A guide to playing the lesser known League of Legends champions: The Darkin Blade
If you're anything like me, you burn yourself out pretty fast after spamming your 'main' champion within 2 or 3 games.
You've got your own specific rotation of champions you like to use in ranked or normal games. But after a while even that gets boring and you start looking for a different champion to play, preferably one that's off the meta and might make you feel like that special snowflake.
It's nothing to be ashamed of. We all do it.
Aatrox fits the bill perfectly here.
If you do see one in a game, chances are good it's either in Team Builder or it's someone who's a die-hard Aatrox main.
I myself really like this champion; it's one I break out when I just want to win my lane. I've played him since his release and still occasionally do play him if I ever feel dirty enough to just go all out and destroy my lane opponent.
I use the word 'dirty' specifically because that's how it feels when you play Aatrox and use his strengths effectively.
The main strength Aatrox possesses is not in his early-mid game strength. It's not like he can become a late game hyper carry. It's not his passive that allows him to come back to life after taking fatal damage.
No. His strength lies in how little the player base knows about him.
I'm sitting at low Diamond (Diamond 5 to be exact), and I still have the confidence to take Aatrox into a lane and win it. While it remains to be seen if I can make the transition into the late game and take on the burden of my team, I can always count on shutting down my lane opponent in the early stages.
Why? Because no one has much experience playing against him which translates into a lack of knowledge about his damage output. Sometimes people don't even know that he can come back to life after dying!
This is something you can use to your advantage. You know how much damage you'll be doing as Aatrox after getting used to him, your lane opponent will most likely not (and will never know unless Riot buffs Aatrox...which is unlikely). And as Aatrox, you are actually one of the few champions in the game who gets an insane power spike at level 3.
Therefore, getting first blood on Aatrox by the 3 minute mark is not only likely, it's almost a given if you get familiar with him. On the lower elos at least.
But of course, there are plenty of reasons why he gets such little love on the rift.
During the early stages of the game he's extremely effective. But reach mid game? You'd better hope you have at least 2-3 kills under your belt and have a significant gold lead over your lane oppoenent if you want to stay relevant.
In short, you need to be fed. Go even in lane, your enemy laner who's more frequently picked will outscale you and provide more for their team than you will to yours.
Plus, everything Aatrox can do, there are so many more champions in the game that do it better.
One of the prime examples...despite getting nerfed over a billion times by now she's STILL stronger
He's sort of a semi-tank/fighter, at least that's what I think Riot intended him to be. But Irelia can do that job better while outscaling him by a mile and being far more scarier to the enemy team than you'll ever be. Wukong can do it better while possessing a game-changing ultimate. Riven deals far more damage than you can hope for. The new juggernauts speak for themselves.
You can go on on and on.
So why play him at all?
Despite all his weaknesses, there's one thing Aatrox can do that gives him a fighting chance.
Out of all the champions in this game, he has one of the highest if not the highest chance of killing his lane opponent before level 6.
Also, there are ways to minimize his weaknesses and exploit your enemy team's lack of knowledge in dealing with him. Which is precisely what I'll be detailing here.
It doesn't come down to item builds or masteries, no. It comes down to where you take Aatrox.
As a disclaimer though, I'm only recommending this champion for any ELO below Diamond/High Platinum. I spammed him all the way up here but I've seen so much diminishing returns with him to the point that I've stopped picking him in ranked entirely. The reason is that the players around this bracket are much stronger laners in general and it's not too easy to get early kills on them, especially if their jungler is effective.
Plus, if you're in this ELO already, you probably have made at least some effort to know the enemy you're facing before the match if you lack it, thus taking that weakness out.
Where should I play him?
Aatrox is pretty versatile. Depending on where you play him you'll be building differently as well.
But regarding the question 'where'; Top, middle and jungle.
