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All Guides Karthus Guides [Season 8 Updated] Their pain... is my pleasure!
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3 weeks ago
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Karthus Statistics for Hexadecimal

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

Value
Average
Games Played
4
Win %
45
Kills
6.5
Assists
8.3
Deaths
6.9
KA:D Ratio
2.1
Gold Earned
11.8K
Creep Score
184.7
Average
  • Author Champion Statistics
  • Guide Details

Summoner Spells Back to Top

4.png Flash

Standard on most mid laners. It helps you escape, gap close, jump walls, re-position - it's simply too good to pass up. There's simply no other spell that's as versatile as Flash. The fact that you can use it to escape, dodge spells, or go aggressive is what makes it such a strong spell.

3.png Exhaust

Exhaust can be a good pickup when facing high burst assassins such as Zed or Fizz. This is because it will reduce the amount of damage they deal helping you survive the burst. It also helps shut them down in team fights for the same reason. Can also help kiting them too since it reduces their movement speed.

It also helps you against Mages since it slows them down giving you an easier time landing your Qs. This is your default summoner spell choice.

12.png Teleport

Teleport can be taken to make up for your lack of mobility. This means you can just farm up and then teleport down to bot lane once a fight breaks out. This way you can focus on farming, but still have some map control.

In general you take Teleport when facing roaming mid laners such as Aurelion Sol, Taliyah, and Twisted Fate.

New Runes Back to Top

Sorcery
Summon%20Aerie.png?width=32 - Gives you more poke damage in lane while also giving additional damage on your ultimate. It will prioritize the nearest target hit by your ultimate.

Manaflow%20Band.png?width=32 - Gives us a lot more mana in the early game for us to use to harass and trade with the enemy.

Transcendence.png?width=32 - Helps us achieve max CDR, which is great not only for Q spam, but so that our ultimate is on the lowest cooldown possible.

Scorch.png?width=32 - Gives us a lot of damage on our poke in the early game as well as a bit more damage when our ultimate lands.

Precision
Presence%20of%20Mind.png?width=32 - This is great on Karthus as kills will lower your ultimate's cooldown, which is a huge deal as Karthus' main use in the mid to late game is his ultimate.

Coup%20De%20Grace.png?width=32 - Great for helping finish off low health opponents with your ultimate throughout the game.

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

Skill Order

karthusfallenone.png > karthuslaywastea1.png > karthusdefile.png > karthuswallofpain.png



karthuspassive.png Death Defied

  • A great passive that makes you extremely strong late game
  • You want to play very aggressive late game and dive into the enemy hitting as many of them with your defile as possible - once you die you want to die in a spot where they will be forced to fight in your defile

karthuslaywastea1.png Lay Waste

  • The high range makes it easy for your to last hit from a safe distance
  • You want to use this to last hit instead of your auto attacks
  • It can be hard to land so you usually want to land your Wall of Pain if you plan to go aggressive so that it's easier to land

karthuswallofpain.png Wall of Pain

  • Lowers the enemy's MR by 15% when they pass through
  • You want to aim this on top of the enemy so that it is guaranteed to land
  • A useful tool for going aggressive or setting up jungle ganks
  • Becomes very strong late game since it covers such a large distance and slows the enemy by 80%

karthusdefile.png Defile

  • Weak early, but extremely strong late game
  • You can toggle this on and off to last hit minions

karthusfallenone.png Requiem

  • A trick you can do is use your ultimate prior to a 5v5 starting (perhaps they're doing baron and your team is looking to collapse on them) this way you output the maximum amount of damage
  • You generally want to use your Q twice when you die and then pop your ultimate

Items Back to Top

Starting Items

    Standard
    trinket

Core Items

    Early Game
    Mid Game
    End Game Build Example

Situational Items

Start With

Standard Start

1056_32.png2003_32.png2003_32.png

  • Your high range makes it difficult for people to trade with you and damage you
  • You gain mana regeneration from the passive on your E so mana regen isn't as much of an issue
  • The additional AP, Health, and Mana Regen will make you much stronger early on


Core

Early Game

3020.png3003.png

We purchase an Archangel as it's a great scaling item and Karthus is a scaling champion. Once it turns into a Seraph's Embrace it will give a lot more AP as well as have a shield you can activate, which is great for Karthus since he'll often be in the middle of team fights.

