As the 12th Season of League of Legends dawned onto the live servers, the concept of a static meta seemed to lose ground in favor of a more dynamic, wilder scene, where nearly all champions can pass off as viable Junglers. However, at the core of the Jungle role, the Bruiser/Fighter class remains as dominant as ever, a fact supported even by the competitive scene, where these gank-focused skirmishers thrive more than ever.
Having already covered Jarvan IV and Trundle, it is time to take a look at Xin Zhao, The Seneschal of Demacia, whose pick and win rate skyrocketed since the slight rework of his Wind Becomes Lightning (W) ability.
One of the greatest aspects of playing Xin Zhao is his wide flexibility, allowing players to adapt their damage and resistances to the particular needs of each game. Making the best use of this scarcely matched versatility requires players to recognize the enemy team’s win conditions and build accordingly, as The Seneschal of Demacia can shut down nearly any composition if executed properly.
Heading into our guide we will first be taking a look at the best Summoner Spells, Runes and items to run on Xin, with our main subject being the ultimate Jungle route and clearing strategy to follow when looking to take over the Jungle!
Flash + Smite
Despite the recent tendencies of substituting Flash with other Summoner Spells, there is little debate about this topic when it comes to Xin Zhao, as Flash remains the objectively superior pick.
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Xin Zhao Runes
There are two primary play styles for Xin Zhao, the main one focusing on the Bruiser/Fighter style, while the other takes a more aggressive approach, turning the The Seneschal of Demacia into a menacing on-hit carry. Let us go over the highest performing Runes for both styles.
For the standard, Bruiser play style, players will be taking Conqueror as their Keystone, with Triumph, Legend: Alacrity or Legend: Tenacity and Last Stand as the completing options. These picks are rather self-explanatory, being the standard approach for most Bruisers.
As for the secondary Runes, Magical Footwear and Approach Velocity make for pretty standard picks, focusing on gold efficiency and utilty. Subsequently, players can also choose to go with Bone Plating and Revitalize, for added defense.
While these Runes originally relied on Hail of Blades, the recent changes to Lethal Tempo seemed to have caused a shift in individual preferences, as players could now also take three Runes from the Precision tree, those being Triumph, Legend: Alacrity and Last Stand.
The most common secondary options for this approach are Sudden Impact and Relentless / Ravenous Hunter, but Magical Footwear and Approach Velocity perform just as well with the on-hit build too.
Xin Zhao Items
- Starting Items: Emberknife / Hailblade + Refillable Potion
- Mythic Item: Goredrinker / Trinity Force / Divine Sunderer / Eclipse
- Core Items: Defensive Boots, Sterak’s Gage, Wit’s End, Death’s Dance
- Finishing Options: Guardian Angel, Spirit Visage, Black Cleaver, Blade of the Ruined King
The first dilemma surrounds your ideal Mythic item, which is best determined by looking at the enemy team’s composition, primarily checking if the enemy champions are mostly ranged or melee. Against primarily melee enemies, Goredrinker will be the most effective option, allowing you to regenerate considerable amounts of Health in the midst of combat.
If the enemy team has two or less melee champions, it is best to invest in either Trinity Force or Divine Sunderer, given how well the on-hit effects synergize with Xin Zhao’s abilities. Picking up a Sheen early into the game will also turn into a considerable power spike. The choice between Divine Sunderer and Trinity Force should be made based on how much of problem you expect the enemy tanks to be, as Sunderer will prove highly effective against those champions.
Lastly, picking up Eclipse as your Mythic might be a popular approach, but we must add that it seems to be underperforming against well-rounded team compositions. We’d recommend going with Eclipse only if the enemy team has very few, or entirely lacks, solid frontline champions.
For the rest of the build, the standard Bruiser items will work flawlessly with Xin Zhao’s kit. Wit’s End is especially powerful on The Seneschal of Demacia, and for the On-hit build, we can also recommend picking up a Blade of the Ruined King, balancing the rest of your items accordingly with the enemy team’s win conditions.
W > E > Q > R
Despite maxing W first, in the Jungle, Xin Zhao players should be investing their first spell point into E, as besides the upfront damage, it also grants a considerable attack speed boost, useful against the first Jungle camp.
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The Best Jungle Paths for Xin Zhao
With the increased costs of his build, Xin Zhao needs to find early gold advantages, which are best obtained through ganks. For this reason, The Seneschal of Demacia prefers going for a five camp clear rather than a full one, as he prioritizes tempo over the gold and experience from the Krugs, which is the camp we’re going to be skipping over.
We are going to cover the most advantageous starts from each side, but players should keep a few factors in mind when deciding upon where their Jungle pathing should start. These are:
- Which laners are going to provide more help in clearing the first camp?
- Counter-jungle opportunities, based on where the enemy Jungler is likely to start.
- Which lane would you like to gank first, depending on both the allied and enemy champions.
Xin’s ganks are incredibly effective once he hits LVL 3, with the standard W + E + Q combo being more than enough to secure a takedown in most cases.
Red Side – Red Clear
Starting our route and clearing guide from the Red Side, the Red Buff start may kick off as slow, but it progressively speeds up as Xin Zhao unlocks his basic abilities, becoming notably efficient at clearing camps once he hits LVL 3.
Secure the Red Buff and head for the Raptor camp second, casting Smite on the larger mob to accelerate the process and stay healthy. Following the organic route, make your way to the Wolves and steadily clear that camp using E and Q.