Middle is where I would recommend him the most (I'll explain in a bit). Top lane is not too shabby but you'll be facing champions that are pretty difficult to kill really early, especially if you're facing someone who's experienced. Although again, in the lower elos, this shouldn't be too big of a deal.
Jungle is a bit of a gamble. You'll be playing him as a late game farm heavy champion and become a less effective version of Master Yi or you'll play him as a generic ganker, although again there are plenty of better choices.
You can use your passive to pull off some tower dives and live through it though.
Passive - Blood well
Whenever Aatrox consumes a portion of his health, he stores it into his Blood Well, which can hold up to「 105 - 870 」health. The Blood Well depletes by 2% per second if Aatrox hasn't dealt or received damage in the last 5 seconds.
Upon taking fatal damage, Aatrox enters stasis and drains his Blood Well, healing himself over the next 3 seconds for up to 35% of the Blood Well's maximum capacity, plus its stored health upon activation.
This is what allows you to make some really 'cheesy' kills. Oftentimes this ability catches opponents off guard. It can also be used to tower dive an enemy with low health to secure an easy kill and walk away.
Q - Dark Flight
COST: 10% of current health.
ACTIVE: Aatrox dashes (or flies) to the target area after a brief delay, dealing physical damage to nearby enemies upon landing and knocking up enemies in the epicenter for 1 second.
This ability is extremely useful, sort of like a mini Malphite ultimate as part of your main abilities. This can set your team up for some really good fights or chain with your team's abilities to stunlock the enemy.
W - Blood Thirst/Blood Price
COST: No Cost.
PASSIVE: Aatrox applies a bonus effect on every third basic attack.
TOGGLE OFF – Blood Thirst: Aatrox heals himself. The heal amount is tripled while Aatrox is below half health.
TOGGLE ON – Blood Price: Aatrox deals bonus physical damage at the cost of his own health.
The ability that determines your proficiency with Aatrox. You need to know how to manage your health by toggling this ability on and off. Too often do people not pay attention to their health bar while dealing damage and/or refuse to use it because they're too conservative with their HP.
Be smart about this ability. Learn how much damage you do with Blood Price (hint: it's a lot) but also know when you should switch it off to regain your health.
E - Blades of Torment
COST: 5% of current health.
ACTIVE: Aatrox unleashes two converging energy waves in the target direction, dealing magic damage to enemies hit and slowing them by 40%.
This is what allows you to deal a brunt of your damage in the early game. Oftentimes your opponents are unaware of the fact that this ability deals magic damage so maxing it is the key. Plus the base damage on this ability is nothing to laugh at.
R - Massacre
ACTIVE: Aatrox draws in the blood of his foes, dealing magic damage to nearby enemy champions and filling his Blood Well by 20% of its maximum value for each enemy hit.
Additionally, Aatrox gains bonus attack speed and attack range for 12 seconds.
For some reason there is a common mis-conception that this ability is used to 'turn the tide' (ha!) midway in a duel. While this may be alright, that's not the most effective way to use this.
Think of this as part of your burst damage. Even if it does magic damage you do hit deceptively hard from that initial activation.
One of the most easiest combos with Aatrox is to knockup your enemy(s) with your Q, E them to apply the slow, activate your ult right afterwards and then watch their health melt off with your auto attacks with Blood Price activated.
Runes would be a standard Attack Damage (AD) page (armor or health per level yellows/Magic Resist blues) with two Life Steal Quintessences and 1 more AD.
As for masteries it's always a standard 21-9-0 (assassin) only you'll have points in attack speed instead of cooldown reduction along with spell and blade weaving.
Your jungle page is not too different; Runes, standard AD page although you could substitute AD reds with Attack Speed (AS). Masteries are again 21-9-0 only you'll get the two points in reducing damage taken from neutral monsters on your defensive tree.
Let's begin with my favorite place to take him; the middle lane.
If you are laning as Aatrox (this applies to the top lane as well), you are playing to dominate your lane opponent. You have no room to be falling behind or going even. As a result, Ignite and Flash as your summoner spells are a must.
