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All Guides Karthus Guides [Season 7] The Black Book on all things Karthus | Kartharsus
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Karthus Statistics for TnsTy Spook

Author's performance with Karthus compared to the ranked average.

Value
Average
Games Played
208
5
Win %
59
44
Kills
11.0
7.2
Assists
8.9
8.9
Deaths
9.3
7.5
KA:D Ratio
2.1
2.1
Gold Earned
14.2K
12.6K
Creep Score
185.8
173.7
Average
  • Author Champion Statistics
  • Guide Details

Summoner Spells Back to Top

4.png3.png
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These are the best summs for Mid lane and even Top Lane Karthus with conditions. Your All-ins get stronger, you get better at fending off Ganks, and you have an escape earlygame and an engage lategame. Best against Assassins and Burst Champs Such as Syndra and Leblanc, but that's only if you can time your Exhaust with precision. 

Viable top lane against new meta opponents like Yasuo, who may take Exhaust as well.
Also good against Fiora, Riven, Jayce*, and Kennen.

*If you think Jayce might take a summ other than TP. Matchup below.
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4.png12.png
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The Default top lane summoners. Best for Tanks like Maokai, Garen, and Gnar who won't be able to hurt you effectively with all-ins, but can set up ganks which you will need to be wary for. Gives the maximum map presence for Karthus. Try Ulting where it's safe and teleporting bot lane to pick up double kills.

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4.png11.png
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Jungle Karthus summoners
Detailed matchups, ganking ability, and clear order below.
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New Runes Back to Top

Masteries Back to Top

Depending on Role there is a bit of leeway

  • Top

Consider Assassin as an alternative, since you'll be dealing with your solo lane opponent longer.

Double Edged Sword is a good choice against tanks and weak junglers

  • Jungle

I'm still experimenting with this role. However, I find that going 12/18/0 can be beneficial for early ganks, and both Thunderlords and Stormraider's Surge is viable on him, particularly with the Rylais nerfs in current PBE patches.

Consider grabbing a few points in Meditation for staying in your jungle longer.

Expose Weakness makes ganks AND teamfights easier, particularly if you choose thunderlords or Stormraider's.

Abilities Back to Top

Q
E
Q
W
Q
R
Q
E
Q
E
R
E
E
W
W
R
W
W
Passive
Q
1
3
5
7
9
W
4
14
15
17
18
E
2
8
10
12
13
R
6
11
16

R > Q > E > W
Not much to change here.

Items Back to Top

Starting Items

    Base Magical Start
    Base Jungle Start
    Optional Top Start

Core Items

    Choose One
    Good sustain and overall damage
    Best damage and mana sustain
    CORE [UTILITY]
    CORE [DAMAGE]
    CORE [JUNGLING]
    FINISH THE BUILD

Situational Items

    buy as-needed
    against counterpicks / burst
    Good choices against toplane
    Good mid-game powerspike. focused, extra ult damage

Welcome to the big Item dump of all Good items on Karthus!

[/w descriptions and situation examples.]

3116.png

In the 6.24 PBE cycle there are a series of changes to recipes and nerfs on a few items, notably Rylais. Since this nerf affects Karthus severely, I felt that it would be worthwhile to create a guide around these nerfs to offer alternatives.

In the patch, Rylais becomes a flat 20% slow on all spells opposed to the 40% on single target spells and other variants. It is cheaper as well, reigning in 2800 gold. The flat slow isn't horrible, but definitely hurts immobile champions like karthus and benefits mobile champions like every single assassin in midlane. /butthurt

So either we give Karthus items with better slows like GLP and Righteous Glory, or increase his mobility through means like Stormraider's surge. If we keep rylais we'll have a bit more gold to spend elsewhere, and it can become more situational than anything else.

3027.png -A Recommended build order

Try to always rush ROA, since it gives you some of the best stats / sustain in the early game, and continues to scale well into lategame. Proceed to grab Mpen Boots, then work towards Rylais. Most folks grab some combination of Zhonya's Hourglass, Rabadon's, Archangel's staff, and Void staff depending on their current situation, [3157.pngZhonya's versus a team with high-impact assassins, CC, or gapclosers, 3135.png Void if they are getting tanky, 3070.pngTear -> 3003.pngAA staff if you find yourself constantly running out of mana, and Rabs if you are stomping and need an early power spike, imo].



3151.png
Due to the current Tank meta being as strong as it is, if they have a tanky jungler and toplane, consider using the Rylais-Liandry's combo with zhonya's, sell boots for Void Staff and Rabadons, then dive into their team and try to pick off as many as you can. 