We get Sorc Shoes for the early game damage that will eventually synergize with a future 3165.png for additional magical penetration in the mid game.

Middle Game

3020.png3003.png3165.png

The combination of Sorc Shoes + Morello will give you a lot of flat magic penetration to make your ultimate hit hard in the mid game before you have a lot of AP. Since you're often spending the early to mid game farming up and only using your ultimate to impact the side lanes this build will make your ultimate hit really hard.


Final Build

3020.png3040.png3165.png3157.png3089.png3135.png

The order of the rest of the items is situational. You want to get Zhonya's if you're against a lot of assassins/engage. You want to get Deathcap if you're snowballing or the enemy is relatively squishy so your ults hit harder. You want to get Voidstaff when the enemy starts to stack a lot of MR.


Situational

3157.png - You can get a Zhonya's second after your Archangel's Staff if you're facing Zed or an AD assassin that is giving you trouble mid. You can even build it against Fizz so that you can block his ultimate's damage.

Matchups Back to Top

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

  • Ahri
    Hard
  • Anivia
    Easy
  • Aurelion Sol
    Medium
  • Azir
    Hard
  • Cassiopeia
    Medium
  • Cho'Gath
    Easy
  • Diana
    Hard
  • Ekko
    Medium
  • Fizz
    Hard
  • Gragas
    Medium
  • Kassadin
    Hard
  • Katarina
    Hard
  • LeBlanc
    Hard
  • Morgana
    Easy
  • Orianna
    Medium
  • Taliyah
    Easy
  • Twisted Fate
    Medium
  • Veigar
    Hard
  • Viktor
    Medium
  • Vladimir
    Medium
  • Yasuo
    Hard
  • Zilean
    Hard
  • Zoe
    Medium
  • Zyra
    Medium

VS

Ahri

Hard
  • Passively lane until Ahri is level 6
  • Once Ahri hits level 6+ she has huge kill potential on you
  • The mobility from her ultimate makes it impossible to land Qs
  • Important to play passive once she's level 6+ and if she ults towards you dodge her charm!

VS

Anivia

Easy
  • A passive farm lane, which is what Karthus wants
  • Your long range keeps you safe from her spells

VS

Aurelion Sol

Medium

Aurelion Sol will push the first 3 waves and then recall and there's nothing you can do about it. Just focus on getting all the farm you can and then try to match his recall.


There's no point in trying to outpush him in the early levels so you're better trying to Q harass him in hopes of relieving the push pressure.

Ward the center of the lane so you can track where he goes after he pushes. Make sure to spam pings on your teammates to let them know where he's roaming.

VS

Azir

Hard

Azir is tough because he out ranges you in lane allowing him to constantly harass you


His ultimate is also an amazing way to shut you down in team fights by preventing you from getting close to his team

In lane you want to focus on farming and dodging his harass. Your goal is to transition into a point where you can wave clear fast and then take jungle camps in between waves so you can begin scaling for the late game.

VS

Cassiopeia

Medium
  • Your long range keeps you safe from her spells
  • You can kite her if she tries to go aggressive with your Wall of Pain
  • You have a better late game

VS

Cho'Gath

Easy
  • Passively farm lane, which is what Karthus wants
  • Your long range keeps you safe from him

VS

Diana

Hard
  • Passive lane until Diana hits level 6
  • Once she's level 6 she has a lot of kill potential on you
  • Make sure to dodge all her Qs
  • If she lands a Q you will likely be forced to flash
  • Important to play passive and DODGE QS

VS

Ekko

Medium

Ekko can be difficult to deal with because of his mobility, but Karthus has good enough range that he can still do well as long as you position properly.


Levels 1-5 you can aggressively harass Ekko as he won't have access to his ultimate yet.

Once you're both level 6 you have to transition into a farming style.

