrox's kit, he can quite effectively build two different ways: Damage or Tank, being able to combine both build-paths as well.
- Using Massacre together will provide an incredible 406 attack range, making it possible to hit melee champions from even farther, as well as granting tenacity and the bonus move speed for your allies. and
- Aatrox benefits from life steal since it allows him to negate the health loss from his abilities and complement the sustain from Blood Thirst.
- Apart from life steal, provides attack speed, letting him regain insane amounts of health through Blood Thirst. An early also gives some much-needed early sustain.
is a very useful item because it provides higher raw AD than (which has better synergy with Aatrox's AD ratios), health regeneration, and waveclear. It is a powerful substitute (or complement) to BotRK, and is recommended if you plan to splitpush with Aatrox. It also provides a very powerful burst.
- Keep in mind that Ravenous Hydra provides no attack speed at all. Aatrox will have to get attack speed from another source, but it is very likely that he will have to sacrifice tankiness if you plan to use an attack speed item, since apart from , no attack speed items offer significant defensive stats, and even the aforementioned item is only useful against magic damage.
- gives a lot of attack damage and lifesteal, a lot more than Ravenous Hydra and Blade of the Ruined King. It also has a passive that creates a shield which has synergy with Aatrox's sustain. This is not recommended to use as Aatrox's core lifesteal item, though, as it has neither the attack speed and on-hit effect from , nor it has the burst and the waveclear from .
- Blood Thirst/ Blood Price do NOT let Aatrox proc Spellblade. Not to mention, this item is very expensive. If you want the bonus movement speed from the passive, purchasing is a better option (see the below section for more details). isn't recommended on Aatrox. While the stats that it gives are useful, it's hard to proc the Spellblade passive because Aatrox's cooldowns are very long, and toggling
- Blood Thirst makes you very hard to kill, even without your revive passive. is especially useful once you fall below half health, as the bonus attack speed combined with the tripled healing from
- Aatrox can use all 3 armor penetration items effectively ( , and ). If you predict that your enemies are likely to get high amounts of armor, it is best to get during mid-game, helping you transition into your late-game phase better due to the high armor penetration and low cost.
- is an especially useful item to Aatrox after the changes. It gives an enormous amount of health, more cooldown reduction than before. The Rage passive from is very useful too; apart from giving Aatrox more sticking power, it means that he doesn't have to waste gold on to get it. The armor reduction may be hard to actually stack during a fight, but the stats that it offers make The Black Cleaver a very good option.
- gives off great offensive stats, and the tenacity is good if not getting .
- While purchasing critical strike items seems to be tempting, given that Aatrox is very auto-attack reliant, he doesn't have enough mobility or sticking power to abuse critical strikes. Also, he would very likely have to sacrifice survivability to purchase critical strike items, so it is recommended to refrain from purchasing critical strike items, unless Aatrox is ahead already.
- If you are going for the critical strike route: it is suggested to combine with . Youmuu's active will solve Aatrox's lack of sticking power. If the enemy team is lacking in mobility, Aatrox can instead opt to use or . The former provides higher burst and waveclear, while the latter provides superior DPS and dueling power. Keep in mind that pure attack speed items have poor synergy with Aatrox's abilities (except his W) due to them scaling only with attack damage.
- An early Aatrox from an otherwise untimely death. is primarily to counter laning opponents dealing mostly magic damage. Additionally, the active shield can save
- Keep in mind that because Aatrox has an on-hit healing and he is likely to build lifesteal, he benefits a lot more from resistances over HP, as the combined sustain will give him enough effective HP, and building HP only makes his abilities cost more HP. However, one can argue that building HP makes Aatrox fill his Blood Well faster, due to the higher costs from his abilities.
- helps soak up damage in team fights and helps you survive long enough to take out high priority targets and the active slow helps catch running enemies.
- makes Aatrox very tanky against auto-attack reliant AD champions, and allow him to deal more damage than they can do in return, and making sure that Aatrox wins trades against all of them.