3165.png
Morellonomicon - lower CD on ult, decent mana sustain early on. Morello's is a pretty good first buy, the CDR helps you start and win fights with more consistency and even opens up opportunities to use [read: "waste"] ult on defending important objectives like baron and the all-important infernal drake and have it up soon enough to be impactful.

3285.png
Ludens Echo - Solid initiations, decent mid-game powerspike and stronger ultimate [ arrange the scoreboard based on who you want ludens to hit first, btw ] Shifts toward a "bursty" karthus in the midgame and IMPORTANTLY, stacks with your other items. Say A karth grabs Ludens, Liandry's, and Rylais. A single Luden's proc would trigger a Liandry's DoT AND a Rylais slow on all 4 targets, so it's inherent damage is a bit more than the 10% of AP it's given credit for, and if you have a slow to boot, an entire teamfight can be shifted by a pretty powerful utility-based initiation. That's just my opinion of it. [4% health degradation on 4 targets + base damage makes for a pretty hefty start to a teamfight.]

3115.png3100.png
Nashor's Tooth / Lich Bane - I might get some flak coming my way for this one, but it makes tower siege a snap, and greatly increases dueling capabilities. I'd only suggest it for Top Karthus, and only if your team needs extra tower pressure. an early lich bane doesn't do much but an early nashor's tooth about doubles your tower damage, factoring in AS. Likewise, a late Lich bane shreds towers in ~3-4 empowered attacks allowing you to end faster and with less people. Good lategame buys if your ADC is falling behind and dies first in teamfights. More preferable in Lower ELO than higher.

3001.png
Abyssal Scepter - As of patch 6.21, the 10% damage increase is pretty strong. good defensive / offensive buy, might see a meta paradigm change. As with previous iterations, always a strong buy against counterpicks like Syndra / Ahri, but less effective against AP assassins like Fizz. Opting for Zhonya's against burst is preferred early on, but Abyssal becomes more and more effective as the lategame approaches. Someone should do math for this later.


3030.png
Hextech GLP-800 - An alternative to ROA, relies mostly on snowballing capability, but it's a good utility item and can be used either as a substitute for the wall, or to re-proc the slow from a missed Q and start the Karthus chain kill of death.


3800.png
I like Righteous glory as another substitute for ROA, but hardly build it. If you're stomping the enemy team, it's active gives you a movement speed steroid AND a slow, so you have massive engage power and can still retain flash for leaving fights instead of entering them.

//More to come!

Matchups Back to Top

Click on a champion below to see the author's notes on that particular matchup.

  • Ahri
    Medium
  • Akali
    Hard
  • Anivia
    Easy
  • Annie
    Easy
  • Aurelion Sol
    Medium
  • Azir
    Easy
  • Brand
    Easy
  • Cassiopeia
    Hard
  • Darius
    Hard
  • Dr. Mundo
    Hard
  • Draven
    Hard
  • Ekko
    Medium
  • Fiora
    Medium
  • Fizz
    Hard
  • Galio
    Medium
  • Gangplank
    Hard
  • Garen
    Medium
  • Hecarim
    Medium
  • Heimerdinger
    Easy
  • Illaoi
    Hard
  • Jayce
    Hard
  • Karthus
    Easy
  • Katarina
    Medium
  • Kayle
    Easy
  • LeBlanc
    Medium
  • Lee Sin
    Hard
  • Leona
    Medium
  • Lissandra
    Easy
  • Lux
    Hard
  • Master Yi
    Medium
  • Olaf
    Medium
  • Orianna
    Medium
  • Renekton
    Medium
  • Riven
    Hard
  • Ryze
    Medium
  • Sejuani
    Medium
  • Shaco
    Hard
  • Singed
    Medium
  • Soraka
    Easy
  • Syndra
    Hard
  • Talon
    Hard
  • Teemo
    Easy
  • Urgot
    Hard

VS

Ahri

Medium

Mobility and easy burst makes her difficult to lane against, but she falls off lategame hard enough for you to come out ahead.

VS

Akali

Hard

An interesting combination of an AD and AP Assassin, the Balanced rune set may work well against her hybrid damage. If you manage to push her out of lane pre-6, then you've done a good job, but once she hits 6 she can and will burst you to oblivion. Opt for early utility like GLP and Rylais to deny her AOE stealth and get free damage.

VS

Anivia

Easy

She has a similar death-defying passive, but she actually comes back from it. Her Q outranges you but you deal a significant amount of damage, and outscale her by miles. Watch out for gank setups, AOE waveclear and low-CD ult. Consider buying boots early to avoid her skillshot CC. 