Always play around Ekko's W and ultimate

VS

Fizz

Hard
  • Annoying to lane against throughout the game
  • Fizz's ability to close large distances counters your long range
  • You will want to play extremely passive and look to farm wraiths/wolves

VS

Gragas

Medium
  • Passive farm lane until Gragas is level 6
  • You have to keep your distance and avoid being hit by his ultimate
  • He can kill you if he lands a good ult on you

VS

Kassadin

Hard
  • Passive lane until Kassadin hits level 6
  • Once he hits level 6 his ultimate directly counters your range
  • He can close large distances and go aggressive on you
  • Try to steal his first blue buff as he's reliant on it to harass you
  • This is one of the worst counter picks you can face
  • It's important to stay passive and give up last hits rather than feed Kassadin

VS

Katarina

Hard
  • The mobility from her shunpo counters your range
  • Difficult to land Qs because of her mobility
  • You have no crowd control to stop her ult
  • Play extremely passive and farm

VS

LeBlanc

Hard
  • Hard counter to Karthus
  • Her high mobility and high burst counter your weak early game
  • Important to dodge her E when she goes aggressive or you will likely die

VS

Morgana

Easy
  • Your range allows you to farm safely
  • Dodge her binds or else you can be killed if her ultimate is up

VS

Orianna

Medium
  • Your range should keep you safe
  • She has range harass that can be annoying to deal with if she plays aggressive
  • Skill based match up

VS

Taliyah

Easy

You want to try to spam Qs on her throughout the early laning phase. Just make sure you stand away from your minions so she has to choose between damaging the minions and harassing you. If you stand in your minion wave she will just damage you while pushing the wave.


You can land a karthuswallofpain.png max range and look to spam Qs on her. When she goes to taliyahwvc.png you to push you away you can then flash into an immediate exhaust and continue to spam Qs. Even if she gets away with low hp you can then just use your ultimate to finish her off.

VS

Twisted Fate

Medium
  • Your range should allow you to farm safely
  • Should turn into a passive farm lane
  • You have no crowd control to interrupt his ultimate
  • A skill based match up

VS

Veigar

Hard
  • His high burst is annoying to deal with
  • You have to play extremely passive
  • He can burst you down once he's level 6+

VS

Viktor

Medium

Viktor can be somewhat of an easy lane due to the fact that you out range him. However, Viktor's lazer will allow him to easily clear minions waves, bypassing any aggression we might look to put down.


Focus on farming up and using your ultimate to impact side lanes.

VS

Vladimir

Medium
  • Your range should allow you to farm safely
  • You want to play passive and farm

VS

Yasuo

Hard

Yasuo is very hard due to his insane mobility making it very hard for us to land our Q.


You want to stay back from level 1 and simply use your Q to max range last hit minions.\

Passively farm, take jungle camps, use your ultimate to impact side lanes, and farm up for late game.

VS

Zilean

Hard
  • Your Q does have longer range than his Q, but with his speed up it's very difficult to win trades or prevent harass
  • You have more map presence with your ultimate
  • It's important to play a passive farm lane
  • His high mobility makes it extremely difficult to land Qs and his ultimate gives him a second life.
  • Don't bother trying to win trades or go aggressive. It's better to play defensive, farm near your tower, and try to set up a jungle gank.

VS

Zoe

Medium

Zoe is relatively safe and will just try to push you in from a distance. Stand away from your minions so she has to choose between pushing or harassing you - don't let her do both.


You can spam Qs on her early on to see if she has poor positioning and falls victim to it. However, if she's playing well then transition into focusing the minions so you can fight back against her push.

If she uses her zoee.png then you can look to karthuswallofpain.png and follow it up with your Q spam since she can't peel for herself anymore.

VS

Zyra

Medium
  • She has a lot of range on her skills, but you should still be able to farm safely
  • If you get caught in a snare you will likely die
  • Important to dodge her E
  • Skill based match up

Early Game Back to Top

  • Karthus is weak early on and needs time to become strong
  • Your goal here is to farm, farm, and farm some more
  • Farming with your Q should keep you safe from the enemy
  • Once you're level 4 you can set up jungle ganks with your Wall of Pain

Middle Game Back to Top

  • Karthus becomes much stronger in the middle game
  • You need a lot of map awareness to know when you should use your ultimate
  • You shouldn't be trying to gank side lanes. Instead, farm wraiths/wolves and look to apply map pressure through your ultimate.
  • It's important to use your Wall of Pain properly in team fights. Either use it on as many of the enemies as you can, to help peel for your ad carry, or to help lock down the enemy ad carry.

Late Game Back to Top

  • Karthus has one of the best late games of any champion
  • You want to get in the middle of enemy team and pop your 3157_32.png as soon as you get focused
  • You can ultimate BEFORE the fight actually breaks out. This will maximize the amount of damage you can do. Just make sure your team initiates as soon as it hits. The best time to do this is when you're fighting over baron late game.
  • It's okay to die late game as Karthus. The point is to do as much damage as possible, force the enemy team to focus you down, then continue to output damage after you're dead.
  • Try to catch enemies out with your Wall of Pain. It has a 80% slow at level 5 which is brutal.

