The Might of Noxus: An In-Depth Darius Guide
Wed 8th Feb 2017 - 1:27pm
Darius is a popular top laner currently and for good reason. He's relatively straight forward, boasts a strong early to mid game and can punish enemies mistakes. With 126 ranked games as Darius last season with a 66% win rate, I know the ins and outs of Darius.
- High Kill pressure in Lane
- No true counter picks
- Strong early and midgame only falling off in the extreme late game.
- 175 auto attack range gives him the edge in melee matchups
- Strong wave clear
- Hard to come back if he loses early game
- Kited easily by ranged carries and supports
- Unreliable Crowd Control
- Weak in team fights when denied Noxian Might
- Reliant on landing his Decimate.
Flash: Flash is the best summoner spell on Darius. The free mobility it provides is a great addition for Darius. Without Flash, Darius is incredibly immobile and his play patterns are even more predictable. It allows you to escape or it acts as a quick gap closer.
Teleport: Teleport is another staple summoner spell on Darius. Being in top lane Darius is away from most the of the action, having teleport allows him to have global map pressure and help his team when necessary. It also allows him to pressure the enemy toplaner by giving him a fast way to get back to the top lane.
Runes are standard taking attack speed Quints, AD Marks, Armor seals, 3 scaling magic resistance glyphs and 6 scaling CDR glyphs. If you are against heavy ap you can switch out the armor seals for scaling health.
Being a juggernaut Darius has abysmal base attack speed, the increased attack speed from Quints gives Darius much smoother auto attacks and allows you to stack Hemorrhage faster. Attack damage marks are standard, they increase your early game damage and there isn't much to say about them. Seals can be either flat armor or scaling health, Flat armor is good against ad opponents like Fiora or Renekton while scaling health is good against ap champions like Kennen or Rumble. 6 scaling CDR glyphs gives you 10% CDR at level 18 which lets you cap out at 40%. The 3 scaling magic resist glyphs are to compensate for the lack of flat magic resist glyphs.
There are currently three viable Keystones as Darius which are Courage of the Colossus, Grasp of the Undying, and Stormraiders Surge. I use them all frequently and each one has a place depending on the game. Courage of the Colossus is good for mitigating large amounts of Burst damage and is good if you plan on being the primary tank in team fights. Grasp of the Undying is very strong in laning phase and should be used against champions you are constantly fighting like Fiora and Riven, Grasp of the Undying also gives substantial healing in extended team fights. Stormraider's Surge solves the problem of Darius being Kited, he can easily activate it with his high base damage and a 600 movement speed Darius with slow resistance is a force to be reckoned with.
Tier1-Fury: The 4% attack speed is almost equal to a bonus attack speed Quint. I find the attack speed more impactful than the small damage increase from Sorcery.
Tier2-Fresh Blood: The bonus damage is strong for early laning and it reinforces the bully nature of Darius.
Tier3-Vampirism: This tier very lackluster, Vampirism is taking by default because of Darius not having any ap scalings thus making half of what natural talent provides worthless.
Tier4: -Battle Trance: Battle trance is great in extended trades, Double Edged Sword makes you take increased damage which is something that we do not want. Bounty hunter is to unreliable to be taken.
Tier1-Savagery: The increased damage to minions helps early game and will let you hard the push enemy minion wave if you desire.
Tier2- Secret Stash: The increased healing from potions is very good top lane, if you purchase a corrupting potion this healing can be very powerful during laning phase.
Tier3- Merciless: The increased damage is strong on Darius augmenting his playstyle of finishing off his enemies. The mana regeneration from the opposing mastery meditation is needed on Darius.
Tier4- Dangerous Game: This mastery is very strong in team fights giving you a large amount of health back, combined with spirit visage and runic armor you can get a lot more than 5% of your health back.
Tier5-Intelligence- 45% cdr on Darius is very strong giving you Decimate on a less than three-second cooldown. Precision is not viable because Lethality is a useless stat on Darius.
Tier1- Recovery: Flat 2 health regeneration is very strong early game and gives you more trading power. Unyielding provides a very lackluster amount of resistances that won't be noticeable until later in the game.
Tier2-Tough Skin: 2 less damage from attacks does not sound very large but early game this damage stacks up. In this tier you can also take Explorer which gives you out of combat movement speed.
Tier3-Runic Armor: 8% stronger healing on Darius is incredibly strong. Not only does this increase the healing of your Decimate but it also increases your naturally high health regeneration. Combined with Spirit Visage Darius has an incredibly high amount of sustain.
Tier4-Insight: 15% summoner spell reduction is incredibly powerful and should be taken by default.
Tier5-Swiftness: The Tenacity and slow resistance is incredibly strong on Darius, combined with mercury treads and elixir of Iron Darius can shrug off almost any crowd control effects.