VS

Annie

Easy

Will gladly push her wave into your turret, and easily sets up ganks with a hard CC passive. She might grab rabadon's deathcap as an early buy, and proceed to walk into lane with passive up, ult, press all her buttons, and skip away happily as you die under tower. 

Supremely susceptible to poke and harass, but works well with competent junglers. Zone her out and deny CS as much as you can, but keep wards up to avoid ganks. 

VS

Aurelion Sol

Medium

Poke and lane like normal, he can't do much without ganks.

VS

Azir

Easy

Don't stand in his soldiers and you'll be fine. He's weak early on, and snowballs hard. Call MIA's when he so much as steps out of vision, since he can win a 3v2 botlane easy. He's much more impactful lategame. 

VS

Brand

Easy

You're both zoning masters. Just lane like normal - there's nothing special about this matchup. 

His full combo and ult devastates teamfights. Try and pick him off when possible (it will be especially easy if he is supporting.) 

VS

Cassiopeia

Hard

It's rare to find a Cass in game now, but a good cass is one of Karthus' worst enemies. She's fast and has a brutal slow, and a really hard CC that can put a whole team off guard. Her damage rivals Karthus' in the early game, and she can't be challenged without a proper lead.

VS

Darius

Hard

Ugh.

VS

Dr. Mundo

Hard

Really tanky, has insane sustain, and insane slows. Don't recommend laning with karthus, as he can't actually do enough damage to matter. It turns into a farm lane for him, and several potions for you.

VS

Draven

Hard

If draven happens to be on the enemy team, bot roams are off limits. pick him off your ult when necessary, because he will outplay you 9 times out of 10.  Movement steroids, attack damage buffs, and short cc bursts make your life a living hell. And that's assuming you 1v1 him. 

VS

Ekko

Medium

Deals a ton of damage early on, but relies on poke, hit and run tactics, and instant waveclear to be effective. Good timing and landing a wall on his head can give you the upper hand.

VS

Fiora

Medium

You can duel the duelist fairly well, but watch out when she hits the R button. keep her at range and out-poke her to survive. Look for her W, as it can negate your ultimate. 

VS

Fizz

Hard

As with Fiora, fizz can completely negate your ultimate. She's one of my definitions for cancer, just due to the massive amount of dps she can deal and get away with it freely.

VS

Galio

Medium

MR steroids = buy voidstaff early. 

Galio actually deals a fair amount of damage, and has enough utility to carry his team. 

VS

Gangplank

Hard

He deals so much damage, and has a global ultimate. Gangplank is to toplane what karthus is to mid, but he has a self heal, slowing barrel explosions, and movement steroids that puts karthus to a disadvantage if they share the same lane. 

Hit and run tactics can put him off-guard, and as long as you can dodge barrel explosions you can win the lane early on. after that it's a battle of ultimates, to see who can pick off the most targets and help out the team the most. His cooldown is slightly lower than yours.

VS

Garen

Medium

Garen likes winning his lane regardless of how much damage you throw at him. Don't walk into lane with less than 25% of your health, since he can press Q then R faster than you can realize you screwed up.

Lategame, you start to matter a lot more than he does. what's more: if he builds early MR in an attempt to counter you, he is at an immediate disadvantage to the ADC. 

VS

Hecarim

Medium

Buy slowing items and you will make him cry, unable to get off a large portion of his damage. You're still susceptible to his ganks, so be wary of galloping horses.

VS

Heimerdinger

Easy

Destroy the turrets with targeted Q's and you've won lane. If he builds tank and becomes lane push heimer, it's better to start roaming. 

VS

Illaoi

Hard

Tentacle Hentai.

Seriously though, You can actually out-maneuver and outplay illaoi early on, and deal significant damage to stop her rediculous % HP damage / regen in the late game.

for everyone else on your team though: I've seen enough tentacle hentai to know where this is going.

VS

Jayce

Hard

Jayce is arguably the hardest toplane matchup for karthus. He can keep you low hp, he has constant kill pressure, and he's impossible to force out of lane. Add ganks on top of that and top lane looks pretty hopeless. 

freeze lane and farm under tower, assist your team with your R key, and eventually you'll come out ahead. You can get a bit of free damage from your spammable Q, but if you go too far in you'll get anally raped by the hammer and receive a life-ending empowered sphere of death. 

If the enemy team has a high-mobility and high-presence jungler (say, evelynn, hecarim, zac, etc.) most Jayce's won't feel the need to get teleport and may grab ignite or even exhaust. If you feel like that's going to happen, grab exhaust. It will give you the highest chance of surviving ganks and even getting kills on an out-of-place Jayce. 