Pros and Cons Back to Top

Pros

  • A very safe laning phase because of the range of his Q
  • Applies a lot of map presence with his ultimate
  • Has one of the best late games of any champion
  • His Defile is especially strong late game
  • One of the best passives in the game
  • Provides a lot of utility late game with his Wall of Pain

Cons

  • Is squishy early game and lacks sufficient crowd control to deal with hyper aggressive mid lanes
  • Difficult to land Qs. This means a lot of your damage early game can be dodged.
  • Weak against high mobility champions such as Ahri
  • You need to be close to enemies to damage late game. This leaves very little room for error in your decision making. Additionally, if your team doesn't react properly you will often be killed before you can unleash your full potential.

Warding Locations Back to Top

Warding Locations


Ward Locations.jpg
Note: This is from the perspective of Blue Side - meaning your Nexus is South. The exact same ward spots apply if you were Red Side - meaning your Nexus is North, except that the ward spots are simply rotated 180 degrees/mirrored.


1 - This is where you want to place your 2055.png as gaining vision control of the lane brush is very important. This is because the lane brush offers the most quickest and convenient location to place 3340.png for the enemy. By placing a 2055.png it denies the enemy this convenience. At the same time, it clears the most common area we'll be moving through when we roam. Lastly, it keeps our 2055.png close to us, which makes it easier to defend and harder for the enemy to get rid of.

2 - This is the optimal location for a 3340.png as it covers all the choke points for that side of the river. Additionally, it is hidden from 2055.png that are placed in the lane brushes. Keep in mind, this is just the most optimal, that doesn't mean it's always practical. It's okay to place your 3340.png in location 1 or somewhere between location 1 and 2 if you're unable to move any further due to safety or potential missed minions.

3 - This is the aggressive version of the 2nd ward location and should only be used when you have lane control and the enemy laner is forced to playing passive. It allows you to see when the enemy mid laner rotates to take blue buffs, jungle camps, roam, or react to one of your roams. At the same time, it spots junglers that are coming from raptors/wolves.

4 - This is a very powerful ward that can easily be placed after you push the mid laner into his tower. This gives you vision on the enemy's raptor camp. This can give you a wide range of information. For example, if you place this ward early on it tells you whether the enemy jungler is invading/ganking the side he started on or if he's doing a standard clear. When you spot the enemy jungler doing his raptors it relieves pressure off of everyone else as you know exactly where the enemy jungler it is. At the same time, that opens your own jungler to adjust his play accordingly. On top of that, just knowing that the jungler ISN'T doing his raptors can give you information on where he might possibly be.

5 - This is simply a better version of the 4th warding location. However, it's more time consuming, riskier, and overall more difficult to get a ward here. The reason why it's better than the 4th warding location is that you can see if the enemy's jungler is skipping raptors and which direction he's moving towards. I like to ward here when I have a big lead and I do it after I push a wave to pin the enemy mid laner at his tower.

6 - This is known as the lane ward and you might have seen it before. This is best used against champions that are looking to roam and is typically used when you've lost lane and are behind. It's especially strong against Twisted Fate due to the manner in which he ganks. Essentially, this ward will let you see which direction the enemy mid laner moves to after he kills the minion wave. In a way this gives you the benefits of warding both sides of your lane with only one ward: you get to see if he's ganking either side lane. However, you also get to see if the enemy is recalling or just standing at his tower. Keep in mind the main downside of this ward is that it doesn't protect you against other enemies ganking your lane.

Ask Me Questions, Streaming, Coaching, and more! Back to Top

Aboutme_Lolking.jpg
My IGN is Hexadecimal and I play on the North American server. I've been challenger tier every season since its release. I can play all roles, but I main middle lane. 

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Want to ask me questions? I answer all questions I receive on my Twitter.

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Want to learn how to improve, climb the ladder, and watch me play? Follow me on Twitch and get notified when I go live.

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I also offer coaching for $25 an hour. I will teach you how to become a better player, how to climb the ladder, and much more. If you're interested you can contact me via e-mail: lolhexa@gmail.com

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