Once your basic abilities are unlocked, the next camp, the Blue Buff, is going to go very smoothly, especially when considering that your second Smite charge should be invested into it, accelerating your tempo.
Before heading into the River and scouting for ganks, slay the Gromp. It will restore most of your HP, allowing you to secure the Scuttler confidently.
In the River, break the Scuttler’s shield using Q’s third hit effect and continue hitting at it until killed. In the meantime, you can start scouting Mid and Bot for ganking opportunities, because as soon as you are done with securing the extra gold, experience and vision from the Scuttler, you are going to rush a gank immediately before resetting.
Red Side – Blue Clear
When starting from the opposite side of your Jungle, you can expect to finish the first five camps a bit more quickly, as having two allies assisting with the first camp is going to accelerate your early tempo.
After slaying the Blue Buff, challenge the Gromp and use Smite to take it down as quickly as possible, before heading towards your multi-mob camps.
The Wolves and Raptors won’t pose much of a threat to Xin Zhao, as his kit offers plenty of AOE damage and healing, besides the Refillable Potion in players’ inventory, which can be used at any given time when running low on Health.
For the final camp of your Jungle, secure your second Buff using Xin’s impressive dueling power in combination with the second Smite charge, allowing you to once again walk into the River with confidence.
Given how quick this route is, players should not realistically worry about the enemy Jungler coming to contest the Scuttler, but in case it happens, know that Xin’s early combat power allows him to win most 1v1s rather safely.
Whilst hitting away at the Scuttler, once again start scouting the Lanes, as you are going to immediately shift your focus towards either Mid or Top in order to start securing those early gold leads.
Also read: Why Do Supports Take Ignite?
Blue Side – Blue Clear
Switching over to the opposite side of the map now, the clearing routes are going to be identical, besides the mirrored positions of the Jungle monsters.
Start by slaying the Blue Buff with the help of your Top laner, without using Smite, as we’re keeping it for our second camp, as shown in the associated picture.
For the second objective, begin hitting away at the Gromp’s HP using E + Q, eventually finishing it with Smite once its Health drops below the threshold. Combining Smite’s heal with the Gromp’s Health restoration will leave players with a full Health bar, enabling you to safely clear the next two camps without Smite.
As for the third and fourth camps, these are once again the multi-mobs (Wolves and Raptors) organically positioned on your path towards Red, which won’t typically pose a threat to Xin Zhao.
Lastly, slay the Red Buff with the use of your entire kit, including Smite. This will leave you in a comfortable position to head into the River, securing the Scuttler before executing a gank on Mid or Bot.
Blue Side – Red Clear
Starting from the Red Buff will give players the edge of having two allies’ assistance, further boosting their tempo.
The rest of the clearing route is pretty standard, as players should head straight for the Raptors second, using Smite to take down the largest mob, before making their way towards the Wolf camp.
The Wolves are relatively easy to clear with Xin, but the Refillable Potion is always going to be there in case you feel unsafe.
As for the fourth camp, a standard W + E + Q combo and a few more auto-attacks are going to be sufficient to take Blue’s HP below the Smite threshold, at which point players should execute it with the second charge.
As previously, slay the Gromp before making your way into the River, where you are more than safe to take any 1v1 contests the enemy Jungler might throw at you, although that is quite unlikely to happen, considering Xin’s natural tempo.
Last before least, secure the Scuttler using Q’s third hit to break its shell and start scouting for an early gank, investing it into the Lane which is most likely to successfully convert it into a takedown, before your first reset.
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Tips and Tricks
- As emphasized on throughout this guide, Xin Zhao’s early and mid-game focus on building up a gold lead, which also raises the importance of securing Turret Plates. For Junglers, this is best achieved though the Rift Herald, so do not neglect Shelly through the earlier stages of the game.
- Xin Zhao’s standard combo and ganks rely heavily on landing W in order to apply the “Challenged” mechanic, extending Audacious Charge’s (E) range. Wind Becomes Lightning (W) has a relatively fast animation, meaning that with a bit of practice, players can consistently land the all-important spell when needed.
- Remember that Crescent Guard (R) can act both as an engage and disengage tool, depending on the situation. The one mechanic where players seem to fail is tracking who the “Challenged” enemy is. As a quick reminder, the last enemy hit by Xin’s basic attacks, W or E is going to be marked for 3 seconds, or until you hit another enemy.
- Similarly to Jarva IV, prioritize building a Guardian Angel as your fifth item or sooner, instead of leaving it for last. Despite Crescent Guard’s invulnerability towards champions who are out of R’s range, you might still find yourself getting focused by the entirety of the enemy team until your allies manage to follow up your engages, adding more value to having a Guardian Angel.
The most influential factor when it comes to succeeding with Xin Zhao is arguably nailing his itemization. Effectively balancing between offensive and defensive items can turn The Seneschal of Demacia into a near unkillable Bruiser, whose engages and disengages can shift team fights entirely. (lesroches.edu)
Towards the late game, Xin Zhao’s primary focus is to break up the enemy team using his Ultimate ability, separating the carries from their supportive allies. Crescent Guard will also leave you in a duel, which Xin should have no trouble winning, but ideally, you want to find yourself in an isolated combat against a squishy target, whom you can easily kill before the enemy team has time to regroup and cross your invulnerability zone.
With this we conclude our ultimate Jungle route and clearing guide for Xin Zhao, The Seneschal of Demacia, hoping you found it useful for your future games!
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