VS

Karthus

Easy

If you play karthus enough you'll know that all you need is mobility and the ability to dodge Q's. Get Stormraider's surge and you'll kill a copy-cat karthus easily. 

VS

Katarina

Medium

After the Assassin update, she relies much more on outplaying you. Being able to predict where she'll be and what she'll try is more important than proper itemization and even receiving ganks from your jungler.

VS

Kayle

Easy

Her ultimate blocks yours. It's a fair trade overall, but she can use it twice before you have yours ready again. Otherwise, she's squishy and can be slowed to oblivion. 

VS

LeBlanc

Medium

High Burst and decent utility. Place Q's on her pad for free damage, and try to farm under tower. She's more annoying than I'll give her credit for most times. 

VS

Lee Sin

Hard

My least favorite jungler to go up against. I can't dodge his Q to save my life, often literally. You deal a good portion of damage against him early on, so try blocking his path with a flurry of Q's and he'll probably decide against going in for a gank. His shield can block your ultimate at early levels. 

VS

Leona

Medium

Definitely a deterrent if you feel like walking down to botlane. She'll lock you down and if you get CC chained it's all over.

VS

Lissandra

Easy

Her ice spikes are annoying, and her ultimate can block yours. Nothing much else to add.

VS

Lux

Hard

She out-ranges and out-damages. It's easy to dodge her CC but hard to dodge her AOE damage, plus her ultimate deals more than yours, scales better than yours, and is available far sooner than yours. She's a very difficult matchup.

VS

Master Yi

Medium

Easily blocks your ultimate with meditate, and proceeds to BM you by emote spamming. Literally 99% of my games with him.

VS

Olaf

Medium

Too fast, too furious, and has quite the slow. Don't let him dive you.

VS

Orianna

Medium

Easy to out poke, hard to avoid lategame. Has much more utility and better benefits a teamfight than you.

VS

Renekton

Medium

Hard to defeat but not impossible. Get slows and movement whenever possible (Righteous Glory and Stormraider's surge are all but necessary on the matchup.) 

VS

Riven

Hard

Extremely mobile and annoying all around. You won't win lane, and scale about the same. unless you get ganks, play safe, and pick out other opponents, you'll have a very hard time.

VS

Ryze

Medium

Clears waves faster and while spending less mana, and has a bit more utility than you. Slow him to oblivion and you'll win just about every trade. 

VS

Sejuani

Medium

too much CC for anyone to handle. 

VS

Shaco

Hard

2spooky4me incarnate. The OG stealth jungler. Put pink wards everywhere you can, and place deep wards in bushes along jungle entrances when possible. This will give you the maximum time to react. 

Can dodge your ultimate with his ultimate, as he is briefly untargetable.

VS

Singed

Medium

Get stormraider's, GLP, and Rylais, and you won't have to worry about him. GLP and stormraiders not only cancels his ghost and ultimate, but gives you an upper hand. Post-Rylais nerfs you won't be able to hold him down forever, but you can definitely get a spree of Q's and pretty solid damage.

VS

Soraka

Easy

Karthus out-damages her ultimate's heal lategame. She's pretty annoying early on - you can just forget about ulting for a double kill. unless she builds full tank, she'll be in significant danger. 

VS

Syndra

Hard

Ugh.

VS

Talon

Hard

Rito pls. After the assassin update I hate him more, he out damages me at every part of the game. 

VS

Teemo

Easy

You really don't have to worry about the devil incarnate - Karthus is already dead. 


his Q is ineffective, so buy sweeping lense and avoid his shrooms. You'll be fine. 

VS

Urgot

Hard

I rarely see urgod, but he's pretty strong. Avoid at all cost, and focus building damage. 

About Me Back to Top

Hello, I'm a Mastery 7 318K Karthus OTP.

proof.PNG

Although I'm in Low ELO (Silver II as of 11/28/16) I have a good knowledge of Karthus that's worth sharing.

____________________________________________


Jungling Back to Top

[IN CONSTRUCTION, MIND THE MESS]


Karthus Jungle is actually pretty damn good


_____________________________________________________________________

Just from playing games this afternoon in normals, A full clear [every single camp] ends around 3:30 [in game time] and takes about 1:50 without fully optimized runes and masteries, which isn't bad at all. 


 ___________________________________

I'm not a very proficient jungler by any means, 

but I'd like to think I'm a good karthus player. 