You will probably be facing mages in the middle lane so be prepared to be under constant harrasment from ranged auto attacks and abilities, but this should not be a problem for you as Aatrox since you have far more built in sustain than most other champions in the game.
Soak up the damage, search for an opening to land your Q followed up by your E and the third hit from your Blood Price and you'll have won the trade. Do not be afraid of carrying on prolonged duels since you can switch back to Blood Thirst and sustain yourself back up while still dealing damage.
The top lane is similar in concepts although you have to be a bit more careful with your Blood Price since you'll be facing duelists similar to yourself. Nevertheless you will still outdamage many of the opponents you may face excluding Riven at level 6.
The reason why the top lane is not something I'd recommend as the lane of choice is because it gets harder to kill your lane opponent the longer the laning phase goes. You may be able to achieve first blood on them but a smart enemy would build defensive and play safer until they inevitably outscale you and you in the dust.
The middle lane is much easier in that aspects. Mages are easy targets for you to snowball your lead plus you have a pretty good kit that should allow you to pull off some good roams every now and then.
The standard items are; start off with a Doran's Blade and work your way to a Blade of the Ruined King. Then work on a Trinity Force.
Once you have those two items you should have more than enough damage. Build defensively (Spirit Visage is extremely good thanks to the buff to self healing, plus it carries magic resist) and finish off the build with a Last Whisper or Black Cleaver (depending on personal choice).
This is not something I prefer but it is the final choice if you have nowhere left to go with him. The reason why I don't like jungling with him is because it's pretty difficult to stay above half health while you're jungling as Aatrox as you are forced to use Blood Price if you want to make your already horrendous camp clear times a bit more bearable.
Of course the problem fixes itself once you get your Devourer and/or a Blade of the Ruined King but until then it's tough going.
Ganking potential is one of the strenghts however. If you can land your Q it usually spells the death of an enemy under good-nominal situations. But it's not anything special. The amount of work you have to put into jungling and the returns you get are oftentimes not worth it especially considering the other choices you have available to you.
When should you play Aatrox?
If you are playing as Aatrox, you are playing to dominate your lane opponent
In the top lane take him against champions you know that cannot match your damage output early (i.e - Nasus, Irelia, Singed, Jax etc). But this is still more risky since the champions I listed will still outscale your leads and make you irrelevant if the players behind them are smart. But...in the lower elos Aatrox should still have no trouble in abusing his ridiculously strong early game against these champions.
But do not take Teleport. Ever.
I know its the meta now but you're Aatrox. I cannot stress the importance of 'go big or go home'. You have to 'win' your lane if you want to be a true asset to your team. Yes, teleport may allow your to get kills elsewhere on the map but that is situational, you cannot guarantee yourself a lead like that.
When should you not play Aatrox?
Just avoid facing these champions; Riven, Fiora, Gangplank and Tryndamere.
I hate this champion.
Riven can match you for damage so it's pretty risky. She has the highest chance of snowballing off you instead of the other way around, especially if the player is experienced and/or is familiar with your kit.
A well payed Fiora can parry your Blood Price, this reduces your damage output significantly, thus reducing the chances of winning a trade.
Gangplank can just eat an orange it'll be K for him (props if you know where this is from!).
Tryndamere will just walk all over you once he hits level 6 (or even before if he scores some lucky crits). There's no way around it unless you're playing versus a really bad one.
End of the day, every game is different. It comes down to how much you know the champion you're playing, how much your opponent knows the champion they're playing, etc. There are a number of variables that are just impossible to cover.
But for as long as Aatrox stays below the radar, you will have plenty of opportunities to abuse him to get out of the lower elo brackets so I definitely recommend giving this champion a try if you haven't already.
Plus, what other champions do you know that can come back to life after getting killed two times? (If you have a Guardian Angel on top)?
Don't even get me started on what happens if you have a Zilean on your team as well.