Abilities and Skill Order
Passive- Hemorrhage which is Darius' passive has two distinct parts. Passively his damaging abilities and attacks apply Hemorrhage stacks. Each stack of Hemorrhage applies a damage over time effect dealing physical damage. Hemorrhage stacks up to 5 times, at 5 stacks on a single target, Darius gains Noxian Might. Noxian Might gives Darius a large attack damage steroid and his damaging abilities apply 5 stacks instantly rather than 1 to his enemies will Noxian Might is active. Darius has high attack damage scalings so he benefits greatly from the bonus damage of Noxian Might. His ultimate Noxian Guillotine also deals more damage the more stacks of Hemorrhage are on the enemy so applying 5 stacks instantly allows Darius to quickly bursts targets.
Q-Decimate is Darius' primary harass and damage tool. Darius swings his axe around his body after a short delay dealing damage and healing him if they are hit by the blade if the enemy is hit by the handle of his axe it deals half damage, doesn't heal or apply a stack of hemorrhage. Missing the blade on Decimate makes it a waste of a spell cast. The healing on Darius' Q scales with missing health and heals more per target hit up to three targets. You can heal thousands of health per team fight if you are able to hit multiple targets with Decimate. In lane, this ability has enough range to be used as a harass tool and you can almost one shot the caster minions with it for most of the game.
W-Crippling Strike is a very underrated ability on Darius. It is an autoattack reset that empowers his next auto attack dealing bonus damage and slowing the enemy. The slow is 90% for one second so it almost immobilizes the enemy. The mana cost is refunded along with a 50% cooldown reduction if crippling strike kills the enemy. This gives Darius an extra way to secure creeps in lane. Having an auto reset on Darius is very helpful because of his very low base attack speed and lack of attack speed items in his build. This ability also increases Darius' range by 25 which most of the time isn't noticeable but can be just enough to secure a kill sometimes.
E- Apprehend is Darius' only hard crowd control effect and a tremendous passive damage boost for him. The active pulls any targets in a cone in front of Darius towards slowing them for 1 second after being pulled. When used correctly Apprehend allows Darius to stick on his target either until they are dead or have flashed away. The problem with this ability is its unreliability at maximum range. There is a brief delay between activation of the ability and the pull happening so often you will believe your pull will hit but it doesn't go through. Ironically Darius ability to pull targets to him whenever he wants is also a major weakness for himself. If Darius misses a key pull before a team fight he can easily be kited to death because he has no proper way to initiate a fight beside Apprehend. Passively Darius gains total armor penetration scaling up to 25% at max rank. There is not much to say about this besides the fact that it allows Darius to kill tanks effectively.
R- Noxian Guillotine is the Dunkmasters signature ability. Noxian Guillotine is a targeted true damage ability dealing increased damage per stack of Hemorrhage on the target. If Darius kills an enemy with this ability it resets for a short time. At level 16 Darius' ultimate resets completely when he kills a unit with it. If Darius does not already have Noxian Might he gains it when he kills a unit with Noxian Guillotine. This ability has a 150% ad scaling when at 5 Hemorrhage stacks, combined with the ad steroid of Noxian Might this ability can easily reach 1000 plus damage. Noxian Guillotine has 460 range so it can allow you to close gaps or execute enemies outside of melee range. This ability also applies a stack of Hemorrhage so it can allow you to activate Noxian Might.
Darius always maxes R-Q-E-W. Decimate is Darius' most used spell and the attack damage scaling and cool down scale with rank. The cooldown of Apprehend is halved at max rank and the damage boost from the passive armor penetration is too good to max last. Crippling Strike is maxed last because the only thing gained from putting points into it is a reduced cooldown on an already low cooldown ability.
Primarily Doran's shield is a good start on Darius. The damage reduction and health regeneration let Darius brawl early game. If you find that you have mana problems or that you buy too many potions corrupting potion is a good alternative to a Doran's start.
Darius has two primary build paths. You can either build Triforce full tank or Black Cleaver full tank.Triforce is preferred when the enemy either has one or no tank. Triforce lets Darius kill squishy targets faster with large sheen procs due to his high base attack damage and faster Noxian Might activation because of increased attack speed from Triforce. Black Cleaver is the standard build on Darius and what you will be building 95% of games. Black Cleaver gives all the stats Darius desires along with an amazing passive. The armor penetration synergizes with his innate armor penetration and he can stack it with one ability because of Hemorrhage applying stacks over time. Most of the time defensives items are situational depending on enemy team composition but there are two that are essential on Darius. Deadman's Plate and Spirit Visage should be built on Darius after his offensive items except in extreme cases. Deadman's Plate gives Darius the movement speed he needs along with a slow on the first target hit. Spirit Visage gives Darius more cooldown reduction along with increased healing which makes his Q healing even more potent. An example build is Black Cleaver-Mercury Treads- Deadman's Plate- Spirit Visage- Randuins- Guardian Angel.
Some items worth mentioning are Steraks Gage and Death's Dance. Steraks Gage is good when you build Triforce Darius because it increases the damage of Sheen procs. The Steraks shield also helps against burst comps. Death's Dance is an item that you can build when you are snowballing super hard. If I can afford it I go Black Cleaver into Death's Dance. This item further increases your healing and gives a nice damage mitigation passive.
