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Aatrox rework guide: Dancing with the Darkin Devil

Our first Darkin is back in action

Aatrox in his base skin Riot Games

Aatrox is the dark demon boy of our dreams. Or he was before he fell into complete and total obscurity shortly after his launch in 2013. Sure, our boy has had his moments in the sun, but he’s never been the staple champion that he deserved to be. Well now he’s gotten a very fancy rework and looks to be the demonic Riven we’ve always wanted.

So before you log in and check him out, here’s a guide to how Aatrox’s rework has re-imagined the beast.

The kit

Passive - Deathbringer Stance

Riot Games via Surrender@20

What it does:

Every 25 seconds, Aatrox gains an empowered auto attack with increased range and percent of health damage. This melee attack reduces healing and shielding on the target by 40 percent for three seconds. Aatrox can cause Deathbringer Stance to cooldown faster the more spells he casts and hits he makes with the edge of his Q.

Deathbringer Stance is one of those feel abilities. The more you play as Aatrox, the more you’ll get the rhythm of this passive and can take advantage of it. In a teamfight scenario — or anytime where you may be going against a beefier boy — you want to use this passive on the tank. The reduced shielding and healing is massive here, and will go a long way to ensure you can really take a tank down quick.

Q - The Darkin Blade (Level first, max first)

Riot Games via Surrender@20

What it does:

On the first Q activation, Aatrox slams his sword into the ground, dealing damage in a line and knocking up/dealing additional damage enemies caught in the final square. Aatrox can then activate it two more times. The second in a much larger area and third in a circle in front of him.

This is Aatrox’s bread-and-butter ability. It’s his be all end all. Without mastering The Darkin Blade, you won’t be able to do much with Aatrox. As soon as you jump in for your first time, this needs to be your priority, as it’s the gameplay loop that you’ll use most frequently.

All of Aatrox’s new abilities lean into The Darkin Blade. This makes Aatrox a very positional champion, ready to hit with max range on his skills whenever possible. The damage difference here between the center of the skill and the edge is huge and will drastically change how you perform in a fight.

Aatrox doesn’t have combos in the same way Ryze does, but it’s important to use your W and E to position yourself and your enemies around where your Q can hit. Once you can combo properly, nobody will ever escape your blade.

W - Infernal Chains (Level third, max third)

Riot Games via Surrender@20

What it does:

Aatrox sends out a thin skillshot in a line, which slows and damages the first target hit. If it hits a champion, it’ll anchor them to an impact area, giving them a short window to get out of the area of effect before being pulled back to the anchor point.

Like all things with Aatrox, this is a tool to improve The Darkin Blade. Once a champion has been anchored, you can easily place the tip of your blade in the right spot to get them. But Infernal Chains is also a powerful CC ability that should be used to control members of the enemy team, especially immobile ones who will struggle to get out of the anchor point before they’re pulled.

Keep in mind that this will tag the first champ hit and pull them no matter what. So you’ll need to dive if you want the carry and you’ll need to be careful that you don’t step on your teammates toes if you have a Blitzcrank.

E - Umbral Dash (Level second, max second)

Riot Games via Surrender@20

What it does:

Passively, Aatrox will heal for a percent of the damage he deals. This is more effective against enemy champions. When Aatrox activates his E, he will dash a very short distance and gain some additional damage. Aatrox can cast Umbral Dash without altering his current ability — I.E. while using The Darkin Blade.

Umbral Dash is pretty puny from a dash perspective, but it’s a great tool for re-positioning yourself during The Darkin Blade. The damage boost will also help burst your foes out with your Q. If done properly, you can run in, Q, and make a slight dash to improve your hit chance and damage potential. You can also use it to escape or pursue through some walls.

R - World Ender

Riot Games via Surrender@20

What it does:

Aatrox sprouts wings and gains movement speed for a short time or whenever he’s out of combat. For the next 12 seconds, he will gain 20 percent increased damage and a revival passive that boosts up health the longer he stays demonic. If Aatrox dies while World Ender is active, he will be revived with somewhere between 15 and 50 percent of his max health returned to him. Aatrox can slowly crawl while reviving.

You may be shocked to hear this, but this also plays into The Darkin Blade. The speed and additional damage will allow you to overpower your foes, especially those that are close to death. You can pursue with the increased burst of movement speed for a short time as well, which is very helpful.

But World Ender is first and foremost a diving tool, allowing players to go after their targets no matter where they run. Under a tower, into the fountain, it makes no difference. Aatrox is able to follow and kill without having to sacrifice his own life.

However, it’s worth noting that as players learn to play against Aatrox, this will be much harder to use. Like a Zilean revive, players will learn to count and prepare to hold damage until the ultimate is gone. This means your timing has to be superb and you must be ready to put as much pressure as you can on players so they have no choice but to face you.

Runes

Riot Games

Keystone: Conqueror

Aatrox is all about getting in combat and staying in combat. Conqueror is a really great rune to highlight the Darkin boy’s biggest strengths: tenacity (not the stat). With Aatrox, you want to stick to your target until one of you is dead — preferably them. The longer you’re in combat, the more you’re gonna benefit from Conqueror.

Triumph

In order to stay in a battle, you need to stay at least somewhat healthy. Aatrox already has his own tools to deal with that, but adding on more frustrating healing is never a bad thing.

Legend: Bloodline

Like Triumph, we’re going to use Bloodline to boost Aatrox’s natural healing abilities to make him more of nuisance.

Last Stand

Aatrox is all about getting low on health and healing himself back up. You’ll be fluctuating all the time. Last Stand makes you a dueling machine and turns even the idea of killing you like a normal enemy into a joke.

Secondary tree: Resolve

With Aatrox, we want’t to balance out how much health we have and how tanky we are against the damage we deal. Think bruiser.

Bone Plating

Sustained combat is the goal here, and Bone Plating will keep you happy and healthy for a bit longer.

Chrysalis

Chrysalis will make your ramp up time a little easier. Once you’re out of the danger zone, you’ll even get a boost to your damage for the mid game.

The build

Lane start:

  • Doran’s Blade
  • Potions

Boots:

  • Ninja Tabi

Build:

  • Black Cleaver
  • Death’s Dance
  • Spirit’s Visage
  • Sterak’s Gage
  • Guardian Angel

Conclusion

Old Aatrox was such a failed realization of a good idea. He was this dark demon that was just ... so boring. But now, he has real gameplay to offer and a unique playstyle to promote in the team. He has ideas from other champs but an identity that is solely his own. It took us so long to get here, but the wait for Aatrox might actually be worth it. Hopefully we can see Aatrox as a champ that sees frequent play, instead of someone that is a bizarre anomaly to see show up in your game.

For more on Aatrox, check out the slick breakdown by Scarizard, an ex-Rioter.