_____________________________________________________________________


Some junglers prefer to do one of two things: Gank or farm. Take Hecarim for example - who always puts emphasis on clearing most of the jungle and getting double buffs before going into a lane for a gank. Lee Sin might only clear one or three camps before ganking a lane with his early strengths.
In this sense, Karthus is a farming jungler. With his impressive clear speeds and decent sustain if not ravenous appetite for mana, he can stay in the jungle for ages with blue buff or after finishing the jungle item, easily gaining more farm than most of the lanes. Hitting level 4 after the first clear before your midlaner gets halfway through 3 is a glorious feeling.

 ___________________________________


Pathing / First Clear

_____________________________________________________________________

The full-clear pathing I go (which, by the way, is not fully optimized) is 
Blue > Gromp (SMITE)[POT] > wolves > Raptors [POT]> Red (SMITE)[POT] > Krugs.

I always have my top / bot ward the red in the case of invading junglers, 
and ward the red once more before starting raptors. 

If you've played Evelynn, Graves, or Twisted Fate in the jungle before,
 you should know what Kiting camps is. With Karthus, it's a little more complicated.

Karthus has 2 damage types: AOE and Single-target.
 This makes him one of the most optimal junglers for clear speeds, 
as he can measure his damage output and mana expenditure based on the current camp.
 The below strategies outline how to clear each camp with the greatest effect. 
Keep in mind this is for the first clear.

Blue Buff:
Get an effective leash from your team, and don't smite the buff, 
as you should be nearly full health and using smite would waste some potential hp.
You can Kite this camp by Casting Q while moving out of range of his auto's, 
and this camp can be kited by following the path from blue into the river.

Gromp:

You should have put a level into your E at this point, 
but don't toggle E in order to conserve mana if you are below 75% when starting the camp.
From this point on, if any camp is 1-hit away from dying, either by Q or auto,
 toggle off your E to get some mana refunded to you.
This is particularly effective for the wolves and raptors, and slightly difficult but ideal for the krugs.
This camp can be kited using the path leading from gromp into bot / toplane, all the way up into the tribush. 

Wolves:
As the first camp with multiple enemies, the strategy shifts from kiting into damage dealing.
Toggle on your E after engaging the camp, ensuring all mobs are within it's radius.
Cast Q with the intent to hit ALL of the mobs, as this deals the most AOE damage you have available to you.
(1x damage to 3 mobs deals more combined damage that 2x damage to one, letting you clear faster.)
Starting with the Hunter's Talisman item allows you to siphon health off of each spellcast, and with your E and Q churning away mana, a good portion of that damage is converted into health. You end up losing very little health around this point and can easily start raptors now.

Raptors:
Most junglers would go from gromp straight to red, as this is the fastest way to get all the buffs and the best sustain, but for Karthus you can take on the toughest camps the earliest, thanks to your astonishing ability to clear raptors and krugs with ease. Use Q and E the same way you do for Wolves, and the damage from your Q deals much more than most would think.
(1x damage to 5 mobs + E damage + hp per spell vamp)
You may actually emerge healthier from raptors than when you started, 
or at least significantly less damaged than most junglers would be. 

Red Buff:
Probably the most difficult camp, as it deals a significant amount of damage, has a higher base MR, and is overall very tanky. Hopefully you've retained around 60% of your mana and still have blue buff, because at level 3 it's a difficult clear. Focus Q damage and refrain from using E, as it deals a minor amount of damage and spends mana unnecessarily. Kite into the bush by the side of the buff, and land auto's along with Q's as often as possible (you can animation cancel your Q and auto about the same rate as normal AS.) Don't save smite just because you're paranoid about the jungler, use that shit the second you get low - you still have one more camp to clear.

Krugs:
You should be around the back end of your Blue buff, depending on the time it took to clear red. With the sustain from red buff, focus on soaking and dealing damage like every other multi-mob camp, but be mindful of your current mana and use of E. For the best mana sustain, turn off E each time a smaller krug breaks and is briefly invulnerable, as well as turning off E each time a krug is 1-hit away from breaking, as mana gets refunded. Balancing this between delivering auto attacks intermittently is daunting on paper, but is fairly easy with practice.
 ___________________________________


Ganking

_____________________________________________________________________

//TODO: gank more often with Karthus

 ___________________________________

In a brief conclusion,

_____________________________________________________________________

Karthus needs to kite solo camps as effectively as possible to reduce oncoming damage, as these camps hit harder and give less sustain from the spellvamp effects of the jungle item. 

He needs to switch focus to dealing the most damage and spending the most mana for camps with multiple monsters, as this increases your sustain from jungling items as well as drastically speeding up clear times.
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