Early game Darius wants to exert as much pressure as possible.You win short and extended trades alike, however the longer the trade the better as more you get more stacks of hemorrhage. Against melee champions your 175 range you can stand in the minion wave and prevent the enemy from last hitting without taking unfavorable trades. Once you either kill or force to the enemy to back shove the wave with Decimate. Do not play aggressively however, Darius can be killed by early game ganks very easily because of his lack of an escape he is forced to either flash or fight. By the time laning phase ends you should have possibly one kill on the enemy laner and at least 30 cs on them.
Darius is at his strongest midgame, with Black cleaver and one completed tank item. During this time you should be looking for teamfight opportunities and keeping toplane shoved. During midgame it is a good idea to focus the tanks, usually with one or two completed tank items they can still be easily killed by Darius and it gives him a fast way to activate Noxian Might. Once Noxian Might is activated you want to try and kill the backline as fast as possible, usually an auto decimate and ultimate will kill any carry pre 30 minutes. If you can't find favorable teamfights you can splitpush, Darius can splitpush only because usually at this time he can 2v1 there top and jungle. If more people are sent after him however it is more dangerous.
Late game Darius transitions into a rather traditional tank role until he gets Noxian Might activated and its back to diving the carries. Darius is much better as counter engage peeling for his carries rather than diving especially at this point in the game where he can be killed fairly quickly if kited correctly. One thing to keep in mind is at level 18 darius gains 200 AD from Noxian Might, besides insanes amount of lifesteal or healing generally nothing can withstand Darius once he has Noxian Might activated. The key to teamfighting as Darius late game is to play patiently and make sure to save your ultimate for the right moment, also don't be afraid to not get the reset on your ult if you kill an important target it's a decent trade.
Tips and Tricks
- In a game with normal gold income when Darius obtains Black Cleaver he can oneshot the caster minions with one Decimate and leave the melee minions within one auto of death, abusing this waveclear is a good idea.
- You can animation cancel the empowered auto attack of Crippling Strike by activating Decimate as you start the auto attack.
- Decimate can be used before being hit by crowd control and the animation will go through
- When chasing the enemy try and kill minions along the way since you will gain movement speed from the phage passive.
- If your ultimate does not kill someone and they live with low health do not chase them, there is a 90% chance they will die from the Hemorrhage bleed with Noxian Might activated a 5 stack bleed can do hundreds of damage.
Jayce: Jayce wins the early game because of his poke and ability to disengage with hammer form E, Once Darius buys a ninja tabi and phage you can kill him if he uses his melee form E before you use apprehend. This matchup boils down to whoever uses E first and whether the Darius eats to much poke from auto attacks and empowered shock blasts. Jayce also builds black cleaver first item so whoever completes it first will have a strong lead for that time. Jayce falls off rather hard late game where Darius will be dealing similar amounts of damage but is a lot tankier.
Fiora: One of the few champions that can beat Darius. Darius beats Fiora from levels 1-5 but she can beat him in a 1v1 at level 6. This matchup is very highskill for both sides of the matchup, Fiora can use riposte for two vital things, either Darius Decimate or Riposting his ultimate. Darius must try and bait out Riposte before fighting her or he will lose once he wastes his abilities. She can constantly poke him with good vital placement but he can trade back easily because she usually hovers around Decimate range because of her lack of a ranged farming tool. Once Fiora gets Ravenous Hydra plus Black Cleaver Darius cannot 1v1 because of the large amounts of sustain Fiora gets. At this point Darius should group with his team and force Fiora to teamfight, in Teamfights he can kill her easily with the support of his team.
Poppy: Darius is the hardest counter to poppy and you can basically be half asleep and still win as Darius. Poppy cannot win trades with Darius because of his self healing and once he gets Black Cleaver and has his apprehend maxed out Poppy loses a lot of her armor and becomes easy to kill. Once teamfighting starts poppy is known for her diving, Darius can simply apprehend her off his carries and kill her. Usually Poppy is behind because Darius gets 2 or 3 solo kills if they don't respect his damage. Even if they do respect him she will miss out on a large amount of farm. The only thing Poppy can do against Darius is save her crowd control for when he tries to dive her carries.
Camille: Camille is currently one of the strongest top laners and one of the few that can fight off Darius. Early game levels 1-3 Darius wins because of her not having access to all of her abilities, however she can still win trades with proper use of her passive shield. Once Camille gets sheen she can apply kill pressure on Darius from the true damage burst of her Q. In 1v1s post 6 Darius can win but he has to play almost perfectly. The max health damage from her ult can quickly overwhelm him and she can dodge his Q with her E while also applying a stun to him. This is one of the harder matchups for Darius but like most he can usually overcome with just brute force and an axe to the face. Try and bait out her E and punish her for it and fight around her passive shield which makes her very tanky.
Darius is a strong lane bully who is relevant at all stages of the game. He also is an incredibly fun champion to play with two viable build paths and three viable keystones.I recommend playing Darius at any elo. I hope this guide helps you improve with the Dunkmaster. My name is Alexmanpersonguy Season 6 Diamond V top laner. If you have any feedback add me on NA. Thanks for reading!
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