- in conjunction with results in fast healing due to the increased healing effects of Spirits Visage and the AoE life steal from Hydra. It also sync well with his Passive and Blood thirst as it also increases their healing.
- is also a good choice since it provides 700 bonus health and an on-hit slow, making Aatrox able to stick to opponents.
- Blood Well; they both revive Aatrox after death. This gives more survivability and allows for more opportunities to finish off targets. is equivalent to a second
- Leona's Solar Flare, and is actually necessary if there are champions such as LeBlanc or Annie on the enemy team. may seem to be outclassed by Spirit Visage on Aatrox, but the spell shield is very good against some dangerous spells such as
- Aatrox to deal mixed damage, forcing enemies to itemize on some magic resist as well as armor. However, the passive falls off late game and Sunfire Cape is outclassed in terms of defense by Randuin's Omen and Thornmail. Not recommended unless you are, for some reason, building full tank Aatrox. passive will allow
- Malzahar, Warwick, and Skarner, since those can't be reduced by tenacity. is a good option if there are dangerous CCs on the enemy team and and/or aren't enough to protect Aatrox. It is actually recommended against champions who have suppression abilities, such as
- When Aatrox takes fatal damage he is healed for the amount currently in his resource bar. Landing a fatal blow on him while the resource bar is low will result in him reviving with a lower amount of health.
- Unlike other reviving champions, Aatrox's Blood Well revive is rapid and grants him invulnerability during this time which allows him to quickly re-join a team fight after being dropped to critical health.
- When fighting him, consider his resource bar as part of his own health. (For example, killing him with a full Blood Well will make him return with a large portion of his hitpoints and if the fight was closely matched, he will most likely kill you.)
- Be aware that his passive (after reviving) doesn't provide any attack speed anymore, because he consumes all the blood within it and be sure to look if he got the Blood Thirst/Blood Price buff while reviving.
- Aatrox's main weakness early game is being burst down, as he is naturally squishy, and that's the reason why he should build tanky during mid and late game. If you use a champion who can burst down Aatrox, the healing will be ineffective, as Aatrox will lose too much health in a short period of time to be able to heal though the damage. This is especially dangerous for Aatrox if he already lost his passive.
- Because of this, assassins or champions with amazing early game damage, like Riven and Pantheon, are effective counters to Aatrox. They can dish out a lot of damage against Aatrox, and then zone him from farming, since he relies on auto-attacking to heal himself.
- Once Aatrox starts to get tanky items, these counters lose effectiveness, as Aatrox can no longer be burst. At this point, only champions that have superior sustained damage, such as Jax or Warwick, can duel Aatrox.
- When Aatrox casts Dark Flight towards your location, avoid being knocked up by moving away from the center of impact.
- Most players will aim the ability right above you or right behind you. So, moving closer to Aatrox at the time he casts Dark Flight will likely make the skill miss you.
- In lane, zoning Aatrox out of combat will quickly drain out his Blood Well making him a much more vulnerable target.
- While he can be built as a fighter, Aatrox's stats and kit are similar to those of a melee ADC, like Fiora or Master Yi. These champions are devastating as long as they are able to attack, but are extremely vulnerable to crowd control, and while Aatrox's Blood Well helps him survive, he is no exception to the rule, as a well landed stun or snare can severely hinder his combat abilities.
- Inflicting Grievous Wounds can reduce his healing from Blood Thirst.
- Without ability power (which likely won't be built), Massacre's initial damage is not a factor. The large attack speed and range bonus is a huge threat, but you don't have to worry about getting instantly burst-nuked by the activation.
- The ability lasts long enough for most teamfights, but baiting Aatrox into using the ability to commit to killing you before a fight breaks out will remove the strong threat the ability presents in a teamfight.
- However, it's recommended you only do this if you are a very hard to kill or catch champion, such as Lulu, Zac, Singed, or Karma.
- Aatrox is auto attack reliant for not only his damage, but also his survivability. Reducing his attack speed by purchasing or can help reduce both of those components greatly.